6/13/2024

Our scripture this morning is Mark 6:31-32.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.

This small passage occurs in between some big happenings. In Mark 6:7 Jesus sends out the disciples to heal and share the Good News. Their evangelism makes King Herod recall the work and death of John the Baptist (Mark 6:14). After this comes Feeding the Five Thousand in Mark 6:33. There is much activity in this chapter!

Because of this, Jesus calls the disciples to “come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” This call is important for us as well. Jesus knows that it is essential for each of us to spend time alone in prayer with God to be ready for the next task.

I don’t know where the saying “you can’t fill others if you’re empty” came from but it is certainly true. Jesus knew this and didn’t want the disciples to “burn out” as we call it today. When we feel empty, we must stop and allow God’s strength to renew us in order to continue the work He has for us.

Loving Lord, we know our capabilities are a gift from You and we must use them wisely. When we are weary, refresh us in body and spirit that we may go in Your name to share Your love. Amen.

6/12/2024

Our scripture this morning is Galatians 6:1-2.

Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.

Paul speaks of the physical, emotional, and spiritual load we all carry as humans. These all weigh on us and all of us need help sometimes. We need to understand that accepting help is as important as giving help.

Temptation is always near and as Jesus taught, His way is the narrow way and it is not easy. We must continually be aware of God’s love and His plan for us in order to avoid falling. We know we can come to Him in repentance and be forgiven.

Instead of condemnation, we offer to “share each other’s burdens and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Jesus came to help us see our sin and be freed from it through His sacrifice. We can’t save ourselves but we can help others come to Him in order to be saved.

Loving Lord, in Your mercy You made a way for us to be redeemed and reconciled to You. Help us to share the joy we find in You with all the world. Amen.

6/11/2024

Our scripture this morning is Isaiah 26:1-4.

In that day, everyone in the land of Judah will sing this song: Our city is strong! We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation. Open the gates to all who are righteous; allow the faithful to enter. You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.

The prophet Isaiah was sent to minister to a people in crisis. Stronger, aggressive nations surround Israel, they had forgotten their faith and things looked grim. This portion of his warning is often called the Isaiah Apocalypse, predicting judgement for those who have turned against God.

We can see a sad parallel in our world today. It seems that God’s love and the call to obedience in Him have been replaced by whatever people decide is right at the time. Like the situation Israel faced during the time of Isaiah, we are in need of saving.

In Isaiah 6:8 we read “Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”” This is still the call God places on our lives, to go in His name to His people that they might be saved. It is never to late to turn our lives around and to accept the peace He offers us, “for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.”

Patient God, even when we are disobedient and follow our own way, You still love and want to redeem us. Bless us to carry the Good News to all Your children everywhere. Amen.

6/10/2024

Our scripture this morning is Matthew 7:24-27.

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

Jesus, the master teacher always gave people examples to think about. He used nature, family and society as things people were familiar with to lead them to God’s plan for us. In this lesson we hear about foolish and wise decisions and the result of those actions.

He tells them of two different situations – a house built on sand which falls in the storm and a house with a firm foundation that stands strong.  This illustrates the difference between relying on human wisdom or relying on the word of God. Jesus patiently gives us the knowledge needed to see the difference.

It is our choice to listen and obey or suffer the consequences of our decision. This isn’t a threat or coercion, merely the truth. Jesus doesn’t deal in misleading statements or false promises as humans do. We know that He is the Word, sent from the Father to save us and His love will bring all who follow Him into eternal life.

Gracious God, we are humbled that You want us as part of Your plan. We go in Your name and Your strength to bring the Good News to the world. Amen.

6/9/2024

Our scripture this morning is Mark 2:23-28.

One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples began breaking off heads of grain to eat. But the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Look, why are they breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?” Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you ever read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the house of God (during the days when Abiathar was high priest) and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. He also gave some to his companions.” Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”

How do you define Sabbath? Is it going to church on Sunday? I have heard it said that God rested on the seventh day in order to spend time with what was important to Him – His creation, which includes us. Sabbath should mean that for us as well, being together in Christian community with God and those we love.

During the Exodus God had given some rules for living to protect His people and teach them to be a community. Sabbath was a time for them to remember who and whose they were. The Pharisees of Jesus’ time had attempted to come up with a rule to answer every question and were watchful that others followed their instructions.

When they accused the disciples of breaking Sabbath, Jesus beat them at their own game. He asks “Haven’t you ever read” referring to 1 Sam. 21:1–6 when David and his men ate the Bread of Presence from the Tabernacle. The lesson He teaches is that Sabbath was made for us, not the other way around.

Loving Lord, help us not to focus on trivial things that distract us from the joy of our relationship with You. May our Sabbath celebrations honor You and bring us all together in Your kingdom. Amen.

6/8/2024

Our scripture this morning is Exodus 33:12-14.

Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Ever since we chose our own way and fell into sin God has been working to be part of our lives again. God chose faithful people to carry out His plan, emphasizing our relationship with Him. Connection to Him and one another is our very reason for existing.

While all His children are important to Him, Moses held a special position of trust with the Lord. The verse prior to this passage tells us “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:11). This is why God promises “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

We can all rest in His presence. God has sent His spirit to be with us as a constant companion and guide. Jesus told us “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever” (John 14:16). God wants to be a part of our lives in everything we do.

Loving Lord, we are amazed that You want us back. Forgive our selfish ways and help us to see that our connection to You is the most important thing of all. Amen. 

6/7/2024

Our scripture this morning is Psalms 4:5-8.

Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the Lord. Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?” Let the light of your face shine on us. Fill my heart with joy when their grain and new wine abound. In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.

This psalm calls us to remain faithful, trusting that God knows and cares about us and our situations. When we are anxious, we must put our hope in Him and not ourselves or human leaders. The apostle Paul writes “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31), reminding us that God is in control.

The psalmist sings “Fill my heart with joy when their grain and new wine abound”, a reference to the celebration of harvest. We must remember that while we may labor for our sustenance, it is a gift from God and not our own doing. We rejoice in all He has done for us.

The closing line of this evening psalm reminds us that true peace is only found in our relationship with God, “for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” God has promised us salvation through Jesus and we must accept the blessing He offers if we want to be saved. Only our Heavenly Father can give us eternal life.

Gracious God, we are sorry for our selfish disobedience and the pain it causes You and others. Help us to see the only way to peace is in You and to share that joy with the world. Amen.

6/6/2024

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.

In this passage the prophet Micah engages the people with a question regarding sacrifice and sin. Sacrifice was intended to be an outward sign of devotion to God, instead the people used it as a “get out of jail free” card. This is works salvation rather than faith salvation, “if we just do this God will forgive us.” Faith and a loving connection to God should energize our work as a response to what He has done for us.

In 1 Samuel 15:22 King Saul is told “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” God wants a relationship with us and wants to forgive our sins because of who He is, but we must repent sincerely and strive to do better. 

Our faith and our works are intricately connected, but there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. Christ’s sacrifice for us is the final word, now we are to give our lives to God, acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with Him.

Loving Lord, in Your mercy You made a way for us to be saved from our sin. Bless us to share Your love with all the world. Amen.

6/5/2024

Our scripture this morning is 3 John 1:11.

Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God.

John doesn’t mince words in this short letter. He is concerned about a church leader who apparently follows his own guidance rather than God’s. John warns his friend Gaius, also a church leader, regarding this behavior.

Our actions are important for what they accomplish but also for the example they set for others. When we behave in ways contrary to God’s law we not only separate ourselves from God but may also cause others to fall into sin as well. I remember growing up on more than one occasion being told “that’s not what Jesus taught us.”

We are told “Do not judge others and you will not be judged” (Matthew 7:1) but we are also called to watch over each other in love. When we see others falling away, Jesus instructs us to go to them in love, not judgement (Matthew 18:15-17). We are responsible for our own actions but also to guide our brothers and sisters on the path Jesus has shown us.

Gracious God, You sent us Your son to make Your love real to us. Help us to share Your love with all your children. Amen.

6/4/2024

Our scripture this morning is Romans 8:5-7.

Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.

Jesus said “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). We have been freed from sin to live in obedience to God’s plan for us. However, we must make the choice to think and act as God intends.

We struggle with our sinful nature, “doing what we want”. While this may seem like a relatively modern failing, it has been with us since humans first chose their way instead of God’s. We are not forced, but our options are eternal life or eternal separation from God.

We have been promised God’s presence with us always in order to share His love. Jesus called us all, saying “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). May the Holy Spirit guard and guide us in our task always.

Loving Lord, You made us in Your image and commissioned us to carry Your love everywhere. Bless us to be strong in the Spirit, bringing the Good News to the world. Amen.