Excerpt from September, 2018 "The Mountain Top Messenger" newsletter...

Here we are, September, summer is unofficially over, school has started for quite a few people and will soon start for all the rest. The leaves are turning and there have actually been a few cool nights. The other day June and I noted how the clouds were beginning to take on that fall look...

 
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September 2018 "The Mountain Top Messenger" Newsletter
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Here we are, September, summer is unofficially over, school has started for quite a few people and will soon start for all the rest. The leaves are turning and there have actually been a few cool nights. The other day June and I noted how the clouds were beginning to take on that fall look. All signs that the wise should either start preparing for winter or prepare to head South. Now I mention being wise because it is a holdover from the sermon a couple weeks ago, and it has been stuck in my head. "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." I believe we would all agree that the days are indeed evil, if you are not sure about that, a few minutes in front of the evening news, will probably convince you. Another mass shooting, a young college student murdered while out jogging, drug overdoses at an epidemic level. Not only is the world evil, but it is lost. It has lost its direction, it has turned in upon itself, and the world and the people in it are looking to themselves for answers, and they are coming up empty. So, with that being said, where does that leave us? We are told to be in the world, but not of it. We have to exist in this fallen and lost world, but we do not have to be overtaken by it. We are to live the life set forth for us by the Gospel. And what does that look like? Paul tells us clearly; "Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."

To paraphrase; How we live is important. We aren't saved by our works, only by the grace of God, but how we live is a witness to the faith and the gift of salvation that we have. In verse 10we find a phrase that is connected to the first and those two phrases have had me praying, thinking, and contemplating; that phrase is; "Try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord."

Have you ever done that? Have you, as you go through your daily life, as you work, as you play, as you interact with others, both those within the church and those outside? Have you tried to discern what is pleasing to the Lord? The reason I mentioned that, I have been praying, thinking, and contemplating that phrase, because as I preached it, I realized, I do not do the job that I should be doing in living it. Far too often, the process of deciding what I am going to do or how I am going to act, discerning if what I am going to do is pleasing to the Lord, doesn't make the top of the list in my decision-making process. As I look at my actions, I find, more often than not, what drives my decision-making process, is what do I want? What is best for me? As I looked around I saw it in my daily life, as I drove around and saw people who weren’t driving to my standards, as I went to the store and was angered because the checker took an extra minute to share pleasantries with someone they had not seen in a long time, when I thought negatively as I sat at the stop sign looking at the homeless guy looking for a little help. None of my thoughts in any of those situations came anywhere close to discerning what is pleasing to the Lord, only what is pleasing to Rick. That's all I am going to say about it for now. I hope I haven't shocked anyone by my admission that I am indeed a sinner in need of a Savior. And I hope that perhaps as I try to do my best to improve on ways to make the Lord the real number one in my life, I close and I challenge you to consider; "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." And "Try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord."

ll and so that we can be; 20"giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21I ask God's Blessing be upon you as we move into fasubmitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."

Pastor Rick

All scriptural references from Ephesians 5:6-21 (ESV)
Discern [synonyms]
distinguish, determine, differentiate, recognize
excerpt from...
September 2018 "The Mountain Top Messenger" Newsletter