Sunday, May 24, 2015
Breaking Open the Scripture Scripture for May 31st: Isaiah 6:1-8; Psalm 29; Romans 8:12-17; John 3: 1-17; Theme: All led by God’s Spirit are God’s Children; Song: Every Time I Feel the Spirit UMH 404 Romans: This is a continuation of our lesson on the Holy Spirit last week. We are encouraged to live life in Christ. They way to do that is to be baptized and to recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in our life. And to consent to be led by the spirit in all that we do. That will help us to rise our human need to think only of ourselves, but to think about the people and things that God cares about. When we are led by the spirit, then we are children of God. Not everyone earns the title of child of God, just because they are alive. They have to be led by the spirit. When we are able to trust the spirit, then we can’t go wrong – we will experience the wonders of God’s fruit directly in our lives, which will bring joy unspeakable. Baptism is dying and rising with Christ. John: Jesus also talks about baptism to Nicodemus. It is a way of being born again, and embracing a new spirit in our lives. When we are born again, then we can put aside past negativity. We don’t have to trust the world, (which has nothing for us), we can trust God fully and completely. God loved the world so much that he makes that available to all people. But he tries to help Nicodemus understand that only those who follow Christ have to power to overcome the understanding of this world. We can celebrate the fact that God is always on our side. He sent Jesus here to the world, because he wants us to be winners. A winner will never lose, because everything is in God’s favor. Questions: What does it mean to you to be born again? How are you like Nicodemus? How do you learn from his questions? What does it mean to be a child of God? What helps you to follow God’s will in all things? What hinders you?
Saturday, May 9, 2015
Breaking Open the Scripture Scripture for May 17th: Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47; Ephesians 1:15-23; Luke 24:44-53: theme: Ascension Sunday ; Song: Up From the Grave He Arose UMH 322 Acts: This book chronicles the early church and how it grew and survived. It tracks the steps of the risen Christ in the lives of his followers. An important point in the journey was the day that he returned to heaven. This is one of the few non Sunday observances that John Wesley thought important enough to keep in his church calendar. I love that at the end of today’s scripture, angels ask why are you looking up in the sky for Jesus? Jesus is inside of our hearts, most importantly, Jesus is out and about in the world. Jesus promises us the power of the Holy Spirit. So we can start to expect it in our lives. If Jesus is in heaven now, it is up to us to embody the presence of Christ in the world. Luke: This is the story of the Ascension, as Jesus brings his disciples out to the beach and he gives them instructions and then goes up to heaven. Once again he tells us to wait for the presence of the holy spirit, and then first repent yourself, and second preach the power of repentance and forgiveness to the world. You don’t need to worry about traveling, change the world right where you are! There is a reason that we are in the place that we are in. We have work to do, and we have a message to give to others. Jesus is not going to do that work, he went to heaven. He left it to us to do. The scripture says that the followers has a deep sense of joy for having Jesus with them. They continually rejoiced in the temple – spreading the word, and living it brings joy and appreciation. The spirit of Jesus is with us when we are spreading his message! Questions: do you think the ascension of Jesus really happened or is it just an informative story? Where is heaven? Is it up in the sky or in our hearts? What are you doing in preparation for the Holy Spirit? Do you get a sense of joy from telling the story of Jesus to others?
Sunday, May 3, 2015
Breaking Open the Scripture Scripture for May 10th: Acts 10:44-48; Psalm 98; 1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17; Theme: Mother’s Day; Song: Blessed Assurance UMH 369 1 John: The essence of God is love. The essence of being a Christian is knowing how to love one another. This Easter season, we are being pounded with messages of love for one another. We are reminded that if we live our life in Jesus then it is easy to love others. We are reminded that it is not human nature to love. But Jesus gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit, so that we can indeed learn to love like Jesus loves, which is in turn how God loves us. There are still a lot of people in the world who don’t know what love is – it is the job of the church to show them. John: In the book of John, we are examining the I am statements. Jesus tells us step by step who he is, and why we should care. He is telling us that our salvation comes through him, and through his efforts. And that if we want to have a relationship with God, then we need to have a relationship with Jesus. Today, Jesus tells us that he is the vine, and that we are the branches, and that God is the vine keeper. But he goes farther than that. If God can take care of us through Jesus, then we are to take care of one another and God’s creation. He commands us to love. To learn to love sacrificially. But whatever we do in the name of the Lord is not a sacrifice, because we will always get it back! God will pay us back for the love we give to others. The command to love is not to give to others, but to invest in ourselves! Questions: What stands in the way of you loving others? What do you get in return when you are able to show love? How have you experienced God’s love in your life? How do you get your nourishment from Jesus for your life?