Friday, February 28, 2014

Matthew 4:1-3
1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the
wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After
fasting forty days and forty nights, he was
hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Today our description of our “adversary” is that of tempter. What do you think our enemy tempts us with? Do you think it is easier to fall into temptation when we are hurting and lonely forgetting that God is with us? Why?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Revelation 12:7-9
Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil,or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

Today we hear that our “adversary “ has deceived the world? How do you think the enemy tries to deceives us?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Matthew 12:24-28
24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” 25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you

There are many translations for the term used here as “Beelzebul” (thought to be linked to the term Beelzebub) but none of them are nice descriptions. It can be translated “lord of the flies/maggots” or “lord of dung/decay.” What do you think this reference to our “adversary” says about the ultimate goal of our enemy? How do you see this work being lived out in the world?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

John 8:42-47
42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

Today Jesus describes our “adversary” as the king of liars. How have you experienced our enemy’s lies?  How can believing these  lies cause problems in our relationship with God?

Monday, February 24, 2014

John 10:10
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and
destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

As we begin this new series, we will look at six references to our enemy in scripture. Today our reference is to our “adversary” as a thief. According to Jesus what is the goal of our “adversary?” How do you think that our enemy can function as a thief in our lives?  

Weekly theme February 23 through March 1

Understanding the Enemy

 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
-Romans 8:38-39

Movies like The Exorcist have created misunderstandings about who Satan is and what Satan and his demons are capable of.  Some people think that the devil is just a fictional mythological character like the subject of any horror movie.  There is no such thing as the Mummy, Frankenstein or Dracula so there must not be any devil either.
Many times people reduce the devil to an impish character who is dressed in red, has a tail, horns and a pitchfork and sits on our shoulder whispering temptations in our ears.  This is just as far from the truth as the belief that the devil is a fictional character. 
It has been stated that the greatest lie of the devil is that he has fooled the world into believing that he doesn’t exist.  Why is that lie so dangerous?  It is dangerous because we cannot fight that which we do not believe exists.  If we do not believe we have a spiritual enemy then we become more susceptible to the destruction that he wants to bring into our lives. It is very important that we know who Satan is and how he and his demons operate.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Philemon 1:4-7
I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have
refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.

Today we pray for boldness in sharing the faith . Who in your life has need of this? Pray for them.

When reading those biblical prayers, you may think, "I can't pray that fluently." When praying do not worry about how your prayer is phrased. Our communication to God should be just as you would talk to your friends or family. Pray for others whenever you think of them (at work, home, doing chores, in the car). Soon praying for others will become a part of your daily life! 

Friday, February 21, 2014

2 Thessalonians 3:5
May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

Today we pray for perseverance. Who in your life needs
perseverance? Pray for them.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Colossians 1:9-12
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 

Today we pray for spiritual understanding and knowing God's will . Who in your life has need of these things? Pray for them

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Philippians 1:9-11
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Today we pray for discernment. Who in your life has need of discernment? Pray for them.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Ephesians 3:14-19
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Today we pray for strength and  knowledge of God’s love. Who in your life has need of these things? Pray for them.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Ephesians 1:18-20
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,

This is our last week looking at three defining characteristics and practices of spiritual friendships. The last practice  is praying for one another.  The best gift anyone can give to another is to pray for him or her. We live in a sinful world where bad things happen to people and people are tempted to sin. Praying for another person not only helps that person find God in the midst of trouble but also helps us recognize the blessings that God gives us daily! To help us pray for one another we will look at biblical prayers and take time to pray for those people in our life who need those prayers. Today our prayer is for wisdom and power. Who in your life needs God’s wisdom and power?  Pray for them. 

Weekly Theme February 16 through 22

 “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers,
 intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—  for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
 This is good, and pleases God our Savior,  who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,“  
-1 Timothy 2:1-5

Prayer is something that we should share with our spiritual companions.  As we journey in our faith with our soul friends, we need to share the experience of prayer with those individuals.  We should not stray away from praying with others in a very interactive manner. 

Never underestimate the importance of the bond of sharing prayer with those who you consider to be your spiritual friends.  As you bare your souls together before the Lord in prayer you will feel a great closeness to the Lord and you will feel a spiritual kinship with those with whom you are praying.  This dimension of a relationship with a spiritual friend cannot happen if we cannot share the experience of open and honest prayer with other people.

Saturday, February 15, 2013

1 Thessalonians 5:12-14
12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

Our scripture today stands as a reminder that in all things we do with one another we need to be patient with one another. How do you think we can be patient with one another as we walk together on this journey of faith?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Colossians 3:15-17
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and
admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And
whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Our scripture today outlines the basis of our talking with one another. How do you live out the recommendations of verse 16 as you live out your faith? 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hebrews 10:19-25
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

There is just one word we should focus on in our scripture today, spur. What do you think it means to spur one another on? Why is it important to our sharing with one another?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

1 Thessalonians 5:9-11
For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

As we read our scripture today, we are reminded that our sharing should encourage us to keep moving toward Christ. Why do you think it is important for us to focus our conversations on encouraging and building each other up in the faith?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

We saw this scripture earlier in our series, but it is important to think about in the midst of our discussion of talking with one another. This is because the process of listening and sharing together provide the platform for God in Christ to bind us together that we might find strength together. What strength do you think can be found in being able to share with a spiritual friend? 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Ephesians 4:29-32
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Over the next three weeks, we will look at three defining characteristics and practices of spiritual friendships. The second is talking. We need to share with one another but our sharing should have a point. Why do you think it is so important to keep our conversations centered in our shared relationship in Christ? Why do you think it is so easy to share about the weather or sports but not to talk about what God is doing in our life?

Weekly Theme February 9 through 15

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’  But I tell you, Do not swear at all:  either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is God’s footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.  And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.  Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No,’ anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”
  -Matthew 5:33-37

We are presently involved in a sermon series that is about developing and deepening our spiritual friendships.  We need spiritual friendships.  We need people with whom we can connect on a soul level. 
That kind of spiritual friendship requires that we be open and honest in our conversation.  A soul friend will never say something to one with whom they have a spiritual bond and then say the opposite to someone else.  A soul friend will never just say what the other person wants to hear.  There will be open, honest, and frank conversation about a wide array of
We all need the kind of friend that we can talk to and share the depth of our hearts.  We need to be able to express our hopes, dreams, fears, anger, and a host of other feelings and emotions.  Soul friends are truly about walking together as they journey toward the full life that Jesus is calling us to embrace.

Saturday, February 8, 2013

Luke 15:17-23
The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is

Our scripture today is the story of Samuel’s call by God. God is calling each of us to be his disciples and it is important that we remember to listen to God. One of the greatest quotes attributed to the late Mother Teresa was that once she was asked what she says to God when she prays she answered, “I don’t, I listen.” How do you take time to listen to God? 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Luke 10:38-42
38-40 As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”
41-42 The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”

Do not be alarmed. Yes, today’s scripture is the same as yesterday just in another translation. There is a very good reason for this. The other lesson we can glean from the story of Mary and Martha is that listening like preparing our home is a form of hospitality. Read the following statement from Henri Nouwen and think about how listening is a form of hospitality.

 "To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their prescience known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept. Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their true selves. Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even dare to be silent with you." -Henri Nouwen  

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Luke 10:3843
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

In our scripture today, we have a scene with Mary, Martha, and Jesus. In this episode Martha buys into a common misconception that listening is easy. Actually, it is as hard as the labor that Martha is taking to prepare for the guests. Why do you think that listening is so hard?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Proverbs 18:13
13 To answer before listening—
    that is folly and shame.

As we read our scripture today, we are reminded that there are consequences of not listening? What do you think are some consequences of not listening to one another and not listening to God?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Exodus 20:18-19
18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”

In our scripture today, we are reminded that there is a difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is simply the process of recognizing that there is sound. Listening is a process that we choose to take. What do you think of the difference between listening and hearing? Why do you think we often do not choose to listen to one another? 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Genesis 30:6
 Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son.” Because of this she named him Dan.

Over the next three weeks we will look at three defining characteristics and practices of spiritual friendships. The first of these is listening. Like all good things in our lives we should look to God as the example. Today we hear Rachel give thanks for her children and say that God has listened to her prayers. God is a great listener and He sets the example for our relationships with others that we listen. How do you think listening to someone else can show the love of God to them?

Weekly Theme February 2 through 8

 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,”
  -James 1:19

              It is not always apparent to us that we are not listening, but what is noticeable is when we feel like we are not being listened to. How many of you have felt what it is like to not be listened to? That feeling is terrible. Listening is a vital skill for any relationship. So often we want to make sure that our needs, wants, and struggles get heard, but at the same time we need to listen to one another. I hate to imagine a world where no one listened. What a terrible place that would be? We would all constantly feel that lonely feeling that no one is listening to us. Everyone needs to have someone listen to them. The trouble is that many times we are either too concerned with our own needs or we see listening to others as a burden. The truth is that God has given us the privilege to be able to be there to listen to one another. Our relationship with God should be the model for all of our relationships. God listens to us all. So when we listen to one another, we are sharing the love of God. This works in all of our relationships. When we first meet someone we show them hospitality by listening to them. In our everyday lives, we show we care when we listen to others. In our intimate relationships, we show our trust and love for one another when we listen. I could go on and on with how we show the love of God when we listen but it may be better to look at what happens when we don’t listen.

Saturday, February 1, 2013

Luke 15:17-23
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the
father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Our scripture today tells the end of the “Prodigal Son” story. Through this story Jesus tells us how much God loves us and reminds us what unconditional means (that no matter where we have been or what we have done God loves us.) Take time now to think about all the people in the world who are “Prodigal” sons and daughters and lift them up in prayer.