Monday, June 30, 2014

Isaiah 30:15-21
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:

“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
    in quietness and trust is your strength,
    but you would have none of it.
16 You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
    Therefore you will flee!
You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’
    Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
17 A thousand will flee
    at the threat of one;
at the threat of five
    you will all flee away,
till you are left
    like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,
    like a banner on a hill.”

18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
    therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the 
Lord is a God of justice.
    Blessed are all who wait for him!

19 People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”



Read the Scripture three times:

1st Reading:     What is one word or phrase the Holy Spirit impresses on you? Meditate on that.

2nd Reading:   Enter into the Scripture passage. What do you feel? What specific situation in your life today relates? Write down a prayer or pray quietly.

3rd Reading: What is God’s personal invitation for you from the Scripture? You can write down what God may be saying to you, write  a prayer of thanks, or rest quietly in God.


Weekly Theme June 29 through July 5

Jesus Loves Us…More Than We Know

"This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. " (1 John 4:8-10 The Message)


Now, let us consider for a moment the different kinds of love that we have had for people in our lives.  If you are married or have had the opportunity to have a relationship with a significant person in your life then you know how head over heels in love you felt as that relationship developed.  Also, there is the deep love we feel for our children.   Sometimes we can even

develop a deep love for a special friend.  If you have a friend that you have shared a lot of your life with, then you know how much love you can have for that person.  And of course for many of us you can find no love greater than the love we have for our grandchildren.

If we would take all of the love that I have described and roll it all together, it would be nothing more than a tiny drop in a vast ocean when compared to the love that God has for each of us in Jesus Christ.  The love of Jesus for each of us is so vast and eternal that it is not even possible for us to comprehend how much we are loved.

This week we are going to have short scriptures that can be easily read multiple times. For the reflections this week we will see what we can learn from the readings. There is the same  question for each reading and this will help us see scripture in a different way.


Saturday, June 28, 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.

Yesterday, we heard how Paul was transformed by the love of God in Jesus Christ. We call this grace, God’s unmerited favor shown upon us through the life, death, and
resurrection of Jesus Christ. Today our scripture comes from Paul, who is very aware of God’s grace. It is interesting though he uses the same root word for both grace and gratitude (translated here as thanksgiving.) The love God shows us is grace. The love we show to God is our gratitude. How do you show your gratitude for what God has done in your life?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Acts 9:10-19
10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. 11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” 13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” 17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

Our scripture today is a part of Paul’s conversion. Before he was an apostle for Jesus Christ, he was a persecutor of Christians. So, this really changes the color of our reading
today. Ananias, a Christian, is called to pray with the person who has persecuted his people. This was a really scaryexperience. Have you ever felt scared or afraid? What
happened and how did that feel? Just like Ananias, even when you are scared, Jesus loves you.   

Thursday, June 26, 2014

1 Corinthians 15:3-8
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one
abnormally born.

This is one of the earliest accounts of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the reassurance that whatever we have done God still loves us. That love is proved through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. What does it mean to you that God loved you this much?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

John 13:1-15
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place.“ Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 

Jesus does the unexpected, he washes the disciples feet. The disciples are baffled. Have you ever felt baffled or just not understand what was going on? How did it feel? The
disciples did not understand but Jesus loved them.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

John 4:19-30 (The Message)
Jesus and the Samaritan Woman
“Oh, so you’re a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?” 21-23 “Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God’s way of salvation is made available through the Jews. But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.23-24 “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”25 The woman said, “I don’t know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we’ll get the whole story.” 26 “I am he,” said Jesus. “You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further.”27 Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it.28 The woman took the hint and left. In her confusion she left her water pot. did. 

Jesus talks today with a Samaritan woman. This would have been a scandal. Jesus and his followers were Jews and generally speaking Jews despised Samaritans but Jesus loved her (for further reading see the story of the Good Samaritan Luke 10:29-37). Have you ever had someone you really didn’t like? Have you ever have someone who really didn’t like you? How did that feel? The truth is that even though that other person is different, Jesus loves them.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Luke 17:11-19
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

In our Scripture today, we see Jesus heal lepers. These are people dealing with leprosy, a terrible bacterial infection characterized by skin lesions. These people were outcast from society because the disease is easily spread. The horrible thing about this must have been how lonely it felt being a leper.  Have you ever felt left out? What did it feel like? The truth is that like the lepers even when we are left out, Jesus loves us. 

Weekly Theme June 22 through 28

Jesus Love is One-of a-Kind

 "This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. " (1 John 4:8-10 The Message)

For this week of vacation Bible school, we are going to study the same scriptures the kids will hear everyday. This will help us to study together the good news of the love God has shown us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This beautiful gift that God has bestowed upon each and every one of us is one-of-a-kind and we cannot hear it enough. Each day we will have a scripture passage and then a couple of questions to help us reflect on how our story interacts with the biblical story. You may want to do this as a family or with a small group of people to hear how others interact with the story, but this is not necessary. I hope that you have a wonderful week as we celebrate the love we have found in God with our children. May these reflections spark conversations in you and with your family about the love God has for us.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Philippians 4:21-23
21 Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings. 22 All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household. 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Paul ends the letter the way he opened the letter. He asks that the grace of Jesus Christ be with us. This embodies the whole heart of the letter. Whether Paul is with us or not we are still to continue what we were taught and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.  How do you continue to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the world?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Philippians 4:17-20
17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Paul uses an interesting phrase here. He says that the gifts the Philippians have given are a “fragrant offering .” How do you think giving to God is a fragrant offering?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Philippians 4:14-16
14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.  15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, 
you sent me aid more than once when I was in need.

Paul thanks the church in Philippi for their gifts to the cause of Christ. How do you share in what God has given you for the cause of Christ?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Philippians 4:10-13
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Our scripture today reminds us that even if everything in our life were stripped away we still have Jesus, the one who gives us strength. What does this say about all the other “stuff” in our lives? What is really your greatest possession and how can you share it with the world?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Philippians 4:4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

This set of verses has been a source of comfort and hope across the years for many people. Reread the scripture. Is there a word or phrase that speaks to you?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Philippians 4:2-3
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

In our Scripture today, we are quickly reminded that we are reading someone else’s mail. Paul is writing about a specific problem that we do not know much about, but Paul’s
audience knows precisely the situation. However, there is a clear statement that Paul uses that should speak to us. Paul asks that these two people who we assume are fighting “ be of the same mind in the Lord.” What do you think Paul means by this? How can this help us in the midst of conflicts that arise in our community of faith?

Weekly Theme June 15 through 21

Even When You Do Wrong...Jesus Loves You

 "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. "
(Philippians 4:4-6)

 For this sermon series, we have been looking at Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi. This letter allows us a great window to see the relationship between this early Christian community and Paul. Through this opportunity we can see not only the growth of the Christian community in Philippi but use their experience to speak to our own spiritual growth.

Last week, we learned that there are many things that can distract us from the gospel. Paul pointed out that there were all kinds of false teachers that would lead us down every path but that of Christ. This is meant to be a specific message to the people of  Philippi in Paul’s time, but the message still rings true today. We need to continue to look to God to show us the way and not rely on the teachers of the world or seek to find our own way.

This week we will finish Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi. Paul finishes the letter giving thanks to God for this community of faith. Also, Paul continues to put forth that in all things it is God in Christ that holds us together and the gospel of Jesus Christ is greater than all of us.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Philippians 3:20-4:1
20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. 1Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!

Paul ends this section by explaining that  Christ’s way is the right way. As we walk in Christ, Christ is making us more and more like Himself. What is one way that Christ has changed you so far in your walk?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Philippians 3:17-19
17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 

Paul begins a statement here completing his three fold
warning that we read earlier this week. This first part talks about those that are concerned about earthly things. How do think we get caught up in the earthly things? What do we get from these earthly things and is it better than what we have received from God? 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Philippians 3:12-16
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

Paul uses an interesting metaphor of a race here. The  cool part is that by setting aside our needs for the needs of the gospel has allowed Paul to run faster.  He no longer needs to count his steps or worry about how far he has come as long as the cause of Christ is advancing.  How do you think we count our steps from this perspective? How do you think we can stop counting our steps and run the race for the cause of Christ?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Philippians 3:8-11
What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Our scripture today reminds us that the cross and the
resurrection are intrinsically linked. Throughout all of Paul’s writings there is a unique connection between life and death. Why do you think it is important that we always see the cross and the resurrection together? What do you think this means for the link between joy and pain?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Philippians 3:4-7
though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more:circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 

Paul recounts his history as a Jew. He does not speak ill of his Jewish heritage. But he refers that all he has done to gain for himself was a loss for Christ. How do you think our gains are losses for Christ? What does that mean as we live out our lives as Christians?