Saturday, February 24, 2018
Extended reading: Matthew 8:1-4 Jesus heals a man with leprosy
When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, “Go,’ and he goes: and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes, I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him. “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.
The centurion lives by authority and without question accepts Jesus as one who holds a position of the most high. He instantly knew Jesus was a respected and honored man. His concern for his servant’s ailments allows him to ask for healing. He believes Jesus can heal his servant’s ailment. The centurion does not require terms of agreement or discussions of liabilities; no, he sees and believes and that is sufficient.
Have we ever met a person of great spiritual faith? This is an individual who constantly strives to understand God’s word. Our God wants to reach each and every one of his children. God’s love will manifest itself in ways that we cannot imagine or foretell. If someone would approach you and state a problem as did the centurion, would we respond with a solution? A solution which required your participation and involvement? We may not be able to perform healings but we are able to share words of encouragement or offerings of food, directions and assistance. As we grow in our ability to be servants we grow closer to God. We must learn to humble ourselves to achieve the true mastery of the Lord’s words.
Lord God too often we walk through life with our eyes straight ahead, narrow vision and senses turned off to things about us. Consumed in our own pleasures and interests. Help us to see, to smell, to feel and hear the world around us. Your world Lord made specifically for us. Many authorities have existed since your presence. We have watched civilizations come and go. May those who profess you as the one and only God Almighty raise their heads and proclaim you as God. We will then know what to say, what to do, and when, by your Holy Spirit within us. Amen
Friday, February 23, 2018
Extended reading: Matthew 7:6-23 Knock, go through the narrow gate, know a tree by its fruits
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
This parable tells me that a strong foundation for the “house” of our self and our life can be found in the teachings of Jesus. This foundation helps us to deal with the many storms of life. This foundation for each of us is built and strengthened, or weakened, throughout life. We must consider the state of this foundation throughout the storms of our lives; and sometimes this foundation might need to be patched to help us remember and keep God’s word. Storms of life can be just about anything that causes us to distrust the word of God. Some of these storms could be sickness, pain (both physical and emotional), financial problems or the way the world is changing around us. We must just trust God and patch our foundations as needed.
Dear God, please help me to trust what Jesus has taught us and to use those teaching in every day of my life. Amen
Thursday, February 22, 2018
Extended reading: none – if you have been reading each day, you’re up to date!
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
I find that looking at different translations really can give a fully meaning to the passages we have before us.
Matthew 7:1-5 The Message
1-5 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.
Matthew 7:1-5 The Passion Translation (TPT)
“Refuse to be a critic full of bias toward others, and judgment will not be passed on you. 2 For you’ll be judged by the same standard that you’ve used to judge others. The measurement you use on them will be used on you.3 Why would you focus on the flaw in someone else’s life and yet fail to notice the glaring flaws of your own?4 How could you say to your friend, ‘Let me show you where you’re wrong,’ when you’re guilty of even more? 5 You’re being hypercritical and a hypocrite! First acknowledge your own ‘blind spots’ and deal with them, and then you’ll be capable of dealing with the ‘blind spot’ of your friend.
Matthew 7:1-5 New Life Version (NLV)
“Do not say what is wrong in other people’s lives. Then other people will not say what is wrong in your life. 2 You will be guilty of the same things you find in others. When you say what is wrong in others, your words will be used to say what is wrong in you. 3 Why do you look at the small piece of wood in your brother’s eye, and do not see the big piece of wood in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take that small piece of wood out of your eye,’ when there is a big piece of wood in your own eye? 5 You who pretend to be someone you are not, first take the big piece of wood out of your own eye. Then you can see better to take the small piece of wood out of your brother’s eye.
So, we should not condemn, criticize, tell people what is wrong with their lives. Then others will not judge us. What does that really mean? Don’t gossip about one another or you will be gossiped about. Don’t act with revenge or someone will take revenge on you. Don’t act in a superior manner or the same behavior will be done against you. Don’t pretend to be something that you are not in a way that is hurtful, as that behavior will be re-visited on you. Instead, be genuine and caring. Don’t pretend or be nasty to one another. Look at your own life and deal with your own issues so that you may be strengthened through Jesus Christ to help your neighbor with his or her issues in love and not in criticism.
Dear God, help us in love to love one another, sincerely and without judgment. Amen.
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Extended reading: none; feel free to go back and catch up what portions you have missed.
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?26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?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.
We often think, I have nothing to wear! When in reality, the clothes are there.
Or, what in the world can I cook to eat? But in the kitchen there is fruit, bread and meat.
The Father cares for the birds on the wing. If He fills their needs, will we want for anything?
Have faith in the Lord; your life is in His hands. He’ll watch over you, your home, and your land.
Do not worry and be filled with strife, but believe in the God that gave you life.
Thank you, Lord, for providing all our needs. You are truly an awesome God. We have food, shelter, and clothing. Help us to be strong in our faith, and to look to you for guidance. Thank you for giving us life. You are our hope and our strength. Thank you for loving us; we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Extended reading: Matthew 6:9-18 the Lord’s Prayer and fasting
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.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Back when I was a college student, I could put all of my worldly possessions in my car (except of course, the stuff that I stored at mom and dad’s house!). I can’t say that anymore with my own house that is full of stuff. Art supplies, books, fabric, yarn, you name it, I have it, along with all the other “stuff” that makes up a house. Are they important to me? Sure, but I hope they are not my treasure, compared with the treasure in heaven that God has given you and me.
These earthly possessions are subject to wear and tear, not to mention the possibility that someone could come in and steal them (although I think I am safe on the sock yarn stash!) Jesus is saying that we can elevate these earthly things to way more importance than they should have. Meanwhile, we can neglect what is truly important, namely our relationship with God that is eternal.
Jesus compares faith to our eyes. It is but one part of our bodies, certainly, but Jesus says that if our eyes are healthy, our whole body will be full of light. In the same way, faith is part of who we are, but faith influences the entirety of our lives – our ethics, our decisions, our relationships, you name it.
We are not iguanas, who have the ability to swivel each eye independently, to look two directions at once. Our eyes can look only one place at a time, and Jesus reminds us that we may serve only one master at a time. We have to make a choice. Serve God or serve the possessions. Serve God or serve the god of money. For all the things that make up our lives and fill our homes, I pray that we will keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, for he is our treasure, the treasure that lasts into eternal life.
Holy God, you love us and want the best for us. You know what is truly important, what is our best treasure. Let us not substitute the treasure of heaven with a lesser god that cannot ultimately satisfy. You know what we need and provide for us. Free us from holding too tightly to possessions and in the process, turn away from the joy of knowing you. Let us live to praise you and keep our eyes fixed on you, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Monday, February 19, 2018
Extended reading: Matthew 5:25-6:4 More on the Sermon on the Mount
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
Jesus informs us of the proper way to pray and immediately following provides an example of words to say. Our prayers are directed and meant only for the Father. Standing on street corners or in venues preaching to those passing by is self serving if not meant for God’s ears. Prayer is a direct discussion with the Father. A private time and place to open your heart and mind in discussion, one on one, to share your deepest and most important thoughts on your mind. God understands our individual situations and one cannot pray too much. We need to be honest when we pray and offer ourselves to be his servants.
Lord God, I thank you for understanding our life situations and complications. You, God, offer a direct path of communication all our concerns and joys. You accept all of our prayers and we should call upon you more often for guidance. You made each of us in your image and by sincere and honest prayer, reflection and submission we can strive to become true followers. Amen
Sunday, February 18, 2018
Extended reading: Matthew 5:17 – 20 Jesus comes to fulfill the Law
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you,24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
My first reaction reading this scripture is I’m in trouble! If I am in danger of the fire of hell every time I think someone is foolish, I’m in BIG trouble.
Anger is a human emotion that God instilled in us for a purpose. We see instances in scripture when Jesus was angry. It is the way we respond to the anger that is important. If we dwell on it, and allow it to play over and over in our minds aren’t we condemning ourselves to the hell fire of resentment? Don’t we consider ourselves better than “those people”. If we carry these burdens in our heart won’t it eventually escape our lips? Can we give our lives completely to God if we are hampered by unpleasant thoughts or regret for harsh words? If we become so distracted by our frustration and annoyances we can easily miss the direction The Holy Spirit would lead us.
I don’t believe God intends for us to be doormats for anyone. But we also can’t justify our behavior and attitudes based feeling wronged by anyone else.
Lord, guard my thoughts today. Help me to let go of things out of my control that I find disappointing. I want to abide in you so that I am sheltered from the constant barrage of bitterness and contempt tossed about so freely in the world today. Lord, Give me eyes to see as you see, and a heart to love as you love. Grant me your peace beyond my understanding so that I may serve you and come unhindered to your alter and give you the gift of my life that you have first given me. Thank you Lord, In Jesus Name Amen
What We Believe
We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only son and our savior, who lived among us to teach us and die for us. He rose again to give us the promise of eternal life in him John 3:16. He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is God dwelling in us John 14:15-17. We seek God’s word in the Bible, the foundation of our faith. Our mission as a church is to proclaim the good news of Christ to all. We honor Christ through worship and fellowship, encouraging one another in faith, hope and love 1 Corinthians 13:13, and serving our neighbors with compassion and justice.
We belong to the United Church of Christ. As a congregation we are granted the autonomy to govern our local church, and prayerfully make the best decisions we can on how to live out our calling as believers. Each person has the freedom and responsibility of discerning for themselves how faith in Jesus Christ impacts their daily walk and their worldview. We respect one another’s differences because even though we are diverse, we are still part of Christ’s body.
We look forward to welcoming you some day soon. Peace to you in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
10:00 am Worship Service
10:00 am Children's Adventure Hour