Saturday, November 23, 2013

December 1, 2013 - First Sunday of Advent

Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for December 1st – Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44; Theme: First Sunday of Advent Song: O Come, O Come Emmanuel – UMH 211 Romans: We are always tempted to go back into the past. We are always tempted to try and change things, to go back to the point in our lives where things made sense. It is hard for us to accept that the past is gone and there is nothing that we can do about it. What we can change is the future, we can do something to change the future. This is a transitional time, it is time for Christmas, but it is not time for nostalgia. Paul tells us that it is time for us to wake up and to take charge of our life, but most importantly, we have to take charge of our service to God. The past is a part of the darkness, and the future is the light that we have a chance to walk into. But we have to prepare ourselves to live in the light and to avoid sin. We have to put on the clothing of salvation. If we are able to put on Christ, just as we put on our clothes, we will be fully prepared to fight temptation and obey God. Matthew: We always start at the end. I know that in order to truly have a good day, that I have to get a good night’s sleep. I have to start at the end, in order to control the beginning. The same is for our spiritual life. We don’t start the year off with the baby Jesus. We start with Jesus telling us that it is time to wake up and to be prepared for a change. We always start out advent with the second coming, not the first coming. A time when we will be held accountable for our actions. So we need to be prepared to clean up our act. We need to think about the way that we treat other people. We need to think about how we read the bible. We need to think about how we obey the call of God in our lives. It is a connection to Romans – to wake up and to look around at the life that you are living. If we get too comfortable with ourselves, with sin, with the world – then Christ will return at an unexpected time. Advent is a time to prepare ourselves, to wait for what is coming, and to please God. Questions: What spiritual darkness exists in the world today? What do we need to be more aware of in ourselves this year? What do we need to be aware of in others? What do we need to put aside this year? What does advent mean to you? What will you do to prepare for Christ coming in a brand new way? What light are we being called to bring into the world? What needs to happen in order to light that candle inside of you?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

November 24, 2013 - Christ the King Sunday

Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for November 24th: Jeremiah 23:1-6; Luke 1:68-79; Colossians 1:11-20; Luke 23:33-43: Theme: Last Sunday of the Year – Christ the King; Song: We are Marching in the Light of God – FWS 2235 Colossians: These are believed to be the words of a hymn that people would sing when they came into worship. How is it that we learn about who Christ is. Today not a lot of people will read the bible. We should all be studying, but many people consider that to be work. But we all like to listen to the songs. It is the songs of our faith that tell us who Christ is. This song says that Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, he is the head of the church, the forgiver of sins, the fullness of heaven. Our faith is dependent upon him being our savior. If we are able to put Christ first, then we cannot go wrong. We are reminded that he is more than the Son of Man, he is the Son of God. He is worthy of our faith, because he is our savior. If it was not for him, we as gentiles would not be saved, and we would not know God. This man is certainly worthy to be praised. Luke: In America, we are not used to giving honor to a king. There have been a lot of kings, but we also have to remember that the Isrealites also did not have a king. Not since the dynasty of David died out. Today we acknowledge that Christ is our king. Christ is head of our lives, he is our benefactor, he is worthy of our life obedience. We also have to remember that he died as “King of the Jews”. The powers that be thought that he was very arrogant. And there was no one who could put themselves on the same level as God. As a matter of fact, it was not until he was resurrected that he truly proved that he was worthy of being worshipped as a king. This is the story of his last hours, how we was killed, and why he was killed. It is the story of the robbers who asked to be with him in paradise. It is our last impression of Christ as we complete the book of Luke. Jesus knew that he was a king, so on earth, he never needed to honor. When people tried to give it to him, he rejected it. It is in his humbleness that we have a chance to now exalt him. It is his lowest moment in his life, that he was lifted up as the highest. Questions: How would you describe the attributes of Christ? Why do you consider him to be your savior? What is your favorite song about Christ? What does it mean to truly have peace in life? how does such a violent act as crucifixion bring about eternal peace? What is our role in bringing about Peace? How is Christ the King of your life?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

November 17, 2013 - 26th Sunday after Pentecost

Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for November 17th: Isaiah 65:17-25; Isaiah 12; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13; Luke 21:5-19; Theme: The end is near Song: Soon and very Soon UMH 706 Isaiah: They are still assessing the damage from the hurricane in the Phillipines. They are saying that as many as 10,000 people could be dead. And the damage is unspeakable. Here in Illinois we have never experienced having to recover from a disaster of that magnitude. But how do you even begin to put the pieces of your life together as such a catastrophe? One block at a time. Sometimes the damage may not be physical, it may be spiritual. It is next to impossible to rebuild, unless you have hope for the future. God realizes the in order for his people to go forward, he has to give them hope. He has to help them to realize that they are not rebuilding alone. God is has already seen what must be. If you knew that it was all going to be destroyed, would you work to rebuild? But if you knew that things would finally get better, that all that you have hoped for would come to fruition, you would move forward. God encourages us to move forward in our lives, and to know that what we are rebuilding is the first steps to heaven. 2 Thessalonians: Paul gets to the point in chapter 3, by telling others that if they do not work, then they should not eat. Common people felt that there was no need to work, because the end was near. Those who were rich, felt they would rely on others to work. Paul continues to help them understand that waiting for God does not mean giving up and working less. As a matter of fact, it means working more. Work is a part of our faith. We have to work in order to build the foundation of the kingdom of God. But what does work mean? What type of work must be done? Is God a taskmaster, like an earthly boss? Work for God should be fulfilling and should energize us, not wear us out. When we do not work, Paul says that we become busybodies. He also said that we should never get tired of doing what it right. God has a purpose for us, when he calls us- he calls us to a task – to a job. May we always have hope in God and his plan for us. Questions: What would you hope to see in a new world? What are you willing to give up in this world? Do you look forward to God promise of a new world, or is it scary? What is you attitude toward work? Do you see God in the work that you do? What do you think about tose who freeload off of others? How do we encourage everybody to give their equal part?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November 10th - 25th Sunday after Pentecost

Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for November 10th: Haggai 1:15b-2:9; Psalm 145:1-5,17-21; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5,13-17; Luke 20:27-38; song: Standing on the Promises – UMH 374: Theme: Living Faith of a Living God. 2 Thessalonians: There was a time in my life that I believed that life had gotten so bad, that the end of the world was near. I gave away all of my stuff because I felt that I would not need it anymore. I stood by the door, and waited for Christ to arrive. It took a friend to remind me that I probably needed to hold on to things, because life was going on. Going on without me. The world coming to an end was the easy way out. God is not the God of easy ways out. The God of our faith, encourages us to endure. Not to give up. And not to predict when the end will come. Paul is trying to help the church understand that in life, the easy answers are not the God answers. Paul reminds us that the end of the world is not about our life and our understanding of life. It is about the redemption of the whole world and making the devil pay for all of the evil he has done in the world. When we reach the end of the rope – we can know that Christ will be with us to make sure that our lives move on. Luke: The marriage vow that we take says till death do we part. Marriage is a part of our life on earth, but not a part of our eternal life. Jesus is challenged about what happens when we die? Do our relationships continue? When Jesus is challenged by the Sadducees, he does not directly answer that question. He does not talk about what life will be like. Just as our relationships shape an important part of life on earth, our character, our belief in God, our behavior has an important influence on where we spend eternity. We only get to heaven based on our own efforts, not on who we know. Jesus reminds us that life and death is not about heaven and earth, but about our relationship with God. There are some people who are on earth, but are dead in spirit. There are some who have passed on, whose spirits are very much alive. Being alive is in understanding the presence of God- seeking God in all things, all places and in all situations. We should seek life, eternal life with God. Questions: What do you believe about the end of days? Do you think that life can get any worse than it is right now? What do you believe about the end of days? How do you think God will come to us? How does that belief affect the way that you live? What does it mean for you to seek Christ? To seek life? what does it mean that God is the God of the living? Who are the dead? Have they left the presence of God? Or has the presence of God left them?