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

9.4.17

Greed or Giving


April 9, 2017

Opening Hymns:
Trust and Obey: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh467.sht


Scripture Reading:
Hebrews 13:1-6

13 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.”[a]

So we say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?”[b]

Message:
There are many pieces to today’s scripture reading. We are to love each other, serve one another, keep to our marriage promises, and avoid loving money. As I read through this scripture, I must admit that it is hard to avoid longing for more money. I am not alone, many of us from time to time wonder: “if only I could pay off the car” “if only I had more money for my hobbies”, or even “if only I won the lottery.”


The song “If I Were a Rich Man” comes to mind. Tevye is a poor man, and in this song, he contemplates what it would be like if he had riches. As often happens in my dreams of winning the lottery, he also imagines the good that would come of him being a rich man. He sings:

 

“If I were rich, I'd have the time that I lack

To sit in the synagogue and pray.

And maybe have a seat by the Eastern wall.

And I'd discuss the holy books with the learned men, several hours every day.

That would be the sweetest thing of all.”

 

However, being wealthy would not necessarily make us better equipped to help serve those around us. Being kind to each person that we meet, volunteering our time, and getting involved in our community are things that we can do even if we haven’t won the lottery. This scripture helps remind us of the important things. Wealth does not solve all our problems, and our greed and lust can be hurtful and detrimental. But when we focus on the needs of others and treat each other with kindness we can share God’s promise “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”


Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, guide us and help us to be kind. Let us serve our neighbor, and be answered prayers for those in need. Thank you for all the love that You’ve shown each of us in our lives, let us share that love with a those we meet. Amen.


The Lord’s Prayer


Closing Hymn
O How I Love Jesus: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh170.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

5.4.17

Addiction


April 5, 2017

Opening Hymns:
All people that On Earth Do Dwell: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh075.sht


Scripture Reading:
Psalm 31:9-16
31:9 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also.

31:10 For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery, and my bones waste away.

31:11 I am the scorn of all my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors, an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me.

31:12 I have passed out of mind like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.

31:13 For I hear the whispering of many-- terror all around!-- as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.

31:14 But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, "You are my God."

31:15 My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.

31:16 Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love


Message:
I have been blest well enough to never feel the level of despair that is described in today’s scripture. The thing that it most makes me think of are people who suffer from addiction. Sometimes people turn to drugs when the stress in their lives becomes too overwhelming. These stresses can become worse when new health problems arise, they have mores broken relationships from their addiction, or because they feel judged by the choices they made. There are programs that can help, but only if the person makes the decision to change.

During a marriage class, we were able to listen to some guest speakers. One man had been an alcoholic. His wife had stayed with him through everything. She had tried to convince him to change, but nothing she did made a difference. Even after having kids, he still would drink. The moment he decided to change was when a good friend of his, who was a volunteer fire fighter, died in a fire. He looked at his friend’s life, and saw how good of a person he was, and felt bad that he hadn’t died instead of his friend. That is the moment he decided he needed to live a better life. He joined Alcoholics Anonymous, and through the community and scripture based program he was able to recover.   

Our lives can be hard and challenging. Sometimes our own life decisions can make life much harder than it might otherwise be. However, God is with us throughout each and every challenge. He can be our rock that we trust in, if ever this scripture is describing our life. Whether we face, financial, health, or career struggles God is ever present. No one can take His presence away from us.  

 
Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, thank you for being with us through every challenge. Bless us, and help us to make good decisions that make this world that you’ve created a better place. Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

Closing Hymn
A Mighty Fortress is Our God: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh110.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


 

4.4.17

Confidence


April 4, 2017

Opening Hymns:
Come, My Way, My Truth, My Life: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh164.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:
Confidence can be illusive. It takes a lot before I feel really confident in something. While I’m not confident in everything, there are some things that I am confident in. I am confident in my ability to crochet, sing, and dance. In today’s scripture reading we hear a man who is confident in the Lord. He stands strong in the face of insults, spitting, and striking. He knows that God is the one who helps him, so he is not discouraged or swayed by the actions of others.

 

I know that the Lord is with each and every one of us. He is there in every hardship, and he helps us with every challenge. I can have confidence in Him. In any area in my life where I doubt in myself, I know that I can trust in the Lord. He can give us the strength to stand up for what is true and just. He can helps us have the confidence and endurance to bring light and love to the world.

Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, let us meet each of today’s challenges with bravery, trusting in You to guide us. Amen


The Lord’s Prayer


Closing Hymn
If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh142.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