10/4/22

Our scripture this morning is ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:21-23.

“This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.”

Have you ever considered yourself an enemy of God? What a distressing concept that is, but when we rebel against His commandments and guidance, we are placing ourselves in opposition to Him. This has been the problem of sin from the very beginning – our will versus God’s will for us.

God cares so deeply for us that He sent Jesus to earth as one of us, to reach out and touch us in the most literal sense. Jesus knew what the initial outcome would be and spoke about His death to the disciples several times. However, He also knew that His actions would ignite a person to person revolution of love that continues with us today.

How are we doing as revolutionaries for Christ? We sometimes forget the blessings we have received to prepare us for the kingdom work we are called to accomplish. We say it is a battle against evil (and it truly is) but we must use the weapons of love and understanding to defeat hate and selfishness as Jesus taught us.

Gracious God, in Your love You sent Your son to love and save and free us. Help us to be energetic in our faith, going in Your name to love the world. Amen.

10/3/22

Our scripture this morning is ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:12-18‬.

“But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy. And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says, “This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he says, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.”

Paul writes to Hebrews dispersed throughout the world of his time with the Good News of Christ’s coming and His love for all people. He compares the worship and understanding of God their ancestors held with the example Jesus gave for all people, Jews and Gentiles together. This is a new concept for many, but Paul explains that in Jesus God has offered a New Covenant for all His children.

While Paul is known as the Apostle to the Gentiles, he cares for everyone and he wants to ensure that those Jews who live outside Jerusalem hear of the blessing of Christ. Through the circulation of this letter in their communities, many come to faith in Jesus and are again in full relationship with God. The promise God made to His people long before has been fulfilled.

Jesus came as our Lord and savior, our brother and teacher, the only effective offering for our sin. Through this wonderful gift, we have the opportunity to be made right with God, reconnected to His love and mercy. Because of His obedience we are forgiven and God waits only for our decision to accept and return to Him.

Loving Lord, You sent Your son to save us from our fallen state and show us the way back to You. Make us strong in faith to go to the world to share Your love with everyone. Amen.

10/2/22

Our scripture this morning is ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭11:23-26.

“For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.” For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.”

Today is World Communion Sunday for many Christian traditions. Whether or not you take Communion today, I invite you to think about the Lord’s Supper, how it signifies the New Covenant God has made with us through Christ’s sacrifice, and what that means to you. While this is something we do together as the body of Christ, it is intensely personal, just as is our repentance for sin and acceptance of Jesus as our Lord and savior.

Paul was not at the Last Supper, but through Christ’s appearance to him on the Damascus Road (Acts 9), he was led to an understanding of the depth and breadth of God’s love for us. Jesus showed by His life, death and resurrection what God was willing to do for our salvation. By remembering His sacrifice for us in this meal, “you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again” (v. 26).

While none of us were at the Last Supper either, we can share the wonderful experience through the gift of Holy Communion. Like all the believers since Christ’s ascension, we celebrate together as His body here on earth. Know that Jesus speaks the same promise to you as He did the disciples, calling you to “do this in remembrance of me”. 

Heavenly Father, we are grateful for Your love poured out through the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Help us to always remember the blessing we have been given and go to the world in Your name. Amen.

10/1/22

Our scripture this morning is 2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:16-21.

“So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”

Paul speaks of our responsibility to share the Good News with the world. He tells us “we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us” (v. 20). Jesus gave us the wonderful mission to carry the truth of God’s love for us to everyone.

This may seem daunting at first, but we have God’s presence with us through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Imagine being an uneducated fisherman as Peter was, addressing thousands at the Pentecost celebration (Acts 2). God gave him the skill and confidence needed to speak to a large diverse group about Christ’s sacrifice for us.

Concerned about your ability to be one of Christ’s ambassadors? The same Holy Spirit given to the Apostles is given to us as well! We are called and commissioned just as they were to go in His name, and God will make sure we have what we need to accomplish it.

Heavenly Father, You bless us with amazing things and invite us to be part of Your wonderful work. May we go in faith, sharing Your love with all Your children. Amen.

9/30/22

Our scripture this morning is ‭‭Titus‬ ‭3:3-7‬.

“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.”

Paul reminds us that we have no reason to feel superior to others  because “once we, too, were foolish and disobedient” (v. 3). It is not through anything we have done ourselves that we are saved, but only because of God’s mercy. For this reason, we are called to bring others into the joy of a relationship with Him.

Jesus gave us the task of sharing God’s love with the world. Each believer is a voice for Christ, telling our brothers and sisters of His sacrifice for us. Through Him, we are made whole again and sent to bring the Good News everywhere.

God’s grace is given to all who repent of their sins. Paul tells us “He made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life” (v. 7). This is His promise to all who accept His forgiveness and love.

Gracious God, we are humbled that You offer us the chance to be renewed by Your love. Make us strong in our faith and send us to share the news of our redemption to all, that they too may be saved. Amen.

9/29/22

Our scripture this morning is ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭1:18-25‬.

“The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.” So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.”

Paul warns us of the dangers of trying to save ourselves through human knowledge and strength. We can never think or work our way to salvation. Only by accepting Jesus as our savior can we be made right and reunited with God.

God does what seems foolish and weak in the eyes of the world for us to understand it is only through His love that we are offered eternal life. No one else can claim this power, only the One who created us. No matter how badly we stumble and fall, the Lord who made us in His image stands ready to forgive and welcome us back when we repent.

God will bless us with true wisdom and strength when we go in His name, sharing the Good News with everyone. This is our mission and the reason we exist – telling the world what God has done for us. His love brought us into the world, and His love will bring us home.

Heavenly Father, we are sorry for the way we have wandered away from what You would have us do. May we be the people You intend, loving You and each other as Jesus taught. Amen.

9/28/22

Our scripture this morning is 2 Timothy‬ ‭2:23-26.

“Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.”

Paul writes from prison with guidance to his younger friend Timothy who is carrying on his ministry. His instruction to not quarrel, instead being kind and patient, is good advice for all of us. However, now as then, it is often difficult to not become involved in the arguments of the world.

Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa said that we are challenged by “the world, the flesh and the devil; the enemy around us, the enemy within us and the enemy above us.” It is certainly easy to become wrapped up in the social and political issues of the time. It doesn’t mean that these are not important, but we must remember to speak and act as Christians through it all. Most importantly, we can’t let worldly things distract us from the mission Christ has given us.

I have said before that Satan only needs to distract us to be successful. Once we begin allowing earthly disagreements to separate us, we miss our opportunity to do the work to which we are called. This doesn’t mean we will never disagree, but we must ensure that temporary challenges in this life don’t keep us from the eternal life we have been promised.

Heavenly Father, as humans we are prone to see things differently and disagree about them. Help us to continue on the path Jesus showed and realize that our salvation must be our only objective. Amen.

9/27/22

Our scripture this morning is ‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭6:15-19.

“For, at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all Lords. He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will. All honor and power to him forever! Amen. Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.”

If we are honest with ourselves, most of us could give more than we do, not just financially but physically and spiritually. Our tithes, offerings and donations are important to support the work of the kingdom, however, our outreach to the world needs to be more than just monetary. Throwing our cash at problems we are not willing to work to resolve is not what Jesus taught.

Paul warns against trusting our money when we should be trusting in God (v. 17). Too often our thinking is “how can I get and keep more money?”, when it should be “how can I use my money as God intends?” Jesus came to show us that having money doesn’t equal happiness, and we will find greater joy through using our resources to help others.

Having money is not a sin, but God cares deeply about what we are willing to do to obtain it and how we are willing to spend it. Even more important to Him is our willingness to go into the world to make a difference. Prayerful and honest financial support of outreach ministries is blessed by God, but we are called to go in His name to share our spiritual gifts as He enables us.

Loving Lord, help us to see that our discipleship requires more than our wallets. Bless us to bless others with the things we do and say, sharing the Good News of salvation with the world. Amen.

9/26/22

Our scripture this morning is ‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:5-11.

“Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.”

Paul writes that “our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives” (v. 6). Jesus came to save us from our sins and show that a life in God is the greatest gift of all. It is something we must choose for ourselves, but we can’t do it alone.

God saw our struggle with sin, how it often seems to be the easy and pleasurable path. He sent His son to show us that this kind of life doesn’t honor Him, each other or ourselves. We must make the choice to die to sin and live in Christ in order to reconnect with our creator.

When we make that decision, our lives are changed and we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit as our guardian and guide. Only by accepting God’s offer of forgiveness and reconciliation can we be made whole again. God wants us all back as blessed and beloved children. He has made the first move, it is up to us to respond.

Loving Lord, in Your mercy You opened the way for us to be saved to eternal life. Help us to live in Your love and bring the Good News of salvation to all the world. Amen.

9/25/22

Our scripture this morning is ‭‭Romans‬ ‭3:22-26.

“We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.”

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (v. 23). It’s a sad but true commentary on our human condition. We have all failed to live as God intended, we have all made wrong choices. None of us are perfect.

However, God in His mercy has made a way for us to be forgiven and made right with Him again. The theological term for this is justifying grace. Through Christ’s sacrifice for us, we are redeemed and renewed. When we turn to God in repentance, He sets aside our transgressions and we become part of His plan to restore His people.

Our faith in Jesus leads us back to a loving relationship with God and our brothers and sisters. It is not easy; He told us there will be obstacles and resistance from an unbelieving world. Through whatever we face, He is with us by the presence of the Holy Spirit, guiding and strengthening us to go to the world in His name.

Gracious God, we are thankful that through Your love and forgiveness, we may be reunited with You. Bless us to be energetic in our faith, sharing the Good News with everyone. Amen.