Sunday, January 29, 2012
Scriptures for February 5th – Isaiah 40:21-31; Psalm 147:1-11, 20; 1 Corinthians 9:16-23; Mark 1:29-39 God heals; song – Precious Lord – 474 Isaiah: Isaiah the prophet was given the job of bringing a good word to the people no matter what they were going through. He was supposed to preach that whatever the needs of the people, whatever the pains of the people God will make it better. God cures violence, war, starvation devastation. And in this verse God cures our discouragement, our tiredness, our frustration. Those are all normal parts of life that we all go through. But there is a reward for those who trust in the Lord. God is in the resurrection business, and God will resurrect our inner strength. Isaiah ask all who read whether you have heard the good news – Have you not known? Have you not Heard? Everyone needs to know that God is the source of our strength! Mark: Mark wants to make sure that we know that today, Jesus is the source of our inner strength. Jesus has the power and authority to heal us. Last week Jesus heals a demonic person. This week Jesus heals Peter’s mother in law. Jesus is meeting the needs of God’s people. His mother in law is sick and needs a doctor. Jesus prays for her and she gets better. Once the word got around, everyone was coming to him asking for healing of all sorts of things. Jesus realizes what he must do, and he continues. And he continues today to be a healer. In Jesus day, he did his work, but asked that people keep it a secret, until the world was ready for the fact that it was the Spirit of God at work, not just the spirit of man. In his prayers, he attained more power to help more people. We get the same from our prayers and our faithfulness. Questions: What is it in your life that drains your strength? What is it that gives your strength? How does the church give you strength? What ways of Christ were hidden from you, that have been revealed in God’s presence in your life recently? When you name something, you have power over it – how do you feel when others call your name? How do you feel when you know that God calls your name?
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 111; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28 Speaking with Authority; Be Thou My Vision – UMH 451 Deuteronomy: In the stories of Moses, we learn that it was not an easy thing to talk with God. God’s voice was very scary, and his face was not intended to be seen. If someone was not properly trained, then they could get seriously hurt in talking with God. Yet the people longed to have a word from God. God promised them that God would raise up a prophet from amongst them that would be properly trained and properly gifted to be a prophet. But the people still have the problem of determining if that prophet knows what he is talking about – is he from God, or from elsewhere. Today, we have to wonder if our prophets are leading us in the right direction. But today all we have to do is read the bible and learn from Jesus ourselves. Mark: Jesus is our prophet today. He speaks with authority, because He is one with the Father. As Jesus begins his ministry to the people, he starts to speak in the synagogues and to exorcise demons. But unlike others, who say that they speak on behalf of God, Jesus speaks directly. Not only do the people listen, the demons flee. Who is this person, and why does he speak with such authority. Once again, if we become his disciples, and we study his words and we obey his ways, we too have that same authority in our lives. We can speak confidently, and know that God is behind us; Just as long as we are behind God. We can address the evil that we see, and expect something to be done about it. But we have to be steeped in the truth of God. It is not a task to take lightly to address evil with authority. Questions: Is there anyone who has a prophetic voice today? How do we determine if what they are saying is really right? Do you know of people who claim to be prophets, who are misleading people? What are the demons of our society that must be driven out? How do we learn the teachings of Jesus? How do gain the authority to speak as Jesus spoke? (This is an easy question).
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Scriptures for January 22nd: Jonah 3:1-5,10; Psalm 62:5-12; 1 Corinthians 7:29-21; Mark 1:14-20; Moving from being called to being a disciple; song: Softly and Tenderly Jesus is calling – UMH 348 Jonah: This is the only time that we read this story of Jonah and Ninevah. And if the story was not so true today, it might be funny. God gives Jonah a job to do, and instead of obeying God – Jonah walks away. He ends up in the belly of a whale, and needs to be rescued by God…in order to do what God called him to do in the first place. The text for today is not about Jonah, it is about Ninevah – that great city that he is called to save. Ninevah is probably a lot like Chicago – a city set in its ways. Jonah tells God there is no need to speak, because they will not listen. God shows mercy on the city, and the city repents of its ugly ways. People are not so bad after all. Sometimes all we need to do something differently is someone to care enough about us to be a prophet for God. Mark: This story transitions from Jesus with John the Baptist. John is eventually arrested, and Jesus realizes that now he must continue the mission. But he cant do it alone, he must have a team. This is the story of how Jesus got his disciples to drop everything and to follow him. They left behind their jobs, their families, their responsibilities. But they gained so much more in following Jesus. Who is this man that he has the power to recruit people? What is he preaching? What is he asking me to give up in order to follow him? This is a transition for us. Now that we are called, what does that mean? What do we do next? How so we become disciples? What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ? Questions: What are the sins of Chicago? How does the neighborhood of Englewood respond to the call of God? How do they respond to the request to come to church? What more needs to be done to reach them? How is the Holy Spirit at work before us, softening the hearts of the people? What do we need to do in order to be a disciple of God? Does Christ ask us to give up anything in order to follow him? What does it mean to be fishers of people? Why is it so urgent that we preach the gospel to the people?
Sunday, January 8, 2012
Scriptures January 15th: 1 Samuel 3:1-20; Psalm 139:1-6,13-18; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1:43-51 Theme: Living in God’s favor Song: Be Thou my vision – UMH 451 1 Samuel: Samuel was living with the Priest Eli and his family. His mother dedicated him to the service of the Lord. Scripture says that visions and callings from God were not common in the day. God always speaks, the truth was that people probably did not have a need to listen. When God spoke to Samuel, he did not even understand what was happening. Eli had to teach Samuel how to pray. He told him to just listen, not to speak. God will say what God will say. Being called by God comes in many forms. God does not call all of us to be ministers. God does not tell all of us to do the same thing for the rest of our lives. There are many task that need to be done. We just have to learn to listen. What Samuel was told to say was not positive, it was a message that some people needed to repent and turn around. The voice of the Lord still speaks today. 1 Corinthians: This verse encourages us to think about what it means to live holy. To think about how to make healthy and holy choices. As Christians we are free to do whatever we want. But not everything that we do is in our best interest. Just because society says that it is okay to do something, that does not mean that God says that it is okay. Paul reminds us that our bodies are a temple. It is the place where God lives. God and the devil cannot occupy the same space. When we take good care of our bodies, we are glorifying God. Our bodies play a big part in our lives, in our relationships, and in our service to God. Questions: What does it mean to you to listen to God? Have you heard God say something to you? How did you respond? How do you tell the difference from a call from God and other voices? Who are the prophets of God today? What does it mean to you to live healthy? What are the voices in society that encourage us to do the wrong things? How to we overcome those voices? What one thing can you do within the coming year to live a healthier life?