2 Corinthians 4:7-12
Thursday, October 18, 2018
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
From my years doing pottery, I love this passage! Our earthly bodies are like these jars of clay. They develop cracks or even break, because these jars of clay are not permanent, only temporary housing. God has the permanence, not us, and that’s so we remember to give God the praise.
Sure, we have difficulties. Heart wrenching, soul crushing hardships. Hard pressed from every side, like the walls are caving in on us. We will not be crushed. We are uncertain about our future, but with God beside us, we need not despair. Whatever we have to face has the potential to bring us down, but we may persevere through faith in Jesus Christ. He died for us. He gave to us everything he had. His death became the means whereby we have life – his life – revealed in us. Whatever we face is but the reflection of what Jesus faced, so that we may be witnesses of his resurrection power in the Holy Spirit. Nothing is too much for God, so whatever courage, whatever hope, whatever resources we can gather in the face of hardship serves only to give God praise. His life is in us. What a privilege. We need to guard it well.
We pray for those who are facing difficulties today, whether from medical issues or financial problems or job loss or persecution or injustice. Give each of us the resources we need to keep our focus on you. We are only temporary residents of this planet, but you are eternal. Let us give you praise in Jesus Christ. Amen.
2 Corinthians 3:12-18
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Paul has been contrasting the Law of the Old Covenant with the grace of Jesus Christ in the New Covenant. He writes that God has made them competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter, meaning the Law, but of the Spirit. He speaks of Moses whose face shown when he was in communion with God in the holy tent of meeting, even though this was temporary. Moses put a veil over his face after meeting God so the Israelites would not see his shining face.
The thought Paul wants to convey is that, as Moses covered his face so no one would see when his face ceased to shine, the Law of Moses is like a veil that prevents a person from seeing clearly. When a person receives Jesus Christ as savior, that veil is removed, so we may see the fullness of all God has planned for our salvation.
Freedom is like being out in the open with nothing to hide. God has put himself into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, giving us great hope of being free of our past wrongs, and the freedom to truly perceive the greatness of our God. As we are open to contemplate all that God has done for us in Jesus Christ, we are eager to be transformed into his likeness, that of Jesus Christ. We are free to become more the person God created us to be, and free to fulfill God’s will with peace and joy.
Gracious God, let me find ways to tell you how great you are, and be glad for the abundance of your love, showered down on me in Jesus Christ. I don’t have to be afraid to be the person you made me to be, and I can try day by day try to follow your will. You have accepted me and you make me new in Christ. Let me live this day through the guidance of the Holy Spirit with an unveiled heart, glad and free. Amen.
2 Corinthians 2:14-16
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?
I love how Paul writes, how the inspiration of the Holy Spirit enables him to write with such descriptive words – words that make me pause and reflect on their deeper meaning. He says, “Thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives…” Why would Paul give God thanks for leading him as a captive? To be chained for Christ. To be set free from the law of sin and judgment and bound in service to Jesus Christ. To be convicted that following Christ is the only path to freedom and eternal life in him. The amazing paradox that to be a captive for Christ is to be set free indeed.
What was Paul smelling as he wrote the next few sentences about aromas? A foul smell from decaying garbage on the street? The comforting aroma of baking bread? Smells can travel a long way, and perhaps that’s Paul’s point. God is using us to spread the aroma of Christ’s salvation. One may perceive Christ to be a pleasing aroma, while another may not.
Are we equal to the task? On our own, surely not, because the decision to follow Christ is not one we make apart from God’s calling to us, as if we were in charge of our destiny. God has our very lives in his hands. But like an aroma that wafts through the air, simply by being whatever it is, a pleasing smell or not, so we cannot help but influence others. With God’s Holy Spirit within us, we are made equal to the work of sharing the Good News of Christ. May all we do today be to the glory of God’s name.
Forgive me, dear God, if I have acted in ways that are as a foul stench to you and to those around me. Help me by grace to become instead a pleasing aroma through my faithfulness to your Word. I pray for those for whom the gospel is as an aroma of death, that they may find in Christ the aroma of life. I praise you for the salvation you offer in Jesus Christ. Amen.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Monday, October 15, 2018
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
We receive so that we may give. God comforts us in our troubles, and in that strength we receive, we grow in compassion for others who are facing troubles. This is a scripture passage that speaks to me about the character of God, who is called Father of compassion and all comfort, who gives us good gifts to benefit not only ourselves but also those around us.
This is the true nature of love – not to be self-centered, but to take the focus beyond ourselves to another who may be likewise enriched by this love. Like ripples in a still pond, the quality of love we extend influences another. Self-sacrificing, self-giving love is like a balm to our soul.
It is important to recognize that compassion and comfort are gifts to be passed along, and also that they are gifts from God. If you have been the recipient of compassion – praise God. If you have listened to a voice within yourself to offer comfort to another, again, give God praise. As we all have experienced troubles, trials, grief, heartbreak, so these hardships may enable us to mature in character. God wants the best for us despite the curve balls life throws at us. God’s plans are always for our good, and for the good of those around us whom we may care for in a positive way.
Help me, Lord to see the bigger picture, beyond whatever trials I am experiencing today. Help me perceive your desire for good to come out of difficulty, for me to grow to maturity in character, and for your good gifts to be shared with those in need. In all things let me give you the praise in Jesus Christ my savior. Amen.
1 Corinthians 16:1-3
Sunday, October 14, 2018
Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. 3 Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.
The situation at the time was that believers from the churches in Jerusalem were struggling through a severe famine. They needed financial support. Paul solicited an offering for them, which was to be collected the next time he arrived, that would be taken to the saints in Jerusalem.
Money is always a sensitive subject, but notice how Paul discusses it. He is forthright – he came right out and said he was going to talk about the collection for these believers. He has a plan, and it is the same plan he told the churches in the region of Galatia. Make a habit of giving – set aside whatever amount of money one is able to afford. Do it each week on a Sunday, and have it ready so no one needs to make a last-minute appeal. This kind of giving is thoughtful, sensitive and loving, not based on some emotional blackmail. Do it for fellow believers who are experiencing difficulties in another part of the world.
I hope you also will take some time today to consider how the Lord is asking you to care for others – those within our church and those around the world whom we may help through our mission dollars. What obligation is the Lord laying upon your heart? How may you plan to give in ways that honor God? Will you regularly set aside funds meant for others, rather than your own personal expenses? Give because God has asked us to care for those in need.
Gracious God, we do not live in isolation, but we are always part of a bigger entity as members of the body of Christ. Help us consider with thoughtfulness and sensitivity how we may use our funds in ways that honor you and care for our neighbors. Let us plan in ways that do great good, in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
1 Corinthians 15:3-11
Saturday, October 13, 2018
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
This is the core of our faith. This is what we believe. Christ died for our sins, was buried, and raised on the third day. By grace Paul, and we, are able to be witnesses of this truth. No matter what was in our past before faith, God offers us forgiveness. God gives us grace, and enables us by faith to believe these truths and make them the foundation of our lives.
Many years have passed since Paul wrote these words. On this day, 500 years ago, Martin Luther invited discussion on what he read in the scripture. Christ alone. Scripture alone. Grace alone. To God’s glory alone. I see all these truths and more in this passage.
May the Lord bless this day and all that we do to further Christ’s work, as best we are able.
I am no pillar of faith, but I am who you made me. I want to do my best for you, Lord. I want to be faithful and obedient and willing to serve in whatever ways I can. Bless all those who put their faith in Jesus Christ. Let all we do be to the glory of your name. Amen.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Friday, October 12, 2018
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
This is undoubtedly one of the loveliest passages in the Bible, and the favorite chapter of many people. We read it at weddings and think about the love between two people who pledge their lives together. Beautiful words. Not often practiced.
I read an upsetting article about the family who developed and marketed the Opioid drug OxyContin. They became billionaires and donated monies to countless cultural and educational entities, but also deluded doctors and the medical profession about the drug’s dangers, and cause thousands of deaths annually from drug overdoses. And they are not being held accountable for their participation in causing this opioid crisis. The world largely does not associate this family name with the monster drug they created. They see their philanthropy and give them honorary degrees. In the eyes of God, they are as nothing.
I do not understand how justice may be circumvented, and how one can knowingly mislead others and cause such destruction to so many lives. It doesn’t matter how much money they give to build new wings on cultural or educational institutions. The money has come on the back of terrible tragedies they have caused. There’s no love in that.
Dear God, our world is so flawed. We don’t understand love, nor do we live it out as we should. Forgive our wrongdoing, and the way we try to bury our wrongs so no one sees. Teach us to love, for the sake of your glorious 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