Sunday, October 23, 2011

October 30, 2011

Scriptures for October 30th – Joshua 3:7-17; Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37; 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13; Matthew 23:1-12; Theme: God is with you Song: Precious Lord – UMH 474

Joshua: The children of God have spied out the promise land. Moses was not able to go with him, God called him home. Now Joshua is the leader. This is the story of the children crossing the Jordan. They are entering into a new life. They have been worshipping in the tabernacle. God instructs them to take the ark of the covenant with them when they travel. In order to get where they are going they have to cross the Jordan. The river stops raging, so that they can cross safely. This is a little exodus. A blessing from God to allow to them move into the future. They have been able to overcome a lot of diversity and resistance with the help of God. God had a plan for them. God had a plan for us today.

Matthew: The Pharisees have left Jesus and they feel that they have heard all that they need to hear to convict him. Now Jesus is free to speak to those who want to hear his lessons. And he uses the Pharisees as an example. They know the lessons of Moses, but in reality they don’t live them. They have all of the trappings of being holy – but looks are deceiving. Jesus tells his disciples that in order to be a true spiritual leader, you have to be willing to be a servant. The true proof of faith is not your outward appearance, but the condition of your heart. We don’t need titles – we need to give Jesus titles in our life. People may not understand, but God always understands.

Questions: What time in your life has been like Crossing the Jordan? When has God led you to a better understanding of life? When have you been very clear that the old life has passed and that God has given you a new life? How are we like the Pharisees in our faith? How are we like the disciples of Christ? How do we acknowledge the teachers in our life? What lessons have we learned from the ultimate teacher? Who in your life is an example of what it means to be humble?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

October 23, 2011

Scriptures for October 23rd: Deuteronomy 34:1-12; Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8; Matthew 22:34-46 Theme: A Faith that overcomes Song: Swing Low Sweet Chariot – UMH 703

1 Thessalonians: Paul tells the congregation at “Salonica” about his trip to Philippians. Things did not go well for him there. It turns out that he was run out of town this time also. He seems to be offending a lot of people – by trying to get them to think in a new way. Paul is on the search to make disciples for Christ. He says that there are real evangelist and fake evangelist. There are people who are concerned about numbers – we should be concerned about a change of heart. It turns out that he was kicked out of Thessalonica also. People wanted a quick faith that would address their needs. Paul wanted them to learn to take faith seriously.

Matthew: The Pharisees are still questioning Jesus. They are trying to do whatever they can to trip him up. They hate him, but the people love him. The only way to get the people to feel like they do is to make sure that he says the wrong thing in public, so that that people can start asking questions also. They ask him two questions this week – what is the greatest commandment and what does it mean to be the messiah. Jesus reminds that that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord. He reminds us that the second commandment is to love our neighbor. Jesus was careful to stick to Hebrew scripture in all of his answers. The Pharisees realize that there is no point in arguing with him – he knows just as much (if not more) than they do. But we can learn to.

Questions: Who was instrumental in you becoming a Christian? What did it mean that Paul was kicked out of the places he preached? – was he a help to them or a hindrance? How do we treat people today who strike at the core of our faith when we are not ready to deal with them or it? Does loving God help us love people more? Why or why not? How can Jesus be the son of God and the son of man at the same time?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

October 16, 2011

Scriptures for October 16th – Exodus 33:12-23; Psalm 99; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; Matthew 22:15-22 Theme: Laity Sunday, song: Rock of Ages – UMH 361
Exodus: This is a shift in the story of the chosen people. This is a shift in God’s role in the lives of the people. They have been in the wilderness enough, now it is time for them to think about reaching the promised land. Their dream is about to become a reality. Moses goes to God to get reassurance that God is with them, and that God will protect them through the unknown. God explains that no one can see the face of God and live. But God protects moses and helps him to witness the glory of God. God wants them to know that he will never leave them

1 Thessolonians: Paul and Silas have gone to the city to talk to people about what it means to be a Christian. But he also wants them to remain steadfast. By this time people are starting to get anxious. How long do we have to wait for this Jesus to come? Why do we have to separate ourselves from the people around us. Paul tells them their strengths are:Their faithfulness and steadfastness in Christ (verse 3) ,An awareness that God has called them and the Spirit has empowered them from the beginning (verses 4-5) ,Living out with joy the way of Jesus they had learned from Paul and others (vs. 6-7) Their willingness to share their conversion stories and their confidence in Jesus who "rescues us from the wrath to come" (verses 8-10).

Questions: What insures the presence of God with a people? Is God with our church? How do you know? What can we learn from the Isrealites about idolatry of faithful people? What impact does our faith have on others? How can others know about God through our lives?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

October 9, 2011

Scriptures for October 9th: Exodus 32:1-14; Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23;
Philippians 4:1-9; Matthew 22:1-14 Theme: the Truth of God; song: It’s Me, O Lord – UMH 352

Exodus: The children of God are still wandering in the wilderness, and they still have not learned to trust God. At first it they asked what they were going to eat, then it was where to get water. Now they are impatient for Moses to return from the mountain of God and to give them a word from the Lord. When he does not return in the expected time, it must be because he is not coming back. Instead of teaching the people patience, Aaron appeases them. He gives them an idol to worship in the meantime. It is God who tells Moses the he must return and fix this. This sense of distrust is something that God never fully recovers from. And yet because Moses asks God not to totally destroy them, God gives them another chance. We can be grateful for God’s willingness to understand our human ignorance.

Philippians: This is the ending of the book of Philippians. Paul finally addresses a conflict within the church. He urges two believers to think more of what they have in common, and not how they are different. His whole message is in our unity, our life, our church, our being is in Christ. We may not like each other, but we all have to love Christ. We can pray and know that Christ will work it out for us. He also addresses the issue of trust in God. Today we struggle with what it is that we should trust in. Paul assures us that God is a God of trust and of beauty. All truth comes from God – so we can freely trust anything that proves itself to be so. In the name of Jesus.

Questions What times in your life have you felt that you cannot trust in God? What times in your life has God given you another chance? What are your complaints to God? Listen to your life – what are the answers God gives today for those complaints? Who within the body of Christ are you at odds with? How can you reconcile with them? How does the unity of Christ call you to move forward? What truth of life do you question as a truth of God? Is God really in that situation?