Favorite Verses

1. John 3:16

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

2. John 14:6

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

3. Ephesians 2:8

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God...

4. 2nd Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousnes...

5. Matthew 11:28

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

 

 

 

 

Leading us in worship:   Rev. Matthew Froeschle 

Sunday Worship Schedule 

Worship Service
9:30 a.m.
Children's Church
9:45 a.m.
(after Children's Chat)
 

 

 

               VISIONS - God’s Judgment on All Nations
                    A sermon by the Rev. Matthew D. Froeschle
                    Sunday, September 15, 2019

The LORD is God over all nations, not just Israel.  Through Ezekiel, God demonstrated his sovereignty over the world in these prophecies of coming events for the nations surrounding Israel.
In these passages, we see the folly of arrogant leadership and the bitter consequences that result from nationalistic hubris, delusion, and selfishness.
May we hear these holy words, and once again allow the Bible’s wisdom to shape our lives and call us to repentance.

FIRST SCRIPTURE READING - Ezekiel 28:1-10

The word of the Lord came to me: Mortal, say to the prince of Tyre, Thus says the Lord God:

Because your heart is proud
    and you have said, “I am a god;
I sit in the seat of the gods,
    in the heart of the seas,”
yet you are but a mortal, and no god,
    though you compare your mind
    with the mind of a god.
You are indeed wiser than Daniel;
    no secret is hidden from you;
by your wisdom and your understanding
    you have amassed wealth for yourself,
and have gathered gold and silver
    into your treasuries.
By your great wisdom in trade
    you have increased your wealth,
    and your heart has become proud in your wealth.
Therefore thus says the Lord God:
Because you compare your mind
    with the mind of a god,
therefore, I will bring strangers against you,
    the most terrible of the nations;
they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom
    and defile your splendor.
They shall thrust you down to the Pit,
    and you shall die a violent death
    in the heart of the seas.
Will you still say, “I am a god,”
    in the presence of those who kill you,
though you are but a mortal, and no god,
    in the hands of those who wound you?
You shall die the death of the uncircumcised
    by the hand of foreigners;
    for I have spoken, says the Lord God.

SECOND SCRIPTURE READING - Ezekiel 29:1-16

In the tenth year, in the tenth month, on the twelfth day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: Mortal, set your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and prophesy against him and against all Egypt; speak, and say, Thus says the Lord God:

I am against you,
    Pharaoh king of Egypt,
the great dragon sprawling
    in the midst of its channels,
saying, “My Nile is my own;
    I made it for myself.”
I will put hooks in your jaws,
    and make the fish of your channels stick to your scales.
I will draw you up from your channels,
    with all the fish of your channels
    sticking to your scales.
I will fling you into the wilderness,
    you and all the fish of your channels;
you shall fall in the open field,
    and not be gathered and buried.
To the animals of the earth and to the birds of the air
    I have given you as food.
Then all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know
    that I am the Lord
because you were a staff of reed
    to the house of Israel;
when they grasped you with the hand, you broke,
    and tore all their shoulders;
and when they leaned on you, you broke,
    and made all their legs unsteady.

Therefore, thus says the Lord God: I will bring a sword upon you, and will cut off from you human being and animal; and the land of Egypt shall be a desolation and a waste. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.
Because you said, “The Nile is mine, and I made it,” therefore, I am against you, and against your channels, and I will make the land of Egypt an utter waste and desolation, from Migdol to Syene, as far as the border of Ethiopia. No human foot shall pass through it, and no animal foot shall pass through it; it shall be uninhabited forty years. I will make the land of Egypt a desolation among desolated countries; and her cities shall be a desolation forty years among cities that are laid waste. I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them among the countries.
Further, thus says the Lord God: At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians from the peoples among whom they were scattered; and I will restore the fortunes of Egypt, and bring them back to the land of Pathros, the land of their origin; and there they shall be a lowly kingdom. It shall be the most lowly of the kingdoms, and never again exalt itself above the nations; and I will make them so small that they will never again rule over the nations. The Egyptians shall never again be the reliance of the house of Israel; they will recall their iniquity, when they turned to them for aid. Then they shall know that I am the Lord God.

SERMON
“VISIONS - God’s Judgment on All Nations”
So far in our journey through Ezekiel’s book, the Word of God given through the prophet has largely been a harsh rebuke and a solemn judgment against God’s own people Israel.  In tone, it is strong parental discipline; a warning and a solemn prediction of all the horrible things that result from the prodigal child Israel’s unrighteous behavior.
In short, sin has consequences, and God will not forever abide unjust behavior.  When the chosen people fail to live according to the fair and gracious and loving laws of their One True God, they will not receive a special exemption for their behavior.
However, as we see in the readings for today, the God of the Bible is Lord over all nations, not just over Israel.  And so, the prophet’s words in these chapters are directed to the surrounding peoples - and particularly at the affluent, influential seaside city of Tyre and that well-known ancient superpower, Egypt.
The sins that are especially getting called out here are those of arrogance and selfishness.
In the first reading, God rebukes Tyre’s ruler for his delusional thinking.  He has convinced himself that he is a god - worthy of worship and indebted to no one.
Doubtless, this man’s wisdom and particular abilities helped him to govern the city and to make it the envy of nations.  The way that Ezekiel describes Tyre in this section of his book make it sound truly impressive and beautiful, which makes its imminent fall all the more tragic.
But in reading the Bible, we understand that it is the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of all true wisdom.  Without acknowledging our indebtedness to the Lord for all good gifts around us, we are setting ourselves up for a humiliating discovery.  We don’t have god-like powers to shape reality.  We are the pottery, not the potter.
We are mortal - dependent on God and living in concert with others.  “No man is an island,” as they say, and the prince of Tyre is no exception.  So this “Lord of the Sea” will end up at the bottom of the sea, figuratively.
Although this rebuke is aimed at a powerful ancient ruler, we do well to listen in and heed the warning against delusional self-important thinking.  Kings in the Middle Ages would sometimes keep court jesters to REMIND them that they are merely human - to keep the arrogance at bay with laughter and potty humor.
“There is a God - and it’s not me.”  Somehow the king of Tyre forgot those truths.  And one wonders if there was anyone around who could challenge him or remind him that he wasn’t the only one who mattered or who had all the answers.
Lord willing, there are folks in our lives who can talk us off the ledges when we’re deluded enough to try playing Superman/Superwoman, or on the flip side when we’re so self-absorbed that we think we are beyond hope.
Because when there’s no one around who cares enough to challenge you or tell you you’re wrong, then the inevitable fall will be tragic and lonely.
In his words to Egypt, God (through the prophet Ezekiel) is also calling out the brazen arrogance of a nation that has become so self-confident that they boast how the Nile River exists because of Egypt, not the other way around.
“WE MADE THE NILE!” Egypt boasts, forgetting that it is because of the Nile that Egypt became wealthy in the first place.  Egypt was the superpower of its day - but now this prophesy has been fulfilled, and they are no longer the dominant force they were in the past.
Perspective.  God knows we need perspective.  Rulers, individuals, and nations are susceptible to arrogant and selfish thinking.  That is not where to find true peace and freedom.  That is not the place of lasting wisdom and well-being.  Only in God - only when God is first in our minds and revered first in our hearts - is sanity found.
Historically speaking, we know that Egypt used the Middle East (the Holy Land) as a buffer between them and the powerful Mesopotamians in the north.  Egypt was kind of a false friend to Israel, promising help but not extending it, and using Israel without truly giving anything back.
That’s why in this prophesy, God calls them out for being a “week reed” when Israel turned to them for support and found nothing.
True, God had to warn Israel OVER AND OVER AGAIN not to trust in Egypt or in Egypt’s gods for help (they kept you as slaves, remember?!).  And so Israel was rightly called out for their idolatry.
But God is not holding Egypt blameless in this.  Apparently, God would hold all nations to the same standards of justice and fair play, not just Israel.
For even here in the Old Testament, well before the revelation of Jesus Christ and the gospel going out to all people, we find the seeds of this truth: that God is the true sovereign and Lord of all nations.  God will be the God of all people, not just one people.  And what Israel has found to be true is truth for all.
In the ancient world, polytheism was rampant.  Every tribe had their own gods.  That has given way to the predominant thought of today - monotheism.  Most people who are religious believe in one God over all.  One day we shall all stand before the One True God.

God, keep us from delusional thinking.  Rebuke our pride - rebuke our self-obsession - rebuke our selfishness.  Both as individuals and as a nation.  Help us to remember that all we have comes from you - every breath - every ability.  And let us live in humble cooperation with one another, proclaiming you alone as King and God.

No idols, Lord.  Just you - first in our lives.

In this way, we will know that we have actually listened to the word of God through Ezekiel, and been given the spiritual wisdom to repent and turn away from the sins that result in destruction.

Amen.
 

 

 

Please follow us on Facebook:  

 

https://www.facebook.com/pages/First-Presbyterian-Church-Mattoon-Illinois/435363219833858

 

 

ONLINE GIVING is now a possibility for any who wish to contribute to the mission and ministry here at FPC.  Simply click on the link below this paragraph, and fill out the secure form.  This is for your convenience, if you wish to contribute in this way.  It doesn’t cost the church anything, and some may find it more convenient than writing out a check.  In any respect, thanks to all members for participating in this ministry - whether through giving time, talents, or treasure.

 Your Donation Form


Adult Bible Class

The class meets at 8:30 am on Sunday morning.  Please join for this lesson and lively discussion time before the worshp service. 
Everyone welcome.

 Worship Service

Please join us for Sunday Worship at 9:30 a.m.  Let us be your church as you're passing through town, or your church home throughout the year.  We invite you to worship with us.  Children may stay in the sanctuary or go to Children's Church after the Children's Chat with the Pastor.  During the worship service, we worship God through scripture reading, listening to the sermon, prayer, responsive readings, hymn singing, special music, and reflection.

Children's Church

During the 9:30 a.m. worship service, Children's Church is offered for children ages 4-12.  Childlren are in the sanctuary until after the Children's Chat with the Pastor.  Children's Church is a service where kids learn through scripture, stories, and music tailored to their age group.

 

First Presbyterian Church is a Family of Faith. 

Like many families, we:

*Support one another.  Troubles are shared and burdens are lifted hrough requests to the Prayer Team, prayer requests made during worship, and conversation over coffee, etc.

*Share a common outlook.  Presbyterians are dedicated to hearing and acting on scripture.  We listen to what the Bible has to say through sermons and studies.  We carry out what we learn and believe through our daily lives and in missions at home and abroad.

*Nuture Children.  Outreach within and outside our church happens through Sunday School, Kids' Club, Youth Groups, LOGOS retreats, Camp Carew, and Vacation Bible School.  We help children "grow up in Christ."

*Care for the Elderly.  Members of the "Sunshine Brigade" conduct Christian care visits with shut-ins and those who live in skilled care settings.

*Help neighbors in need.  Friends and families reach out to others in the Church when help is needed.  In addition, members of the First Presbyterian family serve the community through programs like the Food Bank, Peace Meals, PADS homeless and transient shelter, etc.

*Grow.  Families have a habit of growing.  Our Family of Faith grows with those who are beginning or renewing their trust in Jesus Christ.  Please consider what Christ means to you, and experience God's love through First Presbyterian Church.