Saturday, February 22, 2014

March 2, 2014 - Transfiguration Sunday

Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for March 2nd: Exodus 24:12-18; Psalm 99; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Matthew 17:1-9; Theme: Transfiguration Sunday Song: Awesome God FWS 2040 Exodus: Epiphany begins and ends with a call from God. When Jesus was raised up from the water, he was a dove, and heard the words this is my beloved son. Transfiguration Sunday is all about going up to the mountain top and coming back changed. The old testament lesson tells us that this is not the first time that God spoke. He also blessed Moses and had regular conversations with Moses. Moses goes up on Mount Tabor so that he can receive the ten commandments. He speaks with God, and those looking up can see the cloud and the glory of God. They know that God is with Moses through this process. When Moses returns, it is obvious that he has been in the glory of God. No one can face God and remain the same. When you pray, when you feel God’s spirit upon your life, what happens to you? Matthew: This event is covered in all of the gospels. It is the story of the transfiguration. Jesus goes up on the mountain to pray, and as he prays his disciples see that his appearance changes. He is on the same mountain as Moses, and he has the same experience. It is important to note that this was a time of Holy prayer for Jesus. He knew that he was on holy ground, and in a holy presence. He knew that prayer changes things. The disciples were not quite sure of how to handle this situation. They had no idea of what happened (until much later). They were afraid and at a loss at what to do. Jesus tells them to tell no one, until after the resurrection. Resurrection? What Resurrection? This is the beginning of a very long journey to the cross for Jesus and the disciples. But God has blessed that journey and assured Jesus that even in the midst of the trouble, that God will be with him every step of the way. Questions: Where do you go to talk to God? Have you ever seen God’s glory in your life? What did you do? How did you respond to God? How have you been changed from an encounter with God? How do you deal with the fear of knowing that everything in life is changing? How can you trust God in the midst of change?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

February 23, 2014 - 7th Sunday after Epiphany

Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for February 23rd: Leviticus 19:1-2,9-18; Psalm 119:33-40; 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23; Matthew 5:38-48; Theme: It is not you, it is Christ in you; Song: Precious Lord – UMH 474 1 Corinthians: Paul has been teaching us what it means to become a healthy community. We must be careful to take our cues from God and not from normal behavior. Last week Paul told us that we are co creaters of God’s kingdom. This week Paul says that we are the building of God. The foundation of the future is our behavior. The foundation of the past was what our ancestor taught us. God certainly sends leaders and guides to teach us. But we are not to put our trust in them, but we are to put trust in the way God is leading them. Some people want the praise and acknowledgement, but in reality they are nothing unless the spirit of Christ shows through in their actions. We talk a lot about the building of God’s kingdom. The foundation of the kingdom is in our heart. We are the temple of God. Thus we have to treat our body, our soul, our mind, our thoughts with care. We have to open our hearts, so that God can use us. Matthew: Jesus continue his if this then that statements. Jesus reminds us that we are to go above and beyond even the standards set in the bible. We have to challenge ourselves to go above and beyond the standard. We also have to realize that the only way to rise above human nature is to have a relationship with God. We base our standard on behavior on the way God treats us, not the way man treats us. We do what we do for God not for ourselves. When we strive for a higher standard, those who are less faithful come to understand that it is possible, but they also understand that they need Christ in their life to make it so. When our behavior changes the world becomes a better place for everybody. Isnt that truly what it means to build the kingdom of God? Questions: How are you working to build the kingdom of God? How is God helping you with that project? Do you like to have acknowledgement for what you are doing? How does God say thank you for what you do for him? What do you do to love your neighbor? Do you honestly try to live up to God’s standard? Can people tell you are Christian based on your actions? When have you been able to turn the other cheek? When have you loved your enemy?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

February 9, 2014 - Fifth Sunday of Epiphany

Breaking Open the Scriptures Scriptures for February 9th: Isaiah 58:1-12; Psalm 112: 1-10; 1 Corinthians 2:1-16; Matthew 5:13-20; Theme: Put Discipleship in action; Song: Guide My Feet – FWS 2208 1 Corinthians: This is the age of distrust of pastors. There have been a lot whom lay people feel have misled them. That makes it difficult for those who come after them. Apparently things have not changed much since Paul’s time. There were other preachers who came to Corinth, but they did not have the best interest of the Corinth community at heart. So before Paul can teach them about what it means to be community, a church; Paul has to undo the damage. He has to tell them what it means to really be a preacher. The Greeks place an importance on wisdom. But Paul tells us that the wisdom of God and the wisdom of people are not the same. The wisdom of God is not a mystery. You come to understand God, with the help of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit leads us to the mind of Christ in the word. If we want to understand God, we have to understand Jesus. If you want to understand Jesus, you have to read the New Testament. It is the Spirit that helps you to live according to it. Paul is leading the Corinthians to understand what it truly means to understand Christ. We learn not through our own thinking but through obedience to word. Matthew: This is a continuation of the sermon on the mount. Jesus is speaking specifically to those who want to be his disciples. He taught us what it means to be a Christian. The type of character we need to have. Now he is encouraging us to put our faith into action. To be the salt of the earth. It is our actions that truly make a difference in the destiny of mankind. Our lives are no longer about ourselves, it is about what we do for the world. What we do for the world, is what we do on behalf of Jesus. A light is not hidden, it is put on a pedestal so that everyone else can see. When we decide to become disciples, our actions are put before the rest of the world. People see Jesus , based on what they think of us. the message is that we should be present to make a difference. Show the world that there is hope to change things. Questions: What is the wisdom of Christ? How do you experience it? How do you use it? How do you know that a preacher is authentic and has a relationship with God? Do you want to change the world, or just follow along? How does your faith make you stand out from the rest of the world? What does it mean to be a disciple? It is hard work?