Pulpit Notes: Following Jesus

Sometimes I think about Jesus’ ministry when He walked by the Sea of Galilee. He said to Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, “Come, follow me.”

If we are to be faithful to Christ’s call in our lives, we must also commit ourselves to follow Him on a journey of faith, obedience, and service. Jesus Christ will never let us stay where we are spiritually. He wants us to grow in His Word and in the gifts of the Spirit, that we might glorify God. All life is a journey of faith. And for Christians, an essential question will always remain: “Will we follow Jesus?”

“If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, My servant will be as well.”  John 12:26a

Soli Deo Gloria,
Conrad

Reverend Dr. Conrad C. Sharps
Senior Pastor

 

Pulpit Notes: As the Day Unfolds

Lord Jesus, as the day unfolds, help me to see Your hand in the midst of every situation.

Help me to make of every moment an opportunity to serve You; to see, in what I often view as setbacks, what You intend for blessing.

Help me to keep my eye on the horizon and Your kingdom on my mind, looking forward to the glorious day my path crosses the horizon, and I can see in every situation what You intended it to be. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Conrad

Reverend Dr. Conrad C. Sharps
Senior Pastor

 

Pulpit Notes: The Perfect and Eternal Will of God

Heavenly Father, we often pray for discernment of Your will for our lives.

We even pray for Your perfect will to be made known to us. Sometimes, in our own desire for this knowledge, we forget that Your ultimate will for us has already been disclosed and accomplished by the atonement of our sin through Christ’s sacrificial blood, which was shed for our forgiveness and, also, has sealed us with Christ in His death and His resurrection. As we have died with Him, so we have been raised to life in Him. Your will—perfect and eternal. In Christ’s name, amen.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Conrad

Reverend Dr. Conrad C. Sharps
Senior Pastor

 

Pulpit Notes: Food that Sustains

O God, we hunger this day for food that will sustain.

Some hunger for sustenance, some for justice, some for release from pain, and others for significance. Whatever we hunger for most, Lord, we know You can, and will, provide, for Jesus said: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never thirst.” O Lord, hear our prayers this day and meet our needs as we lift our hungers to You. In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Conrad

Reverend Dr. Conrad C. Sharps
Senior Pastor

 

Pulpit Notes: The Mystery of the Trinity

When it comes right down to it, for me faith is a mystery, a gift.

This coming Sunday, we dive headlong into a mystery no human can fully comprehend except through faith: the glorious mystery we profess in the doctrine of the Trinity—one God in three persons.

We all have probably heard of the Great Commission, recorded in the twenty-eighth chapter of Matthew, in which we read Jesus’ command to His disciples: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

The Trinity is a mystery we seek to understand through faith—not blind faith, but faith in the power and mystery of how God chooses to reveal God’s self to humanity. We seek to be stewards, as Scripture tells us, of the mysteries of God! May the creating, redeeming, and sustaining comfort of God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—be present in our lives today and always.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Conrad

Reverend Dr. Conrad C. Sharps
Senior Pastor

 

Pulpit Notes: An Evening Prayer

Normally, I’m a morning devotion person. I like to get up before anyone else, sip coffee, and read Scripture. But I remember one night in particular when I was reminded of the great need for evening prayer and devotion.

It had been a very long, hard day. The demands of the day seemed to have taken a toll, and my heart ached for those I knew who sat at home alone, or those who were facing for the first time the reality that their marriage was in grave danger, or those who had just heard that the lab reports were not good.

I had a tremendous need for solitude. Lauren had retired for the night, and I sat and turned to a book that I’ve come to love: The Prayers of Peter Marshall, edited by his wife, Catherine. As I ran my finger down the table of contents, I saw an entry titled “Evening Prayer.” Perhaps the words of this humble servant could provide the balm I needed.

I offer just a portion of this prayer in the hope that it might touch you in the same manner it moved my weary spirit that evening:

“Lord Jesus, we come to Thee for an evening blessing, to seal within our hearts the inspirations and memories of this day.

We ask Thee for the blessing of
quietness for every troubled heart,
rest for every weary soul,
new faith and courage for all who have faced exhausting tasks this day.

We would rest now in Thee and find in this evening hour Thy stillness and Thy peace to bring us into quiet harmony with Thy will.

We give thanks for
every challenge that this day has brought,
every new vision of God that winged its way across our skies,
every whisper of God that we have sensed in the beauty of Thy world,
every thought of God that comes in quiet moments,
every need of Thee that brought us back again to Thee in prayer… .”

What about your day? Is it a day that might require dedication to the divine for ultimate understanding and meaning? If it is, spend some time alone in quiet meditation. Read an evening prayer that seeks God’s blessings and peace, as well as offering the thanks that every day deserves when it is seen as a precious gift from God.

Perhaps then — no matter what you have faced — you will be granted the peace the Psalmist knew when he wrote: “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O God, make me dwell in safety.”  (Psalm 4:8)

Soli Deo Gloria,
Conrad

Reverend Dr. Conrad C. Sharps
Senior Pastor

 

Pulpit Notes: Learning from Fish

I recently read that fish swarm at the point where the Jordan River flows into the Dead Sea.

Of course, this is essential for their survival in that the saline content of the Dead Sea increases exponentially at the point of entry from the Jordan. The fish instinctively know this and swarm as they struggle to swim upstream.

What a lesson this could be for you and me. Are we aware of our deep spiritual need to avoid what will harm us in the often toxic waters of life? Can we attune our ears to hear the voice of the One who beckons us to living water? For, as John writes, He will give us water that gushes forth fountains of eternal life (John 4:7-15).

Life-giving Lord, preserve us from harm and beckon us to life. Though our bodies will one day perish in the sea of death, may our souls be quenched with Your living water that gushes forth as a fountain of eternal life. Help us, Lord, to navigate the river of our existence all the while making our way with others toward You and the fresh salvation You offer every day.  Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Conrad

Reverend Dr. Conrad C. Sharps
Senior Pastor

 

Pulpit Notes: A Prayer to Face Fear Faithfully

Eternal God, help us to confront not only the trials and tribulations of this day, but also the fears our very souls hold for the future.

Father, may what we face through faith become not only what will refine us but, also, bless us and those who will follow. May Your perfect love, O God, not only cast out fear, but become a source of celebration for what Christ has done, and a source of joy in our witness. Lord, may the perfect peace of Your love still our fears and engage our desires to serve others as Christ first served us, for it is in Christ’s name we are saved.  Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Conrad

Reverend Dr. Conrad C. Sharps
Senior Pastor

 

Pulpit Notes: A Prayer for Boldness

God, give me boldness to examine life, to know myself without airs but truly. Your design, even of this frail and frightened creature, is perfect; Your grace sufficient; Your gentle nature held in awe. Lift me once more into Your presence, O Lord, that I may acknowledge and grow in wisdom that is greater this day than yesterday, in the assurance that soon I will know You face to face. Help me, God, to walk the path of goodness and truth, not because they are required but because I love them. Heal me, O God, that I may live beyond the now and, yet, never far from it. In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Conrad

Reverend Dr. Conrad C. Sharps
Senior Pastor

 

A Child-Friendly Mission Experience

Kids on a mission trip? Really?

Well, yes, indeed, when it’s the Mars Hill Mission Experience, which welcomes family participation. Many of you may be wondering what a mission trip as a family would look like. I found these pictures from eight years ago, and the memories came back like a flood!

I remember working at this client’s mobile home putting down a laminate floor, as her wheelchair had been knocked off balance too many times due to uneven carpeting. Our team was comprised of all women, from three different churches, to install her new floor. Our client, Marjorie, voiced her disappointment at the all-female team, because she enjoyed Todd’s good looks on past trips, and really wanted to see him again! All week she kept saying, “Why don’t you get Todd over here to double check that?” Oh, did we have fun laughing with her! This client remains one of our treasured relationships from fifteen years in Mars Hill, and we visit her every year.

The exterior of Marjorie’s mobile home was drab, and she loved flowers. We pooled some funds, and visited the local nursery. We purchased some mulch and flowers and suggested the children come and weed the area, then plant and mulch. As you can see, the joy the children bring to a work site is contagious — and a bit messy when they decide to “swim” in the mulch!

Our daughter Nadia (now 11) has been to Mars Hill every year, beginning at the age of 14 months! Dhini, who joined our family when she was 3, also has enjoyed eight years of this amazing trip. I can say it is one of their favorite weeks for many reasons. Witnessing the teamwork among many churches reinforces what they learn about God’s kingdom. They see us rise early, break bread together (albeit college cafeteria style), leave to serve others, and return dirty and tired. They hear about all of the work sites each evening, impending challenges, sketching out solutions, and purchasing supplies. They sit with us in worship every night, witnessing that church can happen in a college dormitory. They gather with children of all ages and learn from volunteers, and Christian Education directors from many churches. They rejoice in seeing completed projects, and they learn to trust that next week’s volunteers will continue unfinished projects. They see God’s children, who live in a place that looks so different than Pittsburgh and many other places they have seen. They see us nominate each other, including the youth, for silly awards and for working extra hard. They see us solve problems, and walk alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ. They prepare snacks, and sidewalk art for our return, and catch a glimpse of what a college looks like! They grow to know our youth, so when they reach middle school, these big kids are not strangers. They have friends in a new town to whom they can send Christmas cards and letters. Our upper elementary school children learn to teach and care for the youngest among them, holding the hands of toddlers and calming infants.

They witness us all being the hands and feet of Jesus!

Contributed by Linda G. Leach

Are you interested in learning more about our annual Mars Hill Mission Experience? An informational meeting occurs on Sunday, April 29, at 12:30 p.m. in the Hulme Room. If you are unable to attend, please contact the Reverend Todd E. Leach, Associate Pastor for Missions.