Sunday, August 31, 2014
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for September 7th: Exodus 12:1-14; Psalm 149; Romans 13:8-14; Matthew 18:15-20; Theme: Love others as God loves ; Song: Help Us Accept Each Other UMH 560 Romans: The way that we live our lives says everything about our faith. We don’t be Christian, just to those we like. The true test of our Christianity is how we treat everyone. We are encouraged to be transparent in our selves. Paul says to live in honor. Be the same in every situation, and around every person. It is important for us to learn to live in the light. It is the light that makes us strong and gives us strength. Jesus Christ is our strength. The more we claim Christ, the easier it is for us to do the right thing. We should always believe in the power of love to transform any relationship. Love makes the world go around. The love of Christians make a difference in the world. It is about Christ, and not about us. Matthew: Jesus takes Romans a little further. What we demonstrate to others, we must also demonstrate to one another. We have to love one another, but a part of that love is accountability. He have to be honest and to ask for forgiveness, to give forgiveness, and to learn to repent. Jesus says that the church is a safe place to do all of that. It is important to listen to our sisters and brothers. We have to let them judge us, so that we don’t place judgement on ourselves. When we isolate ourselves, sin is more likely to take over. When we are in community, the community has the power to fight our sin, and to bring it out of us. Questions: Is it easy to love everyone? Or is it easier to love people who are most like us? What do you need in order to love everyone the same? What does it mean to live in community? What do you do to intentionally forgive others? What do you do to hold other Christians accountable? Is it easy to be honest with them? Can the church really effectively judge others?
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for August 31st: Exodus 3:1-15; Psalm 105:1-6;23-26,45; Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 16:21-28; Theme: Being called by God for Such a time as this; Song: Take my Life and Let it be UMH 399 UMH Romans: These are instructions on how to live according to God’s will. We have to love one another. We have to forgive one another, we have to be intentional about putting love into the world. The only way to defeat the devil to be committed to doing what is right. It is easy to think that evil will prevail. The only thing to make evil win is for good people to stand by and to do nothing. Not only do we have to represent what is right, we have to be willing to teach others. We have to be examples for others. Once we are finally able to transform our minds, we have to transform others, and then have to courage to transform the world. Exodus: This is the story of the calling of Moses. Moses comes face to face with God in the form of the burning bush. God tells him what he must do to save his people. Moses goes away from the experience changed forever. The good news is that God is always in touch with what is going on in the day. God always raises people up to face the challenges of the day. God is always presenting himself in mysterious and miraculous ways. When God introduces himself he says I am who I am. He really says I will be, who I will be. God can see future, and he is preparing us for it. And when our time is up, someone will follow in our footsteps, prepared to lead God’s people into a new day. Questions: What do you need to have hope in the world? What do you need to believe in the power to transform? How do you treat those who mistreat you? What is going on in the world so that God needs a vessel to change the world? How is God appearing in our age today? Who is God raising up to be the new Moses?
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for August 24th: Exodus 1:8-2:10; Psalm 124; Romans 12:1-8; Matthew 16:13-20; Theme: Using God’s Gifts: Song: I am Thine O Lord UMH 419 Romans: In chapters 9-11 we come to understand why we are saved. Now it is time for us to think about what we are to do with that salvation. What does it mean to live in Christ, and how do we change our lives so that we can do that? Romans is a very important book to our faith. It is the book that a lot of the church fathers used to develop official Christian theology. A lot of chapter 12 is used in our communion service. The early Christians gathered for a meal, just as the Jews gathered for a meal. That love meal eventually developed into the communion service. We are called to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. Christ is the sacrifice for us. Our lives are the sacrifice for Christ. The gifts that we have been given, are to use in ministry. Our forgiveness, is to help us to learn to forgive others. And to continue to prepare ourselves when all people will come and feast at God’s table. Matthew: What does it mean for Jesus to be the messiah? What does it mean for Christ to be your personal savior? Jesus is helping the disciples to not only understand what a savior is, but to understand that the savior is Jesus. So Jesus asks them who do people say that he is. The messiah is a spiritual definition. That is why he comes in the form of a person. We can relate to a person on many different levels. The disciples know he is the messiah because they have a personal relationship. We can follow their example in having our own relationship. And coming to realize what it means that Jesus is our savior. Jesus tells them not to tell anyone what they know. We all have to discover that for ourselves. The only way that we understand that Jesus us the messiah is in our personal lives, and our personal questions. Questions: How do you sacrifice your life to Christ? What gifts has God given your to use? What do your feel when you take communion? Is Christ present?
Saturday, August 9, 2014
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for August 17th: Genesis 45:1-15; psalm 133; Romans 11:1-2,29-32; Matthew 15:10-28; Theme: God’s grace is sufficient in all circumstances; Song: Rock of Ages Cleft for me UMH 361 Romans: Paul continues to talk about the promise and what it means for the family of Israel, but more importantly, what does it mean for us? How did we get included in God’s family? Paul says that we were grafted in. God’s grace is powerful enough to include us and all of our sinfulness. Just because grace was extended to us, does that mean that God no longer love them? No? God will extend grace even to those who live by the law. God does not make mistakes, and every word of God’s promise is truth. We can rest our faith on that. Salvation belongs to all of the faithful as long as they can claim Christ Jesus. God extends grace to all, but his promise is for the faithful. If you are faithful you are automatically a part of God’s family. Matthew: This is a very important verse of what it means to have God’s grace. Jesus reinforces what Paul has been saying all along in Romans. That responsibility and accountability go along with God’s grace. And that it is possible to do something to fall out of God’s favor. All people are very good at sinning. And it is what inside of us that drags us into sin. But the touch of Jesus is sufficient to make a difference. Jesus assures us that if we have faith in Jesus, then he can enter into our lives and make a difference. Being a child of God is a constant battle. We have to strive to do right and to live right. According to the law however, no matter how hard we try – we will always fail- we are in need of God’s salvation in order to be in God’s favor. It is our faith that makes us whole. Questions: What does it mean to be grafted into the tree? How do you feel God’s grace in your life? What do you think of people who get something for free when others have to pay? Which are you- the one who “freeloads” or the carrying the weight? In God’s eye does it make a difference?
Sunday, August 3, 2014
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for August 10th: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28; Psalm 105:1-6,16-22, 45b; Romans 10:5-15; Matthew 14: 22-33; Theme: The role of a disciple; Song: I Love to tell the Story UMH 156 Romans: This is my new favorite scripture. It says blessed are the feet of the preacher. All who know something about the gospel are preachers. If we have heard the gospel for ourselves, then we need to spread the message. We cannot just expect people to understand if they have not heard. Paul is really concerned that the word of God be spread to the Jews. He does not want them to be left behind. But we have a responsibility to tell, to teach and to testify. God’s grace is all around us. It is God’s grace that saves us, not the law. Paul also gives the formula for salvation, he have to hear, then we have to believe, and them we confess that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, who delivered us from sin. Once we are able to live in grace, everything else falls into place. Matthew: This is the book of miracles. Time after time, Jesus does something miraculous. Jesus has just fed the 5000 and he gets his disciples away to rest and recuperate. As happens to many of us, when we try to rest, we end up in the middle of a storm. Jesus calms their fears in the midst of the storm. Peter wants to do what he sees Christ do, and cant because he does not have enough faith. And yet his faith was enough to get him to at least try. Sometimes that is all that we can do is try and to let God do the rest. Use what you have and God will supply the rest. We should not focus on the storm, but on God’s presence in our lives. We should expect God to be present in times of fear. Our rest is in God not in our situation. Questions: how did you hear the gospel story? How do you pass the message on to others? When you hear the good news, what is your response? How are you growing in your response to God? Does Jesus still perform miracles today? Are you in the boat or on the water in your faith? When faith does not turn out the way you expected what do you do? Do you give up? Or do you grow forward?