Friday, September 20, 2019
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
When I was young there was a hobby or craft set called “Paint by Numbers”. Perhaps you’re familiar with it. You had a picture broken into lines and areas that had a number assigned to it. You also got jars of paint that also had those same numbers assigned to them. The goal was to match the jar of paint with the areas on the picture and fill them in. Now I admit that when you started the picture didn’t look like much. You concentrated on the right jar of paint with the right areas as designated by the numbers. You didn’t have to be an artist, you didn’t even have to know what the picture was supposed to be. And sometimes you thought “this is stupid” and couldn’t figure out how this jar of #14 red was going to add to the overall end result.
This portion of scripture is troublesome to many to say the least. As we started to talk about in the previous devotion, the image and structure of the family and household is to reflect God’s relationship with His church and us as children. Throughout the Bible, God uses the interactions He had with those who have gone before us to give insight to the spiritual and sometimes intangible concepts He asks us to believe and adhere to. God does have a hierarchy, a chain of command so to speak. There is an order to His kingdom and His subjects (us) are supposed to obey the rules. But we don’t like rules, we like to believe we’re free from the rules because we’re not under the law! Well—the scriptures do say that. I don’t have to listen or SUBMIT – that’s demeaning and I’m not going to do it because I have freedom in Jesus!
Now if I were to just arbitrarily decide my jar of # 14 red was going to replace #3 tan and make other substitutions, I would never see the end result the creator of the picture intended. I would see my own creation and it would most likely be a mess. It would be my own private interpretation. No one else would agree that is what it’s supposed to look like. That’s the same result when we start taking scripture out of context or adding our own interpretations or meanings to them. When we select some and not all, we won’t get to see the whole picture our creator is wanting us to experience.
God is trying to show us the picture of the family and the relationships to grow into. He uses His Word and the examples of others to show us what He means for us. He gives us instruction and guidance, and most of all, He gives us the verification of the Holy Spirit to tell us when we’re right or when we need to adjust. Other people can’t be the Holy Spirit in our lives, but God puts relationships there to help us adjust. We belong to the family of God.
The snow capped mountain with the whispering pine forest on its slopes running down to the river made a beautiful picture when done right. Now where did I put that #14 red!
Thursday, September 19, 2019
18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged
In trying to bring some understanding into the lives of the Christians in Colossae, Paul gives some instruction to the family structure. He is showing that the household relationships are no different than the way God our Father interacts with His church and the saints.
Often in scripture, the church is interpreted as the bride of Christ. We as God’s children are admonished to be obedient to God. God our Father does not unduly punish or discourage us, but encourages us and keeps fiving us every opportunity to succeed. The church, as the bride, needs to be in tune with what God is doing, saying, and directing. When the church strays away from that, it goes down into apostasy, heresy, and foolishness.
When our own households are in correct order, we reflect the image of God’s relationship with His church. And like His Church, our household centers on the head and the requirements to act honorably, justly, in love, not selfish. The husband’s responsibility is therefore the greater and the accountability to God to act without malice or pride is a very serious matter.
We live in a time when the tenants of this scripture are like fingernails on a chalkboard to some. We live in a time and place where households are not all together and the roles are misaligned or just missing. But God is good, He is kind and merciful. He gives grace to the humble and chastises those He loves. But first and foremost we must submit to God and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because without a relationship with our heavenly Father, we have no strength, will, or purpose to submit, obey, love, or encourage anyone at any time. It is God who gives us the strength and purpose. It is God who loved us first, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. It is God who creates and will and plan for us to be with Him. If our relationship has faded with God, it is extremely difficult for us to act in any other way than to look out for our own needs.
God our heavenly Father, we pray for our families, for their wellbeing and safety, but most of all that we will be guided by your goodness and love. We pray that families will gain a right ordering through their relationship with you, putting you first rather than one’s own self-centered desires. Teach us to obey you and by grace, to live according to your Word. Amen.
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Self examination and a cleaning of our own house can make all the difference in our relationships. Because we are human and not perfect, we are still tempted and subject to the ways of the world. We put ourselves first. Our wants, our desires, our needs. And when we do that, sometimes we do it at the expense of others. To make ourselves feel good or important, we sacrifice others feelings. When we don’t get our way, we again sacrifice others so we can feel good. But that is only a fleeting moment. It doesn’t last, so we go and do it all over again.
Paul writes to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 6:14) and asks how can you live a double standard in your life? (For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness, and what communion has light with darkness?) If you have become a new creature in Jesus, then the old self which was at enmity with God, is gone away. The lust of the flesh gives way to the fruit of the spirit! Again in 1 Corinthians 6:19 Paul wrote to say: Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
So how does this affect our relationships with each other? Those things Paul wrote to the Colossians about do not build but tear down. There is no healing in those characteristics, only destruction. Ephesians 2:19 tells us that “we are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God. If we are given over to the fruit of the Spirit, and have put away the old flesh, then we will see each other as Jesus sees us. Not for our faults, but for our character. Putting each other first is exactly what Jesus did – He took our sin upon Himself so we could be found righteous in God’s eye.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
9 Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.15 O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
1 How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!
2 It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe.
3 It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.
Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. When we live our lives in peace with one another, the benefits of that peace are ours. But what is that peace? We all want it, we all agree it is a better way, but how does it affect us, or better still, how does the absence of it affect us.
We probably have a better idea of what it is like when our lives are peace-less; that is, when we don’t feel or have that peace. We are anxious. We are fearful. We are contentious. We are dissatisfied. We are in a state where things go wrong and everything seems to be crashing down upon our heads. We just don’t feel like things are going very well for us.
Now selfishness and pride are at the root of no being able to live in unity and peace. When we are anxious and not at peace and harmony with our brothers and sisters (both physical and spiritual), we are giving in to the selfishness of the world’s thinking that we are the most important, and things are bad if we don’t get our way.
Towards the end of Jesus’ time on earth, He spoke to his disciples about the work of the Holy Spirit that would come, He talked about them being scattered and troubles they would encounter. Things didn’t seem to be going well for the disciples, and Jesus wasn’t going to be there for them to rely on. But that was (and is for us) a very worldly and carnal point of view. Jesus told them: 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his [e]own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you [f]will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:31-33).
The Psalmist says that living together in peace – putting ourselves second to the needs and wants of others, is a blessing and anointing of God. When Aaron was commissioned as the high priest, he was anointed with oil being poured over him, signifying God’s approval and acceptance from his head to his feet. Living in unity and peace is the blessing bestowed from God.
PRAYER: Oh God our Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, fill me with Your peace. Let my heart be renewed and not be troubled. I put my faith and trust in You and know You will settle my heart within You. As Your Word says: 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Ph 4:6).
Monday, September 16, 2019
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
There is something about the bond and relationship of family that has stronger ties and can bear up under more pressure than any other relationship we may have. It is true that strong friendships can weather a lot of stormy times. There are many instances of this in scripture, David and Jonathan, Paul and Silas, and others.
There are also times when that family bond (spiritual as well as physical) can bear up under even more. Consider Joseph and his brothers. His brothers were jealous, they were envious, they looked down on their youngest brother and then when their wickedness could not be borne any longer, they sold him into slavery. Years later when the famine came and Joseph was in a position of power and authority, his brothers came very fearful to him to ask for help. Joseph’s response was: “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20)
40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the [l]Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. (Jn 1:40-42). When something marvelous occurred, Andrew, who with Phillip were the first of the disciples to encounter Jesus and recognized Him as the Messiah they were waiting for, went to tell his brother. Now this doesn’t seem like a time of adversity as we would think it, but in the days and years to come, that brotherly love Andrew shared would turn the world upside down!
Families can be the most rewarding and nurturing of relationships. They can also be filled with hurt, disappointments, and jealousies.
21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. (Mt 1821-22)
Forgiveness is the key to lasting relationships, brotherly love is the key to overcoming adversity.
PRAYER: Lord, show me to love everyone as You love me. Let me be humble and put away my pride, let me put my sisters and brothers foremost. Bless them and give them mercy. AMEN
Saturday, September 14, 2019
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. (Matthew 5:38-41) What Paul writes in Romans is a shortened version of these truths that Jesus gives.
For me, and perhaps for you as well, this is an easier said than done situation. It’s hard not getting mad at a driver who cuts you off in traffic, or a rude customer in a store; you name the situation or person that pushes your buttons so you respond in anger. Maybe your spouse does a certain thing that drives you crazy – not “evil” per se, but it drives a wedge between you and robs you of peace. How do you deal with it?
Every day we have to work at living in peace with everyone. It’s not easy. That’s why we have lawsuits and wars and gunmen taking out their anger on innocent bystanders. We don’t do a good job at living at peace. I can’t change the world, but maybe, just maybe, I can try changing myself, even if just for today. Then maybe tomorrow I can work at it again.
Gracious Lord, God and Father of us all, you made us in love, but we certainly don’t act out of that same love when we deal with other people. Forgive me when I cannot control my response to another’s anger or wrongdoing, because I do repay evil with evil. Let me try again to be more careful to do good and to live in peace, both in my home and wherever I go. This I pray in Christ’s name. Amen.
Friday, September 13, 2019
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
We want to live in harmony with those in our church community, but we also want to live well as witnesses to those out in the world. In today’s reading, Paul advises us not to harbor a negative attitude towards anyone, and that includes one who is determined to make our lives difficult. It’s probably not too hard to figure out who that person is in your life – what is harder is refraining from wanting to retaliate in the same way as that person has treated you. Can you bless them, even when they treat you unkindly?
The next verse, verse 15, is much easier. I think most of us want to celebrate good news with others, and we naturally feel sympathy for one who has lost a loved one. The happy and sad times can allow us to strengthen connections with people when we pay attention to significant events in their lives. Unfortunately, the reverse can also be true, if we ignore or overlook what someone is going through, because it can appear that we do not care. This verse reminds me to keep my focus outward and not be so busy with my own needs that I forget to rejoice or mourn with those around me.
Do not be proud. I can believe I am not proud. But let the Holy Spirit convict me of times when I presume because of my (and fill in the blank here) intelligence or education or national origin or color of my skin or family background or even age or physical attributes, that I am better than another person whom God created. Am I not saying that God didn’t do such a good job in creating someone else, to think that I am somehow better?
We have such a long way to go to be more like Jesus, but through the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit, may these words sink down deep and change us from the heart.
Lord Jesus, I want to be more like you. I want to live in ways that reflect the faith I profess in you. Yet I confess there are times when I am proud, times when I am indifferent to others, times when I perpetuate conflicts with others. I don’t want to be this way, and I need your help to change. Forgive me and help me love others as you do. 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