Be Strong and Courageous

God's Encouragement in the Transition

Here is my final sermon to the beloved St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Lake Mary, FL where I have served for the last 16 years.

The scriptures here are offered by the Lord as encouragement to stay strong and brave even in the face of the new realities and thresholds that the Lord challenges us to cross.

 

God’s promises transfer across the thresholds of life and leadership. He challenges us to stay true to His Word. We have nothing to fear, because the Lord is with us always. Be Strong and Courageous!

Brooke’s remarks at St., Peter’s

At the conclusion of the sermon you will hear the remarks and congregational prayers, by Brooke Holt (my wife), John Ricci, (Senior Warden) and The Rev. Canon Justin Holcomb (representing Bishop Gregory O. Brewer).

Joshua 1:5b-9

“Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. 

Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

“Sermon at the Geneva School Baccalaureate”
by The Rev. Charlie Holt

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Geneva School Class of 2017

“Two reasons why it was good Jesus left”
by The Rev. Charlie Holt

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St Peter's, Lake Mary
May 18, 2014

Reasons why it was good Jesus left

Jesus informed his disciples that he was leaving them. Yet, he reassured the that his departure was actually for their good! Find out the reasons why by listening to this week’s sermon.

You may want to read the text from the Gospel of John 14:1-14

“Hearts on Fire!”
by Rev. Charlie Holt

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Hearts on Fire
May 4, 2014
The Road to Emmaus

Momo Chiesa, Trinità Discepoli Emmaus

In  the moment that Jesus broke the bread the disciples truly recognized that the presence of the risen Lord Jesus was walking with them all along “on the way”. They just had not recognized him until that moment. You can read the story here: Luke 24:13-35

Christian worship services reenact the Road to Emmaus every Sunday as The Lord opens the Scriptures to us through the Bible readings and Sermon and as Jesus reveals His presence in the Breaking of the Bread in the Communion. Jesus is walking daily with his people.

What part of the worship service sets your heart on fire? What part of the worship service do you most feel the presence of the risen Lord Jesus Christ? In the Comments Section feel free to offer your reflections.

The Lonely Garden of the Father’s Will

The Lonely Garden of the Father’s Will

When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed to His Heavenly Father: “If there be any other way, make it possible.” And yet, Jesus submitted obediently to His Father’s will and took the cup that the Father would have for Him. As Jesus wrestled with the most agonizing submission of His life, all of his disciples failed to support Him. Three times he asked them for support through intercessory prayer.

“My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again.

Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. –Matthew 26:38-45

Three times his closest friends and confidantes failed Him because of their own weakness and flesh. He desperately pleaded with them to sit with Him, to watch and pray with Him. But, they were overcome by sleep.

At His most desperate hour, Jesus was left to wrestle in agony with the will of His Father—all alone. The feelings of abandonment would be compounded on the Cross when he asked:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

The will of God can be a lonely personal fulfillment. There are times where we may even question whether God is with us. If Jesus asked that, so might we. At the end of the Apostle Paul’s life, he was facing the certain moment of his own martyrdom for the sake of the Gospel and the Name of Jesus. Paul discovered the lonely garden of the Father’s will:

At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! –2 Timothy 4:16

Notice the word “all”—“all deserted me.” Faithfulness to God’s call is often a lonely, lonely business. However, Paul lived faithfully on this side of the Cross of his Lord. While his human confidantes and friends abandoned him in his time of need, Paul knew that because of Jesus sufferings of abandonment, He would never abandon His people in their darkest hour. That is why Paul goes on to write:

But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. –2 Timothy 4:17-18

Because Jesus was God forsaken on our behalf, God says to you “I will never leave or forsake you.” Even though we may feel times of distance from the Lord, or moments where the experience of His presence is lacking, He is always with his faithful people. The Cross guarantees this reality. No one put this truth more beautifully than the Apostle Paul:

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus your Lord. Nothing!

The Cross proves it!

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