Thursday, April 30, 2015

Proverbs 27:19
19 As water reflects the face,
    so one’s life reflects the heart.

Our question today is what disappoints or frustrates you the most? Many times we do not think about the things that get under our skin. The truth is that we can learn a lot from what makes us mad. Of course some level of disappointment and frustration is a part of life. Picture it this way. Imagine that a son is super excited to go fishing with his dad because it means he gets to spend quality time with his dad. But when they go fishing the dad gets mad because they do not even get the slightest nibble. Then the dad becomes silent and distant. So in the process of getting upset over fish, the dad misses his opportunity to give his son what he really wants: time with his dad. If we examine many of the things we get upset about we will discover that many times the driving force behind that
disappointment and frustration is something else competing for our affection. Why do you think exploring the things that disappoint and frustrate us can help us learn more about ourselves and by extension more about our relationship with God?  

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Psalm 46:1-3
God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]

Our second question is when you’re hurt where do you go for comfort? Too many times when we hit hard times we turn to everything but God. We turn to our old ways and the comfort that those earthly things promise. But truly, there is no greater comfort in times of trouble than a relationship with Jesus Christ. Note this does not mean that God instantly makes
everything better, but like a parent God comes to our level and comforts us in the midst of the storms of our lives. What things do you turn to in times of trouble? Why?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Matthew 6:24
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You can
not serve both God and money.

In the sermon teaching this week, we were posed four hard
questions. Throughout the next couple of days, we are going to revisit these questions in light of scripture. Today, our question is for what do you sacrifice your money? How we spend our money tells a story of what means the most to us. Jesus says in our scripture today we cannot follow both money and God. For far too many of us satisfaction in our lives comes with a price tag. The truth is that God wants to be our satisfaction. How do you think changing the way we think about where we spend our money can bring us closer in our relationship with God?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Revelation 3 14-16
14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth

Our scripture today reminds us that God does not want a
lukewarm relationship with you. What do you think can make our relationship with God lukewarm? In what ways can you be on fire for God?

Weekly Theme April 26 through May 2

Commitment or Casual Relationship?

 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my
Matthew 14:26

Each of us has found out the hard way what happens when we take another person for granted, or treat our relationship with them casually or display a take it or leave it attitude.  That kind of behavior does not work out well.  No spouse, family member, friend, co-worker, or any other person wants to be treated in that way.  That kind of treatment makes a person feel de-valued and it does not represent a high level of commitment.

The same thing is true with our relationship with Jesus.  Isn’t it amazing how many of us take our relationship with Jesus for granted?  We know that Jesus will always be there. So many times, we act as if we don’t need to acknowledge Jesus until we have a need for him.  We often treat Jesus as a casual acquaintance rather than the most important relationship that we will ever have.

If we are casual about Jesus then it indicates that we might admire Jesus but it isn’t an indication that we have truly decided to follow Jesus.  We must give Jesus full and total commitment not just a casual acknowledgment.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

1 John 4:9-10
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Our scripture today reminds us of how much God loves us. God desires more than just lip service. God wants a relationship. Today take some time and renew that relationship with God. Write God a love letter. Tell God what God’s love means to you. Share how you return that love.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Psalm 139:1-6
You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Today we begin to the scripture that we read on Monday. In this passage, we actually see the word “yada” in many places, but we also encounter another word in Hebrew that describes our intimacy with God. This word in Hebrew is “sakan.” It is translated here in verse 3 as “familiar.” The idea behind this word is that it is the motivation for why we yada (know) and sod (share) with one another and God. Sakan means to be caringly involved, beneficial, familiar with, or treasure one another. God has shown us through the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ that he is caringly involved in our lives. How do you show that you are familiar with and treasure God?   

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Job 29:1-6
Job continued his discourse: "How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me, 3 when his lamp shone upon my head and by his light I walked through darkness! Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God's intimate friendship blessed my house, 5 when the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me, 6 when my path was drenched with cream and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil.

In our scripture today we see another word that describes the intimacy with God. This word in Hebrew is “sod.” It is translated here as “intimate friendship.” This word describes the process of sharing of yourself with someone. How do you think God shares God’s self with us? How do you share of yourself with God? 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Psalm 100
1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

In the Hebrew language we have three words that are often translated as “to know” in English. Today we will look at the first of these words. The word ‘yada’ is translated quite frequently as “to know.” It can be found in scripture 947 times. The word “yada” varies based on its context but in most instances the word refers to a deep sense of knowing involving a want or desire to know more about someone. The important piece of this is that this knowledge like intimacy requires a
relationship. In our scripture today the word “yada” appears at the beginning of verse 3. What does it mean to you to have a deep understanding that the Lord is God? What does this say about your relationship with God?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Psalm 139:13-18
13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

The trouble you will find is that you rarely will see the word intimacy in the biblical text. But the truth is that the word “to know” in it’s various Hebrew formats is closer to our word
intimacy. What do you think it means to have an intimate
Relationship with God?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Psalm 139:1-6
You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Last week we took special time to look at our relationship with God. Too many times we think that just because we have studied God or can quote Bible verses that constitutes a relationship with God. But the truth is that just like human relationships, relationships take much more than knowing things about another person. We call this depth of relationship intimacy. Why do you think intimacy is important in our relationship with God?  

Weekly Theme April 19 through 25

Knowledge or Intimacy
 “You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me. “
Psalm 139:1

If our relationships are to mean anything they need to move past just knowing information about one another to building a true connection with one another.  You need a level of intimacy with the people who are closest to you.  You need intimacy in your relationship with your spouse.  You need intimacy with your children.  You need intimacy with your parents.  In short, anyone with whom you want a meaningful relationship then you need to take that relationship to a deeper level.
If you have a friend but all you ever know about them are some basic facts like where they live, how old they are and those kinds of things then you really can’t call them a friend.  If you have a true friend then each of you will have to invest in one another through really getting to know each other.
The same is true of our relationship with Jesus.  We must take our relationship with Jesus to a deeper level.  We shouldn’t just know things about Jesus we should grow to truly know Jesus.  What I mean by that will become more evident as this message progresses.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Zephaniah 3:17
17 The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Our scripture today reminds us of how much God loves us. God is so in love with you that God is singing over you right now. What manner of song would you like God to sing over you? Would it be a lullaby that you might have a level of peace today? Would it be a love song to remind you that you are God’s beloved? Maybe a motivational anthem for courage to share God’s love? Or would it be something else and what meaning or feeling would that provide you?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Luke 14:31-33
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

Yesterday, we talked about our need to give up control. But what else in your life gets in the way of your relationship with Jesus Christ?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Joel 2:28-32
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.

Some of us say we want to have a relationship with God, but we don’t want it to interfere with our regularly scheduled plans. This tendency has a name: control. We want a relationship on our own terms. Very rarely do relationships where one party wants a relationship on their own terms work out. Another way to think about this is to think about a personal trainer. If the person working with the trainer resists instruction or questions everything the trainer tells them, or only does what the trainer says when its convenient, they will not get much out of that experience. But if that person will give up control and follow the trainer, amazing things can happen. The latter is the same way it can be with our relationship with God. God loves us too much to leave us where God found us. Our relationship with God is an all or nothing one. But the good news is that unlike a questionable trainer our relationship  is with a loving and caring God. Where are you at in your relationship with God? Do you need to work with God about your need for control?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

John 21:15-17
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

Our scripture today reminds us that our relationship with Jesus is not a one way street. The love of God requires a response. In what ways do you respond to the love of God? How do you think we might take care of God’s sheep?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

John 6:43-44
43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus
answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day

As we discuss our relationship with Jesus, it is important to note that God wants you to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Why do you think it is important that we remember that God wants a relationship with us? How should this change the way we view our relationship with Jesus?  

Monday, April 13, 2015

Luke 9:23-26
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Throughout this week we will look at our relationship with Jesus Christ. How would you define your relationship with Jesus Christ? Is this relationship where you would like it to be? Is your relationship where Jesus would like it to be? 

Weekly Theme April 12 through 18

Define the Relationship

 “And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Matthew 10:38-39
In many relationships we have to have that defining moment.  We will  refer to this defining moment  as D.T.R or Define the Relationship.  We have the D.T.R. on an ongoing basis with our spouses.  As parents, when our kids enter adolescence we have a D.T.R. moment.  In fact, we may have more than one D.T.R. during that time of life.  Sometimes, we have a D.T.R. with a co-worker or a supervisor.  Sometimes, we have a D.T.R. with a close friend.
We even need a D.T.R. in our relationship with Jesus.  There comes a time when Jesus demands that we seriously define where our relationship is going with him.  Jesus even lays out the standards and requirements for our relationship with him and then he says, “What’s it going to be?  Are you going to be serious about following me or not?”

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Acts 1:3-11
After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave
Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father
promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
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.”
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you
into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

In today’s scripture Jesus appears one last time and ascends into heaven having promised the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are also promised that one day He will return. This is our hope. We live in the mist of suffering and trial and by the help of the Holy Spirit we are waiting for the day when Christ shall return in final glory when there will be no more crying and no more death. How has the Holy Spirit helped you in the midst of despair? What hope do you find in the return of Jesus Christ?

Friday, April 10, 2015

John 21:1-12
1Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples,
by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way:
 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered.He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast. ”None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.

 In today’s scripture the disciples are fishing and having no luck. But Jesus instructs them to try the other side of the boat. You may be thinking, “so what Jesus is better than Bill Dance.” But what if we think about the fact that Christ has called us as His disciples to fish for people. If we go about trying to go fishing for people without Jesus’ help we will continuously come up empty. Yet, if we recognize that it is not our church but Jesus’, and we listen to His call as to where and how to fish. We will make so many disciples that any net will barely hold all those who hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. How can we all give over control to our Lord Jesus Christ so that He may show us all how to fish for

Thursday, April 9, 2015

John 20:24-29
24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Our verses this week can be distressing because unlike the disciples we have not seen the raised body of Christ. We cannot touch His hands and side. We have to take it on faith, but Jesus gives us words of encouragement. “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have
believed.” Would you want to see the body of the risen Christ if you had the chance? Does not being able to touch the wounds cause you pause in believing in a risen Christ? Tell God about it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Luke 24:36-49
36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
45 Then he opened their minds so they could
understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

In today’s scripture we see the disciples become afraid as they feel they have seen a ghost. But Jesus reassures them that He is quite alive. He shows them His hands and feet. He also eats food with them. Why do you think it is important that Jesus showed that He was raised not just as a ghost, but that His entire body was raised from the dead?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Luke 24:13-21,28-32
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from
Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing
together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas,
asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have
happened there in these days?”19 “What things?”
he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed
before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem
Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

In Luke 10:1 Jesus sends seventy two disciples to go ahead of Him to spread the Gospel. The two men on the road to
Emmaus are most likely part of these seventy-two. In our scripture today we see again disciples that are sad after
Jesus’ death.  They then encounter the risen Christ. But they do not realize it is Jesus until they sit and have a meal with Him. This is why the role of Communion in our faith is so
important. We can see the work of God when we share a meal together and like the travelers on the road to Emmaus we can even encounter the risen Christ. What does
communion mean to you? Does the story of the travelers on the road to Emmaus change or inform that view?