Sunday Week 11

SO YOU WANT FIRST PLACE?

“Leaving there, they went through Galilee. He didn’t want anyone to know their whereabouts, for he wanted to teach his disciples. He told them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed to some people who want nothing to do with God. They will murder him. Three days after his murder, he will rise, alive.” They didn’t know what he was talking about but were afraid to ask him about it.

They came to Capernaum. When he was safe at home, he asked them, “What were you discussing on the road?”

The silence was deafening—they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest.

He sat down and summoned the Twelve. “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.”

He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.” Mark 9:30-37 (Message)

Prayer: O God, our teacher and guide, you draw us to you and welcome us as beloved children. Help us to lay aside all envy and selfish ambition that we may walk in your ways of wisdom and understanding as servants of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen

 

Monday

CONFLICT

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28 (NIV)

Conflict is a part of life. Unless you isolate yourself somewhere in the wilderness where another can’t find you, you will face conflict to a degree. Think of a small child climbing on the counter top for the cookie jar. He’s in conflict with his mother. Think of the teenager in conflict with his parents for drinking. Think of the adult in conflict with the law for speeding through a red light.

Conflict is defined as to contend battle, to clash or to be incompatible. Conflicts are real, daily occurrences. They can be life threatening (war) or minor conflict (which outfit your child chooses to wear to school).

Learning from conflict helps us to think and offers us an opportunity to change. If no one cared enough to disagree, we would all be indifferent and we won’t grow. We would not be able to fight crime, poverty, etc.

Jesus cared enough about those around him that he always spoke the truth. Sometimes that truth was in conflict with his parents (Jesus staying at the temple-Luke 2:41-51), teachers and religious leaders (clean and unclean-Mark 7:1-22) and government officials (Jesus before Pilate and Herod-Luke 22:66-71).

Strong feelings, both positive and negative are effective through listening, expressing angry feelings clearly and honestly and searching for a solution all include love. Love then brings togetherness with truth.

Prayer: Lord, when we find ourselves in conflict with others help us to think of you first and ask your guidance in all we say and do. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen

CO@pp

 

Tuesday

LIGHT IN LOSS

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil: for you are with me; your rod and staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 (NIV)

This is my favorite verse in the Bible. It reminds me that no matter what, God is always active in our lives. One day I came home to find my mother crying. I was in a good mood. That day was a Tuesday, and on Tuesday I had music.

I asked her why she was crying and the response was quiet. She said that my great grandfather had died that morning. I immediately walked across the living room and joined her on the couch. We just hugged and cried for the next hour. Then we decided to pray for him, and ask God to forgive his sins and accept him in heaven.

A few weeks later, my mom headed for his funeral. She told me that she said Psalm 23 there. I looked it up and I liked it. It definitely helped remind me that God still cares about us and helps us through everything.

Prayer: God, please help us live every day as if it was our last and remember that you are always helping us. Even when we lose someone or something, God is the light at the end of the tunnel. Amen

BB@pp

 

Wednesday

WANTED: “The Perfect Christian”???

“By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss: he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 (NIV)

I remember when my first child was born. I had this aspiration to do everything “right” as I really wanted to be “The Perfect Parent”. So I carefully read the baby books, washing the bottles followed by boiling, then washing that pacifier with soap and water after it had fallen onto the floor. Then child #2 comes along and you find yourself skimming through those baby books, washing bottles in hot, soapy water is close enough and that pacifier that fell on the floor just gets rinsed under the tap and the baby is good to go.

The same can be true in our faith. When we first become active in our Christian faith it can include every Bible study in town, trying to be “The Perfect Christian.” Before you know, it becomes too hard to do all that we feel is needed to become perfect, and we loose our perspective. As easy as it is to be caught in what we think we should do, God needs us to come to him in prayer for guidance and to be ready to take on what he leads us to do. God may put us in places inside or outside of the church to do his work, so trust God to work in your life. It is important to remind ourselves that we need to build our lives on a foundation of Jesus Christ by following his will, not ours.

Prayer: Dear God, please help to keep us humble to take on anything you have in store for us. Give us the strength to do our best. If it’s something we’re unsure of, guide us in the right direction we need to go. Amen

LA@pp

 

Thursday

GOD’S GOODNESS

“We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (Good News)

Though she was quiet, self-effacing and always avoided spotlight, my mother was an incredibly strong woman. Six months before I was born, she lost her five-year-old son to a freak medical accident. During my birth, she suffered a blood clot, that kept her hospitalized for a month and plagued her, the rest of her life. Six months later, my father moved out and they divorced. With only an eighth grade education, she was determined to make a loving and supportive home for me… and she did. Until I was in high school, she took jobs that allowed her to be home when I came from school. She joined a Lutheran church, sent me to Lutheran school, encouraged me to excel and ultimately to attend college, despite the fact that we were poor. She made worship, Sunday school, and church activities the centerpiece of our lives.

My mother believed that the “bad” things that had happened to her were made into “good” things by God. She believed that God had given her a purpose and that He would give her the strength and the means to carry it out. She taught me by word and example, that, although the “bad” things in life may be frightening and painful, God will bring good from them if we work with Him, and look for His purpose for our life.

Sometimes, when I am in the middle of the “bad”, it is hard to see what good can come out of it. That’s when I need the words of Romans 8:28 to sustain me: “in all things God works for good with those who love Him.” In all things, good and bad, God will work with me to do good if I seek out His purpose for me.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for all the good things you give to us. Whatever good and bad things happen, show us how we can work with you to make good out of them, and give us the will and strength to do it. In Jesus name we ask. Amen

PT@pp

 

Friday

WHAT AN AWESOME PLACE

“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater, therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith….” 2nd Thessalonians 1:3-4 (NASV)

What an awesome place, Lord. What commitment to you and your word. The grounds are beautiful and so serene, a quiet place to meditate and talk to you even with the rest of the group there. If this labyrinth and prayer path are to be let your hands work in our hands, your mind with our minds. Give us courage to voice, to tell, to hear what should be said. Let all who coordinate, not be discouraged. All who volunteer work for your good. Give them strength to do your will. When they get tired and dragging, energize them. So many praises have come from you as the volunteers have worked. You have protected the volunteers from danger as they work and also provided the laughter, humor and fellowship. Thank you, God, thank you for all you provide.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for being here for us as we go about our daily lives. Be with those who volunteer their services to you at the Labyrinth and Prayer Path. Keep them from harm as they glorify your grounds so others can find quiet and peace with you. We ask all these things in Jesus’ name. Amen

CO@pp

 

Saturday

A TIME FOR LOVE AND PRAYER

“ May our God and father himself and our Lord Jesus prepare the way for us to come to you! May the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow more and more and become as great as our love for you. In this way he will strengthen you, and you will be perfect and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all who belong to him.” 1 Thessalonians 3:11-14 (TEV)

Often, when we think of prayer, we think of praying during the really tough times, the times when a loved one is ill, or when we need something such as money to cover our finances. But do we think to pray as we do our ordinary daily activities, like driving across town or helping a friend clean? We
tend to think that we do not need to depend upon God and prayer when things are quite comfortable and safe, but feel it is essential to pray and depend upon those prayers only when things are tough.

Well, we have a lot to learn from Paul when it comes to prayer. In 1 Thessalonians 3:11-14, he prays to God to open a way for him to travel to Thessalonica. It was to God that he turned for guidance in the ordinary day to day problems of life. Could it be a mistake in our lives to turn to God only in overpowering emergencies and shattering crises? We use prayer to achieve a God-rescued life; Paul companied with him to achieve a God-directed life.

Paul also prayed to God in these verses that he would enable the Thessalonians to fulfill the law of love in their daily lives. Barclay says that "We often wonder why the Christian life is so difficult, especially in
the ordinary everyday relationships. The answer may very well be that we are trying to live it by ourselves. The man who goes out in the morning without prayer is, in effect, saying, "I can quite well tackle today on my own." The man who lays himself to rest without speaking to God, is, in effect, saying "I can bear on my own whatever consequences today has brought." It may be that our failure to live the Christian life well is due to our trying to live it without the help of God --which is an impossible
assignment".

So, dear friends in Christ, we pray as Paul did for his friends in 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13:
Prayer: "Now may our God and Father Himself and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints." Amen.

SP@pp