Our scripture this morning is John 8:12‭-‬19.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.” Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.” Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”

Jesus gives the Pharisees (and us) a lesson on truth and judgement. The Pharisees were big on judgement but not so much on truth. They were the teachers of the law but they often failed to obey what they taught.

Notice their questions to Jesus. They aren’t interested in understanding what He teaches, only in challenging His right to speak these things. How often are we like this? Even when we disagree it’s important to listen and understand.

As we begin a new year, may we honestly listen to the concerns of our brothers and sisters, and if we disagree, at least make the effort to understand their side of the situation. We may still disagree, but listening and discussing rationally rather than rejecting and dismissing as the Pharisees did will allow us to move forward as Jesus taught. Let us ask for God’s guidance to better understand and care for one another.

Loving Lord, forgive us for ignoring the fears and needs of others. Help us to share Your love in the world, using the gifts You have given us wisely. Amen.


Our scripture this morning is Psalms 147:12‭-‬20.

Extol the Lord, Jerusalem; praise your God, Zion. He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you. He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat. He sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes. He hurls down his hail like pebbles. Who can withstand his icy blast? He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow. He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation; they do not know his laws. Praise the Lord.

How often do we praise the Lord “just because”? We offer thanks and praise when our loved ones are healed, when we are saved from a bad situation and many others after the fact, but God deserves our praise all the time, simply because He is our loving creator. This psalm reminds us of the blessings Israel enjoyed and that we continue to receive today.

God does this because He loves us and wants good things for us. We are called to be in relationship with Him and the only thing that prevents that is our own pride and selfishness. We are the primary obstacle to our own salvation!

However, God continues to reach out to us, even in our sin. He made a way for us to return to a faith connection to Him through the gift of Jesus. God wants all of us back and that is a reason for thanks and praise.

Heavenly Father, we are ashamed of our failures and sorry for disobeying Your commandments. Forgive our mistakes and lead us to eternal life through Christ our Lord, Amen.


Our scripture this morning is 1 Corinthians 3:10‭-‬17.

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.

Paul uses the illustration of how a building is constructed to teach us about the foundation of our faith, Jesus Christ. He warns that building our lives on any other foundation is foolish and will fail in the end. He tells us that what we make of our lives – what we build – will be examined and judged by God at the last day.

There are many other reminders of this building process. Jesus Himself teaches us “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24). There are hymns such as “My Hope is Built On Nothing Less” and “How Firm a Foundation” that share this truth.

Only by carefully following the plan Jesus gave can we hope to build our lives into something pleasing to God. He wants to live in us but He can’t if our building is substandard. We must trust the foundation Christ laid for us and build our lives confidently in Him.

Patient God, we are thankful for the model of our faith, Jesus Christ and the example for building He gave us. Help us to be strong in a difficult world and share Your love with everyone. Amen.


Our scripture this morning is ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭21:1-7‬.

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.”

John, the author of Revelation, gives us this testimony of the vision God sent him. It beautifully expresses God’s promise fulfilled, that He is “making everything new” (v. 5) and we will live in His presence eternally. It is the blessing of a new existence in continued relationship with Him.

The things we know – the possessions and status and wealth that many thought important – will all be gone. God replaces these with His gift of life everlasting, that “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (v. 4). All the curses that sin brought to human life will cease.

The images John shares in Revelation can be confusing and frightening, but only for those who oppose the will of God. He is ready to welcome into the new Heaven and earth all who truly love Him and obey His commandments. He tells us plainly “Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.”

Gracious God, through the gift of Christ our Lord You made a way for us to be reconciled and redeemed. May we share the joy of our faith with the world, that all may look forward to eternal life in You. Amen.


Our scripture this morning is Psalm 148.

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host! Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created. He established them forever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed. Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command! Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds! Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and women alike, old and young together! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven. He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his faithful, for the people of Israel who are close to him. Praise the Lord!

The Psalms are the songbook of scripture, bringing our praise and our prayers to the Lord. This psalm from the New Revised Standard Version uses the word “praise” twelve times in fourteen verses. History tells us these were sung as part of worship, especially during temple services.

When we lift our voices together, we are all strengthened and encouraged to share the joy of the Lord with the world. I know some who say “I can’t sing” but it’s not about beautiful music – the song of a lark and the raucous call of a crow are both pleasing to God. It’s about our connection to Him and offering our thanks and praise.

A director once told me “God asks us to make a “joyful noise” (Psalm 100), and that’s all that matters.” Don’t be afraid to lift your voice to God for fear of “what others will say” – it’s not about them, it’s between you and God. Jesus told us “if they are silent, the very stones would cry out” (Luke 19:40). All creation sings to the Lord, and you are a beloved part of that heavenly choir.

Loving Lord, we are grateful for Your many gifts to us and we bring our thanks and praise. Let us go into Your world with joy and tell everyone of Your love. Amen.


Our scripture this morning is Luke 2:41‭-‬50.

Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.

How did we get here? Yesterday we celebrated Jesus coming to be among us and today’s reading tells of the boy Jesus in conversation with the teachers in the Temple. Can’t we keep Him as Baby Jesus a little longer?

Giving our love and adoration to the holy infant is appropriate, and we are called to do so, but we must understand what He came to do – save us all from our sins. When we remember Jesus as a baby we don’t see Him as the source of change that He brought to our world. He is still small and harmless, not yet a challenge to how we live and treat each other.

We must allow Jesus to grow and develop in our lives as we grow and develop in our faith. When we invite Him into our hearts we are changed forever, called to be a part of the kingdom of God eternally, and charged to share His love with everyone. That’s a mighty task for humans, but with His help we can change the world.

Loving Lord, thank You for sending Jesus to redeem us. We are humbled and grateful for this wonderful gift. May we go in His name to make disciples of all nations. Amen.


Merry Christmas! May the peace and joy of Christ’s coming be with you and yours today and always.

Our scripture this morning is ‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:1-20‬.

“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.”

The old familiar story that we have heard every Christmas still brings us anticipation and joy. Christ the savior is born! God’s promise has come to love and save and free us. However, it wasn’t how anyone expected Him to come.

It sounds counterintuitive – in order to save us from our human condition, Jesus came as a human? God’s plan for salvation is that we see in Christ what we can be, beloved and sinless. God has the beloved part covered, He loves us so much that He sent His only son to save us while we were still sinners. Turning away from sin and returning in repentance is up to us.

Jesus came to save us, but He also came as one of us. We can relate to Him, He knows exactly how it feels to be human. However, He shows us a better way of living, at peace with God and each other. The Good News of Jesus Christ is given to the world, let us share our joy and the love of God with everyone.

Heavenly Father, we are amazed at how You come to us, a fragile child in need of care. Help us to grow in our faith as Your people, testifying to Your promise of redemption and Your eternal love. Amen.


Our scripture this morning is Micah 6:6‭-‬8.

With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

The words of Micah 6:8 are familiar to many of us, guidance as important as The Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments. Each of these statements have a specific meaning, but together they define a life lived in and for God. It is important that we understand them as a whole.

Justice is important in any society or relationship. As God is just, so must we be fair in all our dealings. To give mercy is to forgive as God forgives us. Staying in relationship with God enables us to know His purpose for our lives.

If we are honest with ourselves, we realize that we cannot do any of these if the other two are not present in us. God expects us to live them out together. While individual situations may seem to require mercy or justice, it is only by walking with God that we can use them as He intended. A relationship with Him is the basis for everything we do.

Loving Lord, we are grateful for Your kind instruction, showing us the way to salvation through Jesus Christ. Bless us to use the gifts we have been given to go in Your name to make disciples of all the world. Amen.


Our scripture this morning is Micah 4:6-8.

“In that day,” declares the Lord, “I will gather the lame; I will assemble the exiles and those I have brought to grief. I will make the lame my remnant, those driven away a strong nation. The Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day and forever. As for you, watchtower of the flock, stronghold of Daughter Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to Daughter Jerusalem.”

The prophet Micah speaks to Israel about God’s promise to reunite His scattered children. He tells them that the Lord will “assemble the exiles and those I have brought to grief” (v. 6). This reminds us that no matter what our situation may be, the Lord wants to draw us together again as one people.

Israel had defied God, going their own way, and they suffered for their disobedience. God doesn’t want to harm His children but we must be disciplined in order to change our behavior and return to Him. Evil cannot abide the presence of God and when we sin, we hide from Him.

We are the ones who have moved away from God, scattering ourselves apart from His love and care. When we repent and choose to be part of His family, we can be restored. God’s loving arms are outstretched for us, but it is up to us to return His embrace.

Gracious God, we are thankful for our savior Jesus Christ coming among us to show Your love. Forgive us when we fail and may we return to Your family refreshed and ready to do Your will. Amen.


Our scripture this morning is Ephesians 2:13‭-‬22.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

Paul’s words to the church at Ephesus could have been written about us today, and they are certainly intended for our world. We have so divided ourselves it is often hard to see how we can all be the children of God. Replace the names of the groups Paul mentions – Jew, Gentile, Greek, Roman, slave, free – with any we know today – Christian, Muslim, American, Russian, democrat, republican – and we may hear his lessons more personally.

Paul tells everyone that they are loved by God, regardless of their background or situation. He reminds us that “you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God” (v. 22). Christ came to save us all and wants us to be part of God’s eternal family.

The choice is ours. Christ will return to gather those who have come to Him in repentance and bring them to the joy of salvation. No one will be dragged kicking and screaming into eternity against their will. However, in order to be saved we must say yes and actively follow Him, living out the call we have been given to make disciples of all nations.

Gracious God, help us to see how we are all alike rather than separate ourselves through differences that mean nothing in eternity. Bless us to go in Your name, sharing the love and forgiveness You offer to all. Amen.