Help in Purple


A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul.



Psalm 67 Purple blessing

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah

that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us.

May God continue to bless us; let all the ends of the earth revere him.


John 5:1-9

Arise-Frank WesleyWesley, Frank, 1923-2002. Arise, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids--blind, lame, and paralyzed.

One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be made well?"

The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me."

Jesus said to him, "Stand up, take your mat and walk."

At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. Now that day was a sabbath.

Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5

New_Jerusalem _1645

The New Jerusalem. Armenian manuscript by Malnazar and Aghap'ir in New Julfa bible, 1645.

And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.

And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.

Its gates will never be shut by day--and there will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.

But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.

And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.


Acts 16:9-15

Lydia of

Lydia of Thyatira, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. 

During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us."

When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them. We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days.

On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there.

A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home."

And she prevailed upon us.


John 14:23-29

Jesus answered him, "Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me."

"I have said these things to you while I am still with you.

"But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you."

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid."

"You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I am coming to you.' If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe."

Mother's Day Message

Shepherds and seamstresses

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What is your name?

What happens when your name is called?

Mother's Day is a celebration of one truly wonderful human relationship.

All human relationships point us to the one vital and life-giving relationship that is necessary for real life, a relationship with God.


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Four Insights from Today's Readings

    • When your Name is Called, Rise Up! ( See Acts reading)
    • When Your Name is Called, Rest. ( See Psalm  reading)
    • When You Realize the Shepherd's Name, Rejoice! ( See Revelation reading)
    •  When Your Name is Called, Respond, ( See John reading)

Whether  a shepherd or one of the sheep of a seamstress asleep in the sleep of death, it is all about the relationship between God and God's people that is played out and glimpsed in every human relationship.

The Scriptures in One Place

Acts 9:36-43

New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter got up and went with them, and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, get up.” Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. Meanwhile, he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner.

Psalm 23

New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

A Psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
    he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
    I fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    my whole life long.

Revelation 7:9-17

New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying,

“Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne and to the Lamb!”

And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing,

“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and might
be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

For this reason they are before the throne of God
    and worship him day and night within his temple,
    and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.
They will hunger no more and thirst no more;
    the sun will not strike them,
    nor any scorching heat,
for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,
    and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

John 10:22-30

New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

At that time the Festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me, but you do not believe because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, in regard to what he has given me, is greater than all, and no one can snatch them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

God’s Care 

 An Extra Message

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.”- Psalm 23:1

 Today, we take a fresh look at the most familiar words in the Bible. Yahweh, the God of Israel, is my very own shepherd. He has many sheep, but He is MY shepherd who knows me, cares for me, leads me, and speaks in a voice I recognize. He can differentiate me from all other sheep and always knows whether I am walking with His flock or wandering away. When I do wander, He seeks me because I am His. He is jealous for me and will not tolerate anything that would harm me. I can trust Him.

“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters” – Psalm 23:2

 Sheep are not very good at locating their own grazing lands. They tend to wander aimlessly, following this patch of grass to another until they are lost. The Shepherd knows the places of abundant food and pure, sweet water. Worry and care are redundant exercises if one is a member of Yahweh’s flock; He already has our needs in His heart and plans. His care is complete. His provision is sure. Are you wearing your life and patience thin trying to duplicate His efforts? Stop. It is futile. Trust Him.

“ He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” - Psalm 23:3

 The care that God gives us restores something that has been lacking in our lives.  His desire is not simply to keep us going or maintain our existence, but do a deep work of grace in us that places us back on the path of righteousness – right relationships with Him and others and right living that nourishes our souls. As He works profoundly in us, His purposes are accomplished and His Name is glorified. We cannot divorce the glory and love of God as opposing realities. When we prosper, He is exalted.

  “ Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” – Psalm 23:4

This valley was a real place of danger in the psalmist’s time and it is any place of danger and despair in our own where we feel alone and vulnerable. But neither the valley nor death itself are the essential and fearful evils that we shun. Evil overtakes us as we grow frightful and discouraged in the valley and it is that evil that the Shepherd confronts with His rod and staff to comfort our souls. Sometimes it is the rod and staff of discipline, but more often, of protection that reminds us that we are not alone.

“  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” – Psalm 23:5

We are guests of God, honored and prized. So far, the psalmist has portrayed God as a shepherd. Then, he has added the role of friend to the Lord’s description. Now, He is also our host. As we see more of who God is in our lives, our self-image is expanded. We have been invited to sit at the head table and partake of a feast of love, joy, and abundance. Looking on with jealous rage are our impotent enemies –  forces that endanger our souls. They are powerless to interrupt this celebration for God is in charge.

“ Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” – Psalm 23:6

Wherever we go, goodness and love follow. Our journey is a temporal transition leading to an eternal home, but throughout it all, we are accompanied by the presence of God. His Shepherding friendship and hospitality cause us to reinterpret every event of our lives in the light of His purposes and providence. Nothing has meaning apart from Him once we have trusted Him and known His covenant love. Everything prior to our coming to Him was a cruel illusion. But now, we live in a constant state of grace. Amen.

Bonus Message

I Have Already Come

 “And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”. – Revelation 7:14

 There are two powerful words joined together in the scriptures – two prepositions that together bring us hope in our trials and tribulations: out of.

We catch a glimpse of Heaven and behold the saints, on display as examples of potential victory and ultimate triumph. These are they who have come out of tribulation. You might as well say, “through.”

Years back, my wife underwent surgery for breast cancer. The next day she was visited by a survivor. While she had already made up her mind to be more than that – even an “overcomer,” the visit was an encouragement. Someone had come out of the struggle, through the difficulties, and over the hurdles. And out of those tribulations, there emerged good.

“I have already come.”

When we hear those words and when we speak those words, we get courage. Whether it is our experience or someone else’s, there is precedent for victory. We affirm again with Paul that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

We draw upon past victories to nurture belief for present and future challenges. We recognize the power of God’s grace in our lives up until this point. We see where we were, what we had to face, and how we emerged and we know that if we have to, we can do it again.

We don’t want to do it again, but we can.

Then we think of the saints around the throne and know that we have really faced such little hardship compared to them. And from there we look to the cross and know that we have not even approached Christ’s suffering. Then we go back to our Bibles and underscore the words, “out of,” and back to our hymnals and highlight the word, “through.”

I have already come.

Do You Love Me?

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”




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 Revelation 5:11-14

New International Version

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
    to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
    and honor and glory and praise!”

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
    be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”

The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.


Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”


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From the Live Broadcast

So Send I You

THOMASCaravaggio, Michelangelo Merisi da, 1573-1610

Psalm 150
New International Version

Praise the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
    praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
    praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord. 


New Testament Lesson

The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” - Acts 5:27-32, NIV


 Kings and Priests

“John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;  And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” - Revelation 1:4-6

There has been a societal emphasis on self-esteem and feeling good about ourselves. Children with a distorted concept of themselves grow into troubled adults. Without a sense of value and worth, people disrespect themselves and tend to disrespect others. Sometimes this disrespect leads to crime or anti-social behaviors. It is self-destructive and manifests itself in unhealthy families. It is visited upon children and children’s children.

But the remedy is not found in superficial affirmations of our essential worth or in the denial of sin and darkness. It is to be found in God and His esteem for us. He loves us because of His amazing grace, tender mercy, and sovereign choice. All of this was bestowed while we were yet sinners. He saw what we could be.

God has called us out of darkness.  He has freed us from sin by the blood of His Son so that every impediment to our becoming who we were intended to be, has been removed. 

The outcome is that God’s vision of us as His people is an elevated vision.  He does not look upon His children, who have received His grace, as miserable sinners.  He sees us as a kingdom of priests who serve and exalt Him.  That is who we are.  All other visions of self are false and fading.  It is by grace, and it is complete.  God’s glory is manifest in His loving esteem for us.  We are kingdom people, and we are priestly people with a high calling and a sanctified s us.

Alpha and Omega

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. “- Revelation 1:8

Everything is wrapped up in the babe who was wrapped in swaddling clothes. In a tiny bundle of newborn humanity is the sum total of all truth and meaning. In that crude cradle of creation lay the Creator of the universe. His Incarnation condensed into one representative human life the start and finish of history and the cosmos. Though He presented Himself in time and space as a participant in our history, He is beyond history. He is the Lord of eternity, the Almighty. And we knew it not.

The grand spiritual, “Sweet Little Jesus Boy,” say it succinctly, “We didn’t know it was you.”

But it was Him and is Him and always will be Him? What child is this? Oh, so much more than we could ever imagine. He is Alpha and Omega, the A and the Z. He starts things and finishes them. He always was and yet, is present. And He always will be. Divine mystery is flesh. John wrote that we could touch Him, the Word of Truth.

“What wondrous love is this, that caused the Lord of bliss” to come and live among us? We didn’t know who He was and John, in the Revelation of Jesus Christ allows us to see what He saw, and He conveys to us His vision of the risen and exalted Christ, the Eternal One.


Intercessory Prayer

Reproduced from Revised Common Lectionary Prayers copyright © 2002

O God, your Son remained with his disciples after his resurrection,
teaching them to love all people as neighbors.
As his disciples in this age,
we offer our prayers on behalf of the universe
in which we are privileged to live
and our neighbors with whom we share it.

Prayers of the People, concluding with:

Open our hearts to your power moving
around us and between us and within us,
until your glory is revealed in our love of both friend and enemy,
in communities transformed by justice and compassion,
and in the healing of all that is broken. Amen.


The Gospel

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 

After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again, Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 

And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. - John 20:19-31

The Sending

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  -John 20:21

Peace settles things. 

It allows the right order and relationship and brings vision into focus. 

It is absolute well-being, and it is the gift of the Risen Christ. 

His peace does more than just calm the soul, however; it enlivens the spirit and prepares us for a calling.  In our vision of the resurrected Lord, is a clear and compelling message from God:

As the Father sent Jesus into the world, so we are being sent by Jesus. 

He came as a servant; we have been sent to serve. 

He came in the power of the Holy Spirit; we go forth in that same power. 

He came to do great works; we have been sent to do greater works because He indwells us. 

He came to die; we die to self that we may live to Him. 

This commission is neither symbolic nor optional. 

It is not an addition to His promise of peace; it a result of it and reason for it.  It cannot be realized by proxy. 

We have been commissioned. 

We are sent.



He Told You

Remember how he told you

He Told You

And they remembered his words. -Luke 24:8

Have you ever experienced the exhilaration of everything becoming clear and connected?

The disciples did not need new information to understand the resurrection; they needed the illumination that comes when God suddenly turns on the lights in our personal experience of His grace. They needed to reflect upon what they had seen, heard, and experienced in the light of all Jesus has said. In short, they needed to remember in the afterglow of the empty tomb.

Before the resurrection, all that Jesus had said and done had consisted of delightful and sometimes confusing fragments in their minds. Now, everything was cohesive and clear.

Easter PowerPoint with Music and Readings:

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Now He Is Risen

“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” – I Corinthians 15:20

Now is Christ risen.

“Death in vain forbids Him rise.”

Now He lives, awakened from the dead, leading the procession of those who have slept.

“Christ hath opened Paradise.”

Now is Christ risen and those who have died in Him are alive in Him.

It is the holy now, the sacred moment, the dynamic present where Christ Jesus is alive and where we live also in Him. It is the glorious culmination of His purpose, the verification of His assurances, and the proclamation of His power.

Coming out of the grave, He is the first. He is the firstfruits from among sleepers, not as the God He was and is, but as man, “For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” (I Corinthians 5:21-22

He is representative humanity, inseparable from His divinity, and incorruptible as our link to eternity.

As William Gaither penned, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.”

More than that, because He lives, death is utterly frustrated and thoroughly devastated in its ability to render us helpless and hopeless. Only life bears any relevance to those who trust in Him. Eternal life is now.

Now is Christ risen!






Palm Sunday Sermon - The Blessed King

Цвети _улазак_Христа_у_Јерусалим_(Church_fresco_-_Triumphal_entry_into_Jerusalem _Bitola)

 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;

his steadfast love endures forever!

Let Israel say,

“His steadfast love endures forever.”

- Psalm 118:1-2

Your goodness, God is revealed in Your love. And Your love is steadfast and eternal. We say, with all Israel all humanity, that your steadfast love endures forever. May the words of our mouths and the meditations of hearts be acceptable in Your sight, oh Lord, our strength, and our Redeemer. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.



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Luke 19 says:

He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

 When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,

 “Blessed is the king

    who comes in the name of the Lord!

Peace in heaven,

    and glory in the highest heaven!”

 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”


Lord, what do you need from us today? Do you need a donkey upon which to ride? Do you need for us to carry palm branches and cry out for your salvation? Do you need for us to watch and consider? We are so absorbed with our needs, and indeed, you invite us to lay them at your feet. Yet, you have shone us the example of one who advanced to the house of torture in order that we might be redeemed. You placed our needs ahead of your own. Let this mind be in us that was in Christ Jesus, as Paul prayed with the Philippians,

Indeed …

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

 who, though he was in the form of God,

    did not regard equality with God

    as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself,

    taking the form of a slave,

    being born in human likeness.

And being found in human form,

    he humbled himself

    and became obedient to the point of death—

    even death on a cross.

 Therefore God also highly exalted him

    and gave him the name

    that is above every name,

so that at the name of Jesus

    every knee should bend,

    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue should confess

    that Jesus Christ is Lord,

    to the glory of God the Father.

It was a Sunday. The great city was preparing for a time of religious celebration and commemoration. But there were rumors that Jesus was on his way. Folks had heard the stories about him, his teachings, his deeds of kindness, his ruffling of the feather of power, and his miracles. Rumor had it, that he might be the Messiah. And so, they waited along the way to welcome him and shouted as he came:

 Blessed is the King who comes in the Name of the Lord!

Peace in heaven and glory in the highest (Luke 19:38)

Today, we join the eternal chorus of welcome as the Lord Jesus Christ enters our consciousness as the King who comes in the Name of the Lord.

He is the Prince of Peace and righteousness.

His Kingdom comes with glory and praise, but also with a cross of pain and disgrace.

Luke records but part of a stanza of the longer hymn, part of which says, from Psalm 118:

Open to me the gates of righteousness,

    that I may enter through them

    and give thanks to the Lord.

 This is the gate of the Lord;

    the righteous shall enter through it.

 I thank you that you have answered me

    and have become my salvation.

The stone that the builders rejected

    has become the chief cornerstone.

This is the Lord’s doing;

    it is marvelous in our eyes.

This is the day that the Lord has made;

    let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Save us, we beseech you, O Lord!

    O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!

 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.

    We bless you from the house of the Lord.

The Lord is God,

    and he has given us light.

Bind the festal procession with branches,

    up to the horns of the altar.

 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;

    you are my God, I will extol you.

 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,

    for his steadfast love endures forever.

He willingly enters into the sphere of time, space, and judgment to face whatever stands between him and his mission to bring all who welcome him into eternal fellowship with the Father.

Let us lift our voices in worship as we worship Him.

Jesus implied endorsement of the praise of the people as something flowing from their deepest sense of divinity. It was emerging from their God-connection as people made in God’s image.

Even rocks have that, Jesus says.

Even the inanimate realm is tuned to ultimate reality for it cannot exist apart from that reality.

Stones will cry out if people do not.

Such is the joy of just a glimpse of the king coming to establish a kingdom of righteousness, grace, love, peace, joy, and justice. Such is the wonderful paradox of conqueror on a lowly pack animal. Such is the glimmer of light that shines from behind the veil revealing the unfolding of prophetic hope and apocalyptic celebration.

So, they met him with palms and shouts of victorious praise.

So, they welcomed him with sounds of song and movements of dance. As if choreographed for a Broadway finale, it was less than that, a penultimate preview of glory to come. The theme will become the overture.

It becomes the backdrop against which suffering, disgrace, and humiliation will be seen in perspective in the days to come.

Long, lonely, dark days and then …

New creation, indeed, the long anticipated eighth day of creation and hope.

Hope, it is, for those who walk, even now through valley of the shadow of death.

It is hope that triggers our thinking to know that the greater reality is unveiled and disclosed. That eternity has transcended modernity and life has already overcome death.

Peace in heaven means the possibility of peace on earth.

Glory in the highest predicts and displays glory among the lowliest.

The King has arrived at the earthly epicenter of God’s geographical work on earth, Jerusalem, where He is presumed to dwell among men, the Temple.

But it is the living temple who has come to the stone and mortar temple to declare that the Temple of God shall be in the hearts of men and women.

Therefore, we celebrate Palm Sunday.

It prepares us for a meeting in the Upper Room where Jesus will bless bread and wine as his own body and blood.

It gets us ready for the garden scene of prayer and betrayal and for the outer courtyard where, can be heard, the sounds of Jesus’ trial. It gets us ready to consider his floggings, his trek to Golgotha, his agonizing and sacrificial death, and his words.

The Seven Last Words which included, “Father, forgive them, “ “Why hast Thou forsaken me,” and “Into Thy hands, I commend my spirit.”

It points to a lonely tomb borrowed from a man who shared his earthly father’s name,

It anticipates the following Sunday when an event he predicted, but none comprehended, shakes time and space forever.

This coming week is a time for medication, reflection, and contemplation.

The Triumphal entry does not conclude with the disgraceful cross, but with the glorious resurrection.

Yet, today, we are transfixed by the image of his coming into the city. We are surrounded by palm and shouts of joy. We are enveloped by the music of the moment and the resounding “hosannas” that are on the lips of the young and the old.

We are dancing in the streets, waving the palms.

We are in the moment.

Every moment has its place, and each moment is a part of a larger moment within eternity.

We take them as they come, and we embrace each one for the meaning that they reveal.


Our Father which 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 debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

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


You are here now, waving the branch and declaring his praise.

Where will you be in the dark of Thursday when ominous words are spoken and betrayal looms?

Where will you be on Friday when the world goes dark and he gives up his spirit?

Where will you be on Saturday when there is not a glimmer of hope?

Will you be prepared to come to the tomb with ointments and spice to anoint his body and receive the surprise off your life?

Declare now, your yes to his yes and allow it to be your “hosanna of the moment.”




God bless you.

God keep you.

God make God’s face to shine upon you.

God lift up the very countenance of God upon you.

May God be gracious to you.

May God give you peace.

Through Jesus Christ, our LORD.

Amen again.


View This Message



Priority One - Worship for Sunday, April 3, 2022

Mary of bethany


April 3, 2022
Year C, Revised Common Lectionary

This is an expression of the church, the fellowship of believers in and seekers of Jesus. We meet online in an online community on Facebook. This feed is available to Pastor Tom's friends and followers, but also the general public. There are no restrictions. Welcome. Help us make this a REAL community of Joy and love.
Online friends are REAL friends!
Please leave your comments, questions, and prayer requests in the comments section
The Fellowship of Joy is building a team of technical advisors to assist with the delivery and expansion of this message. Respond in comments or PM.
Devotions are posted daily -
Join us for the prayer our Lord taught us to pray
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.

Isaiah 43:16-21

Thus says the LORD, who makes a
way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings
out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down,
they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a
wick: Do not remember the former things, or consider
the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it
springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way
in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild
animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for
I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to
give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I
formed for myself so that they might declare my praise.

Audio - Download Isaiah 43 16-21

Psalm 126
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.

Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and
our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said
among the nations, "The LORD has done great
things for them."

The LORD has done great things for us, and we

Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the
watercourses in the Negeb.

May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of

Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing,

shall come home with shouts of joy,
carrying their sheaves.

AUDIO Download Psalm 126

Philippians 3:4b-14

If anyone else has reason to be
confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the
eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the
tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the
law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church;
as to righteousness under the law, blameless. Yet
whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as
loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard
everything as loss because of the surpassing value of
knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have
suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as
rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in
him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes
from the law, but one that comes through faith in
Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I
want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection
and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him
in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection
from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or
have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it
my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own;
but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and
straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward
the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in
Christ Jesus.

 John 12:1-8

Six days before the Passover Jesus came
to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised
from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him.
Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the
table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume
made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped
them with her hair. The house was filled with the
fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his
disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said,
"Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred
denarii and the money given to the poor?" (He said this
not because he cared about the poor, but because he
was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to
steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, "Leave her alone.
She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of
my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you
do not always have me."

SERMON from Pastor Tom:

More love to Thee, O Christ,
More love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make
On bended knee;
This is my earnest plea:
More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee,
More love to Thee!

Once earthly joy I craved,
Sought peace and rest;
Now Thee alone I seek,
Give what is best;
This all my prayer shall be:
More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee,
More love to Thee!

Then shall my latest breath
Whisper Thy praise;
This be the parting cry
My heart shall raise;
This still its prayer shall be:
More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee,
More love to Thee!


Priestly blessing

You may email Pastor Tom Sims at


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Lost and Found

LostAndFound-OliverJeffers (1)

Do you remember the lost and found box at your school? Have you ever lost something important to you that you later found? How did you feel? If you rejoiced, you have something in common with the Father.


Lost and Found is a children's picture book by Oliver Jeffers, published in 2005. It won the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize Gold Award and was the Blue Peter Book of the Year.


Welcome to the Fellowship of Joy
Come to the Party!
A Synopsis of the Message
This is an expression of the church, the fellowship of believers in and seekers of Jesus. We meet online in an online community on Facebook. This feed is available to Pastor Tom's friends and followers, but also the general public. There are no restrictions. Welcome. Help us make this a REAL community of Joy and love.
Online friends are REAL friends!
Please leave your comments, questions, and prayer requests in the comments section
The Fellowship of Joy is building a team of technical advisors to assist with the delivery and expansion of this message. Respond in comments or PM.
Devotions are posted daily on Pastor Tom's page.
This video will be posted on Youtube and as well as other social media platforms. You are encouraged to repost.

Join us for the prayer our Lord taught us to pray:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Lost and Found
Joshua 5:9-12
New Revised Standard Version
The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt.” And so that place is called Gilgal to this day.
While the Israelites were camped in Gilgal they kept the passover in the evening on the fourteenth day of the month in the plains of Jericho. On the day after the passover, on that very day, they ate the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land, and the Israelites no longer had manna; they ate the crops of the land of Canaan that year.
Psalm 32
New Revised Standard Version
Of David. A Maskil.
Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
While I kept silence, my body wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah
Therefore let all who are faithful
offer prayer to you;
at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters
shall not reach them.
You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. Selah
I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle,
else it will not stay near you.
Many are the torments of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
New Revised Standard Version
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Luke 15
New Revised Standard Version
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So he told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
“Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.
“Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”
  • God is the one who looses.
  • We are the one who are lost.
  • We are also the ones who lose.
  • We are, furthermore, the ones who called to rejoice.




image from


Our Covenant Together – Step One – Personal Conversion

 Romans 6:1-11, New International Version (NIV)

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

What Do We Affirm in Baptism?

  • It is all In Him, With Him, and Through Him - IDENTIFICATION
  •  That we do not Intend to go on sinning. INTENTION
  • That we have distanced ourselves from the old and made a Declaration of INDEPENDENCE.
  • That we have been INFECTED with His life.