Posted by: Pauline | February 22, 2015

Scriptures for Sunday March 1

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

In this passage, God confirms the covenant He has already made with Abram, reiterating the promise of many descendants, and the land that will be their inheritance. Previously Sarai had not been mentioned in the promises, but now God makes it clear that she also will be the mother of nations.

They also receive new names, Abraham and Sarah. These new names are not so very different from the old ones, but these new names signify their new identities as covenant people. Although not included in this reading, the intervening verses describe the sign of the covenant, circumcision, which is both the obedient response of covenant people and a reminder of belonging to God and the promises He has made.

Psalm 22:23-31

Those familiar with this psalm for its opening line, which Jesus quoted as he hung on the cross and felt abandoned by God, may be surprised at the different mood of these later verses. Now the psalmist is confident of having been heard by God and of receiving blessings from God. He praises God and calls upon all the people of Israel to join in praise to God. Not only Israel but all nations of the world, he says, shall turn to God and worship Him.

While the earlier verses and their description of great suffering is not part of this reading, it is important to remember that context. We praise God, knowing what He has delivered us from, and we are able to go through times of suffering knowing that God has not forsaken us, even though it may seem so at the time.

Romans 4:13-25

Many Jews in the first century considered their physical descent from Abraham to be not only a source of great pride but the assurance of their being in a right relationship with God. Like Abraham, they were marked by the sign of circumcision, and they faithfully kept the Mosaic law – which some rabbis taught that Abraham had done also, having had it somehow revealed to him centuries before it was given to Moses.

Paul emphasizes that neither circumcision nor keeping the law were what put Abraham in a right relationship with God. He had believed God and his faith was “reckoned as righteousness” years before he was circumcised. And there is nothing in Scripture to indicate that he had any knowledge of Mosaic law. The blessings he received were based on his faith in God’s promises, and as such he is an example for us and our faith.

Mark 8:31-38

In the verses right before this passage, Peter has said that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. Jesus’ response surprised the disciples, who expected the Messiah to put an end to Roman oppression and usher in an era of prosperity and blessing. It might also surprise people today who think of faith in Christ as a way of finding solutions to their problems and securing God’s blessings.

Jesus not only tells the disciples not to go around telling anyone He is the Christ (which everyone else will interpret the same wrong way they have), he tells them that he is going to be rejected and killed (and then that he will rise again but they were probably too stunned by the thought of him being killed to really notice what he said next).

Peter is so sure of his own interpretation that he rebukes Jesus for contradicting it, at which point Jesus rebukes Peter in very harsh language. Not only does he need to die, but the disciples also and anyone else who would follow Jesus must also be willing to die. We think of this metaphorically, but for first century Christians it was a very real possibility, as it still is in many parts of the world.

Posted by: Pauline | February 22, 2015

Upcoming events: week of February 28

This Week

Tuesday, February 24

10 a.m. Bible Study

Wednesday, February 25

6:30 p.m. Bible Study
6:30 p.m. Youth Group Craft Night
7 p.m. Session

Thursday, February 26

9 a.m. – noon JOURNEY Stitchers
7 p.m. Choir Practice

Saturday, February 28

5:30 p.m. 1’s & 2’s at the Cole’s

Sunday, March 1

9:45 a.m. Adult Sunday School
10:45 a.m. Worship Service
6:30 p.m. Bible Study – DVD series “The Cross of Christ” at the Cole’s

Looking Ahead

Posted by: Pauline | February 16, 2015

Scriptures for Sunday February 22

Numbers 6:24-27

This familiar blessing has been used since ancient times, first by the Jews and later by Christians also, especially at the conclusion of worship services. Some interesting aspects about it are not evident to us in the English translation. The blessing is given to “you” in the singular, although the blessing is pronounced to a group of people. In Hebrew, the three lines consist of only fifteen words, the word Yahweh (translated “the Lord”) repeated three times to underscore God as the source of all blessings, and twelve more words which can be seen as corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel who are receiving the blessing.

Jude 1:24-25

After hearing the severe warnings in this letter about the sins people fall into, believers may wonder whether they can avoid falling into those same sins. But in his closing doxology, Jude reminds us that God is able to keep us from falling so that we can enter His presence blameless before Him. It does not mean that we never sin or that we have no responsibility to work at our obedience to God. But the power to walk by faith as a follower of Christ depends on Him and not on us.

Romans 12:1-13

Someone reading these verses for the first time may wonder what in the world it means to “present our bodies as a living sacrifice … which is [our] spiritual worship.” What does it mean for our bodies to be living sacrifices, and how is that “spiritual” worship? The King James translation says that it is our “reasonable service,” which may also lead to misunderstanding if we think the word “reasonable” means practicable, moderate, not extreme or excessive, as we often use the word in modern English.

In fact the word translated “spiritual” or “reasonable” is related to the Greek word logos which is used by John to call Jesus the divine Word. Whatever it means to present our bodies as living sacrifices, it is a service of worship which is not only sensible (logical) because of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, but is in accordance with the divine order which shaped and sustains our lives and the entire universe.

It is also clearly a kind of service of worship which goes far beyond the “worship service” in church on Sunday. As the rest of the passage goes on to describe the way we are to act toward one another, it is service that encompasses all of our lives. It is sacrifice because we must give up our selfish desires and inclinations, but in light of God’s mercies (His grace shown to us in Christ), that is entirely “reasonable” in all senses of the word.

Posted by: Pauline | February 15, 2015

Upcoming events: week of February 16

This Week

Tuesday, February 17

10 a.m. Bible Study

Wednesday, February 18

No Bible Study
7 p.m. Ash Wednesday service

Thursday, February 19

7 9.m. Handchime Practice

Saturday, February 21

10 a.m. – noon Clothes Depot

Sunday, February 22

9:45 a.m. Adult Sunday School
10:45 a.m. Worship Service and Youth Sunday School
Youth will serve luncheon after worship service
6:30 p.m. Movie Night

Looking Ahead

Posted by: Pauline | February 12, 2015

Scriptures for Sunday February 15

Isaiah 49:5-13

The promises of abundant blessing in this passage would have been good news to people who had experienced great hardships. They looked forward to God fulfilling the promises made long ago to the people of Israel. But God says here this it is too small a thing just to bring these blessings to Israel. God’s plan is much bigger, to bring salvation to the entire world.

Matthew 28:16-20

These verses contain what has become known as the Great Commission, Christ’s instruction to his disciples to go out and make disciples of people all over the world. As he taught them, they will teach others, not just to know the truth but to live according to it. This calling may seem beyond what we can do, and apart from Christ it is, but he promises his authority and his presence with us.

1 Peter 4:8-11

Peter’s instructions to believers underscore the importance of community. None of the commands given in these verses can be carried out apart from interactions with other people. Love, hospitality, speaking, and serving are all things that we do with and for others. And as with Christ’s commandment to make disciples, these instructions require “the strength that God provides.”

Posted by: Pauline | February 8, 2015

Upcoming events: week of February 9

This Week

Tuesday, February 10

10 a.m. Bible Study

Wednesday, February 11

4:30 – 6 p.m. Clothes Depot
6:30 p.m. Bible Study

Thursday, February 12

9 a.m. – noon JOURNEY Stitchers

Sunday, February 15

9:45 a.m. Adult Sunday School
10:45 a.m. Worship Service and Youth Sunday School

Looking Ahead

Wednesday, February 18

7 p.m. Ash Wednesday service

Posted by: Pauline | January 31, 2015

No church February 1

Due to expected bad weather, church will not be held Sunday February 1.

The service planned for February 1 will be moved instead to February 8, including the Scriptures, sermon topic, and celebration of Communion.

We will also collect the cans of soup on February 8 that would have been brought in February 1 for Souper Bowl Sunday.

So stay home, keep safe and warm, then join us next weekend on February 8.

Posted by: Pauline | January 29, 2015

Scripture for Sunday February 1

Isaiah 29:13-15

Churches differ widely in the outward forms of worship. But this passage makes it clear that, whatever the form, it is meaningless if it is only a matter of form and not of the heart. This is not about one’s emotional response to God primarily, but the whole of our being in our attitudes and actions as well as our words.

Colossians 3:12-17

In the previous verses, Paul has been listing sinful behaviors that Christians need to turn away from. But it is never enough to turn from bad behavior without putting good behavior in its place. In these verses, Paul lists the kind of godly attitudes and actions that are to characterize the life of a follower of Christ.

Hebrews 12:25-13:3

The writer of Hebrews punctuates his teaching with solemn warnings about those who refuse to listen to God’s word and obey it. Like the other warnings, this one both points out the peril of disobedience and encourages believers to continue in the path of faithfulness.

Posted by: Pauline | January 25, 2015

Upcoming events: week of January 26

Note: We will have Movie night Sunday, January 25 as planned despite snow earlier today

This Week

Tuesday, January 27

No Bible Study

Wednesday, January 28

4:30 – 6 p.m. Clothes Depot
6:30 p.m. Bible Study

Sunday, January 25

9:45 a.m. Adult Sunday School
10:45 a.m. Worship Service including Communion for all ages

Looking Ahead

Wednesday, February 18

7 p.m. Ash Wednesday service

Posted by: Pauline | January 19, 2015

Scriptures for Sunday January 25

Psalm 1:1-6

This psalm paints a picture of contrasts, between the person who follows God and His teachings, and the one who scorns God and His ways. The one who follows God deliberately turns away from the paths followed by those who have no concern for God.

Following God involves giving close attention to God’s teachings, both to understand and to obey them. It will take time, but ultimately this results in a life of fruitfulness and fellowship with God.

Psalm 119:105-112

Psalm 119 is one of the acrostic psalms, organized by the beginning letter of each line. In verses 105 through 112, all the verses start with the Hebrew letter nun, which corresponds to our letter N. In English, that pattern is pretty much hidden except by the section headings, but it explains why the verses of each section may not seem to have much to do with each other.

What all 176 verses of this psalm have in common is that they say something about God’s teachings, which using the word law, instruction, commandments, precepts, etc. They remind us of the importance of knowing and following God’s commands, and of the blessings that come from doing so.

2 Timothy 3:14-17

Earlier in this chapter, Paul talked about those who go astray and lead others astray in various kinds of sin. Living in such an environment will be difficult, but those who want to live a godly life will continue in the teachings of Scripture. These lead to salvation through Jesus Christ and guide the believer in understanding and living out God’s will.

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