In an effort to continue to adapt to the changing circumstances we are looking for a new way to organize this resource and hope to be back next week.  Thank you for your patience.  We apologize for the interuption to our Bible reflection and meditations.

May 24, 2020 Watch Online Sunday  Worship Service

May 24th Scripture Study

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks Mike and Cindy.

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/1-samuel/ for an overview of the book of 1st Samuel as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

1 Samuel 16:1-17:37

Unlike today, the Spirit of the Lord came upon only a few select individuals, prophets, priests and kings.  So what we see in our text is God placing his Spirit upon David in lieu of Saul.  This is the beginning of David’s story. 

 

Now with stories like David and Goliath, we are so familiar with them, that we read them almost on “auto-pilot.”  My encouragement as you read this story, is to do so as if it were the first time you came across it.  I'm amazed at  how much trust David had in the Lord.  So much that he was willing to stand up against Goliath.  But this response is not completely out of the blue.  David said the Lord had rescued him in the past, it is no different from now.  

 

This is the heart that God was seeking.  A heart that trusted in Him.  God is looking for that same heart in us.  Where could you trust God, just for today.

 

John 15:1-16:4

I can’t help wondering if Paul’s teaching on the fruit of the Spirit is rooted  in this passage from John.  The key to faith is to remain in Christ.  To stay connected and follow his lead. 

 

But even so, remaining in Christ does not guarantee that everything will go well.  In fact, if they persecuted me, Christ will say, then you can count on them persecuting you.  Does that adjust your perspective on faith at all?

 

Psalm 67:1-7

Psalm 67 is an example of a song of praise.  Much like the modern songs we sing in worship, it comes out of the language of the day.  And just like modern worship music, these psalms had a purpose in the life of Israel.  

May 23, 2020

I received an email from the Hamburgs with a bunch of jokes pointing out just how much time we have on our hands.  Here’s one for you…

 

 

 

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

You love everyone, teach us to be like You

You are the one true Lord,

Teach us to worship You alone.

You are gentle and You have given us choice,

Help us to use it to choose You.

Please Father bless this world and help those in need, for You are good.

may You guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may You bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders You have shown us;

may You bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

 

When a caterpillar is inside it’s chrysalis, the caterpillar doesn’t just grow a pair of wings.  No, something completely unexpected happens. “First, the caterpillar digests itself, releasing enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues. If you were to cut open a cocoon or chrysalis at just the right time, caterpillar soup would ooze out.” *  I imagine the process feels like death to the caterpillar, but it is a necessary transformation. Otherwise the caterpillar simply dies never experiencing flight and all that it was meant to become as a butterfly.

Our lives as Christians can feel the same way.  There are things that need to change for us to become what we were meant to be.  Certain things have to go away and others need to cease.  But how do we know what needs to change? Unlike the caterpillars who must transform we have a choice.  When we accept Jesus as our Lord we are acknowledging that it is He not I that determines my future choices.  The challenge is HOW, how do we submit our lives to Him?

This is where the Word of God, the community of believers and prayer become crucial.  We need all three otherwise we can get lost in the process.  For example, many cult leaders are very charismatic and relational but what they teach contradicts God’s word.  On the other hand, there are academics who know the Bible backwards to front, but they do not acknowledge that they need the community to shape their faith.  Some people love the church, but never pray in a way that allows God to speak back to them or read their Bibles; church is more like a social club.

Each of these folks are missing out on the necessary elements of their transformation and often cease growing spiritually. The disciples spent three years with Jesus and yet still had a lot of growing to do at the end of that time.  In this life and in these bodies, we are still caterpillar soup.  We must submit to the often messy and difficult process of letting God, his community and His word transform us, are you ready?

 

*https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/caterpillar-butterfly-metamorphosis-explainer/

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/1-samuel/ for an overview of the book of 1st Samuel as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

1 Samuel 14:24-15:35

Saul’s life seems filled with all sorts of craziness.  It’s often hard to keep track of what is happening.  By wanting a king to lead them, Israel chose Saul and everything that came with him.  Imagine had they only remained faithful to God’s leadership.

 

Saul’s ultimate sin was disobedience, and it will lead to God removing his favor from him.  Saul’s story is a hard one to read.  I think it is summed up in the fact that “Samuel mourned for him.” 

 

John 14:1-31

I don’t know about you, but at times I read John’s gospel, and I have the hardest time tracking what Jesus is saying.  Once again, John prefers images and ideas over direct language.  So it is important to pay attention to the images.  What is the image in our reading for today?

 

Proverbs 12:28-13:9

Proverbs is much like our current study of the fruit of the Spirit.  It is a comparison between two ways of life.  Paul uses the images of the sins of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit.  What is Solomon using?

May 22, 2020

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

Keep us faithful

In hard times

Never leave or forsake those in need.

Dear God make us kind,

Now when so many are in need,

Ease their trouble and their burdens

So your name may be glorified

Show us how to serve today.

may You guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may You bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders You have shown us;

may You bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

The Message Romans 7: 19-25

“I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide (I won’t) do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.”

 

Paul in his letter to the Roman church was on to something, our universal Christian experience of frustration; we don’t do the good things we know we should and we do bad things we know we shouldn’t.  But there is hope, God has the power to KEEP transforming us. 

We aren’t done when we become Christians, there is the common misconception that when we accept Christ we have arrived! Done! We are on the way to the pearly gates to be fitted with a halo!  Not so! When we are raised from our state of spiritual death (see Ephesians 2:1-10) we embark on a journey; a beautiful, powerful, difficult, transformational, eternal journey.  Through accepting the gift of life from Jesus, the Holy Spirit fills our hearts, we are raised to spiritual life and NOW we need to learn HOW TO LIVE.  Now the purpose of our lives is to become like Jesus, changed through the little battles we win against sin and self.  The Bible is our helper, it is the tool that God uses to guide us and lead us.  As Paul said to Timothy; “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”. We want to be trained in righteousness; we want to be more like Jesus, right? So baby steps! Why not start by reading and talking about God’s word everyday

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/1-samuel/ for an overview of the book of 1st Samuel as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

1 Samuel 13:1-14:23

It seems a little harsh, that Saul’s offering would have been offensive.  But it was.  And it was actually a big deal.  Going against Samuel, was going against God’s command.

 

Johnathan will lead a raid against the Philistines, and it will be success.  Trusting in God, will ultimately be Israel’s deliverance.

 

John 13:18-38

I imagine for the disciples to be able to look back on so much of what Jesus had said, to understand finally what was happening, must have been such a blessing.  They spend so much time confused it seems. 

 

It must have also seemed odd, for Jesus to have foretold so much of what was going to happen.  If we think about the totality of Jesus’ life, what he said… what he did… his death and resurrection… there is so much evidence to the fact that Jesus wasn’t just another man.  He wasn’t even just another teacher, or even a great teacher.  Everything points to the truth that Jesus was so much more. 

 

Psalm 66:13-20

If we compare psalm 66 to our reading from Samuel this morning, we notice this contrast between faithful leadership in Israel, and un-faithful leadership.  God longs for us to simply trust him.  To put our faith in what he has said. 

May 21, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

This is the day You have made,

Let us rejoice even though there is trouble and hardship.

Be generous towards those in need, lead those who must lead.

Lift up the sick, lonely, and suffering for Your name’s sake.

may You guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may You bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders You have shown us;

may You bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation #50

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2Timothy 3:16-17 NIV

 

God’s Word is powerful, transformative, and beautiful.  So why don’t we love it?  Why do we struggle to read, study, memorize and discuss the Bible? I believe part of the problem is our unwillingness to be honest about sin and the desires of the “flesh”.  Paul uses the “flesh” as shorthand for when we allow ourselves to creep back onto the throne of our lives instead of God.  When what “I want” is the priority, then God has been displaced, sidelined into supporting role to our lives. In addition, there is the enemy.  Satan is real, he exists, he is in rebellion against God and he wants you to be in rebellion too.  It’s like he has a radio station, broadcasting dark, false, unhelpful thoughts and emotions all the time; when we are doing what “we want” (as opposed to what God wants) we can “tune” into Satan’s lies.  We aren’t possessed just deceived.  

The end result is a vague lack of interest in reading the Bible, a sense that just about anything else is more appealing than sitting down to it, a discomfort or awkwardness about sharing and talking about the Word.  So we don’t.  We drift along, a bit guilty but so distracted by life, entertainment and busy-ness that we don’t become aware of the issue until we are in real trouble.  This is where the power of God’s community can really shine.  Let’s dispel the lies and deception; this whole God thing is NOT EASY, we falter, we fail, we need one another to help rally us to action, to truly put God first.  Jesus said if we sought God (His priorities, His truth, His way) before everything else, then all we ever need will be provided.  So, as a people, FPCS can use this season of upheaval and change to be in God’s Word, discussing God’s Word, and faithfully putting it into action.

Be prepared; your “flesh” won’t like it, the enemy will hate it, and considering Jesus’ life and that of his followers, it won’t be easy.  But all the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control you could ever want will overflow out of you, when God is first.  Are you ready?

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/1-samuel/ for an overview of the book of 1st Samuel as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

1 Samuel 10:9-12:25

Samuel notes how Israel’s choice for a king rejects God.  The God who has done everything for them, that they now want a king to do for them.  (10:18-19, 12:8-12)  With this in mind, notice how in chapter 11, Israel will turn to Saul to save them, and not cry out to God.  Now Saul will give the glory to God at the end of the chapter.  Where do you turn for help?

 

John 12:37-13:17

Notice how in spite of all the “signs” many still did not believe.  But many did believe, including those in leadership.  It’s interesting how Christ can divide a community.

 

Christ sets before the disciples a model of Love.  Service.  Do we follow Jesus in this same way?

 

Psalm 66:1-12

Testifying to what God has done, is a great reminder of who God is.  Learning to give thanks, builds faith.  

May 20, 2020

FYI… the session will be gathering this evening to begin a conversation about when and how we might get back together.  If you have any strong feelings please feel free to give me a call, anytime.  412.491.3704.  I will keep you informed.

 

https://youtu.be/LpAKcQufacc

 

This link is for a choral rendition of “Longest Time – Quarantine Edition.”  Just in case you haven’t seen it.

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

Lord help us to be patient and kind.

Fill us with your joy and love.

Speak to our leaders and call them to wisdom

Lift up the lonely, sick and brokenhearted

Restore and comfort our healers

may You guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may You bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders You have shown us;

may You bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV)

 

Pastor Mike is preaching a series on the fruit of the Spirit.  He has discussed love, joy, peace, patience, and this week will be kindness.  There are nine qualities that Paul observed grew in a person’s life if they were filled with God’s Spirit.  When I was fresh out of college I taught a Sunday school class on the “Fruit of the Spirit”.  Incidentally, this was where Mike and I met (yes, Pastor Mike married his Sunday School teacher).  I recently found a handout that I had made for that class and it made me cringe.  I had created a checklist of the nine characteristics and encouraged folks to keep score during the week.  So what was wrong with that? Well, the main issue was the final sentence, which then urged class members to work harder on their low score areas.

I approached the “fruit of the Spirit” like a to-do list; “be more kind”, “get more patience”, etc…like these qualities are apples on a branch to be picked.  This confusion is unfortunately encouraged by our use of the word “fruit” in “fruit of the Spirit”.  You see, in Paul’s image we ARE NOT fruit pickers, we ARE the tree.  Too often the “fruit of the spirit” becomes a fruit basket or a bowl of gathered fruits, but Paul does not say fruits, he says fruit.  Perhaps a more helpful image to us, living in the age of supermarket fruit displays and edible arrangements, would be “the evidence of the Spirit at work in us” or the “the result of the Spirit filling us”.  The idea Paul is developing is based on the idea that, “who we serve” will be proved by “how we live”. 

In an agrarian society, Jesus and Paul made use of agricultural images of “bad fruit” and “good fruit” to help people understand this idea. That checklist should never have been a to-do list, instead it should have been an opportunity to go to Jesus and close believing friends, to pray for forgiveness and ask for help to create more room for God’s Spirit to be at work in us.  If we are short of evidence that God’s Spirit is at work in our lives then we need to make more room for Him.  Let’s ask God how He desires to do make this happen.

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/1-samuel/ for an overview of the book of 1st Samuel as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

1 Samuel 8:1-10:8

The people of Israel see that Samuel’s children will not be able to lead like he has led, and so they come to him and ask for a king.  What is their rationale for having a king?  (8:5, 20) By “being like all other nations,” who are they actually rejecting?

 

Samuel will anoint Saul as the first king of Israel.  If you don’t know Saul’s story, then hold on, because this will be a wild ride. 

 

John 12:12-36

At the beginning of the gospel, Jesus’ first miracle was to turn water into wine.  Do you remember what Jesus said to his mother?  (2:4)  How does this differ from what we see in 12:23?

 

We are entering Holy Week, as John has recorded it for us.  So much of John’s gospel is focused on Holy Week, especially because this was the point of Jesus’ life.  (12:27)

 

Psalm 65

“You who answer prayer.”  Do we hold this same belief?

May 19, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

Lord, thank you for Your patience, help us in our trouble.

Thank you for Your love, give us courage.

Thank you for Your gentleness, teach us to be kind.

Lift up the healers, those who serve and the unseen hands that help us each day.

may You guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may You bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders You have shown us;

may You bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

 

Meditation

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV)

 

Even though pretty much everyone will say the Bible is important (inside the church and out), a lot of people find the Bible forbidding, difficult, and boring; YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  However, the shame associated with confessing this keeps Christians mired in confusion.  Stop hiding.  We need to start by telling the truth and then  DON’T STOP THERE.  I ran into the opposite extreme among young people who had grown up in legalistic traditions when I worked in campus ministry. Many of my friends openly confessed that they didn’t pray, disliked Bible reading, and skipped any type of devotions.  They were casual about their lack of Biblical knowledge and experience. Instead of feeling convicted, they felt liberated from the shame that had been piled upon them growing up. They still loved Jesus but the idea of “the Bible” simply repelled them. 

Yet, the Word of God is another name for Jesus, this Bible is more than an assignment or a burden, it is THE GOOD NEWS.  Perhaps part of our trouble is the individualistic way that we approach it.  The Bible is primarily meant to be read and considered corporately.  While it brings great comfort and direction to the individual (because it is a gift from God), it is most powerful to the church when we devote ourselves to it as a community.  We start by making use of the time we have individually to read and then we start writing questions and thoughts and this is what we bring to our church family.  We were meant to grapple with the Word as a community not to sit silently in our pews confused and bored counting the minutes ‘til the service is over and “real life” can begin again.

Now, of course, we are nine weeks into something totally different.  We aren’t gathering at all, but we have options.  I encourage you to call, text, or email someone from the church, specifically to pray together or discuss a scripture reading.  Don’t feel awkward, we have to start somewhere.  The Christian Education committee is looking at re-starting Bible Study on-line and figuring out where to go from here.  While we work that out, why not connect with each other and delve into God’s Word so you may be “thoroughly equipped for every good work”!

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/1-samuel/ for an overview of the book of 1st Samuel as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

1 Samuel 5:1-7:17

If we are being honest, isn’t this what we want?  Don’t we want our God to beat up other gods?  We want our enemies and the wicked to suffer.  But here’s the interesting note… the suffering the Philistines experienced caused them to cry out to God.  Go back and re-read 5:12 if you missed it. 

 

Then it gets more interesting.  The Philistines will call together priests and diviners to ask “how” to send the ark back.  I imagine, if you take two cows, who have calved and remove their calves, and who have never been yoked, and hitch them to a cart, it will be chaos.  And yet, those two cows will take the ark back to Israel.  God’s hand, as a witness to himself, is all over this passage.

 

Samuels example as a leader, was to call Israel back to faithfulness.  I wonder if we take serious just how much God longs for his people to be faithful.  Much can happen with a faithful community/church.

 

 

John 11:45-12:11

Today’s passage is interesting, because it describes the motivation behind the leadership of Israel.  What is it that they are afraid of?  (11:48)  Why would they do this?  Think about the common understanding of the Messiah as a conquering king.

 

Proverbs 12:18-27

I have heard it said that the book of James, is like a series of teaching/parables.  Reading these proverbs, that actually makes sense.  

May 18, 2020

I think we should all head to IKEA!

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

Help the church to look like You

Help the wise to lead

Help the healers to heal and be healed themselves

Thank you for your great love even when life is uncertain,

You are our firm foundation!

may You guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may You bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders You have shown us;

may You bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

“Before Jesus was in charge of our lives, we were spiritually dead.  We didn’t follow God, we followed our own desires and the world’s priorities.  We earned God’s anger and our estrangement from Him. But God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to bring us back to life.  His mercy and grace resuscitated us.  Now we are like siblings with Jesus, lifted out of the muck and made at home with Him forever.  He has all the time in the world to teach us and show us all the great treasures that He has for us.  And the best part is God did all this through His kindness and His grace; we just have to believe this is true.  No one gets to brag because it’s all God’s doing.  Every bit of who and what we are is God’s masterwork, being restored in Christ to our original condition, so we can spend this life doing all the good that God has set out for us to do.” (My own words inspired by Ephesians 2:1-10)

 

Last week we spent time meditating on Ephesians 2:1-10, and the last challenge was to re-write the passage in your own words.  Some people worry that re-writing Biblical passages might be sacrilegious, but in fact, if we are afraid to dive deep and wrestle with the Bible we are not truly respecting it.  When we do this, we are not re-writing scripture, instead putting scripture in our words challenges us to really think about it.  If we can’t restate an idea, it usually means we don’t understand it.  For too long, the Bible has been an ornament to the church.   A special book that people recorded births, deaths, and marriages in, kept in a place of honor, but did not know with intimacy.  The Bible should not be treated as an idol, instead, it is a living book, totally unique and able to bridge time, cultures, and continents; it speaks truth to people of every generation.

We need to become as knowledgeable about the Bible as some people are about baseball stats, football teams, movie stars, and the best wines.  The Bible helps us to understand who God is, who we are, why we are here, and what is wrong with the world.  These are the BIG questions that all of humanity grapples with and the Bible answers them through story.  The stories of the Bible resonate with our shared human experience while pointing us to a loving God.  What would it look like to move the Bible off the living room shelf and into our daily lives?  What does it look like to have the Word as our foundation?

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/1-samuel/ for an overview of the book of 1st Samuel as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

1 Samuel 2:27-4:22

So again, this is the time of the Judges.  So there is no leader in Israel, and everyone did as they saw fit, including the Priests.  That is about to change, and what we find is a prophecy pointing to that change. 

 

Samuel has been called, set apart as a prophet of the Lord.  This will be an important change in Israel’s history.

 

So this is interesting.  Why did Israel choose to bring the ark of the covenant, to the battle?  What do you think was their intent and can we control God?

 

John 11:1-44

This is a longer story, but also a good one.  One that we are very familiar with.  Which makes it harder to read and listen to.  What do you see in it as you read it today?

 

Psalm 64

I don’t know if you have been noticing or not, but many of the psalms are complaints about injustice in the world.  How often in our own lives are we complaining about something?  The difference here, is that the psalmist is taking his complaint to God.  Do we do this, trusting in God’s provision?

May 17, 2020 Watch Sunday Worship Online Here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks Linda.

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/1-samuel/ for an overview of the book of 1st Samuel as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

1 Samuel 1:1-2:26

We begin the book of 1st Samuel, with the story of Samuel.  Hannah’s story is a story of pain.  For many years, until God gave her a son.  That son will be Samuel, and he will become an important leader in Israel.  He will take the place of Eli’s sons, because they were wicked.  Our text for this morning ends with “And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with people.”

 

John 10:22-42

One of the interesting things that occurs in the gospel of John, are statements like, “Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him…”  (10:31)  This note follows Jesus’ statement “I and the Father are one.”  What do you think is occurring here?  Look to 10:33. Remember, this section begins with the question of who is Jesus.

 

Psalm 63

Re-read the first verse.  Can you resonate with David’s longing?  If not, how do we get to this place.

May 16, 2020

I received a list of “glorious” insults from the Hamburgs this past week.  In the email it says, “These glorious insults are from an era before the English language got boiled down to 4-letter words.”  Here is an exchange between George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill. 

 

“I am enclosing two tickets to the first night my new play; bring a friend, if you have one.”  GBS

 

Churchill’s response was, “Cannot possibly attend the first night, will attend the second… if there is one.” 

 

OUCH!

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

Lord, this is a frustrating time, give us patience.

This is a scary time, give us courage.

This is a hard time, give us endurance.

And Lord let us never cease to be grateful, no matter what!

may You guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may You bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders You have shown us;

may You bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

 

Meditation

All week we have been examining verses from Ephesians 2:1-10.  Today let’s marinate in the complete idea Paul was expressing by reading it from both the NIV and the Message.  Take your time, read it slow and see if you can write down Paul’s main thoughts from these verses in your own words. 

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:1-10 NIV)

 

The Message (a modern paraphrase) Ephesians 2:1-10

It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/ruth/ for an overview of the book of Ruth as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Ruth 3:1-4:22

So today’s text feels a little, inappropriate.  Did you blush when you read it? 

 

When we were reading of Israel coming into the promised land, a lot of energy was put into which piece of land each tribe would receive.  Here in Ruth, we see how important that inheritance was, and how important it was to keep it within the tribe.  The idea of a kinsman-redeemer is both, to care for those in need and maintain an inheritance.  Why do you think land was so important?

 

Also, what do you think about giving someone your shoe, the next time you sell your home?  (4:7)

 

And that is the book of Ruth.  Two quick notes, in the midst of the time of the Judges, we find Boaz, a faithful and righteous Israelite.  We also come to realize that Boaz was the father of Jesse, the father of David, and through David’s line, will come the Messiah.  It’s a short book, but an extremely important part of the story.

 

John 9:35-10:21

The story of Jesus’ healing of the blind man, ends with this man not only gaining sight, but also coming to see that Jesus was the Son of Man!  What an exciting story.  But it also reveals the blindness of those in leadership in Israel.

 

Jesus will go on to use the image of Shepherd, to make the point that the way to God is through him, and him alone.  For this reason, Jesus will lay down his life.  Praise be to God!

 

Psalm 62

Psalm 62 is a psalm of assurance.  It is a song of praise to the God who sustains.  What a beautiful psalm.

May 15, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks, Hamburgs.

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

Lord heal the divisions that keep us apart

Lead our leaders with wisdom

Give our healers strength and comfort

Lift up the poor and broken-hearted

Open our eyes to Your gracious gifts today

may You guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may You bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders You have shown us;

may You bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,…But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  (Ephesians 2:2, 4-5 NIV)

 

The good news isn’t really good unless you know how bad the bad news is.  Pretty much everyone knows there is something wrong with the world and if we are honest, we know that there is something wrong with us.  What most of us don’t understand is how bad the problem really is.  Paul, in his letter to the church as Ephesus, diagnoses the problem with clarity.  We aren’t sick, distracted, off-kilter, or out of whack.  We are DEAD.  We sin because we have put ourselves on God’s throne, we want to be LORD, and the result is death. 

When someone is in the hospital and they die, the alarms go off, the heart monitor flat lines, and they call a code.  Doctors and nurses run from all directions and their attention is focused on trying to save the person.  They don’t lean over the dead person and say, “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.”  It is an emergency that can’t be dealt with lightly. I think too often we underestimate how spiritually dead we are and so we think small things will fix the problem.  If we need a heart transplant I am not sure “trying harder” is going to cut it.

The GOOD News (which is what the word gospel actually means) is that God didn’t leave us without hope.  Jesus died in our place, He came to seek and save the lost and he is the ultimate heart surgeon.  He will take our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh; hearts that work the way God intended, forever. But that’s not the end of the story.  Major surgery is hard; the road to full recovery is not easy and we have to be determined to do the work.  Jesus calls us to live lives of humble, sacrificial, gratitude laying down what we want for what God wants. Are you ready to listen to the Great Physician’s post-operative instructions?

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/ruth/ for an overview of the book of Ruth as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Ruth 1:1-2:23

“In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land…” this is the setting for the book of Ruth.  Remember how ugly Judges was?  Add to this a famine.  Can you imagine how difficult your circumstances would have to be, to pack up and move, even though your longing is for home?

 

One of the interesting aspects of the book of Ruth, is God’s intent that the nation of Israel would care for those in need, the widow, the orphan and the foreigner. 

 

 In 2:20 we see the idea of a “guardian/kinsman-redeemer.”  A guardian-redeemer was a male who was responsible for caring for a female family member in need, after the death of her husband.  We’ll see how this works out as we continue tomorrow.

 

John 9:1-34

Jesus will once more heal on the Sabbath, setting up a confrontation with the Pharisees.  The question that is raised in the healing of the blind man is, “How can a sinner perform such signs?”  What do you think the Pharisees are struggling with?  Do you think their issue really is about healing on the Sabbath?

 

Proverbs 12:8-17

Much like our study of the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians, what we find in proverbs is a choice between living a righteous life and living a wicked one.

May 14, 2020

Thanks, Hamburgs.

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

Search me, God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting,

protect those who serve, heal the sick, welcome the lost.

may You guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may You bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders You have shown us;

may You bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  (Ephesians 2:6-7 NIV)

 

Am I always grateful for what Christ has done?  If you have been a Christian for a while it is easy to grow complacent about the gift of salvation. As broken human beings, we sometimes get this all backward and act like our faith is a favor to God.  Even the disciples, living and working alongside of Jesus for three years, struggled to keep their relationship in the proper perspective; Peter tried to tell Jesus what to do and John and James tried to secure future rewards and prominence.  For us, we can feel like God owes us for our “time served” rather than seeing the “incomparable riches of His grace” made available to us. We may feel burdened by our “Christian duties” and overwhelmed or uninterested in studying and learning His Word, but it doesn’t have to be this way. 

 

What would it look like to live as if the Gospel were the greatest treasure we could ever find?  Start a conversation with another believer about your struggles and desire to grow in this way, encourage and pray for one another.  What if the secret to the incomparable riches we all so desperately want is as simple as childlike gratitude, trust, and dependence on God? Still not sure what this could look like?

 

“In 2010, after more than two decades, missionaries returned to the highlands of Indonesia with the Translated New Testament of the Kimyal Tribe. It was a powerful and moving moment to watch. The tribe surrounded the airstrip waiting for them to arrive. When they saw the plane arriving, they danced with joy and tears were streaming down their faces. The excitement was overwhelming. Their leader and pastor immediately prayed and thanked God after receiving their Bible. '…Oh, God today You have placed Your word into my hands, just like you promised. You have placed it here in our land. And for all this, Oh God, I give You praise! Amen!' A roar of thanksgiving took over the place. People began shouting and dancing giving praise to our almighty God. “ (David Jansen Estose)

 

Click here to Watch the Kimyal tribe receive the Gospel in their language

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/judges/ for an overview of the book of Judges as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Judges 20:1-21:25

“… because they committed this lewd and outrageous act in Israel.”  If you remember the rape and murder that had occurred yesterday in our reading, it’s more important to remember that it occurred “within Israel.”  The one nation that was supposed to reflect God’s will to the world.

 

It’s amazing how this one act, will create division and war among the tribes of Israel.  And it draws out the closing statement of the book of Judges, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”  Judges is a difficult book to read, because it reveals what people do when they turn from God.

 

John 8:31-59

Notice how not all “Jews” were against Jesus, meaning not all in leadership of Israel.  Faith, is about putting trust in Jesus and in what he said, as the Son of God. 

 

Jesus will make a simple statement that will cause those he is fighting with, to pick up stones to stone him.  Do you know what that statement was, and the significance of that statement?  (8:58)  When Moses came into contact with God at the burning bush, God will declare his name to Moses.  Look up Exodus 3:13-14, this will shine light on John 8:58.

 

Psalm 61

David’s words in psalm 61, are the words of a man who looks to God for everything, “you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.”  Are we able to say the same thing?

May 13, 2020

Thanks, Hamburgs.

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

Today Father, open my eyes to the treasure of Your salvation

give vision to our leaders to serve selflessly and in great wisdom,

protect our doctors and nurses,

and fill us with patience and love for those that we live with

and help the lonely to find new ways to connect with You. 

may You guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may You bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders You have shown us;

may You bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

 

Meditation

(note: the phrases “Kingdom of God” and “Kingdom of heaven” are used interchangeably in the Bible)

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (Matthew 13:44 NIV)

 

Many people long to win the lottery or receive an unexpected inheritance.  We often think if we just received a financial windfall all our troubles would be over.  Of course, this is not true, in fact lottery winners have a terrible history of pain, loss, and death that comes with huge prizes (https://www.thepennyhoarder.com/save-money/lottery-winners-who-lost-it-all/)

The treasure in this parable isn’t actually money or power, it is the Kingdom of God.  The kingdom of God is not a place, it is anywhere and anytime things are in their proper order; God is in charge and we are His children ready to serve and become like Him. We are given access to the Kingdom through God’s good news, the Gospel, which tells us about salvation in Jesus.  Ephesians 2:6-7 says, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” 

God is looking for the opportunity shower us with incomparable riches.  The problem is we want control, when God is inviting us to rely on Him.  You see, money really is a shorthand for control; if you are wealthy you control your time, transportation, food, clothing, entertainment, etc.. you are dependent on no one.  However, the life of a Christian is utterly and totally dependent on God and real freedom comes when we recognize His authority over everything. 

Even if we have been going to church our whole lives it’s never too late to start seeking God like a treasure of great value especially now.  What would life look like if we were willing to give up any and everything to serve Him with our whole hearts? 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/judges/ for an overview of the book of Judges as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Judges 18:1-19:30

We find the conclusion to the story of Micah that we had begun yesterday.  None of it is good.  And as chapter 18 begins what we see is that “In those days Israel had no king.”  This is an important note as we approach the end of Judges.  Nothing in Israel was what God had intended.  Israel was leaderless and in complete chaos. 

 

Now chapter 19 is not for the faint of heart.  This is a disturbing chapter and once again our story begins with the phrase “In those days Israel had no king.”  This story goes to show how evil the nations of Israel had become.  There are echoes in this story, of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.  You can read this story in Genesis chapter 19.  The parallels are important. 

 

We will conclude Judges tomorrow…

 

John 8:12-30

Once again, we see an image, this time it is “light” and the idea of testimony.  I am hoping you are getting a feel for how John writes, and consequently what he is attempting to communicate.

 

There is an important note to make with the gospel of John.  John uses the term “Jews” to talk about those in leadership of Israel and those who actually opposed him.  John was a Jew, and so he is not denouncing “Jews.”  He is not advocating the hatred of Jews.  John is not anti-Jew.  I hope that makes sense. 

 

Psalm 60

Where do we find hope in this psalm?  (Consider verse 4)  Even though everything around David seems to be in jeopardy, David still looks to God for help.  

May 12, 2020

Thanks, Hamburgs.

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

Today Jesus, open my eyes and my ears to your Truth

Come alongside the weak and strengthen them,

Comfort the bereaved and broken,

Cover the naked and feed the hungry both spiritually and physically,

and help the healers, leaders, and protectors to act with wisdom.

may You guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may You bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders You have shown us;

may You bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)

 

Some people are “do-ers” they just get stuff done and enjoy the effort.  Mr. Titus from the books by Elizabeth Enright was not. 

 

“Never did like heavy chores.  Just did em’ cause my conscience drove me.  And then one day it just quit, just lay down quiet and gave up the struggle.  Since then no more cows! No more hosses! No more blame chickens, only just enough to lay me a soft-boiled egg or two. No more hawgs! Just some small fry pets to keep me company. No more long rows to hoe! No more corn! Just grow enough garden truck so’s when I want a mess of peas for supper I can pick me a mess of peas…Like to bake.  I used to be ashamed of it when I was younger but not ashamed no more.  One of my marble cakes took first prize over at Braxton Fair last year. Yep, that’s what I like, pets, fussin’ in the kitchen and goin’ fishin’!”*

 

Now in the story, Mr.Titus is not actually lazy, as you come to find out.  He is gracious, generous, and kind.  He is a good neighbor when there is trouble and a good mentor.  However, because his life was shaped by his family’s expectations of intense back-breaking farm labor, he saw himself as lazy. 

We are all different, with different gifts and abilities, AND we are also sinful and broken.  I find it interesting that we often condemn ourselves over things we shouldn’t and let ourselves off the hook for things that we need to change.  Mr. Titus condemned himself as lazy when he wasn’t but there may have been other sins in his life that needed real attention. Jesus saved us by grace, not because we have “done” the right things or “not done” the wrong things.  Instead, we were saved while we were still enemies of God. As a result, NO ONE can boast (out loud or in their hearts) about how their own goodness saved them.  There’s nothing we can do to make God love us more, and there’s nothing we can do to make God love us less.  Instead, we are encouraged to lift our eyes to Christ, accept His salvation as true and total, and then live out of the GRATITUDE and humility of what God had to do and wanted to do for us.  You are loved, blessed and have a purpose.  Don’t live out of other’s expectations and their condemnation and on the other hand don’t be arrogant about your “goodness”. Instead what would it look like to be freed by your salvation to serve, filled with gratitude, and ready for whatever comes next?

 

*Then There Were Five, Elizabeth Enright, 1944

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/judges/ for an overview of the book of Judges as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Judges 16:1-17:13

There is so much we could say about Samson’s life, in regard to relationships, but we’ll let that go.  Instead what I do find interesting is who the Philistines give thanks to for the deliverance of Samson.  Did you notice that?

 

Chapter 17 is a very interesting start to a story, with a lot of problems to it.  Let’s see where this goes tomorrow…

John 7:45-8:11

So the leaders of Israel are looking for ways to find fault with Jesus.  So much so, that they won’t even recognize their own hypocrisy.  This will set up the story we find at the beginning of chapter 8.  You might have noticed, a note, that says this story wasn’t found in the earliest manuscripts.  What that means is that in the earliest copies of the gospel of John, based on certain criteria, we don’t find this story where it currently exists.  It was found in other locations in the gospel and in the gospel of Luke.  It is a biblical story, but it has shown up in different locations, depending on the manuscripts that were preserved. 

 

We can conjecture about what Jesus is writing on the ground, but I believe the focus of the story should remain in the last two verses.  Jesus will “do” two things here.  What do you see?  Consequently, how does this apply to us?

 

Psalm 60

Psalm 60 has a list of those tribes/nations that we noted yesterday, and have been reading about in the book of Judges.  There is also this sense without God, there is no success.  

May 11, 2020

Thanks, Hamburgs.

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

Lord You are the author of life, creator and sustainer

We trust this world to You.

Show us our part; show us what works You have prepared for us to do

Bless those who serve, direct those who lead, and comfort those who suffer

may You guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may You bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders You have shown us;

may You bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)

 

In this time of quarantine, many people have picked up crafts and hobbies to help fill the time.  Some people are working puzzles, knitting, or sewing masks for those who need them.  Other folks are finishing wood working projects, putting in gardens or making jewelry.  All this handiwork takes time, effort, and focus.  That’s why many of these types of projects languish in the everyday, because the demands of our pre-quarantine life often left us with little time or energy to create.

WE are God’s handiwork; His creative masterpieces.  In fact, another way to translate the Greek word poiema is workmanship or masterpiece.  Think about it; God made you with intention, focus, energy and creativity.  Like snowflakes, each of us is unique, no two alike.  The books of Exodus, Deuteronomy, Psalms and Malachi, all talk about us as God’s treasured possessions.

But there’s more, as Christians, we were reborn with a purpose.  God has made us and placed us where and when we are, to do the good he “prepared in advance” for us.  Our old life or way of living before God became our center must pass away.  Now, filled with God’s spirit we live with our ears and eyes open for opportunities to “wash feet” whenever we can.  As God’s Mona Lisa, how are you going to “smile” on the world today?

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/judges/ for an overview of the book of Judges as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Judges 12:1-13:25

Chapter 12 lists several leaders in Israel following Jephthah.  Because most of us are not familiar with the various tribes/nations of Israel’s history, for example the Ephraimites and the Ammonites and the Gileadites, it can be difficult to track who’s who.  The more we read the OT the more familiar we will become with these tribes and their origins.  Be patient here.  One option is always to do an internet search and read on the various tribes, both those in Israel and those around Israel. 

 

Chapter 13 begins the story of Samson.  There are many “odd” details here.  What stands out to you?

 

Judges 14-15:20

I can’t help wondering how many Christians have fond memories of Samson.  But when you actually read his story, and it is not being told on a flannel graph, there are a lot of troubling details.  Like eating honey from the carcass of a dead lion.  (This was considered unclean, and something against Israel’s own laws.)  Then there is the whole situation with his “wife” and the 30 companions.  The thing to remember with Samson, is that he had been raised up to defeat the Philistines. 

 

PETA must have a serious issue with chapter 15.  What we will see throughout Samson’s life, is this animosity between the Philistines and this one man.  He will in essence be his own army to throw the burden of the Philistines off of Israel. 

 

John 6:60-7:13

Often when we hear the word “disciple” we equate it with the 12.  That is not the case here in John.  A disciple was simply a follower, a student.  There was a large crowd of disciples that followed Jesus.  Jesus’ prior teaching on communion was a difficult word for the disciples to hear, and many did not understand it.  Again, the way John records Jesus’ life for us, will have a very different feel to it.  Try not to read it literally, but look for the images or ideas. 

 

John 7:14-44

Jesus has an interesting argument about circumcision on the Sabbath as acceptable, while healing on the Sabbath was not.  Sabbath regulations were one of the focal points for the leaders of Israel to come against Jesus. 

 

A few quick notes…

 

“My time is not yet here…” (7:6) and “my time has not yet fully come…” (7:8)  What do you think these statements mean?  Does 7:30 help us understand these sayings… “no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.”

 

“When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?”  (7:31)  Signs is the word John tends to prefer over miracles.  Why do you think this is?  Signs often point to something.  What do Jesus’ “signs” point to?

 

Psalm 59:9-17

David concludes his psalm with inspiring words.  In spite of those seeking his life, he will say “in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.  You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.”  When we gather to worship, we are testifying to God’s love for us, just like David is doing in this psalm.

 

Proverbs 11:29-12:7

I wonder if you quoted 12:1 to your children, would they agree?

 

Personally, I really like 12:6 “the words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the speech of the upright rescues them.”  The things that come out of our mouth, really do point to who we are, don’t they?  Which is why so many NT writers talk about our words.  

May 9, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks, Hamburgs.

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

 

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

Father, help us to respond with gratitude even when the unexpected comes

Comfort the bereaved, heal the healers, lead the leaders

Teach us new ways to count our blessings

May we love You with all our hearts, soul, mind and strength.

may You guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may You bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders You have shown us;

may You bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV)

 

Do you remember the Worse Case Scenario Survival Handbook? It came out in 1999 when Mike was working with college students.  They loved the simple one-page instructions on how to land a plane, survive a shark attack, or jump out of a moving car.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Habakkuk is listing a “worse case scenario” in the verse above.  He is painting a picture of everything going wrong and then he caps it with that word, “Yet”. What he is saying is, “Even in a worst case scenario, if EVERYTHING goes wrong I am still going to choose joy because God is good even when my life is not.”

Ann Voscamp* observed, “As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible,”. Gratitude is a choice to see things in a new way.  A choice that is not a superficial, “Oh, everything is just great!”, but instead the ability to speak honestly about pain, suffering, and our needs, YET still rejoice in God. 

Ann wrote her book to illustrate the incredible transformative power of gratitude. “Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other…but thanksgiving (giving thanks in everything) prepares the way that God might show us His fullest salvation in Christ…And when I give thanks for the seemingly microscopic, I make a place for God to grow within me.”

She shares about a challenge she received from a friend; write a list of 1000 things you are grateful for and so the book chronicles the process of learning to see with new eyes all the gifts that God gives in the everyday.  This is not meant to be a scholarly project but a child’s heart response of delight.  Ann lists things like the golden curls of cheese, a bird feather, soap bubbles, her children’s cowlicks, an answer to why a pig’s sick…Everyday instances of delight or gratitude. Why not grab a notepad and get started. Why not retrain our brains away from complaint and towards gratitude, as Ann reminds us, “Eucharisteo—thanksgiving—always precedes the miracle.”

 

*Ann Voscamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/judges/ for an overview of the book of Judges as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Judges 10:1-11:40

What does “the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord” refer to, this morning?

 

Jephthah is a rough story.  Especially considering the rough beginning he had.  The son of his father’s affair with a prostitute.  And then this whole thing with his daughter.  Now, Jephthah’s expectation was that an animal would come out of his house.  The first floor was often used as a stable.  So when his daughter came out the door, he was crushed.  I also find it interesting that Jephthah negotiated with God in making this vow – the vow was not God’s idea.  He did not demand Jephthah’s daughter as a sacrifice.  This is Jephthah trying to control the situation.  Like I said, this is a rough story.  And the stories will only get rougher from here.

 

John 6:25-59

This “bread” that Jesus is talking about is another of John’s images.  In v56 we see the image of “whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood ‘remains’ in me, and I in him.”  This is not meant to be literal, but again an image or a word picture.  From John 15, we find the language of ‘remain’ in light of trust and obedience to Christ.  Communion therefore becomes a remembrance of what Jesus has done for us, and when we take it we are saying that we trust or put our faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection. 

 

Psalm 59:1-8

Once again, we see the psalmist turn to God in times of trouble.  Where do you turn?

May 8, 2020

Thanks, Hamburgs.

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

We pray Lord, for Your kingdom to come and Your will to be done.

Feed us, physically and spiritually; forgive us and make us to be forgiving

Protect us from harm, physically and spiritually;

So that we may live to serve You with all our hearts

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV)

 

eucharisteo (Strong's #2168):  (pronounced yoo-khar-is-teh'-o)

1) to be grateful, i.e. (actively) to express gratitude (towards) 2) specially, to say grace at a meal:--(give) thank(-ful, -s).

 

Do you find it interesting that when we face trouble, hardship, and difficulty, gratitude is that last thing on our minds? We tend to “count our troubles” much more readily than we “count our blessings.”  When we are working to help and serve others this tendency seems to be magnified.  If I am doing something “for” my husband or my neighbor, I find a little seed of expectation and entitlement is formed.  I expect their gratitude. I feel I am owed.  I find myself annoyed at how they respond to my “gifts” and feel they are not reciprocating my “service”.  It’s not a conscious thought but one that grows out of our sinful broken hearts. 

Ann Voscamp* addresses this in her book. “When service is (done for) people, the bones can grow weary, the frustration deep. Dorothy Sayers agrees, ‘whenever man is made the center of things, he becomes the storm-center of trouble. The moment you think of serving people, you begin to have a notion that other people owe you something for your pains...You will begin to bargain for reward, to angle for applause...

When the eyes of the heart focus on God, and the hands-on always washing the feet of Jesus alone - the bones, they sing joy and the work returns to its purest state: eucharisteo. The work becomes worship, a liturgy of thankfulness.

The work we do is only our love for Jesus in action’ writes Mother Theresa. ‘If we pray the work...if we do it to Jesus, if we do it for Jesus, if we do it with Jesus... that's what makes us content.’ Deep joy is always in the touching of Christ - in whatever skin He comes to us in.”

The secret to joy is really no secret at all; live as a slave to Christ ready to pour yourself out as He did and the door to Heaven is flung open wide and all its treasures are yours!  Try to keep a tight grip on what you think is “yours” and all that you want will seem harder and harder to find.  While it’s not a secret, it is the hardest thing we have ever done, in fact, it requires us to die.  We must take up our crosses and die to self, every day.  But being grateful for what God has done and is doing for us opens the wellspring of joy.  It’s our Christian super-power, that’s how Mother Theresa was Mother Theresa, she understood the power of gratitude.  What would it look like to STOP keeping track of what you’ve done for others and keep track of what God has done for you?

*Ann Voscamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/judges/ for an overview of the book of Judges as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Judges 9:1-57

Abimelek, Gideon’s son through a servant, seems to cause all sorts of problems, for himself as well as Schechem.  Even though his life seems to be summed up in one chapter of Judges, we must remember that this was in fact a life time.  And the evil that both Abimelek and Schechem participated in, was brought to justice.  It is difficult to read about the evil in this world, and yet we are surrounded by it even today. 

 

John 6:1-24

Like yesterday, we see how these “signs,” today the feeding of five thousand, testify to the fact that Jesus was not just another man.  What was the crowd’s response?  What do you think about their intentions?  Were they what God had in mind?

 

Psalm 58:1-11

Both in Judges and in our psalm this morning, we see a longing for the injustices of the world to be made right.  In Judges it was Jotham who was calling for justice.  Here in the psalm it is David.  How do we distinguish between what is just and unjust?  Once injustice is identified, what then is our response?  Who do both Jotham and David permit to handle injustice?

May 7, 2020

Thanks Elaine.

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

This world is dire need of leaders filled with your wisdom. Raise them up.

This world is in dire need of healers ready to serve.  Raise them up.

This world is in dire need of faithful followers. Raise them up.

Thank you Jesus for ALL that You have done for us

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV

 

eucharisteo (Strong's #2168):  (pronounced yoo-khar-is-teh'-o)

1) to be grateful, i.e. (actively) to express gratitude (towards) 2) specially, to say grace at a meal:--(give) thank(-ful, -s).

 

 “Did you ever wonder where the phrase “to say grace” came from? In her book, One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp teaches that when Jesus broke the bread and gave thanks, He was giving eucharisteo–eucharist…In the Scriptures, the word eucharisteo is the word for thanksgiving. After Jesus broke bread He gave thanks-or eucharisteo. Jesus wasn’t holding the bread as a symbol of the eucharist, he was using the word eucharist as an entirely different symbol–that of thankfulness prior to or during a period of brokenness.

Jesus was giving thanks–eurcharisteo–in light of His soon-to-be-experienced broken body and separation from His Father. To truly celebrate the communion table is to be thankful for the brokenness that God brings into our lives as we demonstrate, and are reminded of, the Lord’s death until he comes. The symbols of the bread and wine are essential, but they are meaningless without a spirit of thankfulness–eucharisteo!

So what does this all have to do with “saying grace?” The root word for eucharisteo is charis. In the Greek, charis is the word for grace, thus the phrase, “to say grace.” Thankfulness and grace are inseparable. If you want to experience God’s grace, then you must begin to practice thankfulness, especially during times of brokenness.

This gets better. The word charis (grace) is also related to the Greek word chara, which means joy. I’m beginning to see a pattern for living within the spirit of eucharist: thankfulness unleashes God’s grace, which allows us to experience joy, even in the midst of brokenness and abandonment.”

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no cattle in the stalls, YET I will give thanks! Take time today to look for ways to give thanks.

 

*This morning’s quoted meditation was written by Mark Hamby of Lamplighters https://lamplighter.net/c/moments/eucharisteo/

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/judges/ for an overview of the book of Judges as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Judges 7:8b-8:35

One of the interesting notes… do you notice the description of both the people and the camels in 7:12?  Old Testament writings are trying to paint a picture.  That’s worth keeping in the back of your mind as you read through the OT.

 

The story is of Gideon is this mixture of righteousness and evil, and yet God will use him to bring about the fall of Midian and freedom for Israel.  I find myself surprised how God will use us, “as we are” yet longing for us to be transformed.  We don’t “earn” God’s approval. 

 

John 5:31-47

Throughout the gospel of John, there has been numerous recordings of John’s testimony about Jesus.  In addition to John’s testimony, we notice the testimony of Jesus’ “works.”  Nicodemus notes these in John 3:2. The gospel writer is noting all of this testimony in light of the objections being raised by the leaders of Israel. 

 

Think about this… even though they, the leaders, have “knowledge” there is something missing.  What are they missing?

 

Proverbs 11:19-28

Again, which of the proverbs catches your attention?

May 6, 2020

 

Thanks to Linda for today's joke.

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

Lord, stretch my heart to accommodate Your love

Open my eyes to see Your grace

Teach me to be grateful for all that You are doing

I lift up those who need You most today; fill them with Your Love

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV)

 

Ann Voscamp’s 18 month old sister was accidentally run over by a delivery truck at their farm.  Ann was four and she witnessed the accident, her mother’s grief resulted in multiple stays at psychiatric wards.  Ann’s two nephews died of a rare genetic disorder when they were toddlers.*  Ann really understands both sides of this verse from Habbakuk and so her deep faith and encouragement to us come from a place of empathy. 

Gratitude is powerful and thanksgiving is transformational because it changes US.  Often we pray for God to fix our circumstances; make that fig tree bud, get some grapes on that vine, boost my olive crop, and load my pens and stalls with sheep and cattle...YET

“Yet” is how the writer, Habakkuk transitions this verse from gazing at the circumstances to empowering us with what we can DO in the midst of loss, crisis and pain.

Think about it; Habakkuk was a prophet of God, speaking to Judah on the eve of the Babylonian invasion.  His audience knew that palpable feeling of dread, “My entire life is about to be turned upside down! Nothing will ever be the same.” Sound familiar?

Ann’s main idea from her book is that, “thanksgiving precedes the miracle”.  In looking at biblical stories and events, a pattern emerges; gratitude opens the way for God to act powerfully.  Consider how ingratitude and doubt affected Jesus’ in his hometown in Matthew chapter 13:

 

“Coming to His hometown, He taught the people in their synagogue, and they were astonished. “Where did this man get such wisdom and miraculous powers?” they asked.  “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t His mother’s name Mary, and aren’t His brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?  Aren’t all His sisters with us as well? Where then did this man get all these things?”  And they took offense at Him.

But Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown and in his own household is a prophet without honor.”  And He did not do many miracles there, because of their unbelief.”

 

In this season of change, while we face the unknown, we are tempted to be fearful and anxious, to question God’s actions and demand that our circumstances change.  YET, God’s word and the saints challenge us to instead be grateful.  What does it look like for the FPCS community to give thanks and rejoice in God even when “the fig tree doesn’t bud”?

 

*Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/judges/ for an overview of the book of Judges as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Judges 6:1-7:8a

Here we go again, “The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord…”  Gideon will be the next judge to be raised.  What I find interesting about Gideon, is just how many “signs” he looks for.  If… seems to be his favorite word.  He cuts down the Asherah pole and demolishes Baal’s altar, but he does it at night.  He puts out a fleece, not one but two consecutive nights, with two different requests. 

 

But God wants to there to be no doubt.  So when Gideon goes up against the Midianites, while he will begin with 32,000 soldiers, God will permit him to attack with only 300.  If you want a “sign” then that will be a sign.  Do you remember what happens next?  We’ll find out tomorrow.

 

John 5:16-30

In 5:18, we find two reasons for the Jewish leader’s animosity towards Jesus.  What are they?

 

Jesus is going to go on to outline the meaning of following.  As the “Son” he only does what the Father has placed before him.  The glory goes to God.  How is this a model for our own lives?

 

Psalm 57:7-11

In today’s reading from the gospel of John, we find Jesus giving glory to God, in the face of his enemies.  There is an echo between psalm 57 and our reading from John.

 

In our struggles, how will we glorify God?  

May 5, 2020

I got this one from Tom this morning...

 

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

 

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Today Father we are grateful for your wisdom

Comfort the bereaved,

Guide the leaders,

Hold up the healers,

and fill us with courage and strength for the battle. 

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV)

 

I have these days when I am at full-speed, moving from one task to another, knocking things off the to-do list and it’s great.  Then there is most of my life when one thing after another comes up; a pig escapes, the fence goes down, a storm brings down a dozen trees, my boot has a leak, an unexpected freeze is predicted… you get the idea.

Yet, life is actually made up of the interruptions and distractions, only in a fantasy does life flow without interruption like water in a concrete channel.  Real life is like a mountain stream, it moves slowly and placidly one second, and then suddenly foams over a steep drop, twists and turns around rocks and boulders, speeds through narrow chutes, and then spreads and slows again. 

What if the mess of real life is actually more beautiful? I mean, how beautiful is a concrete drainage ditch? What if the rush and flow, grow us, stretch us and help us to understand who God is because we must depend on Him.  Ann Voscamp writes, “Wherever you are, be all there. I have lived (like) the runner, panting ahead in worry, pounding back in regrets, terrified to live in the present, because here-time asks me to do the hardest of all: just open wide and receive.”* As Ecclesiastes reminds us: There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,  a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecc 3:1-8 NIV) Let's be here, filled with true joy, whether or not we are on time, there any figs or grapes, or we know what is coming next.

 

*Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/judges/ for an overview of the book of Judges as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Judges 4:1-5:31

“Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord…” do you see a theme arising?

 

OK.  So this is kind of a rough story.  Violence will be a theme throughout Judges.  It focus’ on the “evil” that is present. 

 

Does the song of Deborah, mean that the bible is a musical?  Why do you think they used songs to remember?  Do songs often tell stories?

 

John 4:43-5:15

The first sign was turning water into wine.  The second is what?  These signs seem to lead to faith. 

 

This story raises all sorts of issues.  Healing and “work” on the Sabbath.  The whole “stop sinning” seems to point to something the man is currently doing.  What things jumped out at you? 

 

I find John’s gospel extremely complex.  Therefore it takes a bit of work to wade through.

 

Psalm 57:1-6

If we read the whole psalm, what we see is that David, in the midst of struggle and conflict, will praise the Lord.  What a great reminder.

May 4, 2020

Today is a bit longer, because it is yesterday's scripture reading in addition to today's. 

 

What an amazing witness click here to see churches come together… 

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

 

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thank You for Your limitless love.

Today we ask for special grace for the most vulnerable; the elderly, the sick, the poor and the prisoner.  You promised freedom, health, and provision for those who are lowly.

Today we also ask for special grace and insight for all the world’s leaders.  Lord they carry a great burden to care for those they serve.  Help them to seek You for truth, wisdom and humility.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV

 

I have been saving this verse, it’s one of my all time favorite verses and I didn’t want to squander it.  You see, to me, it summarizes the type of joy that Mike was talking about in yesterday’s sermon (you can check it out herehttps://youtu.be/kZvKriHcyzc if you missed it).  We are talking about a joy that does not depend on “things going right” but a joy that is sturdy and built on a solid foundation of truth.  We are not alone, our value does not come from what we produce, others do not determine our worth, No! We are precious children, loved and beloved, and while we were yet sinners our God was willing to come and walk with us and live among us (and then even once He got to know us), He was willing to die for us!

The joy that comes from knowing what we are, why we are, whose we are, this is our fortress and firm foundation. No matter what difficulties come we can turn to Jesus for guidance, comfort, and hope. Ann Voscamp writes, “...the secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is.

 “It is in the dark that God is passing by… our lives shake not because God has abandoned (us), but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can't see and our world seems to be free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us...”

Remember as God’s children; we never need to be afraid in the dark, we can depend on God even when life is turned upside down, are you ready to rejoice?
 

*This week I am using Ann Voscamp’s One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are as a resource to unpack the interplay between gratitude and joy.  I love this book and find that it is jam-packed with great insights and scholarship BUT it is written in a very specific, highly poetic style that I don’t enjoy.  I am putting that out as a heads up; if you decide to read the book some people LOVE her style and some people hate it but I am confident what she is saying is faithful and good.

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/judges/ for an overview of the book of Judges as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Judges 1:1-2:5

I’ve been waiting for Judges.

 

For some reason, I find Judges fascinating.  As you read today, it begins with how Israel did not drive out all the Canaanites.  Which is going to set up the rest of the book, and the troubles that will follow.  This is an important note to keep in mind as we read Judges. 

 

When we read Joshua, there is this struggle with the idea of driving the nations that previously lived in the Promised Land, out.  Judges will reveal why God had commanded this, and consequently what happens when this command is not followed. 

 

Judges 2:6-3:30

Judges 2:10 is such an amazing reminder of how important ministry from generation to generation is.  What follows (vv 11 & 12) is the result of “forgetting.”

 

UP through 3:6, we find the set up for the various judges.  3:7 will begin with the stories of various judges.

 

John 4:1-26

Jesus has this interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well.  First question, who were the Samaritans?  Besides the parable about the “Good Samaritan,” what do you know about them?  (We will continue to unpack this question tomorrow.)

 

Jesus will use the image of “living water” to open a dialogue with this woman.  I find it interesting that in John’s gospel, Jesus uses images in lieu of parables to communicate ideas.  Both require some work to understand.  Let’s see where this goes tomorrow…

 

John 4:27-42

Do you see how Jesus will use the image of “food” to talk about something that wasn’t food?

 

It is amazing to see how the testimony of one woman can change a community.

 

So Samaritans… there were twelve tribes in Israel.  We have been reading about how the promised land had been divided up among them.  There was a fracture between the kingdoms following the reign of Solomon.  Ten of those tribes formed the Northern Kingdom and the other two the Southern Kingdom.  The Northern Kingdom had been captured by Assyria in 721 B.C.  Through intermarrying, they would become the Samaritans.  They were not respected by those from the Southern Kingdom. 

 

Proverbs 11:9-18

In todays sermon, I talk about the difference between what God desires for us through His Spirit, and what we, left to our own, desire for ourselves.  I see this same image here in Proverbs, between the ways of the wicked and the ways of the wise or righteous. 

 

Psalm 56:1-13

Re-read 56:3. This is a verse to remember.  What a great psalm.  In light of fear and struggle, this is a psalm that reminds us to trust in the Lord. 

May 2, 2020

Joke for the Day:

On the first day of school, a first-grader handed his teacher a note from his mother. The note read, 'The opinions expressed by this child are not necessarily those of his parents.'

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Lord forgive us for our ingratitude, unforgiveness, and impatience

Help those who serve, heal those who are sick, lead the lost

Guide us today in Your footsteps

Lead us along the narrow, upward path.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

This morning let’s read 1 Peter 3:9 from the NIV and The Message:

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (NIV ) 

“No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless - that's your job, to bless. You'll be a blessing and also get a blessing.” (MSG)

 

Bless verb (used with object), blessed or blest, bless·ing.

1) to consecrate or sanctify by a religious rite; make or pronounce holy.

2) to request of God the bestowal of divine favor on

3) to bestow good of any kind upon

4) to extol as holy; glorify

 

Philip Yancey’s book What’s So Amazing About Grace begins with the tragic story of a prostitute who came to a counselor for help. “At last I asked if she had ever thought of going to a church for help. I will never forget the look of pure, naive shock that crossed her face. ‘Church!’ she cried. ‘Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. They’d just make me feel worse!’”

Sadly this is what the church is often known for, while sometimes we are kind, sometimes we do bless, the impact of judgment, unkindness, hatred, prejudice, and impatience leaves a mark.  Imagine if blessing people was what the church was known for first and foremost? We, as Christians, are held to a higher standard than the rest of the world.  We have a job and as Peter charged us, it’s to bless.

We have no control over what other people do,  or what the world does, but we can make a difference in our own community and our relationships.  We are Jesus’ representatives here on earth.  How we act can bring God glory or sully His name.  In recent decades Christians have worried so much about avoiding sin we have ended up avoiding mercy, grace, love and kindness.  Sin is real, it happens, and we need to repent of it and deal sternly with our own sin. BUT we are not called to be judge and jury of the world.  Our job is to bless. Jesus said in John 3:16 AND 17 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (Are you ready to bless?)

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/joshua/ for an overview of this book as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Joshua 23:1-24:33

We see this morning, Joshua and God’s longing for the nation of Israel to remain faithful to Him.  At the beginning of the book, is this image that Israel was supposed to completely push out all nations, and yet here at the end we find a remnant of those nations still in their midst.  Those nations pose a threat to Israel’s faithfulness to God and Joshua knows this.  So he recounts their story with God and then goes on to form a covenant with them, a covenant of faithfulness. 

 

John 3:22-36

John the Baptist will once more point to Jesus and declare him to be the Son of God.  This has been the mission of John’s life, even before Jesus’ death and resurrection.  His testimony is an amazing addition to all the testimonies regarding Jesus.  Hold on to this truth. 

 

Psalm 55:12-23

David is struggling with the betrayal of a friend.  He longs for God to bring justice upon this individual, and to rescue himself.  It is such a different response from Jesus’ at the betrayal of Judas.  As great as David is, he is still just a man.  Which is why Jesus really is someone different.   

May 1, 2020

Joke for the Day:

A little boy got lost at the YMCA and found himself in the women's locker room. When he was spotted, the room burst into shrieks, with ladies grabbing towels and running for cover. The little boy watched in amazement and then asked, 'What's the matter, haven't you ever seen a little boy before?'

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Today, we ask for grace and strength for the healthcare workers around the world.

Today, we ask for wisdom and humility for the world’s leaders

Today, we ask for healing and comfort for the sick, lonely and helpless.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.  (Luke 6:27-28 NIV)

 

Of all the hard sayings of Jesus perhaps this is the hardest.  We want our rights, we want our fair share, we want to be respected, and we want people to respect our stuff; then Jesus comes along and says this?!? How do we live this exactly? Should we report theft to the police? Do we put ourselves in harm’s way? What are the rules to live this out? What are the limits and the fine print?

What if Jesus says this because it’s impossible to turn this teaching into “10 Easy Steps”? There are no rules that can readily define how to live this way; instead to live like this requires prayer, discernment and the support of the community.  Jesus doesn’t ask us to live like this by ourselves but instead to live like this with Him, supported by the church.  We are to wrestle with the tough questions together and seek insight and wisdom through His word, prayer, and open-hearted conversation.

Think about how Jesus starts this teaching, “But to you who are listening”.  Jesus knew that this teaching wasn’t for everyone, to hear you had to be open and ready to respond to God’s great floodtide of love and redemption.  So, are you listening? 

 

For another look at this section of the Gospel of Luke read it in the Message Paraphrase: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+6%3A27-38&version=MSG

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/joshua/ for an overview of this book as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Joshua 21:20-22:34

21:45 is an important verse to remember, and in the midst of all the lists of inheritance is the main point.  “Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.”  Sometimes we have to get through the ‘lists’ to get to the ‘point.’  How does this truth impact your view of God?

 

In chapter 22, it is interesting to see how quickly a misunderstanding can escalate.  Isn’t that true in any relationship?

 

John 3:1-21

What do we learn from this passage in John, regarding salvation?  There are a number of details.  What do you see? 

 

Psalm 55:1-11

Do you see a connection between the end of our passage in John, and the first part of psalm 55?

April 30, 2020

Joke for the Day:

A little boy opened the big family Bible. He was fascinated as he fingered through the old pages. Suddenly, something fell out of the Bible. He picked up the object and looked at it. What he saw was an old leaf that had been pressed in between the pages.

'Mama, look what I found,' the boy called out.

'What have you got there, dear?'

With astonishment in the young boy's voice, he answered, 'I think it's Adam's underwear.'

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Jesus, You are kind and patient; help us to be like You.

Father, You are just and merciful; help us to be like You.

Spirit, You never leave us or forsake us; help us to be like you.

God, You are love; help us to be like you.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  (Romans 12:14 NIV)

 

Did you ever watch the TV show Little House on the Prairie?  Or perhaps read the books.  If so, how did you feel about Nellie Olson?  Nellie was the antagonist of the stories and show.  She was selfish, unkind, and vengeful and she went out of her way to make life hard for Laura Ingalls, the “hero” of the stories.  As a kid, I wanted to kick Nellie because she made me so mad.  

In an hour-long TV drama, the writers of the show wanted you to hate Nellie. She was the “enemy” and they tapped into our deep-rooted longing to see the “enemy” brought low.  The problem is that when we were God’s enemies He took a different route.

Paul’s letter to the church in Rome says in chapter 5 that …when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person (though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die) But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us… while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son!

Paul was an “enemy” of the church, he wanted Jesus’ followers dead and he succeeded.  Yet, Jesus loved him and called him to become one of His children. 

The reason we shouldn’t hate the “Nellies” in our lives is because we are the “Nellies” in someone else’s life.  We are called to live and look like Jesus and He died for you when you didn’t deserve it at all, so who is your “Nellie” and how are you going to bless them?

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/joshua/ for an overview of this book as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Joshua 19:1-21:19

The “avenger of blood” and “cities of refuge” are an interesting part of the Old Testament.  The avenger of blood was the nearest male relative to someone who had been murdered.  It was their responsibility to avenge the blood that had been spilt in a murder.  Except, in the situation of an un-intentional murder or one without malice or aforethought.  In that situation, an individual could flee to a city of refuge where they would find protection. 

 

John 2:1-25

There are several interesting images in the gospel of John.  One of them will be “my hour.”  What do you think that could mean?

 

The story of Jesus turning water into wine is an odd miracle for John to record.  I came across an Old Testament prophecy in the book of Isaiah.  (25:5-9)  Does this prophecy tie together the image of “hour” and wine?

 

John places the “turning of the tables” at the beginning of his gospel.  It is during Passover, like in the synoptic gospels.  Why do you think he does this?  You will notice that John’s gospel is unique among the gospels.   

 

Psalm 54:1-7

When David is in trouble, where does he turn?  There is a reason David is called “a man after God’s own heart.”

April 29, 2020

Joke for the day:

"It was the end of the day when I parked my police van in front of the station. As I gathered my equipment, my K-9 partner, Jake, was barking, and I saw a little boy staring in at me.

'Is that a dog you got back there?' he asked.

'It sure is,' I replied.

Puzzled, the boy looked at me and then towards the back of the van.

Finally, he said, 'What'd he do?'"

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

 

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

God, you are good and faithful

Full of mercy and kindness, yet mysterious; show us Your ways.

Lead our leaders, comfort the caregivers, fill the needy, heal the sick.

Bring justice and truth for Your name’s sake.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.  (Matthew 5:9 NIV)

 

If you don’t have kids or are over 35 you may have missed the “maker’s movement”. Wikipedia defines it this way: The maker movement is a social movement with an artisan spirit. The maker movement values equity and access to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) and other tech-rich and art domains. Maker culture emphasizes learning-through-doing (active learning) in a social environment.

Two of my kids went to a science and technology focused high school in Pittsburgh where I first heard the word “maker” used in this way.  It really is a reboot of the “back to earth” movement of the seventies meets high-tech of the 2000’s.  What I appreciate about the maker movement is that it is very social and encourages trying new things while valuing doing things by hand. 

When Jesus used this phrase  “peacemaker,” he was casting a vision of what type of people his followers should be.  The Hebrew word for peace is “shalom”.  It is rich word, implying not just absence of conflict but true equity and justice; right relationships and harmony in all things.  Jesus, as a Jew, was using a Greek expression to paint a picture of a people who don’t just avoid conflict but bring equity, justice and harmony; a people full of wisdom to lead towards real solutions in difficult times; a people who will sacrifice what may be owed them if it will bring resolution; a people who see the big picture and the ultimate goal of God’s name being honored above ALL else. A people willing to lay down their lives for others, in short, a people that live in Jesus’ footsteps.  This is how we, as the church, must live: as makers of peace.  This week ask God to show you where you may need to grow and change, let’s all be known as children of God and maker’s of peace!

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/joshua/ for an overview of this book as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Joshua 17:1-18:28

Once more we find lists of names and places.  Land that had been allotted to Israel thousands of years ago.  Everyone got a piece of land, an inheritance.  Including the daughters of Zelophehad, because he had no sons.  (17:3)

 

John 1:29-51

We see this morning that John’s job was to point to the messiah.  To make it clear, who the messiah would be. 

 

Jesus is calling together the group that will spend the next three years following him.  This group will become the foundation for the church. 

 

Proverbs 10:31-11:8 

Do you find any comfort in proverbs?  Any encouragement?  Nic has window markers.  And when she comes across a verse in the bible she wants to remember, she will write it down on one of our windows.  It typically resides there for a few weeks.  How do you remember those verses that jump out at you?

April 28, 2020

Click here for a music video you may enjoy.  I've received a number of videos, and I think I have finally found a way to include them. 

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Lord be with the workers who have been laboring through this pandemic; unseen and yet exposed to danger.

Help our leaders to be wise and patient.

Strengthen the medical professionals and give them peace.

Comfort the sick, lonely and hopeless.

You are our one true hope.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. (Psalm 34:8 NIV)

 

Some people are born with a calm demeanor; they take things in a low-key way, and don’t get riled about much.  I am not one of those people.  I have always been excitable, easily set off, and quick to anger.  Oddly, I am pretty good during a crisis, the bigger the problem the calmer I am.  BUT give me a small, nagging, irritating set-back and watch my head explode. 

My instinct in times of frustration is to blame God.  I am not sure why or where this tendency comes from; I just have this feeling that God is testing me and it makes me mad.  I want to yell at him, rage at His unfairness, beat on His invisible chest and tell Him that He’s a bully.  The electric fence line doesn’t need to knot, the knife doesn’t need to be dull, the pigs don’t need to escape, the water didn’t need to slosh into my boot! Argghhhh!

One time my friend Ellen was helping me pack up the last things from my house to move.  It was closing day and everything that could possibly go wrong that morning did.  I kid you not, it was astounding how awful it was.  A short list includes; a bright red carpenter’s crayon being left in that last load of laundry run through the dryer that we had sold to the new owner (coating our essential clothes and the dryer), the fridge beginning to go bad (that we had also sold to the new owner), not enough boxes, a broken glass with shards going everywhere, and a bag of frozen green beans hitting the floor and exploding (sending beans under every object and appliance)! Arghhhhhhh!

Ellen turned to me and said, “This is seriously over the top, please listen to whatever God is trying to teach you!” Ellen is a good friend and a prayer warrior, she’s knows what she’s talking about.  God has been trying to show me for years that there is peace in the midst of chaos.  I have an option; in big and SMALL trials to seek refuge in Him.  He is good even when things go wrong.  I can blame Him or I can realize that the more flustered I get, the more careless I am; the angrier I am, the more likely I am to make mistakes.  He is for me not against me and as a Good Father, He wants me to grow and mature.  Maturity means not falling to pieces when things are annoyingly difficult.  When I keep my eyes on Him and seek refuge in Him, then I realize just how very good He is. No matter how big or small your troubles, will you seek refuge in Him?

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/joshua/ for an overview of this book as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Joshua 15:1-16:10

You know, when I read lists in the Old Testament, lists of tribes or people or places, they just seem so foreign.  Is that how you read them?  But that is only because we are so far removed from these locations.  If someone is talking about Beaver or Butler or Masury (which is still confusing to pronounce) or for that matter any area around Sharpsville, it makes complete sense.  And as far as family names, I have sat with many of you when you talked about your childhoods and the people you grew up with.  For ancient Israel, both these locations and names had meaning.  They would have been relevant when disputes arose.  Whereas for us, it’s just a long list of names we have very little understanding of.

 

John 1:1-28

So, Matthew, Mark and Luke, our first three gospels are called the synoptic gospels.  They will tell similar stories in a similar way.  John, has a very different feel to it.  At times John will use metaphors to communicate an idea.  The beginning of John is one of those times.  The first fourteen verses are filled with metaphors to describe Jesus.  How is Jesus described?

 

To follow up, who was John the Baptist?  Was he the messiah?  Elijah?  The prophet? 

 

Psalm 53:1-6

David is defining the “fool.”  What is the main characteristic David notes?  

April 27, 2020

I’m sorry to have missed the devotions over the weekend.  We had a minor problem with Tessa on Saturday, that included an ER visit.  She seems to be fine this morning, so we do give thanks. 

 

 

   

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Help us to keep faith when Your will is hard for us to understand,

When there is sickness, death, and poverty,

When we are weary, lonely, and sore of heart.

Give us the strength to persevere,

And run this race with our eyes on the prize

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

45 “Who, then, is a faithful and wise servant? It is the one that his master has placed in charge of the other servants to give them their food at the proper time. 46 How happy that servant is if his master finds him doing this when he comes home! 47 Indeed, I tell you, the master will put that servant in charge of all his property.  (Matthew 24:45-47 GNT)

 

Waiting Well

1. They knew God; they knew his character and his word. (Today this is why we study the Bible)

2. They kept talking to God and they spoke honestly to Him (Through praying with honesty and persistence, we both listen and share our hearts with God)

3. They stayed active in their waiting; listening and looking for God. (This means doing everything to the glory of God wherever we are at any given moment)

4. When God did show up in power, they listened and were obedient. (So be ready at all times because God is always at work)”

 

The whole “prepping” movement has become a staple of reality TV.  We see the bunkers, food stores, and weapons that will hopefully protect the preppers in the apocalypse.  However, Jesus’ idea of prepping was very different.  In the parable of the wise servant, being prepared is doing whatever you were doing with integrity.  Consider the parable of the talents; in which a servant buries or hides what God had given him, that servant is punished.  When the disciples head out to preform ministry, Jesus tells them to take nothing with them, essentially God will provide. In Luke 12:13-21, Jesus has hard words for those only thinking to protect themselves. So what do we do? 

There is no simple answer.  Is it wrong to freeze garden veggies and have water on hand in case of an emergency?  Is it a sin to have a back-up generator? No, of course not!  Instead, Jesus wants His hearers to realize we are not dependent of our stuff but on God.  The whole point in Jesus’ teachings of being prepared is that 1) it’s going to seem like a really long time until He returns. 2) People are going to be tempted to live like it’s never going to happen. 3) It is going to happen and being ready simply means living a life of faithful service and sacrificial love, growing closer to God and becoming more like Him. 

Remember Jesus greatest command; Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. That’s how we prep.  If whatever you are doing to prepare leaves out any part of the above then take it to God in prayer and the community for a good honest conversation, let’s be ready together while we wait!

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  …31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25, 31-34 niv)

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/joshua/ for an overview of this book as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Joshua 9:16-14:15

Joshua 9 finishes out the deception of the Gibeonites.  What do you take away from this regarding an oath that one makes?

Two notes from chapter 10… first, we get an interesting perspective on war.  How does that image strike you?  Second, is this total willingness to acknowledge God’s presence in everything.  Have we lost that sense of acknowledging God in all we do?

 

In chapter 11, we come across a phrase we are familiar with from Moses encounter with Egypt.  In 11:20 is the phrase, he “hardened their hearts.”  If you remember, God had hardened Pharaohs heart, so that he might reveal his power in the Exodus.  We see the same occurring here as Israel enters the promised lands.  Again, these are echoes between Moses and Joshua.  The point being that it is the same God leading them both.

 

Chapters 12, 13 and the beginning of 14, are an accounting, a history of Israel’s journey into the promised lands.

 

To wrap up chapter 14, is an interesting account of Caleb, who at the age of 85 set off to capture Hebron.  I read this, and I think that our congregation must still have a lot of ‘fight’ in it. 

 

Luke 23:26-24:53

Again, we are familiar with these stories.  What are you noticing in them as you read them?  For example, many churches will pass the peace of Christ.  Do they get this tradition from Luke 24:36?

 

Psalm 51 and 52:1-9

I think what I like most about psalm 51, is the idea that God seeks repentance.  51:17 “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”  Isn’t that what it means to turn or re-turn to God?

 

Psalm 52 is a psalm of David, when he had been betrayed by Doeg the Edomite.  David’s psalm points to his trust in God over everything else.  That in the midst of frustration and betrayal, he will turn to God and give thanks for God’s unfailing love.  That is what David gives thanks for.  

April 26, 2020 Online Sunday Worship Service 11am

April 25, 2020 (due to family emergency to be uploaded later)

April 24, 2020

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Lord, help us to not grow weary of doing good.

Heal the brokenhearted and the sick.

Wrap your loving arms around the caregivers and those who serve.

Guide the leaders of this world in wisdom and humility.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

Then one (of the three men) said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son." Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing.  So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, "After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?" (Genesis 18:10-12 niv)

 

Waiting Well

1. They knew God; they knew his character and his word. (Today this is why we study the Bible)

2. They kept talking to God and they spoke honestly to Him (Through praying with honesty and persistence, we both listen and share our hearts with God)

3. They stayed active in their waiting; listening and looking for God. (This means doing everything to the glory of God wherever we are at any given moment)

4. When God did show up in power, they listened and were obedient. (So be ready at all times because God is always at work)”

 

If we expect God to follow OUR rules we will be disappointed.  God almost never does anything we expect.  God does things in His timing, in His way, and for His purposes.  Sarah laughed because she was tired of waiting and frustrated at this seemingly silly conversation and with good reason.  They were OLD, she had been hearing this for years, and I mean, really, a baby at almost a hundred years old?  Yet, that is exactly what happened. 

We, as followers of God, are signposts for others, our lives are supposed to help point to His truth and faithfulness as living parables of what is possible.  Again and again in the Bible, the miraculous and powerful acts of God happen to reveal His glory and point the way to life in Him. 

Baby Isaac was not just for Sarah’s pleasure, he was a promise enfleshed, the beginning of the Messiah’s genealogy, and part of something eternal.  He did bring his mother joy but that is not why we know this story.  We see it as a supernatural act of God to fulfill His promise to bless the entire world through Abraham’s offspring.  God is good, He is all powerful, and He has a plan.  Be ready, you are a part of it!

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/joshua/ for an overview of this book as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Joshua 8:1-9:15

You know the saying, “All is fair in love and war…”  As Israel enters the promised land, we see this “training” of the nation.  Training towards obedience, and now in today’s story, we find training in what?  (Look at 9:14)  This will become important as we continue our reading tomorrow.

 

Luke 22:63-23:25

Isn’t it human nature, sin nature I mean, for Herod to respond to Jesus the way he is.  Imagine you had heard the stories about Jesus, and now here he is.  He is being accused ‘vehemently’ of crimes, and all Herod wants to see is a sign or some sort.  Jesus’ situation is serious, and Herod is looking to be entertained. 

 

I am also intrigued, how being a leader like Pilate, is tied to being ‘liked.’  That he is more afraid of the people, than he is of crucifying an innocent man. 

 

Again, we are familiar with these stories.  What are you noticing in them as you read them?

 

Psalm 51:1-9

This is one of my favorite confessional psalms.  I think it helps to understand the backstory.  David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and then to cover it up, has her husband Uriah killed in battle.  And until the prophet Nathan confronts him, David isn’t really thinking twice about his actions.

But once confronted, psalm 51 is David’s response. 

 

Now in this psalm is the statement, “Against you, you only, have I sinned…”  David’s choices obviously had an impact on both Bathsheba and Uriah, and yet, his sin seems to be against God.  Does that make sense to you?

April 23, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Jesus, we are so grateful for your sacrificial love

Forgive us for our impatience in these difficult times,

Open our eyes to Your grace today. 

We ask that You would help the healthcare workers today and comfort the sick.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

 

On Monday, Sandy Sager requested that we use this week’s meditations to keep exploring how we “wait well”.  So far we have examined praying, and studying the Word, obviously there’s a lifetime more to be said on those topics but today we are going to dig deeper on number three, “active waiting”.

 

Waiting Well

1. They knew God; they knew his character and his word. (Today this is why we study the Bible)

2. They kept talking to God and they spoke honestly to Him (Through praying with honesty and persistence, we both listen and share our hearts with God)

3. They stayed active in their waiting; listening and looking for God. (This means doing everything to the glory of God wherever we are at any given moment)

4. When God did show up in power, they listened and were obedient. (So be ready at all times because God is always at work)”

 

Waiting often means we are stuck doing something other than what we want to be doing.  For instance, my college kids don’t want to be at home.  It’s Sam’s senior year and Tessa’s freshman year.  They each have things they were looking forward to about being on campus.  Sophia is a bio major and labs are a big part of her classwork, but she can’t utilize any of the equipment because she is here at home.  The challenge is how to live faithfully in this moment. 

For my kids it means doing their schoolwork to the best of their ability, staying in touch with friends while still being present here at home.  It means falling back into the routine of chores, like doing dishes with a good attitude, even though the kitchen staff would take care of that if they had still been at school.  It means working to address any small conflicts, before they get out of hand, since we are all living on top of each other, day in day out, in a small house. 

Life is not what we expected it to be this spring, so what?  This is what it is, the challenge is to do, “what it is” well, by seeking to be loving, patient, peaceful, kind, gentle, faithful, good, self-controlled and joyful no matter what our day looks like.  If this seems like a tall order, it is.  In fact it’s impossible unless you open your heart wide to the power of the Holy Spirit, speak truthfully about your pain, sorrow, and trouble to Jesus, cry out to the Father for forgiveness and be prepared for God to speak back and show you a new way of waiting well.

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/joshua/ for an overview of this book as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Joshua 5:13-7:26

There is something intriguing about going barefoot in the presence of the army, but once again this is reflective of the point that Joshua is equal to Moses in leading Israel.  Both Joshua and Moses cross bodies of water ‘supernaturally’ and like Joshua, Moses was asked to remove his shoes.  There are echoes of Moses throughout the story of Joshua.

 

This is a story most are familiar with.  Veggie Tales, which is a children’s series, has a depiction of this event.  There is a question about the ‘total’ destruction of various nations that we will read about throughout Joshua.  The Bible Project handles this very well.  So follow the link above for their explanation.

 

The story of Achan reveals how serious God takes obedience.  It may seem harsh, especially in light of Grace, but I believe it is a good reminder that Grace isn’t an invitation to sin.

 

Luke 22:39-62

Having just gone through Holy Week, are there any details in Luke’s re-telling, that surprise you?  Any details that stand out to you?

 

Psalm 50:16-23

I would encourage you to re-read the whole psalm in one setting.  What is it that the psalmist is communicating?

 

April 22, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Today Father care for the caregivers and give them endurance.

Fill the lonely with a sense of Your presence.

Be with the widow, the orphan, the stranger and the prisoner.

Show those in power how to lead with humility and diligence.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.  (2Timothy 3:15b-17 msg)

 

I know that many people find the Bible to be unhelpful and difficult to understand and that’s why I wanted to come back to this verse again.  When I was in middle school I decided I would read the whole Bible from front to back.  Now, I loved reading and I had tackled some pretty big books by that age but the Bible had me baffled.  Parts seemed to repeat themselves, other parts were phenomenally boring and in other parts people were doing really bad things and God didn’t seem to care.  I kept going mainly because I wanted to be able to say I had read the whole Bible, but if reading implies understanding then I am still working on “reading” the whole Bible.

I have learned one thing about the Bible for certain; it has a power to inform, transform, and reform like no other text.  It really is a living Word, but it is not easy.  It is 66 different books and letters written across centuries by different people but it tells one BIG story; about how God so loved His world that He gave His only son to restore all things. It is composed of poetry, prose, narratives, legal language, witty sayings, parables, and personal letters; each style of writing requires us to pay attention not only to what it says to us but what the writer was saying to the original audience.  This is how the Word teaches us. 

Too often we want to edit the Bible, like Thomas Jefferson, who went through his bible and took out all the miracles because they didn’t fit with his idea of God.  We can argue with the Word, dislike what it says, wish it hadn’t been written, but we should never just toss the hard bits aside.  Instead, let them be the beginning of a conversation with God and the community.  Bring the tough questions, write notes in the margins of your bible, call Pastor Mike and ask, “What is the deal with this?”

While we wait in this season, let’s develop a habit of reading and exploring the Word, loving the Word, and being formed by God’s Word.

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/joshua/ for an overview of this book as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Joshua 3:1-5:12

God’s intent is to show that he is with Joshua just as he was with Moses.  So the decision to cross the Jordan River, at flood stage, is a reminder of Moses and the Israelites crossing what body of water?  (Look to Exodus 14:21-22 and compare it with Josh 3:17)

 

In Genesis 17, we find that circumcision is the sign of the covenant God made with Abraham.  Take a moment and go back and read about this.

 

Luke 22:1-38

I continue to be amazed at just how many comments are made about the chief priests and the teachers of the law, “fearing” the people.  Nowhere does it say that they feared God.

 

Why do you think Luke in 22:13 notes, “they left and found things just as Jesus had told them?”  (Both at the triumphal entry and in preparation for Passover, we find similar notation.)  What does that lead you to believe concerning the crucifixion?

 

Psalm 50:1-15

Does God NEED the sacrifices that are made?  This psalm has the quote so many like to use, “the cattle on a thousand hills.”  What do the sacrifices symbolize?

April 21, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Open our eyes to see your gifts in the midst of difficulty

Thank you Lord for all your blessings and forgive us for doubting Your goodness

Lift those who carry heavy burdens, comfort the bereaved, heal the sick,

And use us to reveal Your love to the world.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.  (2Timothy 3:15b-17 msg)

 

In this moment of worldwide waiting, there are some people in essential services who are busier than ever, but many of us have a good bit of free time since public outings are off-limits.  Some people are learning a new language, how to dance, or organizing their pantry.  These are all great options but as Christians there’s another even better option.  Why not jump into God’s word? 

If you feel overwhelmed by just trying to read it, you are not alone. Many people describe a feeling of stress or distraction when thinking about reading the Bible, especially if it is not part of their routine.  Remember spiritual warfare is real and the enemy does not want you to read the Word.  You are not alone, everyone in the church reads the Bible and at times has the, “What in the world does this mean?” experience.

Pastor Mike is offering insight and feedback alongside the daily scripture reading plan available on our website, The Bible Project has great videos that can help you feel better equipped, and Jeremy and I have created podcast discussions that you can listen to on the website as well.  DO not waste another second, God’s Word is powerful, “Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us”.  If you have any questions feel free to call Pastor Mike, Jeremy or myself and ask away, understanding God’s Word was always meant to be a community effort and even your church leaders have questions.  We wrestle with the Bible and lean in to one another to better understand what God is saying.  So what are you waiting for?

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/joshua/ for an overview of this book as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Joshua 1:1-2:24

As we begin the study of Joshua, I would encourage you to turn to the bible project and their summation of the book.  They continue to have some amazing insights into the “big picture.”

 

In the opening verses of chapter 1, we see the repetition of the phrase, “be strong and courageous.”  Why do you think this is? 

 

Obedience is an idea that we are finding regularly throughout our OT readings.  Reflect on the idea of obedience.  When you are obedient to someone, what are you communicating? 

 

I am amazed by the fact that the two Israelite spies will find help from a prostitute.  And consequently, it is the prostitute who will acknowledge everything God is doing. 

 

Luke 21:5-38 

Today’s text from Luke, I imagine, is troubling for most people.  Why?  Is it the false messiahs that will come in Jesus’ name?  Is it because of the imagery – wars or earthquakes, famine and pestilence…  Is it the persecution of those who follow Jesus? 

 

In 21:20ff we see the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersing of Israel. 

 

There is even an odd note about “signs in the sun, moon and stars.”  If we consider all these descriptions as one unit, what do they communicate?  We often want details, we want to see the trees, when what is being communicated is “big picture” it is more about the forest.  The sense of this unit is that difficult times are ahead.  Including the destruction of Jerusalem.

 

Or maybe this text is troubling for us because we are looking for clues about the coming of the Son of Man and the redemption he will bring.  We want to know when.  Especially in light of the statement, “this generation will not pass away until all these things have happened.”  When I read the bible, and I come across things I don’t understand, things that are challenging, I try to interpret these in light of the overall witness of scripture.  So for example, looking back on Holy Week and the triumphal entry, it is amazing how accurate everything was that Jesus proclaimed and predicted.  So why does this one statement seem inaccurate?  Could it be because of our expectations?  Some interpreters will understand this statement in light of Christ’s resurrection and ascension.  Others will say that it was fulfilled in 70 AD, with the destruction of the Temple, roughly forty years later.  And others say it is not one event, but many. 

 

Remember how this passage started.  The disciples were commenting on the beauty of the temple.  Could Jesus’ point be… that the temple is not actually the point?

 

Proverbs 10:11-20

Proverbs are just that.  Words of wisdom, in pithy little sayings.  I know individuals that read one a day, and reflect on that proverb all day long.  That might be more interesting than reading them as a group.

April 20, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Today Lord be with the sick, especially those facing death alone.

Lead our leaders.

And help us to turn our hearts towards You.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.  

(1 Timothy 2:1-3 msg)

 

This is the same verse we looked at Saturday, but I felt it was a good place to start this week.  Before Lent our Tuesday evening Bible Study was in a series on Prayer.  We took a break to participate as a church in our Lenten Small Group Studies (does this not feel like ancient history?) but what struck me was the deep and powerful discussions we were having about prayer.  We generated a two page list of questions that class members had about prayer.  It was interesting to me that many of those questions revolved around how to “do it right”. 

My relationship with Jesus started when I was a child, before I had ever been to church.  It consisted of me talking in my heart to a companion that was always with me.  It wasn’t until I was in third grade that we went to church for the first time.  On that first Sunday, I was introduced to Jesus by name. “SO, that’s who that is!” was my thought.   It never occurred to me that there was a right or wrong way to pray, I just did it.

As adults, we do need to grow and mature; mentally, emotionally and spiritually, BUT we are also encouraged to come to God with child-like confidence, unafraid and with boldness.  Stop worrying about “doing it right” and instead just start doing it. 

If we pray and study God’s Word, He is a good father, and He will correct and guide us if we need it.  “According to the NIV Exhaustive Concordance, the word “pray” is used 121 times, not including the various conjugations of the verb. After “pray”, you have “prayed” at 68 times, “prayer” at 106 times, “prayers” at 32 times, “praying” at 36 times and “prays” at 12 times, for a total of 375 times” (https://www.quora.com/How-many-times-is-prayer-mentioned-in-the-Bible) In this season of waiting, when we can do nothing else, we need to pray because praying is doing something!

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/deuteronomy/ for an overview of this book as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12

Moses’ last act was to speak an individual blessing over each of the tribes of Israel.  Today’s reading is the conclusion of the book of Deuteronomy, which is the last book of the Pentateuch – or the first five books of the bible.  Traditionally, these five books had been attributed to Moses, and they are the story of the formation of Israel, Israel’s captivity in Egypt, their deliverance and then wanderings through the wilderness.  It will end at the edge of the Promised Land, because Moses was not permitted to enter the Promised Land.  Tomorrow as we begin Joshua, the story will continue as we prepare for Israel’s entrance into the Promised Land. 

 

Luke 20:27-21:4

Why would the Sadducees, who did not believe in the Resurrection, ask Jesus about the resurrection?  His answer to their question, we are told, will put an end to the questions.

 

Jesus will warn against the teachers of the law, and make a special note about the widow’s offering.  In each of these, what is Jesus’ point?

 

Psalm 49:1-20

This morning’s psalm makes a case for the resurrection.  Who will be saved after they have died?

April 18, 2020

 

So I received this from Ethel yesterday.  Nicole thought it was odd, but I kinda liked it.  It’s funny to me that one of our oldest congregants is the most “hip.”

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlgWw2w4IEo

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

May our leaders fear the Lord more than they fear man.

May our hearts seek the Lord in the midst of uncertainty.

May those who serve be filled with courage and endurance.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.  (1 Timothy 2:1-3 msg)

 

Politics today is very divisive.  To be fair though, since politics is the framework for distributing power, wealth and resources, history shows it’s always been pretty messy.  In fact many people today believe it is the “other” party that is the problem when in fact WE are the problem - humanity.  We are broken, sinful creatures, unable to even do what we know is right in our own lives much less for the greater good of all the world.  How often have we sat on the couch, taken an extra serving, or watched TV late into the night; when we know that it is bad for us.  Rather than armchair coaching the world, we as Christians are called to pray, fervently for those in leadership.  The world is complex, full of intractable problems with NO simple answers.  Those who take on the responsibility of leadership need ALL the help they can get.  Let us pray and pray faithfully knowing only God will fully solve all our problems and in His timing.  Will you pray with me?

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/deuteronomy/ for an overview of this book as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Deuteronomy 30:11-31:29

Yesterday we talked about this idea of covenant.  Deut 30:19 is that symbol of covenant.  Covenants are established in the sight of witnesses.  In this situation, those include the “heavens and the earth.”

 

Why do you think, that God, knowing that Israel would turn away from Him, would still follow this plan?  What will God be able to accomplish, even in Israel’s disobedience.

 

Luke 19:11-44

Ok, so the parable of the 10 minas is a tricky parable.  So here’s my question… if I were to give you a job, and you were faithful in executing that job, would it make sense to give you another job?  Conversely, if I gave you a job, and you were not faithful in executing that job, would it make sense to give you another job?  How does this idea of faithfulness impact your understanding of the parable Jesus is telling?

 

The rest of our text is about the triumphal entry.  Are there any details that you were surprised to read?

 

Psalm 48:1-8

The glory our psalmist is talking about, is the glory of God’s presence within the city of God.  It’s interesting how we often want to see glory in “things” and overlook that the glory belongs to the One those things point to.  While our sanctuary is beautiful, like the psalmist is writing, we want people to see the glory of God when they walk through our doors, don’t we… what would that look like?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

 

Let’s pray together:

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Lord be with those who care for others.

Lift up the poor, the hungry, the sick, and the stranger.

Guide those who lead in the paths of humility, compassion and service.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. 6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them- he remains faithful forever. 7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free,  8  the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. 9  The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. 10  The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord. (Psalm 146:5-10 NIV)

 

Did you know that God mentions His compassion on the poor hundreds of times throughout the Bible? The word “poor” occurs about 200 times but various other words and expressions regarding poverty occur over 2000 times! God cares about our earthly circumstances and He knows how hard it is when money is tight.  He also recognizes that many circumstances create distress; oppression, hunger, imprisonment, disability, having to leave your homeland, losing your family and loved ones.  Jesus lived many of these sorrows; he was poor, homeless, outcast by his family at times, separated from his Father (both earthly and heavenly), as a baby spent time in Egypt as a refugee, was imprisoned, tortured, and murdered.  God sees.  He knows.  He cares.  He also gives us a challenge; since He is the source of all our blessings we are to share those with others, especially those in need.   In difficult times, when people are losing their jobs left, right, and center, when our health is up in the air, when we are not sure what the next day will bring, it can be tempting to circle the wagons.  It can seem reasonable to “take care of your own” and let others take care of themselves.  However, the Bible paints a picture of God’s people giving when it is not easy, welcoming the outsider, and loving the unlovable. In times like these, we ask God to fill us with an extra measure of wisdom, grace and love. He desires to show us how to be compassionate, how to care for others, how to pray (especially if we have never really learned how), and how to be faithful because our hope is not in money, power, politicians, or a stimulus check, but in

“the God of Jacob, the Lord our God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them- He remains faithful forever Blessed are those seek HIM!”

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/deuteronomy/ for an overview of this book as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Deuteronomy 29:1-30:10

The language of “covenant” is all throughout our text this morning.  A covenant was much like today’s wedding vows or the agreement you make with a bank when you buy a house.  The difference with a covenant however, was that the consequences for breaking it was death.  Covenants were that serious.  It is for this reason that the language here at the end of Deuteronomy seems so harsh.

 

And yet, with as serious as a covenant is, in the first ten verses of chapter 30 we find hope.

 

Luke 18:31-19:10

In light of the Deuteronomy 30:1-10, what is Jesus saying in Luke 19:10?

 

Proverbs 10:1-10

Do any of these stand out to you?

April 16, 2020

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

 

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Help us to not grow weary of doing good.

Help the “helpers” who put themselves at risk to serve.

Help us to have the eyes to see and the ears to hear.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9 NIV)

 

As a kid I was a world-class quitter.  I quit just about everything I started; dance class, Brownies, violin, color guard, field hockey, track, even the Jaques Cousteau club that I started.  There was always a reason. Brownies was incredibly boring compared to what my brother was doing in Boy Scouts.  The band’s color guard involved being able to walk in time and count your steps while spinning a flag, way beyond my skill set.  The girls on the field hockey team were mean.  You get the idea, I just didn’t stick with things when the going got tough.

As a young adult, I scolded my parents for letting me become a serial quitter, but what they said stuck in my mind.  “It was more work than you can imagine to keep you going once you had decided to quit.”  I realized quitting takes work too and that was where I had put my energy once I had made up my mind. 

As an adult I am not a “quitter”.  At times I can run into problems that seem beyond my ability but for the most part I stick with things once I start them.  The change came from inside, quitting began in my imagination. When I would imagine how much easier it would be to walk away… but now I have learned instead to use my imagination to help me endure.  To visualize how good it feels to get a task done and to remind myself of the how my kids, husband, animals, friends, etc… depend on me.  I have learned that there are rewards beyond reckoning hidden along the way and that as I persist I find joys I never expected. 

Paul faced all kinds of hardships and trouble but he also knew that following Christ would be hard and that we would be tempted to give up, that we would grow weary of doing good, BUT do not give up!  Jesus faced the same temptations and He will help you to endure for God’s glory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/deuteronomy/ for an overview of this book as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Deuteronomy 28:15-68

Wow!  Don’t you feel like there are certain chapters in the bible, that should come with a warning, “Difficult to Read!”  This section of warning is one of those difficult chapters.  Why do you think we find such a harsh warning here in Deuteronomy?

 

I think this chapter is difficult to read because we know that this is exactly what will happen to Israel.  The prophets will bring us back to this warning.  And they will explicitly state just where Israel went wrong. 

 

Luke 18:1-30

What an interesting parable on prayer.  Re-read verse 1, why did Jesus tell this parable?  Consider that alongside of verse 8.  How do faith and prayer relate?

 

A second parable on prayer.  What is the point it makes?

 

As we read about wealth and family, the question to be asking is what would it look like to elevate them above God in our lives.  That is the warning here.  (It is not to sell everything we have, or to abandon our families)

 

Psalm 47:1-9

What a great psalm of praise.  It’s a reminder to give thanks.  

April 15, 2020

The photo from yesterday was of Sharyn Kolbrich, in her Easter dress and bonnet.  Good job to all who took a stab at that one.

 

 

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s pray together:

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

We thank you for your gentle kindness.

We thank you for your presence and compassion.

We thank you for your provision even in difficult times.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. (1Peter 1:3 NIV)

Beth Moore tells a story, “I was taking my usual route on my morning walk when I happened upon a simple scene with a telling application.  Four ducks were splashing in a mud puddle in the sidewalk while a large pristine pond was just over a small hill.  I stopped in my tracks and stared, it was as though God were saying to me, “Beth, that’s like my church splashing in a mud puddle with a sea of living waters is within her reach.” *

I think we are often satisfied with puddles and ignorant of the incredible bounty that God has for us, a bounty that will sustain us no matter our circumstances. I wonder if, in the midst of trouble, difficulty and frustration, it has occurred to us that God has given us everything we need or do we spend our time telling God what we want Him to give us. 

Peter, is clear in his letter, that this abundance of God is to empower us to live lives that point to God and the way to access this is through our knowledge of Him.  We come to know God by spending time in His word, in His community, and by listening to Him. Do we know Him?

Feel free to watch this video to get inspired to get out of the puddle! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upGCMl_b0n4

*Believing God Day by Day: Growing Your Faith All Year Long, Beth Moore, B&H Publishing, 2008

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/deuteronomy/ for an overview of this book as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Deuteronomy 26:1-28:14

In Chapter 26, the “first fruits” offering has two purposes.  The first is that it is a reminder of what God has done for Israel.  The second is that it is a provision for those who are vulnerable.  What has God done, and who are the vulnerable?

 

So much of what was done in the Old Testament, was about memory.  Remembering what God had done, and how He fulfills His promises.  As Christians, what is the memory we carry?

 

Luke 17:11-37

How does the story of the 10 lepers parallel our Old Testament reading for today?

 

This teaching about the coming of the Kingdom of God and the Son of Man, is really about Christ’s return and the restoration of all things.  It is a day “longed for” because this life has become to difficult.  Jesus will use the story of Noah, when “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (Gen 6:5) and the story of Lot (Gen 19) and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, to make his point.  The point, is an end to evil!

 

Psalm 46:1-11

In the midst of Covid-19, what do these first three verses remind you of?

 

This psalm seems to speak of the same image we find in our Luke reading.  Can you see that?

Day 7 at home and the dog is looking at me like, "See, this is why I chew the furniture!"

April 14, 2020

 

Good Morning FPCS,

Two quick notes… first, if you would prefer to not get this daily prayer, devotional and scripture reading, just let me know and I’ll take your name and email off the list.  Second, don’t feel like you have to read everything I am sending.  Read whichever part you prefer.  Please, don’t see this as an obligation. 

 

So, I received this picture over a week ago.  It is of one of our members in her Easter Dress, back when bonnets were all the rage.  If you can guess who this is it is worth a Daffin’s candy bar once we all get back together again. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Father, today be with the doctors, nurses, caregivers, officers, soldiers, firemen, and other public servants who risk their lives to care for us.

Father, also lift up the “essential” workers who are also at risk in warehouses, grocery stores, and other places of business.

Comfort the sick and dying, the stranger and the prisoner.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

MEDITATION

"Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.  Matt 23:37 (NIV) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                           (Creamy sitting on 8 chicks)

 

Our bantam hens are hatching out the first batch of chicks.  It is always awesome to go into the barn and hear that peeping sound, so shrill and insistent.  The process of hatching out of an egg is pretty intense for the chicks, they have to “pip” the egg.  Breaking a hole in the shell with their little “egg tooth” (which is a nub on top of their beak that later falls off) they have to work a crack the circumference of the shell.  They are using up the last of their resources from the yolk and it can take up to 24 hours as they twist and push and work to break free.  During the process the mama hen will not get up, her warmth and humidity under her feathers are crucial to the process.  If the egg membrane gets dried out, it hardens and can trap the little chick in the egg.  The temptation to help a late breaking chick along is strong, you want to just get in there and help the little guy, but you can’t.  In our experience chicks we have helped almost always die.  The struggle to be born is a crucial step in the chick’s healthy development.

I am the same way with my friends, kids, and myself; I hate to see the struggle, I want to help by making life easier, but what if that is no help at all?  Jesus is the best mama hen there is and He knows when to help and when to sit back and let us struggle.  We are not so good at discerning when struggle is good because, “Well, if it’s hard it must be bad, right?”  Yet, when I look back over my life, it is the pain, the struggle, the hard parts that have made me who I am.  I would not give them back even though at the time I would have done anything to avoid them.  Aren’t you glad God is such a wise mama?

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/deuteronomy/ for an overview of this book as you read through it.  This will help with the “big picture.”    

 

Deuteronomy 23:1-25:19

Here’s a hard one… Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:9 quotes one of our verses from Deut this morning.  Did you notice which one?

 

It is amazing to me, how some of the commands/laws seem so strange, while others seem to make complete sense.    

Luke 16:19-17:10

The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus has so many good points in it.  Does it relate at all to any of the commands in Deut?  How does Luke 16:31 strike you in regards to Easter?

 

In chapter 17 we find four insights into being a disciple or follower of Jesus.  Be careful not to cause someone else to stumble; forgive those who ask for forgiveness; it doesn’t take much faith to do amazing things (consider simply loving your neighbor); as a servant how do you expect to be treated?  Do these make sense to you?

 

Psalm 45:10-17

If you missed the beginning of this psalm, this is a “wedding psalm” which is why it might sound different from most psalms we read.

April 12, 2020 Click Here for Easter Sunday Online Worship Service

April 11, 2020 Click here Holy Saturday Letter from Pastor Mike

April 10, 2020 Click Here Holy Week Good Friday Meditation Video

April 9, 2020 Click here for Tenebrae Online Worship Service 

April 7, 2020 Click Here Holy Week Tuesday Meditation Video

April 6, 2020 Click Here Holy Week Monday Meditation Video

April 5, 2020 Click here for Palm Sunday Online Worship Service

April 3, 2020

Good Morning FPCS,

 

 

 

 

Thanks Ethel.

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Lord you are the breath of life, be with those laboring to breathe.

Raise up leaders to be humble servants, ready to sacrifice and serve.

Encourage the healers and caregivers.

Lift our eyes to You, when all the world clamors for our attention.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

 

Meditation

1 So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin, which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us.  2Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God's throne.   (Hebrews 12:1-2 Good News Bible)

 

“Oh Covid-19, among other things you have filled our in-boxes with so much email!” But since we can’t gather, shop, or go to the movies I guess we have time to read them all, right? Mike’s parents have been forwarding us their church’s encouragement emails and I was deeply touched by the one from March 31st.

It contained a video of one of their worship leaders singing, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” while he played the guitar.  I have never thought particularly about the lyrics of this hymn, but considering the state of things the lyrics are actually highly relevant.  In fact, Helen Lemmel, wrote this hymn in 1918, at the height of the Spanish flu pandemic and WWI. 

Watch and enjoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KmE5p2n85s

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conqu’rors we are!

His Word shall not fail you, He promised;
Believe Him and all will be well;
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

We are encouraged by this hymn and the author of Hebrews to look to Jesus and His Word as an anchor when everything else seems adrift.  Be encouraged! We truly are more than conquerors, even when we don’t get out of our pajamas!

For a worship song variation on Helen’s song check out this song on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2tKVqZZiI4

 

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

So we have a new book to unpack… woohoo!  Drum roll please…  “Deuteronomy.”  I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/deuteronomy/ for an overview of this book as you begin your reading. 

Deuteronomy 1:1-2:23

Genesis 15:5 is an interesting verse in light of Deut 1:10. Why?

 

The first chapter is a recap of the book of Numbers.  An overview of what has brought Israel to this point.  What jumps out at you as you read this chapter?

 

Coming into chapter 2, we find that the descendants of Esau (whose brother was???) live in Seir.  They are relatives to the nation of Israel, and for that reason, God will not permit Israel to harm them.  Jumping down to 2:22, we find that it was God who proved for the descendants of Esau. 

 

2:7 is interesting.  God has been with Israel for the last forty years, as they wandered through the wilderness, and we find this really interesting phrase, “You have not lacked anything.”  But if you remember, Israel did a lot of complaining.  They felt like they lacked a good bit.  What is the difference?  And consequently, what does it mean that we lack nothing?

 

Luke 9:57-10:24

At the end of chapter 9, there are several accounts of people following Jesus, or at least being invited to do so.  What do you think Luke is trying to say?

 

Jesus will send out 72.  When they return, they do so with joy, regarding all they were able to do.  Jesus will caution against putting our joy in the wrong things.  What do you see Jesus saying in 10:20?  What does that mean for the miraculous?

 

Psalm 41:1-6

In this psalm, David is noting God’s special blessing on who?  (41:1)  What does this mean to you?

April 2, 2020

Good Morning FPCS,

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

We lift up the parents and children together at home.

We pray for the lonely alone in their homes.

We intercede for the sick and troubled, heal them we pray.

We thank you for healers and leaders, guide them today.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

 

Meditation

17 The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

 

 

 

It can be difficult at times to believe that God likes us.  We all know that Jesus loves us because the “Bible tells us so”, but does He really like us? I have struggled at times with feeling worthy of God’s grace and love.  It wasn’t until we had children that I came to believe with all my heart that not only does God love me, He really, really likes me. 

Sam was about 5 months old and I was struggling with a case of undiagnosed thyroid disease that left me exhausted, disoriented, and very down.  I have always struggled with feeling like a failure and I felt like I was failing at this whole “mom thing” big time.  Mike would come home from work and ask brightly, “How was your day, what did you do?”  Honestly, I couldn’t remember, “I fed Sam, I think I vacuumed the living room…?” 

It felt pretty bad and one night I climbed into bed and decided I just wasn’t going to get up the next day.  That next morning, as I lay in the bed cuddling Sam after Mike left for work, as clear as day, I heard God speak to me.  He said, “You are MY baby.” 

In that moment God took all the love and passion I had for this tiny helpless creature (who couldn’t do anything, not even sleep through the night!) and revealed His love for me.  I liked my baby so much, he was adorable and sweet and absolutely no use whatsoever.  He was not efficient, or capable, or wise, or infallible yet to me my baby was more than sufficient-he was perfectly wonderful.

God not only loves you, He likes you and thinks you are perfectly wonderful.  He wants you to grow up of course, mature and overcome your weaknesses.  He wants you to come into your inheritance of true intimacy with Him and live a life that absolutely reeks of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and self-control for His glory and your salvation.

Zephaniah assures us that God loves you so much that He leans in, holds you close and rejoices over you with singing, does it get any better than that?

Take a minute to enjoy Matt Maher song inspired by this verse

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNLScyQ7cqQ

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

(THESE ARE YESTERDAYS… BELOW IS TODAYS…)

Numbers 33:1-34:29

Once more, what we find is an accounting of what has happened and what is to come.  It is simply a record, as Israel prepares to enter the land promised to them. 

 

Numbers is an interesting book to start a bible reading plan with.  A lot of it, won’t make sense.  So again, I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/numbers/ for an overview of Numbers. 

 

Luke 9:10-27

There are so many stories within the bible, that we take for granted.  We have read them repeatedly or heard them preached on so often, that we stop listening.  The feeding of the 5,000 is a miraculous moment.  What is God saying to you through this moment?

 

Who do you say I am?  That is a great question, that Jesus asks us all.

 

Next week is Holy Week, as we remember Jesus’ journey to the cross.  The cross is not something that happened “to” Jesus, but it was something he knew was coming.  His death was not an accident, it was God’s plan.  Let us give thanks, as we prepare to celebrate God’s plan of salvation. 

 

Proverbs 8:22-31

Once more, we find a description of Wisdom.  It strikes me as odd, to personify wisdom in this way.  Why do you think Solomon talks about wisdom, as if she were a person?

 

TODAYS…

Numbers 35:1-36:13

Do you know who the Levites were?  They were descended from the tribe of Levi, and they were responsible for caring for the tabernacle and eventually the temple.  They did not have an inheritance, God was their inheritance.  The rest of the tribes supported the Levites through their offerings. 

 

Israel had laws to protect them from becoming the “Wild West.”  There was no mob justice like we see in so many countries today. 

 

When we are talking about tribal inheritance, remembering there were twelve tribes in Israel, what is God safe-guarding?  (Look at num 36:9)  Why did God care that each tribe maintain its inheritance?  What does a piece of land afford a family/tribe?

 

Luke 9:28-56

Re-read verse 27 leading into 28…  Does 28-36 shed light on verse 27 ?

 

Jesus has been revealing the Kingdom of God.  Where there is no disease or sickness, where being the least, like a child, is equal to the greatest.  Thinking about the laws of inheritance in Numbers, and what we see Jesus talking about here in Luke, what will the kingdom of God be like?

 

Why might Jesus have rebuked the disciples for wanting to call down fire upon the Samaritans?

 

Psalm 40:9-17

How does verse 17 fit in with everything we have read this morning?

April 1, 2020

Good Morning FPCS,

 

See if this picks you up…

 

https://youtu.be/MiJhfyduyS0

 

Thanks Nancy.

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

 

Let’s pray together:

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Today help us to slow down and breathe Your Spirit in

May Your patience to be revealed in our words and deeds.

We ask for your grace to be poured out on all the doctors, nurses, and caregivers.

We ask for your wisdom and servant spirit to be poured out on the world’s leaders.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Hebrews 13:2)

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, (Matthew 25:35)

In my Sophomore year of college, I spent a semester studying at Temple University in inner city Philadelphia.  The program was part of a partnership between Messiah College (where I was a student) and Temple.  I took the bulk of my classes at Temple but my faith-based classes were taught by Messiah faculty including a class called “Black Cross Cultural”. 

The purpose of the class was to give students an experience of another culture (Messiah offered a host of different experiences and all students had to take one semester of cross-cultural).  Part of the class included a two-week stay with an African American family in North Philly with two other Messiah students.  The experience was chock-full of new and challenging moments.  I learned so much and I am forever grateful for the kindness of our host family and the many lessons I learned.  However, one particular experience stands out in my mind.

I had to leave my host home very early one morning to get back to Temple’s campus by 7 a.m.  It was at least an hour commute by bus and then the subway.  I left my host home at 5:30 a.m. to catch the early bus and walked two blocks in the dark to the bus stop.  I was a scrawny white girl in a very shady neighborhood, alone, in the dark.  Needless to say, I felt nervous so I prayed as I walked along.  As I came into the streetlight by the bus stop I realized there was a very large black man standing just inside the bus shelter.  I did not know him and immediately I felt scared.  As I stood there, dithering about trying to nonchalantly walk back to my host home, the early bus rumbled by on the other side of the street! 

The man looked at me his mouth open, completely startled. “Oh NO! Here I be, just standing here napping and lunchin’ and I missed my bus!”  Then he began to chuckle, “Oh I’m gonna be late! It’s just too dang early, how did both of us get on the wrong side of the street?” I just stood there with my mouth hanging open, my brain trying to kick into gear. 

His big grin shining in his dark face he rumbled, “Well come on, lucky for us there be another bus in about fifteen.” He gestured to cross the road.  It turned out he was a deacon at his church and worked as a security guard downtown.  We had a really nice chat at the stop and then on the bus.  He wished me well when I got off at the subway station.  I never saw him again but I will never forget the absurdly wonderful sense of camaraderie as we stood there like dimwits watching our bus drive right by us. 

God does funny things sometimes, bringing unexpected people into our lives to challenge our preconceived notions and remind us that He is at work everywhere in everyone.  Hospitality, the welcoming of the stranger, is not a big part of American culture and after all the lock-down and social distancing I’m not sure where we’ll be.  So I am encouraging us as the church to pray for the stranger and to ask God to prepare us for new ventures in hospitality when once again we can socialize.   Let’s look forward to opening our homes, arms, and hearts when the time comes.

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

Numbers 31:25-32:42

 

Today's text seems uneventful.  Kind of a wrap-up as Israel prepares to enter the land promised to them by God.

 

Numbers is an interesting book to start a bible reading plan with.  A lot of it, won’t make sense.  So again, I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/numbers/ for an overview of Numbers. 

 

Luke 8:40-9:9

Following the story of the demoniac in the region of the Gerasenes, Jesus will return to Galilee and a crowd.  As he does we encounter a story about Jairus and his daughter, and a second story of a woman healed by touching Jesus.  Most often it was Jesus who touched the sick, whereas in this situation it is a woman who reached out and touched him, an unclean woman.  Jesus will commend her faith, relieving her fear of what she had just done.  Meanwhile, Jairus’ daughter will die.  

 

Faith, which is the same word as belief in the Greek, is all that Jesus will require. 

 

Numbers 32:12-12 captured my attention this morning.  “’Because they have not followed me WHOLEHEARTEDLY, not one of those who were twenty years old or more when they came up out of Egypt will see the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - not one except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they followed the Lord WHOLEHEARTEDLY.”

 

Jesus’ call to have faith, is a call to place our trust in Him, WHOLEHEARTEDLY.  To believe in Him, as well as believe Him.  Jairus, in light of the knowledge of his daughter’s death, had to believe Jesus, to have continued to follow Him into her room.  His mind would have told him that she had died, but Jesus was telling him, she will live.  Do we wholeheartedly believe Jesus?

 

Jesus will send out the twelve, giving them authority “to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.”  What I find interesting is that people are taking notice, including Herod.  How many people today, take notice about what the church is up to?  Have we lost sight of our calling?

 

Psalm 40:1-8

In psalm 40 we move from psalms of lament and confession to praise.  David is praising God for restoring him.  David will offer both types of prayer to God.  Prayers of sorrow or lament, as well as praise, depending upon the situation.  David's encouragement to us, is to be real with God.  He already knows where we are coming from, the question often is, do we?

 

Psalm 40 is also the basis for the song “40” by the Irish rock band, U2.  They have performed it live over 400 times.  Take time and look it up, you might find it enjoyable.  (Mind you, it comes from the 80's.)

March 30, 2020

Good Morning FPCS,

I received this from Len, yesterday…

 

At 7:45 am today at our local grocery store that opened at 8 for seniors only, a young man came from the parking lot and tried to cut in at the front of the extremely LONG line, but an old lady beat him back into the parking lot with her cane.


He returned and tried to cut in again but a second old woman feigned a punch to the face, but instead, kicked him in the groin and rolled him away.


As the young fellow approached the line for the 3rd time he said, "If y'all don't let me unlock the door, you'll never get in there."

 

I was just laughing with Nicole, because yesterday's joke about hair color had come from Harry and Ethel.  If you don’t know them, what you are missing is the fact that they are 94 years old, and their sense of humor, is a delight to be around.  They are a reminder that every day is an opportunity.

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s pray together:

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

While we are made from dust and to dust we shall return,

We are also eternal souls, destined to abide with you always

or to be separated from you forever. 

Help us to see that this life is a fleeting moment,

Help us to be of good courage,

Help us to keep our eyes on what is truly of value,

Help our leaders, healers, helpers and the most vulnerable.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

“…9But he (Jesus) said to me (Paul), ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthian 12:9-10)

 

 

               I recently picked up a book I have been meaning to read for a while, Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church-Growth Culture, I started it over the winter and now find that I have the time to finish it ;)  The section that really caught my attention is on the virtues of faithful leadership.  Tim Suttle, the author, identifies vulnerability as a key characteristic of not just leadership but of faith itself.  It struck me that vulnerability is what we are all feeling right now, so a word of encouragement about embracing it seems in order.

              “Vulnerability is an inescapable part of the human experience, I am not arguing that we need to become more vulnerable, we already are vulnerable.  The question is how are we handling our vulnerability? Are we masking it? Numbing it? Do we power up and avoid it? Do we hide and let ourselves be manipulated and controlled?

              We are vulnerable people.  Yet we will go to nearly any length to keep ourselves from feeling vulnerability.  We as Americans, don’t do vulnerability well.  We do strength and victory.  We do fight and get to the top, and “win at any cost”.  We don’t do vulnerability- it sounds too much like weakness and failure to us.

              One of the most important lessons I’ve learned…about vulnerability is that it feels like weakness, but it looks like raw courage.  It takes extraordinary courage to let yourself be seen.”

              Jesus came into this world as an infant, naked and vulnerable.  He lived as a man; humble, poor and working class.  He had siblings who doubted him, and friends who betrayed him.  He was mocked, denied, and murdered.  God became vulnerable to draw us toward Him.  We are weak, we are vulnerable, we will all die; so what are we hiding from? What are we running from? Brene Brown, a researcher and author, discovered in her research on courage, shame and vulnerability that when we embrace our vulnerability we experience: love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, hope, accountability, and authenticity. 

              What if God is using this moment in time to reveal how fragile our reality is? As a people, we live like we are invulnerable; lonely, fragmented, depressed, discouraged, and masked.  What if we recognize that what makes us vulnerable is our humanity? It may feel like dying to confess our weakness but only then is Christ’s power allowed free reign in our lives.  Are you willing to be vulnerable?

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

Numbers 29:12-31:24

I am reading Numbers 29 this morning, and it sounds like one of the children’s books I used to read to my kids.  On the first day, the hungry caterpillar ate…  Here’s the deal, God is spelling out for Israel, his expectations for celebrating the various holidays and festivals.  It seems repetitive, but it’s important.  Our culture is not very ritualistic, and so at times it is hard to find comfort in these commands.

Vows.  Alongside or the rituals, we now find the significance of our vows.  Also, something our culture wrestles with.  Why do you think both the rituals and the vows were so important?

 

This encounter with the Midianites, is one of those encounters that make reading the Old Testament difficult.  The idea of killing all women and boys, is a difficult image for us to come to grips with and understand.  And it is an image, that we will have to continue to wrestle with. 

 

Again, there are so many differences between our current culture and the cultures that existed 4,000 years ago.  So when we make comparisons, we are struck by how different things were.  It would be similar to the idea that most countries outside of the US think that peanut butter is repulsive.  How to wage war and how to worship at the temple, are very culturally relevant.  God was prescribing his expectations for Israel, relevant to the cultures that surrounded them.

 

Numbers is an interesting book to start a bible reading plan with.  A lot of it, won’t make sense.  So again, I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/numbers/ for an overview of Numbers. 

 

Luke 8:19-39

What does verse 21 mean to you?  Does that bring you comfort?

 

Where is your faith?  (v25)  What a great question for us, today.

 

I am always struck by the image in verse 35, “and they were afraid.”  Why do you think this was the case?  Why so much fear, that they would ask Jesus to leave?  Consequently, do you think their fear has anything to do with the reason why Jesus asked the man to remain, and to “tell how much God has done for you.”

 

Psalm 39:1-13

This is an interesting psalm.  David seems to be reflecting on how hard it is at times, to follow the Lord.  What do you notice?

March 29. 2020

Click Here for This Sunday's Online Worship Service

Good Morning FPCS,

 

 

 Thanks Harry and Ethel

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

 

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

Numbers 27:12-29:11

Moses’ time with Israel is coming to an end, as Israel enters the promised land.  Joshua will take over and what we notice at the end of chapter 27, is a practice similar to our ordination practices with elders and deacons.  What differences or similarities do you notice?

 

As the mantle of leadership is being handed off, we have a remembrance of the various offerings to be made at the various times throughout the calendar year.  As God’s chosen people, having been separated and called out from all other nations, the sacrifices and offerings were important to their identity.  As Christians, we don’t follow any of these rituals.  Do you know why?

 

Numbers is an interesting book to start a bible reading plan with.  A lot of it, won’t make sense.  So again, I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/numbers/ for an overview of Numbers. 

 

Luke 8:1-18

The parable of the sower is a popular parable, and well known by most.  Less popular seems to be the quote from Isaiah 6:9, which is the rationale behind Jesus speaking in parables.  “Though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.”  The language of ‘may not’ can be interpreted in two ways.  As a command, ‘you may not enter’ or as an observation, ‘those individuals may not understand what they have been told.’  If we read this rationale in light of verse 18, “therefore consider carefully how you listen” it seems that parables are meant to be wrestled with.  That when we come to scripture, we actually have work to do.  Jesus will explain it to us, if we are willing to listen.

 

Psalm 38:13-22

David continues to lament his sin.  In the midst of his sin, what is his cry to God?  (vv 21-22)  The psalms are examples of “how to” pray.  They give us an honest image of coming before God.  

March 28, 2020

Good Morning FPCS,

Here’s something I received from Nancy…

https://www.facebook.com/1666568745/posts/10219750443226015/?sfnsn=mo&d=n&vh=i

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Father, You are a God of order not chaos.

You spoke and out of the darkness all creation appeared.

Thank you for Your Spirit that directs us during this season of difficulty and upheaval.

We lift up the caregivers, leaders, and public servants.  Grant them wisdom and insight today.  We pray for the lonely and isolated, comfort them with Your presence.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

Meditation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I give him will never be thirsty again.  The water that I give him will become in him a spring of water welling to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

 

 

I used to struggle with dehydration.  After I graduated from college and began teaching, I found that it was hard to get out of the classroom to use the bathroom.  I got in the habit of not drinking throughout the day.  After I had my own kids it was still the same, time was so short, the kids needed to be cared for, there was no time for a potty break.  

I knew I needed to drink more, but you know the funny thing was, I wasn’t really thirsty anymore.  In fact, I got to the point where I didn’t like to drink water or anything else very much.  I also started developing headaches, dizziness, severe dry skin… And my doctor was very clear with me, “You NEED to drink, you are suffering from chronic dehydration.”  

While living in Haiti, we saw the problems that come with the lack of access to clean, fresh drinking water.  Dehydration is a national epidemic that has severe health ramifications, and coupled with mineral deficiencies, it can lead to all kinds of terrible health problems, some which mimic insanity. But I live in the United States.  I have clean fresh water on tap 24/7, and yet I had developed a habit.  

Not a good habit and it was a hard habit to change (aren’t they all).  But, my doctor’s words were a wakeup call. I needed to do something.  I needed to drink, but I had discovered the awful truth, the less you drink the less thirsty you are.  So now I needed to drink whether I felt like it or not.  

Then I discovered that the more water I drank the thirstier I became.  Now, if my water bottle isn’t handy (and I have several) I feel lost and very thirsty.

In the same way, over the last few years I have found that studying and memorizing scripture is also necessary and refreshing.  You see, I didn’t know how thirsty I was.  

I was having all these issues with anger and problems, with a hard heart and I couldn’t understand why, but God was kind enough to give me the prescription, “You NEED to drink, you are suffering from spiritual dehydration!”

In the same way that we need air and water, we also have a great spiritual need for God.  Today, I find studying and memorizing God’s word is a pleasure, though it hasn’t always been that way.   I needed to do it because I needed it, not because I wanted it, since of course I didn’t realize that I was thirsty in the first place.  

I encourage you to take a quick survey of how you are doing.  Are you full of vitality, full of gratitude for all that God is doing in and around you? (I don’t mean being perpetually happy-that’s a false goal) Is each day both a challenge and an adventure no matter what is going on?  Do you have something left to give anyone else or are you tapped out? Dry as bone…

If so consider taking a moment to hide God’s word in your heart, you may not realize how thirsty you are.

 

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

Numbers 26:12-27:11

We are in the midst of a second census.  The first one was for all who were entering the wilderness.  This second one will be for those entering the promised land.  It is a record and consequently a reminder of what happened during their wanderings.  Again, Paul will reference Numbers, in his letter to the church in Corinth, as both a reminder but also a warning.

 

What I find interesting in the midst of all the names, is the presence of women.  In Numbers 26:51 it says, “The total number of the men of Israel was 601,730.”  And yet in the midst of what preceded was a handful of names of women.  Christianity is unique in how God cares for both men and WOMEN.  This will continue on in Numbers 27, where permission will be given for an inheritance to be passed along to a family’s daughters.

 

Do you notice why God called for a census?  (Numbers 26:53)  Inheritance and land, was very important to both God and Israel.  Why do you think?

 

Numbers is an interesting book to start a bible reading plan with.  A lot of it, won’t make sense.  So again, I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/numbers/ for an overview of Numbers. 

 

Luke 7:36-50

This story begins with a woman “who lived a sinful life.”  There are all sorts of connotations that accompany this phrase.  Pause for a moment here, and listen to what is being said…

Now this woman is an example of someone who has acknowledged and is repenting of her sins.  She sees who Christ is, and in light of her own life, it brings her to her knees.  She is an amazing model for us to consider. 

 

She kneels in stark contrast to Simon.  The challenge laid at our feet, is who are we like?  Simon or the woman…

 

Proverbs 8:12-21

Remember, wisdom is the one speaking…

Wisdom is seen as this amazing gift, found by those who seek it.  The question is, where are we looking? 

 

Proverbs 8:13 is an amazing description of what it means to fear the Lord.  “To fear the Lord is… TO HATE EVIL!”  Especially the evil within.  Can you see how this connects with the story from the gospel of Luke?

March 27, 2020

Good Morning FPCS,

 

Charlie sent me this note a couple of days ago and he said I could share it with you…

“I found a new way to pray today that I thought I would share. I took one of my dogs for a walk on the Trout Island Trail today. As you know I can't go to the gym for a while and I miss the daily exercise I was getting. My goal has always been to get at least 10,000 steps in a day. This has not been easy with the stay at home times we are in. So as the dog and I walked I counted my steps and at every 1,000 steps I offered up a prayer of thanks to our Lord that I could do this and asked for help fighting this virus worldwide. I got in 10 prayers so I did get my 10,000 steps. I think it is a great way to pray.”

Thanks Charlie and please don’t hesitate to share what you have been up to, all of you.  The church is a community of people who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior, and who lend courage to one another.  We are on this journey together and therefore we need one another. 

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

 

Let’s pray together:

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Jesus, you are the great physician.  You healed the lame, gave sight to the blind, made the deaf to hear and raised the dead.  No disease or virus is beyond Your power but You did not heal everyone; in Your wisdom you made decisions beyond our understanding.  Father, be with the healers of today who are facing agonizing decisions, show them Your compassion and love. Spirit, give them wisdom, peace and strength.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:38-40)

 

I find the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, very interesting.  It is powerful and instructive.  The story of Jesus’ friendship with this family; Martha (the bossy elder sister), Mary (the determined visionary) and Lazarus (the hearty, generous friend of Jesus) appears in the Gospels of Luke 10:38-42 and in John 11:1-44, John 12:1-8*

These siblings lived together in Bethany and it seems that Jesus hung out at their place.  The siblings and their home were a refuge for Him and He was good friends with each of them. It is not surprising then, that Jesus’ delay in going to Bethany when He heard Lazarus was ill, strikes everyone as odd. 

Why didn’t He rush in and save this family from the grief and horror of Lazarus’ death?

14 So then he told (the disciples) plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” (John 11:14-15)

              It can be hard for us to comprehend why God does what He does.  We get impatient, angry, and despair that He even hears us when we ask and ask and it seems that He is not listening.  Mary and Martha knew that feeling, Jesus was just two miles away yet He did not come.  They knew He could heal, they knew He could save their brother, so what was He doing?

              Faith is the bravest thing we'll ever do; to believe without proof, to persevere without a glimpse of rescue, to go on when it seems that we have been abandoned; believing that God is who He says He is.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”23 

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”24 

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

These are the times when we, as believers, are called to trust God to be our refuge and our strength.  We are called to love without fear and act with bold courage. When all around us are filled with grief we will proclaim, “Yes Lord! I believe that You are our savior ‘even though we die’!” Because nothing else can save us from being consumed by fear, greed, and selfishness in times of uncertainty. Jesus can do anything. However, what He will do is up to Him, do you believe?

*Remember the first three Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) are very similar in parts and scholars agree that the Gospel of Mark was put together first from the memories of Peter (Mark was his scribe) and that Matthew and Luke used Peter’s account to guide their writings.  John wrote his account much later after he had become a pastor and most likely knew what the other Gospels included, which accounts for his different choices of events to relate.

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

Numbers 23:27-26:11

This has been a longer story, so let’s recap.  Balak, who is the king of Moab, sees all these Israelites coming and he is afraid.  So he turns to Balaam, to bring a curse upon Israel.  (There’s also the whole donkey talking thing, but that’s the gist…)

 

So, this idea of blessings and curses is kind of a foreign idea, at least for me.  But it is all throughout the first five books of the Old Testament.  Blessings and curses and oracles… what we take away is that these were common several thousand years ago.  So God was using the language of the “day” to communicate that He was with Israel.  He was leading them from Egypt and into a land He had chosen. 

 

This is what we have been grafted into.  A chosen people, that are the Lord’s.  He will fight for us and care for us and lead us, as long as we remember Him and follow.  (a side note; Paul in 1st Corinthians is citing a lot of the things that happened in the book of Numbers, and he is saying, “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did” 10:6, take a glance at 1st Cor chapter 10 if you have a moment, it will begin to make sense) 

 

Numbers is an interesting book to start a Bible reading plan with.  A lot of it, won’t make sense.  So again, I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/numbers/ for an overview of Numbers. 

 

Luke 7:11-35

Jesus performs this miracle of raising a widow’s son, and the response was “A great prophet has appeared among us…”  Do you know why?  (In 1st Kings 17:17ff we find the story of Elijah raising to life the son of a widow.) 

 

I am struck by just how often Jesus is challenging expectations.  John had heard about what Jesus had been doing, and yet he was confused.  The Pharisees and the experts in the law, had expectations, and they were disappointed.  I think we must be careful of our expectations, and instead spend time listening and following Christ. 

 

Psalm 38:1-12

Psalm 38 is a great prayer of confession.  A little over the top in my opinion… but then I remember those times where I was burdened by my sin.  Those times I grieved something I had done and all of a sudden, it doesn’t feel so extreme.  Nicole said last week she missed our prayer of confession, because of the assurance of forgiveness that we offer following it.  God makes a promise to us, that when we confess our sins and repent, he is there waiting to offer us forgiveness. 

 

Re-read psalm 38, as a reminder to confess and repent, as you receive God’s forgiveness and love. 

March 26, 2020

Good Morning FPCS,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Today we ask for special grace and insight for all the world’s leaders.  Lord they carry a great burden to care for those they serve.  Help them to seek you for truth, wisdom and humility.

Today we ask for special grace for the most vulnerable; the elderly, the sick, the poor and the prisoner.  You promised freedom, health, and provision for those who are lowly.

Thank You for Your limitless love.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. (Psalm 34:8)

When the bank in Australia rejected their loan application, pastor and World Vision staffer Jarrod McKenna and his wife Teresa launched a social media campaign that invited the wider public to “be the bank” and lend them the rest of the money. Astonishingly, within a couple of weeks, the community had pledged the full $600,000 in loans and donations, the last donation sneaking in just five minutes before the deadline.

 

But this is no ordinary home, First Home Project offers a welcoming community to asylum seekers and refugees where they can get a ‘hand up’ to start their lives by living with the Christians that started this project. The rental history helps them move on to more permanent rental agreements and the supportive community helps them to become more settled into local life. (https://www.craiggreenfield.com/blog/refugeewelcome)

ref·uge/ˈrefˌyo͞oj,ˈrefˌyo͞oZH/

noun

1. a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.

2. something providing shelter.

 

Here at the farm, we have several hens sitting on eggs right now and they fiercely defend their nests puffing up, clucking and pecking. God describes himself as a mother bird sheltering her chicks He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge …” (Psalm 91:4). This word REFUGE is a powerful word; to be safe and sheltered, protected from danger and trouble.  We all desire to find refuge when we face trouble and difficulty.  And God has a real heart for the refugee over and over again he commands his people to be kind and generous to those needing refuge because God’s people had been refugees; “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.”  Exodus 22:21

How can we offer refuge right now during social distancing? Is it by trusting that God will be our refuge and being kind and patient during trouble? By refusing to take more than our share?

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

Numbers 22:21-23:26

OK.  So, Balaam’s donkey starts talking, and he doesn’t have a problem with this?  He just has a conversation with her? (Maybe this is where the theme for Shrek came from) This story reinforces for Balaam, the idea that he must be obedient to the Lord, and not attempt to go in his own direction.

 

 

Numbers is an interesting book to start a bible reading plan with.  A lot of it, won’t make sense.  So again, I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/numbers/ for an overview of Numbers. 

 

Luke 6:37-7:10

Jesus is concluding a teaching regarding blessing and woe.  These parables and teachings reinforce an image of what the Kingdom of God will look like.  They help us understand how we are to live as followers of Christ.  What jumps out at you as you read these sayings?

 

This story of the centurion is an amazing story.  First, we note that the centurion was not a Jew.  He was a Gentile.  Which means, that this Gentile understands at a certain level who Jesus is, when there are those in Israel who do not.  Luke is showing us, in the way he organizes his gospel, what it means to follow Christ. 

 

Why does Jesus exclaim, that the centurion has Great Faith?

 

Psalm 37:32-40

In psalm 37, David is distinguishing between the wicked and the righteous.  And even though the wicked may flourish in this life, what is David’s hope for the righteous?

March 25, 2020

Good Morning FPCS,

 

A man walking along a California beach was deep in prayer. Suddenly the sky clouded above his head and, in a booming voice, the Lord said, "Because you have TRIED to be faithful to me in all ways, I will grant you one wish."


The man said, "Build a bridge to Hawaii so I can drive over anytime I want.” The Lord said, "Your request is very materialistic. Think of the enormous challenges for that kind of undertaking. The supports required to reach the bottom of the Pacific! The concrete and steel it would take! It will nearly exhaust several natural resources. I can do it, but it is hard for me to justify your desire for worldly things. Take a little more time and think of something that would honor and glorify me."
 

The man thought about it for a long time. Finally he said, "Lord, I wish that I could understand my wife. I want to know how she feels inside, what she's thinking when she gives me the silent treatment, why she cries, what she means when she says ‘nothing's wrong,’ and how I can make her truly happy."

 

The Lord replied, "You want two lanes or four on that bridge?"

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

 

Let’s pray together:

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Lord, You see past the barriers and divisions that we create, You see all people as Yours.  There is no insider vs outsider, rich vs poor, powerful vs weak but everyone belongs to You.  Help us to love and live the way you did during this crisis.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 

20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 

21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  (Matthew 6:19-21)

              Corrie Ten Boom shares a story about her father Casper Ten Boom.  The Ten Booms lived in Holland and were very poor financially.  Casper ran a watchmaking shop out of their home called the Beje (Bay-Shay).  Casper was very well respected as a watchmaker and considered one of the best in Holland.  When Corrie, a spinster in her 50’s, began helping in the watch shop she was often astounded at her father’s choices.

“ I loved the store and workshop.  There were many ups and downs in the watchmaking business, but Father seemed to have a keen understanding of the economic situation of our time…However, when it came to making money in his own shop, it wasn’t always so simple.  He loved his work but he was not a money-maker.

Once we were faced with a real financial crisis.  A large bill had to be paid, and there simply wasn’t enough money.  One day a very well dressed gentleman came into the shop and was looking at some very expensive watches.  I stayed in the workshop and prayed, with one ear on the conversation out in the front room.  The customer said, turning over a very costly timepiece in his hands. “This is just what I have been looking for.”

…I saw the affluent customer reach into his inner pocket and pulls out a thick wad of bills.  Praise the Lord-cash! (I saw myself paying the overdue bill and being relieved of the burden I had been carrying the past few weeks)

The blessed customer (then went on to explain that he used to patronize a different watchmaker named van Hooten, but he had passed away and his son had taken over the business.  The gentleman had a bought a watch from the son but after trying to repair it three times had failed) “That’s why I decided to find another watchmaker.”

(Casper asked to see the watch, made an adjustment, and returned it.) “There, it was a very little mistake.  It will be fine now.  Sir, I trust that young watchmaker…he is just as good as his father.  I think you can encourage him by buying the new watch from him.” 

“But, Ten Boom!” The customer objected.

(Casper went on to explain that Van Hooten jr. was struggling without his father.  He advised the customer to simply come him if there were any more problems with any of van Hooten’s watches)  “I’ll help you out.  I shall give you back your money and you return my watch.”

I was horrified.  I saw father take back the watch and give the money to the customer… (After he left) I said, Papa! How could you?”

“Corrie, you know that I brought the gospel at the burial of Mr. van Hooten.”

(Due to the great respect and his skill as a public speaker, Casper ten boom had the responsibility of speaking at the burial of all watchmakers in Haarlem and he always shared the Gospel.)

              “Corrie, what do you think that young man would have said when he heard that one of his best customers had gone to Mr. ten Boom? Do you think the name of the Lord would be honored? There is blessed money and cursed money.  Trust the Lord.  He owns a cattle on a thousand hills and He will take care of us.”

              I felt ashamed and knew that Father was right.  I wondered if I could ever have that kind of trust…Could I really trust God –with an unpaid bill? 

              “Yes, Father,” I answered quietly.  Who was I answering? My earthly father or my Father in heaven?*

During this season many people are running in fear for their economic safety.  They are trying to store up “treasures” here. Do we trust God, who knows our every need before we can express it, to care for us even now? Where is your heart?

*In My Father’s House by Corrie Ten Boom and CC Carlson, 1976. Fleming H Revell Co.

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

I don’t know if you have noticed or not, but the daily reading plan we are using seems to jump around a good bit, and it breaks up the stories at times in odd places.  Christian Ed has chosen this plan, because it has an audio file for the passages we are reading.  This allows us to listen to the text or read it, or for the really ambitious, both.  Sometimes though, we need to read beyond the text for today, to either remember or understand.  We will be blessed, from spending time in the bible.  Let this be an introduction to a daily practice of reading scripture. 

 

Numbers 21:4-22:20

Guess what… complaining and grumbling once again, with a little longing to return to Egypt and slavery sprinkled on top.  I can’t help wondering if God is trying to point out just how repetitive we are. 

 

The next story we find, is the story of Balaam.  Do you know what Balaam is known for?  (we will find out tomorrow)

 

The thing I find interesting about Balaam, is that he isn’t an Israelite, and yet, he has a relationship to God.  Look at 22:18, and notice the language in reference to God. 

 

Throughout the Bible, we come into contact with individuals, like Melchizedek and Balaam, who have a relationship with God.  It leads me to believe, that those who truly seek the Lord, will find him.  How do you understand these individuals?

 

Numbers is an interesting book to start a bible reading plan with.  A lot of it, won’t make sense.  So again, I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/numbers/ for an overview of Numbers. 

 

Luke 6:12-36.

In the midst of all the healings, Jesus is also teaching.  We are told people came for both.  He must have been so amazing to have been around. 

 

In the midst of the crowd, Jesus will turn to his disciples and make some powerful statements.  He is turning their understanding of the world, upside down.  Blessed are the poor and the hungry and those who weep – because a day is coming when that will all change.  (the question is, what day is he talking about…)  Whereas, woe to the rich and the well fed and those who laugh. 

 

Are the circumstances of our lives what provide the blessing or woe?  I don’t think so.  I think Jesus will make his point in verse 27 and following.  Why does Jesus call us to such a different standard?  (Look at verse 36)

 

Psalm 37:21-31

What do you see as an encouragement in these verses?  Verse 26 jumps out at me this morning.

March 24, 2020

Good Morning FPCS,

 

 

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

Let’s pray together:

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thank you Father for your kindness (You love us beyond all reason)

Thank You Jesus for your patience (You never give up on us)

Thank you Spirit for your presence (You are with us always)

This world is dire need of leaders filled with your wisdom. Raise them up.

This world is in dire need of healers ready to serve.  Raise them up.

This world is in dire need of faithful followers. Raise them up.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[a] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18

              When I was a little girl, my mother told me her older brother taught her their names as, “My Shack, Your Shack, and a Bungalow”.  It always made me laugh, but later as I came to understand the story of these young men, I came to appreciate their incredible faith and commitment to God in a strange land. 

These were Israelite teens, caught up by the Babylonians and dragged off into exile.  Their real names were Hananiah (meaning God has been gracious), Misha'el (Who is what God is), and Azariah (God has helped) and of course their friend Beltshazzar, who we know by his Hebrew name Daniel (God is my judge).  The Babylonians had renamed them, brought them into their courts and tried to indoctrinate them into the ways of the empire. 

However, God had other plans for these faithful guys, instead He guided them initially so that they would not forget who they were and what God they followed in a palace full of lavish luxury and false teachings.  Later, the stakes became even higher as they were forced to choose between safety and faithfulness.  They would not worship Nebuchadnezzar’s statue as a god and the penalty for refusing to do so was death.

              They understood a key concept of the God we serve; “17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[a] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not…” God is able.  God is able to do all things, but He may not.  He may, in His infinite wisdom and love, choose not to do the thing we ask of Him.  These young men were facing an agonizing death, they knew God could save them, that He would ultimately deliver them, but that He still might let them die in that furnace.  We face many moments in life where we want God to rescue us, to change our circumstances, to step in and yet power of their testimony is held in the phrase; “18 But even if he does not…”

              God is Good and God is Great no matter what.  Do you believe it? Do we live like it is true even if we are facing death or the death of something or someone we love?

Listen and watch song by Mercy Me “Even If” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6fA35Ved-Y

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

Numbers 19:1-21:3

I can’t help wondering this morning as I read this, how Israel would have heard these commands.  Would they have been very different from the nations around them and the practices that their neighbors engaged in at temple?  God often uses the things we are familiar with, and then tweaks them.

 

In the midst of the coronavirus, all the “clean” laws take on a new light.  Without respirators and modern medicine, it seems the only way to ensure “clean” was social distancing.

 

Once more, we see a pattern of complaining.  When our circumstances don’t meet our expectations, it is human nature to… complain. 

 

What’s the deal with Moses and the rock?  Didn’t he do what God commanded?  Take a second look at vv. 20:6-12, if you missed the distinction.

 

Numbers is an interesting book to start a bible reading plan with.  A lot of it, won’t make sense.  So again, I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/numbers/ for an overview of Numbers. 

 

Luke 5:33-6:11

Jesus’ parable about garments and wine, would have been understood by all.  He drives his point home in v 39.  What do you think he is saying?  (consider this verse in the light of traditions)

 

Jesus is re-defining the Sabbath.  It had become so regulated with tradition, that people had lost sight of the intent.  Jesus often draws our attention to the spirit of the law.

 

Proverbs 8:1-11

Chapter 7 was about the “Adulteress.”  Chapter 8 is about “Wisdom.”  The intent is to draw attention between the two.

March 23, 2020

Good Morning FPCS,

 

Here’s a catchy video from Vietnam reminding us to wash our hands…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtulL3oArQw

(Your mother would be proud…)

 

And just in case you would like to learn the accompanying dance moves…

https://www.instagram.com/p/B8wTW_BllKj/

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

 

Let’s pray together:

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Search me, God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139: 23-24)

Show the lost the way, lift up the broken hearted,

Guide the leaders, strengthen the healers and grow a heart of courage and humility in each of your children that we may love with an unstoppable love.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:21-22)

              How many times have we told God, “NO! Lord Never!”? In our lives we build up expectations about how things should go; where we will live, who we will marry, who should live, who should die, and who gets elected.  We demand that God conform to our ideas of what’s best and it can be hard to face the fact that God’s ways are not our ways. 

              When Mike and I were engaged, we took a marriage preparation class at our church.  Part of the program was pairing each engaged couple with an older mentor couple.  To kick off that part of the program, there was a dinner party, and as we sat looking over our potential mentors, I leaned over to Mike and said, “I hope whoever we get, we don’t get the Whitekettles”.  I didn’t have any real reason other than the fact that I didn’t know them very well and they didn’t seem as cool as some of the other couples.  So after we ate, as we were introduced to our mentors, guess who we ended up with?   

Little did I know how truly amazing Rich and Paulette were and how much we would learn from them, how could I comprehend what incredibly amazing people they were or that we would still call them for advice and counsel decades down the road?   They were honest, loving, capable mentors that laid powerfully helpful foundations for us in or marriage, and I would have missed all that had I gotten my way.  Look back over your life and consider the times when God has taken you down a path you would have never chosen for yourself but has blessed you in surprising ways. 

The Whitekettles are still good friends, their daughter Kristi serves as a missionary in Rwanda and we pray for her regularly.  How could my twenty-one year old self have known that what seemed like a hardship was a lifelong gift?  I couldn’t.  We can’t.  We have to trust that God is at work in all the unexpected twists and turns in our lives and He can bring some amazing gifts to us even out of the darkest times.  I thank God for the Whitekettles, I thank God for this unexpected “family time”, I thank God that He knows what is coming even when I do not, what can you thank God for today?

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

 

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

Numbers 16:36-18:32

We’re half way through Numbers, hang in there…

 

Are you noticing this pattern emerging between Moses, Israel and God?  It seems to be rooted in politics and control.  What do you think?

 

There is also this constant theme of rules and regulations.  Which seems to me to be the result of a “Holy” God, interacting with a sinful community.  Again, what do you think is happening?  We also must not forget, that God is interacting with Israel at a particular time in history.  And therefore he is redeeming expressions of worship from neighboring communities.  For example, the sacrificial system was a part of temple worship.  With a part of that sacrifice providing for those who served at the temple. 

 

You might ask, why do we care?  Numbers is actually very helpful to our understanding of what was happening in Corinth, and consequently the issues Paul was addressing.  So stick with it, giving yourself a little room as you learn. 

 

Numbers is an interesting book to start a Bible reading plan with.  A lot of it, won’t make sense.  So again, I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/numbers/ for an overview of Numbers. 

 

Luke 5:17-32

This is a familiar story for most.  Did anything new jump out at you as you read it this time? 

 

There is often a critique of Christians, saying that Jesus never claimed to be God.  In our text, who is able to forgive sins?  And consequently, how does Jesus reveal his own authority?

 

Psalm 37:10-20

In Psalm 37, David seems to realize that there is more to come after this life.  That even though in this life, the wicked may seem to prosper, David finds hope that one day this will all change.  Does that give you any hope?

March 22, 2020

Click Here for This Sunday's Online Worship Service 

Good evening FPCS,

 

I want to thank everyone that sent a note of encouragement this morning following our virtual worship.  By the time Sam finally posted it, I will confess I was exhausted and a bit weary.  We hope to make some changes for this upcoming week, to continue to enhance the experience.  So stay tuned.

 

Here’s a posting Nancy forwarded... 

 

 

 

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

 

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

Numbers 15:1-16:35

In the midst of the regulations for making an offering, there is an important note, “You and the alien/foreigner shall be the same before the Lord.”  All are invited to share in the life God has ordained for Israel.  What a promise we find here!

We also find some difficult stories.  Consider the story of a man who was put to death for gathering wood on the Sabbath.  Stories like this make reading some parts of the Old Testament difficult for us, because they are so divergent from our culture and expectation.    

We can’t be afraid to ask the hard questions of scripture.  Like “what is going on here?!?”

I think what we see here, is the gravity of sin.  That sin is not to be taken lightly.  We must remember that the cost of our sin, was the death of God himself.  While Grace is this truly amazing gift, what we can’t do is cheapen it by making light of our sin.

 

Numbers is an interesting book to start a bible reading plan with.  A lot of it, won’t make sense.  So again, I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/numbers/ for an overview of Numbers. 

 

Luke 4:38-5:16

The story of Simon’s mother-in-law became real for me when we were in Haiti.  While fevers can be serious, we don’t often worry about them too much.  Whereas in Haiti, people were afraid of coming down with a fever.  Many times, the infection which caused them, would go untreated and lead to death. 

There is so much in this passage.  Jesus is healing the sick, he is touching Lepers, those who were untouchable.  We are told Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed, as opposed to praying in public for everyone to see. 

There is something unique about Jesus, and Peter will be one of the first to acknowledge this. 

I imagine when Peter first let down his nets, it was with the attitude of, “I told you so.”  But when they filled with fish, he knew something else was happening here.  He knew Jesus, was not just some man. 

 

Psalm 37:1-9

Do not compare your life, to the lives of those around you.  Instead, place your hope in the Lord, and in him alone. 

What do you see as the point behind Psalm 37?

March 21, 2020

Good Morning FPCS,

 

Tom sent out this good reminder to JOY yesterday…

 

"To go to the grocery store, they said a mask and gloves were enough… well they lied.

Everybody else had clothes on."

 

Thanks Tom.  That’s an image I won’t easily forget.

 

Later today, I will be sending out information regarding worship for tomorrow morning.  So keep an eye on your email…

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

 

Let’s pray together:

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Today Jesus, open my eyes and my ears to your Truth

Come alongside the weak and strengthen them,

Comfort the bereaved and broken,

Cover the naked and feed the hungry both spiritually and physically,

and help the healers, leaders, and protectors to act with wisdom.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)

Jesus says this at the last supper in the upper room to His disciples.  It is mere hours before his arrest and crucifixion and while Jesus knows what’s coming, in spite of his repeated warnings, the disciples still haven’t a clue. 

They are on a high, the triumphant Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem was just days ago and they have their eyes on grand dreams of a Messiah Victorious.  The Lion of Judah that will overcome all enemies (especially Rome) and bring Israel to power, dominance and abundance (Genesis 49:10, Jeremiah 23:5, Isaiah 9:6-7, etc).

 However, in spite of Jesus laying out what comes next three separate times (Matthew 16:21, Matthew 17:22-23, Matthew 20:17-19 also recorded in Mark and Luke) the disciples kept their focus on the message they wanted to hear, “You are the Messiah therefore we are going to WIN and win BIG!”  

How often are we like the disciples?  We hear what we want to hear rather than what God is really telling us? Following Jesus is not a “get out of hardship free” card, rather it is a call to follow Jesus no matter where He takes us with the assurance that He will never leave us or forsake us.  It’s like marriage vows; “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish” (but instead of death being the final parting it brings us to live forever with Christ in His kingdom).  Times like these shatter the peace of the world. However, the peace of Christ is what gives us courage, hope, joy and strength during times like these.

Consider Acts and the difference the peace of Christ made to the same disciples that had dreams of power and ease.  They will relinquish those dreams for lives of hardship but also great joy… will we?

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

 

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

Numbers 13:26-14:45

Isn’t it amazing, how when we turn away from God and think we are on our own, the world becomes filled with giants.  What giants are you concerned about? 

We talk about Israel wandering in the desert for forty years.  Our passage from this morning, tells us why – it’s due to a lack of trust.  I am amazed at how many times Israel longs to return to their slavery in Egypt.  Are we really that quick to forget what life without Christ looks like?

 

Numbers is an interesting book to start a bible reading plan with.  A lot of it, won’t make sense.  So again, I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/numbers/ for an overview of Numbers. 

 

Luke 4:14-37

Do you understand why in one breath “all spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips…” and then in the next “All the people of the synagogue were furious…”  Do you understand what caused the change?  Nationalism.  Basically, Jesus is making the point that Israel will deny their messiah, while gentiles, those from other nations will embrace him.  Israel believed they were special and set apart.  Which was true.  But they had lost sight of the promise that they were blessed, only to become a blessing. 

 

Here, at the beginning of his ministry, we realize that Jesus was not just another man, another teacher.  He spoke with both “authority and power.”

 

Psalm 36:1-12

“Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.”  amen

March 20, 2020

Good Morning FPCS,

 

Who would have known that your grandmother had the gift of prophecy…

 

 

 

 

Another image posted on ManShed.  I don’t know who ManShed is, but they crack me up!

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

 

Let’s pray together:

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Today Father, show me your glory in unexpected ways

give vision to our leaders to serve selflessly and in great wisdom,

protect our doctors and nurses,

and fill us with patience and love for those that we live with

and help the lonely to find new ways to connect with You. 

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation

1 But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior Isaiah 43:1-3a

Yesterday we considered the wisdom of the Abba John and this verse from Isaiah.  What is made abundantly clear in this passage is that we WILL face “floods and fires” in this life.  It says, “When you pass through the waters” not if; “When you walk through the fire” not if. 

Too often we get the mistaken impression that if we follow God faithfully then our lives will be free of trouble and pain, but there is no Biblical evidence for this. Instead, the Bible shows us that faithful service often brings trouble but it also comes with God’s mighty hand and His great love and God promises to be with us always. In fact, Jesus encouraged his disciples during their final meal together and the disciple John recorded His words for us including this verse: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27

Jesus wants them to be confident, that while He is leaving, they will not be abandoned.  He is sending the Holy Spirit and also His peace.  This peace is something beyond what they have ever experienced. While the peace of this world is destroyed by trouble and strife, the peace of Christ is not shaken by trouble.  It is the faithful confidence that we will never be abandoned by God no matter what our circumstances are and that we can depend on Him no matter what comes. 

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

 

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

One of the things I am realizing about myself, is just how much I hate reading.  It is so much work, that I would rather be doing just about anything else.  But learning to take the time, being patient and working through the daily reading truly is a blessing that we won’t realize until the job is finished.  So be encouraged, and let’s all suffer together.   

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

Numbers 11:4-13:25

Now we can do something with this morning’s text. 

Did you notice what Israel was complaining about at the beginning of chapter 11?  The image is that they would rather be enslaved in Egypt.  This leads me to ask the question, what do I hunger for, that would lead me to prefer slavery over freedom? 

Another image throughout this passage, is this idea that the complaining and the wailing, in contrast to giving thanks, is seen as a rejection of God.  If that is true, how often in the course of a day, do I reject God?

And finally, something familiar… chapter 13 is the beginning of a story I would imagine most are familiar with from our childhood Sunday school.  Is this story sounding familiar?  If not, maybe Nancy, Nancy or Sharyn could help out. 

 

Numbers is an interesting book to start a bible reading plan with.  A lot of it, won’t make sense.  So again, I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/numbers/ for an overview of Numbers. 

 

Luke 3:23-4:13

Israel really does like her genealogies.  How far back can you remember in your own family?

What do you notice about the temptations Christ encountered?  Consider this, Jesus is about to begin his proclamation of the Kingdom of God.  He will spend the next three years, preaching and healing, and then he will lay down his life.  It will be a hard three years, that will culminate in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Knowing what was coming, how much more difficult do you think it would have been to stand against these temptations? 

 

What happened to the psalms…

 

Proverbs 7:21-27

Who in the world is Solomon talking about in this set of proverbs?  If you open your bibles, and look at the heading of chapter 7, you will understand…

March 19, 2020

Good Morning FPCS,

Do you remember your parents saying, “Money doesn’t grow on trees?”  Well, what about toilet paper in your garden, mom?

 

 

That was an image posted on ManShed.

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

 

Let’s pray together:

Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Today Father, comfort the bereaved,

guide the leaders,

hold up the healers,

and fill us with courage and strength for the battle. 

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;

may He guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;

may He bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown us;

may He bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Amen

 

Meditation:

The Desert Fathers and Mothers were early Christian hermits, ascetics, and monks who lived mainly in the Scetes desert of Egypt beginning around the 200-300 AD.

Abba (Father) Poemen told a story of Abba John the Dwarf.  Abba John had prayed for God to take away his desires and struggles so he might become free from care, then he went and told an old man about it.  He said, “I find myself in peace, without an enemy”.  The old man said to him, “Go and beg God to stir up spiritual warfare so that once again you face trouble and find humility that you used to have, for it is by such warfare that the soul grows.” So Abba John cried out to God and when warfare came, instead of praying for it to be taken away, he said, “Lord, give me strength for the fight.”

 

Today, lots of people (including Christians) believe that everything would be okay if all their troubles just went away.  The mistake is in thinking that our circumstances are the problem rather than our hearts.  We need to shift from blaming God for difficult circumstances and instead thank Him that He is with us no matter what and that through the struggles we will grow in love, humility, and patience with other people’s pain.  Right now, we are facing the unknown, individually and as a church community, and it is clear that difficulties loom on every side, let us pray, “Lord, give us strength for the fight!”

 

Isaiah 43:1-3a

1 But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

 

Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/

 

Numbers 9:15-11:3

Notice how the end of chapter 9 is filled with repetition.  How is repetition often interpreted in the bible?  In spite of the repetition in chapter 9, chapter 11 begins with complaining.  How often is God’s presence and direction in our lives, just not enough?

 

Numbers is an interesting book to start a bible reading plan with.  A lot of it, won’t make sense.  So again, I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/numbers/ for an overview of Numbers. 

 

If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.

 

Luke 3:1-22

Have you ever thought about John the Baptist’s message?  How does it prepare the way for our Lord?  Consider his response to the crowd, the tax collectors and the soldiers.  What do they all share in common?  Does everyone receive and accept John’s message? 

I think we all long to hear the words God speaks over Jesus, “You are my Son/Daughter, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”  By placing our faith in Jesus, Paul tells us that we become children of God and co-heirs with Christ.  (Romans 8:14-17)  Take a moment, and marinate in those words God spoke over Jesus. 

 

Psalm 35:11-18

As David continues in his lament, I am struck by his frustration at those who “have no reason to hate him.”  David was one who was quick to accept responsibility for his failings, therefore when he is unjustly being attacked, he must have felt overwhelmed.

One of the unique features of the psalms, is their honesty.  David’s frustration is apparent.  But one thing he does, is that he gives that frustration over to the Lord, and he relies upon God for justice.  It’s an encouragement to be honest with God, as we place our trust in HIM!

March 18, 2020

Good Morning FPCS,

Nancy forwarded the following to me:

 

Day 3 without sports…

Found a lady sitting on my couch yesterday.  Apparently, she’s my wife.  She seems nice.

 

Look for the treasures in this “new normal.”  Mark’s follow up comment to Nancy’s text was, “don’t let Mike tell the joke, he’s not funny.”  I think I laughed harder at Mark’s comment. 

 

If you have any good jokes, pass them along.

 

Grace and Peace upon you,

pastor mike

 

PRAYER AND DEVOTIONAL

 

Let’s pray together: Lord, You are THE Good Father, you see all things and know what is to come. Thank you that we are not alone in this unexpected crisis.  We pray today for the leaders making difficult decisions, for the health care workers caring for the sick, for the parents and children learning to be together daily, and those who are sick whether with Covid-19 or anything else.  Help us to remember you are OUR Good Father,  Amen

Hungry for God’s Word-

“…how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” —Matthew 7:11 

Oswald Chambers was an artist turned Bible teacher.  He died during WWI of appendicitis at a fairly young age, but after his death, his wife collected his morning meditations for the Bible College and created a classic daily devotional book called My Utmost for His Highest.  The meditation from July 16th seems particularly appropriate to the situation we face ( below is a paraphrase from that meditation).

Fill your mind with the thought that God is present (Immanuel- God with us).  Once your mind is truly filled with that thought, when you face difficulties it is natural for you to remember, “My heavenly Father knows all about this!” In the past, you went from person to person seeking help, but now when we know God is truly with us we go to God about it.

Jesus is showing us how the people filled with His Spirit live and think: “God is my Father, He loves me, and anything I think of, He already has covered, so why should I worry?”

Jesus uses parables to tell us there will be times when God cannot lift the darkness from us, but you should trust Him. He told us that at times God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not; He will appear like an unnatural father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not.

Remember God is in charge, not even the smallest detail of life happens apart from His will. Therefore, you can rest in perfect confidence in Him.  He is with us, He is good and He is totally trustworthy so no matter what, “Be not afraid.”

 

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING

 

http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/ is the link for our daily reading.

 

Numbers 7:66-9:14

What we notice today is that there are twelve tribes in Israel, and each tribe made the same offering for the dedication of the altar.  You will also notice that Israel is filled with rituals, rules and regulations.  It was the culture of the day. 

 

Numbers is an interesting book to start a bible reading plan with.  A lot of it, won’t make sense.  So again, I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/numbers/ for an overview of Numbers. 

 

Luke 2:41-52

Did you notice how the expectation had been set in numbers for the celebration of Passover?  In Luke we learn that Jesus’ parents observed those customs.  Can you imagine the anxiety of loosing your twelve year old son?  Jesus’ response is interesting.  “Why were you searching for me?  Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”  What do you think Jesus meant by that? 

I love the comment Luke makes, “But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.”  Isn’t that so true?  On many occasions, Nicole will ask me if I remember a certain detail of our kid’s childhood.  More often than not, I don’t.  Those who care for our children, really are to be treasured. 

 

Psalm 35:11-18

David continues to lament.  He had prayed for these individuals, who are now maliciously mocking him.  How betrayed he must have felt.  

March 17, 2020

Good Morning FPCS,

As many of you realize, now begins the challenge of actually figuring out the new normal.  If you haven’t seen, McDonalds has closed down their dining rooms, which means the drive-thru line is longer than usual. All my kids are at home and we are trying to figure out workspace for our three college students to do their online class work.  Nicole is turning our home into a greenhouse as she sows seeds for this year’s garden.  And Riah has decided to go professional with online gaming.  The New Normal!!!  

What are you up to? 

I want to encourage you to keep in touch with one another.  Give someone a call today.  Maybe someone new.  

Below you will find a meditation and prayer, as well as links and some brief thoughts on the daily scripture reading.  We are jumping into the middle of a scripture reading program and so I will be adding some questions and commentary to get us going.  The links are highlighted in blue, so all you have to do is click on them.  

We also posted this past week's service online, at http://fpcsharpsville.org under the message tab.  

My challenge to you, is to take advantage of the opportunity in this moment, to build some new practices into your lives.  Let me know if you have any problems or questions or if you just want to say hi.  It is truly odd not to see you all.  Know that I am praying for each of you.  

Grace and Peace,                                                          

Pastor Mike

Note: Don’t forget our Website has three options for daily Bible reading plans as well as recorded services, sermons and podcasts about various books of the Bible.

Daily Prayers for March 17 from the Book of Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

 

Patrick of Ireland (389 – 461)

 

At the age of sixteen, Patrick was kidnapped from his home by Irish marauders and taken to Ireland, where he was sold as a slave to a chieftain and forced to herd livestock. After six years of slavery, Patrick escaped to his native Britain. Because he believed that his captivity and deliverance were ordained by God, Patrick devoted his life to ministry. While studying for the priesthood, he experienced recurring dreams in which he heard voices say, “O holy youth, come back to Erin and walk once more amongst us.” He convinced his superiors to let him return to Ireland in 432, not to seek revenge for injustice but to seek reconciliation and to spread his faith. Over the next thirty years, Patrick established churches and monastic communities across Ireland. When he was not engaged in the work of spreading the Christian faith, Patrick spent his time praying in his favorite places of solitude and retreat.

 

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,

As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.  Amen.

 

The prayer below is attributed to Patrick:

Christ be with me,

Christ before me,

Christ behind me,

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.

Let us pray for others:

Lord, if only we made ourselves as open and available as your saints of old, who knows what you might do through us! Speak to us in visions and dreams, make your will known to us, and be patient with us. Amen.

 

Blessing for your day:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.

 

Daily Reading…

If today is your first day with this reading plan it will seem like an odd place to start?  Let me set the stage for you… Israel has been delivered and Moses is bringing order to the nation.  A census is taken.  Tribes are organized.  

 

Take a moment and read Numbers 7:1-65.  You can go to http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/ if you would like to do it online.  If you are using a bible, go to the index at the beginning, look for the book of Numbers, and turn to that page. 

 

What was the weight of the gold dish?  Did you find yourself comparing the offerings of the various leaders, looking for what was different?  What if, this is simply a record of each tribes offering?  What types of records do you keep?

 

If you are looking for an overview of the book of Numbers, follow this link to the Bible Project, https://bibleproject.com/explore/numbers/.

 

Now turn to Luke 2:21-40

When we read Luke alongside of Numbers, what we notice is just how ordered life in Israel was.  The Law of Moses set forth a structure for life, including the consecration of every firstborn male.  Interesting isn’t it?

 

Finally turn to psalm 35, a psalm of King David.  What is the sense you get from this psalm?  What is David praying for?

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