(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"