Tuesday, September 29, 2015

EXPLORE IT - Ephesians 1:15-23; Mattew 17:14-20

Ephesians 1:15-23
Matthew 17:14-20  When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. "Lord, have mercy on my son," he said. "He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water.  I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him."  "O unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me." Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.  Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, "Why couldn't we drive it out?"  He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
As we continue our journey through the letter to the Ephesians, we come to Paul’s “Thanksgiving and Prayer.”  This section is very common in personal letters in the Greco-Roman world.  Paul prays that the Ephesians would be given many things, including the “Spirit of wisdom and revelation,” and His “incomparably great power;” the great power of the Holy Spirit.  This is the same power that Jesus used to raise Lazarus from the dead, to heal the sick, and to cast out demons.  Paul was praying that the Ephesians would receive it too.  Through the Holy Spirit, this power is also available to us…but do we have the faith needed to move mountains?
In Matthew 17:14-20, we find a lesson in faith and powerlessness with the disciples.  At this point, the disciples had already been with Jesus for some time.  They had heard Jesus’ teachings, witnessed his miracles, even participated in the feeding of the 5,000, but they were unable to heal a demon-possessed boy brought to them by his father.  Even though In Matthew 10:1 Jesus had given the disciples, “authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness,” they were not able to succeed this time.  After Jesus rebukes the demon and heals the boy, he gathers His disciples together for some teaching.
Miracles don’t happen with loud words or special rituals, they happen through faith…and faith requires the gentleness of Jesus.  It’s easy to try and accomplish things on our own.  It’s easy to trust in ourselves and know we can get things done in our own strength, but it’s a challenge to believe and have faith that God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, will take care of things.  Jesus had to have faith and know that the Holy Spirit would heal the boy, just as we need to have faith and know that the Holy Spirit will move on our behalf when we pray…but in order to move mountains, we must humble ourselves knowing that we, ourselves, are not doing anything, it is God.  We must gently step away and let the glory go to God!
Pastor Amy

Monday, September 28, 2015

READ IT! - Gentle in our Time (week 3)

The strength of Jesus is seen in us not when we fight for our rights or our reputations, but when we allow the gentle power of the Holy Spirit to have his way in us.

It takes greater strength to give up your rights than it does to fight for them. Jesus gave up his rights when he died for us. Here are seven examples from different sections of the Bible illustrating gentle strength. How are you allowing God to work the mighty strength of gentleness your life?

From the Torah: Numbers 11:24-30 (NIV)
From the Former Prophets: 2 Kings 6:8-23 (NIV)
From the Latter Prophets: Isaiah 52:13-53:12 (NIV)
From the Books of Wisdom and Poetry: Psalm 27:1-14 (NIV)
From the Late Books: Ecclesiastes 9:13-18 (NIV)
From the Gospels: Luke 23:26-49 (NIV)
From the Epistles: Philippians 2:1-11 (NIV)

From the Torah

So Moses went out and told the people what the Lord had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the tent. Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took some of the power of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied—but did not do so again.
However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp. A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”

Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!”

But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” Then Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.

Numbers 11:24-30

From the Former Prophets

Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.”

The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places.

This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?”

“None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”

“Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.

When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.

Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria.

After they entered the city, Elisha said, “Lord, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the Lord opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria.

When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?”

“Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.” So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.

2 Kings 6:8-23

From the Latter Prophets

See, my servant will act wisely;
    he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
Just as there were many who were appalled at him—
    his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being
    and his form marred beyond human likeness—
so he will sprinkle many nations,
    and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see,
    and what they have not heard, they will understand.

Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
    and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
After he has suffered,
    he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
    and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

From the Books of Wisdom and Poetry

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked advance against me
    to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
    who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
    my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
    even then I will be confident.
One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.
Then my head will be exalted
    above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
    I will sing and make music to the Lord.
Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
    be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
    Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
    do not turn your servant away in anger;
    you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
    God my Savior.
Though my father and mother forsake me,
    the Lord will receive me.
Teach me your way, Lord;
    lead me in a straight path
    because of my oppressors.
Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
    for false witnesses rise up against me,
    spouting malicious accusations.
I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

Psalm 27:1-14

From the Late Books

I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me: There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it. Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man. So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded.

The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
    than the shouts of a ruler of fools.
Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
    but one sinner destroys much good.

Ecclesiastes 9:13-18

From the Gospels

As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’  Then

“‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”
    and to the hills, “Cover us!”’

For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

Luke 23:26-49

From the Epistles

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:1-11

Saturday, September 26, 2015

HOPE! - Paul... A Gentle Apostle?

Within Paul’s letters we can see that while Paul is passionate and firm in his faith and in the life he now lives in Christ, he also knows humility and gentleness. He recognized that he does not deserve this calling that he has received from God. He writes of how he used to be an enemy of the church, persecuting it, but that God in His mercy called him out of this life and made him to be an apostle of Christ to the Gentiles. He is humbled by God’s gentleness and grace towards him, and by the great privilege he has to proclaim the good news of Christ to the world.

He knows that he is unworthy of all he has received. He says in 1st Corinthians, “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.” He recognizes that it is only by God’s grace that he has become an apostle of Christ. And there is hope for a violent man like Paul to be transformed into the gentle likeness of Christ – then there is hope for us!

He also describes Christ and how Christ came to earth in gentle humility, even though He was God. Paul says that we all must become like Christ, gently serving one another. Paul has applied this to his own life, and he calls on other believers to do the same. He includes himself in this command. He is not exempt. Just as Christ did not refuse to let go of His authority and position as God, so should we who follow Christ be willing to give up our place in life for the sake of Christ, considering all others to be of greater worth than ourselves. We must also be willing to give up our lives in order to be a gentle servant like Christ was. For Paul, this was likely true in the literal sense as well as spiritually. Just as Christ “humbled himself and became obedient to death” so also it is commonly believed that Paul was beheaded for the sake of Christ his Lord.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Living on Mission – His Gentleness and Our Salvation

Living on Mission – His Gentleness and Our Salvation

How I need your gentleness, Lord. You must produce it in me because it is not in my nature. My natural tendency is to anger/rage/wrath. You have every reason for anger and wrath and yet you choose gentleness. I’m amazed at your forbearance. You could so easily have chosen to wipe us all out and start over. You would have been perfectly justified in pouring out your wrath; but, your amazing love wouldn’t allow it. No, instead you chose – and continue to choose – to gently save us.

You set this plan in motion while you spread out the heavens. You knew what would need to be done to save us even while you were forming the earth. Before any of us took a breath, you provided for our redemption.

Help us remember. Help us give you the glory you deserve. Help us to live every day in light of your love and mercy. Help us recognize and appreciate this great salvation. Help us see the cross as the ultimate symbol of gentleness and reconciliation. Help us share this Good News with those around us.

Help us practice Living on Mission. Help us become reconcilers in the gentle way of Jesus.

Pastor Angela

Thursday, September 24, 2015

pray it: gentle in our time - ephesians 1:3-14

I don't like to actively suffer.

I don't mind suffering nearly as much when I can look back on it, reflect how God came through (whether I knew that's what He was doing at the time or not) and appreciate how this or that wouldn't have happened in the same way if "X" had not occurred.

But in the midst of suffering, with no clear end in sight... well... I don't like it.  I get cranky.  I don't feel gentle. 

When we say yes to Jesus, life doesn't magically become all rainbows and cotton-candy and puppy dogs.  There will still be trials.  However, the difference is, now we have Jesus.  As Paul states in Philippians 4:11-12, "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

There are a lot of people we can look to in the Bible to see how they responded to suffering.  A lot of the psalmists recognize their suffering and their enemies, yet focus their attentions and energies on God, who will save.  God who will deliver.  God who will provide the rescue.  This is a good idea.  Paul suffered quite a bit... both physically:  shipwrecked... stoned... and emotionally/relationally... see any of his letters where he is pouring out his heart to churches who are not heeding his advice.  Yet he persevered for the sake of the Gospel.  And Jesus... Jesus endured the cross.  For you.  For me.  For everyone.  For your enemy.  For your antagonist.  For your persecutor.  Even that one.  Yep. 

I don't know what you're going through.  But I do know that Jesus knows. 

In our Scripture passage for the week, Paul speaks to the restrained strength exhibited by Jesus on the cross.  Ephesians 1:7-12 in the Message,

Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.
It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

We can't determine how to pray in our time without looking to Jesus.  It's all about him.  This past week in the prayer blog, we did just that and determined from Matthew 5:44 and Luke 23:34, that we need to be loving our enemies, praying for those who persecute us.  Again, this was not some idealistic, starry-eyed suggestion... this was the actual practice of Jesus, who chose to respond in prayer for those who were crucifying him. 

And here's our prayer challenge for the week:  Praying for those who antagonize us from the cross.  Meaning, right now.  While the pain is ongoing.  Don't wait until the story comes full circle and you know how it ends.  Don't decide to pray for them once they're "getting theirs" and up to their ears in consequences from the hurt they have caused.  Pray for them now.  Just like Jesus.

Ask God to help identify two different kind of hurts that are happening in your life right now:

1.)  A local hurt specific to you, that is ongoing right now.  (Example:  an extended family member who is out to ruin your reputation and damage relationships).

2.)  A global hurt, that really gets your attention/bothers you, that is happening right now.  (Example: Planned Parenthood). 

Spend some time reflecting on how you have been responding.  Has it been gentle?  Is God calling you to be gentle?  To trust Him?  To pray more, and speak a little bit less?

Side note:  Just as an example... A quick peruse of social media shows quite the nasty responses that exist with regards to Planned Parenthood, with scathing comments about how this person or that person involved is the spawn of the devil, who should have been aborted themselves. 


What if instead of exerting our efforts on condemning those involved with comments that DO NOT honor Jesus, who indeed died on the cross and offers grace and mercy to everyone, we instead whole-heartedly put our efforts into prayer.  By name. For people involved.  I wonder how much more would get accomplished for the Kingdom of God than pointing fingers and wishing they had never been born? 

Prayer for our antagonists, and prayer "from the cross", does not mean we are "okay" with the hurting that is going on.  

Our prayer speaks more about what we think of our Almighty, Grace-and-Mercy-Bestowing, Ever-Present, Saving, Forgiving, Transforming, and Restoring God.

Ask God to help you respond like Jesus, by praying from the position of the cross (praying for those who are antagonizing you while they are hurting you).  Get specific.  Pray by name.  Pray like Jesus.

Dear Jesus,
Please help us identify current hurts in our own life, and in our world, and spend time in earnest prayer for those who are hurting us.  Help us be mindful that we are all God's children.  That Jesus died on the cross for ALL of us.  Amen.

PoC|Coverage is tonight at 6pm.  Join us! 

Pastor Celia

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

FAMILY IT! — Wednesday Family Devotional — “Gentle in Our Time”

One of my mom’s absolute favorite movies is Disney’s Cinderella, and as such, she quotes it somewhat frequently.  One of her most-used lines comes out of the scene when the invitation to the ball arrives.  Hearing that all maidens are demanded to attend, Cinderella asks if she can go too.  Her stepmother replies, “If you get all your work done.  And if you can find something suitable to wear.”  (You know the rest of the story.)  As a teenager, anytime I would ask to do something with my friends, this would be her response.  It became a running gag in our house, and it continues to pop up from time to time.  When she said it way back when, however, she was absolutely serious.  I had to get my chores done and be dressed respectably.  

Now, the second stipulation wasn’t hard for me, especially in the early 90’s when everything was super baggy.  But that first requirement posed some difficulty at times.  Getting all of my homework and chores completed prior to whatever I wanted to do wasn’t always easy, and when I failed, my parents kept their word.  I had to stay home until the jobs were done.  I don’t know if any of you kids have parents who follow through with their promises like that.  It’s funny, because I knew the standard and the consequence ahead of time.  But in those times when I failed to meet the standard, I felt so abused by the consequence.  I knew the rules beforehand, but I thought my parents were giant meanies for actually following through with what they’d said.

Every once in a while, though, I’d come up to the time to leave and I would still have a couple of chores left.  In a moment of compassion, my mom or dad would smile and tell me to go ahead and they’d make sure my last tasks got completed.  I felt so incredibly blessed by their generosity!

Grab a Bible and have someone read Ephesians 1:3-14.

Paul is talking about what Jesus did for us on the cross.  God’s law says that all sin is punishable by death.  You don’t need to get all your work done to get to heaven, you just need to be perfect.  Easy peasy, right?  Because if you’re not perfect, you’ll not only be denied heaven, you’ll be sent to eternal damnation…which is waaaaaay worse than missing out on a movie with your friends.  That’s the standard.  But Jesus—awesome, loving, compassionate Jesus—chose to be gentle with us instead.  He made sure “the task got done” by allowing Himself to die in our place.  “You go ahead and go to Heaven; I already died on the cross for your sins.”  Wow!  How incredible is that!  God has every right to be the firm Father that he is.  And for those who choose not to accept Jesus, those consequences are still real.  But at the same time, God designed a gentle option for his children, whom he loves so much.

What I truly love about these verses is the many ways Paul reminds us that this choice to be gentle wasn’t a last-minute thing.  It wasn’t God just failing to follow through.  It was a part of the plan from the beginning.  Look at these words: “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world…”, “he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,” “[God’s] plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him.”  He always intended to take care of it for us!  That’s what grace is all about.

What are ways you can be gentle in your family?  How can you be graceful with each other?  Being gentle doesn’t mean we bend the rules all the time.  Rules are a part of life and it’s just as important we learn how to follow them.  But how can grace and gentleness be a part of that?  Talk about ways you can be gentle with someone in advance?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

EXPLORE IT - Ephesians 1:3-14 - In the Manner of Jesus

Ephesians 1:3-14; Isaiah 53:7
Back in 2007 I had the opportunity to spend two weeks in Egypt and Israel with a group of my classmates and a handful of our professors.  Our Old Testament professor and our New Testament professor were among those who joined us.  For two weeks I drank from a firehose of knowledge.  I was so overwhelmed, I would love to go again someday in order to fill in some of the gaps of my memory where my brain stopped working!
One experience I will never forget was on a Saturday afternoon.  Saturday is the Shabbat or Sabbath for Jewish culture.  They are not allowed to work at all on their Sabbath (including using electronics, so the “Shabbat Elevator” stopped on every floor at the hotel so you wouldn’t have to push the button!) so the roads were very secluded as we headed out away from the city to a secluded farming community.  We had been talking about the sacrifice Jesus had made for us during our bus ride and as we arrived, we learned that we would be slaughtering a lamb together and then sharing a meal with our hosts.
As we gathered around, our host family selected a lamb from the flock and silently led it out of the pen.  This gentle lamb too was silent, as if it knew its destiny.  You could feel the tension among my classmates.  Some began to silently weep as we witnessed this sheep silently die.
Whenever I read Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth,” I think of my experience in Israel.  I think about the sacrifice that gentle lamb made so we could eat, but it also leads me to think about a gentle Jesus who sacrificed his life so that I could have eternal life with Him!  In our passage this week, Ephesians 1:3-14, Paul speaks to the fact that through redemption in Jesus blood, our sins are forgiven and our salvation is sealed.  If we accept this gift from a gentle Savior, who “was led like a lamb to the slaughter,” our sins will be forgiven and our salvation will be sealed.
Spend time today reflecting on our gentle Jesus, the one who’s sacrifice on the cross leads to our redemption.  If you haven’t accepted this gift from Jesus, ask Him today!  And then let us know so we can celebrate your new life in Him!!
Pastor Amy

Monday, September 21, 2015

READ IT! - Gentle in Our Time (week 2)

Throughout history, God has been revealing to us the loving and gentle nature of his Spirit even when we haven’t deserved it. Can you see God’s grace at work in his people in these passages from different sections of the Bible? How is God’s grace revealed in his Son Jesus?

When has God shown you grace when you didn’t deserve it? Can we ever deserve grace? How has God’s grace at work in you given you the strength to be gentle with and gracious to others?

Here are seven passages from different sections of the Bible. You can look them up for yourself or you can read them below here.

From the Torah: Genesis 50:15-21 (NIV)

From the Former Prophets: 2 Samuel 16:5-14 (NIV)

From the Latter Prophets: Isaiah 54:4-10 (NIV)

From the Books of Wisdom and Poetry: Psalm 25:1-22 (NIV)

From the Late Books: Lamentations 3:19-33 (NIV)

From the Gospels: John 1:1-18 (NIV)

From the Epistles: 1 Timothy 1:12-17 (NIV)

From the Torah

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died:  ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.
His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

Genesis 50:15-21

From the Former Prophets

As King David approached Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul’s family came out from there. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out. He pelted David and all the king’s officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David’s right and left. As he cursed, Shimei said, “Get out, get out, you murderer, you scoundrel! The Lord has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. The Lord has given the kingdom into the hands of your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a murderer!”

Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head.”

But the king said, “What does this have to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’”
David then said to Abishai and all his officials, “My son, my own flesh and blood, is trying to kill me. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will look upon my misery and restore to me his covenant blessing instead of his curse today.”

So David and his men continued along the road while Shimei was going along the hillside opposite him, cursing as he went and throwing stones at him and showering him with dirt. The king and all the people with him arrived at their destination exhausted. And there he refreshed himself.

2 Samuel 16:5-14

From the Latter Prophets

“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.
    Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
You will forget the shame of your youth
    and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.
For your Maker is your husband—
    the Lord Almighty is his name—
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
    he is called the God of all the earth.
The Lord will call you back
    as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—
a wife who married young,
    only to be rejected,” says your God.
“For a brief moment I abandoned you,
    but with deep compassion I will bring you back.
In a surge of anger
    I hid my face from you for a moment,
but with everlasting kindness
    I will have compassion on you,”
    says the Lord your Redeemer.

“To me this is like the days of Noah,
    when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.
So now I have sworn not to be angry with you,
    never to rebuke you again.
Though the mountains be shaken
    and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
    nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

Isaiah 54:4-10

From the Books of Wisdom and Poetry

In you, Lord my God,
    I put my trust.
I trust in you;
    do not let me be put to shame,
    nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you
    will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
    who are treacherous without cause.
Show me your ways, Lord,
    teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love,
    for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth
    and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
    for you, Lord, are good.
Good and upright is the Lord;
    therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right
    and teaches them his way.
All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
    toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.
For the sake of your name, Lord,
    forgive my iniquity, though it is great.
Who, then, are those who fear the Lord?
    He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.
They will spend their days in prosperity,
    and their descendants will inherit the land.
The Lord confides in those who fear him;
    he makes his covenant known to them.
My eyes are ever on the Lord,
    for only he will release my feet from the snare.
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart
    and free me from my anguish.
Look on my affliction and my distress
    and take away all my sins.
See how numerous are my enemies
    and how fiercely they hate me!
Guard my life and rescue me;
    do not let me be put to shame,
    for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness protect me,
    because my hope, Lord, is in you.
Deliver Israel, O God,
    from all their troubles!

Psalm 25:1-22

From the Late Books

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man to bear the yoke
    while he is young.
Let him sit alone in silence,
    for the Lord has laid it on him.
Let him bury his face in the dust—
    there may yet be hope.
Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
    and let him be filled with disgrace.
For no one is cast off
    by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
    so great is his unfailing love.
For he does not willingly bring affliction
    or grief to anyone.

Lamentations 3:19-33

From the Gospels

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

(John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
John 1:1-18

From the Epistles

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. 

1 Timothy 1:12-17