5/26/22

Our scripture this morning is Hebrews 8:6-10.

“But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises. If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it. But when God found fault with the people, he said: “The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt. They did not remain faithful to my covenant, so I turned my back on them, says the Lord. But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

God has reached out to us in many ways since the Creation. In Jesus we have received God’s greatest gift, the presence of His only son to better show us His love. Now, we are entrusted with His ministry, called to share the love of God with all His children.

From the beginning, God has intended us to be in close relationship with Him. Sadly, we broke off that connection when we fell into sin. When we choose our own ways over the love of God, it pushes us further away from Him.

However, God loved us so much He was not willing to leave us in our fallen state. Jesus came to show us that we were not forsaken and that our relationship with God and each other could be restored by our confession and repentance. Living into the New Covenant of Christ makes us right with God again and empowers us to be His messengers to everyone.

Gracious God, we are sorry for the times we have failed. Grant us Your forgiveness and by Your spirit we will carry the Good News to the world. Amen.

5/25/22

Our scripture this morning is ‭‭John‬ ‭15:18-22‬.

“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me. They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin.”

Jesus speaks to us with a warning about the ways of the world. Paul tells us “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). John writes “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). All of these statements are to make us see that once we give our lives to Jesus, the world will stand against us.

Doing what is right is not always easy. We have been called to serve our savior in a world that often resists saving and pushes back against God’s love. Jesus says “love them anyway”.

When the things of this world seem to be too much to deal with, we need to reach out to our Father in Heaven in prayer and our brothers and sisters in Christ in fellowship. Jesus taught us to work together, using the gifts God has given to work in the world. The fact that it will be hard doesn’t relieve us of our responsibility.

Gracious God, the presence of sin in the world saddens us and makes it difficult to share Your love. Strengthen us in faith that we may bring the Gospel to all. Amen.

5/24/22

Our scripture this morning is Hebrews 3:1-6.

And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest. For he was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entire house. But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a house deserves more praise than the house itself. For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God. Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later. But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.

This passage calls us to “think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest”. It speaks of those who were faithful servants in God’s house, but reminds us that none compare to Jesus, who was part of creating all that is. We need to be aware of our responsibility, but also our debt to Christ for coming to save us.

We have been blessed to be God’s messengers as Jesus was, carrying on His ministry and sharing His love everywhere. Our work in the world can make a difference in the lives of others, bringing them to Him that all may be saved. It is a commitment we each must make for ourselves but we don’t undertake the work alone.

God calls us all as part of His plan but it is an individual choice. He wants us to return to Him in faith and love because we want to, not under threat. Look to Him today and choose to be a messenger of the Gospel.

Loving Lord, we know You love us and want us as part of all You are doing. Help us to be strong in our faith and go to make disciples everywhere. Amen. 

5/23/22

Our scripture this morning is Hebrews‬ ‭1:1-4‬.

“Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names.”
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The opening of the Letter to the Hebrews teaches that Jesus came as the greatest prophet, not merely telling us what God says, but showing us. Jesus had been with God and part of God since the very beginning. His love and witness to us was part of God’s plan for our salvation.

Before He returned to be with God, Jesus called His followers to continue His ministry on earth, sharing God’s love with everyone. They didn’t have fast transportation or easy communication, but they were eager to spread God’s message and willing to face hardship and even death. The Word went out because those early evangelists were steadfast in their faith and strengthened by the Holy Spirit.

We have the same call and the same Holy Spirit present with us. God has blessed us to develop ways to travel and communicate worldwide in order to spread His Word in our world. May we be the disciples of today, ready to go where we are needed to share God’s love with everyone.

Gracious God, we are thankful to be asked to share our faith with others. Bless us to be a blessing to all the world. Amen.

5/22/22

Our scripture this morning is Titus 3:3-8.

“Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But— When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone.”

Paul writes to his friend Titus with a summary of salvation. He tells him God “saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit” (v.5). We must remember this in our own lives and repeat it when we share the Good News.

God offers His mercy to everyone, no matter who they are or what they have done. All who call on the name of the Lord can be saved. Psalm 136 opens with “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His mercy endures forever” and this song of praise should be on our lips always.

Paul reminds us that we were once sinners too, but Jesus has shown us the way to reconnect with God. Through Christ’s sacrifice for us we have been made right with God and called to be part of His redemptive plan. Let us go in faith to share this awesome gift.

Loving Lord, we are sorry for the times we forget Your love for us and fail to love each other as You intend. Forgive us and send us to share the blessing of the Gospel with everyone. Amen.

5/21/22

Our scripture this morning is 2 Timothy 2:10-14.

“So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen. This is a trustworthy saying: If we die with him, we will also live with him. If we endure hardship, we will reign with him. If we deny him, he will deny us. If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is. Remind everyone about these things, and command them in God’s presence to stop fighting over words. Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them.”

Paul reminds us that we must be willing to obey and possibly suffer for the faith we have in Jesus. We learn through His example and are called to live our lives as He did. When we accept the gifts He offers, we are forever changed and responsible to God and each other.

While there will be disagreements even among believers, it is important to ensure these don’t affect our dedication to the mission Jesus has for us.
Satan can’t defeat us in the face of Christ’s sacrifice for us but he can distract us, interfering as he has since the beginning. Paul warns that “Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them” (v. 14). If we are to be the bearers of the Good News we must be focused on our mission and not lost in disagreement.

God created us to be His people, chosen and meant for a holy purpose. When we fail to love, even in our disagreements, we fail Him. Paul writes “stop fighting over words”, something we desperately need to remember.

Loving Lord, we are sorry for arguing among ourselves and missing the message of love You send for us to share. Help us to remember the promise we have been given and live out our promise to You. Amen.

5/20/22

Our scripture this morning is 1 Timothy‬ ‭4:7-10.

Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.

Many of us engage in exercise of some sort to maintain physical fitness, lose weight or recover from an injury. Paul tells us while physical training is good, spiritual training is much more important because it promises “benefits in this life and the life to come” (v. 8). What if we paid as much attention to our spiritual health as we do our physical health?

I have reluctantly given up some some foods that are not healthy and begun exercising to keep my body in working order. We must treat our spiritual lives in the same way, with discipline and regular practice. Only by being intentional about our faith can we learn and grow.

Paul’s letter to Timothy is both personal and public. The instruction he offers is intended as teaching for everyone, encouraging training for godliness. We must prepare ourselves, with God’s help, to be spiritually fit, ready to carry His love to the world every day.

Gracious God, we know You need no help, but You call us into partnership in Your plan. Bless us to strengthen our faith that we may be fit for the work of Your kingdom. Amen.

5/19/22

Our scripture this morning is 1 Thessalonians 5:12-23.

Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other. Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil. Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.

Paul closes his first letter to the Thessalonians with a list of Christlike characteristics they are to cultivate. Perhaps most important in this group is “be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (v. 18). Being thankful always and following God’s will is how Jesus lived His earthly life as an example to us.

Paul mentions a variety of other behaviors, all of which we see embodied in Jesus. Our challenge is to practice these, not just with the body of Christ but with all God’s children everywhere. In this way we become closer to God through Christ and also to each other.

I have difficulty focusing on more than one improvement in my life at a time, so I plan to choose one of these characteristics each week as my goal and work to improve how I live them out. I invite you to pray about them and discern which of these skills may need attention in your life. Through God’s help and intentional practice, we can be the people He has called us to be.

Loving Lord, we know we aren’t always like Jesus in our thoughts, words and actions. Bless us to hear the spirit’s guidance and apply it in our lives, that we may bring the Good News to the world. Amen.

5/18/22

Our scripture this morning is 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6.

‘Now concerning how and when all this will happen, dear brothers and sisters, we don’t really need to write you. For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape. But you aren’t in the dark about these things, dear brothers and sisters, and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief. For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. ‘

Paul reminds us that the Day of the Lord will come whenever God decides, and no one knows when that will be. Jesus told us in Acts 1:7 “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know”. Instead of being concerned with the when, we must be concerned with the what: Jesus will return in glory to gather the faithful.

We must also be concerned with what happens until then. We have been saved by Christ’s sacrifice for us and called to continue sharing God’s love so that everyone knows. This is the most important task we have, to carry on the ministry of Jesus, making disciples of all the world.

Staying focused on our mission is much more important than where or when Jesus will return. Paul says we are “children of the light” (v. 5), and we must be the bearers of God’s light to a world stumbling in darkness. We know that when He returns, we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2) and all will know He is Lord.

Gracious God, thank You for the blessing of Your son who came to save us. May we be His representatives, telling everyone of Your love until He returns. Amen.

5/17/22

Our scripture this morning is Colossians 3:12-17.

“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”

Paul reminds us to forgive others as God has forgiven us. Without forgiveness there can’t be peace among us and more than anything God wants us to live in peace. Our hearts must be right with God and each other.

He continues “clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (v. 12). These spiritual gifts are necessary to reach those who have not heard the Good News. God has provided these that we may carry out the ministry Jesus passed on to us.

If we can’t live peaceably with those who are part of the body of Christ, how can we live with those who are outside? We must focus on what is most important – making disciples of all the world – and not our petty disagreements. God calls us all to a life in Him and only when we obey can we live with Him eternally.

Gracious God, we are thankful for the example Jesus showed us of what our relationship with You should be. Help us to live as He did and share the blessing of Your love with everyone. Amen.