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The Next Chapter

The Next Chapter
Matthew 4:12-22
Pastor Lester McCorn

Scripture Lesson:
12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
 the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
 Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people living in darkness
 have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
 a light has dawned.”
17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Lesson Excerpt:

Chapters are important markers in a story that make up the story. There are twists and turns that make up the story. There are always chapters that are painful in a person's life. The painful experiences, obstacles, and situations of people in transition are apparent to us. In today’s scripture, Jesus Christ was preaching the good news of the gospel. John the Baptist is the one who was chosen by God to pave the way for Jesus Christ. In his work, John the Baptist became a great leader and had people that drew in towards him because of the messages that he preached. There was something peculiar that drew people to him. John the Baptist became public enemy number one to the empire because he spoke the truth of the gospel. Nevertheless, he held fast to the word of God.

Because of John the Baptist’s pursuit of God’s will and purpose for his life, he was captured and thrown into prison. John the Baptist was a threat to the king and to the kingdom. The people's (followers) hearts were heavy and they were in limbo because their leader was in prison. While John the Baptist was in prison this could be called the limitable stage. According to the Free Dictionary, being in a limitable stage means to be at a “point, edge, or line beyond which something ends, may not go, or is not allowed.” The people were in a limitable stage. They were in between life and death. For example, during heart surgery a person is in a limitable stage. During surgery the doctor removes the heart from the body and takes steps to keep the person having the surgery alive while they work on the heart. This is a limitable stage because the person is between life and death. There are times in our lives that are like this. The limitable stage is an uncomfortable stage to be in. A lot of us presently feel that we are in a limitable stage. Our national leader’s time with us has ended and there is now a new national leader whom many are concerned about. The limitable stage is necessary. We can't get to the next chapter of our life until we go through the limitable stage. This is what Psalms 23:4 means which the scripture says, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.” God will be with me us when we go through our limitable stage.

God does some of his best work when we go through the limitable stage. There is a man named Jesus. Jesus had to go through a limitable stage. We all have to go through this stage in our lives. It prepares us for God’s mission, will, way, and purpose for our lives. God is raising up some people who can handle what's coming down the pike. People are beginning to stand for the truth and the light. All of us are more emotional than we are logical sometimes. Phobia will happen in life. Especially when there is something before us that we can't handle well that comes before us in life. We also have paralysis. It delays us in our pursuit of our purpose and destiny. There is pain. Pain is real. All of us have pain from disappointment and we must embrace the reality of our pain. There is a balm in Gilead to heal us. Moreover, we experience perplexities in life. We can't understand what is going on and why we are going through certain challenges in life.

Yet, in the midst of this, here comes Jesus who gives us glory. God will help us move to the next chapter. Sometimes we are obsessed with the last chapter in our lives. It's time to move to the new chapter in life. I must turn to God to make room for the greatest blessings. I must take the old experiences and put them in their proper place… lessons for life. This is when we discover and learn how to deal with disappointments and heartaches we experience in life.

It is important to note that not everyone gets out of the limitable stage at the same time. Therefore, we must be patient with people. Be a confidant, comforter, pray for them, and intercede for them. In today’s scripture, Jesus recognizes that he needed some men to be on his team. He was looking for men that were available to go beyond the ordinary. Are we ready to move beyond where we are to the next stage of our life? There is a poem called, “The Day After Tomorrow” that reminds us that we need to “forgive the wrongs, ease the sufferer’s pain,” and realize that “today is here.” So before you throw in the towel, lose hope, and give up, remember that God brought us a man named Jesus. We must remember that after every fall and every failure, we have the opportunity to get up and rise. We will still rise in spite of the situations we experience in life.

Three points a new chapter can do for us are:

• A new chapter tells us to move forward. God has given each of us a new chapter. Because of his grace he is giving us a new chapter and telling us to move forward. Don't allow doubt, fear, negative people and situations, and low self-esteem to hold you down. It will be difficult. Others will try to remind you of the past. Remember that you have a new chapter and you have to move forward. How many books are there on your shelves that you never finished? We need to get to the end of our story. God is not through with us yet. God has given us a new chapter and it is time for us to move forward. Jesus' arrival was a sign to the people that God had given them a new chapter. Our story is still being written and we must move forward.

• Turn the page. A new chapter allows us to turn the page. We must stop living and looking in the past chapter so that we can in a spiritual sense turn the page of our life. We must advance forward. Turn the page on the past. Turn the page on the hurts in life. Turn the page on the obstacles. Turn the page on the disappointments. God is trying to write a new story for you and for me. Let’s turn the page so that God can write the next chapter of our stories on a new blank page. Also, leave some pages intentionally blank throughout your story. This allows you to come back to that page and take note of what God has done or is doing in your life. God is still ordering the steps for each of our lives. Turn the page and allow God to perform miracles in your life. When you turn the page you hold yourself to the mighty hand of God in your life.

• Embrace the whole story. Each chapter in our lives is just a part of our story. All the chapters of our lives make up the whole story for each of us. The hard and painful chapters are getting us in line and in sync with the will, way, and purpose of our lives. We have to lose some people, places, and things. Sometimes people do mean things to us. What they meant for evil, God will make it for good. Jesus shows up, he comes out of the wilderness, and gives us life and we have it more abundantly. Don't limit yourself to the past chapters of your life. God has given us another chance. God looks past our faults, failures, and sees our needs. God is still writing a new chapter in each of our lives. It is okay to look back every now and then, highlight or put a bookmark in the chapter so that we realize and remember what God has brought us through. Just know that it is a reminder that God is not done with our lives. The new movie, “Fences,” is a story that was written by storywriter, August Wilson. The story is what makes the movie. In other words, we are nothing without a good storywriter. The name of our storywriter is Jesus. When others see our lives they will be blessed. This is our story. You’ve got a story. I’ve got a story. God has a story for each of us. He is working things out on our behalf. Old things are passed away and all things have become new. We have a new chapter of our life. Amen.

Operation Transformation

Rev. Dr. Lester A. McCorn
Senior Pastor
Pennsylvania Avenue A.M.E. Zion Church

Biblical Relevance: 1 Corinthians 12:12-26

12 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

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Operation Transformation, A Second Lesson

Rev. Dr. Lester A. McCorn
Senior Pastor
Pennsylvania Avenue A.M.E. Zion Church

Biblical Relevance: 2 Chronicles 2

2 Solomon gave orders to build a temple for the Name of the Lord and a royal palace for himself. 2 He conscripted 70,000 men as carriers and 80,000 as stonecutters in the hills and 3,600 as foremen over them. 3 Solomon sent this message to Hiram king of Tyre:
“Send me cedar logs as you did for my father David when you sent him cedar to build a palace to live in. 4 Now I am about to build a temple for the Name of the Lord my God and to dedicate it to him for burning fragrant incense before him, for setting out the consecrated bread regularly, and for making burnt offerings every morning and evening and on the Sabbaths, at the New Moons and at the appointed festivals of the Lord our God. This is a lasting ordinance for Israel.
5 “The temple I am going to build will be great, because our God is greater than all other gods. 6 But who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him? Who then am I to build a temple for him, except as a place to burn sacrifices before him?
7 “Send me, therefore, a man skilled to work in gold and silver, bronze and iron, and in purple, crimson and blue yarn, and experienced in the art of engraving, to work in Judah and Jerusalem with my skilled workers, whom my father David provided.
8 “Send me also cedar, juniper and algum logs from Lebanon, for I know that your servants are skilled in cutting timber there. My servants will work with yours 9 to provide me with plenty of lumber, because the temple I build must be large and magnificent. 10 I will give your servants, the woodsmen who cut the timber, twenty thousand cors of ground wheat, twenty thousand cors of barley, twenty thousand baths of wine and twenty thousand baths of olive oil.”
11 Hiram king of Tyre replied by letter to Solomon:
“Because the Lord loves his people, he has made you their king.”
12 And Hiram added:
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who made heaven and earth! He has given King David a wise son, endowed with intelligence and discernment, who will build a temple for the Lord and a palace for himself.
13 “I am sending you Huram-Abi, a man of great skill, 14 whose mother was from Dan and whose father was from Tyre. He is trained to work in gold and silver, bronze and iron, stone and wood, and with purple and blue and crimson yarn and fine linen. He is experienced in all kinds of engraving and can execute any design given to him. He will work with your skilled workers and with those of my lord, David your father.
15 “Now let my lord send his servants the wheat and barley and the olive oil and wine he promised, 16 and we will cut all the logs from Lebanon that you need and will float them as rafts by sea down to Joppa. You can then take them up to Jerusalem.”
17 Solomon took a census of all the foreigners residing in Israel, after the census his father David had taken; and they were found to be 153,600. 18 He assigned 70,000 of them to be carriers and 80,000 to be stonecutters in the hills, with 3,600 foremen over them to keep the people working.

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Operation Transformation, A Third Lesson

Rev. Dr. Lester A. McCorn
Senior Pastor
Pennsylvania Avenue A.M.E. Zion Church

Biblical Relevance: Nehemiah 4:1-6
4 When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, 2 and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?”
3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!”
4 Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. 5 Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders.
6 So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.

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A Seat at the Table

Excerpt of Lesson from Pastor Lester A. McCorn

Luke 22:7-37
7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”
9 “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.
10 He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, 11 and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.”
13 They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.
14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

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