March 24, 2017

Opening Hymns:
Nearer, My God, to Thee: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh528.sht

Scripture Reading:

John 9:1-41 9:1 As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth.

9:2 His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

9:3 Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him.

9:4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work.

9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

9:6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man's eyes,

9:7 saying to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.

9:8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, "Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?"

9:9 Some were saying, "It is he." Others were saying, "No, but it is someone like him." He kept saying, "I am the man."

9:10 But they kept asking him, "Then how were your eyes opened?"

9:11 He answered, "The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, 'Go to Siloam and wash.' Then I went and washed and received my sight."

9:12 They said to him, "Where is he?" He said, "I do not know."

9:13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind.

9:14 Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes.

9:15 Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, "He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see."

9:16 Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath." But others said, "How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?" And they were divided.

9:17 So they said again to the blind man, "What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened." He said, "He is a prophet."

9:18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight

9:19 and asked them, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?"

9:20 His parents answered, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind;

9:21 but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself."

9:22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue.

9:23 Therefore his parents said, "He is of age; ask him."

9:24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, "Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner."

9:25 He answered, "I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see."

9:26 They said to him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?"

9:27 He answered them, "I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?"

9:28 Then they reviled him, saying, "You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses.

9:29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from."

9:30 The man answered, "Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes.

9:31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will.

9:32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind.

9:33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing."

9:34 They answered him, "You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?" And they drove him out.

9:35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"

9:36 He answered, "And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him."

9:37 Jesus said to him, "You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he."

9:38 He said, "Lord, I believe." And he worshiped him.

9:39 Jesus said, "I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind."

9:40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, "Surely we are not blind, are we?"

9:41 Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, 'We see,' your sin remains.

When we judge others we can become blind to our own sins and our own wrong doings. In today’s scripture, we are told the story of Jesus’ healing of the blind man. The Pharisees who are steeped in tradition cannot get over the fact that Jesus was healing on the Sabbath day. In fact, each time He heals on the Sabbath they reprimand Him for it. They do not see Jesus as the beloved Son of God.

The Pharisees have been judging people so much, that they become blind to their own misdeeds. They have been harsh on the town, so harsh that the blind man’s parents are too afraid to speak on his behalf. The Pharisees have power over the people. They judge, when it is God’s judgment that truly matters.

We each must strive to put our own judgments away. We are not perfect, as Jesus is, and therefore should not put our own judgments on others. For when we do that, we become blind to our own wrongdoings. Perhaps we sometimes judge others to feel better about our shortcomings. But true healing comes when we instead offer forgiveness to ourselves and others for things that have been done wrong. When we forgive, we can learn to truly open our eyes and see ourselves and our neighbors as beloved children of God.

Time of Prayer
Dear Lord of grace, thank you for forgiving all of us of our sins. Let us learn to love each other and to push judgments aside. Open our eyes, that we can see each person as a child of God. Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

Closing Hymn
Open My Eyes that I Might See: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh454.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."
Go in peace, serve the Lord
Thanks be to God




March 22, 2017
Opening Hymns:
This is the Day the Lord Hath Made: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh658.sht
Scripture Reading:
1 Samuel 16:1-13
16:1 The LORD said to Samuel, "How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons."

16:2 Samuel said, "How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me." And the LORD said, "Take a heifer with you, and say, 'I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.'

16:3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you."

16:4 Samuel did what the LORD commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, "Do you come peaceably?"

16:5 He said, "Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice." And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

16:6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, "Surely the Lord's anointed is now before the LORD."

16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart."

16:8 Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, "Neither has the LORD chosen this one."

16:9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, "Neither has the LORD chosen this one."

16:10 Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, "The LORD has not chosen any of these."

16:11 Samuel said to Jesse, "Are all your sons here?" And he said, "There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep." And Samuel said to Jesse, "Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here."

16:12 He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The LORD said, "Rise and anoint him; for this is the one."

16:13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.

People often say that we are supposed to: “expect the unexpected”, and that “God works in mysterious ways”. In today’s scripture, we are shown just that. One boy becomes anointed as king. David was the youngest of all his brothers. Culturally, that meant he was the least important one. He was not a warrior, he was a musician and a shepherd. Though young, he does rise up to meet the challenge of becoming a ruler.
What challenges is God asking you to face? We each may not get the opportunity to be king or queen, but we do have a chance to change this world for the better. Have you felt pulled to do something that you didn’t feel like you were qualified for? Somehow met with such challenges we see ourselves able to do things we never dreamed we could! Or perhaps you’ve noticed that you have been able to be a listening ear to someone because you were in the right place at the right time. Sometimes we are given these opportunities to give our own gifts to the world. Accept the challenge, and let God use you to be a blessing to each of the lives that you touch.

Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, allow us to be brave, and to stand up to become the people You call us to be. Let us trust in You as we live out our lives. Let us have courage and confidence as we face each challenge, knowing that You are with us. Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

Closing Hymn
What a Friend We have in Jesus: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh526.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


Spring Cleaning

March 21, 2017

Opening Hymns:
Come, Thou Found of Every Blessing: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh400.sht

Scripture Reading:
Ephesians 5:8-14
5:8 For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light-

5:9 for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.

5:10 Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.

5:11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

5:12 For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly;

5:13 but everything exposed by the light becomes visible,

5:14 for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, "Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

It is officially spring now. Last week my husband and I went on a cleaning rampage. We vacuumed, scrubbed, and even dusted. The dust was so thick, there were some spots that probably hadn’t been dusted since I moved in. Even the bathroom fan, which had built up dust and hair was cleaned off. We had let some things go for so long that we didn’t even notice that they were dirty.

Today’s scripture reading invites us to do some spring cleaning for our souls. It is an invitation to look closely at our lives. Are our actions fruitful and pleasing to the Lord, or are there things that we do that we try to keep hidden. Are there areas in our life that we haven’t examined for so long that we’ve forgotten that they’re wrong?

Today reflect on your life, think about all the wonderful things that you do that helps bring light to the world, and dust away the areas in your life that aren’t fruitful or pleasing to our Lord. Allow him to help wash you clean.

Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, thank you for showing us what actions are good and right in Your eyes. Help us be washed clean from our sins, and let us change then dark things in our life into light. Thank you for your forgiving love. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Closing Hymn
Jesus Calls Us: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh398.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



March 20, 2017

Opening Hymns:
Just as I Am, Without One Plea: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh357.sht

Scripture Reading:
Psalm 23
23:1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

23:2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;

23:3 he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name's sake.

23:4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff-- they comfort me.

23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.

It seems to me that this is one of the best known psalms. It was one that I had to memorize for Sunday school. It is a nice psalm to have in the back of your head when you need its comforting words. In these verses, we are given an image of God’s presence in our lives. He is seen to be with us through the good and the bad. He is there to guide us throughout all our days, and to welcome us to His home at the end of our lives.

As I read these words I feel a great sense of comfort, as though I’m being held in loving arms. In the Old Testament, we read a lot about God’s punishment of those who are sinning and His divine justice. This psalm stands out in that it shows us God’s deep love for us, and how he is ever present in our lives.

Time of Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for always being there to watch over us. Let us know You to be our shepherd and our guide throughout all the joys and challenges of our lives. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Closing Hymn
God of the Ages: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh698.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


March 17, 2017

Opening Hymns:
Come, and Let Us Sweetly Join: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh699.sht

Scripture Reading:
Romans 5:1-11
5:1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

5:2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.

5:3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,

5:4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

5:5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

5:6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

5:7 Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.

5:8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.

5:9 Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God.

5:10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.

5:11 But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Just as Jesus brings His healing presence and forgiveness to the Samaritan woman at the well, He brings it to us. His message is one of peace and forgiveness. His sacrifice saves us all. In this scripture, we are reminded of God’s love for us even while we are still sinners, and Jesus’ selfless sacrifice to save us all.

Who is worth dying for? When I think about this, I can’t help but contemplate the selflessness of the soldiers who put themselves in harm’s way to keep our country save. Our army protects us, and helps to defend the world, and uphold justice. Each person does it for their own reason, but I can imagine that many of them do it too keep those they love out of harms way. In reflecting on this scripture, I am filled with gratitude. Gratitude for the ones who protect our lives, and for our Savior who saves our souls.

Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, thank you for Your forgiving grace. Thank you for being with us while we are yet sinners. Thank you for sending Jesus down to forgive us of all our sins. And thank you for all those who help protect us and keep us safe. Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

Closing Hymn
God be with You Till We Meet Again: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh672.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


Leave Judgments Aside

March 16, 2017

Opening Hymns:
When Morning Gilds the Skies:

Scripture Reading:
John 4:5-42
4:5 So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.

4:6 Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.

4:7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink."

4:8 (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.)

4:9 The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)

4:10 Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water."

4:11 The woman said to him, "Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?

4:12 Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?"

4:13 Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,

4:14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life."

4:15 The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water."

4:16 Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come back."

4:17 The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband';

4:18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!"

4:19 The woman said to him, "Sir, I see that you are a prophet.

4:20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem."

4:21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.

4:22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

4:23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.

4:24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."

4:25 The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us."

4:26 Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."

4:27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, "What do you want?" or, "Why are you speaking with her?"

4:28 Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people,

4:29 "Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?"

4:30 They left the city and were on their way to him.

4:31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, "Rabbi, eat something."

4:32 But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about."

4:33 So the disciples said to one another, "Surely no one has brought him something to eat?"

4:34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.

4:35 Do you not say, 'Four months more, then comes the harvest'? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting.

4:36 The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.

4:37 For here the saying holds true, 'One sows and another reaps.'

4:38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor."

4:39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I have ever done."

4:40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days.

4:41 And many more believed because of his word.

4:42 They said to the woman, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world."

Today’s scripture is one of my favorites. It not only shows a woman who comes to know Jesus as the Savior of the world. It shows a woman, who has greatly sinned, and who is shown compassion from Jesus. He doesn’t judge her or avoid her because of who she was, or what she had done in the past. Instead, He asks her for water. He invites her into a conversation which will reveal Him to be the Savior.

In our society, we tend to judge others harshly. Judging starts at an early age. I remember other kids teasing each other as early as elementary school. Today’s scripture invites us to welcome all people into our hearts. It invites us to set aside judgments for what people have done in the past, and to see all people anew.

Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, please let us put our judgments aside so that we can see all people as Your children. Thank you for showing us how much You love and forgive us. Let us show others such love and compassion. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Closing Hymn
This is My Father’s World: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh144.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

Heed the Warnings of Others

March 16, 2017

Opening Hymns:
We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh569.sht

Scripture Reading:
Psalm 95
95:1 O come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

95:2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

95:3 For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

95:4 In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.

95:5 The sea is his, for he made it, and the dry land, which his hands have formed.

95:6 O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!

95:7 For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would listen to his voice!

95:8 Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,

95:9 when your ancestors tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.

95:10 For forty years I loathed that generation and said, "They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they do not regard my ways."

95:11 Therefore in my anger I swore, "They shall not enter my rest."

There is a website called “despair.com” which has demotivating posters. My favorite one had a picture of a ship sinking, and the caption read “Sometimes your purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others.” I used to cling to the thought that, even if I mess everything up I still could be doing some good in showing others what not to do. Since then I’ve decided it’s far better to do good and get things right than to do wrong and be used as an example of failure.

This quote seems to hold true with biblical lessons. In today’s scripture we read about a Psalmist using the Israelites who were saved from Egypt as an example. “Do not harden your hearts,” the psalmist pleads. The really awesome thing about the bible is we are shown time and time again what God sees as straying or being righteous. We already have so many examples of what not to do! We don’t have to create any more.

Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, thank you for giving us lessons on how we should or shouldn’t behave. Thank you for all the teachers in the scripture that show us how to love and serve You. Thank you for giving us Your son Jesus Christ, that even though we stray, we can still be saved. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Closing Hymn
Whom Shall I Send: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh582.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