Week of October 14th

Too soon old and too late smart.  It hit me a few weeks ago that some of my favorite stories in the Bible have a similar theme:  God invites us into partnership to announce the arrival of the Kingdom, because it gives God great joy and us significant purpose.  Here are some of my faves.

PRAYER

O God of hope, send your Spirit upon me that I may hear your call and respond with faithfulness for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

Monday – Matthew 10:1-10

Okay, this is not one of my favorite stories, but it sets the stage for the rest of the readings this week.  Until a few weeks ago, I had not thought of this passage.  Sure, it names the disciples, but how significant is it that Jesus gave them the authority over disease, disaster, and death?  These are the things Jesus was doing, and Jesus shared that power with them … and with us?  How does God want to work through you today to help others overcome disease, disaster, and death?

Tuesday – Matthew 14:13-21

I continue to be amazed at this miracle.  But isn’t it interesting how Jesus responded to the disciples’ request to send the crowd away to get food.  Jesus said, “You feed them.”  Surely Jesus knew this was impossible … for them.  But they brought what they had.  Jesus blessed it.  Jesus gave it back to them to share with the crowds.  And it was more than enough.  What do you have that would be more than enough if you gave it to Jesus to bless?  How would Jesus have you share it with others?

Wednesday – John 11:38-44

I love this story.  It reveals Jesus’ compassion and the hopes of those who believed in him.  But it is also a clash of the reality of death in a life of faith.  What catches my imagination is that Jesus commands the witnesses to Lazarus’ resurrection to “Loose him and let him go.”  Why did Jesus need someone to unbind the mummy like bandages?  If he has the power of resurrection, he couldn’t dress him, too?  Or was it the privilege of others to participate in the miracle by helping set Lazarus free? Who can you help set free today?

Thursday – Judges 6:11-24

Gideon is so honest.  He complains that his people are being persecuted and wonders what God intends to do about it.  But when God reveals that Gideon is God’s answer to the problem, Gideon has all kinds of excuses.  God meets all of Gideon’s objections with the promise of God’s faithful presence and power.  Could it be that you and I are God’s answer to the problems of our world?  Could it be that God wants to use you and me today, and blesses us with God’s own presence and power?

Friday – Acts 1:1-8

I can’t imagine what it must have been like for those first followers of Jesus.  They witnessed his crucifixion, his death, and his resurrection.  What is he about to do next?  And when they asked the crystal ball question about God restoring the kingdom to Israel, Jesus taught them that they will receive power to be his witnesses – even to the ends of the earth!  We may not know much about the future, but we do know what role God wants us to play.  Be a witness!  Are you a witness!

Saturday – Jeremiah 29:11

Okay… this is just my favorite verse – because it was written to a people in exile who may have lost hope.  It is reassurance that even in the worst of circumstances, God is still engaged with us and will bring us through whatever we face.  What hopes and dreams does God have for you?

Week of October 7th

There is a kind of hope that sounds more like wishful thinking.  “I hope my favorite baseball team is better next year.”  But there is another kind of hope that is deeper and more influential.  “I hope my children will grow in faith and wisdom as they mature.”  That kind of hope is grounded in the faithfulness of God.  Here are some passages about hope.

PRAYER

O God of hope, send your Spirit upon me that I may live in hope because of the assurance of your grace in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday – Romans 8:18-30

This is not “Rookie” Paul.  He has been around the block a few times, and yet, he is confident of God’s grace.  In fact, he believes that God’s activity creates hope for all of creation.  What does Paul say about hope in vss 24-25?  How does Paul’s faith in vs 28 become a basis of hope?  What is your hope in life?  On what is your hope grounded?

Tuesday – Romans 5:1-5

Paul sees hope in even the most challenging and difficult times.  Why?  In chapter 4 he has talked about the example of Abraham and Sarah.  Their faith was accounted to them as righteousness – as if they had not sinned.  In God’s scheme of things, faith and hope matter!  Can you trace the line from afflictions to hope?  How do these things lead to hope?  Have you experienced that in your life?

Wednesday – Hebrews 6:9-20

The writer urges us to become imitators of those who will inherit the promises.  He cites the example of Abraham and Sarah.  The waited patiently for so long, but did so in hope.  And God fulfilled the promise.  In the meantime, they became the Patriarch and Matriarch God dreamed they would become.  What Jesus accomplished on the cross is a guarantee that God keeps promises.  In whom do you put your hope?  How will you live in hope today?

Thursday – Titus 2:11-15

Paul is writing to young Pastor Titus.  The point of this hope is the return of Jesus Christ and the completion of God’s redemption of all creation.  Paul’s hope in Christ sustained him through all kinds of difficulties and disasters.  And because of this conviction, he lived his life in a “sensible, righteous, and godly way.”  How does your hope in Christ’s return shape the way you live?

Friday – 1 John 2:28-3:3

What does hope in Christ do for us today?  What did it do for believers in the writer’s day?  We do not know a lot of details about what that time will look like or what it will mean.  But we do believe that living as God’s children forms, reforms, and transforms our lives into a likeness of Jesus.  How is God working in and through your life?

Saturday – Lamentations 3:22-24

This Old Testament passage is the basis for that favorite hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”  We believe the writer may have been the prophet Jeremiah, or a close friend of his.  This writer’s hope is based on the faithfulness of God.  No matter the outward circumstances, the writer sees the faithfulness of God.  How do you focus on God’s faithfulness towards you?  On what do you base your hope?

Week of September 16th

It was a holy pilgrimage to travel to Jerusalem and visit the holy Temple.  And from pictures and models I have seen, it must have been impressive to climb the hills to the city with the gleaming Temple shining in the sun.  Here are several Psalms people sang as they ascended to the holy city.

PRAYER

O God who still invites us to enter into your holy presence:  focus our attention on the power and presence of your Holy Spirit in our crazy world today.  May we never lose sight of your hand at work in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday – Psalm 121

This is a “Song of Ascents.”  Often the pilgrims visiting the city of Jerusalem would sing these songs as they ascended up the hills and mountains towards the holy city and the Temple.  So when they lifted their eyes toward the mountains, where did they acknowledge their help came from?  God is eager to help you.  How will you look toward the Lord today?

Tuesday - Psalm 122

This is another “Song of Ascents.”  Why would it be so meaningful to go to the Temple?  For them, the Temple represented the place where God dwelled among the people.  The Temple was a reminder of God’s faithful presence with them.  Today, we live on this side of Jesus and the cross.  We know God is not limited to one space and time.  What symbols do you have to remind you of God’s faithful presence?

Wednesday - Psalm 128

Again, one of King David’s “Song of Ascents.”  To fear the Lord is the secret sauce of happiness.  What does it mean to fear the Lord in this context?  How will blessings come to those live in this “fear” of the Lord?  How have you been blessed to “fear” the Lord?

Thursday – Psalm 130

Living the life of a believer does not mean we are immune to difficulties.  God is not a magic genie.  But God does provide hope and grace.  How does this song celebrate that hope and grace?  How do you celebrate hope and grace in your daily routine?

 Friday – Psalm 131

This is a fascinating idea.  In our crazy chaotic world, we are yearning for moments of peace and meditation.  But this is a discipline that has spiritual roots for us.  A child who is calm and quiet in the arms of his/her mother, because he/she trusts in Mom.  Can we place ourselves in God’s loving and faithful arms because we trust God?  How would a moment of peace and quiet bless you today?

Saturday – Psalm 132

King David had his moments of hardship.  Some were brought on by himself.  At other times he was the victim of the choices of others.  Yet, he kept his faith in God.  He made sure he had a place in his life to worship God.  It is difficult today to make space for God.  There are so many things tugging at our shirt sleeves for our attention.  And many of them are good things.  But when and where do you create space for God?  Where is your “resting place” with God?

Week of September 9th

In our lives and in our families, there are often stories or metaphors that become significant and memorable because they reveal something about who we are.  Often the details become enhanced so we never forget the meaning.  It may be a birth, a death, or some other life-turning event.  When we answer the call to follow Jesus, His story becomes part of our story.  God’s past actions become part of our future destiny.  So here are some significant stories of God’s actions.  How do they shape your destiny? 

PRAYER

O God who still calls acts to offer men and women destinies of hope and purpose in our world today.  Speak through your Word to form and transform my life in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday – Genesis 17:1-8

This is the Covenant that Pastor Phil and I preached about this summer.  But what is remarkable about this passage is that God is renewing the covenant – after the Ishmael debacle, after the Egypt scandal, and after all the fuzzy confusion about Lot and his family.  Still God chooses to change the names of Abraham and Sarah to reflect God’s steadfast commitment to grace.  How has God steadfastly revealed grace to you?

Tuesday – Exodus 14:5-31

Spectacular drama, but even more important:  This defining moment is celebrated by Jews and Christians every year.  It is the history of how God has come to the rescue of people, despite their fears and lack of faith.  How has God come to your rescue in the past?  Where will God come to your rescue in the days and years to come?

Wednesday – 1 Kings 18:20-39

Showdown on Mt Carmel.  Elijah stood alone against the King and Queen, and the 450 prophets of Baal.  With boldness Elijah called upon the power of God to reveal truth to the people.  And God always shows up.  Sometimes God shows off.  And the people remembered who really is God.  When has God shown up in your history?  When do you need God to show off in your future?

Thursday – Luke 23:32-49; Romans 5:6-11

The previous passages are part of Israel’s Hebrew scriptures.  These next three become unique to our identity as Christians.  Jesus’ death is not just a tragic end to a noble life, his death is a divine sacrifice on our behalf to put us right with God.  It is a gift of grace, of hope, of joy and peace.  How do you embrace this grace?  How do you accept this gift?

Friday – Luke 24:13-34

Not only is Jesus’ death on the cross formative in our lives, but also Jesus’ resurrection.  The witnesses in this story and others saw him physically alive and well.  Such is the testimony of God’s power over death, and God’s gift of life abundant and eternal.  If one does not believe this, we are – as Paul says – to be most pitied.  Easter is our hope in a crazy and chaotic world.  How does Easter give you hope every season of the year?

Saturday – Acts 1:1-8

The story of Pentecost is recorded in Acts 2, but these verses reveal that the coming of the Holy Spirit to every believer is actually a promise of Jesus.  This is a promise of power, and a purpose of mission and witness.  The rest of the story of Acts is how the believers moved from Jerusalem to Rome, the center of the empire.  Jesus declared that promise not just for the disciples of 1st century, but for all Christians.  How is the promise of the Spirit part of your history, and how is the Spirit part of your destiny?

Week of September 2nd

It is Labor Day week, and I suspect most of us will celebrate the Labor Day holiday by doing as little labor as possible.  But there is another work to which all of us are called.  It is God’s work of the Kingdom, which we celebrate in our baptism.  We may not be called to lead as pastor, but all of us called to discipleship of Jesus Christ through which God may transform the world.  Here are some stories of others whom God called.

PRAYER

O God who still calls men and women into the Kingdom:  point me to where I can serve you faithfully and effectively.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday – Isaiah 6:1-13

Apparently, Isaiah was a priest serving in the Temple when he encountered the power and presence of God in an awesome way.  And in the encounter God called him to a special ministry – one in which he would not likely experience much success.  Yet, his ministry continues to instruct and inspire us yet today.  When and where do you encounter God’s power and presence?  How is God calling you?

Tuesday – Mark 1:16-20

Mark tells stories so concisely, one wonders if he is paying per word.  Yet, in the midst of an ordinary day, Jesus appears and calls these first disciples.  And they answer.  Their lives are turned upside down, and in turn their witness has turned our world upside down.  Where do you encounter Jesus in your ordinary routines?  How does Jesus call you from ordinary routines into extraordinary life-changing opportunities?

Wednesday – 1 Samuel 3:1-21

Samuel was just a boy.  He did not even recognize the voice of the Lord.  Yet, he learned to listen and became one of the greatest spiritual leaders of our world.  Could it be that God is calling you in ways that you do not yet recognize?  How might God use your spiritual leadership in your family, your place of work or school, your neighborhood?

Thursday – Jeremiah 1:1-10

Jeremiah’s excuse was that he was too young.  Who would listen to just a young boy?  But God does not always wait until it is convenient.  Those whom God calls, God also equips.  And God used Jeremiah in a powerful way – in a season of crises in Israel’s history.  How can God use you in a season of crises to bring hope and healing to our world?

Friday – Exodus 3:1-15

Moses was the master of excuses.  More of the story continues in Exodus 4.  But God’s call is compelling.  God’s wisdom sees a much bigger picture than we do.  And God’s purposes are sometimes mysterious to us.  Moses eventually answered God’s call and became one of Israel’s greatest leaders.  What excuses do you use when God calls you?  Are they compelling … in God’s mind?  What might happen if you simply trusted God?

Saturday – Genesis 12:1-9

We don’t know what kind of history Abram (Abraham) and Sarai (Sarah) had with God.  It appears it comes out of the blue.  But God called them to a great adventure.  God offers a promise of blessing for the purpose of blessing.  How has God blessed you?  For what purpose has God given you these blessings?  How are your blessings an answer to someone else’s prayers?

Week of August 26th

Acts: What Jesus Started

Philip’s interactions with the magician Simon (Acts 8:1-19) and Paul with Elymas (Acts 13:4-12)

Prayer

Draw me close, Holy Spirit, as I read the Scriptures and reflect on your Word.  Let the word of faith be on my lips and in my heart, and let all other words slip away.  May there be one voice I hear today — the voice of truth and grace.  Amen.

Monday – Acts 8:1-3  The Church Persecuted and Scattered

Did God have to use persecution to get the Church to do what Jesus had commanded?  Scripture doesn’t say.  The use of Judea and Samaria in this verse is reminiscent of Jesus’ instruction in Acts 1:8 to take the gospel to all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  The most we can say is that God used this persecution for his own purpose:  to spread the gospel.  How does this make you feel in response to God’s action (or perceived lack of action)?

Tuesday – Acts 8:4-8  Philip in Samaria

Why weren’t the Apostles scattered?  The Jewish authorities undoubtedly put pressure on the apostles, thinking that if they could weaken the leaders of the church, they could weaken the entire movement.  Because Jerusalem was the Jewish religious center, the apostles may have felt compelled to stay where they could have the most influence.  What’s your first response to pressure?  After a bit of time and prayer, does you response sometimes change?

Wednesday – Acts 8:9-13

Did Simon possess actual power?  Sorcerer’s included a wide array of spiritualists, con artists, magicians, astrologers, and showmen who earned a living with their abilities.  Whether Simon’s powers were occult or natural illusions, they were clearly inferior to the power of the Holy Spirit.  Simon confused the power of the Spirit with a stronger version of his own kind of powers.  But the Holy Spirit’s power, power in the name of Jesus, is radically different from the power Simon had. 

Thursday – Acts 8:14-19

How could baptized believers not have the Holy Spirit?  The Samaritans were apparently baptized with little or no mention of the Holy Spirit.  Some think this shows that life-changing encounters with the Holy Spirit can occur even after initial faith in Jesus.  Others believe this merely shows the link between the Spirit and baptism, for the Spirit was given soon after baptism when Peter and John arrived and portrayed over the Samaritans.

Friday – Acts 8:20-25

What did Simon want?  Simon was in the power business.  He didn’t care what the source of his power was, as long as he had power.  Spiritual, occult, or magic powers were all the same to Simon- they were a means to earn a living, commodities to be bought and sold.  When he witnessed the power of the Spirit, unleased when the apostles placed their hands-on people, Simon wanted to purchase that power.  However, the Holy Spirit is a gift, not merchandise to be bought and sold to the highest bidder.  How would the world respond today, if they witnessed the miracles of the Holy Spirit? 

Saturday – Acts 13:6-11 How can we tell if a miracle is of God? 

  1. The miracle glorifies God
  2. The miracle stems from a righteous source
  3. The miracle rings true to the Holy Spirit

Paul demonstrated this gift when he told Elymas, a Jewish sorcerer, that he was a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right. 

Week of August 19th

Acts: What Jesus Started

Prayer

Lord God.  I am sometimes at a loss for words.  I’m not sure how to pray for some difficult situations.  But… I know you promise that you hear our prayers.  So, I’m praying now.  Amen

Monday – Matthew 14:1-12   John the Baptist Beheaded

The first New Testament martyr that we know of is John the Baptizer.  He was killed by Herod the Tetrach in Matthew 14:1-12. Herod had imprisoned John because of John’s disapproval of the king’s divorce for the purpose of marrying his sister-in-law.  At Herod’s drunken birthday party, he offered to his new step daughter a gift of anything she wanted. Herodius (the new wife of Herod), told the step daughter that she should ask for John the Baptist’s head on a platter. Herod beheaded John.  How does a story like this make you feel?  Would God allow this to happen to someone like John? 

Tuesday – Acts 12:1-19   James is Executed and Peter Escapes

We do not frequently talk about this particular story in Sunday worship, yet it’s an important reminder that God does and frequently intervenes to our benefit.  Have you ever experienced God in powerful ways that remind you of His power?

Wednesday – Proverbs 3:1-6

Putting our trust in God is sometime difficult if we’re still longing for a personal relationship with God, yet we know that God deeply desires to be in a relationship with us.  How are you working to establish a relationship with God? 

Thursday – Mark 14:66-72, Peter Disowns Jesus Three Times

God takes the man who publicly denied Jesus three times and uses him to point 3000 people to Jesus in his first sermon.  Don’t you think he can use people like me and you?

Friday – Acts 22:2-5   Paul, Zealot for God

Clearly, Paul was a bad man for those who followed Jesus Christ and His believers.  He showed a “Zeal” and willingness to use violence to defend the Torah.  Although his passion was misplaced, we sometimes see people in the church work to defend things that are counter to Jesus’ teachings.  How can we ensure that we’re following God’s “true” teachings? 

Saturday – Joshua 1:9-10

The book of Joshua begins with the death of Moses. The man used by God to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian captivity and to the promised land has now died. The Israelites have not yet possessed the land that the Lord had given them. But now Moses is dead and a new leader must emerge. That new leader is Joshua.  The first chapter of the Book of Joshua is the Lord’s charge to Israel’s new leader, Joshua. Three times in the first nine verses Joshua is commanded to “be strong and courageous”.  When you hear/see something multiple times in scripture, we’re likely to take notice and follow.   So… “be strong and courageous.”  God is with you!

Week of July 29th

Acts: What Jesus Started

Prayer-Psalm 43

3-4 Give me your lantern and compass,give me a map,
So I can find my way to the sacred mountain,
    to the place of your presence,
To enter the place of worship, meet my exuberant God,
Sing my thanks with a harp,magnificent God, my God.


Monday –Acts 27:13-15 

Was this storm a natural occurrence or a judgement from God?  We should not be quick to distinguish between natural occurrences and sovereign acts of God.  God was, in some sense, responsible for this storm, but there is no indication this was an expression of judgement.  In fact, we repeatedly find God working to protect the life of every person on the ship.  

Tuesday – Acts 27:21-26

Paul is speaking with quite a bit of authority here in these passages.  He’s spoken to an angel and he’s commanding those in charge to run their ship around.   That’s quite impressive.  Paul’s courage is clearly from God.   How can we also gather this same courage?  …or should we begin to ask God to grant us courage in simple and difficult times?  

Wednesday – Acts 27:27-32

Paul was a religious man who repaired tents.  He was NOT a fisherman or sailor, yet with God’s help, he spoke with great authority. Could you image standing in Paul’s shoes and suggesting that the lifeboat be cut away?  How does one gain a faith like that?

Thursday – Acts 27:33-38

Why did Paul’s captors listen to him?  Paul’s court appearance in Jerusalem and Caesarea showed him to be a cordial, persuasive personality.  His reputation preceded him.  In the course of their journey, Paul had warned the ship’s officers not to sail from Crete because of the harsh seasonal storms.  Although ignored, his advice was valid.  As the journey progressed, Paul’s credibility climbed.   Might there be strong argument to use love and kindness with those who disagree with you?   How would you want to be treated?  Golden Rule? 

Friday – Acts 28:1-10  

Admittedly, THIS is an interesting bit of scripture, accounting for the strength of Paul’s faith and the power of God.  So… did God miraculously protect Paul from the snakebite?  Why not?!?!  Paul’s confidence in God protecting him was evident from accounts in Acts previously. Are there times in your life when friends or family look at you in disbelieve because you live your life with confidence in a saving God?  Have you ever witnessed an extreme situation that miraculously ended positively? Frequently we hear people use words like, “you were lucky.”  True?  Or… blessed?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Saturday – Jonah 1:1-16

Although Jonah was not shipwrecked, he certainly had an interesting story that took place upon the sea.  God sometimes allows us to respond to him in dramatic ways.  …and sometimes they are small and seemingly insignificant. Do you think that God sometimes uses large and small moments in life to make significant impacts on your life? We don’t want to take either for granted.  Make a list. Share with a friend or loved one some moments where God challenged you and made a difference for you or others

Week of July 22

Prayer

Dear heavenly Father, how we thank and praise you for the young men and women who have trusted in the Lord Jesus as their Savior and we ask that You would work in the lives of all young people who have stepped out in faith in the Son of God. 

Draw ever closer to those who have made a commitment to You and we pray that they would grow in grace and in a knowledge of the Lord Jesus in the days that lie ahead. May they learn to walk in spirit and truth and to trust in Your word, knowing that Your grace in sufficient for all their needs and requirements.   Amen


Monday –Luke 12:22-34,  Do Not Worry

Do not worry about what you will eat?  Seriously?!?!  Sometimes it may sound like Jesus is callous, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Jesus is reminding us that without our heavenly father, we’re nothing.  We’re missing something we desire and need.  For where our treasure is stored, there will be our heart’s desires.

Tuesday –Hebrews 10:19-25,  Building Each Other Up

The regular meeting and gathering with other believers is something that shouldn’t be neglected.  We all know examples of people who have fallen away because of their choices.  Who could you reach out to and re-invite back to the body of Christ?  Who may have done the same for you?

Wednesday –I Peter 3:8-22,  Sacrificing for the Kingdom

I don’t know about you… but suffering is not my preferred Wednesday activity. ;-)  Yet today’s scripture is a careful reminder of God’s calling for us.  We’re not called to “play it safe” or “ride out to pasture in retirement and faith.”  We all have important Kingdome work to do.  Where’s God calling you today?  How can God use you?

Thursday –Matthew 5:1-12,  A Different Kind of Blessing

Jesus calls us to join a radical kingdom. He gives us a radical vision to match, that the kingdom of heaven infiltrates our present. We can continue fishing for people, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom at great cost to ourselves, fighting oppressive powers in Jesus' name. We can suffer for the sake of Jesus and the gospel, with the assurance that God has the last word. When we see people receiving the word of God, and finding healing and freedom in Jesus' name we can announce, "the kingdom of heaven has drawn near."  

Friday –Galatians 5:16-26,  Changed Hearts

Today, take a moment and stop to focus on God. Ask Him to guide you to know if you have walked away from your close relationship with Him. Return to your quiet time with Him reading His Word, praying for closeness and guidance, and walking from that quiet time with His Spirit guiding you. Focus more on being in relationship with God and less on doing. Your relationship with God and with other people will be renewed so that you follow the two greatest commandments as Jesus said in Matthew 22:36-38.

Saturday –Luke 5:12-15

We can and should follow Jesus’ example. Make prayer a high priority in your life! Use time alone with God to build your relationship with Him.  I love my quiet times with God in the morning.  Do I have a quiet time every morning?  No, I miss some mornings.  But normally I take 20-30 minutes each morning to read the Word, pray and enjoy fellowship with God.  I believe these times have a cumulative effect; over time, they build my relationship with God gradually.  Make Prayer an important part of your life.

Week of July 15

This week concludes the series, “Dare to See Clearly.”  The stories of Abraham and Sarah teach us much about following God’s call and seeing God’s preferred future.  The readings this week are a summary of the stories of the past several weeks.

PRAYER

Lord of all times and places:  Thank you for the example and witness of Abraham and Sarah.  As they learned to trust you more deeply than before, help me to continue to grow in my faith that I may serve faithfully in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday – Genesis 12:1-9

God calls Abraham and Sarah to embark on this exciting adventure.  In this call is a promise and a purpose.  What are they?  Are these examples of promises and purposes in God’s call to us?  We may not make the trip in the same way, but how do we live out the faith journey today?

Tuesday – Genesis 14:1-16

Abraham and Sarah followed God’s call and journeyed a long distance to this land of promise.  But this land of promise was not safe.  They faced danger.  Kings went to war.  Lot’s family was captured and held prisoner.  How did God rescue Lot?  Are there challenges you face that threaten to overwhelm you?  How will God use you to respond to the crisis?  And what will God grow and groom in you through the adventure?

Wednesday – Genesis 15:1-21

God once again renews the covenant with Abraham and Sarah.  The writer tells us that Abraham believed God, and God honored that trust.  Abraham’s trust in God was credited as righteousness.  That means God viewed Abraham as in a whole and right relationship with God.  Pastor Phil explained how the divided sacrificed animals were a sign of God’s commitment to this covenant.  Today we have the cross to remind us of God’s faithfulness to the covenant.  What does the cross mean to you?

Thursday – Genesis 16:1-16

Abraham and Sarah grew tired of waiting for God to keep the promise.  It was not only weeks and months, it was years and decades.  Still they waited.  They conceived their own solution.  It brought disaster and has been a point of conflict in human history ever since.  How was this an example of planning for God’s failure?  Have you grown tired of waiting for one of God’s promises?  What will you do to keep the faith?

Friday – Genesis 18:16-33

Fascinating story about God revealing to Abraham the plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.  Life had seriously declined in those towns, but that is where Lot – Abraham’s nephew – lived.  In the conversation Abraham “argues” with God about the fairness of God’s plan.  What does this story reveal about the character of God?  What does it reveal about the kind of man Abraham has become?  And what does it reveal about the importance and power of prayer?

Saturday – Romans 4:9-25

Paul uses the example of Abraham and Sarah (as does the writer of Hebrews) to illustrate the role of faith.  Because Abraham trusted God, God looked upon Abraham the same as if Abraham had never sinned.  His faith was credited as righteousness.  In the same way, as we trust in the grace of God revealed through Jesus Christ, we will be credited as righteous – true to the faith.  How can you walk in faith today?

Week of July 8th

Sermon Series:  Dare to See Clearly

Prayer-  James 1:12 (NIV)

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Monday –Joshua 1:7-9,  Joshua Installed as Leader

Does God promise health and wealth to those who follow him?  It may appear so, at least in the Old Testament, where God’s promises were linked to the land.  But God’s kingdom is not essentially geographic, it is spiritual and eternal.  Some who are called to serve the Lord may have to endure poverty and deprivation (Romans 8:35-39).

Tuesday –Philippians 4:8-9,  Final Exhortations

Can we choose to think lovely thought?  How can we control the thoughts that come uninvited into our minds?  Paul was not talking about fleeting impressions that invate our thinking.  Thought of temptation or discouragement can come unannounced.  But we can discipline ourselves, making conscious choices to contemplate good things.  Reading uplifting Bible verses and meditating on them, making a mental checklist of God’s attributes, counting our blessings- these types of things can get our thought on the right track. 

Wednesday –Romans 10:9-10,   Salvation

What does it mean to be “saved”?  Salvation comes by faith, but faith is not just knowledge of the facts.  Genuine faith is evident in a loving relationship with God.  Even though sin broke this relationship, God provided reconciliation through His son Jesus Christ.  We are saved when we believe Jesus died and was resurrected, and when we sincerely trust in him as our only way to eternal life.  We cement this through confession of words and way of living.  How’s your walk with God?  Are you sharing your salvation too?  There’s a world that we’re called to share with.  Go share Jesus! 

Thursday –Philippians 4:6-7,   Final Exhortations

Seriously?  Do NOT be anxious?  Sometimes I wonder what God was thinking.  God created me this way, so why shouldn’t I be anxious?  Well… God has called us to care and have concern, but we’re not called to be so concerned that we’re paralyzed and unable to do God will.  Unhealthy anxiety is toxic and keeps us from following God with a glad and open heart.   So… don’t sweat it.  God’s god plans!

Friday – Matthew 6:31-33,   Do Not Worry

Do not worry again?!?!  Does Jesus command us NOT to worry?  This is not so much a command as it is an invitation to rest in the arms of our loving Father.  As humans, we will at times cross the line and fret when we should trust.  But only when we allow ourselves to constantly focus on ourselves instead of God do we violate Jesus’ principle.  His invitation is liberating principle, not another law to be obeyed. 

Saturday – Ephesians 5:19-20,   Do Not Worry Part II

Can we honestly give thanks for everything?  Seriously?  Giving thanks is an act of worship.  Despite difficult circumstances, we can give thanks, knowing that God’s love and concern are unfailing.  That’s amazing Grace!  That’s amazing Love!  Praise God!

Week of July 1st

Independence Day is this week.  I’m thinking about more than just hotdogs and barbecue.  In our anxious, conflicted world I’m thinking about peace.  The prophet Isaiah preached in an anxious time.  The Assyrians had wiped out the Northern Kingdom, and the Babylonians were threatening the Southern Kingdom.  Where is peace?

Prayer

Lord, though the world around us struggles with chaos and conflict, I find my perfect peace in you.  My your Spirit spring up within me that I might trust you even more in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday – Isaiah 2:1-4

Though they lived in anxious times of war, Isaiah gives the King a vision of peace.  According to this passage, what makes for peace?  What are the signs of peace?  I don’t have a spear or a sword.  What do I do to turn weapons of war into instruments of peace?

Tuesday – Isaiah 11:1-9

We often read this passage at Christmastime.  What we see fulfilled in Jesus, Isaiah could only anticipate in faith.  In verses 6-9 Isaiah paints a picture of peace.  How would you describe it?  Who is the source of this peace?  How would this vision give hope to a land that was engulfed in fear and uncertainty?  How does Jesus fulfill this vision, not only for Israel in that day, but for us today?

Wednesday – Isaiah 26:1-6

The Kings of Isaiah’s day believed peace came through strong armies and stronger walls.  After all, when David was King, Israel was in her Golden Age.  The borders expanded.  The land was secure, and the people were prosperous.  But that day has gone.  Isaiah reveals the true secret to peace and security.  What is it?  How do we find it?  We don’t talk about armies and walls today, do we?  How do we find peace in the 21st century?

Thursday – Isaiah 32:1-20

Long passage.  I would divide it into 3 parts:  vss 1-8 – a picture of true peace that comes through the righteous rule of a king; vss 9-14 – a prediction of what actually happened; and vss 15-20 – the vision of God’s preferred future.  What is God’s preferred future?  What will trigger it?  If peace is the result of righteousness, how do we become righteous?

Friday – Isaiah 55:1-13

Isaiah’s tone changes from warning to hope, so much so that some commentators believe these words are written by a different hand.  It feels that the disaster Isaiah anticipated has happened.  These are invitations into God’s covenant again.  What are the invitations?  Note the action verbs in your Bible:  come, seek, pay attention, listen, call.  (The verbs in your translation may be slightly different.)  How does peace come in this vision?

Saturday – Isaiah 57:1-2, 14-21

Peace does not come in capitulating to the values and standards of popular culture.  The prophet denounces the pagan culture of his day.  To whom does God give peace?  What triggers this gift from God?  How can we find peace in our world today?

Week of June 24th

Ever break a promise?  It is not simply rearranging the details in an agreement.  The damage of broken trust can linger in one’s life for generations.  That is what is so remarkable about God’s grace.  Even though we humans have often broken covenant with God, God’s grace continues to invite us into covenant over and over again.  While the June 24 sermon focused on God’s covenant with Abram and Sarai, there are many other covenants in the Bible.  Here are a couple of them.

Prayer

Lord, you invite us into relationship with you.  You offer us grace over and over again.  Pour your Spirit into me this day that I may be filled with your power and presence.  Amen.

Monday – Genesis 9:8-17

This is the story of Noah and the flood.  God makes a pledge to never destroy the earth by flood again.  What is the sign of that pledge?  For whom is that sign a reminder?  While God binds the Divine Self to this pledge, what does Noah pledge?  What has God pledged to you?

Tuesday – Hebrews 11:8-12

While Abraham and Sarah’s story is found in Genesis, the writer of Hebrews observes that their covenant with God was not based on perfect behavior.  What was their covenant based on?  Reading Genesis reveals that they were certainly not saints, yet God chose them?  Why?  Why has God chosen you for witness and service today?  On what basis is your relationship with God?

Wednesday – Deuteronomy 5:1-21

Some think the whole book of Deuteronomy is Moses’ last words to the people of Israel.  In this passage he repeats the teaching of Exodus 20 – the Ten Commandments.  We often think of these Commandments as a list of do’s and don’ts.  But notice the preamble to the list.  They are based on what covenant?  When did God initiate this covenant?  What did God do to earn the right to invite Israel into this covenant?  (Check out Exodus 20:2).  How does your covenant with God shape your behavior?

Thursday – 2 Samuel 7:1-16

King David was embarrassed that he lived in a palace while the Ark of the Lord resided in a tent.  He wanted to build a Temple, but God had different plans.  What were they?  But more important to God was not the design of the temple but the character of God’s relationship with David.  What did God promise?  How did God plan to deliver on this promise?  How did this compare in value to the construction of the Temple?  What does this teach us about God’s value on your character?

Friday – Jeremiah 31:31-34

Waiting is so hard.  The people were living in exile, far from home in a foreign land as conquered slaves.  Yet, Jeremiah makes a promise.  What is it?  How will this covenant be different from older covenants?  While Israel has broken past covenants, what does God promise going forward?  If this is the same God as today, what does God offer you?

Saturday – Hebrews 9:11-15

The Messiah – Jesus – has become the new great High Priest.  By virtue of his own death on the cross, he has become the substitute for all the animals sacrificed on the altar.  And because he had committed no transgressions, he now can intercede on our behalf.  He becomes our grace.  How will you embrace the grace today?

Week of June 17th

Sometimes life is hard.  Sometimes the world seems like a dangerous place.  It would be easy for us to give up and give in… except there is hope in Jesus Christ.  In Jesus God has revealed the power and presence of Divine love in our world.  For those New Testament Christians who not only faced persecution for their faith, but sometimes even death; their hope remained solidly rooted in faith in Jesus Christ.  Here are several passages that guided them in their day … and us today.

Prayer

Lord, open my ears to hear your Word.  Open my eyes to see your truth.  Open my heart to embrace your love.  Amen.

Monday – Romans 5:1-5

Paul is writing a letter of introduction to the church in Rome, so they would understand what he believed and what he preached.  This passage ends with hope, but begins where?  Can you trace the path from the beginning to hope?  And why does Paul say this hope will not disappoint us?  Does this hold true for us today?  How?

Tuesday – 1 Corinthians 15:12-22

Depending upon which version or translation you are using, the word hope may only appear one or two times.  Yet, the theme of this passage is how the resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us hope – in this world and the next.  How does faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ give you hope?  How does it change your perspective on truth and reality?

Wednesday – Colossians 1:15-23

There’s a promise in verses 22-23.  What is it?  Paul talks about the hope of the gospel.  What is it?  How is the “hymn” of verses 15-20 connected to the message of the gospel?  This is why I believe that any message that does not center on the person of Jesus Christ is not Christian and not Biblical.  Jesus is the focal point of God’s revelation and the heart of our hope.

Thursday – Titus 2:11-14

Titus was a young associate of Paul’s, a young pastor Paul would put in charge of churches when Paul traveled on to the next mission site.  This letter is Paul’s coaching for young Titus.  What does Paul teach in this passage?  In whom is our hope?  Is our hope to be realized immediately?  If not, what do we do in the meantime?  How does that shape your agenda today?

Friday – Hebrews 6:1-11

This passage is dire warning to those who slide away from the truth revealed in Jesus Christ, but hope for those who persevere.  The writer makes a promise in verse 10.  What is it?  What are the writer’s instructions in verses 11-12?  What does that mean for you and the responsibilities you have for this day?

Saturday – 1 Peter 1:3-9, 13-16

Where does this living hope come from?  What is the pivotal event that reveals the power of this hope?  Trials and troubles do not tarnish this hope.  Quite the opposite; challenges refine our faith and our hope.  It is what God wants to do in us, while working through us.  So in whom do you place your hope?  How does this impact the way we live our lives at work, at school, at home?

Week of June 10

Sermon Series:  Dare to See Clearly

How did it all begin?  What was God’s intent when he started a relationship with His people?  What do you know about Abram/Abraham?  Are we still following God as He intended?  …in the Old Testament or New?  Let’s dig in together and seek for God to help clear our vision, to see what he intended our lives to be. 

 

Prayer

Lord, you created each one of us in your image, unique reflections of your glory and love.  Help us to see the strengths you’ve given us.  Help us not to waste our time clamoring after what you’ve given someone else, but to see the gifts we already possess.  You state in your word that we are your masterpiece, created to do good works you planned for us.  You have plans to prosper us and not to harm us.  Thank you for loving us enough to create us uniquely and individually.  Thank you for caring about each intricate detail of our lives and letting us take part in the universal story you are weaving.  Your work is good and complete, lacking nothing.   In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Monday –1 Timothy 6:15-16

We frequently desire to see the things that we’re not allowed or able to see.  However; we’re able to see plenty of God’s wonder in the blessings he gives us daily.  Do you ever struggle to see God when you can’t physically see Him?  How are you seeking to see God in your life?  Have you prayed for God to help you see him?  Today? 

Tuesday –Jeremiah 29:11-14,  A Letter to the Exiles

Clearly, God has plans for us.  Plans to see us grow and be blessed, yet we often forget those plans and put our eyes on other goals.  How do you continue to keep your eyes on God’s plans?  What can we do to keep this vision first? 

 Wednesday –Numbers 12:4-9, God Defends Moses

We’re not all going to have the same experience of Moses, but we can all have the experience of following God’s prophet.  We often resist God’s call because we have our own opinions.  How can we discern God’s voice?  What will help you follow God’s voice? 

Thursday –Psalm 5:1-6

God wants us to honor Him.  God wants and desires us to communicate with Him.  …and he requires us to be humble and void of arrogance.  If that is understood, why are we as a church struggling.  Fumbling?  How can we hear God’s voice first and loudest?

Friday – Habakkuk 2:2-6, The Lord Responds

There is great power in writing down our conversations with God.  We frequently forget “those moments” when we experience God in powerful ways.  These special moments are powerful and we’re called to share, yet if our memory fails us… are we honoring God?  No… we’re betraying him.  Seek to honor Him first! 

Saturday – 2 Corinthians 12:1-4, Paul’s Vision

Paul was truly on to something.  We should all speak the name of God to any and all people.  That’s worth reporting and re-reporting!  But… we’re a living reflection of God.  Not our own accomplishments and wins.  We’re called to win for Jesus.  Although this is NOT the plan of the “world” but… we’re called to be a part of the world, not allowing the world to divide us from God’s calling in our lives.  Let’s remain focused on the vision of God.  …and speak boldly. 

Week of May 27

Memorial Day began shortly after the Civil War as a time to honor those who had given their lives in the service of their country.  Over the years many have added a recognition of all loved ones who have contributed to the welfare of our living.  As Christians it is not a day of doom and despair.  We believe in the promise of eternal life.  Here are some passages in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians about that.

Prayer

O God, who holds all life in the palms of caring, faithful hands:  we thank you for those who have blessed us with their vision and compassion.  Help us to so live that we may be a blessing to the generations that follow us.  Amen.

Monday – 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Paul feels unworthy to be called an apostle, because he once persecuted the church.  But Jesus appeared to him on the Damascus Road and called him to be a witness.  To what does Paul witness in verses 3-8?  Does this sound like a metaphorical symbol?  Or does Paul really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?  What do you believe?

Tuesday – 1 Corinthians 15:12-19

This is one of Paul’s most compelling arguments for our faith.  He believed in Jesus’ resurrection because he encountered Jesus on the Damascus Road.  But if we do not believe Jesus was raised from the dead, what does Paul say about our faith?  If we do not believe, what does Paul say should happen to us?  Do you believe?

Wednesday – 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

But Paul believed firmly – despite his training that was antagonistic towards Christians, despite his deep scholarship into the Pharisee world, despite his upbringing as a Roman – in the resurrection of Jesus.  Because of that, what last enemy is destroyed?  And if that last enemy is no longer something to fear, how does that change your life?  Your day today?

Thursday – 1 Corinthians 15:29-34

We do not generally baptize people on behalf of the dead, but Paul makes a distinct point.  If we do not believe in life after death and only lived for the hope we can muster for this life; what is the end result?  What is the alternative to hope?  Hopelessness leads to futility, and perhaps some of the senseless violence we see in our world today reveals that.  Eh?

Friday – 1 Corinthians 15:35-49

Ummm!  Now what kind of body we will have in eternity is a question I cannot answer.  I was hoping for a thinner waste and thicker hair.  But God is not limited to our imaginations.  While what God created the first time around, God called it good; I suspect God can envision far beyond what I can see.  I only know that it will be in the image of Christ and that will be good!  Do you experience any disabilities?  Do you endure any diseases?  Are you wrestling with any health challenges?  I believe God’s best healing comes through death in the life to come.  How can that give us hope?

Saturday – 1 Corinthians 15:50-58

Finally, we get to the capstone of Paul’s message.  How does God use death?  What is on the other side of death?  Who gives us the victory over death?  So how does that guide our steps and encourage our faithfulness in our journey through life?  The fruit of the disciple’s service may not be readily apparent to each of us, but it is never wasted in God’s economy.

Week of May 20

Sermon Series:  Family Matters

We'll be exploring "What matters to families?" and "Why God wants to be a part of your family?"

Prayer

Father, please shine your infinite light upon us and guide us.  We are made up of many individuals who make a joyful noise unto you.  We thank you for the gifts you have given and the gifts they share.  May other see your beauty in our every note and feel your presence near.  We thank you for all you have done, and we pray that you will guide us in all you want to be do through us now.  Amen!

Monday –Psalm 150:1-6,  Praise Him

Why should we specifically praise God?  There are many reasons to praise God.  They psalm mentions only two:  1 We are to praise God for his acts of power, which refers primarily to his acts of deliverance, though perhaps also to his power in creation and 2).  His surpassing greatness, which refers to who God is.  And how?  With everything we are and have.  God is worthy of the best we can offer in our worship, regardless of our abilities and limitations. 

Tuesday –Psalm 96:1-6,  New Song

What’s wrong with old songs?  Nothing.  This psalm was meant to offer fresh outpouring of praise to God.  Since God’s mercies are new every morning, we always have something new to sing about.  We especially need to avoid growing stale and predictable in our worship. 

Wednesday –2 Chronicles 5:11-14

Have you ever experiences the Holy Spirt in such a way that worship stopped?  Or… have you experienced the Holy Spirit in such a way that worship couldn’t stop because people were so filled?  The Holy Spirit is often a mystery yet inviting and allowing the Holy Spirit the chance to move is the first step of allowing God to do something wonderful. 

Thursday –Colossians 3:15-17

Do you ever find it difficult to be thankful when distracted?  How can you do it?  Realistically, we need to remove distractions and allow God to move us to do new deeds or share new words to others.   Isn’t this an awesome responsibility?  How will you start today?

Friday – James 5:13-20  

While sings praises, why would we ask for oil?  Oil was used for medicinal purposes in the New Testament times.  But, when administered by church elders in the name of the Lord, some believe it takes on spiritual dimensions.  Anointing with oil symbolizes the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. 

Saturday – Ephesians 5:19-20

Can we honestly give thanks for everything?  Seriously?  Giving thanks is an act of worship.  Despite difficult circumstances, we can give thanks, knowing that God’s love and concern are unfailing.  That’s amazing Grace!  That’s amazing Love!  Praise God! 

Week of May 6th

The mentors for each of our eleven Confirmation students have selected a verse to represent their journey of faith over the past year.  So this week’s NEXT Steps looks a little different in order to share each of the selected verses.  Each student’s name is listed with their mentor in parentheses.

Prayer

O God who calls each of us to grow in our faith and our service:  speak to my heart through the witness of our Confirmation students.  Amen. 

Reid Apke (Chet Cox)

1 Timothy 4:12 NIV  "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity."

Wyatt Baker (Tom Zechman)

Romans 10: 10 "With the heart man believes resulting in the righteousness and with the mouth man confesses resulting in salvation."  With Love from your prayer partner always, Grandad 

Michael Berger (Don Berger)

Proverbs 21:21 "Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor."

Caleb Falk (Ed Baldwin)

John 15:5 NIV  "I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit: apart from me you can do nothing."

Alyssa Hardin (Jean Bricker)

2 Corinthians 9:8 "God will generously provide all you need."

Jacob Lattig (John Perone)

1 Corinthians 9:24 " Don't you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize."

Andra Leary (Cathy Hanover)

Philippians 2:10 "...at the name of JESUS every knee shall bow...”

Wally Myers (Karl Kortlandt)

John 12:46 "I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark."

Staci Nation (Genni Nation)

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Alexis Staats (Laura Perone)

Psalm 4:1 NIV "Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God.  Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayers."

Ella Walls (Suzanne Dulaney)

Matthew 22:37 "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind."

Week of April 29th

Children … what a gift from God!  But not only are children a gift, they are an example for us as followers of Jesus.  Here are several passages about children – some small and young; others bigger and older.

Prayer

O God who is Father to all children – young and old:  put your hand on my shoulder to guide my steps and teach me wisdom that I may grow in grace and truth.  Amen.

Monday – Matthew 18:1-9

Jesus was pretty serious about children, wasn’t he?  What does it mean to be great in the Kingdom?  Is there a difference between being childlike and childish?  Children are often the vulnerable victims of abuse or neglect.  How did Jesus react to that?  How do we care for children today?  What are some of the ways our church is caring for children?

Tuesday – Matthew 18:13-15

In Jesus’ day children were often regarded as a nuisance.  However, Jesus regarded them as important and valuable.  In fact, how do children represent the Kingdom of Heaven?  How should we treat children and other vulnerable people today?

Wednesday – Romans 8:12-17

In Paul’s writings, the relationship of a child with a parent often became a metaphor or example of God’s relationship to us.  In this passage, how are we like children to God?  How do we become God’s own children?  In the Hebrew, “Abba” means “Daddy.”  God’s relationship is intended to be close and intimate.  If God’s children are heirs, what do they inherit?

Thursday – Ephesians 1:3-14

Paul uses the image of adoption to describe the means by which we (nonjews) become part of God’s family.  How did God provide for our adoption?  What blessings come to us because of this adoption?  As adopted children, we receive an inheritance from God.  What is it?  How does that affirmation change your day?

Friday – Galatians 3:27-4:7

Paul again uses the image of adoption to describe our relationship with God.  What do we do today to celebrate that adoption?  Who provides for our redemption so we might be adopted as God’s own children?  If we are God’s children, then we are God’s heirs.  What do we inherit?  How does this inheritance bless you?

Saturday – 1 John 2:28-3:3

How has God – as Father – demonstrated great love for us as God’s children?  Cathy and I have 7 grandchildren.  Today we had lunch with one of the younger grandchildren.  Several times I called him by his father’s name.  We do not know what he will become as he grows up, but he already reminds me of his father.  How do we remind people of our Heavenly Father?

Week of April 15th

Money….  I’ve discovered that generous givers love to talk about giving money.  It is the stingy giver that is uncomfortable talking about money.  But Jesus talked about our relationship with money often.  He understood that human nature yearns to control our own destiny and security as opposed to trusting God.  Here are six reasons why people don’t give and some passages responding to those excuses.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you have given so generously and graciously to me.  Guide me with your Spirit that I may give to others in your holy name.  Amen.

Monday – Matthew 6:25-34

“I need it for myself.”  Because I don’t trust God to provide for me?  Because I don’t think God can manage this?  Because God is too poor to provide?  What does Jesus teach us in this passage about God’s faithfulness and generosity?  Verse 33 is the key to how we balance our needs with God’s provision.  What does this mean?

Tuesday – 2 Corinthians 8:1-7

“My gift is too small to make a difference.”  Paul is reporting to the wealthy church in Corinth how the church in Macedonia responded to Paul’s mission offering.  How does he describe their attitude towards giving?  What was their capacity?  What impact did it have on others?

Wednesday – 2 Corinthians 8:8-15

“People should solve their own problems.”  You and I have been blessed by the grace of God, most likely through the generosity of many others.  Why shouldn’t others receive that same grace?  And could it be that God’s answer to their prayers is our generosity?

Thursday – 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

“Poverty cannot be solved.”  Generosity is not just about what it does for others.  It is also what it does for us.  What does Paul teach in this passage about the importance of generosity?  How does it form, re-form, and transform the giver?

Friday – Acts 2:43-47

“Charity makes people dependent on others.”  Hoarding our assets to punish those who do not have does not create healthy self-sufficiency.  When people become interdependent upon each other, everyone benefits.  Most of us have benefitted from the charity of others.  Have we become the people we accuse others becoming?  How can God’s grace reveal another alternative?

Saturday – Luke 6:37-42

“I don’t have enough.”  Jesus’ teaching comes from the Sermon on the Mount, and the context of this verse (verse 38) is given in the middle of his teaching on judging and forgiveness.  Jesus explains that the measure we use in giving grace to others is the measure God will use in giving grace to us.  If I don’t have enough, is it because I have been unwilling to share what I do have?  How do you measure your generosity?