Saturday, February 23, 2013
Scriptures for March 3rd: Isaiah 55:1-9; Psalm 63:1-8; 1 Corinthians 10:1-13; Luke 13:1-9; theme: finding faith song: Come, Ye Disconsulate UMH 510 Isaiah : Traditionally, lent is the time for new members to prepare themselves for baptism. The scriptures for the next three Sundays will ask you if you are ready to come before the Lord. They will challenge you to look at your sins, ask for forgiveness and to realize the role of God’s grace in your life. Lent is a time of self sacrifice, so why are we reading a scripture on the abundance of God. We are reminded that God always has room for us. God’s love can overcome the effects of any sin. If God can forgive David, God can forgive you. God invites anyone to come forward. Seek the Lord while he can be found. God’s presence is eternal and never ending. It is never too late for God, but in life the time can come when it is too late for us. The good news however, is that we don’t have to know all of the steps of forgiveness in order to take the first step. When we confess to God and say that we are ready – God will give us the steps to turning our life around. Baptism and remembering your baptism is the first step to a new life. God will do the rest. Luke: Jesus continues the conversation on the needs for forgiveness in your lives. He also offers more conversation concerning the question of if it is too late. We all know of people, who we have given chance, after chance. And no matter we try to love them, they do the same things. Even Jesus gets fed up. And even Jesus is asked to give the fig tree one more chance. Give it a chance to see if it will grow. Forgiveness is abound in our lives. Sometimes it is not about whether God will forgive us. If you know better, you should do better. And the more time you refuse to turn your life around, you are wasting your time. Time that could be spent in happiness and health. The longer it will take for us to realize the grace of God in our lives. Life is short, life is sacred. We cannot afford to take any of our life for granted. Repent, and be saved. Questions: What special things are you doing this lent to strengthen you relationship with God? What sins do you need to confess to God? What difference is there in your life when you are living in God’s rules, and when you are doing whatever you want to do? When have you been given a second chance in life? When have you had to ask God for forgiveness? What are you holding onto, when you know life would be better if you repent?
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for February 24th – Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 13:31-35; Theme: 2nd Sunday of Lent – a time for understanding my purpose in serving God. Song: Be Thou My Vision UMH 451 Genesis : Last week in scripture, we were instructed to pray “My father was a wandering Aramean”. This week we learn more about Abraham, his relationship with God, and the promise that God made to him and to his descendants. Abraham had many sons, but the point for us today is that many people claim Abraham as their father. He is our spiritual father, we can claim this promise for ourselves. We get our faith from Abraham and the way in which he trusted God. We continue in the promise of Abraham when we also have faith in God. when we understand God as a part of our lives and our salvation. No matter how we feel about God, God always trust in us. God never breaks his promises to us. God asks us to trust him, but only after he has shown undoubtedly that he trust us. Scripture says that “the Lord made a covenant with Abraham”. The Lord did all of the work – all Abraham had to do was to believe. Luke: The shortest verse of the bible is “Jesus Wept” – he wept for Jerusalem. He wept because he loved the city, he wept because he knew that it was a city in need of saving on many levels, we wept because they did not want to listen to his message. Even the Pharisees warn him to leave Jerusalem. They know that his life is in danger. And strangely enough – Jesus cries that is the very reason that he cannot leave. Jerusalem is a place that kills its prophets. Jesus says that he is more than a mere prophet – he is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Jesus knows that Jerusalem will eventually pay for its sins. Yet Jesus weeps for the people – the faithful people who must be protected, who must be saved. Jesus stands his ground, accepts his fate, so that he can save his people. Questions: What is the difference between being faithful and being good? Which does God call us to be? What do you know about Abraham and his relationship with God? What can you imitate in Abraham? How is Chicago a lot like Jerusalem? What is Jesus doing today to save the soul of Chicago? Who are the people that Jesus is trying to save in Chicago? How does God feel when so many people reject his gift of salvation? What must we do for those people, who reject God’s love?
Saturday, February 9, 2013
Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for February 17th: Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16; Romans 10:8-13; Luke 4:1-13; Theme: Living in the shelter of the Lord’s Journey; Song: A Mighty Fortress is our God Deuteronomy : This scripture talks about the importance of tithing. It connects our spiritual life, our worship life, and our regular life together. We are reminded that tithing is not just a promise we make to the church, it is a way of life. The decision to give is not a momentary decision, it is ongoing. We examine our lives every day, to see where we are and how much we can give. We make the decision about what we will give in the future, by looking at what God has done for us in the past. We look back and reflect on what God has done for us. In Corinthians, Paul says that God loves a cheerful giver. This scripture says that stewardship is an attitude of celebration. God has bought us to the promised land. We have been given plenty – we say thank you by giving back. When we are able to be grateful, we always have something to say thank you for, no matter what else is going on in life. Luke: It is fitting that on the first Sunday of our 40 days of preparation, that we would examine the 40 days of preparation of the Lord. After Jesus was baptized, he felt the need to go into the wilderness. As he was alone with himself, all of those inner temptations came to haunt him. He knew that he had to find the power to overcome them. The temptations spoke to him about who he was as a person, and who he was supposed to be as a leader. Jesus knew that God loved him, he knew that he had a special purpose. This taught him that he had the strength to carry it all through. Just because he fought back the devil, he would be learning all the way up to his last breath on the cross. But after this testing, he could always be sure that God was with him, he was no alone in this journey. We can know that if God is with Jesus through his tough times, then Jesus is always with us through our tough times. We have the strength to overcome it all! Questions: How do you feel about tithing? When you give sacrificially, how do you celebrate? What do you have to be grateful and to say thank you to God? What do the three temptations of Jesus represent? What temptations do you face in your life? What do they say about you? Who do you know that demonstrates for you how Jesus is present in the midst of suffering? What can you learn from how they are able to face life?
Saturday, February 2, 2013
Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for February 10th: Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 99; 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2; Luke 9:28-43; Theme: Transfiguration Sunday: Song: Take Time to Be Holy - 2 Corinthians : All of the scriptures for today are related. Today is Transfiguration Sunday. That is the gospel story when Jesus goes on the mountain and prays. His disciples notice that he is transformed – he is glowing. Paul says that in the old testament days, when Moses glowed – the people felt that they needed to protect themselves from him. They wanted to hear the word afraid of Jesus – and his divine connection. As a matter of fact, it is a good things for us. The word of God gives us the strength to do our job and to teach others about God. The word makes us stronger Christians. Out of respect, whenever you read something about Moses, you wore a veil. The gospel lesson is transparent – there are no secrets, no hidden agenda’s, no invisible understandings. With Jesus, what you see if what you get – salvation. Luke: For Luke, the most important part of the gospel is the sayings of Jesus. Luke wants us to learn directly at the feet of Jesus. So Luke makes it very clear that the transfiguration occurred exactly 8 days after the sayings. This is also the story where God announces from a cloud that we should listen to the words of Jesus and take them as truth. When the disciples heard this voice, they wanted to make this a special time. A time to show honor to their ancestors, in the way that Paul speaks of in Corinthians. But Jesus wants them to know that this was a moment that their faith journey would be transformed forever. At the time, they did not understand what it all meant. They could look back at this event and realize that it was one more way that it was evident that their teacher had divine connections. Thus they did not have to wonder by what authority Jesus spoke. They could realize that even though it did not make sense at the time, everything that Jesus did had a greater purpose. When he comes from the mountain, he continues in his healing ministry, and in showing that what he does is for the glory of God. Questions: Do we sometimes get so caught up in tradition that we hide the glory of God that we should be showcasing? In what ways can we reveal to the world how God that we know through the life of Christ? How have mountaintop experiences changed your life and your faith? When you came down from the mountaintop – what challenges did you face?