Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Blog post

Blog Post: June 3rd,2020

2 Samuel 20:14-21:22

Acts 1:1-26

Psalm 121:1-8

Proverbs 16:18

I got comfort from today's scriptures. Psalm gave a sense of light as there has been a lot of darkness going on in the world. But there is hope and the song of ascents in Psalm expresses assurance and hope in Gods protection day and night. God is watching over us all constantly. Psalm 7-8 "The Lord will keep you from all harm - he will watch over your life, the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore" Do you believe this is true? Do you believe that God watches over us always? I BELIEVE!  We can trust in God, he is almighty, all-powered and watches over us. Nothing deters him, we are safe and we never outgrow our need for Gods untiring watch over our lives.

I pray that we move in any which way you can and tell people about Jesus and his never ending love for ALL. May the Holy Spirit equip us with the power to witness to others. May we ask God to open our hearts and reveal any sin that is hindering us and hardening our hearts. I pray that we work on any prideful and judgmental tendencies, that we give these sins over to Jesus and pray constantly for healing and redemption. Yehshua, please be with us all as there is so much hatred and violence going on around, may we be quick to listening and slow to hate and anger. Yehshua, we ask for your comfort and guidance, as we all may be going through troubles of our own/shared. I pray we are able to lean on each other and give hope and help to our brothers and sisters in need.  I pray this in Jesus name,

Amen

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--
Aimee Spencer

Saturday, May 30, 2020

May 30: On the Difficulty of Christian Response


If you are reading this blog, and haven't yet read today's scripture, please stop and at the very least read the New Testament reading.  Here are today's readings:


2 Samuel 15:23-16:23

John 18:25-19:22

Psalm 119:113-128

Proverbs 16:10-11


Here's the story: an innocent man is killed by people in authority - by the actions of some and the indifference of others.  Especially to those following the US news cycle, this should sound disturbingly familiar, frustratingly fresh.  Innocent man.  Killed by the authorities.  


Times like these we find out how difficult a Christian response is.  As I look at how some have responded today - from hopelessness and despair at the human condition on one hand, to the protests that deteriorate into violence, theft and destruction on the other - I ask myself, had I been in Jerusalem over two thousand years ago, how might Jesus have wanted me to respond?  It is at this point that I am going to cheat, by referring to scripture outside today's readings.  


1.  He would have told me NOT to go to war for Him.  In Jn 10:18 we read "Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, cutting off his right ear…Jesus commanded Peter, 'Put your sword away!'"


2.  He would have prevented me from doing so for MY benefit, not His.  In Matthew's account of the same night, in Mt 26:52 Jesus tells Peter "Put your sword back in its place…for all who draw the sword will die by the sword."


3.  He would have reassured me that, however helpless He might seem, He wasn't helpless at all.  In Mt 26:53 He points out that he could easily "call on my Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels", and the problem I see in his unjust death would be avoided.  


4.  He would remind me that all these things happen in accordance with His Father's will.  Mt 26:54: "But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?"  Or in Jn 18:11: "Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given Me?"


At this point, if you are anything like me, you are terribly frustrated at the impotent, helpless response Jesus prescribes.  Hey, I did say the Christian response wasn't going to be easy.  So, how did Christ's disciples respond? 


1.  First, in anger and fear.  After Jesus was taken, they scattered, and Peter denied Jesus.  Joseph of Arimathea asked for Jesus's body in secret, "because he feared the Jews".  Even  just before Jesus appeared to them, they "were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews" (Jn 20:19).  


2.  Then, in joy, at the realization their fears were for nothing.  In Jn 20:19-20, we read "Jesus came and stood among them and said 'peace be with you!' After He said this, He showed them His hands and side.  The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord."


3.  Finally, in obedience and surrender.  In Jn 21:15-17, Jesus reinstates Peter after his betrayal.  And in Jn 21:18-19 He hints at the price Peter is going to pay for his obedience.  Jesus warned him that he would "stretch out your hands, and someone will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go", indicating "the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.


So how difficult is it to be a Christian?  Very.  Not only do we have to acknowledge that our response may not be the right one, the right response may come at great cost, at great suffering.  


Father, like your son, George Floyd was an innocent man killed by the authorities.  It is tempting to lash out in response, possibly increasing the misery of the situation.  As Christians, we submit to You, and beg You teach us how to respond - with love, obedience, and in a way that gives YOU the glory. 

Friday, May 29, 2020

May 29

A Lament for George Floyd

May 29, 2020

"Please, Please. I can't breathe."  George Floyd

I don't often find myself at a loss for words, but this morning the words are not coming. I have no insights that can remove the pain. I have no simple steps to make this situation better. It is horrible that once again a heinous and brutal crime has happened to our brothers and sisters in the African American community. 

Still there are voices that deny we have a national problem. We live in a paradoxical world; obviously there is racism, but "I" am not a racist. What do I mean? Racial divides exist in our communities, our churches and other institutions, yet nobody owns them. Racism is always someone else's problem. 

And once again an unarmed black man died in America while we comfortably watched from our computers. It is time for the people of God to rise up and demand change. But the first step in this journey towards change is a costly one.

In the west we have an individualistic faith; it is "Jesus and me" and that is all that counts. In the east there is a communal faith. In Deuteronomy 21 we find the instructions for the "offering for the unknown murder." The elders and judges had to go to the crime scene and measure the distance to the nearest town. That town then had to offer up one of its heifers and all its leaders had to swear they knew nothing about the murder. That was costly and traumatic for the community. The truth is our western point of view is deficient. God has set us in communities, and we have responsibilities to everyone in that community. In one sense the sins of others are also our sins. In the eastern community they would have to contemplate these questions:

        Whose family does the murderer belong to? How have they failed?

        Whose brother is he? How have his siblings failed?

        Who taught him in school? How have his teachers failed?

        Who failed to teach him about godliness? How has his church failed him?

        Where would he learn such criminal activity? How have his friends failed him?

        How have "WE" failed this man? The "WE" is the key here.

It is time for us to put the "WE" in the George Floyd story. What happened to George Floyd is a communal sin of the whole United States. We all have a part in this. So, this morning include "WE" in your plea for mercy from the Lord. It is time for America to repent and humble itself before a holy God. 

 

 


--
"Multiplying leaders to change the world"

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Thursday, May 28

THURSDAY, MAY 28, 2020

"Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.... My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one- I in them and you in me-so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." (John 17:3,20-23)


In this Great High Priestly Prayer, Jesus intercedes for all believers ahead of His Passion and sacrifice. In this prayer and the events surrounding it, we find stark evidence of Jesus's purity of heart: His faithfulness to follow the Father's will and bring glory to the Father.

In the prayer, Jesus provides some much-needed clarity on what makes for eternal life: it centers on knowing God. To that end, "eternal life" begins in this earthly life and continues forever. By virtue of God's grace and the blood of Christ that allows us to approach God, those who have trust in Him will never experience a moment of un-knowing; to that end, eternal life is consistent and uninterrupted. In addition, eternal life is inherently purposeful: knowing God brings out transformation (2 Corinthians 5:17), spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22,23), integrity of character (Galatians 2:20), and the handiwork for which God has created us (Ephesians 2:10).

Furthermore, eternal life carries not just an individual purpose, but a community purpose as well. Jesus's prays that His followers might experience unity, which He ties to the world's knowing that the Father had sent the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. In essence, the unity of the Body would bring about a fragrant aroma in the world and a testimony of Jesus's supremacy.

In our country broadly, unity has become quite difficult. The Internet and other media allow us to focus in the narrow slice of the news or commentary that appeals to us. We tend to drown out what appear to be opposing voices. We desperately want others to listen, but we are not humble enough to listen ourselves.

As I look to others (in my better moment), I find it profitable to repeat to myself: "May I love this person because You, O God, love him or her. You created them. Help me to be understanding and caring like You would." That is, while dissonant voices would argue otherwise, unity begins with me, submitted to Christ and allowing Him to love others through me.


Lord Jesus, thank You for making eternal life possible through Your shed blood on the Cross. Thank You for making unity possible by virtue of Your grace and love. Help us to demonstrate love and compassion, even today. We love You and worship You today. In Jesus's Name, amen.


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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

May 27

John 16

Imagine reading every third word of this blog.  Go ahead, try it. Skip the third word in each sentence. The first three sentences would read "imagine reading third word this blog ahead try skip the word in each."  Although it might make some sense, it's pretty confusing and sounds jumbled. Now imagine reading the Bible the same way without having the Holy Spirit guiding us into truth and speaking to our spirits. The Holy Spirit, the third person in the Trinity, puts the pieces together so that our spirits can understand what Jesus is saying. Jesus explains to us that He has to leave in order for the Spirit to come. Jesus promised He would never leave us and though He isn't here physically, His Spirit is. The Counselor who convicts us when we stray from the Lord, will also make the truth known and clear to us. Like Jesus, the Holy Spirit speaks only what He hears from the Father and conveys that to us. It's just all part of the mystery of the Trinity but the reality behind it is we can't separate ourselves from Him or nothing makes sense. My prayer is that this Sunday being Pentecost, there is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our church for those who are here, in our homes, in our city, in our nation and in our world. I pray we are guided into truth by the Counselor for it is that truth that will set us free from the chains that bind us. Jesus told us to have peace because even though in this world we will have trouble, He has overcome the world. Come Holy Spirit, come.


Randi

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

What kind of plant are you?


What rich scripture today's reading gives us! 

Have you ever thought what you would look like if you were a plant? Would you be green and leafy? Would you have beautiful flowers? Fruit? How would you grow? What climate would you need? How would life be different from being a human?

I have often been told that you can tell a Christian by their "fruit". As Christians, we are branches of the true vine, and Our Father is the gardener. This can and should change our perspective on life. Humans are much like plants in that we have a few necessary conditions that must be met in order to grow. Unfortunately, we often seek out other things that stunt our growth. Jesus teaches the importance of remaining in God with the analogy of being branches on the vine. In order to bear fruit we must remain in Him. Remaining in God and bearing fruit are two things that require hard work. It's not easy to bear fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control), especially when we are spending time with other humans! There are times it's not easy to remain in God. We want to "grow our own way", but we do not always know what's best. That's when it's key to look to the Gardener to sustain us. Plants cannot survive without water, oxygen, and light. 

Let us turn to God to fulfill our thirst, our need for breath, and to be our light in this dark world. God, please cut off anything in our lives that does not embody love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, or self-control. Help us to focus on being fruitful. Help us to remain in you. Amen.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

May 23: Part 2 - Thoughts and Questions on Three Other Themes in Today’s Reading


2 Samuel 2:12-3:39

John 13:1-30

Psalm 119:1-16

Proverbs 15:29-30


First, pity Judas.  It's been three years of companionship, instruction and miracles - from healing to feeding to raising the dead - and Judas still thinks to trade all this for thirty pieces of silver and the approval of the established authorities.  How does one make what on hindsight would seem like such a ridiculous choice?  Worse, how often are we guilty of making the same choice ourselves?


Second, how confused must the disciples have been?  The Messiah was supposed to go to Jerusalem. Jesus, the rabbi they'd seen heal the sick, feed the hungry and raise the dead, was coming to Jerusalem.  Surely He was going to assume His crown, to be the king they expected?  Wait - why is He washing my feet?  Why was Jesus abasing Himself to serve the one He knew would betray Him, and all the others He knew would abandon Him?  Is it perhaps because our obedience to God's will is not supposed to be dependent on how others respond, on what others do?


Finally, final days?  When your time is nearly up, how do you spend what's left?  On one extreme, men and women (boys and girls, really?) who go on wild bachelor and bachelorette parties before entering into marriage and accepting its impositions of responsibility.  Next to them, those who, a day before the forty days of Lenten fast, indulge in hedonistic bacchanalia.  And on the other hand Jesus Who, as His death approached, all the more urgently served those He had been given. Your final days - party like rock star?  Or wash the feet of your disciples?  


Thoughts to ponder, questions to ask ourselves.  Father, there is so much to learn from Your Son's life, word and example.  Help us to ask ourselves the tough questions, then teach us the right answers, and give us the opportunity, the strength and the resolve to live them.