Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent, a season which many Christians observe by giving up something. This year, we are focusing on "giving up for good;" whatever we give up, we do so because we want it to strengthen our connection with and deepen our experience of God.
Christians may be tempted just to ignore the Old Testament, or set it aside. Jesus didn't do so; in fact, he said in Matthew he came to fulfill the law. What does that mean? What does it look like for us? Take a listen.
Rev. Rachel Heyduck preaches this morning, answering the question, "How is your relationship with the Bible?" This message includes a helpful and interesting illustration for how to read and interpret the parts of the Bible that you feel give you the most trouble.
Turn with me to Acts 8:37. Oh, wait - Help! There are verses missing from my Bible! In a Christian subculture that tries to maintain that the Bible we have now is exactly the Bible that believers have always had, how do we deal with textual variations? Easy: we accept that we have the Bible God wants us to have, and we apply the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. The Quadrilateral is Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience. Scripture is primary, but we cannot access scripture without the other three. United Methodists trust God and one another so that through tradition, reason, and experience, we can read the Bible faithfully and find there everything necessary for salvation.
How is your relationship with the Bible? For the 3rd week in a row, we have read scriptures about people reading scriptures. First, Jesus, then King Josiah, and now this week, an Ethiopian Eunuch. Don't know what a eunuch is? Go ask your dad. What each of these people find in scripture is that God offers hope, freedom, and inclusion rather than condemnation, oppression, and exclusion.
The Bible we use is the Bible we inherited from our parents, our parent's parents, and our parent's parent's parents. The Bible we use is NOT the collection of writings Jesus knew as sacred scripture or even the collection that all Christians everywhere agree are the one and only sacred scripture. So, then, what is the Bible? United Methodists believe the Bible contains and/or reveals all things necessary for our salvation. May the Bible offer you with what you need for salvation!
We start our "Focus on the Bible" series with Luke 4:14-30, a splendid example of how Jesus read the Bible. Jesus was offered the Isaiah scroll, and choose to read from what we know as chapters 61 and 58. This reading refers trained listeners to Leviticus 15 and Deuteronomy 25 which meant really, really good and exciting news to God's people.
What did you do after you were born?
Everything. Everything you have done you did after you were born. As we draw 2019 to a close, you are invited to consider how you are going to live your life AFTER 2019. Leave behind what you need to leave behind. Bring forward what you need to bring forward. In the midst of it all, remember God is faithful.
I thought about learning physics to prepare this Christmas Eve message, but then I remembered why I never took Physics in the first place. Instead, think with me about the value of light, the difference it makes to you and me, and how what we all know about light sheds light on the Incarnation, on Emmanuel, or God with Us, or, what God did and we celebrate on Christmas.
Mary plays a much larger role in the Christmas story than Joseph, and for good reason. But this Sunday's lectionary Gospel reading is about Joseph. So, let's take a moment and learn what we can from Joseph about following Jesus. Joseph displayed great trust and character. Imagine what a difference we might make in the world if we, followers of Jesus, behaved with the kind of trust Joseph displayed!
Jesus said both "I am the light of the world" (In John 12) and "You are the light of the world" (in Matthew 5). In Matthew 5, after telling his listeners they are the light of the world, he tells them to let their light shine. We believe Jesus tells us to let our lights shine.
There were no floodlights in Jesus' day, and he clearly meant our lights to help light the way, not to blind others. Let your light shine in ways that light the path for others!
If Jesus had spoken his words we find in Matthew 24 today, he very well might have mentioned the Zombie Apocalypse. He didn't but, like some post-apocalyptic literature and media today, Jesus spoke those words to offer hope. Jesus offered then and offers now the light of hope in the darkness. Can you see light, even if only a sliver, from the darkness of your world?
Have you ever had the experience of seeing something from someone else's perspective? There may not be much difference. I'm the only one in my family who can see on top of the refrigerator without a stool. Of course, perspective is not only what we see with our eyes.
Thanksgiving is the same way! Learning to give thanks for God's faithfulness rather than results is life giving!
This week our Lay Leader Alan Moffatt fills in and invites us to think about, and practice, actually giving thanks. Being thankful is good, and good for you, but actually actively giving thanks is even better!
According to Torah, a man whose brother dies married but childless is to marry the widow and provide a child to the brother's lineage. What happens if there are 7 brothers and all die before a child is born? To whom is the 7X widow married in eternity? This is a question brought to Jesus. The motivation of the question, though, was to trick or trap Jesus. It's like they thought they could outwit Jesus.
Most of us have wanted to prove ourselves right to God, but today we invite you to consider, as Thanksgiving approaches, that maybe you can either be right or thankful. And you know you cannot always be right, right?
First in our "In Everything Give Thanks" series, we face the challenge of learning to give thanks IN all things rather than FOR all things. We trade in our desire or expectation to know and understand everything learning to trust in God's faithfulness to be with us.
Concluding our Upon This Rock Series, we present Josiah, King of Judah and Peter and John. Josiah attempted to restore God's people to their former faithfulness after the Instruction Scroll was found in the Temple. Peter and John didn't have the gold a beggar requested, but they gave him what they had - the healing power of Jesus!
God is generous and invites us to live generously as well.
"Give thanks in every situation," the bible says. It's not always easy. Giving thanks is good for us, but only if and when we give thanks out of genuine gratitude, not for being shamed into it. Stewardship starts with thanksgiving; with the recognition of all the ways God has blessed us, and our expressions of gratitude in return.
How do you make sense out of the story in Genesis 31 where Jacob and his father-in-law Laban part ways sharing a trust in God but without trusting each other? But considering Peter's confession of Jesus as the Messiah. Witnessing helps us move part pettiness and toward following Jesus a bit better today than yesterday.
Concluding our Love Where You Are: The Art of Neighboring Series brings us back to the story of the Good Samaritan. Jesus "flipped the script" on the legal expert, and how Jesus flips the script on us.
We have to see our neighbors to love them. Who are the people around you that you most easily overlook or see right through? Who blends into the background? Even these are our neighbors. And followers of Jesus are commanded to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Some of us want to be or live or worship someplace beside where we are. Sometimes this is because we feel out of control or unappreciated. The world around us doesn't seem to value what we believe God calls us to value. Into this situation, the prophet Jeremiah speaks, and tells us to "Promote the welfare of the city where God has sent us into exile." The hardest part of this for American Christians is recognizing that we live in exile - in a place we don't control. God doesn't call us to control, though, but to trust God, and promote the welfare of the place where we are.
If you are a follower of Jesus you have no choice but to be a neighbor to others. To everyone. The bible teaches that God's people are commanded to "love your neighbor as you love yourself." As a result, people ever since have been choosing who they have to consider a "neighbor." Jesus loves your neighbor as much as Jesus loves you, so do the same! Jesus' story in Luke 18 offers an awesome twist, convicting us when we try to decide that some people just don't count as "neighbor." Hint: they ALL count!
A 'legal expert' asked Jesus "Who is my neighbor?" trying to catch him saying something wrong. Jesus answered with the story we know as the Good Samaritan. Jesus taught 2 things with this story: that your 'neighbor' may not be who you think it is and that his followers view everyone as their neighbor. Go and do likewise.
These images may be helpful as you listen.
I quoted the Black Eyed Peas' "Where is the love?" on social media a few years back, and instantly received replies from people offering encouragement. I wasn't depressed; I was empathizing with the message of the song. On this Sunday morning when we worship less than 24 hours after 2 separate mass shootings. Our response as Christians to "where is the love?" is "Right here!" Then we show others the love Jesus has shown us.
A little of the story of why I burned all my secular music as a teen, and how I have learned to tell that story now. Mostly, how I have learned to interpret this phase of my life in terms of some truth offered by Sam Shoemaker.
Music is as old as human civilization. Maybe older, depending on how you define civilization. Like God created us in God's own image, there is goodness, evidence of God, in music - not just religious music. Music itself is sacred.
Joy not based in understanding. We sing Joy to the World - the hymn and the version we all know from 3 Dog Night - for the way we feel more than for the lyrics.
God's love for us is not dependent on our understanding. A God we could wrap our minds around wouldn't be much of a God!
Sing for joy. Sing with joy!
We open our "The Songs We Sing" summer series with a message about one of the most popular hymns ever written. Amazing Grace was written in 1772 by John Newton. At the time he was an Anglican Priest, but he had served for years on slave ships. He didn't renounce the slave trade until 1788. What does that say about God's amazing grace? Give a listen!
You get what you incentivize. Listen to this account of John 11 - the story in which Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. Hint: Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead isn't the most significant part of the story
Rahab lived inside the wall - IN the wall of the city of Jericho. This put her in a perfect place to maximize her availability to do what she did, and also to be available to help the spies Joshua sent. Like Rahab, we can learn to live nimbly so that whatever we find in our lives or around us can be part of our being available to God.
May 19th was Senior Sunday, so, in honor of our seniors, this week's episode of the Rise series is about rising above expectations. What can we learn from Ignaz Bosendorfer, Keith Jarrett, Vera Brandes, Philip, and the Ethiopian Eunuch. Listen and find out!
Thanks to the resurrection of Jesus, God's utter defeat of death, we can live lives that rise above the everyday. This week, we learn about faithfulness from the Book of Ruth and from a local Subway that practices faithfulness.
"We shouldn't create problems for Gentiles who turn to God," said the Apostle James in Acts chapter 15. This is a good starting place for us, as Christians, to think about how we treat other people. We shouldn't create problems for people who turn to God.
How do we raise our awareness of the things we do that might be creating problems for others? By spending time together and with those in the culture around us.
Jacob is an example for us; sometimes a good example, sometimes a bad one. Jacob shows a different side when he meets up with Esau after so many years away. I believe Jacob is able to present himself to his brother this way because, through good and bad, Jacob has learned how to find his identity in God. Jesus might have called this abiding or remaining in him, as in John 15.
Jesus rose from the dead to defeat death. God's defeat of death doesn't just mean "getting to go to heaven when you die," but also that fear of death, and thus all fear, has been conquered. We can live risen lives now! Let's get started!
This is the 6th sermon in our Lenten Series, "I Will." This is also Palm Sunday, so our topic is "I Will Follow." Following Jesus is what we are all about at Euless First United Methodist Church, so, on Palm Sunday, we ask, "If Jesus sent you into town for a colt, would you go?" Following sounds so simple, so straightforward, but most of us don't find actually following Jesus quite that easy. And yet, we refuse to let that stop us.
"Giving" is one of our core values at Euless First United Methodist Church. We give because God has so generously given to us! We take very seriously Jesus' words that "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Our Core Values Are Worship, Grow, Serve, Reach, and Give. During the season of Lent, we are preaching through these. This week: I Will Reach. God has reached to us, and has reached us! Because God has reached to us, we reach out to others, to connect with them, to help them know and live in the good news of Jesus Christ that God has reached to us!
Our Church's core values are worship, grow, serve, reach, and give. This week's message is "I Will Serve." We understand following Jesus to include, even require, that we serve others. Our motivation for serving others is that God has blessed us. In fact, we remember that "we were once slaves in Egypt," but that God has delivered us, and called us to be the kind of people who care for, or serve, others.
First message in our Lenten series which is also our capital campaign series. The first and most important of Euless First United Methodist Church's core values is worship, so we start with worship. What is worship, and why is it important? Scriptures: Isaiah 6:1-8, John 4:13-24.
We conclude the "Reboot" series with the final Fruit of the Spirit, self-control. This sermon suggests that self-control is the summation of the previous 8: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness. Self-control reminds us that, over time, "we fail in new and exciting ways" instead of just the same old ways.
Sermon number 8 in the 8 week Reboot Series. This series is intended to be a fresh look at the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. This is not exhaustive or definitive, but we hope you find the perspective on each of the fruit helpful to your walk with Jesus.