Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mark 11:15-17
15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the
temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.
 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not
written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” 18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

Of course, scholars have considered why Jesus turned over the tables. But today take the space provided to explain why you think Jesus cast out the money changers?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Mark 11:1-11
As they approached Jerusalem and came to
Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives,
Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them,
“Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here
They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it,some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our
father David!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the
temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to
Bethany with the Twelve

Today Jesus enters into the city of Jerusalem to the people shouting Hosanna. When we engage with the last week of Jesus’ life we should pay attention to the sights, sounds, and emotions that are in the story. We often gloss over these things because we want to race forward to the end. Reread the story and think about all the sights, sounds, smells, and emotions of seeing the Messiah enter Jerusalem.  

Weekly Theme March 29 through April 4

Holy Week
 Then Jesus entered Jerusalem, and went into the temple. 
—Mark 11:11

              All around the world, many Christians observe Palm
Sunday, the day that commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into the holy city. Riding on a donkey, he was greeted by ecstatic crowds who waved palm branches in celebration. In a matter of days, shouts of victory gave way to betrayals. With dizzying
rapidity Jesus went from being celebrated to being crucified.
Palm Sunday is the first day of Holy Week, a week in which
Christian tradition marks as the last week of Jesus’ earthly life. It is a week in which we retell and remember a biblical account fraught with violence and tension, political intrigue, and
incredible cruelty.
Holy Week invites us to know the narrative of these final days experientially. It is a week marked by the darkest shadows, the insanity of political machination, the tenderness of a
communal meal and the way of the cross. It is also a week filled with hope, that culminates in the mystery of an empty tomb. It is a week in which we know anew that God always, and 
mysteriously brings forth life out of death.
By Easter morning if you have walked through the events portrayed by Holy Week, you will have intimations of hope—real hope. This hope springs from the valley of the shadow of death from the vast gap where we cannot bring forth anything new of our own power and volition. The hope is known in the frontier of suffering and death, where we least expect it.
Enter Holy Week, enter the story. Listen with your
deepest self as the events of the week unfold.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Philippians 2:1-11
Therefore if you have any encouragement from
being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others above
yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to  
   be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
   even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every   
   name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee  
   should bow, in heaven and on earth and under 
   the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that
   Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the

As a transformational church, the key to our life together is humility. The gospel of Jesus Christ is our first priority and it is greater than all of us. So we must mirror the very humility of Jesus Christ that is outlined here in the second chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. We need to consistently be reminded of Paul’s advice here. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” How can you begin to practice humility in service to God in word and action?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Galatians 5:13-25
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the
desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is
contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
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

By the work of God in Jesus Christ, we have been freed from slavery to  sin and death. But we were bought with a high price, so we are called not to continue to live as we did
before but to live as ministers of Jesus Christ called by God’s love living by God’s command. We witness to this by living our lives so we show the fruit of the Spirit to the world . Many of us say fruits of the Spirit, but as we read here it is only one fruit that is born witness by showing,  “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control.” Do you feel there is a part of the fruit of the Spirit lacking in your life or you need God to work on? Tell God about it.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Luke 22:21-29
21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” 23 They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this. 24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me,

Jesus during his final meal with his disciples tells them that He will pass away and they must continue the work that God has started in Him. And they do this not by coming to be served but like Jesus going out and serving. Pastor Chris a few weeks ago said that the church needs to take off it’s bib and put on an apron. How can we as a church 
accomplish this? How can you personally stop coming to be fed and go out into the world to feed?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

1 Thessalonians 1:2-10
We always thank God for all of you and
 continually mention you in our prayers. We
remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.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.

This is the introduction of the first letter to the
Thessalonians.  Paul gives thanks for the Christian
community in Thessalonica. He says that  they have become a model of the message of Jesus Christ and because of that the Lord’s message rang out throughout the region. What would it mean for someone to thank Southport UMC
 because our “faith in God has become known everywhere?” To do this we have to make it not about ourselves but about the gospel of Jesus Christ. How can you become a model of the message of God so that God’s message may ring out from Southport UMC?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

1 Peter 4:1-11
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in
debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of
sober mind so that you may pray.Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use
whatever gift you have received to serve others, 
as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Yesterday, we read the story of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet. Jesus shows us through His radical hospitality how we can represent Him and His ministry in word and action.  Part of the changes that we have been making at the church are to make our space guest friendly and allow us to offer radical hospitality to our guests. Our verse  today challenges us to love one another, “because love covers over a multitude of sins. “ How do you think love (especially God’s love) enables us to ,“offer hospitality to one another without grumbling?” 

Monday, March 23, 2015

John 13:4-17
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. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger
greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

The best way for us to show Jesus in word and action is to model Jesus. In our story today, Jesus kneels at the feet of the disciples and washes their feet. A nasty and disgusting job yet Jesus serves them by washing their feet. Jesus, the Lord of all, kneels at the feet of his friends silently washing their feet so that they know the love of God. This type of scandalous service is what we are called to as the body of Christ. What do you think the modern day equivalent of washing feet is (think about a dirty nasty job that no one would want)? Would you do that job to show God’s love to someone else? 

Weekly Theme March 22 through 27

Go and Love
             All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

How many of you have done something crazy for love? This is all for human love and gives us only a hint at how we should respond to the love that God has shown us through His Word and through the grace he has given us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the basis of what it means to be a disciple. How do we respond to the love God has shown us?
The truth is that we do not have to look that far for our answer to this question. We are called to be disciples by the love we have found in Jesus Christ, but the best way to respond is found in God’s Word. The way we respond is to live a life of crazy love as people shaped by God’s word to go share that love with the world.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

John 16:12-15
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

Our scripture reminds us that our constant companion in
hermeneutics is the Holy Spirit. It is important to remember the author, context, genre, and purpose of varying scriptures, but it is always God through the Holy spirit that can lead us to truth. Is it comforting to you to know that the Holy Spirit is there to help you interpret Scripture? Why?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Galatians 1:1-5 
1Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers and sisters with me,
To the churches in Galatia:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 
to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen

Our scripture genre today is letter. Letters make up a good
portion of the New Testament. On the whole thy were meant to be letters to be read to a congregation. Because of this we get an insiders look at the early church with information that is helpful for all Christians, but also can find moments when it feels like we are reading someone else’s mail..  Each letter has a particular author and audience.  After the author, audience, and structure of an epistle are established, we can then proceed to discover its meaning for our lives.  But we must do so carefully, for some teachings in the Bible are culturally mandated to specific audiences. Why do you think it is important to look at the cultural standards as well as the context in the letters of scripture? 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Joel 2:28-32
28 “And afterward,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your old men will dream dreams,
    your young men will see visions.
29 Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
30 I will show wonders in the heavens
    and on the earth,
    blood and fire and billows of smoke.
31 The sun will be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood
    before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
32 And everyone who calls
    on the name of the Lord will be saved;
for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
    there will be deliverance,
    as the Lord has said,
even among the survivors
    whom the Lord calls.

Our scripture today comes from the prophesy genre. Of all the genres of Scripture, prophecy is one of the most difficult to interpret and apply to our lives.  The first step in correctly
interpreting prophetic literature is to understand what the
author sought to communicate to his original audience. Why do you think it is important to investigate what the author sought to communicate to his original audience?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Proverbs 26:4-5
Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
    or you yourself will be just like him.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
    or he will be wise in his own eyes.

Our scripture today is from what we will call wisdom literature.
Most wisdom literature comes in the form of proverbs or short statements of wisdom. These statements rather than telling a story reveal general truths about living a in a way that honors God. The large danger in interpreting wisdom literature is taking it out of context. For instance our scripture today seems to be confusing as the two statements seem not to agree. But they are two different statements addressing two different issues. What do you think it creates a problem to take scripture out of context?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Genesis 30:1-6
1When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!”
Jacob became angry with her and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?”
Then she said, “Here is Bilhah, my servant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and I too can build a family through her.”
So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her, and she became pregnant and bore him a son. 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.[a]

Throughout this week we will look at four different genres in Scripture. Today we will look at the most abundant genre, historical narrative. The purpose of this type of literature is to narrate or to put it plainly to tell a story. On the surface our scripture today is odd. The key to this scripture is knowing that it was included to tell the story of Jacob’s life and not to invite us into his sinfulness. This is why understanding the author, context, genre, and purpose of a scripture is important to
interpreting  it. In what ways do you think understanding these principals helps us interpret scripture?  

Monday, March 16, 2015

Acts 14:8-13
In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10 and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.
11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 
12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker.13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.

Throughout this week we will look at our task of interpreting scripture. The field of interpreting scriptures is called hermeneutics. This area is named after the Greek god Hermes. This is who the people in Lystra thought Paul was because he performed a miracle. The connection with Hermes is that Hermes was messenger of the gods and was able to go between the human world and the world of the gods. Because of this many people prayed to Hermes to escort them on their journeys. This is why the mythology of Hermes is linked to the interpretation of Scripture because hermeneutics should be our rules and guidelines to help us interpret scripture on our journey of faith. Why do you think it is so important for us to need to interpret scripture?  

Weekly Theme March 15 through 21


 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

              The Bible is a challenge to interpret and to
understand.  This week we will explore four genres of Scripture that will help us interpret God’s word responsibly and accurately.  These four genres are: historical narrative, wisdom literature, prophecy and letters.  By focusing on these four styles of writing, we can acquire several principles and guidelines in order to understand not only a particular passage of Scripture but also how that passage fits into the overarching narrative of God’s redeeming plans.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Ephesians 5:6-12
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.

Reflection: Our scripture reminds us today that there are lots of empty words in our world. These words offer us quick fixes and false hope, but they drive us from the love and obedience of God’s word. What things in our world do you think are empty words? How do they drag us from the love and obedience of God’s word?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Luke 11:28
28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

Reflection: What does this saying mean to you? 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

2 John 1:4-6
It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

Reflection: Throughout our scriptures this week we have seen a common theme. This theme is that love and obedience are linked. Why do you think this is? What does this mean for our walk of faith?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Galatians 5:13-15
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

Reflection: Our scripture today reminds us that we are set free by God’s grace in Jesus Christ, but we are freed for a purpose. We talked about the statement “Love your neighbor as yourself” a couple of weeks ago. But it is important to remember that we called to love our neighbor as God has loved us. How much does God love you? How can you show that love to your neighbor? 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

John 15:15-17
15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Reflection: Our scripture today comes right after yesterday’s scripture. Yesterday, Jesus began by laying the foundation for the link between the love he will show us by laying down his life for us and our need to obey his commands. This lays the ground work for what we as the church should be about. We are called by the love of God in Jesus Christ to follow his commands and love one another. And this relationship allows us to bear fruit that will last. What do you think the relationship is between our obedience and God using us to bear fruit? What does this look like in our church?

Monday, March 9, 2015

John 15:9-14
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.

Reflection: Throughout this week we will look at obedience. This is a word that we tend to want to avoid. Why do you think we need to obey God and what does that obedience look like in your life?