31.3.15

How We View the World

March 31, 2015
Opening Hymns:
381 Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us
http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh381.sht

Scripture Reading:
John 12:1-11

12:1 Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.

12:2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him.

12:3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

12:4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said,

12:5 "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?"

12:6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.)

12:7 Jesus said, "Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial.

12:8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."

12:9 When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.

12:10 So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well,

12:11 since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.


Message:
Have you ever tried figuring out riddles? Sometimes it can be so challenging to picture the correct answer in your head. Some riddles are challenging because of when we imagine about the riddle that was never said, and isn’t true. Our mind likes to fill in the blanks of a story that is not completely told. When we focus on our own view it can make the riddle impossible, we need to try to see it a different way.


In this scripture we see people who are focusing on their own view, and unable to see the world any different. Judas is frustrated because money is being wasted. Was it because he was the treasurer and was stealing the money that they had? Was it because he was feeling guilty about what he was going to do, and wanted to point out the faults of others? Regardless, he couldn’t understand why such an expensive perfume was being used on Jesus, and why Jesus was allowing it when it could feed many hungry mouths.

We also see the high Priests plotting to kill Jesus and Lazarus… It’s been a while since I read this scripture… I don’t remember the Priests wanting to kill Lazarus, and in a way it’s almost comical. They have WAY missed the book. They are so focused on their mission to discredit Jesus, and to keep people from believing in Him that they miss their chance to believe! How could anyone think to themselves: “okay, so He raised this man from the dead, so we’ll have to kill him too.”

As we enter into Holy week, maybe we too need to see the world differently. Could we be focusing on ourselves so much that we miss the chance to help others in need. Have we decided what priorities should be for us, and missed what the greatest priorities should be? This week let us take a look at our own lives, let us remember Jesus’ love and sacrifice, and let us share that love with others.

Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, let our vision of the world be matched with Your vision. Let our hearts reflect that love that You have given us. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.


The Lord’s Prayer


Closing Hymn
671 Lord Dismiss Us with Thy Blessing
http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh671.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.

29.3.15

God's Story

March 29, 2015
Opening Hymns:
348 Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling
http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh348.sht


Scripture Reading:
Mark 11:1-11

11:1 When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples

11:2 and said to them, "Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it.

11:3 If anyone says to you, 'Why are you doing this?' just say this, 'The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.'"

11:4 They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it,

11:5 some of the bystanders said to them, "What are you doing, untying the colt?"

11:6 They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it.

11:7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it.

11:8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields.

11:9 Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

11:10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!"

11:11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

John 12:12-16 12:12 The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.

12:13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord-- the King of Israel!"

12:14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:

12:15 "Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt!"

12:16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him.


Message:
I don’t often know what to do or say about Palm Sunday. I never seem to be able to celebrate as fervently as the celebration calls for. We know what is to come. It almost seems like we need to pretend not to know. It never feels right. Totally not the way I would have written the story. How would I have written the story? How would the story have gone if it was up to us?

In King Herod’s version of the story, he would have had Jesus perform miraculous works, not for the glory of God, but for his own entertainment. Some of the Jewish people of His day would have Him come as a warrior of God, fighting for God’s chosen people. And some of the religious leaders seem to get the story they want, until three days later…

Yet the scripture from the Old Testament already had Jesus’ triumphant march written. He would come into Israel humbly, riding on a donkey. His triumphant march into Jerusalem would not be the end… like I sometimes wish it was. Jesus would go on to die for us on the cross. The story isn’t even over then though. Jesus will conquer death and our sin through His sacrifice. He will again rise, and show us God’s glory. It is the greatest story of all! Best to leave the story in God’s hands.   

Time of Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father, You are the greatest story writer of all. Let us always to remember You and seek to do Your will. Walk with us this day, in each of our own lives. Let our stories reflect Your love to the world. Amen.


The Lord’s Prayer


Closing Hymn
569 We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations
http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh569.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.

He Makes All Things New

March 29, 2015
Opening Hymns:
341 I Sought the Lord
http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh341.sht


Scripture Reading:
Hebrews 10:4-10

10:4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

10:5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, "Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me;

10:6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.

10:7 Then I said, 'See, God, I have come to do your will, O God' (in the scroll of the book it is written of me)."

10:8 When he said above, "You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings" (these are offered according to the law),

10:9 then he added, "See, I have come to do your will." He abolishes the first in order to establish the second.

10:10 And it is by God's will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.


Message:
I remember when I was a little girl, and realized for the first time that the Ten Commandments are not the only laws that the Israelites had to follow. Reading through Leviticus you can see so many laws that I break all the time. One being “
you must not wear a garment made of two different kinds of fabric” (Leviticus 19:19).

Many in the Christian faith have forgotten these laws. We don’t think about eating things that are kosher… and some of the laws with your livestock and neighbor’s livestock don’t really apply. When I found out that there were laws I was breaking I was very upset. However, when I grew up more and learned more about the New Testament, I discovered that Jesus changed all that.

This scripture shows us once again that Jesus has made all things new. The old covenant is gone, and God has established with us a covenant through Jesus. We no longer need to sacrifice animals for cleansing from our sins. Jesus’ love and sacrifice has paid the price for us.

Time of Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. May we draw ever closer to You throughout all our days. May we seek you out, and always yearn to do Your will. Amen.


The Lord’s Prayer


Closing Hymn
103 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.

28.3.15

Imagination

March 28, 2015
Opening Hymns:
400 Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh400.sht

Scripture Reading:
John 12:12-16
12:12 The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.

12:13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord-- the King of Israel!"

12:14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:

12:15 "Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt!"

12:16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him.



Message:
Sometimes my imaginations fails to truly depict what’s going on in stories. I love reading fantasy books, and find myself journeying to small towns, farms, and villages on an adventure in my head. But I often find the journey is intended to be much bigger than I make it. Books will speak of struggles that the characters are going through, and the days it takes to get from one town to the next. Prior to the journey it seems like the trek would be shorter… it’s hard to imagine walking or riding horses from place to place when cars and buses take us easily from one city to the next.

Today’s scripture is hard for me to imagine as well. What did Jerusalem look like then? My imagination only brings up small numbers gathered on the street waving palm branches, no bigger than the size of my church congregation. Was it instead as big as parades that I’ve seen where people line the streets 4 or 5 rows deep? I’m sure that news head spread of Jesus’ miraculous works, and many would want to see him. Were people watching from windows, or rooftops, just to get a glimpse of Jesus?

Palm Sunday is a beautiful celebration that I would have loved to see. People shouting praises to our Lord. People honoring Jesus, and waving palms in the air, and laying palms on the ground where the donkey would ride. In this moment the scriptures had been fulfilled. Another sign that Jesus was the Son of God… our Savior.

I don’t think I could bear to be there for what would be coming in the days ahead. I wonder where the people went. Were those who had praised him afraid like the disciples? Had some of them become part of the crowd that would shout “Crucify Him”? Again, my imagination is no help. The crowd that gathered to welcome Him… no matter how large… would vanish. How? Yet, the thing that is hardest to comprehend, is that Jesus went through his suffering for all of us. Through His death we are forgiven.

Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, You are so miraculous that even our greatest imaginations cannot come close to showing us Your glory. Thank You for the gift of love and forgiveness that You have given to us all. Amen


The Lord’s Prayer


Closing Hymn
714 I Know Whom I have Believed
http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh714.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.

26.3.15

Palm Sunday

March 26, 2015
Opening Hymns:
278 Hosanna Loud Hosanna
http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh278.sht


Scripture Reading:
Mark 11:1-11

11:1 When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples

11:2 and said to them, "Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it.

11:3 If anyone says to you, 'Why are you doing this?' just say this, 'The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.'"

11:4 They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it,

11:5 some of the bystanders said to them, "What are you doing, untying the colt?"

11:6 They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it.

11:7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it.

11:8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields.

11:9 Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

11:10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!"

11:11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.


Message:
Palm Sunday seems so out of place to me… During lent our focus is on Jesus’ love and sacrifice. During lent people fast, and try to focus their hearts on God. Palm Sunday feels like a celebration that’s come too soon. It makes me cringe to think of the people turning against Him after they gave Him such a warm welcome. How could they do that?

But perhaps they’re not the only ones. There are times in our lives when we fervently seek out God’s will. There are times when we praise Him… But, I know for myself that I have times when get upset at God. I question why things happen the way they do in the world. I’ve sinned, and turned away from Him as well.

Even though we may struggle through the trials and challenges of this world, the Lord will be with us. We have all sinned, but God offers forgiveness. He forgave Peter who denied Him, He forgives the crowd that turned against Him… and He forgives us now, though we too have fallen short.   

Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, thank You for sending Jesus Christ to die for us for our sins. Forgive us when we forget to walk in Your ways. Guide us and lead us all of our days. Amen


The Lord’s Prayer

Closing Hymn
355 Depth of Mercy
http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh355.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.

24.3.15

The Cross

March 24, 2015
Opening Hymns:
Jesus! the Name High Over All
http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh193.sht


Scripture Reading:
Philippians 2:5-11

2:5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

2:6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,

2:7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form,

2:8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death-- even death on a cross.

2:9 Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,

2:10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

2:11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


Message:
When you think of a cross, what does it mean to you? What feelings stir up inside of you? For me I can’t think about a cross without thinking about Jesus, our Savior, who died for us. The cross has turned into a symbol of Jesus conquering death for us all! But it didn’t always symbolize that.


This scripture hints at how shameful it was to die on a cross. Not only was Jesus obedient to the point of death… He was obedient to “even death on a cross.” I can’t imagine how painful that kind of a death would be. With everyone around Him questioning who He is, and mocking Him… how hard would it have been not to save Himself. Every moment He could have turned back, but He never did. Instead, He saved us all.

Can you think of any other symbol that has changed as much as the cross? It went from representing death, despair, and shame; and has become a representation of life, salvation, and hope. Through Jesus’ love and sacrifice we can be changed too. We, who were once sinners can become children of God.

Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, thank You for the love that You have given us. Let us always remember Your sacrifice, and let our lives be transformed, that we may spread Your love to those around us. Amen


The Lord’s Prayer


Closing Hymn
362 Nothing But the Blood of Jesus
http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh362.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.

22.3.15

Confidence

March 22, 2015
Opening Hymns:
717 The Battle Hymn of the Republic http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh717.sht

Scripture Reading:
Isaiah 50:4-9a

50:4 The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens-- wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.

50:5 The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward.

50:6 I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.

50:7 The Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame;

50:8 he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me.

50:9a It is the Lord GOD who helps me; who will declare me guilty?


Message:
This scripture shows one with amazing faith. Isaiah is willing to face ridicule and taunting. He is willing to be hit, yelled at, and spit on... without losing his faith. He never stops following the Lord, just because others are scoffing. This scripture reminds me a lot of the story of Job. Job lost everything even though he was an upright man following the ways of the Lord. He didn’t even curse God when he lost his land, his animals, and all his children instead he said “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).


I’ve listened to many podcasts, read books, and studied different ways of self-improvement. Yet no confidence builder I’ve seen helped me have the confidence proclaimed in today’s scripture. How do they do it? How could Job go through everything he went through and still praise the Lord? Would I be able to do the same?

I am grateful that Job’s life is not my own. Hopefully none of us have to experience the kind of loss that he had to go through. Yet, when I focus on today’s scripture I’m reminded that if we follow God’s way we can prevail. He will be with us through every trial.  This scripture is the ultimate confidence builder. It reminds us that through everything we do we’re not alone. God is with us each step of the way. Though we may face suffering in this world, God will prevail in the end!

Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, guide us down Your path. May we learn to follow You with all our hearts in the good times and the bad. Amen

The Lord’s Prayer


Closing Hymn
O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go  
http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh480.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.