First AME Zion Church Virtual Worship
Sunday, July 5, 2020
The Call to Worship and Invocation
We come into your house this morning, praising your faithfulness, giving thanks for your mercy, seeking your joy.
Heavenly Father, we magnify and lift your Holy Name. We thank you for this day of life and vow to worship You with a heart of praise. Fill us with Your peace today. Amen.
Morning Hymn -- My Faith Looks Up to Thee
Performed by the Alfred Street Baptist Church,
Scripture Reading -- Matthew 26:26-36
26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;
28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.
30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
31 Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.
32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.
33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.
34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.
36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen, Amen.
I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried;
The third day he rose from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.
Altar Call/Pastoral Prayer -- Take it to the Lord in Prayer
Performed by The Aeolians Oakwood University
We are praying for you:
Rev. Keith Johnson, Octavian Rodriquez, Angelikka Carter, James Spaulding, Rev. and Mrs. Braxton, Dwaine Giggans,
Johnie Mae Williams, Christine Ferguson, Rev. Michael Henderson, Rev. Veronica Buckner, Betty Jo Smith
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you, thank you, for your undying mercy toward us. We come before you with thanksgiving and praise in our hearts for this beautiful day. We are not worthy to gather the crumbs from under your table, and Lord, we pray that You will forgive us of our sins and things that we have done that were not pleasing in Your sight. We pray that You will continue to direct us, keep our hearts and minds stayed on Thee. We face many unknown obstacles, but we are confident that You will go before us and protect us on this life's journey.
We come again pleading for this land. We are troubled by the sin of racism and are plagued by the coronavirus. We seek Your face and ask that You hear our prayer and heal our land.
Lord, as some of our communities go into yet another phase of restriction, we know that You are with us and that You are our constant source of protection. We pray this prayer in the most precious Name of Jesus. Amen.
Song of Praise - Every Praise
Performed by Hezekiah Walker and the First Baptist Church of Glenarden Young Adult Choir
Tithes and Offerings
"Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2nd Chronicles 9:7
Visit our Gift section on the Gift tab. You may give via credit cards, PayPal and Givelify.com (Download Givelify to your Smartphone). If you prefer, mail your tithes and offerings to First AMEZ Church, 95 S. 20th Street, San Jose CA 95116
The Bay Cities District Planning Meeting will be held via Zoom, July 11, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. Please watch your email for an invitation to the meeting. Also, please check your text messages and email for further updates on the events and news about the schedule for all local AMEZ services. In accordance with the directives of the Board of Bishops our on-site services are suspended until further notice. This includes Bible Study and choir rehearsals. Our next on-site service to be announced.
The Sermonic Scripture - Luke 12:48
But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
Song of Preparation -- Great is Your Mercy
Performed by Donnie McClurkin
Sermon -- To Whom Much Is Given
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States, once said, “to whom much is given, much is expected.” I don’t attribute this to him as an original thought, but I do credit him for expressing this truism. He not only believed this truth in theory, but he lived it. He had been given the awesome responsibility of being president of the United States of America. And, ultimately, he became the victim of a gunman in Dallas, Texas. A man born of society’s privilege, wealth, and prestige, gave up his life. Kennedy is not the only person we can recall who has made this prolific statement.
Andrew Young, an African American civil rights activist, former politician, and a pastor, born in 1932, put it this way: “To whom much is given, much is required - not expected, but required.” Young is still living, but it is evident that he not only made the statement, but he is willingly living it. He says, “It is a blessing to die for a cause because you can so easily die for nothing.”
But just for a second, notice the difference in these two statements. One says that much is “expected”; the other says, much is “required.” We can all agree that there is a big difference between being expected and being required.
A simple illustration of that difference is that you “expect” your children to get good grades in school, but you “require” your children to go to Church. The expectation may not happen, in fact it is defined as regarded as likely; anticipated, but the requirement, defined as “officially compulsory, or otherwise considered essential” must happen.
Perhaps this distinct difference is why Luke, the physician, is translated to say in Chapter 12, verse 48(b) Contemporary English Version,
“If God has been generous with you, he will expect you to serve him well. But if he has been more than generous, he will expect you to serve him even better.”
But the King James translation of this same scripture speaks strongly to this point:
“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”
The question that may be in some of our minds this morning is what is an example of someone who was “given much”? Let’s search the scriptures for an answer.
Turn to Genesis 12:1-6, we see where God spoke to Abram and tells him to “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Later we see in the 15th Chapter that Abram “believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” Not only was Abraham blessed spiritually, but he gained immense material wealth. In fact, he was said to be rich in gold, silver, and cattle. Back in that time, having these material possessions was like being the owner of a multi-billion-dollar business.
Even though he was financially sound, Abraham continued to profess his faith to the Lord, and his possessions became even greater and God continued to bless him in many ways. During this time, he had shared the land where he lived and had his cattle with his nephew Lot.
But, Abraham continued to accumulate possessions and he was forced to separate from Lot because the land area became too small. Despite the fact that everyone associated with Abraham also had material wealth, Lot became envious of his uncle.
Abraham had married Sarai and moved to Gerah. When he learns the King there was interested in his wife, to avoid any kind of conflicts in this new territory, Abraham introduces Sarai as his sister and not as his wife. The King takes Sarai into his harem as his wife and gives Abraham all kinds of animals to win his friendship and trust. Even with all of this wealth and Sarai as his wife, the King finds himself cursed by God and asked Abraham for an explanation.
This is when we see the turn from much being given, to much being required. Abraham tells the King the truth about Sarai and the King is forced to give Sarai back to Abraham. He gives her back and banishes Abraham and his family from Egypt.
After many years and life changes, God asks Abraham to make a sacrifice as proof of his faith and asks him to take his son, Isaac with him. Abraham goes with Isaac and a lamb to Moriah.
Finally, they arrive after three days walking and without the lamb which had gotten lost along the way. Since there is no lamb to sacrifice, God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son.
God was very decisive in his requirement. He wasn’t just “expecting” Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, but he was requiring that Abraham sacrifice him.
Church, there is a time when we must lay aside every weight and put it all on the altar for God. Because of his obedience, God restored Abraham’s wealth and reputation.
Abraham was not the only one of whom much was required. Sometimes when we talk about biblical characters, it seems so far-fetched. Surely, God has given some modern-day believers “much”.
When we consider the book of Matthew, we read of the three men whose Master had given them talents. One received five, one received two and one received a single talent. The first two men trusted that they would be favored in investing their talents, and each of them doubled their investment. But the one who received one talent must have been skeptical and he went and “digged in the earth and hid his Lord’s money.”
When the Lord returned he said to the first two men, “Well done; good and faithful servant; thou has been faithful over a few things and I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the lord.”
But to the won who squandered his talents, the lord said, “Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed.” The one talent was taken from him and given to the other two men and they had abundance and the other nothing.
Well Pastor that’s still old school. What about now. You remember Robert Smith, the billionaire who gave grants to pay off student loan debt for all Morehouse graduates in the Class of 2019. Smith was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
His parents were school teachers. He grew up in a predominantly African American, middle-class neighborhood in Denver, Colorado. He even went to public school. He applied for an internship at Bell Labs but was told the program was intended for college students. Smith persisted, calling each Monday for five months. When a student from M.I.T. did not show up, he got the position, and that summer he developed a reliability test for semiconductors.
From then on, it was doubling his opportunities, and today he is a billionaire.
Smith learned the principle early – to whom much is given, much is required. He worked hard to reach his personal achievements and he worked even harder to secure enough to help someone else. He knew that much was required of him as a Black man in this racist society and as a human being, spreading the love of God throughout the land.
Another man who lives a life that tells the story of “to whom much is given, much is required” is Sylvester Turner, Mayor of Houston, Texas.
I first met Mayor Turner as a member of The Church Without Walls after Hurricane Katrina. On Easter Sunday, 2017, the Church’s Bingle Campus re-opened and there on the front row of worshippers was Sylvester Turner. He was Mayor at that time, and his name was legendary throughout the City.
He was born in 1954, in Houston, as the sixth of nine children, and was raised in the Acres Homes community in northwest Houston. Turner attended public school in Houston and later joined Harvard Law School in 1980.
In an interview, Turner said,
“I didn’t realize I was poor, until people told me I was. My parents always found a way to make sure there was food on the table.”
One of the things you should know about Turner is that he was raised in the Church and remained dedicated to God. In spite of his meager beginnings, Sylvester Turner knew the scripture, “To whom much is given, much is required.”
Mayor Turner is a passionate speaker about God, the Bible, and Jesus’ commandment to “love thy neighbor.” He can be seen on any given Sunday morning on the front row of the sanctuary, shouting out and praising God. He lives daily to return those talents many-fold that were given to him.
One act of faith that was questioned by the politicians and skeptics of Houston was creating a $95,000 per year paid internship for a minority student. This was reported in October 2019 when he was in the middle of a run-off race for Mayor. Many believed that because of this act, he would fail as Mayor of Houston and serve only one term. But, God – Praise be to God, Sylvester Turner won the 2020 election and is serving a second four-year term.
That is just how God works. Just as God said to Abraham, “I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you,” he did the same thing for Sylvester Turner.
I’m a living witness that God will bless you. I often wonder how a little boy from Jacksonville, North Carolina could wind up as the Pastor of a church and now presiding elder? But, then when I think about God and his goodness, I know just how it happened.
I can thank my mother, Nancy for introducing me to Jesus when I was a little tot.
I can thank Jesus for blessing me.
I can thank an uncle-in-law for knowing the Word of God and helping me through college.
I can recall how I learned to share with others and how to give a helping hand without being asked.
God is true to his word. I have never seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging bread.
He is our rock, our strong tower –
He is the wheel in the middle of the wheel.
He is our bread when we’re hungry and our bridge over troubled water
God is our all and all. He has given us food and shelter from the storm and the rain.
We can trust and believe in God because He started it all. He gave us his Son, Jesus Christ to live among us here on earth. To be a living example of what it means to be blessed and cursed.
Jesus went about doing good, magnifying God by His sinless life. Jesus gave sight to the blind; he healed the sick and raised the dead. He knew that much was required of him. So, one day when God needed a sacrifice to die for the sins of man, Jesus – sweet Jesus – accepted that call. He decided to die, just to save you and me. It must have been a miserable death to hang there on a rugged cross, flanked by two malefactors. Yet, even in dying he took time to pray for them who were killing him – Father forgive them for they know not what they do. And, he hung there long enough to offer salvation to a thief giving him eternal life and telling him that “today you will be with me in paradise.”
What more could He do? He hung his head in the lock of his shoulders and gave up the ghost. He gave his precious life for us. To whom much is given, much is required.
What are you willing to give today?
What is required of you?
You’ve been given life, a home, a family, a job, a friend, a spouse, a confidant. You’ve been given chance after chance to renew and rebuild;
You’ve seen it over and over again where God has blessed you and kept you from all hurt, harm and danger.
What have you given?
My brothers and sisters much is required.
Take a look in the rear-view mirror of your life. Are you fulfilling your requirement? Are you worshipping week after week, only to keep the goodness of God and the life of salvation a secret to yourself?
You may say, I’ve never trusted in God before or believed that I was in his presence. Well, it is not too late.
If you hear my voice today and you’ve not accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, this is your time to give your life to Christ. God wants to bless you. He is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” (Ephesians 3:20)
INVITATION TO DISCIPLESHIP -
Now is the time when we offer Christ to you. If you wish to unite with our Church, please call (408) 688-6980.
Please celebrate our virtual Communion be clicking the Communion button below.