175 Years
About Us

8002 U. S. Highway 301 South, Riverview, FL  33578  813-677-5995

Hearing or Hearing?
Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.  (Luke 1:38). A parent tells a teenager to be home by 10:30 at night, but the teen comes home at 11:30. The teen heard the instructions audibly, but he didn’t hear them in a way that affected his behavior. His ears received the instructions, but his heart didn’t.

The same disconnect between hearing and hearing can occur when we read God’s Word. It’s one thing to read God’s words in the Bible, but it’s another thing to obey them. God is sovereign and has every right to speak to us and expect an obedient response. Think of how challenging it must have been for the teenage Mary to both hear the angel Gabriel’s words from God and obey them. After all, what the angel said to her must have been confusing, if not confounding (Luke 1:26-38). Yet Mary’s response was a model of obedience: “Let it be to me according to your word.”

When you read God’s words today, make sure you are hearing with your heart as well as with your mind. And let obedience be your response.  The difficulty we modern Christians face is not misunderstanding the Bible but persuading our untamed hearts to accept its plain instructions.  (A. W. Tozer)

Turning Point Ministry

Working in the Vineyard
God provides. God provides for our needs in unusual and sometimes confusing ways. Whether it is manna and quail in the desert or a surprisingly generous but perhaps somewhat unfair payment for labor, God provides in ways that give us pause and, hopefully, make us think.

We also discover, when we look at the stories as well as our own lives, that God works in partnership to meet needs. Effort is required to gather the manna that forms each morning and to capture the quail that roost in the evening. Labor in the vineyard is a part of the covenant made with God as we claim the joy of belonging to the kingdom. We aren’t passive recipients of God’s grace, but we are engaged in the process of discovery and acceptance. God provides, we gather, and we share. We are weeks past Labor Day in the US, but we can celebrate the efforts of the church to gather and share God’s bounty within the body and with the wider community as well. What manna ministry can we celebrate this week as we worship together?

There is also a hospitality issue in the gospel text. Who is welcome in our vineyard? What barriers or hierarchies get in the way of truly welcoming those who may not yet belong to the body? Do we go out of our way to include and incorporate even those who may look different from us, those who may respond differently from us? What ‘rights” do longer-term members feel they hold over those who may have joined more recently?

Worship is where we set the tone for the church. Who we are together is who we are as we worship. What can we do to make sure everyone feels included in the worship experience? Is there hidden language that only insiders know? Is there incomplete information that would preclude first-timers from fully participating? Are there unspoken expectations that might cause embarrassment for those not in the know? Paying attention to how we conduct our worship is important for the flow of worship, but also as an indicator of the nature of the body that gathers.

Another theme might be “sharing the load.” Who among us is carrying the “burden of the day,” as some of the workers in the vineyard complained? It is hard to maintain a spirit of service and commitment when some are feeling used or unappreciated or unseen. Worship can be a way of honoring those who labor in the church as well as being an encouragement to others to spend time gathering the manna. There is joy in service, even when it is hard work.

Dr. Derek Weber,
Director of Preaching Ministries
The United Methodist Church

Deeper, Broader, Boundless!
To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge. (Ephesians 3:19) Mary Dagworthy James began teaching Sunday school at age thirteen and later became a prominent figure in the Wesleyan Holiness movement. She wrote the famous Gospel song, “All for Jesus,” and many other hymns. One of her songs, “Everlasting Love,” has been forgotten, but it provides rich imagery for visualizing God’s love. Mary wrote:

Wondrous words! How rich in blessing!
Deeper than the unfathomed sea;
Broader than its world of waters,
Boundless , infinite, and free;
Higher than the heavens above,
Is that everlasting love!

Love begins with God; God is love. And He loves us with agape love, not because of anything we have done but because of who He is. It’s a wondrous love, rich in blessing, deeper than the sea, broader than the waters, and higher than the heavens.

That is His incredible love for you! Embrace it fully, and rejoice today! All for Jesus! All for Jesus! All my being’s ransomed pow’rs, all my thoughts and words and doings, all my days and all my hours. (Mary Dagworthy James)

Turning Point Ministry