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Monday, May 17, 2021

One Body


Spoken Prayer – Out loud, pray for God to speak to you through your reading. Praise God for giving us His word. Ask the Spirit to help you read with faith, and to live out what you hear from God through the passage.



Romans 12:3-8



Using God's Gifts

by Pr. Dave Mann


One of the great things I love about the Bible is how it frees us from either-or thinking.  “Either one thing is true, or the polar opposite is true” is how we tend to think.  In this passage the Spirit uses the Apostle Paul to set us free from unhelpful either-or thinking about our personal gifts.  It is NOT true that either we should be braggarts about how gifted we are, or we should be wallflowers never stepping forward to act with confidence.  The Holy Spirit instructs in Romans 12 otherwise. 


First (in verses 3-5), we read that whatever giftedness we have, it is all given by grace.  It is God who has made us who we are.  We should not think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think.  It is God who has assigned us with certain abilities.  God does not give us “wages” as though we earned what we are.  But it is by grace that we have any gifts at all.  No one likes people who boast how great they are, how spectacular they are, how special they are.  We resist such people.  At best we tolerate them for a time and then we avoid them in the future.  The Apostle Paul reminds us that God is the Great Gift-Giver, and therefore we have no basis for boasting.


On the other side, there are some people who over-react to the call to humility by never stepping forward to put their skills into service.  The Apostle Paul calls us to act in accord with the abilities God has wired in us (verses 6-8).  If someone gives you a gift that you really appreciate, it is normal to use it well in order to honor the giver.  What is listed in verses 6-8, is not intended to be an exhaustive list of God’s gifts.  These are examples of what God gives:  prophecy, service, teaching, encouragement, giving, leadership, compassion, and many more.  If God has gifted you, use your gift in order to honor the Giver.  God knew what he was doing when he formed you.  God is good, and he knows how to give good gifts.  Using your gifts is NOT being overly proud; rather, using your gifts is a way of pointing to the Giver.



Heavenly Father, forgive us for allowing ourselves to be overly proud or overly timid.  Forgive us for being boastful or for allowing our gifts to lie dormant.  Thank you for your character of giving.  Thank you for the good gifts you have given each of us.  Allow us the grace to serve you well as we put into service the abilities you have given us.  Amen

Sunday, May 16, 2021

One in Christ


Spoken Prayer – Out loud, pray for God to speak to you through your reading. Praise God for giving us His word. Ask the Spirit to help you read with faith, and to live out what you hear from God through the passage.


Galatians 3:23-29

Small Group discussion prompts


The Law and Prison

by Elaine Pierce

"Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed." (v. 23)

Paul was imprisoned for his faith many times, so perhaps when he talks about being held a prisoner by the law, he is not just speaking metaphorically. I've never been to prison, but I would imagine it is a very lonely, very frightening place to be. Other versions use the phrase 'in custody,' which is certainly related to prison. When I'm in custody/in prison, I'm not there because I want to be. Someone else is running the show. I'm a captive.  

Isn't this one way to think about the law? It has held us captive. It has imprisoned us. We can never live up to the law. We will always fail. The law sets up requirements that we can never perfectly fulfill. But yet, it does give us a glimpse into a perfect life - one that we can never attain - and it reminds us that we can't attain this perfection on our own.  

Jesus came to fulfill the law. As Paul says in verse 24, "the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law."  

Jeremiah 17:9 says "the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Lord, I confess that I am a rule follower. I want to earn my salvation through my good works and adherence to the law. You have released me from the law, and I stand on that assurance. What joy it is to know that we are all one in Christ Jesus, and it is through him and him alone that we have eternal life.  Hallelujah!  Amen.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Rest for the Weary

Prayer Practice

Cup Prayer – This prayer will help you pour your heart out to God (Ps. 62:8). Begin with your hands folded together like an upside-down cup. Pour out before God all your fears, anxieties, guilt, sin and shame. Tell Him what troubles you. Take time to be specific. When you feel like you’ve poured out your heart, flip your hands over, folding them like an open cup, ready to receive from God. Sit in silence, asking God simply to fill you with His Spirit. If your mind runs back to sin, shame, anxiety or concerns of the day, flip your hands back over and pour it out to the Lord. When you are finished praying, read today’s Scripture and listen as God shares His heart back with you.



Matthew 11:28-30


What Burdens You?

by Mary McGinnis

We all have burdens.  

Search your heart right now. What is causing you stress in your life right now? What is weighing heavily on your mind and in your heart and dragging you down? What is keeping you awake at night? What burdens are you carrying?

Jesus is speaking to YOU today. He is saying COME to ME! His invitation is to those who are weary, tired, exhausted, feeling the crushing weight of the burdens of their day-to-day existence. 

Why come to Him? Why heed His invitation? He promises to give you REST. He says, “I give you permission to stop your constant striving. You can rest.” 

But wait.  He is asking us to take His yoke upon our shoulders instead.  How does He expect us to rest if we are taking up yet another burden? 

When Jesus used the words “take” He was saying, rise from the ground.  He is asking us to lift our heads above the burdens that are anchoring down our souls and prepare to set sail. 

Do you suppose that Jesus really needs our help?  He is big enough, wise enough, strong enough, forward thinking enough to know exactly what this world needs and how He will save it?  And what about your life?  Is anything that has happened, is happening, or will happen to you going to be a surprise to Him? 

He chooses to call us to yoke up with Him, the Master and Ruler of the Universe.  

The All Knowing, All Powerful, Supreme One invites us to learn from Him.  He gently teaches us.  He stooped down low, became one of us, so we could witness what His humble heart looked like as He walked in our world. 

He took up the burden of our sin on the cross.  He was weighed down with all the wrong doings, all the injustices, all the corruption of humanity, and He felt the pain of His Father turning away, and He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” 

With that crushing weight borne and defeated, His invitation to us to be yoked to Him offers a rest like we have never know.  It is a kind of a rest that reaches the inner most essence of our being, our very souls.  Not even death itself can dissolve it.

Taking up His yoke is not like the toilsome labor of this world.  His yoke is easy, filled with life giving purpose.  His burden is light for us because it is His burden.   You see God has a burden too.   His heart is breaking, and He is working in the harvest fields daily, burdened with His unquenchable love for humankind. 

Lord, let me learn from You as You gently lead me.  You have humbly lifted the burden of my sin sick heart. You long to reach those who are still weighted down and burdened, still wandering alone.  May I eagerly come take Your yoke up and get ready to set sail into Your harvest field, with the power of Your Holy Spirit.  Lord, break our hearts for what breaks Yours!   


Friday, May 14, 2021

Through Him, With Him, In Him



Colossians 2:9-17


Through Him, With Him, In Him

by Jennifer Jerrome

Through Him, with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, forever and ever. Amen

Growing up in the Catholic Church, I listened to the words of the Eucharistic Prayer during every mass.  The priest would sing while the congregation knelt and then we would all join in the “Great Amen.”

The Per Ipsum as it’s called in Latin is when the priest elevates the eucharist.  At this time, we are ultimately acknowledging that it’s through Christ’s body and blood that we are saved.

Today’s reading made me think of this powerful part of the service.  There are at least seven instances in the passage when the words, “in Christ” or “with Him” are used… in Christ you have been brought to fullness (v.10).  God made you alive with Christ (v. 13).  The reality, however, is found in Christ (v. 17).

Taking notes from Aaron’s sermon on Sunday, our truth (or reality) is found in Christ.  The Eucharistic Prayer doesn’t say all glory and honor are OURS.  The glory belongs to Christ because it’s through HIM all things are possible.  It’s easy to get caught up in the fantasy of lies the world tells us, but it always comes back to finding the truth in Christ.

So let this be a reminder today that you are loved by a God that is more than enough.  Rest in the fact that you need look no further because it’s through Him, with Him and in Him that hope is found.

Enjoy the peace of Christ!