Sunday, May 13, 2018
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for May 20th: Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:24-34, 35; Romans 8:22-27; John 15:26-27,16:4-15: Theme: Pentecost Sunday Acts: This is the story of the birth of the church. The disciples had already been out in the world teaching everyone about Jesus. They already had success in what they were doing. New people were already interested in the church. But the disciples report, that it was a time when people from all over the world were gathered together, they were listening to the word of God, when all of a sudden the word came to life and the holy spirit came upon them and took the church to a whole new level. All present were inspired to go home and to spread the word to more people. The Holy Spirit has been working in the world every since then. John: Jesus is preparing his disciples for the time when he will no longer be with them. So as he introduces the Spirit, he wants them to know that they are not alone. They will have help with their work of evangelism. Jesus explains that the spirit will bring righteousness, truth and judgment. The spirit gives us the ability to do right in a world that wants to do wrong, it will tell the truth in a world that has bought into a lie, and it will teach us the consequences of our actions and our decisions. As long as we embrace truth and righteousness, we can accomplish anything in the name of the Lord. And we will be close to God. Questions: Where have you witnessed people from all nations gathered to praise God together? How have you seen the holy Spirit at work in your life? How can you further the work of the church and spread the good news in your life? What does it mean to live in righteousness for you? 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, May 6, 2018
Scriptures for May 13th: Acts 1:15-17, 21-26; Psalm 1; 1 John 5:9-13; John 17:6-19; Theme: Mother’s Day John: Jesus is trying to make sure that his disciples are prepared for the days to come when he will not be with them. He wants to make sure that they have all that they need, so he tells them that he is praying for them. Jesus also says that he is praying for all who believe his message. He says that God has given him everything to take care of God’s people and now He gives it to us. It is our job to give it to others. Because of these gifts, we can be assured of God’s love, but not to keep it to ourselves, but to pass it on to others, so that they can pass it on to others. Jesus gives us access to all of his blessings to tell the truth in love. Acts: This is the first crisis in the new church. Now that Judas is gone, they have to select someone to take his place. Jesus chose the original 12 disciples, and many wonder why Jesus would make such a big mistake in choosing Judas in the first place. They establish who is even qualified to take the place of the original twelve. There are 120 followers not, but the person must be someone who has been with the movement all along, someone who actually listened to Jesus. They chose Matthias as the replacement. At the same time, Paul also feels that he is a disciple. He did not walk with Jesus on Earth, but Jesus came to him in spirit. Today we don’t know much about Matthias, but Paul reached people all over the world. Christ comes to all believers in spirit to guide us. Questions: If Jesus was praying for you what do you need? How do you use the gifts God gave you to help others to know who Christ is? If we needed to choose a new apostle, what would be the qualities we would look for? What present crisis do we need Christ to guide us through? 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
Saturday, April 21, 2018
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for April 29th: Acts 4:5-12; Psalm 23; 1 John 3:16-24; John 10:11-18; Theme: Good Shepherd Sunday Acts: One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is a boldness to speak to authority. It is an understanding of how God is calling you to change things. The message of the disciples was not well received by the powers that be. Actually it was those authorities that ultimately silenced each of the persons. But the authorities could not stop the message of God’s love bringing new life to the world. Peter is being prosecuted because he healed someone on the sabbath. Peter takes this as a chance to help everyone understand who Christ is for the world. Peter is explaining that what was meant for bad, God is using for good. The more the authorities squelch God, the more powerful he in Christ gets. As long as we read the bible, and we follow Christ teachings, we cannot go wrong, even when we are criticized. John: One of the earliest images of Christ was not him on the cross, it was him as the good shepherd. Jesus talks about the faith in terms of being a shepherd watching over the sheep. This is one of the I AM statements of John. God wants us to know that he cares for us and will take care of us. We don’t have to be able to take care of ourselves. Many people who heard these words would have been shepherds themselves, they knew how important sheep were. They knew the weaknesses and strengths of sheep. They were trained to watch over the sheep no matter what. The shepherd stopped others from bothering them, and stopped them from wandering around. Christ protects us, but also keeps us together as a flock and keeps us focused on our task. Christ takes care of all of our needs, we just have to be faithful. Questions: How are you like a sheep in your faith? What activity do you need the Holy Spirit boldness to do for God? When has the shepherd protected you?
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?