Tuesday, September 30, 2014

1 Corinthians 3:10-17
10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a
foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. 16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that

Today we remember that all things we build, especially the church, should be built on one foundation Jesus Christ. The point to all that we do personally and as the church should be focused on being in the presence of God in Jesus Christ. Now answer honestly. This is your journal. Have you ever been more concerned about how the church is run than about experiencing God’s presence? Explain.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Galatians 5:22-25
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its
passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the
Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Our scripture today is quite commonly referred to as the fruit of the Spirit. Although we sometimes think that this should be the fruits of the Spirit. When we think of all of these as separate it seems as if we can pick which fruits we have and don’t. The truth is that these are all the signs of fruit; singular. Reread the scripture. How do you see the fruit of the Spirit in your life? How do you see the fruit of the Spirit in the life of our church?

Weekly Theme September 28 through October 4

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.”  —John 16:13a
              As we grow in the Christian faith, we become more in tune and open to the power of the Holy Spirit to reveal and open up knowledge to us.  That is just a part of growth in the Christian life.  Revealing knowledge and wisdom is not the only function of the Holy Spirit but it is one of the many roles of the Spirit. In fact, one of the key ways that the Holy Spirit is involved in our lives is that as we grow more and more open to the Spirit working in us that the Spirit will lead us into all truth.  We might wonder what that means, but ultimately, to be led into all truth means that we are led to an understanding and acceptance of truth as it is known in Jesus Christ.  Jesus said himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  Jesus is ultimately the embodiment of all truth.  If we want to know truth then we must seek to know Jesus.  To know Jesus we must allow the knowledge of the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus to us.  The Holy Spirit’s task of revealing the truth of Jesus Christ is not over when we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.  At that point the task of knowing Jesus has just begun.  All through our lives, the Holy Spirit will teach us and reveal to us who Jesus is and how he wants to work in our lives.  Discovering the truth of Jesus Christ through the revealed knowledge of the Holy Spirit is a life-long endeavor. This week we will look at the Holy Spirit as God’s
presence in our lives. This presence is important to help us have God’s knowledge both for our personal lives but also for the gathered community of faith. Let us take time this week to look at God’s presence in our lives as we ask the Holy Spirit to reveal truth in our lives and the life of the community of faith.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Romans 8:28
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

This is the scripture we reviewed last week in worship. In specific we saw how this verse rather than promising good in all situations speaks to how God can transform a bad
situation to his purpose. Have you ever experienced God transforming something bad in your life? What was it like?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Genesis 1:31
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

On Monday this week, we explored what ‘good’ means to God. Here on Friday we have the answer. God says the word  good seven times in the process of creation and our verse today is the eighth. God’s good purpose for us is to restore the perfect creation God intended in the beginning before the Fall. What do you think it means for us through the power of Jesus Christ to return to God’s purpose in our lives?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ephesians 2:20-21
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

There is one very important word in our scripture today. It is the word “us.” This clearly locates the purpose God has for our lives in the midst of community. It also means that the great affirmation that God can accomplish more than we can imagine is not on the individual level but in the midst of community. How do you think God can do more than we can ask or imagine in the midst of the community of

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Philippians 2:12-13
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Last week we talked about how God does not have a plan for your life, but has a purpose for your life. The truth is that nothing can derail God’s good purpose in your life. How do you think it is that God can work through and in you to fulfill his good purpose even in your darkest moments?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Psalm 107:8-9,15-16,21-22, 31-32
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love  and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. 15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
16 for he breaks down gates of bronze
    and cuts through bars of iron.
21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings
    and tell of his works with songs of joy.
31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
32 Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
    and praise him in the council of the elders.

In Psalm 107, the psalmist repeats the phrase, “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love  and his wonderful deeds for mankind,” four times. Yesterday we saw the psalmists emphasis the understanding that God is good. Do you think the way we can define how God is good is based on God’s unfailing love and God’s marvelous deeds? How have you seen God’s unfailing love and marvelous deeds in your life?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Psalm 107:1-9

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

2 Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
    those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
3 those he gathered from the lands,
    from east and west, from north and south.

4 Some wandered in desert wastelands,
    finding no way to a city where they could settle.
5 They were hungry and thirsty,
    and their lives ebbed away.
6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
7 He led them by a straight way
    to a city where they could settle.
8 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
9 for he satisfies the thirsty
    and fills the hungry with good things.

Psalm 107 opens with a classic formula. It says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.” We often perceive good in a particular way. In light of what we have been learning, what does it mean that God is good?

Weekly Theme September 21 through 27

God’s Love Wins

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
-Romans 8:28

Have you ever had a moment in your life  when you felt  that there can be no good that can comes from this? It is always a sad thought. There is some part of us that when we are in bad situations, we are torn by the thought that this has to just be the worst thing that has happened but there is also some part of us that is looking for the hope in the midst of sorrow, We all know that there are terrible things that happen to people every day which causes them to question and ask what good could come of this.
Last week we talked about how God has a purpose for our lives, but that does not mean that God has a detailed plan for every second of our lives. We can get in the way of God’s purposes, but even more than that other people, and terrible accidents can get in the way of God’s purpose for our lives. In true honesty this means that God never planned for you to face whatever trouble you have faced in your life. It is not God’s purpose for you to come face to face with evil, injustice, loss, pain, and grief, but the trouble is that all of these are a part of living in a fallen world. So what does God do about all of these situations where His purpose gets upset by other things?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hebrews 6:13-20
13 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.”[d] 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
16 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he
confirmed it with an oath.18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.
19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary
behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

Again, our scripture today calls for perseverance, but this time goes further to say that we should use the hope we have in God’s promises as an anchor for our hope. What promise from God do you hold as an anchor in the midst of life’s storm?

Friday, September 19, 2014

James 5:7-11
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

We have heard a few times the phrase that God is good. Here again, we hear that God’s purpose will win in the end even if that end is Christ’s final victory. This author calls for perseverance. What do you think perseverance looks like as we wait on the Lord? What are some of the tools you can use to hold on?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Job 42:16
1Then Job replied to the Lord:
“I know that you can do all things;
    no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
    Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
    things too wonderful for me to know.
“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
    but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
    and repent in dust and ashes.”

Our scripture today reminds us that although free will can detour God’s purpose in our life our destination remains the same. Nothing can stop God’s purpose in our life. But we do have to recognize that just as if we were taking a trip our destination does not change but the way we get there may change. Is it helpful to hear that nothing in the end can thwart God’s purpose for our lives? How can you remind yourself of this hope in the midst of a detour?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Genesis 3:17
1Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Free will would have  no effect on God’s purpose for our lives if it were not for another human trait. Humans by Nature stray from God’s path. There is a great line in an old hymn that says “Prone to wonder, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.” How do you think the fact that we naturally turn from God can affect the way we use our free will?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Genesis 2:15-17
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Our scripture today helps us start to see the way that God interacts with human beings. From the very beginning God gives human beings free will.  God could have made it so there was no way to get to the tree, but God left it to
humans to decide. This sets a precedent that to be human in God’s eye is to be free. Free will is a natural part of being human. The thing to remember is that it is not only our free will that can effect the purpose God has in our lives but others free will as well. How do you think the free will of other people can detour God’s purpose for us?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Jeremiah 29:10-14

10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the most quoted scriptures. The trouble is that it is hardly ever viewed in its full context. We talk about God having a plan for our lives but we neglect to see that God promises this to the Israelites only after 70 years of hardship. The best way to see this verse is in connection with the promise that God has the best intentions for our lives and not that God has a prescribed role for each of us to play. There are many things that can get in the way of God’s plan for us. The greatest way that God’s purposes for our lives can take a detour is through free will. How do you think the fact that God has given every person free will effects the way God’s purpose is lived out in our life? 

Weekly Theme September 14 through 20

Is this God’s Plan?

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

The truth is that we all can be quite good at sticking our foot in our mouths.  The trouble is we sometimes do not realize the impact of our words. As a pastor the worst situation for many Christians is in the midst of pain and suffering, we Sometimes, in the attempt to comfort and help, say things that are unhelpful. In fact, sometimes our words only compound the suffering. One that has really hurt a lot of people is the phrase “this is part of God’s plan.”

There are multiple studies that have shown that this seemingly insignificant phrase has caused a lot of people to leave the faith. Why do you think this phrase causes so much trouble? Imagine right now the worst thing that you could imagine happening to your family.  Think about all the terrible things that could happen, the loss of a child, a rape, a murder, or whatever is your worst nightmare. Then add that thought to that this must have been part of God’s plan. Is it part of God’s plan for something this horrible to happen to someone you love or to yourself and then try to reconcile this with a God that loves and wants the best for you. It is really hard to do.

In fact, the major problem is that this statement simply is not true. Now before you get mad and stop listening, it is not true in the fact that we know that this simply does not coincide with how we see God operating in our lives. If we take a plan to mean that God has everything in our life planned out to the last detail that would mean we would not have any free will. That would mean that each and every one of us is just a puppet or an actor on a stage reading lines that God has already written. This is not the way we understand God. God is not a puppet master. God does not have a detailed plan that lays out every twist and turn.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Psalm 145:10-21
10 All your works praise you, Lord;
    your faithful people extol you.
11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom
    and speak of your might,
12 so that all people may know of your
    mighty acts and the glorious splendor
    of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures through all
    The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises
    and faithful in all he does.
14 The Lord upholds all who fall
    and lifts up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food 
    at the proper time.
16 You open your hand
    and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and faithful in all he does.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
    he hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord watches over all who love him,
    but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.
    Let every creature praise his holy name
    for ever and ever.

Today’s half of this Psalm gives us the answer to yesterday’s question. God being good to us means that God walks through the hard times with us  giving us what we need, not  like a genie who gives us what we want. How does this make you feel? Share your feelings with God. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Psalm 145:1-9
1 I will exalt you, my God the King;
   I will praise your name for ever and ever.
2 Every day I will praise you
    and extol your name for ever and ever.
3 Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
    his greatness no one can fathom.
4 One generation commends your
   works to another;
   they tell of your mighty acts.
They speak of the glorious splendor 
    of your majesty—
    and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
6 They tell of the power of your awesome works—
    and I will proclaim your great deeds.
7 They celebrate your abundant goodness
    and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
    slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all;
    he has compassion on all he has made

We have heard a few times that God is good and God does good for those who draw near. But what does good mean to you? Does it mean we can have all that we want or does it mean that God even went to the point of death in Jesus Christ so that we can have all that we need?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Psalm 116
1 I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
    he heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because he turned his ear to me,
    I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The cords of death entangled me,
    the anguish of the grave came over me;
    I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
4 Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    “Lord, save me! ”
5 The Lord is gracious and righteous;
    our God is full of compassion.
6 The Lord protects the unwary;
    when I was brought low, he saved me.
7 Return to your rest, my soul,
    for the Lord has been good to you.
8 For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling,
9 that I may walk before the Lord
    in the land of the living.
10 I trusted in the Lord when I said,
    “I am greatly afflicted”;
11 in my alarm I said,
    “Everyone is a liar.”
12 What shall I return to the Lord
    for all his goodness to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
    and call on the name of the Lord.
14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people.

15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
    is the death of his faithful servants.
16 Truly I am your servant, Lord;
    I serve you just as my mother did;
    you have freed me from my chains.
17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
    and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the Lord—
    in your midst, Jerusalem.
    Praise the Lord.
Reread the author’s reason for loving God in verse 1 and 2. Knowing that God always listens to your prayer and that He even inclines His ear to hear you , does this restore and renew your love for God? What do you need to tell God today? Remember God will listen and will be responsive.