Friday 10/19/12 Daily Scripture Readings

Readings:  Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35b (NRSV, The Message); Job 37:1-24 (NRSV, The Message); Revelation 17:1-18 (NRSV, The Message)

What a wildly wonderful world, God!
You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,
made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.  Psalm 104:24 (The Message)

The Almighty—we cannot find him;
he is great in power and justice,
and abundant righteousness he will not violate.                        Job 37:23 (NRSV)


All verses which testify to the wonder, the awesomeness, the overwhelming mystery of God. The passage from Revelation is too bizarre for my ponderings as I write this. However these passages from Psalms and Job are beautiful. The author of Job say, we cannot see God, we cannot fathom God, but we can trust God. Ultimately, we can fear God and live in God and know we will not be let down.


Daily Readings for Thursday September 27, 2012

Readings:  Psalm 124 (NRSV, The Message);  Esther 1:1-21 (NRSV, The Message); Acts 4:13-31 (NRSV, The Message)

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus.  Acts 4:13-31 (NRSV)

This is one of my favorite verses of the Bible. What if, when someone looked at me, they automatically recognized me as a companion of Jesus. What if Christ so radiated from me, in my every word, in my every action, that even if they didn’t know the words to use, the people with whom I come in contact knew that I had been in the presence of the Divine?

Daily Readings for Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Readings: Psalm 128 (NRSV, The Message); Ecclesiastes 5:1-20 (NRSV, The Message); John 8:21-38 (NRSV, The Message)

All you who fear God, how blessed you are!
    how happily you walk on his smooth straight road!
You worked hard and deserve all you’ve got coming.
    Enjoy the blessing! Revel in the goodness!   Psalm 128:1-2 (The Message)

Watch your step when you enter God’s house.
    Enter to learn. That’s far better than mindlessly offering a sacrifice,
        Doing more harm than good.

Don’t shoot off your mouth, or speak before you think.
Don’t be too quick to tell God what you think he wants to hear.
God’s in charge, not you—the less you speak, the better.    Ephesians 5:1-2 (The Message)

The past few weeks, we have been inundated with Psalms telling us the happiness and rewards to those who fear God and follow God’s ways. The rub is, let’s be honest here, the rub is that most of us haven’t experienced that. So what are the possibilities?

  • The scriptures aren’t true.
  • The scriptures don’t say what we interpret them as saying.
  • We don’t know what it means to fear God.
  • We know, but don’t practice the fear of God.

What do you say? Have you experienced a dichotomy between the experience of these Psalmists? How do you explain it? Or maybe you have experienced a happy life  that you attribute to your fear of God. Share your experience with us here.

Daily Readings for Monday September 17, 2012

Readings: Psalm 73:21-28 (NRSV, The Message); Proverbs 22:1-21 (NRSV, The Message); Romans 3:9-20 (NRSV, The Message)

Daily Readings: Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Readings: Psalm 73:1-20 (NRSV, The Message); Proverbs 11:1-31 (NRSV, The Message); Hebrews 12:3-13 (NRSV, The Message)

The desires of good people lead straight to the best,
    but wicked ambition ends in angry frustration.

The world of the generous gets larger and larger;
    the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.              Proverbs 11:23-24 (The Message)


Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline?                Hebrews 12:7 (NRSV)

God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children.   Hebrews 12:7 (The Message)


So the question Hebrews 12 leaves this reader with is this: does God discipline? Specifically, does God discipline through punishment – sending us trials to teach us a lesson? I do not believe so. While the parent/child metaphor is a good one for our relationship with God, like any metaphor, especially as they relate to God, it begins to break down.

I don’t believe God causes bad things to happen to teach us. Now, trials do happen. I am tried as a consequence of my own actions; I am tried as the result of the ill will of another; I am tried by the simple chaos of the universe. And, yes, I have the opportunity to learn from those tests and trials. I have the opportunity to be disciplined by those tests and trials. However, I do not believe God, however sends them. Instead, God stands beside me as I face them, training me and forming me. In fact, if anything, I believe God, in God’s grace, protects and keeps me from some of those trials.

How do you feel about the “trials” you face? Does God send them? What is their purpose?




Daily Readings for Monday September 10, 2012

Readings: Psalm 73:1-20 (NRSV, The Message); Proverbs 8:32—9:6 (NRSV, The Message); Hebrews 11:29—12:2 (NRSV, The Message)

No doubt about it! God is good—
    good to good people, good to the good-hearted.
But I nearly missed it,
    missed seeing his goodness.
I was looking the other way,
    looking up to the people
At the top,
    envying the wicked who have it made,
Who have nothing to worry about,
    not a care in the whole wide world.    Psalm 73:1-5 (The Message)

Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me [wisdom],
    awake and ready for me each morning,
    alert and responsive as I start my day’s work.
When you find me, you find life, real life,
    to say nothing of God’s good pleasure.     Provers 8:34-35 (The Message)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.            Hebrews 12:1-2 (NRSV)


One thing that keeps me from being opened to God is my judgmentalism and jealousy. Like the Psalmist I often miss what God has for me because I’m looking at someone or something else and envying what they have.

Eugene Peterson renders this passage from Proverbs well. Blessed is the one who is awake and awaiting wisdom in the morning. So often for me, if it doesn’t happen then, it doesn’t happen for the day. The extra few minutes that I often would rather be spending asleep make a huge difference if I spend them in attention to what God’s wisdom has for me.

Laying aside the weight, the sin that weighs us down and trips us up, is tough. The weight sometimes clings to us without us knowing until it is too late. It is so good to be able to look to Christ who has done this before and who made it through, despite all the difficulties.


Strengthened and Equipped

As the letter to the Ephesians draws to a close, the writer encourages the reader to put on God and God’s armor and live the information that has been shared.

And you can find this week’s bulletin here.

Morning Prayers

Quite often when the church gathers, we tend to exchange information instead of engaging in practices that facilitate our transformation. That is why we are excited about offering a new opportunity, not to talk about God, but to practice walking in and with God together.

Beginning Wednesday morning, September 12th, we are creating a special opportunity for our church and community. Each Wednesday at 7:30 AM we will gather together in the sanctuary for prayer.

We will begin with prayers, psalms, and songs read and sung together.

At 7:45 we will enter silence for 20 minutes of centering prayer (keep an eye out for more information and education about centering prayer).

And at 8:05 we will join together in intercessory prayer for ourselves, one another, our church, and our community. You are welcome to join us for all or part of our time together. See Pastor Jason for more information.

Christ-like Living

Paul encourages the church at Ephesus to be imitators of God, and he gives us the told to practice by being kind, forgiving, and speaking honestly.

Christ-like Living from First Congregational Church on Vimeo.

You can find a copy of this week’s bulletin here.

God Is With Us

When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.                                    John 6:15-17 (NRSV)  

God Is With Us from First Congregational Church on Vimeo.

This Sunday we engaged one of the tellings of the story of the Feeding of the Multitude from John chapter 6. In Jesus we see God. In the story of the Feeding of the Multitude we see, through Jesus, a God who is enough, a God who gathers, a God who chases us when we leave, and a God who brings peace.

What captured my heart most in this passage was the fact that the disciples left without Jesus. Jesus was taking too long to pray, so the disciples left! Who would leave Jesus? I would. I do. I get so caught up in the cares of life, so caught up (let’s be honest) in myself, that I get in my boat and leave Jesus behind. I can always tell when I do this because I get fearful, I fill up with pride and his evil twin, shame. And then, across the stormy sea, Jesus comes, gets on the boat, and calms the sea. Jesus finds me in the midst of the storm. Share your story with us.

How can you tell when you have left Jesus behind? Have you had the experience of Jesus searching you out and finding you in the midst of the storm? Tell us about it below!