Saturday, January 26, 2013

February 3, 2013

Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for February 3rd – Jeremiah 1:4-10; Psalm 71:1-6; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; Luke 4:21-30; theme : the power of love in our mission; Song: Here I am Lord UMH 593 1 Corinthians : If you go to 10 weddings this year, you will hear this verse read at 9 ½ of them – Chapter 13 – the chapter where Paul talks about the importance of true love. Paul’s original purpose, is not really the love between people, his purpose is the love that God has for his people, and the love that we use in our lives to express our love for God. In chapter 12 Paul has been talking about spiritual gifts and unity. He is trying to help us to understand what it means to be a church. In chapter 12 Paul invites us to find the more excellent way – that way is the love of God. It is not so much what we have- it is the spirit in which we use it. Spiritual gifts are just tools. It is true love for God that helps us to use those gifts. We only see the fruits of our gifts when we have love for God that is expressed in the way we treat others. Unity can only be achieved when you look beyond faults and differences and show true love. Where there is faith there is hope, where there is hope there is love. And when we have love, we have all that we need to build the kingdom of God. Luke: When Jesus has completed his time of preparing to fulfill his mission, the first thing that he does is go to synagogue in Nazareth. Any male is allowed to read from the scroll. He reads for them Isaiah 61 – he tells them that the spirit of the Lord is indeed upon him. These are the words that they have been waiting for all of this life – could this be the one that God has sent to rescue them? No, because Jesus explains that he is not talking about them – he is talking about the poor, the outcasts, the people who were not present. He is talking about what they must do for others, not what they must receive for themselves. They get so mad at him, they lead him to a cliff with the intention of throwing his off. But Jesus has already told that the Holy Spirit is with him, and he is unharmed and able to go out into the world to do what God has called him to do. As long as he have the spirit with us, no weapon that they make against us can prosper! Let us go and do what God as asked us to do! Questions: Does God’s love make a difference in your life? When have you experienced love from someone that truly made a difference in your life? Have you encountered someone who felt they were gifted, but who had a terrible attitude? How do you set the captives free? How is scripture fulfilled today in our lives?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

January 27, 2013

Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for January 27th: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31; Luke 4:14-21 Theme: Working together in unity Song: In Christ there is no East or West – UMH 548 1 Corinthians : This is a continuation of last week’s lesson on spiritual gifts. We are reminded that spiritual gifts are given to the whole congregation, not just to an individual. They are given to do the work of Kingdom Building. Paul want us to remember that functioning as a body means more than just worshipping together. We have to be in service together, and we have to do the business of the church together. But whatever we do is for the good of God and for the good of all people. Learning to use our gifts, is the beginning of unity. Unity does not mean that we think the same, it means that we respect our differences. In the church there are a lot of differences. John Wesley ways in nonessential things there is diversity, but Jesus us the essential, and there should be unity in our commitment to God. It is interesting that unity is not a natural ocurence, it is something that we have to pray about and practice. Luke: If Jesus baptism was the beginning of is public vow, this scene is the end of his public vow to serve God. Jesus has spent his time in the wilderness, the temptations came to him, and he realized that with the power of the Holy Spirit, he was able to overcome them. His service was for God’s needs and not his. He is feeling rejoiced over him calling. The first thing that he does when he is out of the wilderness is to go to temple. He reads the scriptures. But he announces his call to the rest of the world – I have been called to preach good news to the poor, recovering of sight to the blind, and to release the prisoner. People may not understand his job, they may not always support it. But Jesus knows that if he follows God, then his work will be accomplished. If we follow Jesus, we are following God. We have the same ministry today. We have the strength of Christ vow to help us to succeed. Questions: How do you see unity in our congregation? How do you see diversity? What tools do you all use to bring unity? What gifts are present in your congregation? What do you think about Jesus mission to help those in need? How well do you follow in Jesus footsteps? How do you accept those who stand up and say they have been called? What support do you give them? How are you using your gifts to build the kingdom?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

January 20, 2013

Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for January 20th: Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 36:5-10; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; John 2:1-11; Theme: Getting ready to get ready 1 Corinthians : We started this year off by talking about service, about the holy Spirit, and about how baptism prepares us for service to Jesus Christ. As we go throughout the epiphany season, we will read scriptures that prepare us for a journey of service. We start with this very popular scripture about spiritual gifts. If the Holy Spirit is amongst our community, we need to be able to identify its presence. The holy spirit always comes bearing gifts. God gives different gifts to different people. Paul did not mean for this list to be complete, there are other spiritual gifts. Paul’s main point is that is that there are many nonchristians who will claim that they have the gifts from God. And yet they don’t know what these gifts are. Paul wants you to recognize these gifts when you see them, use them and know that they come from God. John: John is getting us ready to get ready for lent. Lent is a time of preparation for a new life in Christ. Usually, if you have new members they are getting ready for baptism and church membership. But the reality is that the entire church has a place in that process. Helping the younger people is a way to help us all grow in faith. It is no accident that the first miracle of the book of John is a wedding. A wedding is a time of rejoicing. Jesus wants us to realize that he (along with the Father and the Holy Spirit is the source of our rejoicing). And as we get ready for a new life in Christ, it is a party all along the journey. A marriage is a commitment service. We are committing ourselves to be in relationship with God. Life in relationship with God is a time to rejoice! Questions: What do you think are your spiritual gifts? How do you recognize spiritual gifts in others? What training and preparation do you need in order to be able to use your gifts to the fullest? Do you see how nonChristians tend to misuse these gifts? What will you do to prepare for lent this year? What do you have to rejoice about in your journey with God? What is the source of your joy? What is the source of your commitment to God? j