Our scripture this morning is Psalm 37:23-27.
“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing. Turn away from evil and do good; so shall you dwell forever.”
This psalm reminds us of God’s blessing and care for us. He has a plan for everyone, and when we follow His way, we become part of His kingdom work. Our own ways will lead us to failure; only by God’s grace can we be saved.
The psalmist recounts a life lived with God and the good things that he has enjoyed by doing so. We sometimes fail to appreciate the blessings we have been given, being wrapped up in our vocations and the ways of the world. God calls us to slow down and remember the goodness of simple living.
Our joy is in the Lord, and only when we “turn from evil and do good” (v. 27), are we truly happy. God wants us to be part of what He is doing in His creation and to share His love with each other. We were made for this purpose.
Gracious God, we are grateful for all Your blessings to us. Help us to walk in Your ways and love one another as You first loved us. Amen.
Our scripture this morning is 2 Timothy 3:14-17.
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Paul writes to Timothy, encouraging him regarding the importance of Scripture in our lives. He gives a list of things it teaches, but the essential truth is that “all scripture is breathed out by God” (v. 16). How amazing is this? God speaks into our lives through these inspired writings that we might know and do His will.
Spending time in the Word not only teaches us but heals us. While we may feel our problems are unique, we often find that others have endured similar things throughout history. God has led His people through difficult times from the very beginning.
God knows what we need better than we know ourselves, and through scripture He gives the instruction necessary for a life of faith in Him. No matter what we face, scripture brings us comfort and strength. Hear God’s Word and know that it was given for you.
Wise and wonderful God, we are thankful for the gift of scripture and the guidance it gives. Help us to learn throughout our lives and to follow the path You have planned for us. Amen.
Our scripture this morning is Romans 8:37-39.
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Paul encourages us with the truth that nothing can “separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” He lists a variety of things that have no power over our relationship with God. However, he leaves out the one thing that can and does separate us from God – ourselves.
God created us and in doing so, chose us for all eternity. He gave us the ability we call “free will” to choose for ourselves as well, in the hope we would choose Him in return. This is an awesome responsibility, one that we abuse all too often.
When we choose wrongly, our sin separates us from God, but He loves us too much for that to be the end of the story. Through the sacrifice Jesus made for us, we can ask God’s forgiveness and be restored to our original relationship with Him. Choose to be part of God’s plan, turn from the world’s distractions and pitfalls. Live in His light and share His love with everyone.
Loving Lord, You created us in Your image, capable of making our own choices. Forgive our selfish ways and accept us back into connection with You. We pray in Your name. Amen.
Our scripture this morning is Colossians 2:6-10.
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.”
Jesus came as much more than just a teacher. Of course, He is the holy Son of God, but He didn’t use that to exalt Himself. Instead, He showed us that serving others is the way to serve God.
Jesus is the example of a life in connection with our brothers and sisters, sharing God’s love and mercy through our words and actions. He is also our model for a connection to God, teaching others that they may choose a relationship with Him as well. This cross shaped pattern – up to God and out to each other – is the way to be part of His eternal plan for us.
Hearing and understanding this is important, but more important yet is that we “walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (v. 6). We were created for a relationship with God and each other. Learning the lesson and living it out is what Jesus calls us to do.
Gracious God, we are thankful that You sent Jesus to teach us Your way and lead us back into connection with You. Help us to be the voice of the Good News and the hands of Your love to all. Amen.
Our scripture today is Ephesians 2:4-10.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Paul tells us with no uncertainty that God wants us all to be saved. That has always been His plan and desire for us. Paul writes “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (v. 10), reminding us that we were made for a purpose.
Even when we have strayed from God’s plan and fallen into sin, He has made a way for us to be saved through Christ’s sacrifice for us. When we accept His grace and mercy through repentance, we are raised with Christ to a new life of relationship and responsibility. Jesus taught that while God needs no help, He graciously calls us to be part of His work.
Sometimes we have difficulty seeing what our part in the plan is and we can become discouraged if we feel we’re not making a difference. God doesn’t send us disappointment, that is the enemy trying to distract us and divert us from our call. Jesus told us the evil in the world would oppose us; don’t allow worldly disapproval to keep you from the goal!
Heavenly Father, we know You made each of us for a reason, no one is here accidentally. Help us to hear Your call and work with our brothers and sisters to help bring the world to the truth of Christ. Amen.
Our scripture today is Romans 14:7-10.
“For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;”
This passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans explains that we are all connected to God and to each other – “whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (v. 8). He wants us to understand that our petty disagreements shouldn’t separate us from our Creator, nor our brothers and sisters. We sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture and the greatest goal.
One of my bishops used to say it was essential that we work on “keeping the main thing the main thing”. When we allow ourselves to be distracted by earthly conflict, we risk turning from God’s plan for us and following our own selfish desires. Paul warns against this behavior, asking “why do you pass judgment on your brother?” (v. 10).
We live in a judgemental time, with many thinking their own way is correct and not willing to listen to different beliefs. This isn’t what God wants for us. Our purpose is to love God and each other, using what we have been given for everyone’s good. However, it is up to each of us to choose to follow Him and ignore the noise of our troubled world.
Gracious God, let us see that we are all Your children, beloved and part of Your sacred design. Help us to work together in harmony for the good of all. Amen.
Our scripture today is Ephesians 4:1-7.
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”
Paul reminds us that we are a family, part of God’s plan, and that we all have responsibilities because of this. He doesn’t say anything about what we think we have – possessions, social standing, education, power. Instead he points to the fact that “grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift” (v. 7).
We all have something to share with the world as God’s children. We sometimes fall into the trap of thinking in earthly terms of “things” rather than gifts from God for all our benefit. We may not have huge sums of money or large amounts of free time, but most of us are able to spare some of both.
It’s been said that where we spend our time and money determines who we are as people. Think about the other gifts you have been given and how they can be used for the good of all. God has blessed us with these and expects us to use them wisely.
Loving Lord, we are thankful for all Your many gifts to us. Help us use them according to Your plan, sharing Your love with all the world. Amen.
Our scripture today is 1 Timothy 1:12-16.
“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.”
Paul writes this testimony of his conversion to encourage Timothy in his ministry. He holds himself up as an example of one who first opposed Christ, but later received Christ and has taken on the work of the kingdom. Paul wants Timothy (and us) to know the joy of forgiveness and that no one is beyond God’s love and His saving mercy.
Like Paul and Timothy, there is Kingdom work waiting for us. We have all been commissioned to share the love Jesus brought to God’s children. It is the next step after repenting and being forgiven, to make disciples of all the world.
Each of us have different gifts and different locations to share God’s love. We may not be called to far flung places as were the early disciples, but then again, God will send us where we are needed. Let us listen for God’s voice and respond to the assignment we are given with energy and joy.
Gracious God, You have saved us from sin to be raised to eternal life. May we be obedient servants and effective voices in Your world. Amen.
Our scripture today is Hebrews 9:11-15.
“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.”
Paul writes of how the priests of the Abrahamic Covenant made sacrifices for the sins of the people. He then explains how much more God has done for us in the New Covenant through the life, death and resurrection of our Lord. In Him we have the final sacrifice for all of God’s children, and we are set free from the reign of sin.
We have a responsibility in this, not that we could do anything to save ourselves, but by accepting Jesus Christ we connect with God totally and forever. Some of our communion liturgies state “we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice”, a promise to dedicate our lives to doing His will. By this, we become part of the work of His kingdom.
We have much to do in this troubled world, many are in need of help we can’t give as individuals. This is where the church is called as the body of Christ to help our brothers and sisters. Pray for ways to be part of this effort, that all may be cared for through the love of God.
Loving Lord, we have been blessed to be a blessing to the world. Help us to see the needs and answer them with the resources and love You have given us. Amen.
Our scripture this morning is Matthew 15:8-11.
“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”
Jesus has warned us before that what we say and do is what defines us. It is often the case that what humans say and do are two different things, and this is what leads us into disobedience to God’s law. Jesus makes the point that we do even worse, “teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (v. 9). We have replaced God’s law with our own.
This straying from the path God intends for us by making wrong choices separates us from Him. While God is always willing to welcome us back, we must recognize our sin and ask His forgiveness. He understands our weakness and longs to help us, but we must first admit our selfishness and return to Him.
God wants the best for us but our free will gives us the ability to do wrong. If this were not so, we wouldn’t have free will. We must always be aware of our capacity for sin and work diligently to avoid it. Sin is easy, faith is hard. Trust in the Lord and He will keep you in His care.
Gracious God, we follow what we want and find ourselves lost among the things of the world. Help us to see Your truth and love in all things and to share that joy with everyone. Amen.