Our scripture this morning is ‭‭Mark‬ ‭12:28-34‬.

One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” The scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that He is One, and there is no one else besides Him; and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions.

While it may seem that the scribe in this story is testing Jesus, after hearing the lesson he answers Jesus with understanding. This example reminds us what is most important in all things. No matter what we do or plan, our relationship with God and each other leads us to the right decision, if we only pray about it.

Think about the things we do daily and how to lift them in prayer. You may say “I can’t pray for everything every day!” That may be true if we think of all the details we have to deal with, but we can ask God to bless and keep us, watching over our daily routine. If we adopt this practice of starting each day with our connection to Him in prayer, we find our days are better.

We will still face difficult times and issues but in God’s presence we find strength and direction for daily life. God wants to be a part of everything we do. Love the Lord your God with everything you have and are! 

Heavenly Father, we are often distracted by earthly things and ways. Forgive us and lead us back to the relationship You intend for us all. Amen.


Our scripture this morning is ‭‭Luke‬ ‭10:25-37‬.

And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”

This familiar passage is a lesson to us about group membership and relationships, which are not necessarily the same thing. We hear about a priest and a Levite, both of whom serve in the Temple, and the Samaritan from the wrong side of the tracks. Jesus uses this story to teach us that merely “belonging” is not enough, the important thing is our action.

Two church members see the man in trouble but do nothing to help him, while the “unchurched” guy does the right thing. Jesus is telling us that being part of the group is only part of our call. He reminds us “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

At the end of the lesson He tells the lawyer “Go and do the same”. Before He ascends to Heaven He commands “Go and make disciples of all nations”. Being a follower of Christ requires our faith and our action. We can’t just stand by and watch.

Loving Lord, thank You for showing us the importance of caring for each other in faith. Help us to be active disciples, sharing the Good News with the world. Amen.


Our scripture this morning is ‭‭Romans‬ ‭3:21-26.

“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

Paul explains that God’s love and righteousness have been shown through Jesus coming to be with us. He also reminds us “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (v. 23) and in order to be justified we must ask for His forgiveness. God wants us back but we must change our lives to begin the process.

The term justified is not one that comes up in everyday conversation. The dictionary gives several different definitions but the most appropriate is “declared or made righteous in the sight of God” (Oxford Online). Still a little vague? Think of using a word processor and that most of our documents are left justified, lined up starting from the left side. To be justified means to be in line with God’s will.

I learned a phrase to help remember and understand this – “Just as if I’d” – as in just-as-if-I’d never sinned. God is ready to forgive and “remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12). By accepting the blessing He offers we can be restored, made right in His love.

Gracious God, thank You for Your grace and mercy, and receiving us back in love even when we fail. Help us to be the disciples of today, going into the world to do Your will. Amen.


Our scripture this morning is ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:15-18.

And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them After those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws upon their heart, And on their mind I will write them,” He then says, “And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.”

The final sacrifice for our sin has been made for us through the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. God has offered us forgiveness, all we need to do is say yes to His plan of salvation. God is giving us an opportunity to turn away from the evil of the world and be part of saving it.

This wonderful offer includes a relationship and a responsibility. We can’t have one without the other, accepting God’s forgiveness means He “will put My laws upon their heart and on their mind I will write them” (v. 16). Being forgiven means living a changed life.

God is always ready to hear our prayers of repentance and welcome us back to the connection that was intended at creation. He sent Jesus to show us His love and to teach us His way. He made us in His image and we can be made whole again by His mercy.

Gracious God, we are sorry for the times we fail You and each other. Help us to remember the joy of life in You and share that blessing with all the world. Amen.


Our scripture this morning is ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭33:6-9‬.

Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them; and I will reveal to them an abundance of peace and truth. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel and will rebuild them as they were at first. I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned against Me and by which they have transgressed against Me. It will be to Me a name of joy, praise and glory before all the nations of the earth which will hear of all the good that I do for them, and they will fear and tremble because of all the good and all the peace that I make for it.

Jeremiah is known by some scholars as “the weeping prophet” because many of his writings deal with the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity in Babylon. He preached that the children of Israel were bringing this upon themselves because they refused to listen and obey God. He became so strident in his attempts that he was eventually imprisoned by the king and only freed when Babylonian invaders raided the prison.

How often are we unwilling to hear bad news, voices that tell us we are on the wrong path? No one likes to be told we are sinning, but it is part of our call in Christ to share both the warning and the blessing of the Good News. In this life we will always have difficulty to deal with and only through faith and obedience can we do so successfully.

However, Jeremiah tells them (and us) that we are children of a forgiving God, who wants us back and will “pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned against Me” (v. 8). God has plans for His people and for each of us individually. Accept the gift of forgiveness and live in His grace.

Loving Lord, we stumble and fall through our own obstinate disobedience. We ask Your pardon, restore us to full relationship with You to be productive disciples. Amen.


Our scripture this morning is ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭28:6-9‬.

Blessed be the Lord, Because He has heard the voice of my supplication. The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him. The Lord is their strength, And He is a saving defense to His anointed. Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever.

This psalm passage teaches many truths in a few verses. The familiar words “The Lord is my strength and shield” remind us God is there to protect us. The psalmist asks Him to “Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever”. It is this image that we apply to Jesus as our Good Shepherd, caring and guiding us.

The phrase “my heart trusts in Him and I am helped” tells us how important this relationship is to our lives. Unless we put our trust in the Lord, we are lost! God wants to be part of everything we do, but it is up to us to choose this connection.

God is always there and always ready to forgive us when we fall, and raise us back to a full relationship with Him. All we need to do is approach Him with repentance and accept the grace He offers us. God has a plan for each one of us, and we become part of the work of the kingdom when we say yes to His call.

Gracious God, we are humbled that You want to include us in Your continuing creation. Bless us to be the heralds of Christ, carrying the Good News everywhere. Amen.


Our scripture this morning is Psalm 119:17-24.

“Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word. Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. I am a stranger in the earth; Do not hide Your commandments from me. My soul is crushed with longing After Your ordinances at all times. You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed, Who wander from Your commandments. Take away reproach and contempt from me, For I observe Your testimonies. Even though princes sit and talk against me, Your servant meditates on Your statutes. Your testimonies also are my delight; They are my counselors.”

The psalmist speaks lovingly of God’s word to us, of how important it is to live by the guidance we are given. He feels blessed to have this instruction and so should we. We may think of scripture as God’s word, and it is, but as important as that is, there is much more to it. 

The opening of the Gospel of John tells us  “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1). We understand from the next verses that this was Jesus, present at creation and an essential part of the process. John goes on to testify that nothing was made without Him.

God’s word is much more than just instructions to us on how to live. It is an essential part of our being, how we were made. It is how we are connected to God and each other. We can ignore scripture (at our peril) but we cannot deny the very presence of God in us.

Heavenly Father, thank You for choosing us to be part of Your plan for creation. Strengthen us by Your grace and send us into the world to share Your love. Amen.


Our scripture this morning is ‭‭Mark‬ ‭10:46-52‬.

“Then they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road. When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him here.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.” Throwing aside his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus. And answering him, Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!” And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.”

Today’s post is a little different. It’s part of an exercise at a retreat where we were asked to see ourselves as a character in the scripture and think about our response. This was mine.

Dear Mom and Dad,

I know you’ll be really surprised to get a note from me since I haven’t been able to write for the last 10 years, but I have really amazing news – I can see again! Yes, miraculous is the only way to describe it but here’s what happened.  Jesus was coming down the road where I was sitting in my spot. How did I know it was Jesus? I was blind, not deaf! Anyway, I shouted to him, he stopped and asked what I wanted. I told him I wanted to see! Jesus said to me “Go, your faith has healed you” and right then I could see again! I know this is quite a shock, but there’s more – I’m going to Jerusalem with Jesus!  I promise I’ll pick up a new cloak the first chance I get.  You may think regaining my sight must have made me crazy, but I’ll tell you, once Jesus has touched you, you can’t just go back and sit in your spot anymore.

Your loving son, Bartimaeus

Gracious God, thank You for the gift of our Savior Jesus, who touched us all with Your love. Help us to go as He taught us to share the Good News with everyone. Amen.


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

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.”

The first verse of this passage should guide us during the difficult times we are experiencing – “in a spirit of gentleness”, yet it seems as we face trouble we have only become more belligerent toward each other. We grumble about shortages, businesses not having enough help, and a variety of other things, but this is never productive and rarely do we feel better after complaining. This isn’t how God wants us to deal with the situation or our brothers and sisters.

The forces of evil know that by distracting us from the real issue we can be divided and kept from our kingdom work. Temptation is always lurking, and we are warned “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). When we speak harshly of each other it gives evil a foothold.

We mustn’t let our anger at a situation make us forget our love for God and each other. When we “lose it” and act out against others we are acting against God’s will for us. Remember the blessings we have and the duty God calls us to fulfill.

Loving Lord, we face hard times and hard things. Help us not to become hard people because of it. Guide us and strengthen us, we pray. Amen.


Our scripture this morning is ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:18-21.

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Reconciliation is one of those words we don’t use often. The dictionary defines it as “a restoration of friendly relations”, something our world could certainly use right now. Paul tells us that God “reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (v. 18), indicating not only are we reconnected to God through Christ but also to one another, and charged to help them reconnect to God as well.

Being reconciled to God through Christ means we have chosen to follow Him and do His will. This brings us a wonderful blessing, but also a responsibility to share the Good News with everyone. We are gifted and called, both as individuals and as the children of God to bring His light and truth to the world.

Paul calls us ambassadors for Christ, charged with the commission He gave to make disciples of all nations. It is not an easy task, but Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would be with us to guide and inspire our work. Remember that God chose us and loved us first; let us respond to this wonderful gift with all that is in us.

Gracious God, we are amazed that You call us to be part of the work of Your kingdom. Help us to connect with others that all the world may be saved through Christ our Lord. Amen.