Sunday, October 26, 2014
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for November 2nd: Revelation 7:9-17; Psalm 34:1-10,22; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12; Theme: All Saint’s Day Song: Marching to Zion UMH 733 1 John : This verse is the prequel to the book of Revelations. John is reminding us that one day we will all live in heaven with Jesus, but today we all still live on earth. In heaven life will be perfect, but we will be perfect also, but today we are all less than perfect. John tells us that we are not in heaven yet, but we should live as if we intend to get there. We need to purify ourselves and to purify our lives. We need to know that Christ gives us the power to live as perfect people here on Earth. We are perfect when we strive for heaven and do the will of God. The power of Christ lies in our ability to love one another. Matthew: This is the beatitudes. These are the keys to our happiness. Jesus us saying that it is in our struggles, our hardships our suffering, that we learn to have faith. He is saying that those who persevere in spite of those things, have to keys to happiness. God knows their hearts and will bless their efforts. Heaven is only for those who persevered in this life. It is only in this life that we truly come to understand who God is. If everything is going well, then we have no need for God. And if we have no need for God, when we meet God face to face then we will not even know who he is. So do not be afraid of the challenges and struggles. God will be with you through it all, and he will reward you afterward. We also remember the struggles of others, and we thank God that they are now at peace in heaven. Questions: What do you imagine heaven to be like? What would it be like to live in a perfect world? As a human would you get bored? How are you preparing yourself for heaven in your life now? How do you feel blessed? When was a time in your life when you know God bought you through? How were you different after that experience?
Sunday, October 12, 2014
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for October 19th: Exodus 33:12-23; Psalm 99; 1 Thessalonians 1”1-10; Matthew 22:15-22; Theme: Laity Sunday; Song: O how I Love Jesus UMH 170 Exodus: This section of Exodus shows a shift in where the people are. God has told them that they are to move from the wilderness and now it is time for them to come to the promised land. And the people are not ready to go – they like where they are. It takes Moses a year to convince them that it is time to go to a different place. In his leadership, Moses goes to God for assurance. He needs to make sure that it is really God leading them. As a matter of fact, God says that he will lead the people to where they have to go himself. Moses needs to sure that he is really talking to God, so he asks if God will appear to him, so that he can see his face. No one can look upon the face of God and live, but God appears to our lives, and more importantly, if we are paying attention we can feel God’s presence. Matthew: This is the section where Jesus is tested by the Pharisees. We learned last week that Jesus took no formal training to be a rabbi. He talked to the common people in common language. This was a direct threat to the power of the religious leaders. No wonder they spent so much time hunting him down and asking him questions. They were not supposed to have a coin with Ceasar’s face in the temple. Jesus uses this coin to show them that they are hypocrites. They are criticizing him, when they are not doing what is right. The lesson from Jesus is that we should do the things of God, and not man. Give what belongs to man to man, but give what belongs to God to God. Your heart and soul should belong to God. Questions: When has God appeared in your life? What did God look like? What did God do? Where has God led you in the last year? Where do you want to go in your faith? How can you give your heart and soul to God? What things do you do to test Jesus? What things does he do to test you?
Sunday, October 5, 2014
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for October 12th: Exodus 32: 1-14; Psalm 106: 1-6,19-23; Philippians 4:1-9; Matthew 22:1-14; Theme: Jesus’ Salvation is intended for everyone; Song: What a Friend we have in Jesus UMH 526 Philippians: Community is the key to being a Christian. You cannot be a Christian on an island. And yet sometimes living with others is the biggest challenge of the church. Paul understands that even the best of churches have conflict. It is conflict that can destroy the worst of churches. In this verse, Paul addresses conflict in the Philippian church head on. Two women are going at it and everyone is taking sides. Paul tells them that it time to cool out. He enlist the help of the local bishop to keep the women honest. He tells all churches that when conflict is destroying the church – the church should rejoice, pray, and once you give it to God to go forward in peace, knowing that God will take care of it. Matthew: Jesus is explaining to the powers that be, the authority that he has to teach people about God. He is the Son of God and received his authority directly from God. God does all that God can to get our attention. God sends all kinds of messages and all kind of messengers. The biggest messenger we can have is Jesus Christ. Coming to God is like taking part in a feast. We are all invited to the party. God learned that is was useless to have an exclusive list. People get so interested in coming to the party that they forget who invited them. Jesus reminds us as church people that we should not get to exclusive and thinking that we are special. We are only special because of God’s love. We have to remember, just because we get an invitation, doesn’t mean we will get in the party. We have to put on the fruits of the spirit, love, gentleness, peace, kindness and demonstrate them in all that we do. God does not need us, we need God. Questions: What happens in your church when there is conflict? What biblical principles are put in place to help solve it, who are the people that serve as mediators? What does it mean for God to invite all people to the table? What role do you play in making that happen? Is being a Christian a right or a priviledge? Is God’s party here on earth, in heaven or both?