Saturday, August 31, 2013

September 8, 2013 - 16th Sunday of Pentecost

Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for September 8th: Jeremiah 18:1-11; Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18; Philemon 1-21; Luke 14:25-33; Song: Change My Heart O God #2152; Theme: God prepares us for our call. Jeremiah: A prophet likes to give people solid examples in order to make sure that his message is understood. God tells Jeremiah to go to the Potter’s house and to watch how pots are made. The potter depends on the movement of the wheel in order to form a perfect pot. But that movement can also produce a bad pot. And then he has to start all over again. Life is the wheel, we are the pot and God is the master potter. God knows what we are supposed to look like, God knows our purpose, and God knows our capacity to fulfill that purpose. It is interesting that God says that he is shaping evil against us, and devising a plan against us? What does that mean? I thought God shaped us with love? It is not the bad things in life that force us to respond? What do we respond to but God’s judgment. In the hands of God, even the bad things in our life turn our good. God’s judgment is intended to make us repent and to become a well shaped pot, not a cracked pot. Psalm: I am wonderfully and fearfully made. God created all of us for a purpose. Our life did not begin at our birth, because God had a plan for us from the beginning of time. God knows all about us, we can’t hide from God. We can have an intimate and open relationship with God, we can share anything, even our deepest thoughts with fear. If we need to understand ourselves, we don’t need to ask ourselves, we can ask God. If we ask, he will tell us all that we need to know. God formed each of us to help with his plan for the salvation of creation. But before we can save the world, we have to save ourselves. We have to make sure that we are in touch with God. It is hard to believe that when we were born God knows the day we will die. But while we are here, we are expected to make the most of it. This is an important Psalm to remember. It tells us where to go for the answers. We can be proud of our purpose, and we know that we have to support to make it so. Questions: How has God shaped your life? When has God had to reform you and start all over again? How do you respond to God’s judgment? What does it mean for you to repent? Do you trust God with all parts of your life? Do you allow access to all parts of your heart? Do you have a complete understanding of God, or is there still more to learn? What does it mean for you to have a relationship with God?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

September 1, 2013 15th Sunday of Pentecost

Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for September 1st: Jeremiah 2:4-13; Psalm 81:1,10-16; Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16; Luke 14:1, 7-14; Song: We Bring the Sacrifice of Praise – 2031; theme: how to live as people of faith. Hebrews: Hebrews can be known as the kitchen sink epistle, because the author intentionally covers a lot of ground. This is his farewell and it is still in character. He is reminding us to love one another, but to make sure that our love spreads to other people. The author gives a list of people for us to love the prisoner, those who are abused, those who are married, money, leaders. We love them not because of them but because of us, and of our love for Christ. We are called to offer the sacrifice of praise. That reminds us of the importance of worship that we dealt with last week. When Christ is the center of our lives, we live a life of joy. God wants us to do Good as our worship, not a give a guilt offering. Loving Christ is an all consuming effort, we love God with all that we are, we love others with that same love. Luke: Jesus loved to go to dinner parties in order to be around other people and to have an opportunity to teach. But it seems that as he went to more and more parties that he got bored. Bored with the same people, practicing the same behavior. He witnessed people who were obsessed with their own importance and who needed to be seen. A lot of times the only reason they were at the party was do that they could be seen. Jesus does not see anything wrong with being seen. But more importantly, take a look at yourself. Who are you being in the face of others. Anytime we assume that we are important and that life revolves around us, we are wrong. We have all had times when we have been embarrassed because we were not as know as we thought. Jesus suggest that when we go to parties, we should take the lesser seat. If people really think of us, they will invite us to a better seat. But if we are followers of Jesus, we know that even though we are important, that we should be humble. Let God glorify us, so that we don’t have to glorify ourselves. Serve those who are poor, not those who are rich and God will bless us. Questions: How do you show love to those that you know? How do you show love to those who you don’t know? Is goodness something you have to remember to do, or is it a natural part of life? What do you need to do to love more? What does it mean to be humble? When you have a party – who would you rather invite, those who can give you something, or those who have their hands out to receive? How does God glorify you?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

August 18, 2013 13th Sunday after Pentecost

Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for August 18th: Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19; Hebrews 11:29: 12:2; Luke 12:49-56; Examples of Faith in those before us; Song: Am I a soldier of the Cross UMH 511 Isaiah: This scripture is a song, a love song, of sorts from God. God talks about how lovingly he took care of us, how carefully he nurtured us. He watched us grow. And yet as we grew, he became disappointed in the results. He expected us to be loving, caring, even respectful. But as we grew, we had a mind and a will of our own. We did what we wanted to do. We were self serving. God is disappointed in us, and now he contemplates what to do. How do you continue to care for someone or something that does not return the care and love? You have the power to help and you have to power to neglect. And yet with each sin, God makes a conscious decision to love us and to care for us. In this song God calls us to repent, turn from our sin and to love him back. Hebrews: Paul has been giving us a lesson on the power of faith, the meaning of faith, and the difference it makes in the lives of those who have it. Paul also explains to us why the old testament is important to those who have faith in Jesus Christ. All throughout the stories of the bible, demonstrate what faith can do for us. Paul is helping us to see that our ancestors did not just have faith, they had extraordinary faith. They were able to call upon the Lord in times of trouble and he answered in a mighty long way. In modern times, we expect miracles and we get angry when they do not happen. And yet Paul is not talking about miracles, he is talking about faith. Being determined to believe in God against all odds, and knowing in your heart that there is a God, and that God has been with you all this time, and that he is with you now! When we have extraordinary faith, we are never alone. All those who have believed and trusted in God for all time are with us also. Questions: Why is God disappointed in you and your sin? What will you do to do better? What are some ways that you know that God has taken care of you? How have you returned God’s favor? Who are some people of faith that you look to as role models? What is your definition of Faith?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

August 11, 2013 - 12th Sunday after Pentecost

Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for August 11th: Isaiah 1:1, 10-20; Psalm 50:1-8,22-23; Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16; Luke 12:32-40; Theme: The meaning of Faith; Song: Immortal, Invisible, God only wise UMH 103 Hebrews: We will looking at Hebrews for the next few weeks. This book spells out what the term faith really means. Faith in something that you can see, is not faith. Faith only happens in the midst of the wilderness. Hebrews is unique because it is the only book that takes us back to the Old testament as the foundation of our Christian faith. We are reminded of the faith of Abraham, we are reminded that we are brothers and sisters with those who follow faith. Abraham is the father of our faith. God called Abraham to step away from his comfortable life. And he was able to follow God to the fruition of that faith. He was told he would have a child, and that child would be the ancestor of many people. That happened. When we are able to follow God- we are spiritual children of Abraham and we carry the light of his faith into the world today. The wilderness may be gone, but God still calls us into the unknown so that more people will know God and will have faith in the God invisible, immortal, but all powerful. Luke: Jesus seems to be addressing small churches life ours – telling us not to be afraid, but to have faith. Faith is only true faith when it is actively lived out. Jesus tells us to actively live out our faith by doing the things we are supposed to do. The source of our faith is not visible, and it is unknown. We don’t know what the immediate future holds. We don’t know how we will make ends meet. We don’t know what God holds in store for us. But we know the promises of Christ. Once again Christ is reminding us, that if we understood everything that God was doing in the world, there would be no need for faithful churches. We are called to do the work of trusting in God and God’s plan. We do know the far off future, that Jesus will return and redeem all of our efforts. Questions: What does faith mean to you? Who are your models of faith? How can we follow Abraham in his faith? What would you do if God asked you to turn from all that you understand and to do something new in the name of faith? What stands in the way of us being a faithful congregation? How can we have enough peace to trust God in all things? What do you need to do in order to be ready for Christ to return?