Bible Study

Messages of Encouragement

with Pastor Edith Bleecker

Having a Heart like Jesus

September 17, 2021

 Midweek study with Pastor Edith

These past several Sundays I have sharing messages inspired by God’s Word and the book "Just Like Jesus" by Max Lucado.

This week we’re looking at what it means to be a Witness, and what our witness actually looks like in our day to day walk of faith. Here are some of my notes from my “Discipleship Training” I include in every Sunday service:

READ: John 13:1-17 + Jeremiah 29:1-14

“God is good. All the time. All the time, God is good. I am a witness. All the time. All the time, I am a witness.”

This week’s study puts us in the position of FOCUS. The premise is, that we have “distracted hearts”. If you doubt that, just ask yourself; “how long has it been since I said to myself, or someone else, “I don’t know what this world is coming to.” Do you feel like the people God was speaking to through the prophet Jeremiah-Like you have been exiled to a world gone mad?

DO:

Ask yourself: “Am I fitting into God’s Plan?”
“What are my Longings?”
“What are my Abilities?
“Am I serving God Now?”

Notice the acrostic: P.L.A.N. God has a plan, will you fit into it? I have been suggesting that we keep a journal to make notes concerning the scriptures and questions. This is all about growing in faith, and with all positive growth comes positive effort.

Feel free to let me know if this helps.

I am so blessed to be on this journey of faith and witness with you!

Face it!

August 26, 2021

Midweek study with Pastor Edith

Psalm 34

Scripture text: Premise: If you’re saved and you know it, then your face will surely show it. Have you ever sung the song; ”If you’re happy and you know it”?

I’ve been thinking that the troubles of the world and the people in it have been draining my joy. I sometimes wonder if being joyful in the midst of such turmoil is an affront to those who are suffering in way I could never imagine. Then, with the help of Max Lucado and my recent sermon series inspired by his book ; "Just like Jesus, and God’s Word", I decided to allow my worship of God, not just on Sunday morning, but every day, to decide for my face what it should look like.

Now, if you are the type of person who looks in the mirror and sees only flaws, acne, wrinkles, age spots (boy, am I showing my age now) etc…, then I want you to take a moment now and read this portion of Psalm 34 from The Message translation. Ask yourself, “do I feel this way?” and if not, why? Go ahead, read it. I even suggest you read it out loud. I will go a crazy step further and invite you to read it out loud in front of the mirror. Oh, go ahead, no one has to know but you and God. If you are on a break at work reading this, remind yourself to do it when you get home:

  1. “I bless God every chance I get;
 my lungs expand with his praise.
  2. I live and breathe God;
 if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy:
  3. Join me in spreading the news; together let’s get the word out.
  4. God met me more than halfway,
 he freed me from my anxious fears.
  5. Look at him; give him your warmest smile.
 Never hide your feelings from him.
  6. When I was desperate, I called out,
 and God got me out of a tight spot.
  7. God’s angel sets up a circle 
of protection around us while we pray.
  8. Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
 how good God is.
 Blessed are you who run to him.
  9. Worship God if you want the best; 
worship opens doors to all his goodness…
  10. Is anyone crying for help? God is listening,
 ready to rescue you.
  11. If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there;
 if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.
  12. Disciples so often get into trouble;
 still, God is there every time.

Now, if you really want to grow through this meditation, print it out and underline the reasons there are to praise God. Put a circle or a box around the parts that really speak to you. Put this on the frame of your mirror and take time each day with it.

AMEN

Listen Up!

August 19, 2021

Midweek study with Pastor Edith 

“Listen Up!” - Text: John 10: 2-4

This represents #4 of 12 “meditations” inspired by a sermon series I am sharing from God’s word with help from Max Lucado’s book Just Like Jesus. Today’s text brings us to Jesus, who is talking with his followers and giving them a true to life example of what it means to follow him. In this text, Jesus is comparing people to sheep. There are many occasions in the Bible where people are referred to as sheep, and with good reason. I haven’t spent much time around actual sheep, but I have learned that we have several things in common with them:

  • We are easily distracted and lose our way, so we need a shepherd to guide us.
  • We need somebody to feed us.
  • We usually recognize the voices of those we trust.

Jesus the Shepherd

In our text for today, Jesus is telling his followers to “Listen Up”! [my translation of John 10:2-4]: “The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice”.

So, here’s the question for today. Do you recognize the voice of the Lord? In other words, are you able to recognize when you are being led by God’s truth or a stranger’s direction?

When I use the word stranger, I want you to consider even those you know who may be giving you very “strange” advice. The best way to know the voice of God, is to become very familiar with what he says in his word, the Bible. Max Lucado puts it this way; “Spend much time reading about the listening life of Jesus and a distinct pattern emerges. He spent regular time with God, praying and listening...the gospel of Luke tells us, ‘Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed’ (Luke 5:16). Let me ask the obvious. If Jesus, the Son of God, the sinless savior of humankind, thought it worthwhile to clear his calendar to pray, wouldn’t we be wise to do the same?” You should know that Jesus was the “Word made flesh”, “God incarnate”, meaning, Jesus embodied the word of God. We can connect with the word of God because of Christ’s life, death and resurrection on our behalf. So, do you recognize the voice of the Lord for your life and living today?

Here is a practical tool that I find very helpful; Schedule 15-30 minutes a day for just you and the Lord, reading his word, meditating on his word and making notes so as to put into a very personal prayer what his word is telling you. This is called a “discipline”, don’t panic, it won’t hurt, it just takes a commitment. You make time for everything and everybody else, why not “take time to be holy and speak oft with thy Lord” (From the hymn “Take time to be Holy” written by William Longstaff, 1882- United Methodist Hymnal #395).

AMEN!

Do Not Touch

August 12, 2021

Jesus Heals the LeperMidweek study with Pastor Edith
Text: Matthew 8:1-4

(The Message). Jesus came down the mountain with the cheers of the crowd ringing in his ears. Then a leper appeared and went to his knees before Jesus, praying, ‘Master, if you want to, you can heal my body.’
Jesus reached out and touched him, saying, "I want to. Now, be clean."

Then and there, all signs of the leprosy were gone.

Jesus said, "Don’t talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed body to the priest, along with the appropriate expressions of thanks to God. Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done."

The context of these verses put us in a time and place where the disease of leprosy was not uncommon, and the social consequences of this disease made the leper an outcast. Not even family could be around them. They would be considered untouchable. Max Lucado writes; “In scripture the leper is symbolic of the ultimate outcast; infected by a condition he did not seek, rejected by those he knew, avoided by people he did not know, condemned to a future he could not bear. And in the memory of each outcast must have been a day he was forced to face the truth: Life would never be the same.”

When I was young, the phrase “What Would Jesus Do” became popular, It was inspired by a book written in the late 1940’s or early 50’s by a man named Charles Sheldon; In His Steps. If you have never read this marvelous story, I highly recommend it to you. It makes for great evening family reading, and gives everyone something to consider when thinking about living the Christian life. So, what did Jesus do in the scripture for today? Answer – He healed the Leper. But how? Did Jesus touch him, like he did in other healing accounts in the bible? Here is Max’s answer; “ The touch did not heal the disease…the infection was banished by a word from Jesus. The loneliness, however, was treated by a touch from Jesus…Can we offer the same? Many of you already do. Some of you have the master touch of the Physician himself. You use your hands to pray over the sick and minister to the weak.

If you haven’t been touching them personally, your hands are writing letters, dialing phones, baking goodies. You have learned the power of a touch” (page 36 Just Like Jesus). My husband and I read an article this morning from the Upper Room devotional for today’s date and in it the author, Shelly Graf, addresses this very idea of being willing or unwilling to share the Masters touch; “It can be uncomfortable, and we may feel tempted to withdraw in fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. But when we are willing simply to be present, we join God who is already at work. We leave the situation more connected to God and more connected to one another from our shared experience” There is someone who feels “untouchable” near all of us. Don’t be afraid “The Lord your God is with you”.

AMEN

Dealing with "Stuckititis"

August 06, 2021

Midweek study with Pastor Edith 

“Dealing with ‘Stuckititis’”, or Blooming where you are planted.
Primary text- John 13:1-5.

In chapter 2 of his book Just Like Jesus, Max Lucado examines what it means to many people to be “stuck in a relationship”. He refers to their condition as a case of “Stuckititis” and these are the symptoms; “Attacks of stuckititis are limited to people who breathe and typically occur somewhere between birth and death. Stuckititis manifests itself in irritability, short fuses, and a mountain range of molehills. The common symptom of stuckititis victims is the repetition of questions beginning with WHO, WHAT, and WHY. Who is this person? What was I thinking? Why didn’t I listen to my mother?” (page 15) (Ok, I think you can see where I am going with this introduction, but just in case it is a bit vague, read on.)

Much of our lives seem to be spent working with, living with, even worshipping with people who have a tendency to make us, to put it politely, uncomfortable. There are several responses to choose from when dealing with folks we feel “stuck with”; we can “flee, fight, or forgive”. In his 3 years of active ministry; preaching, teaching, encouraging, and healing, Jesus chose to share this time with 12 unlikely disciples, guys that would try his patience time and time again. The bible tells us that even up until the very last day they had with Jesus on earth, these fellas were arguing over who would be number one.

Max asks the question; “How was Jesus able to love his disciples? The answer is found in the thirteenth chapter of John”: 13 1-2 Just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to the Father. Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end. It was suppertime. The Devil by now had Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, firmly in his grip, all set for the betrayal. 3-5 Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. So, he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron.” (John 13:1-5 MSG)

During the Passover meal, it would have been common to have a basin, pitcher of water and towel at the ready for the servant to use, but no servant was there to wash the disciples feel. Any one of them could have chosen to take up the task, or they could have helped each other, but they didn’t. Who did? The King of the universe, the one whose hands “shaped the stars, now washed away filth. Fingers that formed mountains now cleaned toes. And the one before whom all nations will one day kneel now kneels before his disciples…more than removing dirt, Jesus is removing doubt” (pg. 18)

So, here’s my thought for this week. If you find yourself having difficulty “blooming where you are planted”, take a moment to stop, breathe deeply and consider how Jesus loved the difficult ones, you guessed it, that includes you and I. Ask him to guide you this week and through his sweet Holy Spirit to help you love the one’s you are stuck with.

AMEN.

In the Image of God

July 29, 2021

Midweek study with Pastor Edith
“In the Image of God”
Genesis 1:27

One of my greatest blessings is spending one-on-one time with our grandchildren. It doesn’t happen often enough, but when it does, I am always amazed how smart and witty these young ones are. The wisdom and boldness they demonstrate just thrills my heart, and depending on what new and daring tricks they pull off sometimes makes my heart race with fear and trepidation.

While studying for a new Bible study I am endeavoring to lead, I came upon a very familiar passage of Old Testament Scripture that reminds me that every time I look in the face of these beautiful grandchildren I am looking at the image of God. I am also reminded that every person I come in contact with is equally the image of God. Now, bear with me for a few more sentences if you find yourself questioning my theology. Let’s start by looking at the text I’m referring to; “So God created human beings in his own image, In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (NLT)

It seems that from the beginning God’s plan for humankind was to be like him. Not coequal with him, but in his truest image, which is best reflected in the life of Jesus Christ. I can hear an old hymn running through my mind; “Oh to be like thee, Oh to be like thee, blessed redeemer, pure as thou art! Come in thy sweetness, come in thy fullness; Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart”.

So, the challenge to me in continuing to develop my theology, is to see myself and others as the image of God. But what about when I blow it? Am I reflecting the image of God then? From my perspective, the image is always there, I just make it difficult to see it.

To quote Max Lucado: “God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus”.

That was the plan from the beginning and God “ain’t finished with us yet”. Don’t give up on yourself or others, pray, seek God’s will and way and day by day you will be more and more like Jesus.

AMEN!

Gentle Shepherd, Come and Lead Us

July 22, 2021

Midweek study with Pastor Edith
John 10:14

Jesus says that he knows his sheep as in John 10:14; “I am the good shepherd and I know my sheep and my sheep know me”.

This “Knowing” is more than a simple identification that there are sheep present, but he knows each sheep individually and as Psalm 95:7 says; “we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care”.

This is a great comfort to me, and I pray it is for you as well, especially when you face difficult decisions or situations as you navigate this day. I read a short article in the recent Christian Living in the Mature years magazine written by Michelle J. Morris that made me stop and think about the reality of scripture in my life, especially when I don’t want to read it; “If one more person suggests to me that I should pray the Psalms, I may punch them in the face…That [sentiment] was probably as good a proof as any that I really needed to be praying the Psalms.

"I was in one of those dark nights of the soul when I felt deeply disconnected from God…if I am honest I didn’t want to talk to God. Really, what could God say to me anyway that would make me feel better?” Michelle goes on to share that there are just sometimes we can’t find the words to pray and so why not pray God’s word? I can relate to her frustration, especially when people expect me to be a 24/7 Bible Scholar and Prayer Warrior.

How about you? Are you walking through “the valley of the shadow” as in Psalm 23? Hold on, help is on the way. Try praying through a Psalm today, or at least part of one and if you find yourself among the shepherd psalms, remember, you can never stray so far that He can’t find you, and you can always trust that He cares for you even when you can’t feel it in the current moment.

Recently I sang a little lullaby to a hurting friend who requested a song. It comes from a hymn written by William Gaither in 1974 and is one I sang to my babies, and now to their babies ; “Gentle Shepherd, come and lead us, for we need you to help us find our way. Gentle shepherd, come and feed us, for we need your strength from day to day. There’s no other we can turn to who can help us face another day; Gentle shepherd come and lead us, for we need you to help us find our way”.

AMEN

Faith is the Victory

July 15, 2021

Midweek study with Pastor Edith
“Faith is the Victory” - 1 John 5:3-4

This past Sunday I wrapped up the Epistle of 1 John. In the “wrapping”, I discovered a challenge that I want to pass along to you; define for yourself what you perceive Faith to be, then use that same definition and examine how this applies to your faith in God, or absence of it. I’ve often used the acronym F.A.I.T.H. to help define my understanding of faith in God.

F=Forsaking
A=All
I=I
T=Trust
H=Him (God)

But, how would I define the simple word itself apart from a particular religious expression? I can have faith in the people I trust, I can have faith in those who govern over me (shaky as that may be), I can have faith in lot’s of things, but what makes faith, faith? My Websters New Collegiate Dictionary tells me, in part, that faith is “allegiance to duty or person…Loyalty…fidelity to one’s promises…firm belief in something for which there is no proof [that one stings a bit]…complete confidence…belief etc…”

FaithIt seems the more I ponder my faith, the more I consider the visible witness of my faith (or lack thereof). For example: I have faith that God, who created me and everyone and everything around me, will see me through this life and has provided a promise for eternal life with him in Christ Jesus. So, why am I so prone to worry, or to be anxious or frustrated and on a really bad day, to feel alone? How about you? Have you ever been with someone you perceived to be of great faith at a time when their life is unravelling? What was your experience? Were you surprised at their response to the situation? How do you typically respond, or perhaps a more realistic word would be react?

1 John 5:3-4 tells us; “This is love for God; to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith”. Another great passage for defining faith in God is Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”. I think that helps me deal with Webster’s idea that faith is “a belief in something for which there is no proof”. And yet, I look all around me and see a marvelous and ordered creation that I can’t help but believe was created by a loving, providing God. I listen and hear birds sing beautiful songs, I hear my grandchildren say they love me and my heart sings.

So, to wrap up this rambling, I want to simply encourage you to take some time this week and consider what faith means to you, and how you might grow in your faith so as to be an encouragement to someone else. Meltdowns are allowed, but keep in mind, there is someone who can help you mold it back together, maybe, just maybe, the you that comes out of it will be even more bold and beautiful!

AMEN!

Being Noble

July 07, 2021

Midweek study with Pastor Edith

When I think of nobleness, I think of those few brave and daring folk who put themselves out there for a cause they deemed worthy. I think of the great names of history, the founding fathers of our nation (okay, they had some sketchy moments too). I think of the devoted missionaries who put their lives out there to help many who don’t seem to want their help. I think of the many medical and emergency personnel, Police, Firefighters, Social Workers, and so many volunteers for the sake of community health. I think of the military personnel who were willing to leave their families and comforts to fight and provide support for efforts to keep America and other countries safe. I don’t think of myself, a simple, small town wife, grandmother and preacher. And yet, I see in Scripture, a call to nobleness for all who would follow Christ.

You see, (as my drill instructor in basic training said time and time again; “if it were easy, everyone would do it”), the call of God to follow his way is a call to nobleness, but take heart, God provides the strength to be noble. The key is your focus. The Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 4:8; “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

We just celebrated our Independence Day this past Sunday, and as such, I tried to remind you that our Independence from any tyranny is rooted in our dependence upon the God who formed us all in his image. So, think about this; Do you see yourself as a noble person, willing to sacrifice and suffer for the kingdom of God? – check your answer, and don’t sell yourself short. God is still calling and working in and through each of his children to grow as individuals and as communities of faith to bring his “Kingdom Come on Earth as it is in Heaven”.

Sing along as we close this meditation: “America! America! May God thy gold refine till all success be nobleness and every gain divine”.

Amen!

God is Dependable!

July 01, 2021

Midweek study with Pastor Edith

Psalm 33

God is Dependable! I believe that with all my heart. I believe that not only because I have been taught that over the years by faithful Sunday School teachers and Preachers, but I believe it because I have experienced God’s faithfulness even when I have been unfaithful to Him. I believe it because I have seen miracles of lives transformed, healing in relationships restored. I believe it because I have witnessed what life holds for those who have no hope in Christ, the greatest gift of God, and I have grieved over the anger, anxiety and separation that lack of God’s grace caused.

Psalm 33This Sunday is Independence Day remembered, and as such, many will celebrate the “4th of July” with gatherings and fireworks. I am reminded that the United States of America began as a sketchy endeavor and experiment in forming a truly free and democratic nation. That “God Bless America” comes at a great price for all who really want to live in the blessing of God, and the price many have paid for the hope of a free nation. (Many are still hoping to be free).

Psalm 33 begins the way I love to start any time of worship; “Sing joyfully to the Lord…” and then goes on to share why we should sing joyfully. Verses 12-14; “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance. From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—“ If you are able to gather with family and friends to celebrate this weekend; our “Independence”, I ask that you take some time with those same family and friends to remember the God who formed us all and longs for us to follow in His choosing; to love Him with all we have and to love others the way he does. It will cost you something of your time and comfort, but I am convinced that God is dependable and He will bless you in ways you cannot imagine.

Let me close with a familiar prayer:

“America! America! God shed his grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”

AMEN!

Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled

June 25, 2021

Midweek study with Pastor Edith
John 14

Yesterday, I joined with a sweet family in officiating a funeral for a brave and kind man who has been living with the effects of M.S. for nearly half his lifetime. I met this devoted family ten years ago when I was called and appointed as Pastor to my first congregation. I have continued to be blessed by this family, and particularly the amazing wife of the man we buried yesterday, a man of great love and faith in Jesus Christ.

In recent meditation postings, I have shared with you excerpts from the Epistle of 1 John as I have been developing Sunday morning messages from the same. This week I want to encourage you with a familiar passage from the Gospel of John; part of which I share in each and every funeral that I have been honored to officiate. I pray you will consider the meaning for you right now as the Holy Spirit directs. (This would be a good time to pray for the Holy Spirit to speak to you in such a way as you will understand and follow )

“Let not your hearts be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3).

“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:15-17).

I read an article from GotQuestions.org concerning this passage and I found it very helpful. I trust you will too. (remember, you prayed for the Holy Spirit to speak to you, so, listen up! ): “When Jesus said, ‘Let not your hearts be troubled,’ He was comforting His disciples, who definitely had troubled hearts. Jesus promises them that His death will not be the end… He explains that His death and subsequent ascension into heaven, rather than leaving them destitute, will bring about two specific blessings: it will enable Him to prepare a place for them, and it will allow Him to send the Holy Spirit to comfort them.

We should not imagine that Jesus has been ‘building heaven’ for the last 2,000 years and that it is still ‘under construction’. Rather, His words mean that His death was the preparation for us to receive a place in the Father’s house. It is ready now…” (emphasis, mine ). It is never easy to let go of a loved one. All I know is; this world is not our permanent home and that God has prepared our permanent home, if we will choose to live there. Jesus said; “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.” (John 14:6). What a gift God offers to us, and what love He has for us. The Bible also tells us that nothing can separate us from the Love of God (paraphrase of Romans 8:38-39).

Now that you prayed for the Holy Spirit to help you see what you need to know, and now that you have finished reading this post, Go For It and “Let not your heart be troubled”.

I'm Sorry

June 10, 2021

Midweek study with Pastor Edith

1 John 1:8-10

I had a difficult time getting to sleep several nights ago. I found myself having an overnight Pity Party (fortunately I was the only one invited). I found myself alone with my Bible and several Hymnals. It is marvelous how in desperate times of anxiety or worry the Scriptures and Hymns of the church help me get over myself and “Turn my eyes upon Jesus.”

The text for last week’s Sermons comes from the Epistle of 1 John 1 – yes, we read the entire chapter, and when I say we, I’m saying that in one of the congregations with which I serve, 2 very handsome teenagers stood with me in the pulpit and read with me from the Bible. That was a tremendous blessing in itself. What a joy to hear young male voices speaking the truths of God’s word so beautifully. I think it also helped the congregation hear better too. You see, I had been dealing with a bout of selfish self-pity and feelings of self-doubt that put me on a roller coaster of; sorrowful tears, angry outbursts, and moments of apathy. Even as I type this, I can sense that someone reading this wants to raise their hand and say “yes sister, I have been there myself!” Well, the good news is that through the help of prayer partners, a loving and gentle husband, and a late night of reviewing the text for Sunday’s sermons and singing through my hymnals, God in his mercy delivered me (again).

My eyes landed on the last two verses of 1 John 1; “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives”.

Wow! How many times have I read that, and how many times have I quoted from those verses and yet, again, the Light comes on and I find hope and help. You see, sometimes we go through the dark times, like I described in the above “emotional roller coaster” in order to see the light even more fervently. Thanks be to God that He is the light and as it states earlier in this same chapter; “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin”.

Just read that a few times when you feel the darkness of anxiety, self-doubt, or depression closing in on you and ask God to walk it through with you. It may not lift right away, but stick with God and don’t think for a minute He gets tired of hearing from you. He has all the time in the world (and even outside this world ).

Here’s where I found a helpful hymn I have never sung, but hope to someday. I found it in the “Heavenly Highway Hymns” that is used at my Hursttown church. I hope this little portion of it helps you, like it helps me when I find myself feeling sorry about things past, present, and even sorry for myself – “I’ve Never Been Sorry” by Albert Brumley: “Every moment I find Him exactly the same, my soul has been singing since the Savior came, I’ve never been sorry, [No, I’ve never been sorry] that I trusted His name”.

AMEN!

Be the Spark

June 04, 2021

Midweek study with Pastor Edith

Texts: 1 John 4: 10 – 12, Matthew 28:16-20

I read a sweet article recently about what it means to be “Contagious”. In the midst, and possible aftermath, of a pandemic in which so many are worried about the spreading of the virus that kept us captive and took the lives of so many in our world, this author looks at a more eternal issue; the development of a Christian.

Here is my take on it: I understand the word “development” to mean that the Christian faith is an ongoing journey in growing in love with Jesus Christ and developing love for others. Last Sunday, the churches with which I serve, celebrated “Trinity Sunday” where we looked at the significance of our faith rooted in our marvelous God who presents himself in three persons while keeping to the “One God” we worship. Though it is hard for the mortal mind to understand a “Three in One” Character of God, I believe that God, in his love for us, shows us through his word, and through the journey of the Christian walk, what it means to be loved just the way we are, and how we can share that love with everyone, even the ones we don’t understand or with whom we disagree.

In other words; He is always with us!

1 John 4:10-12 defines love in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and then goes on to say that we should reflect that sacrificial love toward others. But how? This is the question that constantly disturbs believers today; How do I love others and stay true to what I believe is the truth in God’s word? How do I love others that seem bent on destroying themselves or others? How do I truly love those who disagree with what I understand the Bible to say about Life and living? How is it possible to love them when I don’t like them?

Matthew 28:16-20 gives the directive to believers in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”.

Do you see that “all” (Everybody and “all Ya’ll; - “all nations”.?) Sometimes I think we get caught up in “all nations”; being an overseas mission, which is true; we want everyone in all the world to know God’s love for them. Please, don’t forget that (“all”) is right in our neighborhood. Believers are meant to be purposefully “Contagious”, right where we are; at Home, in the Grocery Store, at the Gas Station, During worship at Church…

The Reverend Rita Hayes puts it this way in her article from the magazine ; Christian Living in the Mature Years ,Spring 2021 - “God is Love”- “Maybe the word contagious bothers me because I have not done a particularly good job of passing God’s love along… perhaps I need to revisit the words of the song that [may have been inspired by 1 John] …”That’s how it is with God’s love, Once you’ve experienced it: you spread his love to everyone; you want to pass it on.

BE THE SPARK, RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE.

Amen.

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