Sunday, June 29, 2014

July 6, 2014 - 4th Sunday after Pentecost

Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for July 6th: Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67; Psalms 45:10-17; Romans 7:15-25; Matthew 11:16-19,25-30; Theme: Trust in the Lord; Song: Come Thou Font of Every Blessing #400 Genesis: We continue learning the story of the family of faith; the family that all of those faithful to God are a part of. Abraham is the father of us all – so we need to know his story. Stories of what really happened in our family can be difficult and shocking. But it is important also to remember that the glue that has held our family together has been love. The story of how we came to be starts with a love story. Abraham loved Sarah enough to do anything that she asked of him. As Isaac grew up, he longed to have someone who loved him in that way. He found that love in Rebekah. Their love is the foundation of the whole family. This is the story of how he went home to his mother’s family to find a wife. She was willing to go and to marry. Things were not perfect in their marriage. Their children were not perfect. They did not always agree on everything. But through it all they loved one another, and they passed that love on to others. Their love is an example of how love is present in our family today, and how it will smooth over the difficult stories. Matthew: Sometimes it can be a challenge to get people to understand the good news of Jesus Christ. It is hard for us today, but it was hard for Jesus also. There were many people who did not listen to him, or who could care less. Jesus learned to thank God for the people who did listen. He realized that to listen and to understand the gospel is a gift from God. Not only did he celebrate those who did listen, he celebrated how their lives where changed. He invited more to come and he still extends that invitation. Come all who are weary and carrying a heavy burden. Life does not have to be that way. Follow Jesus and things will get easier? Do you truly believe that? It is the truth about Jesus and what he offers in our lives. Questions: What is the love story in your family? What are the difficult times that love has bought you through? Who are your ancestors? How is your life connected to them now? What is your heavy burden in life? How does Jesus makes things easier? Why do you think it is so hard for the present generation to listen to Jesus? What do we need to say to get them to understand the good news?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

June 29, 2014 - Third Sunday after Pentecost

Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for June 29th : Genesis 22:1-14; Psalm 13; Romans 6:12-23; Matthew 10:40-42: Theme: Families as a blessing from God; Song: O Jesus I have Promised – UMH 396 Genesis: Sometimes, we don’t have to worry about what other people do for us. Our family can do really cruel things to us. family stories can be very violent and sad. Last week we hear the story of how Abraham banishes his own son into the desert. And today we hear how the blessed son, Isaac is almost killed. Abraham takes his son on the mountain in order to sacrifice him. Once again this is a story of how God’s grace abounds in the midst of a horrible situation. And even when people are misled, and do the wrong thing, God knows how to use that situation in order for blessed things to happen. We always have to remember, that blessings are not just for us, they are for the people that follow behind. Isaac and his brother Ishmael had to survive, so that the good news of God’s grace could reach the present generation. And we can be grateful that God’s promises are eternal – they will stand for generations to come. Romans: Paul is telling the story of what it means to live inside of Christ. He reminds us that when we were in the world we were slaves to sin. In Christ, we are free to do what is right for us. We don’t talk about sin anymore. It is a dirty word. We tend to think that if we don’t talk about it, then it will not be a problem. But it does not work that way. If w ignore it, that is when it is more likely to show up. And when it shows up, we will have no control over it. Being a Christian does not mean that you can do whatever you want, what it means is that you have the mind of Christ. With the mind of Christ, you have sense to move on to something better. Freedom means that you have a choice, you can choose to do the right thing. How do we know we are sinning? Does our action lead to life or death. God wants us to have eternal life. Eternal life starts with what you do today. We cant live sinfree, but we can claim our life and repent and start all over. Live in Christ, and not in sin. Questions: What do you think of Abraham? Was he a nice person? What would have happened to us if Isaac had been killed in this story? How does God provide for you in unexpected ways? What does it mean to be a slave to sin? How can we be free of the effects of sin? How does Christ help us to resist sin? ThiT

Sunday, June 15, 2014

June 22, 2014 - 2nd Sunday after Pentecost

Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for June 22nd: Genesis 21:8-21; Psalm 86:1-10,16-17; Romans 6:1-11; Matthew 10:24-39: Theme: God’s love for all kinds of people: Song: Just a Closer Walk with Thee FWS 2158 Genesis: For the week of Pentecost, we are dealing with Genesis. This is a time to look at families. Not necessarily how families should be, but how families really are. Family business can be ugly, messy, and even painful. And no matter how a family attempts to be perfect, there are always rough edges that need to be dealt with. Sarah and Abraham had been trying to have a child for years. When Sarah was ready to give up, she allowed her nurse maid to have a child. But now that Sarah had her own child, this was not going to work. So she sends Abraham’s first child away. Even though Sarah did not like Ishmael, he was still a part of God’s plan, God loved him. God vowed that even in exile, he would be an important person, as a matter of fact, the father of a great nation. Sometimes when we feel like the exiled child – we should know that God cares and takes care of us. Romans: Romans is such an important book about the foundation of our faith. It tells us what it means to live inside of Christ. This passage tells us what it means to die in Christ. It talks about baptism. When we go under the water, then we are die with Christ, when we come out of the water we rise with Christ. But we have to remember that without death, there is no life. The sin inside of us has to die in order for grace to truly take its place. No matter how we slice it, we are a sinful people. And without Christ we become comfortable with our sin. Sin takes over our lives. Christ died so that we can be free of that. We can live a better way. But if at any time we decide that we don’t need Christ, then sin will take over again. We have to live our whole life in Christ, and intentionally declare that sin is dead. Baptism is a sign of God’s grace. The waters work forever, and will introduce us to a lifetime of God’s grace that continues to work in our lives. Questions: What kind of a family did you grow up in? How did they help you to understand your faith? What obstacles did you have to overcome? In times of exile, how did God show his presence? Do you remember your baptism? Do you remember what it means for your life? How do you struggle to overcome sin daily?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

June 15, 2014 - Father's Day

Scriptures for June 15th: Genesis 1:1-2:4; Psalm 8;2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20; theme: Father’s Day ; Song: This is my Father’s World Genesis: This is the creation story to remind us that we were created from God. And thousands of years later God is still creating. There are many who would like to make up other stories of how we were created. We have a tendency to take matters into our own hands, and to make up our own beliefs. We have to be reminded that God is the center of the creation story, the point is about what God did and not about who we are. As a matter of fact, we are an important but small part of the story. I think that is a fitting scripture for fathers day – to remind us that our fathers, are sort of like God. They created us, but they also guide us and take care of us when we can’t take care of ourelves. But we thank not our fathers, but God for sending them into our lives. God asks each one of us to take a part in creation, to live a life that makes a difference. But we do not take credit for the small part we play, we give all glory, honor and praise to God. 2 Corinthians: Paul reminds us that God uses us to build his kingdom on earth. We all have a small part to play. This is his farewell to the Corinthian church. He reminds them and he reminds us that if God trust us, we should order our work in the same way that Christ does: put things in order, listen to my appeal, live in peace, greet one another. In order we should do everything with order, peace and respect. And we will see the fruits of our labor. But more importantly, God will be able to use us for his purpose. It is a lesson on how fathers (and mothers) should order their household and raise their children. This is a very short verse, but with a very big lesson for us to hold onto. Questions: What do you think of when you the creation story? In light of all of the scientific evidence, is the creation story even relevant? How does God call us to be a part of creation? What part does man play in the story? What difference does it make to have an orderly life? why is peace so important in an community? Is peace and order possible in a community that you do not have a relationship with? Why does God give the work to a community and not just individuals? What does it take to bring unity in a community?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June 8, 2014 - Pentecost

Scriptures for June 8th: Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:24-34,35; 1 Corinthians 12:3-13; John 7:37-39; Theme: Pentecost; Song: Many Gifts, One Spirit UMH 114 1 Corinthians: This is an important scripture as we think about our spiritual gifts and how we are supposed to use them. We are all different people, we all have difference roles, God speaks to us in different ways. And yet we serve the same God. It is the same Spirit that leads us, and it is important for us realize that everything that we all do is for the same purpose – to usher in the kingdom of God hear on Earth. Sometimes it is so easy for us to disagree with one another, and to assume that other Christians do not know what they are talking about. And yet I think that is the big point of Pentecost. The tower of Babel proved that we cannot work together, we are all not on the same page. And yet it is important to realize that if we are in touch with God, God will put us in touch with others. It is the same spirit that lives in each of us. Acts: This is the official story of the Pentecost event. Jews from all over the world had come into Jerusalem for the 50 days after Passover celebration. But this year something was different. Everything that they had been waiting for had finally happened. They could stop waiting for change, because change was upon them. There were also 50 days since the resurrection. Jesus had said that the Holy Spirit would come and give you power, and the Spirit was indeed present. All of the pieces started to fall into place. People started to understand one another. People had been given the energy to witness to the love of Jesus Christ in their lives. The disciples had been waiting for this power for quite some time, and it was finally here. It was time to recognize that power and to harvest it for their lives, so they would have the power to change lives. Questions: What are some ways that prove that we in the church are not on the same page? What are some ways that you see that we are united, and God is using us? What spiritual gifts has God given you? How are you using them? How is the spirit empowering you to do your job? What do you do to listen to the spirit? How do you see the spirit working and making a difference in the world?