Worship Service: August 30, 2020

Live Stream Service at: Our YouTube Channel

This is our order of worship for Sunday, August 30, 2020 at Calvary Community Church:

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP

 Psalm 42:1-2
As a deer pants for flowing streams,
    so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.

QUIET PREPARATION

Psalm 42:5
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation

HEARING FROM GOD’S WORD

“The Kingdom of God is…Right in Front of You” – Luke 17:20-37

As The Deer

Be Thou My Vision

Encouragement For Thursday

From Joel Barton for you!

Recently I made a trip to Lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland to get some exercise while walking among its many hills, and reflect on the lives of some of those interred. Atop one hill is the tallest obelisk in the cemetery, for the Rockefeller family. John D. Rockefeller’s grave is in its shadow. He was well known for being the richest man in the world during at least part of his life. Not as many know that he was also a man of strong faith. He credited God with blessing him with all he had. He believed he was bound by his duty and the abilities given him to gain much so he could give much. He followed the saying of John Wesley– “gain all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.” He gave millions to different churches, and was credited with starting charitable foundations whereby corporations could establish a reservoir of money to give to needs in the future. He was a lifelong member of the Northern Baptist Church (later to become American Baptist). He was a Sunday school teacher, and served as a church trustee and janitor at times. He read the Bible and held devotions with his wife daily.

Not far from his grave on the same hill is another group of family graves. The head of this smaller family group is John Hay. I don’t believe nearly as many people might be familiar with him. He was the definition of “statesman.” He never ran for elective office, yet many historians believe he had far greater impact on the world during his lifetime than many of our elected presidents. As a young man he became a personal secretary to President Lincoln in his White House staff. He grew very close to Lincoln, and was a trusted advisor. During the Civil War he was sent by the President to negotiate with representatives of the Confederacy in an attempt to negotiate an end to the war. He was given the rank of major, even though he had no military background. He was by the President’s side when he passed away shortly after being shot by John Wilkes Booth. He later said that he felt like he lost his own father.

His skill and nature toward sound judgment, diplomacy and negotiation was not lost on future presidents. He served as a foreign ambassador to different countries, assistant Secretary of State, personal advisor, and later Secretary of State under presidents Johnson, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, McKinley, and Roosevelt. It is almost unheard of in more modern times for a person to serve even two presidents. It tore at him even further to endure the assassinations of his friends Garfield and McKinley. During his years of service he was able to solidify relationships with Spain, Great Britain, China and the far east, the Philippines, and Panama, helping to establish its independence as a country while enabling the canal to be built. He also helped negotiate the end of the Spanish American War. It was he who notified Vice President Roosevelt that President McKinley had passed away, and that Roosevelt was now President. He died in 1905 while still in office as Secretary of State under Roosevelt.

The monument to Mr. Hay near his grave is a sculpture of the Archangel Michael. It was completed and erected in 1916. Michael is standing behind a tablet on which is inscribed James 3:18 from the King James Version:

“And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”

It was well chosen to characterize his life.

You might be wondering why our encouragement today seems like a history lesson. Reflecting on the lives of these two men reminds us that different people have different gifts and abilities, and that they all work together for good. John D. Rockefeller was given a brilliant financial mind, and the nature to make the most of what he was given to do good. The result was great wealth that was shared to benefit many. John Hay was given the ability to understand and appreciate people and communicate well. He used his abilities to help negotiate settlements that benefitted two or more sides of an issue. He not only helped his own country, but ensured that other countries and their people received dignity and benefits as well. As odd as it seems, seeing the graves of these two men, and in turn reflecting on their lives is encouraging to me.

I may not have the wealth of John D. Rockefeller or the people skills of John Hay, but I try to use the abilities I have to influence others for God. Each of us has skills and abilities that may not seem spectacular to us, but that serve God in the way that He needs us to. As I am sure I have said in earlier writings we only need to be open to opportunities that come our way. We don’t all have the same strengths. I hope and pray we will always be thankful for who we are, rather than fretting over who we are not.

Take heart and be encouraged!

We Need This Right Now

Our fighter verse for this week is 1 Corinthians 16:13-14. Keep in mind why we are doing this together each week: We begin each week with our fighter verse to get through the week that we might get to Sunday; to fight through all the stuff of each week and for each of us to think through this verse or these verses and apply the truth daily.

Last Sunday we continued in our study of the Gospel of Luke but did so by revisiting Luke 17:3. “Pay attention to yourselves!” We are thinking of this command or Jesus’ demand of his disciples like this: each one of you watch out for each one of you. And it is not defensive as if to guard against something, but rather offensive like the offensive line guarding for the quarterback. It is to guard or watch out for someone, in this case other disciples. Again, each one of you watch out for each one of you.

How might we do this? Well, it is happening already among us! It is naturally happening already among us. In the past we called this “small groups.” Going forward we will be calling these groups community groups. And the last couple of months there have been five community groups getting together to watch out for one another. One group has been meeting for breakfast; another group has been meeting to connect with each other; another group has been meeting to pray together; another group has been meeting for Bible study and another group has been meeting to think through the Christian life together. Again, this just happened naturally. But we want to make sure that this also is happening intentionally. Starting the week of September 20, we would like everyone who calls Calvary Community Church their church, their family, their church home and its pastor their pastor, to be a part of a community group.

We currently have three men ready to lead a community group: Michael Williams; John Schneider and James Sperry. I am looking for one or two more men to lead a community group. And each group has the freedom to be different! Each group does not need to be the same, but each group does need to do the same, that is, have the same purpose: each one of you watch out for each one of you.

Provided here is a sign up sheet to join a community group. It is really simple to fill out. Basically what is needed is your name, email and the days and times you are available to meet. Our pastor will get the responses and will work on getting the groups put together. So, begin to sign up as soon as possible. Here is the sign up: https://forms.gle/WDoqe3AtiKMNU3Fs7

We have another platform to stream our Sunday service. Currently, it is available on platforms like YouTube and Facebook. And there is quite a bit of views happening on those two sites. But if you own something like Roku or an Amazon Fire TV stick or Apple TV, you can download an app called Boxcast. Once the app is open search for Calvary Community Church in the search bar and you will see our church. Here all of our services will be available.

Here is a video made by a local church that is a good visual step by step on how to access the Boxcast app for your tv (if you have Roku, Amazon Fire or Apple TV).

Sermon notes will begin to be available on https://jamessperry2.wordpress.com/ (hopefully today). This Sunday we will be in Luke 17:20-37.

– James

Worship Service: August 23, 2020

Live Stream Service at: Our YouTube channel

This is our order of worship for Sunday, August 23, 2020, at Calvary Community Church:

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP

Psalm 33:20-22
Our soul waits for the Lord;
    He is our help and our shield.

For our heart is glad in Him,
because we trust in His holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,

    even as we hope in you.

QUIET PREPARATION

Isaiah 55:1-2
“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.

HEARING FROM GOD’S WORD

“Watch Out…For Yourselves” – Luke 17:3

Is He Worthy?

In Christ Alone

Encouragement For Thursday

In our country’s (and the world’s) current situation battling the coronavirus, I recently had the thought,”Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to turn back the clock, and undo whatever event got the virus and its spread started?” Yes, it sounds a bit like the plot of Back to the Future, but it is purely a fantasy anyway. There is no DeLorean to make it happen. It is easy to get bogged down in what seems like a challenge that will never end. We have God’s promises to take care of us on Earth and in heaven. We will receive the best imaginable in due time, but the present depresses us.

The nation of Israel faced a similar trial of patience and test of its faith many years ago. The Israelites had been kept in captivity and slavery by Egypt. When the actions of God forced Pharaoh to release Israel, they began their sojourn through the wilderness. They were free from slavery. They had Moses and Aaron as leaders because of their relationship with God, and the roles He had chosen for each of them. They also had manna to sustain them, provided daily so that they would never go hungry. Yet some among them influenced the rest to be dissatisfied with their situation (it sounds a lot like America today, doesn’t it?). They remembered that back in Egypt they had fish, cucumbers, melons, and seasoning for their food. It’s kind of funny how looking back in time, especially in times of current trouble, tends to color our judgment differently. Many wise people have repeated the saying, “Be careful what you wish for.”

Even Moses himself was driven to the point of desperation as he told God that he couldn’t handle all of the responsibility and negativity of the people. He asked God to just kill him, to end his miserable life. In Numbers 11:16-20 we have God’s response:

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. And I will come down and talk with you there. And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone. And say to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat, for you have wept in the hearing of the Lord, saying, “Who will give us meat to eat? For it was better for us in Egypt.” Therefore the Lord will give you meat, and you shall eat. You shall not eat just one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but a whole month, until it comes out at your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have rejected the Lord who is among you and have wept before him, saying, ‘Why did we come out of Egypt?’”

Are we currently wandering through the wilderness of COVID-19 in our lives? It is easy to look back and think of the “normal” days before we had the destructive virus among us. Many people are demanding vaccines or cures of some sort. Some want more isolation because they believe it will decrease the spread of the virus. Many others are rightfully concerned with the toll it is taking on all of us- mentally, economically, socially, and spiritually.

What is the answer to the virus? I don’t know, to be honest. I know that my answer is to remain faithful to God and trust that He will take care of me in this world and in eternity. I suggest that this is the best answer. Just because we can’t see the entire path ahead of us doesn’t mean that God doesn’t see it. He plans for His peoples’ care.

My thoughts this week also brought to mind a relatively old song that I haven’t heard in a long time. It hearkens back to a time when I was much younger. The musician was Keith Green, and the song is “So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt?” His songs usually had profound messages in a different style than most church music. This one is no different. He presented the messages of Scripture. He was killed in a plane crash at a fairly young age in 1982.

Listen to this, enjoy, and think.

Take heart and be encouraged!

We Have Fellowship With One Another

This week’s fighter verse for the week is 1 John 1:7. And each week these fighter verses are meant to equip us to fight through the week, fight through the stuff of the week, until we gather together again on Sunday morning. But this fighter verse shows us that we need much more than the gathering together on Sunday morning. We need Sunday morning and more.

This Sunday we will be back in Luke. But I would like us to revisit a part of Luke from a few weeks ago: Luke 17:3.

Also, this Sunday is communion Sunday. I continually think about that precious insight in calling this community Sunday. Communion, or the Lord’s Table, brings us together. It is something that Jesus gave us to put on display that we are in this together. I love community Sunday.

Looking forward to seeing you!!

Worship Service: August 16, 2020

Live Stream Service at: Our YouTube channel

This is our order of worship for Sunday, August 9, 2020, at Calvary Community Church:

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP

Deuteronomy 4:39
Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart,
that the Lord Himself is God in heaven above
and on the earth beneath;
there is no other.

QUIET PREPARATION

Romans 5:1-2
Therefore, having been justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand,
and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

HEARING FROM GOD’S WORD

“Seeking Comfort in Times of Crisis” – Romans 5:1-11

How Deep the Father’s Love For Us

Unbroken Praise

Encouragement for Thursday

From our dear friend Joel Barton:

One of my hobbies is photography. These past several months many of the places I might go indoors to explore, or to spend time with other people have been closed due to the pandemic situation. On weekends I have taken many short trips to parks and outdoor sites across northern Ohio that I have not visited for a long time, or ever visited. Some evenings I will go to places like the Rocky River Reservation of the MetroParks to walk around and take pictures. Below are two pictures that I took one evening at Frostville.

These are both skippers, which some consider to be in between butterflies and moths because of their appearance. They really live and behave more like butterflies, I think, so I agree with those who consider them butterflies. The yellowish spotted one is a fiery skipper. The one with a large whitish patch on the wing is a silver spotted skipper. Both types appear at the same types of flowers looking for nectar. It is interesting to just stand and watch their behavior. They pick out the flower that looks best to them and go to work gathering nectar. There are usually a number of each type bouncing among the flowers. Whenever a fiery skipper notices a silver spotted skipper near enough to its own vicinity, it will leave its flower in order to try to drive the silver spotted skipper further away from the area. And vice versa. They look almost like miniature fighter planes trying to knock each other from the sky. They are very territorial, and don’t seem to have any instinct to share the bounty with each other. However, they do seem to be more tolerant of others of their own kind that are nearby. They are beautiful pieces of God’s creation. Like all animals they are endowed with an instinct for survival, and abilities and behaviors that enable them to survive, reproduce, and carry on their species. Watching them reminded me of human beings.

We also have an instinct for survival, and abilities and instincts that enable us to survive, reproduce, and carry on our species. During the pandemic challenge I think people are reverting more to those base instincts. In public people wear masks, which is mandated and advisable, but also somewhat impersonal. Distancing guidelines cause people to protect their personal space more. It seems that people are less likely to speak to strangers on a casual or friendly level. Being made in God’s image we also have much more than base instincts. We have a spirit and an eternal nature. We have a personal connection with our Creator. We have the ability to understand and practice right and wrong in His sight. As we learn throughout the Bible practicing right and wrong usually involves our relationship with God and our relationships with other people.

Instead of following the example of the skippers in dealing with others around us, let us consider the words of Peter:

“Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. For the Scriptures say,

‘If you want to enjoy life
and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies.
Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
against those who do evil’

(1 Peter 3:8-12, NLT).

Our animal instincts might tell us to provide for ourselves first, and to not let others intrude on our well-being. We have a natural concern to protect our families. That is instinctual, but also stressed as a responsibility by God. In the verses above Peter reminds us that our concern also needs to be for others, considering them to be family. He challenges us to sympathize, be tenderhearted, and humble. Instinct tells us to treat others the same way they treat us. God wants us to do better and rise above instinct.

It might be tempting to then think, “Well, if I’m worrying about doing the right thing for others instead of myself, who is going to take care of me?” God is. Peter says that “He will grant you His blessing.” He then quotes part of Psalm 34, which speaks exactly to the instruction he is giving. The result of keeping our tongue from evil, turning from evil and doing good, and searching for and maintaining peace is great. We can expect to enjoy life and see many happy days. We are also reminded that the eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and His ears are open to their prayers.

I am certainly glad that we aren’t limited by our animal instincts. We can be truly blessed when we rise above them and consider others in the way He wants us to consider them. When we feel anxious or vulnerable He is with us. He will care for us much in a much better way than we could ever care for ourselves through our own devices.

Take heart and be encouraged!

Worship Service: August 9, 2020

Live Stream Service at: Our YouTube channel

This is our order of worship for Sunday, August 9, 2020, at Calvary Community Church:

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP

Psalm 18:1-2
I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

QUIET PREPARATION

Psalm 119:18
Open my eyes, that I may behold
wondrous things out of your law.

HEARING FROM GOD’S WORD

“Stale Love Is Not Love” – 2 Corinthians 2:5-8

O Lord My Rock and My Redeemer

The Solid Rock

Encouragement For Thursday

From our dear brother Joel Barton:

This week has been one that has caused me to reflect on my own mortality. A few days ago I learned that a woman that I worked with occasionally was reported missing, and then found deceased a little over a day later. I don’t know how she died. She was not a close friend, but I appreciated her as a collegial and dedicated coworker. I believe she was 34, and seemed to be healthy. It always gives me pause when someone I know who is much younger and seems much healthier than me passes away while I continue on. I have had several health problems, but keep being patched up, and still live. These events brought to mind the following scripture:

“Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them” (Ecclesiastes 9:11-12).

My summary of these verses is this: Life happens, and death happens. Life isn’t necessarily better or longer because you are in better physical shape, smarter, richer, or have more knowledge. Despite our best efforts sometimes things do not turn out how we might have liked them to turn out. Throughout Ecclesiastes Solomon reminds us that we should work hard, enjoy life, love, and above all love God and follow Him. Following God is true wisdom, and Solomon learned to trust in this: “But all this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God” (Ecclesiastes 9:1).

What may help us? Love for God and trust in Him, love from others, and prayer. God hears and answers prayer. I am probably still around because many people prayed for me, and God heard them. I think that many of us have gotten through many problems because of prayer and His angels watching over us.

Along with this Scripture in Ecclesiastes, a song that I first heard many years ago came to mind. I would like to do something different this week, and attach a link to this song below. It is one that I have felt many times, and I imagine most of you have too.

Take heart and be encouraged!