Saturday, January 31, 2015

Galatians 5:22-26
22 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. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

It may be hard at times to see the new life we have in Christ, but our scripture today reminds us of the marks of that new life. The marks of that new life are the fruit of the Spirit. Too many times we make the mistake to think that there are fruits of the Spirit, but the word here is singular fruit of the Spirit. This mistake can lead us to think we can pick and choose but the fruit of the Spirit grows together. When we see fruit in our lives, we can see the marks of the new birth in Jesus Christ. Where do you see fruit in your life? Where do you see fruit in the church? 

Friday, January 30, 2015

2 Peter 1:3-4
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may
participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

There is an interesting phrase in our scripture today. What does the phrase, “participate in the divine nature,” mean to you? How is this lived out in your life?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

2 Corinthians 3:4-6
Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Today, we have a reminder there is good news that we do not need anything for salvation. God has given us everything through the grace of Jesus Christ bestowed on us by the Holy Spirit. This is a new covenant that God has made with us. What does the word covenant mean to you? What does that mean for your walk with God in covenant?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

John 6:63
 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.

Our scripture today reminds us again that we cannot
separate the Holy Spirit from the Trinity. Jesus tells us that His words are from the Holy Spirit, and it is those words which give us life. Why do you think it is so important that we think about the Holy Spirit as a part of the Trinity?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

1 Peter 1:23-25
23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For,
“All people are like grass,
    and all their glory is like the flowers of the   field; the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25     but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word that was preached to you

Our scripture today reminds us that we are reborn through the word of God. Last week we noted how important the work of the Holy Spirit is in the word of God. (Both inspiring its authoring and helping us discover it’s meaning in our life.) How do you think the word of God can change us?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Titus 3:5
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient,
deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us 
generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

This week we are talking about how the Holy Spirit is integral to our salvation. In the message this week, Pastor Mark pointed out how the Spirit brought us to the
recognition of our sinfulness but what happens from there? This week we will look at how the Holy Spirit continues to work in our life to move us away for our former life and makes us new. This is the essential doctrine of regeneration. What was once dead is now alive in Jesus Christ. Our scripture today lays out that the Holy Spirit is integral in this change in our lives. Our scripture talks about a “rebirth in the Spirit.” What does this mean to you?

Weekly Theme January 25 through 31

Integral to Salvation
 “But the counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
 -John 14:26
The Holy Spirit is integral to salvation.  A few months ago when we were talking about the Holy Spirit in another sermon we said that one of the functions of the Spirit was to lead us into truth.  The truth the Holy Spirit reveals to us will always lead us to Jesus.  However, in order to reveal our need for Jesus the Holy Spirit must convince us that we are lost without Jesus and the salvation that he offers us.  The only way that will become clear to us is through the Holy Spirit opening our eyes to our sinful reality and that we need Jesus and the redemption he offers through his death and resurrection.
The Holy Spirit clears up our spiritual vision as well.  The Holy Spirit is the necessary ingredient that helps us understand our need for salvation and leads us to realize that Jesus is the source of the salvation that we need.  The Spirit opens our eyes to our sinful condition and shows us that Jesus has provided a way out of that sin.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

1 Thessalonians 1:4-10
 For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you,because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep
conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy
Spirit.And so you became a model to all the
believers in Macedonia and Achaia.The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say
anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from
heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

Our scripture today reminds us that we are called to share the good news of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit enables every believer to communicate to others the truth the believer has been taught by the Spirit. This is a great gift to be able to help us share the gift of God’s grace with others. Does knowing that we have the power to share given to us by the Holy Spirit help with your fear or anxiety about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Psalm 119:17-18
17 Be good to your servant while I live,
    that I may obey your word.
18 Open my eyes that I may see
    wonderful things in your law.

Our scripture today reminds us that the Holy Spirit can help reveal to us the truth in the word of God. It is interesting and quite profound that the work of God in the Holy Spirit that worked through human beings revealing the word of God also helps each of us to understand this word as we read these words. Isn’t this a powerful gift to have the
author on hand whenever we read the word of God. This is how the word of God is alive. Alive in the fact that the revelation of God through God’s word is continually read and interpreted through individuals through the power of the Holy Spirit. How do you see the word of God being alive in your life?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

1 Corinthians 2:9-13
However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
    the things God has prepared for those who love him—
10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words

Today, we have a reminder that the things that the Spirit teaches us are foolishness to the world. There may have even been a point in your life that you thought the teaching of the Holy Spirit was foolishness. How have you witnessed this growth in you own faith walk?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Romans 8:14-17
1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all
together in one place.Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.
Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans?Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus
and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism);
Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

Our scripture today is a great reminder of how to tell if what we are learning comes from the Holy Spirit. Everything the Spirit does glorifies Christ. The disciples who gathered for Pentecost begin to glorify Christ by sharing the great story of God’s love for us. If you read on, Peter begins to preach about the love of God we have in Jesus Christ. This is his one theme and it is the one theme that we have that is taught to us by the Holy Spirit. Why do you think it is important that we remember that the Holy Spirit only glorifies Christ?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Acts 1:7
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Our scripture today reminds us that there are many things about our future we do not know (primarily how and when Jesus will return). What we do know about our future is
revealed to us in time by the Holy Spirit. How do you think the Holy Spirit can teach us by showing us things to come?

Monday, January 19, 2015

John 14:25-27
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

This week we are talking about how the Holy Spirit teaches us. In this scripture from the Gospel of John, Jesus promises the gift of the Holy Spirit. One important part of the gift that we are given is that the Holy Spirit brings remembrance to the words of Christ. Have you ever read or heard a scripture and it was exactly what you needed? This is the work of the Spirit bringing us the right word from God when we need it. How have you witnessed this gift of the Spirit in your life?

Weekly Theme January 18 through 24

Teaches Us
  “But the counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
 -John 14:26
Teaching is very important to our spiritual development as well.  When it comes to spiritual development, all the knowledge and information that we need doesn’t just automatically flow into our consciousness the moment we accept Christ, become a disciple, and start following him.  It is a teaching process.

How does that teaching process take place in our spiritual development?  That process is different for every disciple because we all are unique and learn in different ways. 
However, when it comes to spiritual growth there is a common element in the teaching and learning process.  That common element is the presence of the teaching and enlightening of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit teaches us.  The Holy Spirit teaches us through other people.  The Holy Spirit teaches us through the wisdom of the Bible.  The Holy Spirit teaches us through history and through the lives of disciples who have lived before us.  The Holy Spirit teaches us through the action and belief structure of the church.  The Holy Spirit teaches us in many different ways but here is an indisputable fact for all Christians: The Holy Spirit teaches us.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Galatians 4:4-6
 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

Our scripture today reminds us of the fact that we are the
children of God. This time we hear another word that we are God’s heirs. This is another word for child but what ramification do you think that the inheritance we have from our God is the grace we have found in Jesus Christ. What do you think is the best use of this inheritance?

Friday, January 16, 2015

John 15:26-27
26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

Our scripture today reminds us that the goal of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to show Jesus in and through us. One major part of this is to testify to what God has done for your life in Jesus Christ. How has God in Jesus Christ changed your life?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Matthew 10:32-33
32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.  33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heave

Today, we have a reminder that we have an obligation as children of God. The Holy Spirit reminds us that we are
children and a part of that reminder is to share our faith with others. Are there things that make it hard for you to share the good news of Jesus Christ? Take time now to ask God to help you move past these barriers.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Romans 8:14-17
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

The great Christian reformer and theologian, Martin Luther, uses these great verses as evidence for what he calls the, “paradox of freedom.” You see through our adoption as God’s children, we are set free but at the same time we are bound to God’s work in the world through Jesus Christ. This means that in response to our freedom we become servants of Christ in the world. This is an interesting thought that we are free yet freed to be servants. How have you seen this paradox play out in your walk of faith?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Romans 8:1-5
1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin
offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 

Our scripture today shows us the great work of God in
Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit continues to remind us (bear witness) to the fact that God loved us so much to cancel our debt and this reminder should shape how we live. The scripture here calls this ‘living in the Spirit’ what does that mean to you?

Monday, January 12, 2015

John 1:9-13
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

This week we are talking about how the Holy Spirit bears witness that we are the children of God. The majority of the gospel of John lays on this concept that through our faith in the work of God in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ we have become children of God. What does it mean to you to be a child of God? How does this effect the way you live your life?

Weekly Theme January 11 through 17

Bears Witness

 “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” 
 -Romans 8:15-16
The Holy Spirit witnesses to the fact that through our faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection that we have been saved and that we are children of God, a part of God’s family. The witness of the Holy Spirit can and should give us great confidence because the Spirit witnesses to the truth of our salvation.  The Holy Spirit bears witness to our hearts, minds, and souls that our relationship with Jesus is real, that we are accepted and sealed in that relationship, and there is
nothing that anyone can do to steal that away from us.
Because of the witness of the Holy Spirit to our salvation, we can live confidently and with joy.  We don’t have to hope our faith is true.  We don’t have to deal with nagging doubts or wonder if the arguments of those who don’t believe are the real truth.  We can be sure of all that God has given us in Jesus Christ because the Holy Spirit, through the power of the Father has witnessed that Jesus is truth and all who believe in him will be saved.

Weekly Theme January 4 through 10 (Special Edition)

The Spirit of God: Prays
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
(Romans 8:26-27)

This week we are going to do something different with the journal. Rather than having scriptures to read and reflect upon, we will take the time to sit in prayer with God. We will have suggested prayers for each day, but take this time to be with God.

Pray for our world.

Pray for our community.

Pray for those who don’t know God’s love.

Pray for those who are hurting.

Pray  for your family.

Pray for the church.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Angels We Have Heard On High
Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o'er the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains.

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?


Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.


See Him in a manger laid,
Whom the choirs of angels praise;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While our hearts in love we raise.


This song is an English translation of a traditional French
carol whose author is unknown. It retells the story of Christ’s birth in Luke 2.
 “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of
 David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

The high point of Luke’s story is not the birth but the
proclamation to the shepherds that there is “good news that will  cause great joy for all the people.” How does the good news of Christ’s birth and return cause you great joy?    

Friday, January 2, 2015

Silent Night
Silent night, holy night
All is calm and all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from Heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing halleluiah
Christ the savior is born
Christ our savior is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God
Love's pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus Lord at thy birth
Jesus Lord at thy birth

This is probably the most famous Christmas song.
Congregations worldwide sing this Christmas carol as it has been translated into more than 140 languages. It was written by Father Joseph Mohr and first performed in 1818. There are many romanticized versions about its writing and
performance in 1818 with little evidence. It is true though that it was sung by  French, English, and  German troops during the World War I Christmas truce of 1914, as it was a song that everyone knew. This truce was a
series of unofficial ceasefires where troops celebrated
Christmas together and sang songs like Silent Night.
Although only sporadically there is hope that Christ can bring us together even in the depths of the worst of our humanity. Many of us live our lives with perpetual enemies.
Maybe this Christmas we can call a cease fire  and let go and let God. We can find hope in the birth of Christ to let go of our grudges and sing about a Silent Night. What anger do you need to let go of and give to God?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Coventry Carol

Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child
By by, lully, lullay, thou little tiny child
By by, lully lullay

O sisters too, how may we do
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling
For whom we do sing
By by, lully lullay?

Herod, the king
In his raging
Charged he hath this day
His men of might
In his own sight,
All young children to slay

That woe is me
Poor child for thee!
And ever morn and day,
For thy parting
Neither say nor sing
By by, lully lullay!

This is by far one of the saddest Christmas songs ever written. Its author is unknown and its name is derived from the region in England where it was written. It comes from a mystery play that has long since been lost. The song itself describes the Massacre of the Innocents by Herod in the second chapter of Matthew. One could wonder how such a sad song survived all this time. The best answer seems to be that as human beings we have witnessed
horrible loss and tragedy at the hands of evil. It is important that with recent events in Newtown, CT that we do not
sugar coat Christmas and remember, as this song does, those who have been slaughtered at the hand of evil. Take time now to pray for the innocent who have been killed and their families as they grieve.