Wednesday, August 5
Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
14 Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing— grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God.
Back in Old Testament days, tearing one’s clothes was a sign of mourning or sorrow for one’s sins. But God tells us here that what really counts is when our sorrow and repentance is genuine, coming from the heart. Anyone can tear one’s clothes to make it appear that one is repenting, but God looks inside to know what is really happening.
Why does God look inside us? God wants us to repent and be transformed, because God is gracious and compassionate. God doesn’t want to be angry with us or punish us because of our wrongdoing. God is abounding in love.
To look at the history of Israel throughout the Old Testament is to see that time and again the nation and its leaders were not faithful to God. God made a covenant with his people, but the people strayed away from the Lord. God sends judgments, but God’s purpose is to provide opportunities for his people to be recommitted to the Lord.
What was true then is still true now. God wants our heartfelt love and genuine repentance when we do wrong. God wants to cultivate a righteous people who reflect God’s character. God wants to give us a new heart, one marked by forgiveness and grace in Jesus Christ.
Gracious God, let us set you in the center of our lives, where you belong. Let us give you our hearts for you to make new through the forgiveness and grace of our savior, Jesus Christ. Forgive us when we do wrong, and let that sorrow be genuine. Make us new, in you. Amen.
2 Kings 5:13-14
Tuesday, August 4, 2020
13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.
This is a wonderful story about the healing of Naaman, but it is also a story that several times allows servants to figure prominently within the events that unfold. We learn in the opening verse that Naaman was a foreigner, a commander in the army of the King of Aram, and afflicted with leprosy. A Israeli servant girl to Naaman’s wife told him about the prophet Elisha who could heal him.
Naaman found Elisha and was told to wash seven times in the Jordan to be healed, but Elisha’s instructions seemed too simple to be true. It took Naaman’s servants to convince Naaman to give the washing a try, and Naaman was healed.
Naaman was grateful to Elisha and expressed his faith in God. He tried to give Elisha a gift in thankfulness, but Elisha refused. One more servant in the story – this one, Gehazi, a servant of Elisha, tried to get some of the goods for himself. Of course Elisha found him out, and Gehazi was afflicted with Naaman’s leprosy. Several good servants of the foreigner, Naaman, and one not so good servant of the prophet, Elisha. God knows who we are, and by our goodness or lack thereof, we either stand or fall.
Guide me, Lord, in whatever I undertake today, that I may do what is good in your sight, what is helpful and kind and right. I delude myself if I think you do not see my actions or the state of my heart and judge me accordingly. Let me give you the praise in Jesus Christ. Amen.
1 Kings 17:7-9
Saturday, August 1
7 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to him: 9 “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.”
An act of faith and obedience opens the door for God to provide a blessing. God is ready to bless us when we demonstrate faith and obedience, and especially when we do so in times of difficulty. There is a cost to following God’s word, a wide road and a narrow road, so to speak. It’s easy to take the wide road where lots of people travel, but harder to pick your way along a narrow path that entails listening and being receptive to what the Lord says in subtle messages.
The prophet Elijah received the word of the Lord, telling him to go and find a widow who will supply him with food. This widow and her son were on the verge of starvation themselves, for she had only a handful of flour and a little olive oil. Elijah asked her to make a small loaf of bread from these meager ingredients and bring it to him, and then make something for herself and her son. Elijah gave her God’s promise that these two sources of food would continue as long as there was a drought.
The woman went away and did just what Elijah asked, not knowing if indeed there would be any more food for her and her son once she brought Elijah the bread. She was at the point of death, but God rewarded her for her faithfulness and obedience. It saved her life and the life of her son.
Are you in a tough spot today? Is there an act of faithfulness and obedience God is asking of you? What choices are before you today? Pick the one the most honors God and is faithful to his word even when it is difficult, because that’s the one where God is able to bless you.
Gracious God, in all that I face today, help me seek in all situations to honor you. In my words and my actions, help me choose what is right and good. Mold my character to your glory; keep me close to you to walk with you in all I do. Let me find opportunities to be a source of help and comfort to others as I seek to be faithful to you. For this I pray in Christ’s name. Amen.
Friday, July 31
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance
There is purpose in our living. Some seasons of our lives are joy-filled, while other seasons contain times of great hardship. Some days are filled with laughter, and other days are consumed by tears and sadness. Not a one of us can escape times of difficulty at some point in our lives. Yet all of us may be blessed by God’s guidance and wisdom helping us through these hard times.
I think the biggest challenge is seeing God’s hand throughout all these seasons, the good as well as the not so good. God wants us to grow and deepen in character as we come to rely more upon God’s grace through faith. As much as we don’t want to admit it, we grow more in the hard times than we do when life treats us well and we are simply coasting through our days.
God knows there will be days of suffering. Dear friends and family members will pass from our sight through death. We will be uprooted from what is comfortable. The potential for violence cannot be eradicated from the human heart. The passing of time causes deterioration; what is old will need to come down to make room for what is new. Some days we weep; some days we mourn. But God is with us through it all. Nothing surprises God, but God can bring good out of all circumstances.
Dear God, we pray for the gift of time, not only time to accomplish what we want, but also to see your hand in all we do day by day. Help us grow in wisdom through all the circumstances we meet, to grow closer to you. We give you all praise in Jesus Christ our savior. Amen.
Song of Songs 2:1-2
Thursday, July 30
I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.
2 Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the young women.
This book in the Bible is interpreted either literally as a series of poems and songs shared between two people in love, or as an allegory for Christ and his people. I’ll let you decide for yourself which for you is more meaningful. Both choices have their place.
For today, however, consider those whom you love or have loved romantically. How did you feel? How did you feel loved and cherished? Did you see in the eyes of your beloved an image of yourself as more than how you felt before – more beautiful, more interesting, more worthy? Were you humbled by that person’s love given for you? Love is something to be cherished because love expands us, to think we could be considered more than we thought of ourselves before.
Whether your love is now or in the past or something to look forward in the future, praise God for the gift of love. We are blessed with the capacity to love and be loved. God loves us and we love God. God places those in our path whom we may love, and who will love us. Undeserved? Absolutely. A gift? Very much so.
Thank you, dear God, for all the people whom we may love, in whatever nuance of that word. Thank you for opening to us opportunities when we may love, for then we are acting the way you would. Help us reach out to those who are in special need of friendship, love and care, in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Wednesday, July 29
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Praise God for parents who do their best to bring young children to faith! They make faith accessible to young children by practicing faith within the home, bringing the family to church, and helping children learn about Jesus. They lead an example of prayer – saying grace before meals, praying with children before bedtime, and reading stories from the Bible. Praise God too for parents who guide their children when they get older too, especially in the teen years, which are difficult enough on their own, and worse without any grounding in faith.
I can’t imagine one trying to survive teen years without believing in our God who loves us even if we are not the most athletic or popular or the smartest kid in the class. Faith makes a difference – to a child learning about the world, to a teen trying to formulate an identity, to a young adult beginning his or her career, well, you get the idea. In all stages of life, every day we stand on this earthly ground, we need the love of God in Jesus Christ. If faith is our foundation from the time we are young, it becomes the rock upon which we may stand every day of our lives. Praise God.
Dear God, we pray for our families and for our children. Help us do what we may to be authentic models of faith for them. If we can show in our lives that faith makes a difference for us, if we can share faith in ways that make sense, we honor you and we help them grow in love for you. We pray for families in trouble, and for children who need what you alone can offer. Help us be a channel of your love, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Tuesday, July 28
Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.
This is one of Solomon’s proverbs out of many in this chapter, but this one especially struck me as true. How often have we gotten ourselves in trouble, then try to justify our actions with lots of words, trying to change someone’s opinion about what we have done? The trouble is that the more we say, the bigger the hole we dig for ourselves, and the worse off we are. We are left with bigger gaps to have to explain away, and the more we talk, the harder is our task. Sin is not ended by multiplying words.
In contrast is the prudent one who doesn’t try to justify oneself when he or she is in the wrong, with lots of meaningless words. Just say, “I’m sorry,” and leave it at that. If we’re wrong, we’re wrong, and no amount of words will turn black into white. A simple apology is all that’s necessary, along with the resolve not to repeat that mistake in the future. Thank you, Solomon!
Dear God, you see into the depths of our hearts. You know when we do wrong things, even if it didn’t seem that wrong at the time. Help us find ways to simply apologize to parties we have wronged, without thinking we have to justify ourselves. You alone are our judge, and you call us justified through faith in our savior, Jesus Christ. You forgive us when we repent, and you want to help us choose better paths. So let us put our sole trust in you, and seek to care for others as Jesus would. 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.
Sundays - Outdoors this summer
10:00 am Worship Service
with Children's Moment
Live Outdoor Worship 10:00 am @ Township Park next to the church. Bring a chair. Plenty of room for social distancing. Or stay in your car. Masks are encouraged. More details below in the June newsletter.