Saturday, February 27, 2016
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for March 6th: Joshua 5:9-12; Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15: 1-3,11-32; theme: the stewardship practices of lent; Song: What Wondrous Love is this? UMH 292 2 Corinthians: The whole point of this Lenten journey is to be reconciled with Christ. It is for us to get out life together. No matter who far we think we come, we still have so far to go. It is time for us to become a new creature in Christ. It all starts with us, no really, it starts with God. God calls out to us, and waits for us to answer. For is to realize that we need to be forgiven. But when God forgives us, it is because he expects us to forgive others. Paul says that we are to be ambassadors of Christ. Don’t hold the trespasses of others against them. It is your forgiveness that helps them to realize that God is calling for them also. Show mercy to others. Instead of just arguing with others, why not try to solve the conflict. Come up with a solution that serves both parties, instead of trying to win. We are in unity and reconciled, then everybody wins. Luke: This is a very old story with a lesson that we need to learn time and time again. The power of unconditional love and the reminder that we are all in need of it. We are all the prodigal son with a prodigal father. We don’t realize how good we have it, until we lose it. We are spoiled children trying to make our way in this world. We have to realize that even though we may call our belongings ours, they are all a gift from God. We did nothing to deserve this love, we can do nothing to lose it. And those hard times in life are intended to bring us closer to home, not farther way. When we stop complaining, when we stop worrying, when we stop wishing for other things. Then we can settle down and do our work and make a difference in this world. And understand our place in God’s family. Questions: Where in your life do you need to receive mercy? Who do you need to show mercy? How is God working to reconcile you right now? How do you listen to God’s call for your life? What in your life are you taking for granted? How can you thank God without having to lose that thing? How can you say think you to God for giving you grace?
Saturday, February 20, 2016
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for February 28th: Isaiah 55:1-9; Psalm 63:1-8; 1 Corinthians 10:1-13; Luke 13:1-9; Theme: service , Song: There is a Balm in Gilead UMH 375 Isaiah: Fasting is a major part of the Lenten experience. Some of us are hesitant to deprive ourselves of something. Fasting is more than doing without. It is anticipation of what is to come. It is preparing yourself for a feast. These words are preparing for a feast, not doing without. There are lot of people who really don’t have what they need. There are people who are really thirsty. Isaiah is assuring people that when God comes, everyone will have all that they need. This verse is a song that would have been sung. The last words say that our ways are not God’s ways. We cannot speak for God. We can work for God, but God is still in control! But we can celebrate that God’s plans are for us to have the best life possible in this world and the next! Let’s get ready to party! Luke: This verse continues our themes for lent, fasting, repentance, service. Jesus is told about those who Pilate killed while they were offering sacrifices. Jesus sympathizes, but also reminds us that the same fate is in store for us as long as we are sinners. We have to not only repent, but we have to change our lives in order to be prepared for the great feast. We don’t have to look at this text as a threat. Jesus continues to talk about a fig tree that did not produce fruit. Jesus destroyed it in favor of the fig tree that was able to produce. If we are faithful in our hearts and souls then we will always produce fruit. If we are faithful with just our mouths, then things will not turn out so well. Fasting is to help us to get in touch with what is going on in our souls, so that our hearts can produce fruit. Questions: Why is it so hard for you to fast? What can you do to get better at it? What is it that you thirst for in your life? How can you prepare for God to quench that thirst? How are you producing fruit in your life? What do you need to repent of in our service to God?
Saturday, February 13, 2016
Breaking Open the Scripture Scriptures for February 21st: Genesis 15:1-12,17-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 13:31-35; Theme: second Sunday of Lent: Song: Great is Thy Faithfulness UMH 140 Philippians: What does it mean to be a citizen of the Kingdom of God? Paul uses terms that any Roman citizen would be familiar with, but he redefines them for the Kingdom of God. That is what the ministry of Jesus was all about – transforming us from citizens of this world, to citizens of God’s world. Jesus could have very well taken claim to this earthly kingdom. That is what a lot of people wanted him to do. But he refused. He wanted us to expect something more than this. Paul’s biggest advice to us is a reminder that we are to stand firm and persevere. We are to endure the troubles of this world and wait for something better. Jesus came into this world, so that we could realize for ourselves that there is something else, if we just hold on and trust God. Luke: Jesus mourns and weeps for the city of Jerusalem, much like we mourn for the city of Chicago today. They are killing in Chicago, and Jesus says that Jerusalem is the only place that will kill its prophets. Jesus is warned that if he hangs around too long that he will be killed. They tell him to get out of Jerusalem before it is too late. Instead of running away, Jesus weeps and mourns for a city that thinks nothing of killing its prophets. He has no plans to stop his ministry, he cannot afford to hide, not now. We cannot afford to stop ministering for the city of Chicago. Like Jesus we have to cast out demons and heal the sick. Jesus sees all that we are doing. Jesus sees all that we are going through to do it. Jesus will fulfill all of the work that we do and bless us for doing it in his name. Questions: Who do you imitate as a role model? How is Jesus your role model in living your life? What are the things that you have to endure to serve Christ? What is your prayer for the city of Chicago? Who or what kills the prophets of this town? What blessings do you receive for remaining faithful to Christ?