Tuesday, October 15, 2019
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
It’s time again for a reminder, in case we have forgotten – the Lord is the everlasting God, Creator of the ends of the earth. Do we think we are in charge? Do we presume we can tell God what to do?
God will not grow tired or weary. We may wish for that kind of energy that doesn’t wane as the day draws to an end. What things we could accomplish if we didn’t have to take time out for sleep! But maybe that’s the point. The need for sleep is a built-in component of created beings, lest we make ourselves to be as God.
God’s understanding is greater than any person can fathom. And yet God shares his strength, building up the power of the weak. Just that fact alone is beyond our understanding. God doesn’t hoard his attributes of strength and power but in love encourages us and helps us when we need God most. God does not judge us for being weak. Instead, God wants us to turn to him in faith and hope, trusting that God will gift us with resources that renew us for tasks that are before us.
Today, I pray that we may allow God to be God, acknowledging with praise God’s indefatigable energy, limitless strength and infinite understanding. As God has ordained in creation our human boundaries, let us call upon the Lord for the strengths we lack. Be the eagle that God wants us to be, soaring on the wind currents of God’s love and grace.
Gracious God, I confess that I want to take the credit for what I deem to be my skills, my strength, my understanding, that make me a success. I want to push away any limitations thrust upon me by age or fatigue. But to do so is to try to remove you from being God. Let me put my trust in you when I am weary of doing it all on my own. Because then I may acknowledge you as King, my sovereign God, and know that you love me and want the best for me. You hold me aloft in your grace to do and be more than I ever could on my own. All praise is yours in Christ my savior. Amen.
2 Corinthians 12:7b-10
Monday, October 14, 2019
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “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. 10 That 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.
Whom of us has not had, at one time or another, maybe not a literal thorn in the flesh from a rose or other prickly bush, but a hardship, a weakness, a problem that won’t go away? We didn’t cause it, we weren’t responsible for it, but it came anyway. “Why, Lord? Why me? Please take it away.”
We pray, maybe fervently, but the answer we get isn’t satisfactory. God says, “Your _______ (fill in the blank with whatever difficulty you have encountered) isn’t going to be solved in the way you wish.” Can we in these situations hear the truth that Paul received from the Lord? God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Paul learned to delight in his weakness if that meant Christ’s power would be made more evident within Paul’s life. If there is no way I can get through this particular roadblock in my life without God’s gracious help, what a witness I can be! To know that it is not me but God working in me – I may give the praise to God.
Can I stand aside from whatever is troubling me and see what God has planned to do through me, in spite of whatever present problems or weaknesses I must endure? Can God use me to be his witness in the midst of that tough situation, right now, even when I don’t have any good answers? Yes, I believe it is true. The less we count on ourselves, the more we can put our trust in the Lord. To experience this truth in my life is to help another who may be dealing with their own thorn, their own predicament.
Gracious God, let me be a witness to your mighty power – not because I am strong, but because you are. Let me not only accept my limitations and hardships but be willing to be your instrument in ways that give you the praise. Let my strength be in you, not in myself. I want to appreciate your greater plan rather than whine for what I think I need right now. By the grace of my savior, Jesus Christ, let me be your servant all my days. Amen.
Saturday, October 12, 2019
Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelek, who drove him away, and he left.
1 I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing.
I am not a Hebrew scholar and it is not readily apparent in English, but the first letter of each line of this psalm is a successive letter in the Hebrew alphabet, in what is called an acrostic poem. The context is that David wrote this psalm during a difficult period of his life, when he was fleeing from King Saul. 1 Samuel chapter 21 gives more details of how he sought refuge in the Philistine city of Gath but narrowly escaped with his life. He had to beg for bread for he and his men from Ahimelech the priest, and pretended to be insane out of fear of Achish, king of Gath.
We hear none of this in the psalm, however. These verses for today are a hymn of praise. God deserves our best, after all. David was relieved to escape when he was held by the Philistines, and gives God the praise. He would not boast before the Lord, because he knew any escape was due to God’s deliverance rather than his cleverness.
Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 11:16-33) may have remembered this psalm of David, for he wrote for the people to receive him as they would a fool, boasting not as the Lord would, but as a fool. He was beaten, thrown in prison, and shipwrecked, gone without sleep, hungered and thirsty, daily facing the pressure of concern for all the churches. His only boast was in his weakness, remembering the humiliation of being lowered in a basket from the city of Damascus to escape being arrested.
It is good to exalt God’s name together – it’s what we do in worship each Sunday. If it is good for one person to praise God, even better when we can gather together to remember the goodness of the Lord. To exalt God is also to magnify God – like making God to be even bigger than he is. Of course we can’t do that, but God deserves to be magnified. Maybe then we might come to a better appreciation of God’s true character.
I love the phrase, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Maybe David wrote this because he was nourished by the consecrated bread offered to the Lord. We are blessed to taste the body of Christ in communion. David knew himself to be blessed to find refuge in the Lord, and even more so because he was unable to take refuge in the Philistine city of Gath. Whenever we face difficulties, this is a great psalm to turn to and find the means again to give praise to God.
Lord, when I am weary or afraid, let me turn again to your word and find in you the help and strength I need. As I find ways to give praise to your name, my problems may shrink into perspective beside your majesty. You are mighty if I am not. You are worthy of all praise, for you promise me your continued presence through all the trials of life. Let me turn to you for you are my savior and my life. Amen.
Friday, October 11, 2019
10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
This is a wonderful message of hope. Yes, it is important to note that this message was written to the people of Israel as they were facing the prospect of being conquered by the Babylonians. God was allowing his people to be in captivity for seventy years to persuade them to turn away from worshipping idols and seek the Lord instead. Jeremiah spoke the word of the Lord in telling the people that they would be in captivity for seventy years. It would be no short period of time, as some false prophets were telling the people.
The context of Jeremiah’s writing was God addressing the nation of Israel, not one specific individual. Even so, the same love God has for his people as a group is the love God has for each person of his creation. God’s nature is unchanging. God makes promises to individuals or groups, and they may be trusted. God is also asking us to do something as God asked of the people of Israel, namely that they should seek him with all their heart. God is no pushover – God is right to ask us to give God our full allegiance, to be undivided, to pray and seek the Lord’s will. As we pray, as we seek the Lord, so God is ready to hear us and draw near to us.
God’s plans are always for our good, even if our immediate future looks bleak, as it was for the people of Israel. God was ready to hear the cries of his people as they sought the Lord with all their heart. In the time God prescribed, God brought them back from their place of exile.
When we are in the midst of some trial, it is easy to think that God is against us or that God intends evil upon us for some wrong thing we did. God wishes to correct his people, but God always has a good future planned for us. God knows that any one of us needs hope, even in the midst of difficult times.
Gracious God, you plan a good future for your people. You sent your son Jesus to save us and forgive us of the wrongs that enslave us. We live in a world that is still filled with evil. There is still pain and suffering and hardship. Yet you also give us hope that one day, this whole earth will be changed, and all nations will know you and worship you, even as you love each person you have made. Keep us looking to you in hope, despite whatever is before us right now. Let us be reminded of your great love, enough to send your only son for our salvation. All praise to you in Jesus Christ our savior. Amen.
Thursday, October 10, 2019
1 Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.
2 Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
These are opening words from one of many psalms that David the king wrote. David writes about how his soul finds rest in God, how he waits for God. Think of this as what one calls “surrendered silence.” For me this means I acknowledge that God is in charge, not me. I give God time, because time is a precious gift to surrender to the Lord. David says, “Truly.” Honestly; absolutely. I find my rest only in God, no one else. God alone is my rock and my salvation.
I look at these words and my soul longs to put God completely and utterly at the center of my soul. Then I wonder to myself, why it is that I forget at other times how much God loves me and wants the best for me? Why do I not rest in God at all times? God’s truth does not change, but my soul is capricious, easily persuaded and tempted to stray.
Left to our own human devices, we want to trust in our intellect. We want to keep busy to accomplish things. We want to follow our own desires and plans. On our own strength, we cannot make the shift towards being guided by faith. We cannot put aside our hectic schedules long enough to be quiet and wait for the Lord’s leading. We cannot walk in God’s ways. Only by the grace of Jesus Christ through faith in him whom we call savior can we be transformed; the Holy Spirit begins to work within us to turn us, slowly, to trust in the Lord, to find joy in being quiet before the Lord, and to set Him at the center of our lives.
Praise God that God is not finished with this process of guiding us to surrender and be at rest in him. God is teaching me to wait for what is not right now in sight. God is still teaching me to have faith in him and learn to trust him more and more. Lord, be my rock and my salvation.
Day by day, I want to learn to rest in you, Lord. Forgive me when I try to run ahead of you, or when I lag behind, not willing to leave behind some cherished thing from my past. Right now, still my heart until it is beating in time with you. Still my feet until they receive your marching orders, not my own. You know how hard it is for me to be quiet and wait for your perfect timing. Thank you for your patience with me. I commit myself again to you, Lord, by the grace of my savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Wednesday, October 9, 2019
In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city;
God makes salvation its walls and ramparts.
2 Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith.
3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
4 Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.
This passage begins with a song to the Lord for their strong city Jerusalem, for God has built up its walls not just with physical stones, but with the rock of God’s presence that is their salvation. This is not a strength reserved solely for the people of Israel, for the prophet Isaiah writes that God wishes the gates to be open so that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that comes in peace because it enters by faith.
When we commit our way unto the Lord, the result is peace. Why? Because we are not putting our trust in ourselves and our own devices, but instead we are putting our trust in God who is bigger and whose plan for us is good. We won’t need to vacillate between various options, ours versus God’s, when we put our trust in God. We will realize that God’s way is better and may be at peace about following him in all circumstances, even when we don’t understand.
Trust in the Lord forever and let God be my rock. God as our rock appears numerous times in both the Old and New Testaments. Why a rock? Rocks last a long time, so that’s a good comparison with God our eternal Father. Rocks are strong, and that fits too. Jesus was also called our rock. Paul was talking in 1 Corinthians about the blessings God gave our Jewish ancestors when they “passed through the water,” which was likened to our Christian baptism by water. Paul wrote in chapter 10:3-4, “They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.” The presence of Jesus Christ is for us our rock, just as the people of Israel were sustained in the desert by water that came out of a rock.
This rock, Jesus, is our foundation, like the parable he told about the man who built his house upon a rock, and though the rains fell and the storms came, the house remained strong. Who knows what will come today? It could be a completely ordinary day, or we could experience something life-changing, either good or ill. But whatever comes, when our trust is in Jesus Christ the rock of our salvation, our foundation will remain strong.
Gracious God, I give you this day, for you are my rock, my foundation. If I am strong, it is because you are here. If I endure, it is because your Holy Spirit has given me strength that is not my own. Let me trust in you, no matter what happens today. I want to remain steadfast, resting in the rock that is you. In Christ I pray, Amen.
Tuesday, October 8, 2019
“Who has stirred up one from the east, calling him in righteousness to his service?
He hands nations over to him and subdues kings before him.
He turns them to dust with his sword, to windblown chaff with his bow.
3 He pursues them and moves on unscathed, by a path his feet have not traveled before.
4 Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning?
I, the Lord—with the first of them and with the last—I am he.”
8 “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend,
9 I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
God is asking questions of those in distant lands who have not believed in the sovereignty of God. Who is God, who rules over nations and subdues kings? God can turn people and nations to dust by his mighty strength. God has call forth generations from the beginning of time. It is God who has been with us since the first person was made, and until the last person at the end, when Jesus shall come again and God’s kingdom be established on earth.
We are not simply marking time, one day after another, as if it doesn’t matter what we do or what we accomplish. We have been placed on this earth for a purpose, and it is God who has done this. Here we are – we’re many millennia from Abraham and Jacob who was otherwise known as Israel. But just as God called Abraham to go to the place that God chose for him, so God has chosen us for a particular purpose. We are not rejected but invited to share in God’s purposes.
Time and again God called certain persons who were unsure they could accomplish what God asked of them. It’s a scary thing to know that God has chosen you to do something of great importance! Me? Lead my people out of captivity in Egypt? Me? Be a prophet that people will not listen to? Me? The youngest son, to be anointed as king? Fear is a natural reaction, so God needs to reassure those who are called.
For you and me, we may fear a particular situation before us but it is healthier for us to be in awe of the mighty power of God who calls each one of us to serve and obey. God will strengthen us for the work ahead, will provide us with necessary resources so we can be successful in God’s name, will encourage us with his power that is not our own. God is directing you and me towards a definite plan and final resolution in the ending of time. We can see today only what we by faith are guided to perceive; then we will know completely the gracious goodness of our God.
Almighty God we praise you, for our lives are not simply random events and pointless passages of time. You have a purpose for us, a reason for us beyond merely taking up space and using resources. You guide us and direct us when we by faith seek to heed your voice. Today, Lord, help me listen to your word, to praise your name and endeavor to live out the purpose you have for me. You know when I hesitate, when I allow my self-will to overshadow your greater purpose for me. Help me, Lord, to become the person you created me to be, through the power of Jesus Christ working in me. 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