God’s Strength in Me

Date:  10/23/2016

Summary:  Not available at this time.

Epistle Lesson: 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

            As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

16 At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Gospel Lesson: Luke 18:9-14

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Problems Arise Along the Way

Date:  5/22/2016

Summary:

On our spiritual journeys, problems we did not prepare for will arise along the way. Though this has been true in the history of the Church, is true for the Church today, and true even in our local congregation and within our lives personally; there is an effective way to handle these problems when they do arise both personally and collectively.

Scripture Lesson: Romans 5:1-5

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Gospel Lesson: John 16:12-15

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Title: Setting Out On a Journey

DATE:  May 15, 2016

SUMMARY:   Jesus prepares his disciples for the day of Pentecost, the day the Church’s work begins with the giving of the Holy Spirit. Today, we too still carry out the work with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

 

Scripture Lesson: Acts 2:1-21

 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say.15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
20 The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Scripture Lesson: Romans 8:14-17

 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

Gospel Lesson: John 14:8-17, 25-27

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.  15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.   “I have said these things to you while I am still with you.26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

Title: Giving Up Our Lives

Date:  3/13/2016

Summary: Our lives are not our own and so therefore we are to give up our false sense that we have ownership of our lives to God.

Scripture Lesson: John 11: 1-45   New International Version (NIV)

The Death of Lazarus

11 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days,and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light.10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Jesus Comforts the Sisters of Lazarus

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem,19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father,I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

The Plot to Kill Jesus

45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

Scripture Lesson: Ezekiel 37:1-14

The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. 3 He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.6 I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall 7 So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8 I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them.9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” 10 I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

11 Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 14 I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken and will act, says the LORD.”

Giving Up Superiority (Video Malfunction)

Date:  2/28/2016   (Video Malfunction)

Summary: Jesus models giving up superiority through a conversation with a Samaritan Woman which gives Jesus’ followers the implications of giving up our own false impressions of ethnic, racial, gender, cultural, and moral superiority.

SERMON:

This morning as we continue in our journey with Giving Up, this morning we have read one of the most iconic passages within the Gospels. This dialogue between Jesus and the woman at the well is a scripture passage that is very well known by many in our Christian faith. And I believe it is so very well known because it speaks so much Truth into the lives and experiences of life of so many. These ideals that we have been speaking about giving up, I have referred to as “ways of life” that many people unjustifiably live out as this is just a part of the normal way of life. We just assume that we should be in control of our own lives and that we should live up to our expectations rather than God’s. And today this passage of Jesus and the Woman at the well brings up another “way of life” that we as Disciples of Christ must simply give up and that is this idea of superiority over others.

I think just about every state in the Continental US has is bred into them that they are better than some other state….traditionally this “other” state is one that is geographically close by. For Virginia, it’s West Virginia, For Minnesota it’s Wisconsin (Sorry Bob), For those from Alabama (having asked someone from that state) apparently they have a few as they like to pick on Mississippians, Lousianians, and occasionally even those from Georgia.

Though sometimes this kind of sense of superiority even arises within a state, for instance having grown up in NoVA, there was among my friends and me this sense of being superior because of a better education than those from the rest of VA. This became very evident when I was a senior in High School and I was looking at papers my friends were writing from where I used to live in South West VA. Let me just pause here for a moment and confess I no longer carry with me those feelings.  So long story short, we, as humans, still carry within us this sense of superiority over others. We as a country, a nation, may feel as though we are superior to the Middle East or to countries in Africa. There may be some who still feel as though because I am White I am superior to those of a different race. Or because I am a male, I am superior to those of females.

And it is with these ideals of superiority in mind do I want us to begin to look at what Jesus is doing in John 4 with this woman at the well. Because it is in this story that Jesus begins to dismantle some of the common themes of superiority within his own context and I believes invites us to do the same as his followers.

So let us take each of these in the order by which they come in the story. Jesus and his disciples are on their way from the Passover festival in Jerusalem back to the Galilean countryside. And if you look here at this picture, you can see, the quickest route to the Galilean countryside from Jerusalem is right through Samaria. So what? In order for us to understand fully the context of this dialogue between Jesus and this un-named woman, we must understand the history between these two peoples. The Jews and the Samaritans do not get along. It goes beyond not just getting along, they are enemies of a sorts. And this dispute between the Jews and the Samaritans at this point is a dispute with a very long history. It goes all the way back to about 721 BCE found in 2 Kings 17, when the King of the Assyrians brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Av’va, Hamath, and Seph-ar-va’im and put them in Samaria. At this time in the nation of Israel, the Northern tribes of Israel had just been over run and exiled by the Assyrians the year before and the Southern Kingdoms of Judah were still intact. And so, these outsiders begin to become an issue because with bringing them from a foreign place they brought with them their foreign gods. When they first arrived to Samaria, some of the foreigners were killed by lions which was attributed to the understanding that they were not worshipping the god of this land. And so, the King of Assyria chose one of the Israelite priests to come back and to teach them about the LORD. And this priest did, but still even after they were still making idols each from their own country. This was a pretty big issue considering the very first ordinance of the 10 commandments were to not making any idols before God. To say the least, this didn’t sit very well with the Jews.

Though, at this point in time with Jesus, this was not the largest issue that came in between these two peoples. The largest issues was where the correct place to worship was. You see, the Samaritans worshipped God at Mt. Gerizim and the Jews worshipped God at the Temple in Jerusalem. This dispute between these two peoples began back in 200 BCE. And about 128 BCE it had become such an issue that the Jews destroyed the shrine that the Samaritans had made. But even though this shrine was destroyed, the issue continued.

And so because of these issues, the Jews and the Samaritans are to have no contact with each other and it is very much my people against your people. In verse 20, the woman at the wells asks Jesus, “Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” In our English translation this is a bit deceptive. It probably should more clearly read, “OUR ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but YOU ALL, say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” It is a plural you. It is an US vs. them kind of context.  And so, right at the very beginning we have some ethnic superiority attitudes.

Does Jesus fall trapped to this way of being of ethnic superiority or because I am a Jew I am better than you? No…. Rather Jesus first breaks down this superiority by entering into a conversation with a Samaritan. Jesus further breaks this ethnic superiority by requesting a drink from this Samaritan. And then finally, when asked the hot topic controversial issue between these two people, the right place to worship, Jesus responds with “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” Jesus recognizes that it is not reliant upon our ethnicity to worship the one True God. That regardless of your ethnicity, there is coming a day, and that day is today, because I, Jesus, the Messiah has come not solely for the Jews, but for all people of all races.

So let’s continue on. This Samaritan that Jesus speaks with is not only a Samaritan, but also a woman. And women were very much inferior to men in ancient times. Not only were they inferior, but teachers, rabbis, such as Jesus was, was not permitted to speak to a woman in public for fear of going to hell. But let me just for a moment expound on women in this time period. Women did not count for much…quite literally. They were not included in the census numbers, nor even in the gospel accounts were they really counted. In the feeding of the 5000 by Jesus, only the men were numbered. In this same time period, Roman women didn’t even bear names. If the same family had two daughters, the second was called Secunda, the third daughter, Tertia, and so on. The Greeks weren’t much different than the Romans either. Women in this time period were intellectually inferior than men and the only interaction between them were to be sexual of nature. And yet, Jesus engages in this conversation with a woman. Not only does Jesus engage in this conversation, but this conversation is the LONGEST recorded evenly distributed conversation Jesus has in all the gospels. And this conversation that they have is an intellectually and theologically in depth conversation. Jesus brought his message of grace and freedom to this woman, knowing that in her humility, she would actually hear the message and respond. Jesus did not as other males in this time would’ve done and ignored her completely. Or if a male did engage in a conversation, it would’ve probably been primarily sexual in nature. But rather Jesus came without this sense of male superiority and spoke with her as though a woman can speak intellectually and theologically.

 But let me add one more thing to this context. Jesus risked more than just speaking equally with a female, but also possibly even risked his reputation as he lowered his guard as one morally superior to this woman that he “met at a well”. And this location of where they met is what is in question here. Now, I know, how guilty could that be? Well… a well in their times was kind of the meeting grounds of young men and women. And in the scriptural narrative, wells are well known for places men and women were betrothed. She even mentions their ancestor Jacob who gave them this well. It was at the well Jacob met the wife that he loved Rachel. It was at that first meeting at the well did Jacob kiss Rachel. It was at a well, Jacob’s mother was found and betrothed to his father Isaac. Again it was at a well did Moses find his wife. In the biblical narrative, meeting in the context of a man and woman at a well was often significant of a place you say where lover’s met. And in their conversation, marriage is even brought up. Jesus tells her to go and call her husband. And she replies I have no husband. Now Jesus responds with this, “What you have said is right, for you have had five husbands, and the one you are even seeing now is not your husband.” Some pastor’s may say at this point, clearly this woman is a prostitute or at least a loose woman. I don’t think there is enough evidence to make such a claim, but yet neither is there enough evidence to prove otherwise either. So let me just say this….If she were a prostitute, Jesus did not allow his moral superiority get in the way of sharing God’s love and grace and neither should we. We sometimes feel as though because I am not a thief, or I am not an adulterer I am therefore better than this person. But yet, Jesus does not respond this way to this woman at the well. It doesn’t even seem to phase him in their conversation that she has had 5 marriages and the one that she is seeing now is not married.

And so in the larger scheme of things, it doesn’t seem that God really cares about the artificial lines that we draw in order to make ourselves feel superior to others. Jesus broke the superiority lines of ethnicity and race, Jesus broke the cultural norms of his day as he spoke to a woman, and Jesus broke the moral code of superiority and I believe Jesus wishes for us to do so as well. If we can let go of our status symbols, let go of our judgmental attitudes based upon where you come from or the different ways you look, and let go of this idea that your sin is worse than my sin and therefore I am better than you mind-set; then I believe we too like this morally questionable Samaritan woman may hear Jesus’ call more clearly and respond more faithfully to be the disciples Jesus calls us to be.

When we FINALLY come to recognize that underneath our skin, underneath our genders, and underneath our past faults and baggage we carry, we all are the same and that we all are broken and in need of God’s divine grace. And because God has saved a wretch like me, I too am called to be compassionate as God is to others like me. Thanks be to God.

Scripture Lesson: John 4:5-27

So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.

A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.”17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’;18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.”21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”

27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?”

Gospel Lesson: John 4:27-42

27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” 28 Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” 30 They left the city and were on their way to him.

31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?”34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting.36 The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”

 

Title: Giving Up Control

Date:  2/14/2016

Summary:   God’s call on our lives results in giving up the false sense of I am in control of my life, to allowing the “GREAT I AM” to be in control of my life.

Scripture Lesson: Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God,[a] knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

Gospel Lesson: Matthew 4:1-11

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

‘One does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,

‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written,

‘Worship the Lord your God,
and serve only him.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

Appearances: God Shining Through You

Summary:   As hard as it may be, we are called to come down off God’s mountain tops as those who are transformed by God and share God’s light in the dark places of this world.

Date:  2/7/2016

Scripture Lesson: Exodus 34:29-35

Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses spoke with them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33 When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; 34 but whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would take the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 the Israelites would see the face of Moses, that the skin of his face was shining; and Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

Gospel Lesson: Luke 9:28-43a

Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30 Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31 They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35 Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” 36 When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38 Just then a man from the crowd shouted, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. 39 Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him.40 I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41 Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42 While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43 And all were astounded at the greatness of God.