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Foundational Thanksgiving

Understanding Our Four Fathers Heart
     The tradition of Thanksgiving in America and its focus on God and His blessing date way back, such as: "The main thrust of celebrating Thanksgiving here in America, is from the familiar story of the Pilgrim's Thanksgiving celebration of 1621." 
Today, it appears the Thanksgiving season is open season to make merchandise of the Gospel with the purpose of making money. To use the Thanksgiving season as a prelude to touch the Holy things of God with unholy hands is an insult to the Lord who has given us the blessings we enjoy. Could it be? Is it time? Does the church today need to follow the example of Christ? In His dealing with the money changers in the temple when they used the sacrifices found in Scripture to make a fortune for themselves.
     I would propose to you; the Word of God holds the foundational truths for expressing a thankful life. Psalm 107:21, "Let them thank the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind."
Understanding, the heartbeat of the first Thanksgiving lays the foundation for a thanksgiving season that glorifies the Lord.

Come and hear messages about Thanksgiving on November 5, 12, & 19.  Our worship service starts at 11:00 am every Sunday with Sunday school starting at 9:45 am.  Come and be a part of our growing family here at Sylvan Abbey.  Blessings to all of you!!


Vision Meeting Coming!

Vision Meeting, in our Fellowshio Hall, will begin on Friday, October 20 at 5:30 pm with a supper provided and then start again on Saturday morning at 8:30 am with lunch provided.  
Please come to this important time in our church life.  We expect to have everyone involved and open to the passions and visions you see for this community of faith.
Blessings and hope to see all of you there.
If you have any questions, call Pastor Chuck Smith at 727-266-9994.  Members and Non-Members are invitied to attend!

The Zealot Saul

In the Biblical days, the social structure of the day was made up of several different groups:
          Pharisees            Sadducees          Gentiles (God Fearing Gentiles)
But one of the most prominent groups we encounter in the N.T., not because of their size but because of their significance is a group called the Zealots. 
          At least one of the 12 disciples and possibly two were called from this group of people, the Zealots.  Now they were called Zealots because of their great zeal for political liberation.  These were the men who were committed to an armed revolt against their Roman occupation.
          But there was another group of people in Israel who could also be called Zealots though their zealotism was not necessarily linked to political goals or ambitions.  These other Zealots were from the larger group of Pharisees.  These men were Zealots for the Law of God.
          Now we don’t hear anything about the Pharisees in the O.T. because they didn’t exist in the O.T.  It was in the inter-testimonial period (400 years) that the Pharisees party, the group within the nation were formed.  They were formed by a group of conservative Jewish people who were extremely concerned about the radical secularization of the nation where it was taking place. 
          They were swimming against the tide of secularism.  They were calling people back to their roots.  They were calling people back to the ancient law forms of Israel.  So, they called themselves the “Separated Ones” or the “Set Apart Ones” or the Pharisees.  They were singularly, personally, zealously devoted to living out the obedience to the Law of God perfectly in their lives.  Now even within the Pharisees there was a sub-group of Pharisees who were the most zealous of all.  This was a small group within that developed who condensed some or all the Laws they could find in the O.T. and they had a list of some 1001 of those Laws. 
It was their belief that if anyone of their group or number could keep all the 1001 of those Laws of the Jewish faiths perfectly for 24 hours that God would send the Messiah.
          Now during the time of Jesus there was one of these Zealots whose life was totally devoted to the Zealot cause of the Pharisees.  He was reared in a home that was committed to the Law of God.  He was given a singularly great education.  He studied at the feet of the greatest Rabbi of the century, Gamaliel, at the most important theological school in the Jerusalem.  This young man by the time he was 21 years old, had the equivalent of what we would call 2 Ph.D.’s.  He was considered the most learned Pharisee-young Pharisee-of his day.
          But with his learning, education, and his brilliance, there was a match of zeal as well.  He hated anything that even smelled of a departure of the rigors of orthodoxy of the Pharisaic code.
          He began to hear reports from men and women around Jerusalem about a new sect that was developing.  A sect he considered heretical, a sect he judged to be a clear and present danger to the purity of the Jewish religion.  A sect of people who were Jews, who were following this man called Jesus the Christ.  This Jesus had the audacity to claim that He was the Messiah.  This young Zealot was enraged by this and he developed a consuming hatred for Christians and for the Christian church.  His name, the name for this educated, intelligent, man of zeal, the Zealot, Saul.


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!
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