Saturday, November 18, 2017
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for November 26th: Ezekiel 34:11-16,20-24; Psalm 100, Ephesians 1:15-23, Matthew 25:31-46 – Christ the King Sunday Matthew : This is the last Sunday of the Christian year, it is the day that we are to think of Christ in all of his glory. This is also the end of the book of Matthew. Jesus is fortelling what will happen at the end of time. He wants to make sure that his disciples are prepared to face those times. The Christ will return to the earth in all of his glory. The angels will be with him. He will have the authority to judge people, but he will also have the task to love people. The criteria that we will be judged on, is how well we were willing to help others. The holiday season is coming up, it is time for us to meet the needs of those around us and show the love of God. Ezekiel: This too is a scripture of the endtimes and the judgement. God talks of being the shepherd and gathering together all of those that the human shepherds let go astray. All those who have been neglected in life, will be fed and taken care of. They will live in a nice, comfortable place, they will live in peace. Being a shepherd is a big responsibility, and we will be help accountable. Jesus tells us that we all have a responsibility to shepherd and take care of those around us. That is what it means to be a person of faith. We have to make sure that we do not say or do things that will scatter the flock. Questions: What do you do to help others? What do you think about the second coming of Christ? Do you see the needs of others around you? What does these scripture say about our modern politicians? Are they doing their job?
Saturday, November 4, 2017
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for November 12th: Joshua 24:1-3,14-25, Psalm 78:1-7; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Matthew 25:1-13 1 Thessalonians : Paul was able to convert many gentiles in the city of Thessalonica by telling that that Jesus was coming very soon. People changed their lives thinking that they would not have to wait very long for the end of the world. They stopped working, they did not even worry about living faithful. Then they got worries, because more and more of their Christian sisters and brothers started to die. What was the point of being a Christians, if there would be no community. What was the point of going to heaven, if they would not be there. Paul wrote back to assure them that all faithful people would be in heaven. But he also wanted them to know that our faith will always be rewarded. None of us know when Jesus will come. But we don’t need to know an exact date in order to live in faithfulness. Paul says in the meantime, keep waiting, but wait in hope not in anxiety. Joshua: It is a new day since Joshua has taken over for Moses. The people are scattered and divided. Joshua tells them that in order to go forward, everyone must be unified under one cause. Joshua believes that cause to be God. If everyone would just serve the same God, everything would be okay. So Joshua gathers the people together and asks them to make a covenant to God. He starts with his own family, and tells them as for me and my house, we will serve God. But that each and every family must make a conscious decision. He says Choose you this day whom you will serve. Will it be God or will it be man. But each household must make a pledge – a pledge to serve God. Questions: Do you think the end of the world is coming soon? Does that change your behavior to others? To God? How do you encourage your family to serve God every day?
Sunday, October 22, 2017
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for October 29th: Deuteronomy 34:1-12, Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8; Matthew 22:34-46 Matthew : The religious authorities of the day had been trying to trip Jesus up for days. This seems to be the last argument that they test him with. Everytime they ask Jesus about the law, Jesus is able to prove his argument. Everyone would have known about the Love of God. Everyone would have known that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord Your God with all of your being. But there is also a law not to do what you hate to your neighbor. In other words, love your neighbor. The authorities are still trying to understand what authority Jesus has to teach all of this. Jesus goes back to the Hebrew scriptures and answers perfectly. David called the son of God “Lord” – Jesus has an answer for everything. Who else would have these answers, but the Lord? Deuteronomy: We have reached the end of the story of a great prophet. This is the end of the book of Deuteronomy. This is the end of the first five books of the bible – the Pentateuch. This is the end of the law of Moses. The final chapter of anyone’s life is death. Moses takes a walk throughout the land by himself (he is with God). God shows him all of the land that he promised to the Hebrew people. But God explains that even though Moses led the people to this land, he would not be going himself. It was time to turn leadership over to Joshua and to start a new adventure. The people find Moses’s body the next day. No one lives forever, we are just a piece of the story. But more importantly God’s plan is bigger than any of us. We have to be aware of the legacy that we leave behind, and those who will continue to journey that we started. Scripture says that there will never be anyone like Moses again. But we all have a part to play. Questions: What does it mean to put the love of God into action? What does it mean to love God with all of your being. What does that have to do with loving your neighbor? By what authority does Jesus speak in your life? Is he Lord? How does Moses work continue today? Have we reached the promisedland? What work for the Kingdom of God still needs to be done?
Saturday, October 14, 2017
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for October 22nd: Exodus 33:12-23, Psalm 99, 1 Thessalonians 1:1010, Matthew 22:15-22 1 Thessalonians : This is one of the first letters written by Paul. Our scripture for today is the introduction of the whole letter, where Paul tells them that he is grateful for their faith, but reminds them that they have to put their faith into action. Thessalonica is a large metropolitan city with a lot of diversity. In some ways it was a home base as Paul bought the message to the Greeks. Paul reminds them that they started out as gentiles, but became an example of a church for all people as they professed their faith in Christ. He encourages them to be a beacon of what it means to be united. And to remember that the whole point of faith is to believe in the salvation of Jesus Christ. Exodus: By now, Moses has led the people out of Egypt, he has led them through their complaining and they are starting to understand what it means to be united as a nation. A nation united behind God. God has been giving Moses commands all along. Now Moses is asking for God to show God’s face. He wanted to personally know who he is talking to. God reminds Moses that God’s glory is too great, so the devises a way that Moses can see the shadow of the backside of his glorious face. God wanted Moses to know that as God told Moses what to do, that Moses was not alone in doing it. God was present and working alongside of Moses. God has a plan for Moses, for the Israelites and more importantly for us. It is important for us to have a personal relationship with our maker as we go through life. Questions: How do you put your faith in action? How is your church an example of a place for all different people to gather? What is your personal relationship with God? How does God communicate with you? How can your church be an example to other churches?
Sunday, October 8, 2017
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for October 15th: Exodus 32:1-14;Psalm 106:1-6,19-23; Philippians 4:1-9; Matthew 22:1-14 Philippians: Paul often uses references to running a race. He reminds us that faith is always moving forward. But this verse starts with Paul telling us to stand still. Stand still in the Lord. He continues to address the distress in the church, but he encourages reconciliation. For the sake of the mission, make up with the person you are mad at. He reminds us not to get caught up in believing rumors, but the believe in truth – to see truth. To know that God is always associated with the truth. Paul ends by reminding us that if we are able to stand still in Christ in the midst of chaos – there will be peace. A peace that surpasses all human understanding. Matthew: Jesus loves a party. He loves to gather people together. As a matter of fact, heaven will be a big party where everyone is invited to come. Unfortunately, not everyone who is invited will be willing to come. We come up with all types of excuses of who not to come when Jesus invites us. We are too busy, we are too tired, we have something else more important to do. In the end, no excuse is really good enough. There will be consequences for not coming to Jesus party. Always make time for the things of Christ, because you never know when it may be your last invitation. Our wedding clothes is the attitude that we bring with us when we come to church. Questions: How do you resolve conflict with others? How do you think about the truth? What does peace look like in your life? What areas do you need to find peace? What are your excuses not to accept Jesus invitation to a heavenly life? Where is there dissension in your life? Who do you need to make peace with?
Saturday, September 30, 2017
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for October 8th: Exodus 20: 1-4,7-9, 12-20; Psalm 19; Philippians 3:4-14;Matthew 21:33-46 Exodus: This lesson is a teaching of the ten commandments. These rules are the backbone of a the Jewish life. These rules give them meaning and purpose as a community. It is not an accident that these rules were written in the midst of the wilderness experience. The Isrealites were walking away from Egypt with its established rules. They were a part of this society, but with no power – they were slaves. It was a society based on economic power. They were in the wilderness to create a society based on the love and loyalty of God. With this new community, they needed to create new rules. In Egyptian society a man was the head. In this new community God was the head. The rules were based not on getting ahead, but on getting along – along with one another and with God. Philippians: The 4 chapters of Philippians tell a very important story. In chapter 2 Paul tells us that Jesus had to empty himself in order to relate to humans. In chapter 3, Paul tells his own story of emptying himself and his life in order to serve Christ. He had attained a lot of status as a priest of his religion, until Jesus appeared to him and told him that all of that did not matter. God had a bigger purpose for him rather than attaining power and status. Paul could actually brag about his past, if he had not given it all up. He was a new person in Christ now. Paul goes on to encourage us to be faithful one step at a time. The only way we are going to win the race, is to run it at our own pace trusting in God to get us where we have to go. The only way we will win, is with God by our side. Questions: Are the ten commandments still relevant in today’s society? How do they encourage us not to be slaves to our economic status? Which commandment do you like the most? Which one is the hardest to keep? Have you ever sacrificed anything for Christ? Did you get it back in time? How is being faithful like running in a race?
Sunday, September 10, 2017
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for September 17th: Exodus 14: 19-31; Exodus 15:1-11,20-21; Romans 14:1-12;Matthew 18:21-35 Romans: When we gather together in faith, we have all had different levels of training in church, we all have different definitions of what it means to be Christian. Paul is saying that just because we are different, that does not mean that we are better than others. When you find yourself putting yourself above others, then you need to be careful. We need to be mindful of others. The key to being the church is in being able to accept those who are different without judging them. We are all sinners saved by grace. Christ had a reason for inviting all of us to the table. We have to learn to all get along. Matthew: This is an important next step in learning to live in Christian community. Christian community is based on love and forgiveness. Peter asks how many times should he forgive someone before giving up on them. Jesus says that there is no limit to forgiveness. He then tells a parable about a king forgiving debts – this reminds us that when we judge others, God also judges us. We have had to have some of our debt forgiven. We should keep this in mind. The golden rule is to treat others the way you expect to be treated. Forgiveness is the golden rule of Christianity. We should do it as Jesus tells us to. Questions: how do you treat people who practice Christianity different from you? How do you overcome your differences with others? What does it mean to be weak in faith? When was there a time when you needed to forgive a Christian brother? Was it easy? Did you think about what the bible tells you to do.