May 7, 2020 - Last year community leaders, pastors, and lots of just plain folks gathered to form a human prayer chain around our historic courthouse on the National Day of Prayer. We won't be able to gather this year but you are encouraged to pause, wherever you are, at noon on Thursday, May 7 to pray.

Lots of things are different this year, but some things remain the same - prayer is powerful and prayer is needed. So take a moment on Thursday to pray for our city, our county, our country, our world. Thanks and God bless you and yours.

David Mathis
Shelby County Ministerial Alliance

May 7, 2020 - Do you remember when the Children of Israel were at the gates of the Promised Land?  Moses chose 12 men to send to spy out the Promised Land. They looked the land over and came back with a majority report and a minority report. Both sides saw an "exceedingly great land."  It was a land that flowed with mild and honey.

The majority report was given and those 10 men said we cannot possess the land. We saw giants there and by comparison we were nothing more than grasshoppers. The minority report from Joshua and Caleb said they should go up at once and possess the land. Joshua and Caleb said “we can do it” while the majority said it was impossible.

Joshua and Caleb saw the giants and obstacles in the land through the lens of faith while the majority who saw themselves as grasshoppers saw things through the lens of doubt. As we face up to life and as we face the future, we must see the possibilities and not take stock of the problems. We must view the future with an eye of faith, knowing that the Lord will bless our efforts.

The controlling thought of Jesus was the possibilities of the individual. That is why he called us to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. We must see ourselves in the light of faith and as a power for God. Never see yourself as an insect.

It’s something to think about…..tbp

www.centerchurchofchrist.com

"Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)

May 5, 2020 - God promises man many things, none of which can be greater to those who have accepted him as Lord than the promise in (Isaiah 41:10)

In this one verse of Scripture he promises; That His own have no need of fear. That he is forever with his own. That he is our God, the God of his children. That he will strengthen us when we are weak. That he will help us through whatever it is that we are facing. And that he will lift us above the dangers of this world and will uphold us by the power of his righteous right hand.

WOW!!! What more could any child of the Most High God ask for, what more could one need?

Joshua said this about the promises that God made to the house of Israel after he had led them from the bonds of Egypt;

"Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass." (Joshua 21:45)

The same God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob guide his children today and his promises are just as sure for us today, just as certain as they were for Joshua and the nation of Israel so long ago.

The apostle Paul tells us that God's promises are always a yes and never a no as the promises of God today come only through his Son Jesus Christ.

"For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory." (2 Corinthians 1:20)

It is by the indwelling of our hearts with his Holy Spirit that we receive our guarantee of his promises to us.

"And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his spirit in our hearts as a guarantee." (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)

Not only does he make his promises to us, he also gives us a Helper, a Counselor to guide us through the pitfalls of life that we will be victorious in him throughout eternity.

"In him (Christ Jesus) you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1:13-14)

All praise and glory to the Lord our God and to his Son, the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ!

"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promises is faithful." (Hebrews 10:19-23)

Fear not, oh, children of the Most High, fear not for his promises are true and always come to pass by his word!

"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him." (James 1:12)

Fear not, but be strong in the Lord as you walk in his light through this dark and dreary world around you.

Fear not; give all praise and glory to the blessed Lamb of God, our Lord Jesus Christ!

May 5, 2020 - The Joaquin Community Cemetery Homecoming, regularly scheduled for Saturday, June 13, has been cancelled, due to the threat of health problems related to the coronavirus. We were hoping to have a Restoration Celebration and show the newly cleaned and leveled tombstones in the cemetery, but that will have to wait. If anyone has loved ones in the cemetery, you might drive by and see how clean and fresh everything is.

Thanks for your continued support for upkeep to the cemetery. Any donations can be sent to Joaquin Community Cemetery at Post Office Box 236, Joaquin, Tx 75954.

April 29, 2020 - Do we realize that the world is watching what we do? People get their concept of the church and Christianity by the life that we live, the things we say and the things we do. What will be the legacy we leave behind after we are gone? What kind of example are we living before our friends? In life, especially in the uncertain times we are living in, people are looking for something real to hold on to. They are looking for people who are genuine to look up to and follow.
 
I read an interesting story about a tavern in a small college town that was frequented by students. The week before Parent’s Weekend, the tavern ran an ad in the campus paper that said, “Bring your parents for lunch Saturday – We’ll pretend we don’t know you!” When the college chaplain saw the ad, he decided to challenge it with one of his own. He posted a revised version on the campus bulletin board. It read: “Bring your parents to Chapel Sunday – We’ll pretend we know you!”
 
The greatest contribution that you and I can make to the church is to emulate in our lives the life of Jesus. The church is made fun of, spoken evil of and held up for ridicule most often because members of the church do not exemplify the life of Jesus. There is a disconnect in what we say and the way we life. Put another way, as we have heard all of our lives, we fail to practice what we preach. We need to make sure the thunder of what we are does not drown out the whisper of what we say we are!
 
It’s something to think about . . . tbp
 

April 28, 2020 - As we look for the answer to the problems that we find ourselves in today, let us not look to the world for it is the world where we find our problems, no, let us look to Almighty God, to the one who can correct all mistakes, repair all problems, heal all wounds.

"O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand."
(Psalm 95:1-7)

Yes, let all the people of the world come to him, our God, in worship with reverence and humility!

Lord let us not be as those of old who rebelled against your every wish, those whom you led through the wilderness until all had fallen.

No Lord, call this world to you this day that all may come boldly before your Holy Spirit to be convicted of their sinful ways and that all might accept your Son Jesus Christ as Lord of all.

Oh people of the world, I beg of you, if today you hear his voice, come humbly before him and accept him as Lord and Master;

"Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work." (Psalm 95:8-9)

Those of old had seen the plagues of Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, the Lord's cloud over their heads during the day and his light above them during the night the entire time as they crossed the wilderness and came to the River Jordan getting ready to cross over into the Promised Land. And yet, when he told them to cross over into the land he had promised them, they refused and were frightened and did not believe in the Lord their God.

"For forty years I loathed that generation and said, "They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways." Therefore I swore in my wrath, "They shall not enter my rest." (Psalm 95:10-11)

A people who would never know the peace and joy of the salvation of the Lord, a people who perished for their own disobedience to the Lord's will and wishes.

Oh Lord, do not let this generation, these people of the world of today commit the same mistakes as the people of old but call all to you that they might come into the light of the world, your Son Jesus Christ, and be saved from the penalties of their own sin.

On come today people, "Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods."
(Psalm 96:1-4)

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction." (Proverbs 1:7)

Do not be foolish like the people of old who refused to cross the river into the land of milk and honey, no, trust in the Lord and accept Jesus Christ our Lord as your Lord and Savior today and forever know his joy and peace... May his peace be upon you forevermore... Sing to the Lord! Amen!

April 27, 2020 - Grace and peace from our brother, Jesus, Amen. Sunday was the third Sunday of Easter. We certainly had plenty of rain at our house this week. Last Sunday we had 4 inches in our rain gauge; on Wednesday we had 6 inches! Needless to say, that was way too much in a short time. Sue and I live just a couple of houses from downtown Joaquin on Highway 84, where the highway flooded. The road behind town was washed away, so the city crews have to reinstall the huge culverts. Until then that road is closed. Of course, this summer we are going to wish we had some of this rain.

Sue showed me on Facebook that the Joaquin City Park is going to reopen on Monday. The dogs and I certainly have missed getting our exercise at the park and have substituted walks around town for the last month and a half. Sue has started joining us for our morning and evening walks. I am not sure whether we are trying to normalize in general too soon. I will continue to avoid contact with others as I keep safe distance and wear my mask and gloves. I think we are all anxious for things to get back to the way they were, but I am not sure that is possible this soon. The number of Covid-19 cases is still on the rise in our county and state; the White House says there should be 14 days of no increases before things start reopening.

The bishop of the Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church sent out an email urging churches in our area not to have in-person worship during the month of May. Paxton Methodist has such a small membership that we could easily practice “safe distancing” if we decided to head back. But we are also an older—oops, “more mature”--congregation, and some have health issues that could make them more susceptible to the virus.

The Gospel Lesson for the 3rd Sunday of Easter comes from Luke 24: 13-35. We moved to Luke because it is the only gospel that has the story of the walk to Emmaus. The two Jesus followers are heading to Emmaus and are joined by a stranger who turns out to be the Christ. The post-resurrection appearances of the Christ during the forty days between Easter and the Ascension are always wrapped in mystery and confusion before there is recognition. In these stories, the Christ seems to vanish as soon as the disciples’ eyes are open. What the disciples discover is that the “Holy Presence” remains as the Spirit makes itself felt, seen, and known.

The most important and eye-opening part of this wonderful story in Luke is the friendship that develops along the way between the two disciples and the stranger. The sharing of a meal replaces isolation and loneliness with community. This sharing of a meal—communion—became a major part of true Christian worship.

Paxton Methodist has been collecting toothbrushes and toothpaste for Community Christian Services. Sue and I will go by church this week to pick these items up and get them to CCS. In the month of May we will be collecting cans of fruit. We have an anniversary in May—Joy and Gene will celebrate their wedding day on the 17th. Our nursing home ministries are on hold until we get an “all clear” notice from the various facilities. The volunteers who go each month got a really nice card from Focused Care in Center.

Whoever you are, in whatever faith you were born, whatever creed you profess; if you come to this house to find God you are welcome here. Paxton United Methodist Church is an inviting church that takes to heart the idea of “Open Doors, Open Hearts, and Open Minds.” Normally Sunday School starts at 9:30 and Worship begins at 10:00. But during the Pandemic our usually “open doors” are closed. Our email address is paxtonumc@yahoo.com. If you would like the weekly email newsletter about Paxton Methodist, you can send your email address to the Paxton email address, and I will add you to the list. God’s Speed.

April 23, 2020 - It is sometime in the future. (It could be fifty years from now, yet, based on the Draconian measures of some of our politicians during the “present distress” it could be later this year or perhaps next year).  You are huddled with a small group, having met in a secret place so the authorities will not find out. Heads are bowed and someone is whispering a prayer. You are at a worship service.  Earlier you had sung a few hymns, softly, so no one outside could hear. Several prayers had been uttered, you had partaken of the communion, served out of a kitchen dish and sour grape juice in a coffee cup. You had gathered one by one so no one would suspect that a worship service was going on and call the authorities.  You can vividly remember, in earlier years and happier times when you had heard men pray, “We thank Thee, Father, that we live in this free country where we can worship together without fear of molestation.” Oh, how you wish those prayers could be prayed now.

How did it happen? Over the years, leaders had been elected who had no respect for God. Then, one day, a horrific virus threatened the land and there were some in authority who saw their opportunity.  Public worship services were banned in the name of public safety. We must not gather in groups of more than 10 we were told. We could not even gather in groups of 10 in some places. You can gather at the liquor store, but not for worship. People were arrested and fined for even attending outdoor services and remaining in their automobiles.

No shots were fired, no bombs fell, but that’s how practicing Christianity in America became a crime.

It’s something to think about ... tbp

April 23, 2020 - SAKS of Love is a combined community organization. It was started by Christina Leary 3 years ago. The goal was to help one family per month with a month’s supply of household items and other needs. This month our mission was call Mission COVID and we were able to bless 21 families this weekend with a month supply of household items and two meals. This is a privately funded group combined of Nacogdoches, Angelina, and Shelby County members. 

Our boxes went to Polk, Angelina, Nacogdoches, Shelby, and Panola county.

April 21, 2020 - Due to the Coronavirus, the Jackson Homecoming for 2020 has been canceled. Donations for cemetery upkeep are still needed. You may mail your contributions to:

Jackson Cemetery Fund
PO Box 15
Joaquin, TX 75954

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