1.3.15

Acceptance


March 1, 2015
Opening Hymns:
723 Shall We Gather at the River
http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh723.sht


Scripture Reading:
Mark 8:31-38

31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

The Way of the Cross


34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

Message:
It is so hard to lose someone we love. Sometimes the loss can seem unbearable, and other times we can recognize that though we mourn our loved one now is at peace. But even though we know that their suffering has ended, we can still have a hard time letting go.

In today’s scripture Peter is coming face to face with the idea of losing Jesus, and he cannot accept it. Jesus is still young. He has been his friend and teacher. Peter did not want to lose Him. So he rebukes Jesus. He is no doubt shocked when Jesus rebukes him harshly. One thing that Peter did not understand was that through His death, Christ would become our savior.

As I read the scripture I can see myself in Peter’s shoes. I’ve often had a hard time with the passing of family, friends, and patients. While death is a natural part of life, it can often be so hard to accept. I can surly understand why Peter has a hard time. But as Jesus’ words come true, His disciples can see why He died, and how He came to save them, and all of us from sin.

When I think of all those I know who have now passed on… I remember that through Jesus’ death, they too are resurrected, and brought to eternal life. Their suffering has ended. They leave us with memories and lessons of their own.

Time of Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father, comfort us when we morn. Remind us of Your love, and the salvation that is granted to all who believe. Let us remember the new life that is given to us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Thank You for Your love, comfort, and forgiveness. During the struggles and challenges in life, let us cling to You. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer


Closing Hymn
378 Amazing Grace
http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh378.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.

28.2.15

Faith

February 28, 2015
Opening Hymns:
I Need Thee Every Hour
http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh397.sht

Scripture Reading:
Romans 4:13-25

13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”[a] He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”[b] 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

Message:

How can our lives be transformed when we live by faith and not by the law?

 

First, think about how your life changed as you became an adult. When we are younger our behaviors can be shaped by rewards and/or punishments for following or not following the rules. If we wanted to pull our sister’s hair we might not, not because we love our sister and don’t want to hurt her, but because our parents would yell at us if we do. As we grow we care more about what others think and feel (hopefully). Our actions are then more based off of relationships and love, than rewards and punishments.  

Likewise, our relationship with God can change when we base our actions off of faith and love. We become more mature in our faith. Some of the early Christians may have been naturally inclined to hold onto the law, and the old teachings. The laws are very important, but one common problem is to feel superior to others if you are following the laws better than other people are… and that is what was going on when Paul was writing to the early Christians in Rome.

Some people thought if others were uncircumcised they wouldn’t be saved. Also, if they were following the Ten Commandments better, or spending more time in the temple, or sacrificing and giving more… they might think that they were MORE saved. Some early Christians were essentially trying to earn their way into heaven.

Paul discourages this. He explains that even back when Abraham was called by God, it was his faith in our Lord and not his deeds that were important. Paul emphasizes that prior to Abraham’s circumcision the Lord makes a covenant with him.

If we try to take salvation into our own hands by good deeds and following the rules, we miss the message of salvation that Jesus had come to teach us. Instead, recognize that wherever we are at in our relationship with God, He loves us… and is stretching out His arms to us in love. All we need to do is have faith, and we can be with our Lord forever.

Time of Prayer
Dear heavenly Father thank you for giving us Your Son to die for us on the cross. Let us live our lives loving and serving others. Please forgive us when we judge, let our hearts and minds be focused on you. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.  


The Lord’s Prayer


Closing Hymn
545 The Church’s One Foundation
http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh545.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

25.2.15

Rules and Laws VS Faith and Love

February 25, 2015
Opening Hymns:
417 O For a Heart to Praise My God http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh417.sht


Scripture Reading:
Romans 4:13-17
13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”[a] He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

Message:
Laws and rules are very important. When a child is growing up it is vital for them to know the difference between right and wrong. Rules and boundaries are necessary for children. Giving them a set time to eat, and “do’s” and “don’ts” gives them structure. As they grow older they develop a clearer picture of the world, and can judge right from wrong on their own (hopefully), without the rules.

God has taken the same baby steps with mankind. We started off with very clear rules. “don’t eat the fruit”… When disobedience followed we went to timeout, and more laws were created. The 10 commandments gave us a clear understanding of our own “do’s” and “don’ts”. However, as we’ve grown we can begin to see that the rules and laws are not what draw us close to God. Following His laws are not what saves us. It’s why we follow the laws.

Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments when he talks of the greatest commandment “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it; ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

The greatest commandments that Jesus teaches us, takes us away from strict laws, and to the reason for the laws. In loving our neighbor and God we won’t steal, lie, or kill. We no longer need these rules, because we will naturally follow them out of love. When we do sin, and fall short, it is our faith and love for God that saves us, not the law. It is Jesus’ sacrifice and love for us, and our faith in Him that sets us free.

Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, thank You for showing us the difference between right and wrong. Lord help us continue to follow Your greatest commandment, to love You with all our heart, soul and mind, and our neighbors as ourselves. Amen.  


The Lord’s Prayer


Closing Hymn
398 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.

24.2.15

Names

February 24, 2015

Opening Hymns:
73 O Worship the King http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh073.sht

Scripture Reading:
Genesis 17:1-16
17 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty[a]; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram[b]; your name will be Abraham,[c] for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”

Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

15 God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”


Message:
I’m really bad at remembering names… no, I mean really bad! I’ve often been too embarrassed to admit it from time to time, and find myself avoiding using names frequently, just in case I get a name wrong. It becomes so confusing when people get married, and their name is now completely different.

Whether you are good or bad at remembering names, there are occasions when names will change. Names can have great meaning. When people get married often times the bride changes her last name to her husband’s name. This symbolizes their joining as one family.

In the scripture today we read of a different kind of name change, and a different kind of commitment. God has made a covenant with Abram, and has promised to make him the father of many nations. Abram’s name is changed to Abraham which means “father of many.” Though Abraham doubts at first, he puts his faith in God, and follows His commands. God keeps His promise through the covenant He made.

God has made a promise with us too. God has promised us forgiveness of all our sins, through Jesus’ love and sacrifice. We needn’t change our names in this covenant. However, other things in our life change. When we truly love and seek God, and follow Jesus we will find ourselves acting as servants to others. We can find ourselves caring and seeking to do good for others in our world, and sharing God’s love.    

Time of Prayer
Lord, thank you for changing our lives and our hearts so that we can go out in the world serving You. Thank You for the love you have shown us. Please, let us always remember to share this love with all those we meet. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.


The Lord’s Prayer


Closing Hymn
672 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

23.2.15

A Saving Love

February 23, 2015
Opening Hymns:
480 Oh Love that Wilt Not Let Me Go
http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh480.sht

Scripture Reading:
Mark 1:9-15
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted[a] by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

1 Peter 3:18-22
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive,[a] he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.[b] It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

Message:
The scripture in 1 Peter ties everything together. It reminds us of the flood that took place, and the ark that had saved Noah and his family… and it shows us how many more are saved through Jesus Christ. I remember having a hard time with Noah’s story. The God that I know is all powerful, yet all loving. It’s hard to picture our God wiping out nearly everything, and saving so few.


Sometimes I’ve pondered why God was so harsh in the earlier days. Why are there so many stories of death and destruction in the Old Testament? Why couldn’t Jesus come right away? Please don’t get me wrong, I enjoy reading the Old Testament. I’m familiar with many of the stories, and enjoy the lessons that we learn... When you’re having a bad day, or you feel guilty for a sin, the Old Testament can be a good place to feel a little bit better. One can think “at least my life isn’t as bad as Job’s”, or, “at least I didn’t sell my brother to Ishmaelite’s”.
 
Okay, so the Old Testament is for more than just feeling better about yourself. Those scriptures provide us with a deeper understanding of who God is, and a clearer idea of how great of a sacrifice Jesus made. When I read the Old Testament and hear about entire villages destroyed, I remember how blest we are to have our Savior who died to blot out our transgressions. When I read Noah’s story, I’m grateful, not only that God promised not to flood the world again, but also that He has now truly saved it.

Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, thank You for saving us from our sins. Let us remember Jesus’ sacrifice and love as we go out into the world. Let us always remember to share His love with others. Amen


The Lord’s Prayer

Closing Hymn
79 Holy God, We Praise Thy Name
http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh079.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.

21.2.15

New Covenant

February 21, 2015

Opening Hymns:
138 The King of Love My Shepherd Is
http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh138.sht

Scripture Reading:
Genesis 9:8-17

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

Message:
Whenever I see a rainbow I think and remember the story of Noah. When I think of this covenant, I can’t help but think of the covenants that come after. God’s covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15). As well as the new covenant that Jesus has made with all of us during the last supper (Matthew 26:26-30).

Just as the rainbow is there to remind us of God’s promise not to flood the world, the wine and bread are there for us to remind us of Jesus’ love and sacrifice. Each time we partake of communion we can remember that God loves us, and has made a promise to forgive us of our transgressions.

Sometimes it can be hard to feel or recognize the forgiveness that the Lord gives us. All of us have sinned, and all of us need the forgiveness that the Lord offers. Re-reading the “Institution of the Lord’s Supper” in Matthew can give some reassurance. I’ve probably heard the “Lord’s Supper” recited more than any other scripture. Nearly every Sunday they recite the scripture as communion is being prepared. However, like so many things in life we can forget the meaning behind the words.

As we reflect on God’s covenant with Noah, let us read the new covenant that Jesus makes with each of us:
Matthew 26:26-30:
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, the forgiveness that You have given to each of us is far more than we deserve. Yet, let us remember that we are loved by You. Help us to share the love You have given us with one another. Thank You for making a new covenant, that we may be forgiven. Amen.


The Lord’s Prayer


Closing Hymn
624 Bread of the World
http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh624.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

20.2.15

True Fasting

February 20, 2015
Opening Hymns:
280 All Glory Laud and Honor  
http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh280.sht
Scripture Reading:
Isaiah 58:1-12

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
    Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
    and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
    they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
    and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
    and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
    ‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
    and you have not noticed?’

“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
    and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
    and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
    and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
    only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Message:
This is the perfect scripture to start out the Lenten season. It reminds us what is truly important. This scripture talks of a people who know the act of fasting, but have forgotten the purpose. They are bowing their heads, yet continuing to act unjustly. They are praying for the Lord’s help, but not recognizing the help others need from them.  

During the Lenten season it is good for us to reflect on our own lives. In the business of everything, have we just been going through the motions? Have we forgotten the meaning of a fast, the reason we go to church, or the reason we pray? Do our actions reflect the love of God? Are we answering God’s call?
This season of Lent, be fully present at church, and in prayer. Remember the kind of fast that the Lord calls us to. One of service, justice, sharing, and love.  


Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, be with each of us during this season of Lent. Help us focus our minds and hearts on You. Forgive us when we go astray. Lead us back to a life serving You. Let us be a servant to others. Amen


The Lord’s Prayer


Closing Hymn
438 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.