(Scriptures: Matthew 6:25-33, 1 Corinthians 4:2, 1 Corinthians 11:17-29) Stewardship guides how we live our lives, where and how we spend our time and resources. In today’s scripture lesson, Paul tells the church they need to be aware of one another’s circumstances and be willing and eager to share what we have with those who are in need. He was calling them—and us today—to be selfless rather than selfish.
(Scripture: John 12:1-8) Have you experienced giving an act of love in your life? What is your main motivation for going to church? Has your motivation changed over the years? We are all stewards of God’s abundant grace and our response is gratitude. That’s what makes a church possible.
(Scripture: Colossians 1:9-14) When we pray we are changed and things around us are changed. Prayer releases God’s power no matter whether you pray with eloquence or not. Whether you pray for someone who does or does not know Jesus, this is true. So pray. It changes lives.
(Scripture: Thessalonians 5:16-18) Christianity is not a spectator sport yet many Christians seem content to sit and be nourished in worship while they leave the ministry to the church pastor. Christ said “follow me” which means getting up and serving others as an expression of love and faith. We can learn Christ’s will for us through prayer and what we learn can be transforming. There are no eloquent words necessary, just an honest effort to seek Christ’s love and to find the strength to love and serve our neighbor.
(Scripture: Luke 13:10-17) Do you occasionally find yourself avoiding eye contact with others and pretend you don’t see them? In today’s scripture lesson, Jesus confronts a woman whose crippling had forced her to look at the ground all the time. He sees her and, rather than avoiding her, he speaks to her and heals her. God’s power was made evident to her and to all around them. Healing can happen when we look into one another’s faces.
(Scripture: Genesis 7:22-23, Philippians 3:12-14) To live up to God’s calling we need to leave some things behind. Our mindset has to change as we bring closure to the past. We now believe and trust in God rather than think we’re in control of everything. Often this means we’ve learned a bitter lesson from believing we are in control. In faith we let God have control as we forget what is behind us and press forward. In Jesus Christ we find closure and his grace opens our future to new possibilities.
(Scripture: Luke 12:13-21) In the Luke’s gospel we hear the story of the man who believed that by building bigger barns to store his crops and possessions he could kick back and eat, drink, and be merry. His concern is focused solely on himself. It’s all about his comfort. But there’s a world out there beyond ourselves that needs our gifts and when we’re not rich toward God and our neighbors we fail as people of God. We are called to love and serve others. It’s not about the money, it’s about the heart.
(Scripture: Colossians 3:1-10)How much do you trust God? One way to assess your trust is to examine where your focus is. Is it on the “mulch pile” of life or on the things above? The mulch pile is the things we’ve discarded. Our life in Christ is based on the things that are new. The mulch pile contains our bad habits, our weaknesses, our jealousies, hatred…all of those things we’ve discarded and put behind us. Our eyes are on Christ and, in Christ, all things are new.
(Scripture: Matthew 9:35-38) What does it mean to witness? Witnessing is simply having a conversation with others about what God has done for you. It doesn’t mean pounding on your Bible while standing on a street corner—that’s preaching (of sorts). We witness through personal conversations and when we do so we can relate the power and the goodness of God with authority because we are telling our story. Try it.
(Scripture: Psalm 30) How and where do you go in the midst of suffering? Do you take it on yourself or do you take your troubles to God and seek his presence and wisdom? Perhaps you’re a bit rusty at turning tough times over to God. You’ve become overconfident in the good times and now are terrified when you don’t sense God’s presence. God is actually right there but you need to let go of your troubles and depend on God’s strength rather than your own. When you do, you can find God’s help in finding the strength to make a new beginning.
(Scripture: Psalm 25:1-10) While we tend to live our prayer life in the present there is much we can learn from David’s psalms. David prayers gave thanks, asked for forgiveness, and sought God’s blessing—past, present and future. He put his total trust in the Lord and his promises and he waited in patient hope. Even when he was desperate, David trusted in God’s truth to navigate the future. Little wonder that God loved David.
(Galatians 6:1-5) There’s a legalism about sin, how we can judge others so quickly and use that judgment to compare to ourselves. We can turn on one another in the name of holiness. But when we’re focused on the sins and imperfections of others we tend to miss our own sins and imperfections. Jesus addressed this when he taught about how we see the splinter in another person’s eye while missing the log in our own eye. Christ calls us to see things differently. He showed us grace and taught his followers to apply grace to their judgment of others just as God shows grace to us. By showing grace we can help others overcome sinfulness and weakness and restore them to strength.
(John 11:25-27, Matthew 22:15-22) Was Jesus only a great moral teacher? If you read your Bible you will find that Jesus doesn’t really give us an option to see him as anything less than our savior, the Christ. What do you believe? His teaching, miracles, and resurrection literally changed the world—and it continues to this day. So what do you believe?
(Ephesians 6:10-18) Many people today doubt the existence of Satan yet we know evil exists in this world and we have no explanation for it. As Christians, we can’t afford to sit on the sidelines. Our enemy resorts to deceit, cunning, and craftiness. When we are hungry, tired, anxious or angry we are vulnerable. Satan often uses temptation to weaken and influence us and churches can be a favorite target. Training to fight evil is a lifelong process that is more than an individual battle. It requires strength—God’s strength—in recognizing deception and protecting our faith.
(1 Corinthians 10:1-14) You’ve probably heard the phrase, “God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle?” and many people believe it although it’s hard to see how. When we’re in the midst of troubles the statement suggests we should be able to handle it or there’s something wrong with our faith. Rather than bring assurance from God it can add to our worries. Well, take comfort—It isn’t in the Bible. The phrase is a misstatement of the verses in 1 Corinthians that tell us tell us when we are tempted to sin we can cast our temptations on Jesus and he will give us rest. God is our refuge and strength when we are under temptation. He gives us peace, not blue skies and rainbows.
Pentecost originally came from a Jewish tradition but on the day the disciple stood and preached in many languages to the people it became an important Christian celebration—the coming of the Holy Spirit to all of Jesus’ disciples to enable them to witness to all the world and bring them to Jesus Christ. A strong wind came in not as a gentle breeze but as high voltage power that enabled the disciples (and us today as modern disciples) to get busy doing what we are called by God to do. It moves us out of our comfort zones into action.
(Scripture: Ephesians 2:13-16) Do all religions get us to heaven? In our pluralistic and increasingly secular culture many believe it. Critics don’t like Jesus’ claim to be the way, the truth, and the life. They say it’s arrogant and not inclusive enough. Before we take these allegations seriously, we need to learn the facts of the other religions and see how they compare to Christianity. Seek and pray and you will find the truth.
(Scripture: Romans 8:31-39) Why do bad things happen to good people? Is it God’s will as some suggest? But it makes no sense that God would bring pain and suffering upon people. Most suffering comes from humanity. We make bad choices that have bad consequences, people may have evil intentions that affect others, drugs and alcohol impair our thinking…there are a whole host of reasons. Then there are natural disasters that can affect thousands. We live in a world we have little real control over. We can only make choices and sometimes we fail. Yet God’s grace is sufficient and we have the assurance that he is with us even in our worst problems and failures. Paul tells us in Romans 8 that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Nothing.
(Scripture: Matthew 11:25-30) Why do some no longer believe in God? What do you think of Jesus? Hardened agnostic Charles Templeton, a partner at one time of Billy Graham, left the church and declared he was agnostic but admitted that Jesus was the most significant person in history and said “I miss him”. Have you ever wandered away from God? Yet something inside of you is looking for something more. Jesus soothing words in Matthew 11 offer rest for your restless soul. His grace is free for the asking.
(Scripture: Matthew 8:27-29) How can we know that Jesus is the true Christ, the Messiah? It is by faith. We weren’t born 2000 years ago to witness Jesus’ ministry so we can’t be witnesses like the writers of the Gospels but we have faith. Faith based on scriptural prophecy and the witness of his disciples and followers. Jesus’ life is well documented historically, including his death and resurrection. The tomb was empty There is evidence of changed lives. There is hope.
(Scripture: Acts 2:22-38) The early church had many challenges but one distinct advantage too—Many of the disciples had seen Jesus during his ministry and some had seen him after his resurrection. They had physical evidence. Today, our evidence is in our Bible and in ancient documents that recorded Jesus life, death, and resurrection. Most people don’t appreciate how well documented Jesus time on earth was. We also have the Holy Spirit of God, promised by Jesus, to guide and assure us. Our church is the physical manifestation of Christ, continuing his ministry to make disciples. We stumble many times as a church but we strive, at our best, to be Christ to others who seek comfort, justice, and love in this world.
Edited soundtrack of a special “Broadway Sunday” featuring Linda Baumheckel, Pastor; Sara Trammell, Music Director; and Monica Hinson singing songs woven into a message of our relationship with God. Through this message we find that we need to learn to know God as he knows us. That Jesus shows us where and what love is. That through Jesus we become a new creation. And what it means to have unity with and in Christ. If you haven’t considered Broadway music to have a Christian message you’re in for a surprise.
(Scripture: Matthew 28:1-15) The women who came early to visit Jesus’ tomb that early morning were discouraged and sad. To their surprise, however, the stone was rolled away and they discovered that Jesus was alive just as he said. Their hearts were filled with joy and excitement as they went to tell the others. Jesus can roll away the stones in your life as well—even those that won’t seem to budge for you. Let Jesus do the stone rolling and you will find joy and excitement too.
(Scripture: Mark 2:18-28) There are so many things going on in our lives today that peace seems like more of a dream than a reality at times. That’s why God gave us the Sabbath. It’s a day of rest and peace that allows us to regenerate. The Sabbath comes through God’s grace and love for us and we are wise to rest from our labors for a day. Accept this day and focus your attention on God. Enjoy the ball games or playing with the kids or going to the park but thank God for his commandment to relax, rest, and regenerate.
(Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3:1-13) Our sense of time has varied over generations and by society. Today, the modern world is more and more concerned with time. Ecclesiastes speaks of time in terms of seasons which carry the energy of God’s creation. Do you know what time it is in your life?
(Scripture: Luke: 12:29-34) Worry and anxiety can consume us if we let it. Yet Jesus said “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Worry changes nothing except our peace and sleep. It’s pointless. We are much better off if we invest our time in trusting the Lord for our needs.
(Scripture: Luke 10:38-42) In Luke we find the “Mary and Martha story.” The two sisters are hosting Jesus for a meal but Mary is sitting at Jesus feet to hear his teaching while Martha is laboring in the kitchen preparing the meal with no help. Martha is upset and asks Jesus to speak to Mary about her responsibilities as a host. Mary is tuned in to Jesus but Martha is tuned in to her labors in the kitchen. The story is a parable of sorts for all of us. It asks us what is more important, where should our attention be in daily life?Are we spending our time and attention on the right things? Are we too busy with things that really don’t matter in the long run? How do we know?
(Scripture: Psalm 23) The 23rd Psalm is familiar to nearly everyone—perhaps too familiar. Lent is a time of reflection and a perfect time to sit down and really focus our minds on the words and meaning. It’s a comforting message for sure but underlying the promise of God’s grace is a call to follow Jesus as our Shepherd rather than follow our own course. Let Christ take the lead in your life and you’ll understand the 23rd Psalm as never before.
(Scripture: Matthew 11:28-30) Tempo is a term to describe the rhythm of things from music to everyday life. When we are off tempo we can feel unorganized, stressed, overloaded, and unhappy. If this describes you then you need to know that Christ calls us to let him share the burdens of our lives so that we can find the right tempo for our lives and feel peace and contentment.
(Scripture: 1 Corinthians 11:23-29) Jesus has prepared a meal to remind us of his loving sacrifice for our salvation. He was despised and rejected by the religious leaders for living and preaching inclusiveness when the Pharisees were instructing people to avoid the sinful and “unclean”. Jesus sacrificed himself that we might find peace and freedom through him. Just come. Bring a friend. Anyone is welcome.
(Scripture: Exodus 20:8-11; Hebrews 4:1-11) We need rest and not just for our bodies but for our soul as well. We live in a world with a multitude of “time saving” conveniences yet we’re busier than ever. So how do we find time to rest? How do we, as Christians, keep the Sabbath? It’s time to find out who you are and whose you are. Jesus is the real rest.
(Scripture: 1 Cor 12:12-19, 1 Cor 3:21-23)Whether we acknowledge him or not, God needs and uses all of us and each of us. We were created to be in relationship and we live in relationship. Nothing exists in isolation. As Christians, we exist as part of the body of Christ. We are connected and we are to function in harmony.
(Scripture: 1 Samuel 3:1-19, Acts 16:6-15) God speaks to us in many ways: prayer, scripture, worship, meditation, music, nature, art, and even through others. The question is, are we listening? Are we pausing long enough to ask God to speak to us? It may take time but God does speak if we open ourselves to listen.
(Scripture: Matthew 25:14-20) Following Jesus can involve risk. He encourages us toward good stewardship and growing our talents even at the expense of other preferences we might have. Our gifts are a trust from God and we are to develop those gifts with the same trust and grace that God has shown us.
When Jesus was baptized he went into the desert to talk with God. Yet, almost as soon as he got there, Satan showed up to tempt him. Too often in life, in the midst of our highs, we meet temptation. But Jesus had a bigger picture and he didn’t allow Satan to draw him in. He knew the word of God and he knew his father. He saw through Satan’s schemes. When we listen to God’s Word we can be free because we know the truth.
(Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:12-13) The musical group Casting Crowns recorded a song titled “If We Are the Body” that reminds us of our responsibility to be the body of Christ. As we celebrate the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, we need to reflect on this responsibility and reach out to touch others, to heal, teach, and love. That’s what being Christ’s body is all about.
(Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12) We are entering the season called Epiphany. It’s a word that means a divine manifestation. We have received several gifts from family and friends at Christmas, but the most important is a gift from God—Jesus. What will you do with this gift this year? Will you share it?
(Scripture: Mark 1:4-11) Baptism is a beginning. It is a time when we as a church form a covenant with the family and the person being baptized to support and encourage their growth in Christ. Water is a symbol that extends from Creation through the time Jesus was baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit to today. We are forgiven, cleansed—we can let go of the past and heal as we look toward our future in Christ.
(Scripture:Matthew 2:13-15) Is Christmas over for you? We miss the food, gifts, music, lights, and other joys of the Christmas season as they are put away for another year. It can bring a bit of melancholy. But the message of Jesus is one we can carry with us all year long. The glory of joyful experiences should refresh us for the real mission of discipleship—a fresh start in spreading the love of Christ to all.
We see all of the preparations for Christmas each year—the decorations, the music, the long lines at the stores of shoppers buying gifts. But do we see Jesus? Christmas is a time of love and joy. A love and joy that came into the world when Christ was born to show us God incarnate. Do we see Jesus?
Spiritual Poetry by Ann Ween. Read by Rev Baumheckel
(Scriptures: Isaiah 61:1-3, Luke 1:46-55) This is a season of joy as we celebrate the birth of Jesus. God is with us. At the same time, we know there is suffering in this world and that brings sorrow. In today’s message we are looking at a young, unmarried woman—betrothed to a man she is to marry—who has learned she is pregnant with a child and God is the father of that child. When we try to put ourselves in Mary’s place, we see the enormous mixture of joy, fear, and sorrow she must have felt. God reassures Mary but she must explain this all to Joseph. Today, just as then, God is in our midst. Love and joy can exist in unlikely circumstances and places. Sometimes all we can do is pray with heaven’s eyes.
(Scriptures: Psalm 136:26, Luke 1:50-52, Isaiah 7:17) The night Jesus was born he was in the most humble surroundings imaginable—a manger with animals. This was God’s statement to us that love can be born in any setting or circumstances. When we are in relationship with Jesus and with our neighbors we are in the midst of love. Sometimes it is difficult to see when life presents challenges and pain or loneliness yet love is in the midst even then. We just need Jesus.
(Scripture: Romans 13:11) The message in our scripture today tells us to wake up—prepare the way of the Lord Jesus. The birth of the Christ child is at once awesome and odd. In our Bible we read about the birth of the most remarkable person ever born in the most humble of circumstances. A King so powerful he could heal the sick and even overcome death, born in an animal trough. Then this Christ tells us we can find joy and hope in the midst of despair. He tells us to love our neighbor even when they are difficult to love. Christ brought with him a message that seemed odd and, at the same time, awesome enough that many tried it and found truth in his teaching and the church grew. In this season of advent we celebrate the Christ child and the truth he brought which shapes and sustains us today.
(Scripture: John 8:33-38) When Jesus was brought before Pilate to be crucified, Pilate questioned him, asking him if he was a king? Jesus responded that his kingdom was not of this world. As a follower of Christ today, where is your kingdom? Who is your king?
(Scripture: Revelation 7:9-12) Loss of a loved one is a shock, a time of grief and emptiness. But as people of faith, we can find comfort in knowing they are with God. We join them as people of eternity each time we take the sacrament of communion because we are all part of Christ’s body. They are not lost, they have transitioned to an everlasting life on a new level. For, through Christ, God has shown his victory over death.
(Scripture: James 3:13-18) Have you ever played with Legos? If you have, you know that the magic comes when you connect them. We too are made to connect, to be in relationship with others and with God. At our church, the Backpack Ministry has become one of our ministries of connection as we seek to provide needed nutrition for the children at Rosegarden Elementary. Over the years, these connections have grown and become a blessing not only to local children but to us as a church. Connections ultimately define what we become—who we are. As a community of Christ we are growing together in peace, worship, and love. Come see.
(Scripture: Luke 12:13-21) How many things do we need to accumulate to feel secure? Why do we pack things in boxes for years and put them in storage so we will have room for more stuff? Do we consider sharing what we have? More important, do we stop to consider that all we have comes from God? Our abundance is a gift and sharing it is a perfect way to express our gratitude.
(Scripture: Colossians 4) Paul wrote a letter to the Colossians to warn them they were losing the message that Jesus gave us. They were preaching conflicting stories and need to refocus so they didn’t leave everyone confused. Religion today, as in Paul’s times, sometimes becomes too much a message based on personal opinions and societal trends or fads. This is inevitable when we lose the main message of the Gospel. Salvation is based on the word of God through Jesus Christ. This message comes with grace and joy as we serve God and our neighbors.
(Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:14-19) How much time do you spend studying your Bible, or reading a book about faith, or participating in a Bible study? Christian study is a discipline that draws us closer to Christ. We study Christ so that our lives might by more like Jesus. We study not for information but for transformation. Paul, in Romans 12:12 tells us we are transformed by the renewal of our minds. Perhaps that’s worth making a priority if you haven’t already done so.
(Scripture: Luke 19:45-48) Worship gives us an opportunity to do a “heart check” as we join our community of faith to think, to praise, and to refresh our spirit. Yet since the year 2000 we have seen a decline in worship attendance in our churches. If we read our Bibles we know that God puts important priority on worship so why isn’t it a priority to us? Let’s make a commitment to do better.
(Scripture Luke 6:12-19) When Jesus faced difficult tasks or decisions he retreated to pray to seek the will of God. Do you follow his model in your life? Do you seek God’s will in your decision making? What can you expect if you do? Through prayer we can think through our challenges and listen for God’s answers as we increase our relationship with him.
(Scripture Acts 26:27-31 & Galatians 5:22-24) Who and what are you committed to? We all start out with a child’s innocence and, as we grow into maturity, we grow in our commitments to people, places, and things—our spouse, our career, our neighborhood, our friends. But what about your spiritual growth? What about that commitment? Have you grown in your spiritual commitment?
(Scripture: Mark 10:47-52 and Mark 10:14-15) When we read the words in Scripture that we are to love our neighbor we are often told our neighbor is anyone in need and that’s true but do we consider that the people living next door are our neighbors too? They also may need our friendship and support. Are you living at a pace that allows you to be available to your neighbor? Do you think you’ll do better when things settle down some day—that you won’t always be busy? Don’t kid yourself. Finding a balance in life that affords you time to be a good neighbor takes a recognition of what is truly important to you rather than what is convenient. Just making an effort can make a difference and it’s a good place to start.
(Scripture: Numbers 13:1-2, 17-20, 26-28, 30-33 and Acts 17:24-27) Why do you live where you live? Do you ever consider that, wherever you live, God wants to use you there? Do you know your neighbor? Do they have the peace of God in their lives? Perhaps you need to help them by becoming an acquaintance and, then, a friend. Your objective isn’t to convert them but to build a relationship that opens them to see the Holy Spirit through you. Our busy-ness, our fixation on media, our polarized society, our fears, and other factors can isolate us. Be a good neighbor and offer a relationship that enriches their lives and yours.
September 9 “Taking the Great Commission Literally”
(Scripture: Mark 12:30-31, Matthew 28:16-20) Do you know your neighbors? Christ calls us to love our neighbor so it seems reasonable that in order to fulfill that commandment we need to at least know something about them. We need to be good neighbors, beginning with where we live—not as a religious project but as friends. We were made to live in relationship so to be credible witnesses of our Christian discipleship we can start by showing love for our neighbors.
September 2 "The Power of A Picnic"
(Scripture: Acts 2:44-47) Picnics are fun events. Families and friends get together for a good meal, maybe some games, and plenty of good stories. Picnics are also powerful. They bring people together in relationship. We were created by our Creator to be in relationship--both with Him and with one another. There are many stories of picnics in the Bible although we may have trouble recognizing them as such because they didn't look like today's version of picnics. Certainly in the early church there were many times when the fledgling Christian communities joined together to share a meal and whatever else they had. We need more picnics today.
August 26 "How Strong Are You?"
We know there are numerous stresses our lives that require strength and perseverance from us, but where do we get that strength? As Christians, our strength comes from the Lord--or it should. But to have that spiritual strength, to build and sustain that spiritual strength, against the temptations that seek to weaken us, we need to listen to Paul in Ephesians 6:10-20. He reveals to us that our spiritual strength comes from study, prayer, righteousness, and faith. It takes effort to build an essential relationship with God that will give us strength when we need it most but it's well worth it.
August 19 "24/7 Is All You've Got"
(Scripture: Ephesians 5:15-20) Are you seeking to serve Jesus Christ 24/7? We know tomorrow is never a certainty yet we let daily distractions rob us of our opportunities to serve God and neighbor. If we call ourselves believers we need to be focused on being Christ's hands and feet at every opportunity--in our families and communitie--so that they see Jesus through us.
August 12 "The Bread of Life"
(Scripture:John 6:35, 41-51) When Jesus announced to the Jews that he was the bread of life, people were amazed--and puzzled, even angry. They grumbled. They wanted him to give them bread they could eat, bread without any commitment on their part, but Jesus was telling them he was the bread that was essential for life. He was talking about spiritual bread. He wanted them to place their faith in him. He came that they might have life--and that we might have life. Are you starving?
July 29 "Who Loves You? Who Loves You More?"
(Scripture: Ephesians 3:16-19) What does it mean to be loved by God? In Ephesians, Paul tells us we are not only made in God's image but God strengthens us through his love. We are meant to be rooted, grounded in his love. With it, we can overcome our obstacles, our fears. We can count on and find confidence in God as we lean on his assurance. We cannot be separated from the love of God. In all things we are more than conquerers through him who loves us.
July 22 "Mountain Tops: Jesus Always Came Down"
(Scripture: Matthew 5:1-12) When we stand on the top of a mountain we feel a sense of awe and exhilaration at the spectacular beauty. The experience is so special that we call the times in life where we feel exhilaration "mountain top" experiences. In the Bible there are numerous mountain top experiences and Jesus' Sermon on the Mount was one of the most memorable and often recounted. The problem with mountain top experiences is we eventually have to come down the mountain into the world. For a Christian the good news is that Jesus comes down with us. Our call is to keep him close and follow his teaching--to be doers of the word.
July 15 "Gathered at the River---The Baptismal Waters"
(Scripture: Luke 3:15-17, 21-22) Water is vital for life so it is no surprise that our Bible scriptures often speak of water in stories and use it in metaphors. Baptism reflects our covenant with God that goes all the way back thousands of years John the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus. It's a symbol of new life through Christ for us yet today.
July 8 "The Message in the Mess"
(Scripture: John 8:1-8) There is a record keeper who keeps track of your mistakes in life but it's not God. Satan uses our weaknesses to exploit us with guilt and shame so that we won't feel like we can be a part of the church family. He wants to drive a wedge between you and God. He wants us mired in our messes. But the Bible is filled with men and women who made messes of their lives and the lives of others as well. These stories give us the message that there is no mess that can't be cleaned up. Dump your baggage. Turn it over to God and be free.
July 1 "Address This Mess"
(Scripture: Romans 3:19-23) There are things in life that become priorities because they are either already a mess or they will be if we don't tackle them. Some of these messes come by bad decisions on our part and some just happen. The good news is that when we are in a mess we have people who have been in similar messes and this community can come together to help us clean up that mess. We can be real, share our struggles. We only have to drop our judgment and reach out in love.
June 24 "No Messing Around"
(Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-28) The odds are, when you go to shop in a grocery store, you find yourself picking through the fruits, vegetables, meats, etc. to find the perfect specimen. But are any of us perfect fruit? Probably not. Our lives get messed up. We fall short. Then we think we can get out of the mess on our own when we need help. There is a way out if we are willing to ask. Jesus can restore us from our messy lives and erase our blemishes Christ can lift us out of the old ways into the new way.
June 17 "Bless This Mess"
(Scripture: John 5, Romans 3:23-24) There are times in our lives when things get in a real mess and, in our creative minds, we come up with solutions that are not what God intended. We don't turn to God for his blessing and his help. We miss his message of love and grace. In John 5, Jesus confronts a man who has been lame since birth as he lays on a mat and his first question to the man is "Do you want to be healed?" This is a good question for all of us when we face problems with addiction, rocky marriages, or other dilemmas. If the answer is truly "yes", God offers healing and reconstruction but we have to want to be healed.
June 10 "How Did I Survive This Mess?"
(Scripture: Ephesians 2:4-9) The first experience we have with God's loving grace we likely don't even realize. Prevenient grace draws us to God before we are fully aware of it and pursues us throughout our lives. We are created in God's image and thus we are created for relationship with Him. Even though we screw up our lives at times, God's love perseveres. Thank the Lord.
June 3 "A Real Mess"
(Scripture: Romans 7:18-19) We aren't perfect. We have doubts. We are created in God's image yet we are not perfect. In fact, we can be a real mess at times. Sometimes our messes are beyond our control and sometimes we make the messes ourselves. We rebel against being in God's image. We ignore the warning signs. How are you handling the messes in your life?
May 27 "The Flesh vs. The Spirit
(Scripture: Romans 8:12-17) Do you live for yourself or do you see yourself as a child of God? The choice is more consequential than may be apparent at first. Living in God's Spirit gives us a totally different viewpoint, different values, different goals. We can have a confidence in God that goes well beyond self-confidence.
May 20 "What's Yours is Mine"
(Scripture: Acts 2:1-21) The Christian celebration of Pentecost commemorates the time when Christ empowered his followers through the Holy Spirit as he had promised to do. They, in turn, brought hundreds, then thousands, then millions to know Christ Jesus as the church grew. Today we are still the conduits of Christ's Spirit as a church and as individual disciples of Christ. We are empowered to participate, to live our souls to God, to tell the good news, and to love.
May 13 "At Home In A Promise"
In Paul's letter to the Ephesian church, he praises their faith and love. They are trusting in God. They know they are children of God. Do you know who you are? Can others see and hear your identity in Christ? Faith is God's work in you and it's a living and powerful thing--a force that will change you and those around you.
May 6 "Loving Out Loud"
(Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13, 1 John 3:18) Our lives can bring hope amidst the clamoring noise of this world. Our lives have a sound, and when we love the sound can overcome the din of everyday life in an unbelieving world. You can make a difference.
(Scripture: Acts 8:26-40) Philip, a disciple of Jesus, was open to the call of the Holy Spirit even after Jesus' crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension--perhaps particularly after these events. When he encountered a high official of Ethiopia returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem trying to understand the Scriptures, he offered to help him. The result was one of the first, if not the first, baptism of a Gentile as a new Christian. In spite of their differences, they had become brothers in Christ. God can and does do amazing things through is love. Our role is to share that love with others. There is always room for one more.
April 15 "You're Family"
(Scripture: Luke 24) Most of us feel at home when we sit around a table with our family. When Jesus appeared to his disciples following his resurrection and shared their meal he was among family. They were home. Love was there--a powerful love, a restoring love.
April 8 "All Are Welcome"
In Psalm 133 we see a song written by the Jewish people to praise the place where they could dwell in unity as a family. In those days, the place was the temple. Today we have Christ's church--a place where all are welcome as a family of seekers.
April 1 "A Place to Call Home"
(Scripture: John 14) When Jesus told his disciples before his death on the cross that he would prepare a place for them, a place with many rooms, he was assuring them of a home beyond the present. All of us seek a home of some kind in our lives--a place where we can find fellowship and peace. The church is such a home and you're invited to come and be a part of Christ's family.
March 30 "Good Friday"
March 29 "The Love Mandate"
(Scripture: John 21:3-35) Holy Thursday meditation -- the love mandate
March 25 "The Other Way"
(Scripture: Luke 19:28-40) When Jesus rode into Jerusalem it was Passover and large crowds were gathered. Jesus' reputation preceded him and the people greeted him with palm branches and hosannahs. But Jesus didn't look like the king they expected as he rode in on a donkey colt. Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world." This week we will travel the journey with Jesus. Join us.
March 18 "I Want Jesus to Walk With Me"
(Scripture: Philippians 3:7-14) Too often we get so tied up in the details of life that we fail to be able to seize the moment when it comes. In Philippians, Paul tells the church that living life to its fullest means to 1. Find your purpose--you primary purpose for existence. 2. Forget the past--both the bad and the good--it's history. Live for today. 3. Face the present, straining forward toward what is ahead.
(Scripture: Luke 15:11-32) The story of the prodigal son captures our story--the time(s) when we wandered away from God. It tells us the Father never stops loving us. He runs to embrace us the day we turn around toward him. We can come back because, above all, we are loved by God.
March 4 "The High Way"
In Isaiah 55:1-9 We learn that God's ways are always higher than ours, even when we can't understand them. He has a vantage point that we don't have. So we can question why or we can trust that we are not in control but God is and we can rest in the knowledge that he is real; he is sovereign; and he is good.
February 25 "The Long Way Around"
(Scripture: Luke 7:11-17) There are frequently several ways to do the same thing. Some lead to quick success while others take us the long way around. While it would seem the shorter path to success is preferable, it turns out that we often learn valuable and even unexpected things taking the long way around. Such experiences refine our understanding in a way that ultimately benefits us and allow us to grow. God walks with us on both paths so rejoice and don't be discouraged. Let God teach you and deliver you.
February 18 "The Wandering Way"
(Scripture: Luke 4:1-13) Right after Jesus was baptized by his cousin, John the Baptist, he was tempted by Satan. But Jesus was prepared because he knew his Father and called out Satan with the Holy Scriptures of the Bible (or Torah). We too can be prepared for temptation. We can pray and study our Bibles so that we know our Father and are able to use Scripture as our sword. When we feel God's presence in our lives we are stronger and the more we know about Jesus the stronger we become.
February 11 "If You Had Four Words"
(Scripture: Mark 1:40-45) If you were to describe Jesus with a few words, what would they be? Luke, in relating the story of Jesus healing a leper, chose words like compassion, touch, and willing. Jesus wanted to restore the leper to a full, holy life just as he wants for us. What words would you choose?
February 4 "Mother-in-Laws and the Politics of Healing"
(Scripture: Mark 1:29-39) Jesus had a clear message in his ministry--the Kingdom of God has come. He came to heal, exorcise, and challenge a society oppressed by the Romans. He taught with authority and healed those who were in need--not as random acts but with a purpose that led him to Jerusalem and the cross. He challenged everyone with learning what God is about and change the culture.
January 28 "Jesus the Exorcist"
(Scripture: Mark 1:21-28) When Jesus taught, he taught with an authority that amazed people who heard him. His authority was even over demonic spirits, something they had not witnessed before. Evil is in the world and condemns us but God's Holy Spirit convicts us of God's power and lifts the darkness in our lives when we trust his authority and call on his name.
January 21 "We Are Called"
(Scripture: Mark 1:14-20) When Jesus called his disciples to follow him they knew nothing specifically about what his plans were for them or even where he was going. Nor did they have any particular qualifications to offer that were apparent. They just knew in their souls that they needed to follow this rabbi and trust him. We are much like them in many respects. Most of us have no particular qualifications, status, or background that would make us obvious assets to our Lord but somewhere deep in our soul we feel called to follow him. Jesus isn't looking for anything but our desire and willingness to be his disciples and spread his love, grace, and peace to others. Are you willing? Where is God using you?
January 14 "Come and See"
(Scripture: John 1:35-51) When Jesus began to gather his disciples early in his ministry they were curious about this man that John the Baptist called the Lamb of God. They asked questions of him and he answered, "Come and see". Philip brought his friend Nathanael to Jesus with the same invitation, "Come and see". Sometimes we wonder what motivates people to come to Jesus Christ and we miss the point that all we need to do is invite others to "Come and see!" and let our Lord do the rest.
January 7 "What's Getting Wet Got To Do With It?
When we baptize with water it's not that there is anything magical about water. Water is symbolic of cleaning and purifying. So it's what we do after we have been baptized with that water that matters. God's Spirit is present when we are baptized--HIs loving, forgiving, Spirit. Then it's up to us to go through the effort it takes to change our lives, to shape ourselves into what God intends for us to be.
December 31 "Searching for the King"
We can meet Christ in many ways. Some meet him suddenly in the midst of a significant event in their lives and some meet him as part of a long journey. The Wise Men were not Jews, they didn't know scripture, but they knew astrology and the great prophesies of the time. They were more magicians than religious men and they were looking for a prophesied King who was to be located by reference to a star. Yet when they reached Jerusalem they knew only that they were looking for a child who was to become a great King and it likely took them a while to actually locate the Christ child--the King. Today we have the Gospels, we have church communities, books and other resources available in our search for Christ. How is your search going? We hope you've found the King, Jesus Christ.
December 24 "Christmas Love"
(Scripture: Matthew 1:18-25, John 3:16-17) Christmas is celebration of the most precious gift ever given. When God gave us the Christ child he knew the baby Jesus would grow up to change the world. Christ showed us and taught us what it means to love and when his love is in us we can become angels to others by spreading the gospel message.
December 17 "Do Not Be Afraid"
(Scripture: Matthew 1:18-25) God has many ways of speaking to us in our lives. One of those is angels--not the kind with wings popular in art but, more likely, messengers in human form. We can hear from angels through a casual acquaintance, a neighbor, a family member, or a friend. What's more, we can ben an angel for someone else as a messenger of Jesus Christ. Have you ever been someone's angel? If not, when will be the first time?
December 10 "Nothing Is Impossible"
(Scripture: Luke 1:26-56) If you find yourself yearning for peace in your life you can wait and wish things were better or you can seek Christ, inviting him into your heart. With Christ at the center of your life you will find him at work and see that he is inviting you to be a part of his work. Perhaps you will find angels among you who wish to speak into your situation. But, for sure, peace won't come until we seek God's peace and have a willingness to change.
December 3 "Make Ready A People"
(Scripture: Luke 1:5-25, 57-80) In the Gospel of Luke we hear about messengers, angels sent to announce God's plan for a Messiah to come and a messenger to announce his coming to the people of Israel. First, the angel comes to Elizabeth and Zechariah, then to Mary and Joseph. The angels were making a people ready for the incarnate God. We remember this as the story of Christmas.
November 26 "The Least of These My Brothers and Sisters"
(Scripture: Matthew 25:31-46) Jesus is our friend and he is also our Lord. He teaches us the way to a full life and asks us to follow him by being a servant to God and to our neighbor. The scripture reading makes it clear that our neighbor includes "the least of these my brothers and sisters" and Christ will judge us on our commitment to him through the way we care for those who need our help. Do you see Jesus in the faces of the poor? Let your love of our Lord encourage you to love those who are in need of Christ's love and particularly the "least"..
November 19 "Niceness Versus Kindness"
(Scripture: Galatians 5:22-23) When we walk in God's Spirit we enjoy his presence through our attitude and our acts. In Galatians, Paul lists the fruits of the Spirit and kindness is one of those fruits. Kindness is a sign of character that surpasses how you want to be seen and becomes who you really are. While being nice is desirable, niceness too often expects a payback. Kindness needs no payback because it's an act of love toward our neighbor.
November 12 "Wise Bridesmaids-Limited Vision"
(Scripture: Matthew 25:1-13) Jesus taught often through parables. In the parable of the Ten Bridesmaids, he talks about a group of ten bridesmaids waiting for the groom to arrive so the wedding party could begin. Five were "wise" and five were "foolish". When the groom was delayed and the oil for their lamps began to run out that night, the five wise bridesmaids still had oil and refused the pleas of the five foolish bridesmaids who were almost out of lamp oil. The foolish bridesmaids ran to the store to get more and, while they were gone, the groom arrived and the wedding party began. By the time the foolish bridesmaids returned the door to the party room was closed and locked and they were not able to join in the celebration. The "groom" in this parable was Jesus returning and those who weren't ready weren't saved. But wouldn't it have been a better outcome if the five "foolish" bridesmaids had recognized that getting more lamp oil was not the objective--Jesus return and the celebration were so much more important. Are we focused on the right things in our lives? Are you?
November 5 "Is That All There Is?"
(Scripture: 1 John 3:1-13) God didn't save you so that you could keep on being you. He saved you to become more like him. He wants you to break out of the frustrating sins that strangle your happiness. He wants you to be counter-cultural--centered on love and fulfilling his will rather than your will.
October 29 "Investing In Eternity"
(Scripture: 2 Timothy 1:2-14) We all have benefited from encouragement at important times in life. Family, friends, teachers or maybe even casual acquaintances who have boosted our spirits and strengthened our determination to get through difficult times and succeed in life. So, how are you passing it on? We each have a responsibility to the next generation--to give back the love and support that was crucial to us. It's our investment in eternity.
October 22 "Reputation Versus Legacy"
(Scripture: 2 Timothy 4:6-8) What are you leaving behind--a reputation or a legacy? A reputation is who you're supposed to be but your legacy is who you are? You can build a reputation in one act but a legacy is built over a lifetime. As Christians, our goal is to build a legacy that reflects Christ living in us.
October 15 " When is Enough, Enough?"
(Scripture: Acts 2:45-47) It is amazing what a life of generosity does when we've learned to say "enough!". It involves an inward journey of faith to answer the question, "Can God be trusted for my future?" Where are you on this journey? Is God sufficient for your life or do you need more? Are you ready to say "Enough!"
October 8 "A Vertical Line"
(Scripture: Acts 20:35, Proverbs 3:9, Psalm 116:12) Generosity is an exercise that begins by assessing what is in your heart rather than what is in your wallet. As children of God we learn to trust in him as we realize that all we have comes from his blessing, his grace in our lives. Our relationship becomes a vertical line between us and God. We give from our abundance out of loving generosity and, as we do so, we become messengers of Christ our Lord to our neighbors.
October 1 "We Are Marching In The Light of God"
(Scripture: Malachi 3:10) When we are children, we may have gotten 25 cents from our parents to give to the offering in Sunday School and we gave because we knew we would still have plenty. As we grow, we may give without quite the same feeling. We have bills to pay and our budgets are tight. We may not give generously but we try to give what we can. We step out in faith, trusting a loving God who gives abundantly. It is an evolutionary process. We take God at his word that when we faithfully give back to God he will never disappoint us. We give out of love and we are richer just for that.
September 24 "The Wonderful Riches of Peace"
(Scripture: Phillipians 4:4-9) We all want peace. The question is how do we achieve it. Most of us live with a battle that rages within us as we seek contentment because we are so focused on material things when peace is, in fact, a spiritual thing. To find peace we first have to be at peace with one another and focus on the what unites us rather than divides us. And, during stressful times, we need to seek and receive help from others. Through others we can find true peace by accepting God's love and forgiveness.
“The funny thing about the questions of life is that the ones we ask at the end are the ones we should begin with. It is tough to craft a meaningful life without considering our end: What do we hope for, what do we dream for, relative to our lives, our family, our children?”
David Green, Founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby
September 17, 2017 "You Have One Life to Live"
(Scripture: Ephesians 5:15-17) We only have one life to live. We know that. Yet how much of what we are doing is lasting? Life is a gift. We want to live purposefully, with intention and determination--but how? Engage in a relationship with God. For everything we do in Christ's name will last.
September 10, 2017 "The Passing Zone"