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8/8/10 - Today I visited The First Presbyterian Church of Palatka, FL

                                                      < CLICK             

Here we were in Palatka on Sunday 8th. August for a brief stop on our way down from the Jacksonville Beaches, GOP Hot Dog Roast on Saturday; traveling to an event on Monday, hosted by the Apopka Christian Chamber of Commerce in Orlando.

I cruised the waterfront and came across this beautiful Presbyterian Church on the river.

It was a sunny morning lighting up the gentle interior of the semi-classical structure. The formal brick exterior enclosed pastel interior walls and a bright blue carpet bearing classical oak pews. Chandeliers and stained glass completed the elegant format. The music was a little more 'Piano' than totally 'Organ' & eschewed both the contemporary Non-Denominational 'Rock Band'  or 'High Episcopal' Big-Organ music styles.

I enjoyed a very soothing 'middle of the road service': These Presbyterian/Methodist Churches are generally less formal than the Episcopalians & Catholics (lack processionals with cross/crucifix, vestments, regular communion & brevity of Sermon); but while they share those restraints with the Baptists -- and usually sermonize for 25-30 minutes -- they also eschew the Altar mounted video screens, preliminary hour of music and hand-clapping, 'Halleluiah' congregations of the Evangelicals.

I actually find the Presbyterians in particular to be purveyors of a very comfortable 'Meat 'n Potatoes' brand of worship. So I was absolutely uplifted and refreshed by this service. Thank you all!

    CLICK FOR  MUSIC >         


THE MESSAGE: "The Banquet"  (A summary, adapted & edited from the sermon given 8/8/2010 by Elder Rick Mills at First Presbyterian Church, Palatka, FL; referencing Luke 14:15-24).

I know what youíre thinking ~ Who on earth put me behind this pulpit to preach? Well, brothers and sisters, it was not anyone on this earth that did. Open and close your eyes quickly and ask: "How did that sinner get up front?" Itís due to Godís grace and the mystery of Godís love for us!

Let me tell you how God got me here and revealed what I should say to you today. I recently forced myself to go to a fellowship meeting and dinner. At desert Pastor Bob said he wanted to take a break; needed a replacement. Secretly, I had wanted to preach for a long time. My heart leapt into my throat. But I restrained myself because of my fear of vanity. Then as pastor Bob announced that the music minister would cover one week, it was revealed that HE had volunteered. So I jumped at the chance and was accepted. I felt relieved. Then the tempest set in. "Are you worthy?" I worried.

Then I recalled: "We are all broken; it is through the cracks that the light shines in". I had heard those words at another banquet. Later that night God again spoke to me: "It is through those cracks that My light will be reflected out to a lost and broken world." Then I heard Paul in Phil. 4:13 say: "I can do all things through God who strengthens me." So here I am. I pray that I speak His words to you today.

But then I had to decide what to preach about. Reading ahead, I noticed that the word on the day I would preach was from Luke 14. That involves the parable of the great Banquet.

I would like you to try a spiritual experiment with me today. I love the way the apostle Paul begins his letters to the early churches of Rome: "All in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints, praise and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."

Donít you love the way these greetings sound? The early church believed they were exactly what the Apostle Paul was telling them they were -- Saints; and indeed many of them would die for Christ and be thus sanctified. Now, what if we started today to think of ourselves in exactly the same way?

So let me say: "To all in Palatka who are loved by God, and called to be saints; praise and peace to you from our Father; and from The Lord Jesus Christ." Now turn to your neighbor and repeat the greeting I just gave you.

Think of yourselves as 21st. Century Saints. The Beloved of God. Faithful to Christ Jesus. Well, thatís the experiment Iíd like you to try today. Address each other like Paul did in his letters. Try and address yourselves and your friends as saints. The beloved of God, faithful to him in all things and powerful to His purposes.

Now letís consider todayís scripture: Luke 14:15-27. (here Elder Rick read about the banquet where everyone declined the invitation and the host sent his servant into the highways & byways to call the lame, blind, and disfavored as replacement guests to fill the banquet).

Letís look at the teaching in the parable in Luke 14. The Master represents God and the servant is you and me. Remember we are "The Saints". We are sent to do His works. Matthew ends in chapter 28, verse 19 with Jesus giving us (The Saints) a Great Commission: "Therefore go and make disciples of all men, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of The Son, and of The Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you; and surely I am with you always to the very end of the age."

We are supposed to preach the Gospel boldly! Do not be too busy to come and sit at His feet. Would you sit at the feet of Jesus like Mary did? Or would you be too busy, like Martha? Will you give up lunch & dinner to go out into the streets and lanes and minister to the sick and homeless and invite them in to the feast? Will you accept the Great Commission and go out into the world? Will you preach the Gospel Boldly?

One of the most tragic moments in the Gospel is recorded in John 18. Jesus is stripped & beaten. He is brought before Pontius Pilate (who by the way did not want to crucify him). Pilate asks: "Why are you here?"

Jesus replies: "It was for this reason I was born; and for this that I came into the world: to testify to the truth."

Pilate sneers: "Truth? What is that?" Then he dismisses Jesus to His crucifixion. Sounds like today; for now Christ is crucified in our hearts every day.

But the truth is that He is with us even now. Christ said: "I am the way and the truth & the light. No man cometh unto the Father but by me." John 14:6. He has given us the Holy Spirit in order for us to be in constant relationship with Him. So that we can see that Christ equals the truth.

Do not be a 21st. Century Pilate. See the truth and heed it. Luke chapter 14, verses 15-24 are playing out today. (The banquet is being assembled). With current technology, Christís Gospel has been translated into every conceivable language and broadcast to all corners of the world. What took hundreds of years to be written down and laboriously transmitted from the original twelve followers is now available to over two billion believers world-wide.

Today Christ is filling His table. Do not be too busy to come to the banquet. You are invited. Be sure to attend. Go out into the highways & byways and bring sinners to the feast. Share the Gospel. The truth resides in you. The world needs the truth. Will you invite everyone to the banquet? You are where you are because God put you there. Do what He has charged you with. He has commanded His true servants to fill this table.

Do it. You are saints. Share the Word with the world.

Amen.

 

                                                                                                  


THANK YOU FOR YOUR GRACIOUS SUPPORT!


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WILLIAM ESCOFFERY III,

Candidate, U.S. SENATE, FL 2010

 

 

. William Escoffery III

FL Primary 24 August 2010

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Pd. Pol. Adv., paid for and approved by Dr. Bill Escoffery,

Candidate for U.S. Senate from Florida.

Copyright © 2010 by William Escoffery III. All rights reserved.
Last modified: 09/13/10