Saturday, April 14, 2018
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for April 22nd: Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 22:25-31; 1 John 4:7-21; John 15:1-8; theme: dying in Christ, Rising in Christ Acts: The Holy Spirit told Philip to go a certain way in order to show the power of the Risen Christ. Philip ends up encountering the Ethiopian, who is so impressed with the words that he hears that he wants to be baptized in the name of Jesus. The spirit is so powerful that Philip is taken up by the encounter, and the Ethiopian continues to rejoice. This helps Philip to know that it is okay that he has given up everything, he is doing what God called him to do. He has the confidence to continue to preaching the good news of the resurrection of Christ. When we are working for Christ, we have to listen to the Holy spirit and understand that it is the Spirit’s power that is working, we are just witnesses to the power of the Spirit. John: John is trying to help us understand what it means to be saved by the messiah. So he gives a series of statements of who the messiah is, each start with I AM. This statement is I AM the true vine. The messiah is our connection to God. We are the fruit, and God is the vineyard keeper. Christ helps us to grow in God and in life. Christ says that we cannot accomplish anything without a connection to him. This helps us to understand the point that the Holy Spirit undergirds all of our actions, and it is the spirit, not us that makes a difference. Christ is God’s abiding presence in our lives. Questions: When did you first have an understanding of who Christ is? Were you excited about the experience? What is the holy Spirit urging you to do to help others understand Christ? How do you intentionally stay connected to Christ? What does it mean to produce fruit for God? How do you feel the Holy Spirit in your life?
Saturday, March 10, 2018
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for March 18th: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51:1-12; Hebrews 5:5-10; John 12:20-33 Theme: 5th Sunday of Lent Jeremiah: The prophet Jeremiah is speaking these words to a people who have been disconnected and taken away. They don’t understand why this is happening to them. And Jeremiah is saying that it has to do with their relationship with God. They had become lax in their covenant. The hope in their situation comes from the fact that God will have a new covenant with them. God will forget their former sin and love them in grace. They won’t have to worry about knowing the rules, because the rules will be written on their heart. It will affect how they live and how they relate to God. Jesus Christ is our new covenant with God. John: The ministry of Jesus lasts for 3 years in the book of John. This passage talks about the final time that Jesus has come to Jerusalem for the Passover. As he has come to town, so has other Jews from Greece. They want to talk and to learn from Jesus. Jesus tells them that this is his last time in Jerusalem. Now is the time for his destiny to be fulfilled. As he teaches, they hear a voice from heaven saying that Jesus will be glorified and everything that he is saying will make sense. Jesus says that when that happens , people will come forward and give their life to Christ. Jesus uses these words to prepare his followers for the events of Holy Week. Questions: How are the laws of God written on your heart? How is your relationship with God? Is there something that needs to change and be renewed? What do you do that lifts of the name of Jesus for others? You can view Breaking Open the Scripture online at https://breakingopenthescriptures.blogspot.comYou can view Pastor Harriette’s sermons online at https://aplaceforshalom.blogspot.com
Sunday, March 4, 2018
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for March 11th: Numbers 21:4-9;Psalm 107:1-3,17-22; Ephesians 2:1-10; John 3:14-21; Theme: 4th Sunday of Lent John: John 3:16 is one of the most noted scriptures in the bible – God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, so that all who believe in him may be saved. This verse is in the context of a conversation that Jesus is having with Nicodemus. Nicodemus wants to learn from Jesus, but he does not want anyone to know, so he comes to him in the middle of the night. Nicodemus wants to know what he must do to be saved. Jesus explains that salvation is an act of God. It is contained in Jesus dying on a cross for all of us while we were yet sinners. Jesus tells of the significance of the cross. That he would be lifted up for all people to see, and to eventually understand what the act of salvation means for the world. We no longer need to walk in darkness, because the light has come to our world. Numbers: The people have been sinners, so they believe that God sent snakes into the world to destroy them. They have come to Moses to ask about a cure, what can they do to get back into God’s good graces. Moses tells them to get a poisonous snake and put it on a pole. To this very day, this is the symbol of medical treatment – a snake on a pole. The gospel of John also picks up this symbol for Jesus dying on the cross. Jesus too needed to be lifted up for the people to see a cure. A cure to all of the craziness in the world and the way it affects us. God always provides a way out . We just have to look up in order to see it. We have to want to do something different, before we can see God’s cure for the world. It is not a snake, but Jesus Christ who died on a cross. Anyone who believes that will be saved from the destruction of this world. Questions: What does the cross mean to you and your faith journey? How do you lift Jesus up for others to see his love for them? What is it today that the world prays for a cure for? What cure is God providing for sin in the world?
Saturday, February 24, 2018
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for March 4th: Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22; Theme: Third Sunday of Lent 1 Corinthians 1:18-25: Paul is addressing the church of Corinth in order to convince them to support his mission trips to other areas. Paul knows that this is a modern church for a modern city. There are many different groups with the church: farmers, soldiers, merchants, laborers. They all have their own ideas about how to solve problems, they all have different ideas about what it means to be the church, they all have different ideas about who God is. Paul convinces them to remain united in the midst of their differences. Today, not only do we have those same differences, but we also have differences according to generations. Today, there are so many other things to do besides attend church. Many people think that going to church is going out of style. Believing in God is so 1970’s. Paul tells us that it is okay for the world to criticize God and church. But if we are faithful, we have to have a faith that calls us to have a relationship with God anyway. John: Jesus was not happy about what he saw going on in the world, and how wordly ideas had started to creep into the church. So he tried to overturn lot of what he saw going on. Jewish leaders asked by what authority did he have to criticize what he saw happening. Jesus knew that he had the spirit of God inside of him. He understood the original intention of the temple. And after the resurrection, his disciples saw clearly the authority he had. If Jesus was to come to our church today- would he approve of what he saw? Are we honoring the original intent of God? Or are we playing into what we see going on in the world? Questions: What criticisms does the world have of the church today? How do we respond to those criticisms? What does it mean to be faithful in the world today? If Jesus came to our church, how would we welcome him?
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for February 25th: Genesis 17:1-7,15-16; Psalm 22:23-31; Romans 4:13-25; Mark 8:31-38 Theme: Second Sunday of Lent Romans: The Hebrew Bible reading for this week deals with covenant that God made with Abraham. He promised he and his wife that their descendants would be as plentiful as the stars. Abraham was willing to pull away from his family traditions and follow God. Today, Abraham’s descendants are from three religions: Jewish, Christian, Muslim. We are called the people of the book. In Romans, Paul reminds us that in order to be a part of Abraham’s family, we have to have the same faith, and the same obedience. We have to be willing to follow God where God leads us in this day and age. Genesis: This scripture outlines the original promise that God made. Abrahams and Sarah thought that it was ridiculous that a couple in their nineties would have a baby, but it happened…because they were faithful. They were willing to take God at God’s word. It was God who told Abraham not to get caught up into his family and to walk away to go to a new place, where he could hear God’s word clearly. In return, God promised that Abraham and Sarah would not only have one baby, they would have so many that they could not be counted. During the season of lent, we look at the promises that God made. This is the first one. Today, Jews live not only in Israel, but they live all over the world. God also made a promise that God would not destroy the world by flood anymore. Every time there was a doubt about the future, God’s promises opened a door and created a new way. Questions: What are the promises that God is making to our generation? How is God asking us to be faithful? Is there a way for all of Abraham’s children to be on one accord? This lent, what are you doing in order to hear God in your life?
Saturday, February 3, 2018
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for February 11th: 2Kings 2:1-12; Psalm 50:1-6; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6; Mark 9:2-9; Theme: Transfiguration Sunday Mark: This scripture tells the story of when the disciples get their first glimpse of who Jesus really is. Prayer is important to Jesus. It is important to get direction from God in his ministry is important. This time, he is not alone, he brings his disciples. This time, he does not talk with God, but with the prophets for direction. As the disciples witness this wonderful occasion, they see that Jesus clothes are transformed and he starts to glow. By this, they know that he has been touched by the glory of the Lord. They too want to be touched and to be a part of his ministry. What are some ways that we experience God’s glory today? When are the times in your life when God makes an appearance and teaches you a lesson? This is a moment that the disciples will remember forever, but as they are coming down from the mountain, Jesus tells them to tell no one about what they just witnessed. This is known as the messianic secret. 2Kings: This is a very important verse, because it teaches us about the transference of power from one generation to another. Elijah has been a very successful prophet, and he has been training Elisha for years to take his place. Since Elijah has a relationship with God, he knows that soon he will join God and leave Elisha alone. Everyone seems to know this is about to happen, except Elisha. Elisha sticks to his master like glue. Finally his master, Elijah asks him what he wants. Elisha says that he wants to be twice the man Elijah is. When the day comes, Elijah does not die, he is just taken up by chariot to heaven. Elisha is left to pick of the mantle and to carry on the prophecy to the people. Questions: Who has been a spiritual mentor to you? What would you like to inherit from them?
Saturday, January 6, 2018
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for January 14th: 1 Samuel 3:1-20; Psalm 139; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1:43-51; Theme: Come and Follow Me John: John’s purpose is to show everyone that Jesus is the Messiah. The main question of John is what are you looking for? The messiah can meet the needs of all that you are seeking. Very early in the story of Jesus, is the story of the disciples. Jesus seeks each one and persuades them to come and follow him. He shows them that he can give their life a purpose. And they do indeed follow. This is the follow story of Philip. Philip persuades Nathaniel to follow. When Jesus speaks to Nathaniel, he says that Jesus is the King of Israel. He also says that he is the one that the scriptures talked about. Jesus tells them both that if they follow him they will see great things. They will understand what it means for Jesus to be the King of the Jews. Samuel: This is the call story of Samuel. Samuel’s mother left him in the care of Eli. Samuel was much younger than the sons of Eli. It did not take long for him to see that they were training to be priest, but they were not very nice people. One night Samuel hears a voice calling him in the night, Eli tells him that it is God calling and that he should listen. Samuel grows up to become one of the most influential priest of Israel. He grows up to consecrate David as King and to advise him on how God speaks to the world. God always speaks in unexpected ways to unexpected people. That is why it is important to hear the background stories of the key people in the bible. Questions: What are you looking for in a savior? What will Jesus need to say to get you to follow? How is God speaking to you? What is God calling you to be in your life? Are those who are ordained sincerely representing the word of God for you?