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Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Season of Remembrance (May 2017)
Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church
May 14-28, 2017

In this series we remember God's past faithfulness as we hope in faith for God's future promises.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

A Spiritual Memorial (Joshua 4.1-13, Exodus 13)

Sermon by: Robert Austell; May 28, 2017 - Joshua 4:1-13; Exodus 13:1-14

:: Sermon Audio (link) ::
Click link to open and play in browser; right-click to save. Sermon audio is also accessible as a free podcast in iTunes. Search for "Good Shepherd Sermons" or "Robert Austell." 

:: Scripture and Music ::
Singing Together: We Will Remember (Tommy Walker)
Singing Together: Merciful God (Getty, Townend)
Offering of Music (Madeline Buchmann, piano): Sonata No. 16 in C Major (Mozart)
Hymn of Sending: Great is Thy Faithfulness (FAITHFULNESS)

:: Sermon Manuscript (pdf) ::
This "manuscript" represents an early draft of the sermon. Some weeks  the spoken version varies more than others from the early manuscript. Nevertheless, if you'd prefer to read than to listen, this is provided  for that purpose.

I’d like to begin today with a question, not for you to answer out loud, but to think about: What is a challenge you are facing right now?

I imagine for some of you there is something that comes immediately to mind; for others, you may need to think for a moment, so I’ll give you that moment and ask again. What is a challenge you are facing right now? Hold the answer to that question in your mind – you may even want to jot it down on your bulletin or in your Bible next to this Joshua 4 passage or in the back. As we study that passage I hope that remembering what God has done will help provide some insight and hope into how God will help you in what you are facing today.

Tomorrow our nation observes Memorial Day, a day in which to remember and honor those who gave their lives in service to our country.  Indeed, when we come to prayer later in this service, we will remember and give thanks as well. Memory is a powerful thing. It is often tied to the emotion of the past; it can inform our present; and it can shape our future. The wise person remembers and learns from the past; the fool forgets the mistakes of the past, doomed to repeat them.

As I thought about a sermon text for this morning, I was struck by the role of “remembering” in the Bible. It is a significant and major theme, for all the reasons already mentioned and more. And there is an additional link to Memorial Day, for not only are their many reasons to remember the work of God in history, but we also have in Jesus the prime example of one giving his life for the sake of other, in service to the highest authority.

So, I’d like to look with you at one story in which remembering played a significant role and we will see how that “Memorial Day” can be a spiritual blessing in our own lives.

Remember the Jordan

In the text we heard from Joshua 4, the Israelites have just crossed into the Promised Land. This has been a looooong, multi-generational and wandering journey, but they were finally there. A whole generation had lived and died in the desert, because of the sins of those who first came out of Egypt. Even their great leader, Moses, had died and the mantle of leadership had passed to Joshua. The Jordan River marked the edge of the Promised Land and Jericho now lay before them. In this text, Joshua and the people pause between a miraculous crossing of the Jordan (ch. 3) and the “Battle of Jericho” (ch. 6) for an unusual and memorable celebration. It was their Memorial Day!

So what were they remembering? They were remembering what had just happened and what had happened long ago.

What had just happened was that the Lord had instructed them to take the Ark of the Covenant into the Jordan River and the waters parted so that the people were able to cross on dry ground. It was a sign that God was in their midst and going before them into this Promised Land. It was also a reminder of a similar miracle a generation earlier, when their parents and grandparents had come through the Red Sea.

And so Joshua told a man from each of the twelve tribes to take up a stone and mark the place where the Ark had rested during this miracle. And Joshua specifically instructed them about it: it was a sign, “so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’” And so this was to be “a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.” (v. 7)

Think about that… imagine driving along the road and seeing a huge pyramid of rocks on the side of the road. And your curious 4-year-old in the back seat says, “What’s that, mommy?” And you could tell him, “That’s where thus-and-so happened; and our family was a part of it!” That marking of the passing into the Promised Land was what had just happened. What had happened long ago was Egypt…

Remember Egypt

Today we also heard several verses from Exodus 13. That’s the chapter that establishes the memorial meal of the Passover. That is a different kind of Memorial Day that recalls what God did in bringing His people out of Egypt. Every Jewish family and child, from then until now, knows that story. They know it because it is remembered every year. Moses explains in Exodus 13: “Remember this day in which you went out from Egypt, from the house of slavery; for by a powerful hand the Lord brought you out from this place.” (v. 3) When the children ask, tell them this: “It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.” (v. 8) And tell future children and grandchildren, “With a powerful hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery.” (v. 14)

The reason God’s people were finally coming into the Promised Land in Joshua 4 is because they had remembered Egypt. Had they forgotten that deliverance from slavery or the long-standing promises to Abraham, they may well have settled for desert or any number of places before they ever got to the Jordan. Or they may have not risked the crossing and facing the city of Jericho. But God had promised this land and had brought them this far. God had parted waters before and had defeated superior armies before. And they hadn’t forgotten.

And this story – this REMEMBRANCE – was passed on from parent to child. It was shared and told and re-told, so that the children would know both the promises and the faithfulness of God and be able to respond in faith when the day of action came.

And so I would ask you this question: What do you remember about the character or involvement of God from the Bible?

Jot a word or phrase down in your bulletin or there at Joshua 4. You may want to take it directly from these stories. In Exodus, God hears His people cry out in their suffering. God delivers; God saves. Or in Joshua, God goes before them; God is faithful to His promises. Or you may remember another story: Jonah and Ninevah, the fruit of the Spirit, the story of Lazarus. What was God like? What did Jesus do? What comes to mind. Maybe you want to write the question down and spend more time with it later… that’s a great start into remembering.

What do you remember about the character or involvement of God from the Bible?


That brings me to today and one more question: What do you remember about the character or involvement of God in your own life?

Where has God shown up before in your life? If you are a Christian, He has. Even if you do not yet trust in Jesus Christ, God has shown up; it may just be harder to see or acknowledge.  So ponder that question deeply. We’ve looked to the stories of the Bible to remember about God’s character and involvement. Now consider the story of your own life.

Let’s start with Jesus. His life was spent in perfect service and obedience to God. And all the more, His death was an act of loving obedience, given in service to God for the sake of the world. That’s what John 3:16 teaches us… God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes will not die, but have eternal life. And Jesus embraced that mission. Jesus gave his life out of love for God and love for you. If you can remember nothing else, remember that! That is why Good Friday is the ultimate Memorial Day! In fact, the night before Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, which is our ongoing “Memorial Day” remembrance of that ultimate act. It’s right there on our Table and most others: “In remembrance of me.”

And then for each of you, the story of God in your life is as individual as you are. Can you think of one example of God showing up in your life? Maybe it was an answer to prayer, or encouragement deep in your spirit when things looked hopeless. Maybe it was direction or guidance when you were confused and lost. Maybe it was an experience of closeness or “connection” in worship or a feeling of peace in the middle of great distress. I have shared with you before one example from my own life when I was all closed up and closed off in my 20s and after an extended time of spiritual and emotional dryness, God broke through, first in a dream and then in real life. What about you? Where has God shown up?

What do you remember about the character or involvement of God in your own life?


And finally, think back to the question I asked at the beginning of the sermon. What is a challenge you are facing right now? And with that in mind, let me ask one more question.

How do these memorials of God’s character and involvement inform the challenge you are facing?

What does remembering God’s character and involvement in scripture tell you about how God will meet you in your current challenge? What stood out to you in your remembering… that God was faithful, strong, near, forgiving, merciful, or something else? What about God’s involvement; what stood out… that God listens, delivers, saves, or something else?

What did you remember from your own life? What stood out? Is that something you need to be reminded of… to remember?

I would encourage you to write these things down, to ‘mark’ them both to help in the current challenge and to remember in the future. Scripture even says we can use such things to teach the next generation about God.  If answers to these questions didn’t come to mind in the short time I gave you to answer, I’d encourage you to write the questions down and work through them on your own.  Here they are again:

What is a challenge you are facing right now?
What do you remember about the character or involvement of God from the Bible?
What do you remember about the character or involvement of God in your own life?
How do these memorials of God’s character and involvement inform the challenge you are facing?

If you were able to respond, I’d encourage you to write those responses down in your Bible or some other place you can find them again. Maybe you could mark them “Memorial Day 2017” or have a special page in the back of your Bible for “Things to Remember about God.” That was the purpose of the stones Joshua put in the Jordan River… it was to remember and be reminded, both for himself and for the generations to come.

Scripture says that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)  Trouble is, our memories are short and we forget that. Beloved, hear the Good News: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) Remember that and be encouraged! Amen.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

God's Perfection (Ephesians 1, Philippians 1, Romans 12)

Sermon by: Robert Austell; May 14, 2017 - Luke 2:21-24,36-40; 2 Timothy 1:3-8a

:: Sermon Audio (link) ::
Click link to open and play in browser; right-click to save. Sermon audio is also accessible as a free podcast in iTunes. Search for "Good Shepherd Sermons" or "Robert Austell." 

:: Scripture and Music ::
Singing Together: Our God Saves (Brown, Baloche)
Confirmation Song: Now You Make it Your Own (Austell, Dawson) - lyrics+video after sermon below
Singing Together: The Wonderful Cross (Watts, Tomlin, Reeves)
Offering of Music (Choir): Revelation 19 (LaValley, arr. Schrader)
Hymn of Sending: It is Well (DiMarco, Spafford)

:: Sermon Manuscript (pdf) ::
This "manuscript" represents an early draft of the sermon. Some weeks  the spoken version varies more than others from the early manuscript. Nevertheless, if you'd prefer to read than to listen, this is provided  for that purpose.

Today’s sermon is for the Confirmation students.  It’s the story of God working in time and out of time to bring about the salvation of His children.  It is a promise to those who have trusted Jesus Christ and committed their lives to him – that means this sermon is also for you, if you have trusted Christ and made that commitment.  The promise is that God is working on you and in you, perfecting you until you are transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ.  God is getting each of you ready for Heaven.  Finally, the sermon is for you, even if you have not yet trusted Jesus Christ, because it describes the great love and purpose with which God pursues His children. 

God Chose You in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-4)

Today I’m simply going to talk about three different passages from the Bible.  The first is Ephesians 1:3-4.  There Paul writes:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.

This is the truly mind-boggling part!  God, who exists outside of time and space was pleased to choose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.  This is neither the time nor place to get mired down in discussions of fate, predestination, free will, temporal mechanics, or if-God-chose-me-what-about-the-other-people.  Today’s message is directed at YOU.  If you are a Christian, the Bible says God not only knew about you before the world was made, but God chose you for the purpose of salvation and being perfect in His presence – “holy and blameless before Him.” 

It’s that purpose of God that we are focusing on today… God’s perfection.  Why did God create human beings?  Genesis says that it was because He was pleased to do so, for mutual relationship, and for humanity to worship God.  Even with Sin and the Fall and all that seemed to mess that plan up, God’s plan was bigger – when the time was right, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross and accomplish salvation for all who believe.  That means you, confirmation students.  That means you, brothers and sisters in Christ.  That means you, who may not know Christ, but who would believe in him.

And these words in Ephesians not only say that God purposed to rescue us from sin; God’s purpose all along is that we might be made perfect to stand in His presence to enjoy relationship and worship of our God and Father.

God Told His Story to You (Philippians 1:3-11)

The second passage I want to mention is Philippians 1:3-11.  In short, this passage reassures us that God does not leave us on our own to accomplish either our salvation or the perfection of our lives.  This passage says that God is at work in you, willing and working in you to make you perfect.  There are two handy theological words to describe all this.  The one is “justification,” which describes the instant right-standing granted to us by the grace of Christ.  Christians are justified by the crucifixion of Jesus Christ – we are forgiven and viewed by God as having the perfect righteousness of Christ.  The second word that describes God at work in us is “sanctification” – God has not only declared us holy in Christ, but is MAKING us holy through the work of the Holy Spirit. 

All that is a complicated way of saying what Paul says pretty simply in Philippians 1:6 – “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” 

God not only chose you and made you for salvation through Jesus Christ; God is in you, working on you to mold and shape you into the likeness of Christ, to do what the old children’s Christmas hymn says, “fit us for Heaven to live with you there.”

This assurance of God-at-work is both testimony to what is going on in the lives of these confirmation students and hope for all of us as we look ahead.  Each of these students have been loved and raised in the church.  Like the young Christians to whom Paul was writing in Philippians, the seed of the Gospel was planted by parents, Sunday school teachers, VBS after VBS, youth advisors, church services, summer camps, and friends.  And now in hindsight we can see how God has been at work to cultivate faith, belief, and commitment.

And the hope for all of us as we look ahead is that God is not finished with us.  He will continue to cultivate and grow our faith, belief, commitment, purity, and holiness until the day we stand before Him in Heaven.

It’s such a great promise and such a relief!  We don’t have to get our act together to get into Heaven.  God has given us that gift in Christ.  Rather, God’s additional gift is that he continues to participate in our lives to cause us to become more and more like the one whom we call Savior.

Each Day You Will Follow (Romans 12:1-2)

All I will say about predestination and free will this morning is that the Bible makes it clear that there is a mystery – God is sovereign over everything, including our salvation AND He invites and requires our participation in life and salvation.  This work that He is doing in our lives is not the tinkering of a great inventor on inanimate robots; it is the interaction of a Father and a child. 

In Romans 12, the Apostle Paul urges us to present our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice.  He goes on to challenge: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  These are concrete acts of commitment on our part.  This is what the confirmation students are doing today.  Most, if not all, of them trusted Jesus as their Savior a number of years ago. But in addition to making absolutely clear what they believed, we also made it very clear that being a Christian means being a follower of Jesus Christ, and that means committing our lives to him completely.  Each of them has made that conscious decision, marking it in a memorable morning on our retreat this past February.

That’s what Paul is calling for in these verses in Romans – commitment.  Again, it is not so that we can earn our way to Heaven or clean ourselves up enough to please God.  Instead, and here is the great and mysterious connection between our will and God’s will… it is “so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Our commitment to God helps us see and understand God’s commitment to us.  That is important enough a statement that I’ll repeat it: Our commitment to God helps us see and understand God’s commitment to us.

God’s Perfection

So, what does scripture teach us?

It teaches that God created us with purpose. 

It teaches that God intervened in human history to provide a means of salvation through Jesus Christ – and that to accomplish His eternal purpose.

It teaches that God continues to be involved in the lives of His children, to lead us, mold us, make us, and shape us into the likeness of His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

It teaches that our part in God’s plan is to respond to the great gift of grace by offering ourselves whole-heartedly in obedience and service to our Lord.  In doing so, we realize more and more how much God loves us.

God’s purpose is perfect.  God’s purpose is for you – for your life and your salvation.  He who began this good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus – that is what is good and acceptable and perfect to God.

You are God’s perfection!

Now You Make it Your Own

To the confirmation students:

As I said earlier, God planted the story and the seed in your hearts.  For some of you that began as far back as you can remember.  The Bible said it began before the world was made!  When you were little children, you depended on your parents for everything, including your relationship to God.  You have all shown that you are old enough to hear Jesus’ call to “Come, follow me” for yourselves.  So now you take your parents’ faith and training, your church’s teachings, the testimony of the Bible, and God’s timeless purpose for you, and you make it your own.

Today you have publicly confessed and demonstrated your faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  I charged you to “remember your baptism” – for all baptism is a witness to the saving event of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and to God’s eternal purpose and plan for your lives.

Though you are still young and have some years before you are adults in the world’s eyes, you are adults in your faith – choosing for yourselves to trust and follow Jesus Christ with your lives.  Know that God goes before and behind you, above and below you, working with and within you for His perfect will. Amen.

Now You Make it Your Own
By Gerrit Scott Dawson and Robert Austell, 1997

God chose you in Christ before the world was made
He came here for you... the Word was enfleshed
In Jesus, on the cross, your sins were laid
So dying, then rising with him, you are kept

Long love foresaw this day
Parents vowed before the throne
Friends in Christ showed the way
... now you make it your own

God told his story through those in your home
Christ showered love as water was poured
The Spirit brought friends, you’re never alone
So in the Church, you share one faith, one Lord


The world will insist that you turn its way
But dear ones resist, remember this day!!

Before God and us, you make holy vows
The name of Jesus you confess in Word
And in your heart.  Each day you will follow
The Savior whose call to serve you have heard


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Ordinary Women, Extraordinary God (Luke 2, 2 Timothy 1)

Sermon by: Robert Austell; May 14, 2017 - Luke 2:21-24,36-40; 2 Timothy 1:3-8a

:: Sermon Audio (link) ::
Click link to open and play in browser; right-click to save. Sermon audio is also accessible as a free podcast in iTunes. Search for "Good Shepherd Sermons" or "Robert Austell." 

:: Scripture and Music ::
Call to Worship: O God Beyond All Praising (arr. Forrest)
Singing Together: Come People of the Risen King (Getty/Townend)
Singing Together: Speak, O Lord (Getty/Townend)
Hymn of Sending: Called as Partners in Christ's Service (HOLY MANNA)

:: Sermon Manuscript (pdf) ::
This "manuscript" represents an early draft of the sermon. Some weeks  the spoken version varies more than others from the early manuscript. Nevertheless, if you'd prefer to read than to listen, this is provided  for that purpose.

If you’ve ever wanted a Bible hero who was not super-strong like Samson, able to kill giants with a stone like David, or a world-traveler like Paul, you may find something remarkable in today’s characters. One is an 84 year old widow; one is a homemaker whose son has just grown up and moved out; and one is the grandmother of that same young man.

And if you don’t think you can find inspiration in these ordinary people of faith think again – these are ordinary people who trust in our extraordinary God. They are not the ones who do extraordinary things, but God is!  They teach us that one of the greatest things God can do through you is passing on faith to others, particularly the next generation. To get there, they will also teach us about trusting and waiting on God, worshiping and serving Him, and sharing His story.

Anna (Luke 2)

Anna is tucked away in the story of Mary and Joseph bringing the infant Jesus to the Temple for circumcision and presentation to the Lord.  Simeon often figures prominently in that story as well, as the old priest who has been waiting for the Messiah, and who bursts into song when he sees the baby. Anna is right there as well.  She is 84 years old, widowed (likely as a young woman) only seven years into her marriage.  And she has lived out the rest of her life in the Temple.  Listen to the description again:

    She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. (v. 37)

The particular quality of Anna’s life that I want to highlight for you is her life of service and worship.  She spent all her time serving, fasting, and praying in the Temple.  She demonstrated both action and devotion.  These are things that anyone can do, but in the wake of her husband’s death, she did not pull back from God, but rededicated herself to Him all the more. What do I mean by action and devotion?  For her it may have been serving the priests or the people who came to worship at the Temple.  She may have acted like a tour guide, knowing the Temple as well as she did.  She may have cleaned up after the many, many visitors.  Surely her fasting and prayer is just what it sounds like; she alternated between service and spending time talking and listening to God.

That’s really what worship is – both the service and the devotion.  Worship is not only what we do when we gather here or when you spend time in private prayer or scripture reading.  It is also a life of service to God, whether that be helping inside the walls of the church or reaching out to others as a “good neighbor.”  All of that is a life of worship, and that’s what Anna lived. It’s reasonable for us as well.  I’m not talking about being a nun or a monk, retreating to a walled monastery and chanting prayers all day.  I’m talking about a life with God at the center, where faith isn’t an hour Sunday morning, but day in and day out action and devotion before God.  And that is something for 30 year old men, 84 year old widows, 16 year old teens, and 6 yr. old children.  Talk with God and live for God.  That’s Anna’s story.

And there’s more!  When she saw the baby Jesus, she recognized who he was.  Luke tells us this:

At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. (v. 38)

Her faithful life of worship (action and devotion) expressed itself outwardly.  She didn’t keep it to herself.  Not only did she serve others in the Temple, she continued to speak of him.  That implies not only that she told the news of God’s salvation from that point forward, but that she was probably talking about God’s promised salvation for many years before.  Like Simeon, she recognized God’s Messiah because she had been waiting for him.

We, too, can speak of God’s promises kept.  We can tell the story of what God has done for us and for the world.  It doesn’t have to be a six-point outline or a rehearsed presentation, just in your words and your style – your way of talking.  It’s part of a life of worship – action, devotion, and telling God’s story. That’s who Anna was; and you – women, men, and children – you can be Annas, and God will tell His story through your life.

Lois and Eunice (2 Timothy 1)

Let’s look at two other women, Lois and Eunice.  They are mentioned in 2 Timothy in Paul’s letter to his young friend, Timothy.  Paul is urging Timothy to hold fast to his faith, and to fan its flames with power, love, and discipline.  And Paul gives us a tidbit of insight into where Timothy learned of this faith:

For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. (v. 5)

Timothy became one of the significant early leaders of the Christian church, under the tutelage and blessing of Paul.  But where did this faith and this calling develop?  It came from his mother and grandmother in the home. Paul knew grandmother Eunice and mother Lois, and knew them both to be women of faith.  And he knew them enough to know that they told God’s story and shared their faith with young Timothy.

Anna had to wait on God’s Messiah, for a long lifetime.  She served God through a life of worship.  And she shared God’s story with those around her. In a different way, Eunice and Lois did the same thing.  Sharing faith with one’s children is not a knock on the door or walk forward to the altar kind of thing.  Like raising children in general, sharing faith is a day by day process of words, actions, and prayer, with lots of waiting, patience, and trust in the Lord.  Sometimes, you see faith bloom early.  Sometimes, it takes years and years. Many parents, teachers, and mentors are still waiting, and for a spiritual parent, that is a tough, tough wait.

Eunice and Lois surely led a life of worship as well, as every parent of faith must as we try to model faith to our children.  Even that doesn’t guarantee that our children will believe – they are, after all, human beings who must respond to God on their own terms.  But, God has established the human family for the purpose of passing on faith.  That is part of our understanding of the covenant and baptism and church.  And Eunice and Lois demonstrated God’s intent for parenting and grand-parenting.  So, like Anna, they too shared God’s story to the one closest and dearest to them.  And he, in turn, became one who shared God’s story with the world.

Our first mission field is our home.  God doesn’t guarantee our success, for our children must make up their own minds, but we can pour ourselves into them as Lois and Eunice did for Timothy.  God delights in telling His story and showing Himself through the lives of parents of faith.

Ordinary Women

What can we take away from the brief stories of Anna, Eunice, and Lois?  All three women demonstrated a pattern of faithfulness that is well worth embracing and emulating.  First, trusting God often involves waiting on God.  It is exciting and wonderful when God answers a prayer quickly.  And in our culture, we are used to fast results.  But God is not a genie, nor is prayer about getting our way.  And so, trusting God usually means waiting.  Sometimes that wait is unbearable.  I recognize that and don’t know any shortcuts.  I just know that faith includes waiting.

Second, a faithful life is a life of worship.  By that I don’t mean coming to church every Sunday (though that is not a bad thing!).  Rather, a life of worship is a life characterized by action and devotion.  It is a life with God at the foundation and at the center.  It is organizing and prioritizing our life and purpose and goals so that we are in line with God’s will.  Tying back into prayer, if we are to pray for God’s will, we are likewise to live God’s will, and if we stray from that, turn back again and again. That’s the whole point of Hebrews 12:1, where we are running after Jesus and avoiding the trap of sin.  It’s living a life of worship.

Thirdly, a faithful life results in telling the story of God, whether that is to our children, our neighbors, or the world around us.  Worship always spills over into mission.  In fact, telling the story is a part of a life of worship – it is not only devotion and action, but also mission.  Anna told God’s story to all those around her.  Lois and Eunice passed on God’s story to Timothy, who shared it with the world.

This is not a magic formula.  God changes human hearts and human beings can and do stubbornly resist God’s love and grace.  But the focus this morning is not on results, but on faithfulness.  That is God’s design and desire for each of you – a life of worship, which is a personal relationship, ministry, and mission with God.

These women lived ordinary lives of faith and obedience to our extraordinary God; and I’d like to be more like them.  God help us make it so!  Amen.