April 13, 2016
Opening Hymns:
185 When Morning Guilds the Skies http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh185.sht

Scripture Reading:
Acts 9:1-6, (7-20)
9:1 Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest

9:2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

9:3 Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.

9:4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"

9:5 He asked, "Who are you, Lord?" The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.

9:6 But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do."

9:7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one.

9:8 Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.

9:9 For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

9:10 Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." He answered, "Here I am, Lord."

9:11 The Lord said to him, "Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying,

9:12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight."

9:13 But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem;

9:14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name."

9:15 But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel;

9:16 I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name."

9:17 So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."

9:18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized,

9:19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength. For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus,

9:20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God."

I’ve been looking at old pictures. Photos of me and my family when I was a little girl, and as I was growing up. Some things have changed. I like to think that I have become more knowledgeable and more confident. I have changed in many different small ways. However, some things haven’t changed. My fiancĂ© pointed out that I still smile with my eyes closed, just like I did when I was a toddler. There were pictures of me crocheting, running, singing, playing instruments… and those are still things that I love to do.

My fiancĂ© also noted that he has some things that have remained unchanged over the years. He recently discovered a video where he was making dinner with his roommate, and was saying “I’m going to get better at eating vegetables”… something he still says to this day. Sometimes it is hard to change who we are, our actions and thoughts can become habits that are hard to shift. At times, that can be a good thing, but in other instances our habits can hinder our ability to do God’s will.

In today’s scripture we see Saul’s life change. He was persecuting the church of our Lord, and now his eyes are opened to the truth. He is transformed by his new calling to share and spread the truth. What a transformation! He went from believing/relying on his place in Jewish tradition and persecuting the church of Jesus Christ… to saying that his heritage meant nothing! He then began to serve and spread the word about God’s Son.

 There was no specific moment in my life where I could say I became a Christian… I always remember believing in God and in Jesus ever since I was a little girl. Yet, sometimes I forget that even though I have my own habits and insecurities, I too can be transformed by Jesus. Any moment in my life where I doubt myself, or my ability to carry out God’s will, I can remember this scripture and know that even the most unlikely person can be used and changed by God for the betterment of the world. Think of all the good you can do too!

Time of Prayer
Lord, shape us to do Your will. Guide us in everything that we do so that we might create a more love and beautiful world for all those around us. No challenge is too hard when You are with us. Guide us this day and always. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Closing Hymn
362 Nothing But the Blood 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.

Go in peace, serve the Lord
Thanks be to God


Childlike Faith

March 31, 2016
Opening Hymns:
369 Blessed Assurance http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh369.sht

Scripture Reading:
John 20:19-31
20:19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you."

20:20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

20:21 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you."

20:22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.

20:23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

20:24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.

20:25 So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."

20:26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you."

20:27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe."

20:28 Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!"

20:29 Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."

20:30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.

20:31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Sometimes I think we give Thomas a hard time. Sure, in today’s scripture he doesn’t believe what the disciples are telling him. It seems beyond his comprehension that Jesus would come back from the dead. But, I wonder if any of the other disciples would have doubted as well. How would we have reacted if we didn’t already know the story? Would we believe without seeing for ourselves?

As a child I remember thinking that anything was possible. My imagination would often run wild. I still enjoy falling into the world of my own imaginations sometimes… but adulthood has also created more “realistic” expectations for the future. It is sad in a way when I see how my world view has changed. Not everything seems possible anymore. Sometimes I wonder if my “realistic” view is actually a view of the world with less faith. Sometimes when I think that “I can’t do that,” or “there’s not enough time to do everything”…. Maybe the reality is that I don’t want to try, or I don’t have the courage to attempt what I might fail at.

Faith in God is so important. I strongly believe all the stories that I’ve read in the bible. The trials that I face in my life only make me cling stronger to my faith in God. But though I have faith in God, sometimes I have difficulties trusting myself. After all, I can see my own faults, and I see where I’ve failed in the past. When I was in college I struggled through school. Nursing school was the hardest thing I had ever had to do. I didn’t think I was smart enough, I didn’t believe that I would have the intelligence or endurance that nursing school took. But I felt called by God to be a nurse, and it was my faith and trust in Him that allowed me to believe in myself.

When you continue on your journey I hope that you can still have a childlike imagination that adds some magic to your own little world. While you grow older you too may get a more “realistic” view of your world. Don’t let that view make you forget that with God all things are possible. Rivers separate, food falls from the sky, people are raised from the dead, and our sins are washed clean. God has called you to go out and share His love with others. Have faith and strength to know that you can change the world for the better! Don’t let “realistic” views limit the wonderful things that you can do for this world.  

Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, thank You for making all things possible. We are so grateful that You have saved us from our sins. Let us have faith in you as we journey down that paths that You lead us. Let us share the joy with others. Let us imagine a better world, and help us create it together. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Closing Hymn
710 Faith of Our Fathers http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh710.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


Love to Soften Hatred

March 25, 2016
Opening Hymns:
298 When I Survey the Wondrous Cross http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh298.sht

Scripture Reading:
Hebrews 10:16-25
10:16 "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds,"

10:17 he also adds, "I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more."

10:18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

10:19 Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus,

10:20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh),

10:21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,

10:22 let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

10:23 Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.

10:24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds,

10:25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Good Friday is such a hard day for me to understand. It is even hard reading the scriptures of what happened to Jesus on the day of His death. How could people act so cruel? How could so many people turn against an innocent man, and kill Him? Was it because of the religious leaders? Was it fear? Was it hatred? Doubtless the religious leaders began to turn the crowd against Jesus, but a group of people can take on an energy of its own. A big crowd turning against Jesus may have drawn more people in, or lead more of His followers to flee in fear.

In Hebrews 10:24 we are told to “provoke one another to love and good deeds.” Just as an energy can call others out to act in violence, so can our energies call others to act out in love. The people that we hang around with can rub off on us. I’ve noticed that even books I read can change me, even if only for a little bit. And we can be contagious too!

Of course we already know that sometimes we can catch an attitude or energy that isn’t good. I’ve found that at the place I work. So many of the people complain seemingly all the time. That energy drags me down, and I don’t dread work because of the work, but because of the people at work complaining. Sadly, the night nurse who was giving report caught ME on it. She had mentioned that something didn’t get completed from the PM shift, and I started to grumble. She didn’t feed into my negative energy, instead she said, “you know what, I have 15 minutes, I’ll do it right now.” That was an eye opener to me… she carried with her an energy that helped. Her actions showed me the foolishness of my words, and helped me see a better energy to spread.

Sometimes I spend time with my friends dressing up as various Disney princess, and going around trying to put smiles on the face of children. When I’m with them my energy changes dramatically. There is so much joy and energy that radiates from them that it is contagious. I can’t help but smile when I’m around them. The energy that they spread is with me the rest of the day. It motivates me to create, and to spread joy and love.

Spending time with Jesus can help change our energies too. He showed us a way to love others… even to love people who hate us. He prayed for those who persecuted Him as he was dying. What greater love could there be that He died to cleanse the world from sin, that we all may be forgiven! He has shown us love, forgiveness, and has given us a path to follow.

Time of Prayer
Dear Lord, no words can thank You enough for every gift that You have given us. Thank You for Your precious gift of love. Thank You for loving even a sinner like me. May I learn and grow from Your teachings so that I can share Your beauty with the world. May your Word soften our hearts, and turn all hatred to love. Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

Closing Hymn
294 Alas! And did My Savior Bleed http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh294.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