For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
Romans 8: 14-17
Monday September 25th – Romans 8: 18-30
Most of us don’t like waiting. We want things now, we demand immediate answers and results. The challenge for us is that our faith as outlined in the Biblical traditions are rooted in waiting. Being an heir of God means waiting in hope for the glory about to be revealed. The trick, according to Paul, is to wait in hope. Hope that we cannot see, but bring us salvation and unites us in Christ’s love. How can we wait in hope this week?
Prayer: Holy Spirit, help us in our weakness, intercede and guide us. Amen.
Tuesday September 26th – Exodus 13: 17-22
What does it mean to be led by the Spirit? One of the promises we see in scripture is that the Spirit will lead us during times of wilderness. In today’s passage, we find the Israelites wandering in the desert after fleeing Egypt. While they wandered, God was with them, in a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night, to lead them along the way and it never left its place in front of the people. We too are given the assurance of God’s presence while we wander in the wilderness.
Prayer: Almighty God, stay ahead of us, leading us by your pillar day and night, so we may be led by you.
Wednesday September 27th – Galatians 4:1-7
The relationship between a parent and a child is one that is filled with love, intimacy, and promise. While not all of our earthly relationships reflect that ideal, we acknowledge that a familial relationship is one that is set apart from other relationships. God calls us God’s children, heirs through God. That means that we are called into a special, intimate, and loving relationship. How do we honor that relationship?
Prayer: Abba, Father, we love you. Thank you for loving us.
Thursday September 28th – 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
It is very easy to hold grudges and hold on to the past. Many of us can think of at least a dozen wrongdoings that we have not let go of. But scripture tells us that when we are in Christ, we are a new creation! This means, we need to be willing to let go of the old, the past that chains us to sin, to claim our new life in Christ. What is a grudge you need to let go this week?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to claim our new life in you.
Friday September 29th – Romans 12
Living as God’s children demands our whole selves! It is not just about coming to church on Sundays, but about obedience in the whole of our lives. And unfortunately, this is not an easy calling! We are to love what is genuine, hate what is evil, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer, offer hospitality to strangers, bless those who persecute us, and live peaceably with all. How can we live into this calling this week?
Prayer: God, help us to present ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to you.
Saturday September 30th – Romans 8:31-39
When have you felt far from God? Have you ever wondered if God’s love could reach you? In this passage, we are reminded that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of Christ. This means no matter how bad you feel, no matter what sin you have committed, no matter how bad a person you think you are, God’s love still finds us and renews us.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we thank you that your love finds us no matter what.
Series: The Return of the King
Sermon: Paradise Found – Neil Hough
Scripture Reading: Revelation 19:6-10, Revelation 21:1-7
And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children. (Revelation 21:5-7)
Monday September 26 — Revelation 16:1-21
Even though apocalyptic writing, like prophetic writing, envisions the future, its purpose is not to promote speculation. The purpose of apocalyptic writing is to challenge hearers to change their lives right now. Revelation 16:15 is a parenthetical reminder from the living Christ to be prepared at all times for his return. Read Matthew 24:36-44 to find out what Jesus said about watchfulness. Note that Jesus also says that “only the Father” knows the day and hour of the end of the age. What would you do differently if you knew for certain the day and hour of Jesus’ return? What would be important to you? What trivial matters would you let go? How can you live like that today?
- Prayer: Eternal God, remind me that only you know the day and hour of Jesus return. Prepare me to be ready, whenever that day arrives. Help me be ready every day. Amen.
Tuesday September 27 — Revelation 17:1-18:24
Chapters 17 and 18 describe the fall of Babylon—Rome, the “Great Whore”—which stands in stark contrast to the New Jerusalem described in chapter 21. God’s judgment of Rome is consistent with themes of warnings and judgment found in the writings of Old Testament prophets. In the images of Revelation, we find both the justice of God’s judgment and the hope of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. In Isaiah 43:18-19, it says that a “new thing” means the “former things” must go away. Can you give up “former things” so that God can do a “new thing” in your life?
- Prayer: Almighty God, I am ready for you to do a new thing in the world, beginning with me. Help me let go of “former things” so that you can make all things new in me. Amen.
Wednesday September 28 — Revelation 19:1-21
Revelation 19 begins with a description of the heavenly celebration of God’s victory. It reminds hearers that worship is the primary response to God’s salvation. In many respects, the Book of Revelation is a book of worship. It describes how God’s people worship God, even on the most difficult days, and in the midst of trials and tribulations. If you can, find a recording of The Hallelujah Chorus by Handel and listen to it today. Join in the celebration of God’s victory.
- Prayer: Lord God, I worship you today, not only for the promise of future glory in heaven, but also for the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ today. Amen.
Thursday September 29 — Revelation 20:1-15
In Revelation 13, John describes God’s people as those whose names are written in the “Lamb’s book of life.” This is a vivid image describing everyone who has accepted the grace of God that has been offered by the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ—the Lamb of God. The judgment described at Jesus’ return is meant to inspire repentance, acceptance of God’s grace, profession of faith, and holy living in the present. This is a day for giving thanks. Give thanks for God’s gift of salvation by accepting His grace and becoming a follower of Jesus.
- Prayer: Heavenly Father, today I confess my sin and I accept your grace and forgiveness. With your help, I will be a faithful follower of Jesus. Write my name in your book. Amen.
Friday September 30 — Revelation 21:1-27
The Revelation ends with the vision of God’s new heaven and new earth. The city of Rome—the city that represents the empires of the world—was a whore that was judged and ultimately defeated. The holy city—the New Jerusalem—is a bride. It is the bride of Christ. This new city is not built with human hands. It is God’s new creation: a gift of God. The last chapters of Revelation offer an image of what God intends for us. If this new life is what God desires for you, what is preventing you from living this new life right now? By God’s grace it is possible. Are you able and willing to trust God?
- Prayer: God of Hope, give me the courage I need to trust you completely and fully enter your Kingdom. Today, I will live the new life you offer through Jesus Christ.
Saturday October 1 — Revelation 22:1-21
The Bible ends in the same place it begins: in a garden. The paradise lost when Adam and Eve fell from grace, because they wanted to “be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5) becomes paradise found. The world, that God loves so much that he sent his Son to live and die for its salvation, is redeemed by God’s grace. This story has a happy ending. It gives us hope. How do you keep hope alive when it seems that all hope is lost? What instills you with confidence in God’s promises? Are you ready to live your life—today—as if you believe God’s Word?
- Prayer: Merciful God, grant me the wisdom to look to you, and you alone, for hope. Help me live the life you intend for me to live. Help me be the person you want me to be. Amen.
September 4, 2016
Sermon Series: Words to Live By
Sermon: Words to Live By: Courage
Scriptures: Haggai 1:15b-2:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17
Yet now take courage, O Zerubbabel, says the Lord; take courage, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; take courage, all you people of the land, says the Lord; work, for I am with you, says the Lord of hosts, 5according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My spirit abides among you; do not fear.
Haggai 2: 4-5
Scriptures for the week:
Moses encourages the Israelite people enter a new land and begin a new chapter of their lives. God says these words to us today, as we face new chapters in our lives. We may be facing a new year of school, a new job, a change in our family or life. As we face changes in our lives, a new beginning, God encourages us to be strong and courageous, comforts our fears; and promises to be with us.
At some point in our lives, we will have to step up into a leadership role. It may be in our homes, our work places, our church, or in the community. Leadership comes with great power, but also with great responsibility. Leadership also requires courage–courage to step up to the tasks before us and to face our fears. God says these words “be bold and courageous” to Joshua as Joshua steps up into leadership. As God encouraged Joshua to be a bold and courageous leader, God encourages us today.
While our strength and courage may wane, God’s strength is everlasting. This song to God reminds us that our courage does not find its true power in our own abilities, but in God’s faithfulness which never fails. Even when we doubt, God never gives up on us. When we are weak, God holds us up. What are the places of your life where your courage lacks? Lift up those places of weakness to God and find encouragement in God’s promise of faithfulness.
Our culture today glorifies our own strength and independence. In contrast, Paul lifts up our weakness, and not our strength. He says over and over again, it is through our weakness that we will find God’s strength and that we deceive ourselves when we think our strength is enough. Today, Paul challenges us to surrender our strength before God. Our true courage comes from God’s strength. What would our lives look like if we relied on God’s strength, rather than our own? How would our relationships transform?
Courage does not mean that we will not face suffering or affliction. In fact, living courageous lives, lives worthy of the calling God places in our lives, may mean that we may face additional trials. But in that suffering, Paul assures us that while we may be afflicted or persecuted, we will not be destroyed because Jesus Christ lives and reigns in us. What are the trials you face today? What places in your life do you feel like you have been struck down? Lift up these trials to God, knowing that God will not let these places be the end of the story.
Perhaps one of the places in our lives where we need the most courage is as we face death. In this passage, Jesus prepares his friends for his death. In this passage, Jesus makes two promises. One, that he prepares a place for each of them in his Father’s home, and second, that he does not abandon them or leave them orphaned, but leaves with them the Holy Spirit. Jesus offers us these same promises as we face the difficult reality of death in our lives. Jesus reminds us that death is defeated by Christ, and we face it with courage knowing that Christ offers us the promise of resurrection and new life.
“All Hands” needed for Spring Church Cleanup and Repair Day, Saturday, May 21st at 8:30AM-12PM. Please join the Trustees to do some “housekeeping” of our Church facilities. We have work for all ages. Projects: Clean Classrooms, Social Hall, Kitchen, and Library furnishings, windows, whiteboards, and shelves. Vacuum and wipe down chairs and couches. Organize storage areas. Install two new mini-blinds in the Rev. Ken Jackson Food Closet. Inspect plumbing for leaks etc. The Trustees provide cleaning supplies, repair parts and small tools. Come to the Social Hall for your assignment and supplies. Contact Carol West at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-347-1650 for questions or concerns.
Sermon Series: The Gifts of Christmas
Sermon Title: The Gift of Anticipation
Scriptures: Isaiah 2: 1-5, Matthew 24: 36-44
“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” Matthew 24: 36-44
Monday November 30 – Romans 13:11-14
We are a procrastinating people. We put off things until the very last minute and then panic when it is not done. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he reminds them that it is time to wake from sleep. Salvation is near, and the time of living honorably has come! What have we been putting off? What are we dragging our feet in doing? How can we live into Paul’s words and “put on the Lord Jesus Christ?”
Tuesday December 1 – Isaiah 2: 1-5
This passage from Isaiah anticipates a day when war will be no more, when “nation shall not lift up sword against nation” and the Lord’s reign will be established. While we are not yet in that world, what would it look like if we lived anticipating that day? What would our world look like if our first reaction to violence was not more violence, but instead to seek God’s peaceable kingdom? Most of all, this passage reminds us that to build for God’s peaceable kingdom, we are to rely on God’s words of wisdom, rather than our own. Today, say a prayer for God’s will to be done, and not our own.
Wednesday December 2 – Psalm 25: 1-10
In the last few weeks, we have witnessed horrendous acts terror. Many lives were lost and families and communities continue to grieve for the loss of loved ones. In the midst of the pain and grief we feel, this Psalm is a prayer for guidance and deliverance. When it seems like there are no right words and we are overwhelmed with sadness, we turn to God seeking mercy, justice, steadfast love, and faithfulness.
Thursday December 3 – Jeremiah 33:14-16
God always keeps God’s promises, do we do the same? During the season of Advent, we read from many prophecies from the Old Testament, because Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s covenant, God’s promise, made to the Israelite people long ago and fulfilled in our midst today. Jesus was not a new promise, but a very old promise made long ago, fulfilled today, and revealed in the days to come. What promises have we made that we have forgotten? As we prepare for the fulfillment of a promise, can we also remember our promises and work towards fulfilling them?
Friday December 4 – Romans 12: 14-21
When we are wronged, what is the right and humble way to respond? Are we to respond with anger and seek revenge–which is often our immediate reaction? The problem with seeking revenge is that it destroys ourselves and our relationships. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he offers another way: “Bless those who persecute you; bless, and do not curse them.” What would our lives look like if we lived by this model? How would our lives be transformed if we gave food and drink to our enemies? Paul’s powerful words remind us that good always triumphs over evil: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Saturday December 5 – Matthew 25: 34-46
Jesus tells us that whatever we do for those who are hungry, thirsty, and imprisoned, we do for Jesus. In a season when we anticipate our Lord Jesus Christ, as we prepare our homes, buy gifts, make travel plans for Christmas, how are we preparing our hearts and our relationships for the coming of Christ? Do we see the face of Jesus Christ in our neighbors, strangers,co-workers, friends, and strangers? How do our behaviors and attitudes need to change so that we treated each person like they were Jesus?
Sermon: Simple Possessions
Scripture Readings: Matthew 6:24-34,1 Timothy 6:6-9
Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. (1 Timothy 6:6-9)
Monday November 9 — Matthew 6:24-34
Human beings spend a lot of time worrying about having enough: having enough time, having enough money, having enough of the right kinds of possessions. Some people on the margins worry about basic necessities like food, clothing, and shelter, but most of us have more than we need. Jesus’ teaching about material possessions does not deny that we have needs. Instead he challenges us not to let our desire for more and our concern with having enough keep us from trusting and serving God. He challenges us to make sure we keep our priorities in order.
- What are the biggest worries in your life? Do you ever worry that you won’t have enough (time, money, possessions)? How do your worries affect your relationship with God?
- Prayer: Eternal God, grant me the courage I need to trust you with my whole life. Help me to trust you and to get my priorities in order. Help me put you first in all things. Amen.
Tuesday November 10 — 2 Chronicles 1:7-13
God’s message to Solomon is similar to Jesus’ message to his disciples. According to 2 Chronicles 1:10, Solomon did not ask God for honor or wealth or possessions. He simply asked for wisdom. In Matthew 6:35 Jesus insists that his disciples should simply seek (ask for) the Kingdom of God and the righteousness of God—and trust God with the rest. This is not supposed to be the “secret” to health and wealth. This is not to say that the way we can get what we want is by not asking for it. The point is that we should ask for what we most need—God’s wisdom, God’s righteousness, and God’s Kingdom—and trust that God is good.
- Pay attention to your prayers this week. For what are you asking God? Can you differentiate between what you want and what you need?
- Prayer: Merciful God, forgive my selfish desire to have it all. Fill me with wisdom and righteousness, and receive me into your Kingdom. That is my humble prayer. Amen.
Wednesday November 11 — Luke 12:13-21
One of the ways Jesus challenges our conventional wisdom is by insisting that his followers will have different priorities that the rest of the world. While the rest of the world—represented by the rich landowner in Jesus’ parable—is storing up treasure on earth, Jesus’ disciples will be storing up treasures in heaven by being good stewards of God’s creation and serving God’s purposes in the world.
- What is your response to Jesus’ parable in Luke 12:13-21? How will you apply its lesson to your life? Where are you storing up treasure today?
- Prayer: Generous God, thank you for providing the many blessings that I enjoy today. Help me to use them to advance the purposes of your Kingdom in the world. Amen.
Thursday November 12 — 1 Timothy 6:6-9
The letters of the New Testament are focused on the mission and ministry of the Church in the world. The letters to Timothy contain words of advice and warning to a young Christian leader. Specifically, they warn Timothy not to be distracted from his primary purpose in life and not to let others be distracted as well. The lesson is that our desire to have more is a temptation that will lure us away from and distract us from what should be the highest priority in our lives: our relationship with God.
- What is your level of contentment this week? How does the desire for having more (of everything) distract you from your primary purpose in life: to love and serve God?
- Prayer: God of Love, I confess that even when I have more than enough, I do not experience contentment or joy. Transform my desires, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Friday November 13 — Hebrews 13:1-5
The final chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews contains some general exhortations that include these words: “Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5). The point is not that having money is wrong or bad, but that loving money can hinder and interfere with our ability to love God. We think we can do both. But Jesus insists that we can’t: see Matthew 6:24.
- What do you think about Hebrews 13:5? Have you ever been tempted by the love of money? How have you resisted the temptation? How much money (and possessions) do you need in order to feel content?
- Prayer: Almighty God, I know that all that I have and all that I am has come from you. Give me strength to keep my life free from the love of money and possessions. Amen.
Saturday November 14 — 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
The apostle Paul pairs the account of his mystical experience with the reality of the thorn in his flesh. He says that he could boast about his vision, but the thorn in his flesh keeps him grounded. He tells the Corinthians that he has learned to be content and that his weaknesses require him to put his whole trust in God’s grace and the power of Christ.
- Is it easy or hard for you to confess your weaknesses and put your whole trust in God’s grace? How have you experienced the power of Christ and the grace of God? How does your experience of God’s grace and the power of Christ bring you contentment?
- Prayer: God of Grace and God of Power, help me follow the example of Paul and boast in my weaknesses so that your power and grace will dwell in me always. Amen.
This Week at St. Matthew’s
Sermon: Simple Time
Scripture Readings: Psalm 1:1-6, Luke 10:38-42
Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:38-42)
Monday November 2 — Hebrews 12:1-4
The Church celebrates All Saints’ Day every year on November 1. It is the day we remember and thank God for the members of God’s Church who have died in the past 12 months. (Remember: we are all saints, not because we are so good, but because God is so good.) On All Saints’ Day we are reminded that “we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,” and that the people who have gone before us have impacted our lives. The “cloud of witnesses” inspires us to keep the faith and run the race of discipleship that is set before us.
- Spend time today in prayerful thanksgiving for the people—living or dead—who have impacted your life. Ask God to help you impact the lives of others.
- Prayer: Eternal God, thank you for the many witnesses who have impacted my life. Grant them your grace and peace. Use me to impact the lives of others today. Amen.
Tuesday November 3 — Psalm 1:1-6
Psalms 1 and 2 serve as an introduction to the Psalter (the collection of psalms). The first Psalm uses the image of trees planted by streams of water to illustrate God’s desire for our lives. We are strong and healthy when we are grounded and fed by our relationship to God through worship, prayer, Bible reading and study, financial stewardship, service to others, and other spiritual disciplines. The psalmist insists that our lives prosper and bear fruit only when they are built upon the firm foundation of a relationship with God.
- How does your relationship with God keep you grounded in the midst of your busy life? Which of the spiritual disciples are most meaningful to you? Which spiritual disciplines serve as the foundation for your relationship with God?
- Prayer: Nurturing God, teach me to pray. Teach me to meditate on your word. Teach me to give and serve. Teach me the spiritual disciplines that will ground my life in you. Amen.
Wednesday November 4 — Ecclesiastes 3:1-18
The third chapter of Ecclesiastes begins with a beautiful reminder that life has many seasons. We know from experience the ways that our lives change as we move through the various seasons and stages of life. Though we may see God, the world, and ourselves differently in each of the seasons, we know that God’s faithfulness does not waver and that we can place our trust in God’s love and God’s grace, no matter what we experience in any season of our lives.
- How would you describe the current season of your life? How is the current season of your life different from the one before? How has your relationship with God changed as you have moved through the seasons of your life?
- Prayer: Almighty God, grant me the wisdom to see myself clearly and to understand your will for my life more fully. Deepen my relationship with you in this season of my life. Amen.
Thursday November 5 — Luke 10:28-42
Luke’s account of Jesus’ visit to the home of Martha and Mary tells a story that transcends its time and place. We can all appreciate Martha’s desire to be a good host and her frustration with Mary. We can also appreciate Mary desire to sit at Jesus’ feet to listen and learn. Jesus’ response to Martha can frustrate anyone who relates to Martha. But his point is unmistakable: faithful discipleship requires us to make decisions about what’s most important at any one moment in time.
- Where do you find yourself in the story of Martha and Mary? To which of the sisters do you best relate? How might you apply Jesus’ words to Martha to your own life? What is the most important thing you need to do today?
- Prayer: Loving God, forgive me for getting my priorities out of order. Forgive me for missing out on opportunities to spend time with you. Help me learn and grow. Amen.
Friday November 6 — Matthew 6:25-34
Jesus’ words to Martha in Luke 10:41-42 closely parallel his general teaching about discipleship in Matthew 6. Clearly, Jesus insists that worry hinders our ability to be faithful disciples and experience the abundant life that God offers us. Worry distracts us and prevents us from using our gifts and abilities to serve God’s purposes in the world. Worry and its close friend anxiety are symptoms of a low level of trust in God. The treatment is a renewed commitment to our relationship with God, which is nurtured through commitment to spiritual disciplines?
- In what ways do you experience the effect of worry and anxiety in your life? What level of worry and anxiety are you experiencing right now? What can you do today to increase your trust in God and lower your worry and anxiety?
- Prayer: Faithful God, remind me once again that your power is sufficient and that you will always keep your promises. Grant me the ability to trust more and worry less. Amen.
Saturday November 7 — John 15:1-11
In John’s account of his final discourse, Jesus uses the metaphor of a vine and branches to describe the preferred relationship between Jesus and his disciples. He says that we, the healthy branches, will bear fruit as the result of our relationship with God and will abide in God’s love. He also says that our joy will be complete. Joy is the end result of a life that is firmly rooted and grounded in a relationship with God. This is good news!
- How would you describe your relationship with Jesus? Are you bound together in love like a branch is connected to a vine? How does your relationship with God affect the amount of joy in your life?
- Prayer: God of Love, today I renew my commitment to abide in your love and stay connected to you through Jesus. Make my joy complete, today and always. Amen.