Sermon: Powerful Lessons
Scripture Reading: Exodus 19:3-6 and Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20
You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. (Exodus 19:4-5)
Monday August 13 — Philippians 2:1-11
In our earlier readings in Exodus we find the Israelites crying out to God for help. In Philippians, Paul is reminding the church that God cares for them through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the model of how to love one another. So as we live more like Jesus we will answer the cries of those in need. The Philippians know how they should live together because of the love of Jesus, and so do we. What does it look like when we are “of one mind” and we “don’t give in to selfish ambition or conceit (vs. 3)?” Consider how you have been loved in community, at St. Matthew’s, school, work, with friends or family. How can you extend that love to others?
Prayer: Emmanuel, God with us, atune my heart to love as you love. Help me to be of one mind, the mind of Christ in all I say and do. Amen.
Tuesday August 14 — Matthew 18:19-20
It was so easy for the Israelites in Exodus to feel abandoned by God, suffering in slavery and continually oppressed by the Egyptians. Jesus is speaking to a community that is also oppressed, this time by the Roman government. They are struggling to understand how to live together. Jesus reminds them that even when things are difficult whenever they gather they are not alone but with God. There are so many ways that we struggle today. When have you encountered God’s love with others? Today, consider a new way you can gather with others and experience God’s love.
Prayer: Loving God, open my eyes so I may witness your love in community today. Remind me that in loving you I am never alone. Amen.
Wednesday August 15 — Ecclesiastes 4:1-12
In Matthew, Jesus tells us “where two or three are gathered, God is with them (Matt. 18:20).” Ecclesiastes 4 shares a similar message, but teaches us that when we are working with someone else the work is (naturally) easier and the burden is lighter. Think of a time when you tried to accomplish a task on your own and were unsuccessful. How long did it take you to ask for help? This scripture asks to think about the difficulties we all face and to choose to face them with someone instead of alone. How can you share your burdens with someone else and lighten your load?
Prayer: Everpresent God, when I struggle to see you, when life is difficult, when I feel alone, enable me to share my burdens with others. Amen.
Thursday August 16 — Luke 5:18-25
This scripture about the paralytic is told in the Gospels of Mark, Luke, and Matthew. Each author tells the story differently, but they all share that a group of people carry someone to Jesus to be healed. This passage from Luke is unique. Jesus “saw their faith” and forgave the man of his sins (vs. 20) and then healed him. It is the faith of all the people that peaks Jesus’ interest and he chooses to respond. What does it look like when a community cries out to God to respond to suffering in our world? What suffering do you witness and God calls you to respond?
Prayer: Calling God, you draw my attention to places of pain and suffering. Sometimes I look away. Today, give me a clear heart to answer you call and love your people. Amen.
Friday August 17 — John 15:12-17
In this scripture from John, Jesus is foreshadowing his own death. He tells the disciples, “no one has greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (vs. 13).” But, Jesus is also teaching the disciples, and us about who we are called to be as Christians. Christianity is not a private faith but a faith lived out in fullness within a community. Jesus wants the disciples to know that loving one another isn’t passive but active. When we choose to love one another in community we will bear fruit, God’s kingdom will be known on earth, and our world will be transformed by God’s love (vs. 16). How can you choose to reach out to someone with Christ’s love today?
Prayer: Sending God, you invite me each day to live out may faith more fully. Today your scripture calls me to extend your love beyond myself. Equip me to share your love with others. Amen.
Saturday August 18 — 1 Corinthians 13
This scripture, often read at weddings, is actually written to a community that was struggling to understand how to live with one another. They privileged those who had wealth and blocked their servants from taking communion (1 Cor. 11). But the apostle Paul wants them to have a vision for how they should be loving one another. Read through this passage, particularly verses 4-8, a few times. When have you loved others this way? When have you made mistakes and not loved as you are called? What’s one thing you can work on to love others as Christ loved us?
Prayer: Forgiving God, it can be hard to show love through patience, kindness, humbleness. The list keeps going on… Give me strength to love as you have called us to. Amen.