Friday, May 24, 2013
Scriptures for June 2nd: 1 Kings 18:20-39; Psalm 96; Galatians 1:1-12; Luke 7:1-10; Theme: God is the source of good in our lives; Song: how Great Thou Art – UMH 77 1 Kings: Elijah is one of my favorite characters in the bible, and this is one of my favorite stories of Elijah. Elijah challenges Ahab and Baal to a friendly game of “My God is bigger than Your God”. Both religions believe in sacrifice to God, both believe that God is present at the sacrifice. Those who sacrifice to Baal do this all of the time, so they mistakenly believe that this is a battle that they can win. Since we don’t practice sacrifice anymore, it is easy to say that this is a story about history. But we still have contest where the faithful have to demonstrate and defend the power of God. People ask us every day “Where is your God and why is he so powerless against the events of the day?” Recently, as people sent prayers for the people of Oklahoma, an atheist replied that it is better to just do something to help, as opposed to praying. Today, as then, people don’t understand the true power of God. Those who serve the Lord, don’t just sacrifice to God, they also serve and do the work of God. God shows up when we show up. Our power is God’s power. Galations: This is another of my favorite books of the bible. I think that the message of Galatians is a message of freedom. As long as we live in grace, we are free to do whatever we want to do. But we do what is right, not because we have to, but because we want to. We want to be near God. We want to have a relationship with God and with his goodness. Paul reminds us that we should live according to the laws of God, not the laws of man. And whatever we do, we must do to please God and not man. When we live in this world, it is easy to learn to value the things that we see in the world. But Paul says that we should be in the world, but not of it. The gospel always teaches a new way, it always challenges the status quo. We have to have to strength to believe in the change that God brings to any situation. And we have to always let grace be enough to sustain us, when others want to judge our faithfulness. Questions: Have you ever encountered someone who challenged to power of God? how did you deal with the situation? Did you have the strength to stand up for God? Do you, yourself believe in the power of God? Why? What is the difference between following the ways of God and the ways of man? Do you believe that the grace of God sufficient for all people? Is grace deserved or freely given? What do you do in your life to please God?
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Scriptures for May 19th (technically for May 26th) Proverbs 8:1-4,22-31; Psalm 8; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15 Theme: Pulling what we know about the Father, the son, and the Holy Spirit all together; Song: Holy, Holy, Holy Romans: We live in a broken world, we are broken people. No matter how Christian we say we are, things go wrong in our world. No matter how hopeful we may be, things still happen that we were not expecting. Paul speaks of having faith in things we cannot see all throughout the book of Romans. In Romans 5 he explains that a Christian faith is not easily earned, it comes through suffering. We all suffer, but we don’t all have to accept suffering as the final word. Trajedy comes to all life, but when Christ is with us, we look beyond the darkness and know that the light always comes. We have a chance to use our Christian faith when we suffer. He says that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. Christ came into this world to give us a sense of hope in the midst of all suffering. John: This is the last of our lessons from John, we go back to Luke next week. This is the very end of Jesus farewell speech. He explains that he has said all that he can say. This fits in well with the lesson from Romans. In this life, no one has eternal life, not even the Son of God. He has poured out his heart and soul so that we will understand. But there are some things that we will never understand, unless we go through them ourselves. If we preach the gospel, we will experience the persecution that Jesus experienced. But it is only in his absence that the Holy Spirit comes to bring us comfort and guidance. It is only in his absence that it all comes together for us and we understand the trinity – the Father, the son, the holy spirit. Now it is our turn to be Jesus for the world. Questions: When are those times when you faith is the strongest? When are those times when your faith is the weakest? What is it that gives you hope? What happens to you when you have to suffer? How have you experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life? What does the trinity mean to you? How do you feel about Jesus leaving earth and returning to heaven?
Saturday, May 4, 2013
Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for May 12th: Acts 16:16-34; Psalm 97; Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21; John 17:20-26; Theme: Mother’s Day; Song: Softly and Tenderly Jesus is calling. Acts: Paul and Silas are still in Phillipi. The beginning of the sermon says that they are on the way to the place of prayer. So they are joining Lyddia and her crew in worship. And once again they come in contact with a situation that needs their attention. In those days it was stylish to talk an oracle who could tell you about the future, or some other issue that you may have had. Everyone went to one. So when a citizen discovered that his slavegirl had special power- he exploited her “talent” for money. That was wrong on so may different levels. Paul and Silas had to do something about that. They had to deliver that poor girl from spiritual slavery. And they get I trouble for doing a good deed. In the eyes of the law, this girl was a property, not a person. Paul and Silas end up in jail. But they do not stop taking advantage of holy moments – opportunities to tell the world about Jesus. They sing the songs of Jesus and everyone listens. This time God wants to save the family of the jailer. This time Paul learns the lesson in hospitality, and how the holy spirit works when you help and accept others. John: The theme for today is unity. When we put our faith in Christ, no matter how different we may be, we can come together as one. Jesus, the father and the holy spirit are one in the actions of the disciples. When we love one another, we believe in the word and we spread the word – the presence of God is here in the world. Today- the only proof the world has that Jesus exists are your actions. Your actions of love, but also your actions of peace. Your actions of reaching out to the world to bring them into the church help the world know that there is a God. This is a part of Jesus farewell speech to us. The time for us sitting and listening is about to come to end. A time to get busy witness to what we have seen about Christ is about to come – really it is. Questions: Where is your place of prayer? Where do you go to be with God? What opportunities have you had in the last few days to witness for Christ? What opportunities have you had to welcome others in the name of Christ? What does unity mean to you? Why do you think the world is so skeptical about the existence of God? What do church members have to do with that skepticism?