Sunday, January 30, 2011

February 6, 2011

Scriptures February 6th: Isaiah 58:1-12; Psalm 112:1-10; 1 Corinthians 2:1-16; Matthew 5:13-20 Theme: The Responsibility of the Righteous. Song: Here I am Lord UMH 593

1 Corinthians: Paul continues to bring the church a transformational message through what he is teaching them. It is about now however, that they start to push back. How do we really know that his man knows what he is talking about? It is at this point that Paul the preacher not only relies on his words, but he demonstrates the power of the Holy Spirit. We don’t know what act he performs, is it a healing, a miracle or some other gift of the spirit? The Holy Spirit is the power of God. It brings all sorts of power into our lives. The cross is a source of God’s power to turn the world upside down. But the Holy Spirit is the energy to do the hard work. We have that power available to us in our lives. We should never be afraid to use it. We have a responsibility to use it. We have a responsibility to transform our little corner of the world.

Matthew: This is a continuation of the sermon on the mount. Jesus is not just talking to his disciples, he is talking to all who are listening. You are the salt of the earth. You never lose your mission and purpose, because it is from God. Just as salt is of God and can never be separated from its mission and purpose, neither can the true Christian. Whether you are faithful or not, you are always a child of God. Your life should always reflect God no matter what the circumstance. We have a responsibility to be the light of the world. Everyone has some sort or righteousness, we should strive to be and do more.

Questions: Can you testify to the power of the Holy Spirit? How have you seen the Holy Spirit at work in your life? When we the Holy Spirit at work and you did not recognize it at first? What does God require of you in your life? How are you being righteous? Are you standing out and letting your light shine? How are you the salt of the earth? When have you had to stand up for what is right in the midst of opposition?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

January 30, 2011

Scriptures for January 30th: Micah 6:1-8; Psalm 15; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Matthew 5:1-12 Theme: What does God expect of us? Song: I Will Trust in the Lord UMH 464

Micah: Many of the Israelites thought of their relationship with God, as one between a judge and the defendant. If God did something that they did not agree with, they would plead their case and ask God for mercy. Perhaps that is why they were asked to plead their case before the mountains. This time there is no mercy. They are dead wrong. They have not kept their promise to God. They have been living in sin, and they must be held accountable for their actions. God has been wronged, not them. What does the Lord require of them to make this right. God doesn’t want our money, God doesn’t want our pity, God doesn’t want our empty promises. God wants us to do the right thing: do justice, love kindness and to walk humbly with God.

1 Corinthians : Last week, Paul addressed the central issue of the Corinthian church – divisions. A refusal to see eye to eye. Finding any excuse to separate themselves. We have to find our unity in Christ. But beyond that, we also need to stop boasting about what we know and understand. In every instance, all of our knowledge is foolishness in relations to the wisdom of Christ. No matter what we have accomplished in life, it will mean nothing on the day that we have to stand before God. If it won’t do us any good on judgment day, what good is it to us today? The only thing that we have to brag about in life at anytime is God!

Questions: When in your life has there been a time when you knew that you were wrong, and that you needed to get right with God? What did you have to do to change things? Did your guilt make you change, or further protect yourself? What are some of the popular wisdom of the day? Is it really in keeping with God’s teachings? What do we need to do in order to really know what God wants us to do?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

January 23, 2011

Scriptures for January 23rd: Isaiah 9:1-4; Psalm 27:1, 4-9; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18; Matthew 4:12-23. Theme: Fishers of men: song: Softly and Tenderly Jesus is calling UMH 348

1 Corinthians: Paul is writing the Corinthians to address their problems in hopes that they will be able to correct themselves, if they are told the right thing. The biggest problem among them is unity. No one is willing to look beyond themselves in order to see the big picture. We can only be the body of Christ if we are willing to work together. Paul first tells the church that they are blessed and that they have been given gifts- God’s grace in order to be in ministry. The issues that Paul addressed back them, are still prevalent today. Paul had the task of addressing an issue that was going on in the church for years, that was just the way things were. But he knew that Jesus could always change things. We still have to learn to get along with people that we don’t want to be bothered with. Yet we are not alone in our struggle, we always have the spirit of Christ in order to be the body of Christ.

Matthew : As Jesus goes out into the world to begin his ministry, the first thing he does is to recruit 12 disciples. All of these men were going on about their normal lives, not expecting tomorrow to be any different than today. And Jesus comes to them with an offer, to witness the messiah for themselves, but to have the same power to transform. His invitation is instead of fishing for fish, to fish for men. And see others come and accept that same invitation. As he recruits disciples, he also goes throughout Galilee teaching. There were many non jews in Galilee- this would have been a place of darkness, but Jesus knew through his words that he was spreading light to the world. His disciples would soon be doing the same thing.

Questions: What are the major issues that affects the overall Christian church? Will we ever go beyond the divisions of denominations to be a united church? What will it take for that to happen? What was it about Jesus that made the disciples drop their lives and follow him? What was it about Jesus that made others stop to listen to him? What it is that we can do to make others follow us today?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

January 16, 2011

Breaking Open the Scriptures

Scriptures for January 16th: Isaiah 49:1-7; Psalm 40:1-11; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42. Theme: What does it mean to be called by God? song: Great is Thy Faithfulness

Isaiah: In the lesson two weeks ago, the Israelites were told to “arise and shine, your light has come.” In other words, they should not despair in the rebuilding of their old lives. The whole world is watching; and want they to be next to the light of God too. Now they have to think about what it means to be a light to the world. What are the Implications, how will they have to change? How will they have to tolerate others. Last week we learned about the servant – the one called by God to make everyone else’s life better. Today we need to think about what it means to be called and set apart by God? If God loves me does that mean that my life needs to change? Probably. If God loves me and makes me special does that mean that I am better than others? Probably not. We who are called (we are all called by virtue of our baptism) – have a responsibility to love others in spite of ourselves.

1 Corinthians : We will be studying Corinthians for the next eight weeks. Our focus will be on what it means to be called by God, as individuals and as a church. This week we start with the introduction and greeting of the letter of Paul. Paul blesses the congregation and gives them grace and thanks. But reminds them and us that God is always faithful to us no matter what, being called means being faithful to God. Paul is mentioning the spiritual strengths of the people he is writing to: they are faithful, not just with their mouths, but with their actions.

Questions: If we are known by the words that we speak, what can others say about us? It is possible to be a failure in the world and a success in God- How are you a servant of God? How to do reach out to help others? When things are going bad for you, where do you find your strength? If Paul was writing a letter to this church, what would he list as the strengths? What concerns would he need to address to encourage us?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

January 9, 2011

Scriptures for January 9th: Isaiah 42:1-9; Psalm 29; Acts 10:34-43; Matthew 3:13-17 Theme: The Baptism of the Lord and our call to be the church. Song: I’m Goin’ a Sing When the Spirit Says Sing – UMH 333

Acts: The book of Acts is the story of the disciples as they went out into the world to be witnesses to what Christ has done for the world. It is amazing how they spoke and others listened, and the church grew by leaps and bounds. May the Lord give us the same power in the world today. Peter was sent to a soldier, Cornelius’ house to tell the gospel story and the whole household was baptized. This is Peter telling that story. This is Peter explaining where he got his power and how that power is to be used. It is to be used to complete Jesus mission of saving the world. But before people can be saved, they have to know the story. How do we tell the story?

Matthew : We have heard the story of the relationship of John the Baptist and Jesus before. This time we are listening to it, not to hear about them, but to hear about ourselves. Why did we follow Jesus into the baptism waters? What is the expectation of us now that we have been baptized. This was Jesus chance to enter into a life of service to God. the same is expected of us. Jesus has a mission that started at the beginning of his life to save his people. But not everyone agreed about what that meant, not even John the Baptist. We have a mission to save the world – but what does that mean, and how do we go about doing that? We need to pray and ask God and follow God’s leading in our lives.

Questions: What is God calling you to do in your community? What issues of justice are present that need to be addressed? Who is there to address those issues? Are they really called by God to do their work? How do we minister to people who make us nervous, or are different from us? How can we learn from Peter as he goes out among strangers? What power does the Gospel story give you in your life? Have you ever been used to bring someone to Christ? How does that feel?