25.5.17

God Hears Our Prayers

May 25, 2017
Opening Hymns:
What a Friend We Have in Jesus: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh526.sht

Scripture Reading:
Psalm 47
47:1 Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout to God with loud songs of joy.

47:2 For the LORD, the Most High, is awesome, a great king over all the earth.

47:3 He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet.

47:4 He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah

47:5 God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.

47:6 Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.

47:7 For God is the king of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm.

47:8 God is king over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.

47:9 The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted.


Message:
Prayers can be answered! Whether it is a prayer for rain, or a prayer to be released from captivity. God has answered prayers throughout the New and Old Testaments, and is still answering prayers today. As I read this psalm I can’t help but think of all the prayers that were answered for this psalmist… and I also can’t help but pause and think of my own answered prayers.


While there are countless blessings in my life, one stands out, because it just happened earlier today. My husband and I have a cat, and he wasn’t doing well. Less than a year ago I had to say goodbye to my cat Lynx because of health complications. So, it was extra hard when our cat Sebastian got a bladder obstruction. We took him to the vet to get him treated, but after the treatment his bladder got blocked again. The vet described an invasive and expensive surgery that could be done to help him. After a very long and hard conversation we had decided that it would be too much to spend on our cat.


Every now and then we volunteer at “Feed My Starving Children,” an organization whose mission it is to help feed children all over the world. Volunteering there has reminded us how blessed our own lives are. It seemed hard to justify spending so much money on our cat when there are mothers and fathers that may not have the means to support their own children. We wondered, could that money do more good elsewhere?


So, we took our cat home, hoping that he wouldn’t obstruct again. We had pain medicine for him to keep him comfortable. When he still couldn’t pee after two days, we made the call to schedule a time for them to put him to sleep (3:30pm today).


Over those 2 days I had prayed, googled home remedies, and tried to help create a urine stream with a technique that the vet had showed me… to no avail. Today was a day to say a tearful goodbye. However, at 1:45pm Sebastian was just sitting on the ground when a steady stream of urine began to flow. I have never been so happy to see a cat peeing on the floor! While he’s not yet at 100%, it was such a blessing to hear his purr again.


This challenging week has made me think a lot. It has shown me all the blessings I have in my life. I have an amazing husband, a loving family and friends, and a cute little fur friend. It has shown me the importance of treasuring each moment with everyone in my life, because changes happen so fast. It has also helped shift my focus from “what I want”, to “what can I give?”  


Prayers can be answered, and no prayer is too big or small. I know that not all prayers are answered in the way we wish, but I strongly believe that God listens to each and every one. Remember to pray when you face your own hardships. Pray for those who are facing challenges of their own. Pray for the hungry, the homeless, the sick, the dying, and for those who morn. Pray, and know your prayers are heard.

Time of Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for listening to Your children when we pray. Thank you for caring about each and every struggle that we face. I pray that you will be with those who live in poverty. Be with the people who feel their prayers are going unanswered. Send Your comforting presence to those in most need of comfort. Guide us all, that we might become answered prayers for those in need. Thank you so much for every prayer that you have answered. Thank you for always listening. Amen

The Lord’s Prayer


Closing Hymn
I Surrender All: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh354.sht



May the Lord bless you and keep you: May the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you: May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace." Amen.
Go in peace, serve the Lord
Thanks be to God

Great Joy


May 25, 2017

Opening Hymns:
Crown Him With Many Crowns: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh327.sht


Scripture Reading:
Luke 24:44-53
24:44 Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you--that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled."

24:45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,

24:46 and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day,

24:47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

24:48 You are witnesses of these things.

24:49 And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."

24:50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them.

24:51 While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.

24:52 And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy;

24:53 and they were continually in the temple blessing God.



Message:
What has made you joyous in your life? As strange as it is, I know the most joy I’ve had has come after hardships. The joy you feel after 4 years of school when you finally graduate, or the joy and energy you feel after you’ve been sick and have recovered. Happy times are indeed more impactful when they follow hardships.  

In today’s scripture, the disciples are experiencing great joy. Not only had Jesus arisen from the grave. Their teacher had taught more lessons, and opened their eyes so that they could understand the scriptures. Then, they were able to see Him ascend into heaven. The disciples had been through so much, they faced ridicule, and they even had to see their teacher die on the cross. After all they had experienced, it is no wonder the overwhelming joy they felt during all the events that followed.

Unfortunately, life does have its ups and downs… the hardships for the disciples were anything but over. They were given a mission to spread Christ’s teachings, and not everyone would want to listen. There would be more who ridiculed them… but through each challenge they faced, I can’t help but think that this joy that Christ had given them, helped sustain them through each challenging moment. Jesus had given them a hope that could not be killed, and a mission that they followed with joy.

Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, help us through each hardship we face. Thank you for the lessons and the joy that we feel as hardships fade and pass. Help sustain us with Your joy, and let us never forget the mission that You have given each of us. Grant that we may add more goodness and beauty to this world. For those who are sad, let us bring joy. For those who are sick, let us bring healing. Teach us to be Your hands to a world in need of love. Amen.


The Lord’s Prayer


Closing Hymn
Dona Nobis Pacem http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh376.sht


May the Lord bless you and keep you: May the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you: May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace." Amen.
Go in peace, serve the Lord
Thanks be to God

18.5.17

Prayers


May 18, 2017

Opening Hymns:
In Christ There Is No East or West: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh548.sht


Scripture Reading:
Romans 8:22-27
8:22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now;

8:23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

8:24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen?

8:25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.

8:27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.


Message:

When I was a little girl, I remember playing outside at recess. Whenever dandelions were in season we used to try to blow all the dandelion seeds off in one go. If we were able to, it was said that we could get one wish. A wish was also to be made if you found an eyelash on your finger and were able to blow it off in one try. Somewhere in late elementary/early middle school I had made my wish the same each and every time: “May the Lord’s will be done.” And I’ve been making that wish ever since.



This simple prayer reminds me that whatever my wishes or dreams are, at the heart of everything I do I wish to serve my Savior. I may not know how I’ll be able to do that and I may not even know what I ought to be praying for. However, having God’s will be my focus helps me re-center my life. It helps me let go of my own selfish desires, and lets me instead focus on the needs and desires of others.
 

At my church when we pray for those in need, we often times add a prayer for those we have left out. When we pray for forgiveness of sins, we add a prayer for sins that we didn’t even know we’ve committed. Today’s scripture reminds us that the Spirit itself will “intercede with sighs too deep for words.” In each prayer that we pray if every anything is left out I pray that the Spirit does intercede, and that in all things our Lord’s will is done.

Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, you have created and saved us all. Thank you for being with us at every step of our life. Thank you for providing words when we do not know the words to pray. Be with us in each day of our lives. Forgive us of our sins. All sins known and unknown. Be with all those who are in need whether their needs be known or unknown. Use us to spread Your love throughout the world. And in everything may Your will be done. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Closing Hymn
O Love How Deep: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh267.sht

May the Lord bless you and keep you: May the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you: May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace." Amen.
Go in peace, serve the Lord
Thanks be to God

19.4.17

Comforter


April 18, 2017

Opening Hymns:
O Spirit of the Living God: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh539.sht

Scripture Reading:
Psalm 16
16:1 Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

16:2 I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you."

16:3 As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble, in whom is all my delight.

16:4 Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names upon my lips.

16:5 The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.

16:6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage.

16:7 I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.

16:8 I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

16:9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure.

16:10 For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit.

16:11 You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.


Message:
I’ve often been anxious throughout my life. I’ve worried about school work and tests, fretted over what the next day or week might be. When I’m overwhelmed with worries or stress I take comfort in scriptures like the one we read today. In reading today’s scripture, I already feel more of a sense of calm. The Lord has been with me throughout my life, and He will be with me again today and tomorrow. As I read these words my anxieties and worries subside, and I feel empowered to face the day with greater confidence and strength, knowing that the Lord is with me. No challenge is too big for my Savior.

Time of Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being with us through all our challenges, anxieties, stresses, and obstacles. Guide us on this day, let us feel Your presence, and trust that You are with us every step of our journey. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer


Closing Hymn
O Worship the King: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh073.sht

May the Lord bless you and keep you: May the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you: May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace." Amen.
Go in peace, serve the Lord
Thanks be to God

13.4.17

Help Through the Hard Times


April 13, 2017
Opening Hymns:
Come Down O Love Divine: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh475.sht

Scripture Reading:
Hebrews 12:1-3
12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,

12:2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

12:3 Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart

Message:
Today’s scripture shows us a number of ways to face the challenges life puts before us. It calls us to join together through our struggles, and together to let go of sin. It also reminds us of Jesus’ sacrifice. It tells us to remember Jesus’ endurance through the cross. In remembering what Jesus had gone through it may give us strength and hope for our own challenges.
 
At times, life can be so hard. We each face losses, struggles, and hardships. During the difficult times, it is good to remember that we do not have to face it alone. God gives us one another as a gift to help us get through all of life’s difficulties. We can seek out our friends and family when we have hardships, and lend our support and love when they are facing challenges of their own.
 
The Lord is also with us during each challenge. Remembering that He has promised to never leave us or forsake us can give us comfort. As we approach Good Friday and Easter, let us reflect on His sacrifice, love, and His promise to us.

Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, let us help one another through each challenge life brings to us. Lead us through our hardships, and help remind us to trust in You. Amen


The Lord’s Prayer


Closing Hymn
Forth in Thy Name, O Lord: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh438.sht

May the Lord bless you and keep you: May the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you: May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace." Amen.
Go in peace, serve the Lord
Thanks be to God

12.4.17

Make the World Beautiful


April 12, 2017
Opening Hymns:
I Sought the Lord: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh341.sht

Scripture Reading:
Isaiah 49:1-7
49:1 Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The LORD called me before I was born, while I was in my mother's womb he named me.

49:2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away.

49:3 And he said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified."

49:4 But I said, "I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the LORD, and my reward with my God."

49:5 And now the LORD says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the LORD, and my God has become my strength-

49:6 he says, "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth."

49:7 Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the slave of rulers, "Kings shall see and stand up, princes, and they shall prostrate themselves, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."


Message:
It is hard to imagine working with all your might on something that never comes to fruition. This scripture reminds me that through Jesus, the world has forever been changed. However, how much of that change was he able to see? How much of a change do we make, and never see? Where can our motivation come from?
 
There are artists throughout history who were never recognized, during their lifetime. Georges Seurat comes to mind as one who painted amazing works of art, but was never fully recognized until after his death. His work, and life inspired the musical “Sunday in the Park with George” where we are given a sense of what he may have gone through during the 2 years he was painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. He would never know how much of an impact his art would make.
 
In this world, it is so easy to feel small. Some problems may seem overwhelming. Rainforests are being cut down, global warming is causing ice caps to melt at an alarming rate, people are devastated by war and starvation. How can we make a difference? How can we help change the world?

The Welsh saying “Do the little things” is what I cling to during times when I feel overwhelmed. While I may not be able to single handedly reverse global warming, I can help clean up garbage in fields in my hometown to prevent more waste from going into the rivers and oceans. I can cut down on my own energy use, and support organizations that use more environmentally friendly energy. I may not be able to solve world hunger, but I can volunteer at “Feed My Starving Children” or donate money to help support those in need. I can give money to organizations that support refugees and those touched by war.
 
When you feel overwhelmed by the challenges in this world, think about the little things that you can do that can make a difference. You might not see all the good that will come from your work. However, every life that you touch, and every good deed that you do makes this world a more beautiful place one step at a time.

Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, thank You for giving us Your son to teach us, lead us, love us, and save us. Let us share this love to the world through our volunteering, kindness, and gifts. Show us how we can help make this world more beautiful. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Closing Hymn
Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise:
http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh103.sht

May the Lord bless you and keep you: May the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you: May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace." Amen.
Go in peace, serve the Lord
Thanks be to God

Money and Power


April 12, 2017

Opening Hymns:
I love to Tell the Story: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh156.sht


Scripture Reading:
Matthew 21:12-17

Jesus at the Temple

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’[e] but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’[f]

14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.

16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.

“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,

“‘From the lips of children and infants
    you, Lord, have called forth your praise’[g]?”

17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

Message:
Money has been called the “root of all evil,” and it’s also been said that “money is power.” I think that money can be evil, or it can be good. Power used in the right way can help people in need. Money can help people get a home, food, land, water. However, power in the wrong hands can be detrimental.  

 

The religious leaders of Jesus’ time were people of power. Even today we hold our priests and pastors in high regard. While they are also just men, they have been given the task to help teach and guide others in the Lord’s way. In Jesus’ time the Pharisees and religious leaders were not teaching others well in the way of the Lord. They knew the law well, but didn’t quite understand the meaning behind it. People with disabilities, aliments, losses and hardships could often feel rejected by the church.

 

Jesus reminds us that the most important commandment in Mark:12:

 

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.”

If you think on these commandments, they sum up the 10 commandments that the Israelites are given. If you follow these 2 commandments, you would out of love, be following the rest. While the religious leaders may have been following the letter of the law, they were not following the love of the law. People should be welcomed in, and not rejected, for who they are or their life circumstances.

 

There have been so many people in my life who have run away from the church because all they had heard was a message of judgment and not one of love. I’ve seen religious leaders taking advantage of the power that they hold. That is why it is so important for all of us to do the most good that we can. We need to use our power and resources to help those in need. We need to judge less, and open our hearts more. We need to accept everyone as our neighbor. Through our time energy and resources, we can make this world a more loving and beautiful place to live.

Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, forgive us if ever we use our power other than for good. Let us put our judgments aside, and offer to all we meet our love and kindness. Teach us to love all of our neighbors, and to fully share the love that You have given us. Amen.


The Lord’s Prayer

Closing Hymn
Jesus Loves Me: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh191.sht


May the Lord bless you and keep you: May the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you: May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace." Amen.
Go in peace, serve the Lord
Thanks be to God