Devotional Reading

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What A Plan!

There is a danger we face as we come to the Easter season. The accounts of the Triumphal Entry, the cross, and Easter are so familiar to most of us that we can easily go through the motions of a celebration without ever allowing the message of these events to touch us.
The challenge every year is to read these accounts with "fresh eyes". Look with me at this familiar account of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus and see if you don’t see what I see.
We See a Strong Declaration of Love
1. This event was so out of character for Jesus.
Before this, Jesus had always avoided the spotlight. In John 2 Jesus is asked by his mother if he would help friends of the family with an embarrassing wine shortage problem. Jesus responded, "My time is not yet come." Jesus did not want to make a public scene.
In John 6 we see an occasion when Jesus felt that the people were ready to take him and make him king by force. Rather than enjoy the public acclaim, Jesus left town. In fact, whenever the Ministry of Jesus seemed to be getting to a point of success in a community, Jesus would move to a new community.
On several occasions Jesus tells those that he has healed, "Don’t tell anyone". Jesus was not looking for public demonstrations on his behalf. He was not seeking the spotlight.... Until today.

Come and celebrate Palm Sunday with us in worship at
11:00 am this Sunday.  We welocme you and look forward to meeting you.
Blessings to you!

In the history of the Christian church, the oldest confessional statement that survives through the ages and the earliest effort to give a Creed that summarizes the essence of the Christian is the Apostle’s Creed. 
In the Apostle’s Creed, there is something that is a bit unusual; it is about a reference in the Creed to a historical figure/person other than Jesus.  That person who makes it into the Creed and remains notorious and infamous because of it is Pontius Pilate.  We have the line in the Creed remember, “suffered under Pontius Pilate.” 
          Historians have asked the question frequently why did the Christians of the early church find it important to make a specific reference to Pontius Pilate in a brief statement of faith which summarizes the work and person of Christ. 
The answer we discover when we investigate that question is that the early church considered Pontius Pilate to be a very important person in terms of redemptive history.  He was used by God at a particular time and particular place for a particular reason.  Namely to bring about the death of Jesus.  Jesus’ death was designed to bring about our redemption. 

          Come on Sunday morning as we celebrate Holy Communion and hear about Pontius Pilate and his role in the Lenten experience we have today.  Our service starts at 11:00 am.  Come and join us, we would love to meet and worship with you!

Peter: A Reluctant Role

Character of Lent:  The Apostle Peter
I know that you are very familiar with Peter. We know his background well. He was once a fisherman turned-a-disciple of Jesus. Being the most outspoken among the group, he was considered the spokesperson and leader of the twelve disciples. After the Pentecost, God used Peter in such a powerful way that he brought thousands of people to the Lord. What a successful evangelist was Peter! How we wish to be like him. How we wish to see people flocking to the Savior’s feet. How we wish to win the whole world for Christ!
But have you once considered the repentance of Peter after he denied Jesus three times? “What a great failure Peter did that time,” we would say. But, what do you see in it? How does it relate to us –to our lives, to our ministry?

We invite you to come and worship with us on Sunday moring at 11:00 am to hear how this "Character of Lent" does relate to us and our lives and the ministry we are called to serve in this world.

We ask God to bless you and we hope to see you on Sunday morning at Sylvan Abbey.  We love to meet new people and share the love of Jesus Christ together in worship and beyond!

Blessings to all of you!

          Barabbas has to be the most fortunate prisoner in the world. He was scheduled to die and Christ took his place. Yet, this forlorn prisoner is a type of all of us who have been set free by Christ when He forgave us our sins. However, a close look at this common prisoner of years gone by reveals a very peculiar fugitive. He was all that Rome claimed him to be and probably more. Yet, he was set free. In studying the trial and death of Jesus one has to include the study of this very hard hearted man named: Barabbas.
One moment he was facing total extinction by the means of crucifixion and another moment he was set free. It is highly unlikely that he had a change of heart, politically speaking, it is hopeful he had a change of heart, spiritually speaking after he found out just Who it was that brought about his freedom.
The Bible is ripe with a few facts about this renegade and how he got into the situation in which he found himself. However, there is much we do not know about him. What we do know about him is contained in a few verses. He suddenly appears at the trial of Jesus and then upon being set free, he seems to have disappeared into the mist of the past.
It is my firm belief that the moment he found out about his release, he was in shock and utter disbelief. However, that did not stop him from enjoying his new found freedom.
I have to wonder if he made it to the spot where Jesus walk with the cross. 
I wonder if he ventured near Golgotha’s hill and stood watching Christ die in his place?
I wonder if he ever tried to make contact with Jesus and tell Him thanks for what he was doing for him? 

Come and join us for worship service on Sunday's at 11:00 am.
Blessings to all of you!!

We are studying the Characters of Lent for the next 5 weeks:
March 5-Judas
March 12-Barabbas
March 19-Satan
March 26-Peter
April 2-Pontius Pilate

This week we start the series with Judas, the Betrayer.

     Of all the characters who march across the stage of Bible history, there is none so tragic nor so despicable as that of Judas Iscariot. A poet described him as; the base Judean who flung a pearl away Richer than all his tribe.
There is something horrible about the way he betrayed Christ with a kiss. One preacher described it as The hiss of a kiss... Not the least of all the dark aspects of his life is the way he died. There is a mystery of horror about this character which makes him typical of all the dastardly traitors of all the ages. Even Jesus said of him, it would have been good had he never been born.   (Mark 14:21)

Come and worship with us during the Lenten Season.  Our Sunday morning worship begins at 11:00 am each Sunday morning.  We are excited to have you worship with us.

Many blessings to you!


A Grandfather's Remembrance

Passover, It is one of my favorite times of the year.  I can recall many nights that I would sit under the stars and listen to my fathter and grandfather tell the stories of God's people and the great exodus.  How amazing it would have been to witness the wonders and miracles of Yahweh as He delivered His chosen people.  During the day, it was a pillar of clouds.  Really, a pillar of clouds at day and at night how did God lead His people?  It was a pillar of fire!  
Did you beleive it? A pillar of fire.  Isn't Yahweh the greatest?

Come and Sunday moring at 11:00 am for a grandfather's remembrance in our mornig worship service.  

We look forward to seeing you.
This Sunday morning at the 11:00 am Worship Service, our very own intern, Jennifer Kerouac will be bring the message.  This is the first time Jennifer has brought the message at Sylvan Abbey but not the first time for her to preach.  We are excited for her to be ministering among us.  
Jennifer and her husband Scott have been at Sylvan Abbey since the beginning of the year and we are getting them involved.  They moved to Clearwater, FL in 2014 from Illinois.  
Jen is a currently candidate for ministry in the United Methodist Church. She was born in Kankakee, IL and currently is employed by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Department as a paralegal.  
Blessings to all of you and enjoy your worship of the Almighty King, Jesus Christ, under the power and influence of the Holy Spirit!

Is There a Heaven & Hell?

     When I was in grade school the kids of my church (St. Paul’s Lutheran) were invited to watch a great movie which I had never seen and we watched it on a black and white TV with rabbit ears.  The iconic movie: “The Wizard of Oz.  Remember the part when Dorothy and her friends are ushered into the great hall of the wizard for a face to face visit.  If you read the Wizard of Oz this part is captured as “Toto…toppled over the screen that stood in a corner.  As it fell with a crash they looked that way, and the next moment they were filled with wonder.”
We all look forward to the time this happens in our life, right?  When we can experience the pulling back of the curtain and we can see God face-to-face.  Won’t we be filled with wonder??
This is the last question in the series:  What happens when I die?  What happen in the after-life?  The funny pictures television gives us is people on clouds, harps, etc.  One of the great myths is we all become angels.  Every pet lover hopes their favorite pet is there.  Will they?  Will we see loved ones?  Will they recognize us?
People are often surprised to learn how much the Bible has to say about heaven.  Some believe the heaven our loved ones are in now is the temporary or intermediate heaven.  Theologians call this the “intermediate state.”  One day this will be replaced with the permanent dwelling of God’s people called “A new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21:1).

Come, Sunday, February 12 @11:00 am for worship service where we will talk about "where we go when we die."  Is there a heaven or hell and if so what it is like?  We have answered 6 God Questions and you can review these 6 sermon messages on our website under Sermon Archives.  
Blessings to all of you who read and use this sie. 


How Did We Get Here?

This week we look at another controversial topic.  We explore beginnings and starts and how it all came to be.
Children love to hear their parents tell stories about “when you were born” and “when you were little.”  We all like to know where we came from, it is important to us. 
I believe one of the most hotly debated subjects or better questions in the religious and scientific communities for many years now is the debate about the origin and development of our universe. 
God Question number 5- “How Did We Get Here?”  Which is right evolution or creation?  It is not as personal as the pain and suffering question but more contested than the Super Bowl, World Series, or World Cup.  Read on either side of the issue and you will wonder if the writer is defending his mother’s honor or sister’s virtue.  The question of evolution versus creation is more volatile than a uranium isotope.

Come Sunday morning at 11:00 am for God Question number 5.  Next week, Question 6 is "Is there a Heaven and Hell?"  Come and enjoy the worship of God with us!
One of the most troubling questions of faith, of a believer, of a Christian is “Why is there suffering?”  If there is an all-knowing God and He is aware of everything that goes on, if He is all powerful and He can prevent everything that goes on and He cares about everything that goes on.  
Why do so many bad things happen in our world?

Because our world contains so much sorrow and evil, some people conclude that God cannot be all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving at the same time.  He can be two out of three but if He were all three, He could not possibly sit back and allow the tragedies that occur on our planet on a daily basis. 

Or could He?  

Come on Sunday morning at the 11:15 am worship service to see how we tackle this nagging and important question.

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