Thursday, August 30, 2012

"A 'Labor' of Love"

Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! They are considered by many to be the crucial issue of this election year in our nation. Many talk about more jobs, better jobs, secure jobs, etc. Obviously jobs play a key part in supplying our basic needs and hopefully providing a measure of security and prosperity as well. Jobs are a big part of most of our daily lives, not only financially, but also in regard to our schedules and even our emotions. Even retirees and those unable to work are affected daily by the jobs of others.

Labor Day was instituted as a federal holiday in 1894 to recognize the economic and social contributions of American workers. I find it rather humorous that we take a day off to honor work! All kidding aside, it is appropriate to recognize the value and benefits of jobs (work) and workers.

So does the Bible have anything to say about jobs, work, toil, labor, etc? Yes, it does! The fourth Commandment acknowledges that the Sabbath was to follow a work week even as God created for six days and rested on the seventh. William Barclay noted that Jesus the carpenter was a "working man". Hard work went into making the Old Testament worship facilities of the Tabernacle and Temple. Proverbs is filled with verses contrasting the benefits of work with the ills of laziness and lack of productivity. The parables of Jesus often include the activities of workers to illustrate the Kingdom of God. The Apostle Paul noted that workers deserve their wages and those who won't work shouldn't eat. Our whole approach to life, be it our job or our spiritual maturity, is to be that of a good worker.

Next time you come to church, please remember all the work that went in to having the facilities, electronic systems, refreshments, music and Bible teaching ready for meaningful workship (er, I mean worship).

See you Sunday!

1. Read about God as a worker. Exodus 20:11, 31:17; Hebrews 4:10

2. Who is an excellent worker that we can learn from? Proverbs 6:6-8

3. What does the Bible say about "slacking off"? Proverbs 18:9

4. Study Matthew 13. What various jobs or workers did Jesus describe to make His point?

5. What kind of job did Paul have in addition to the work of the ministry? Acts 18:2-3

6. What is a good biblical guide for our jobs or any responsibility in life? Colossians 3:23

7. Note the wonderful testimony of our Lord Jesus! John 17:4

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Looking to Jesus

I am writing this e-newsletter preview of Sunday, August 26th’s sermon on Monday, August 20. There’s a lot about August 20 that gets my attention today. First, it is the 29th anniversary of our wedding – the hottest day in the history of Philadelphia! Today is also the 72nd anniversary of Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s address to the House of Commons in the aftermath of the first chapter of the Battle of Britain.

If you happened to watch the Olympic coverage from London you may remember the one-hour piece on the Battle of Britain narrated by 72-year-old Tom Brokaw. The feature was entitled “Our Finest Hour”, taken from a Churchill speech given in the House of Commons months before the battle. However, as we prepare to take a fresh look at Luke 22:14-20 this week, it’s not that May 15, 1940 speech that captures my attention, but the one given on August 20, 1940.

A few weeks ago I read a report of newspaperman, Rupert Davis, who interviewed General Ismay, Churchill’s chief military assistant. In the interview General Hastings Lionel “Pug” Ismay told of riding to Parliament with the Prime Minister that night. As they started out, Churchill turned to the General and said that he’d like to rehearse the speech in front of him. So he began to read it. But when he got near the end, he uttered a line that turned out to be the most famous line in the speech. Interestingly, the words he read in the car were quite different than the ones he uttered on the floor of the House of Commons later that night. It was the General’s remonstration that affected the change, and at the center of his remonstration was Jesus Christ. I’ll tell you all about it on Sunday.

This week is Communion Sunday at Hebron and we will focus on the Last Supper and the familiar words Jesus utters there. The problem with the familiarity of these words is that we often pass over them as if we know them. I would submit that these words of Jesus in verses 15 and 19 are rarely mined to the depth of their meaning. That’s what we will seek to do on Sunday in a message entitled, “Looking to Jesus.” We will find in the words of Jesus – the Desire, the Direction, and the Declaration of Jesus – all of which are reminders to us that our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. It is ever the work of the Holy Spirit to turn our eyes away from ourselves and on to Him. My prayer is that He will do just that this Sunday.

In preparation for Sunday you may wish to consider the following.

1. What was “Pug’s” objection to Churchill’s words in the car that night?
2. Why is Jesus so interested in eating this Passover meal with His disciples? Haven’t they eaten Passover’s before?
3. What is the depth of Jesus’ desire here?
4. What is different about this Passover meal?
5. What does Jesus mean when He says, “This is my body”?
6. How does knowing His meaning affect your discipleship?
7. What does Jesus mean when He says, “Do this in remembrance of me”?
8. How does our memory of all that happens around that table comport with God’s memory?

See you Sunday!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Transformed Thief

I still remember as a boy going to Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles. Our church Boy’s Brigade group visited the museum there which houses magnificent paintings including one of the Crucifixion. That's where I first really thought about the repentant thief on the cross represented in the painting. Down through the years since then I have heard sermons about him – sermons that emphasized the legitimacy of "death bed" conversions, that baptism is not necessary for salvation, and that we either receive or reject Christ illustrated by the two thieves.

While all of that is important to consider, the theme that comes to my heart from our text is HOPE! The repentant thief not only was a robber, but he also taunted Jesus and yet was saved. This thief was already nailed to a cross and yet was saved. This thief had no opportunity to make amends to those he had wronged and yet was saved. Another way to say HOPE is - "It's not too late"! No matter how old you are, bad you are, or down you are; it is not too late to be saved! You can even be nailed to a cross and still get saved by believing in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

This week we will consider the following: How Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecy by being crucified with criminals. How He died with sinners and for sinners. (That's good news for us sinners). Why the thief went from taunting Jesus to trusting Jesus. What marvelous promises and amazing grace Jesus offered this crucified criminal. Finally, beyond our hope for the future in Christ I want us to have the hope of transformation in the here and now. HOPE that it's not too late to find solutions to the challenges of our earthly "crosses"!

See you Sunday!

1. Study Isaiah 53:9-12. What could prophetically connect this passage with Jesus dying between two thieves?

2. Can you think of any significance to the fact Jesus died on the middle cross between the two thieves? Mark 15:27

3. Were the thieves the only ones who mocked Jesus? Study Mark 15:16-20, 29-32.

4. Do you struggle to think that such a sinner as this condemned criminal could be saved? Study I Timothy 1:15

5. The repentant thief was in good company with his prayer to have Jesus remember him. Study Nehemiah 13:14,22; Psalm 106:4

6. What does the Bible teach us about Paradise?

7. In Luke 23:43 I find Jesus making the repentant thief three promises - 1) Today... 2) you will be with Me... 3) in Paradise. Which one (s) stand out to you and why?

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Hebron family – It is with great pleasure and excitement that I prepare the sermon for this Sunday. This is Jay Mitlo and I have been burdened by some Scripture that has really come alive to me in the past few months. As Trey continues to live - truly live, even though he is dying, I have had God work hard in me to understand some of His word. We will be looking at 2 primary selections from Matthew this week. They are: Matthew 6:25-34 and 16:21-25.

Up to the past couple of years I have looked at these verses and have been left either feeling guilty or simply confused. The Matthew 6 selection is where Jesus tells His disciples to not be anxious. Most often, I read this and began to really feel anxious…for feeling anxious. In Matthew 16 Jesus tells them that if they seek to save their life they will lose it, and if they lose their life they will save or find it. Yeah, that didn’t exactly make a whole lot of sense to me so I always tabled it for future understanding. Apparently, that time is now.

So, as you prepare your hearts for Sunday (or rather, as you allow God to prepare your hearts) I would encourage you to look at what makes you anxious. Can you categorize it? Are there some things that cause you to grip tight all the time and other things that just get you from time to time? Further, what does it mean to you to take up your cross daily and follow Him? Is it about you and the things you do? Is it about sharing in Christ, His suffering, and His plans for you here on earth while you are here? Both?

I am blessed and honored to share with you what God has revealed to me. I look forward to being with you Sunday.
Jay Mitlo