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Chain of Lakes Videos

Select a link below to view past videos of sermons. Don’t forget to also check out Pastor Paul’s blog!

October 2, 2022
“The Inspirational Intersection,” part 3
Video shown above

September 25, 2022
“The Inspirational Intersection,” part 2

September 18, 2022
“The Inspirational Intersection”  New Sermon Series

September 11, 2022
Grand Opening

September 4, 2022
“Choosing the Path of Wisdom”  Proverbs

August 28, 2022
“Choosing the Path of Wisdom”  Woman Wisdom

August 21, 2022
“Choosing the Path of Wisdom”  New Sermon Series

August 14, 2022
“Advice from Jesus”  How do I Engage with Someone with a Different World View than Mine

August 7, 2022
“Advice from Jesus”  How do I care for youth and children whether I have kids or not?

July 31, 2022
“Advice from Jesus” Coming to Terms with Anger

July 24, 2022
“Advice from Jesus” Finding Meaning in the Last Years of Life

May 29, 2022
First Ever Worship Service in the New Church Building

May 22, 2022
Memories – last worship service at Davenport location

Daily Devotions

Comments about the devotion can be emailed to pastor@colpres.org

Monday, October 3

Genesis 6:5-6, 8:20-22

The Lord saw that the wickedness of humans was great in the earth and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made humans on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.

 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the Lord smelled the pleasing odor, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of humans, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done.

 As long as the earth endures,

    seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,

summer and winter, day and night

    shall not cease.”

 This week we’re going to look again at the heart of God. In this story God was grieved in the divine heart about what humans were doing in the world. This grief shows the deep passion that God has for the world. God cares deeply about what is happening and the decisions that humans will make.

Because of what God saw and because of the grief in the divine heart, God chose to send a flood to the earth.

After the flood, God decided never to destroy the earth again. This promise came out of the divine heart. Look at verse 21, “And when the Lord smelled the pleasing odor [that Noah had shared through a burnt offering], the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind …”

God cares deeply about what happens in our life and what happens in the world.

How does the deep care of God or the world in the divine heart, influence you? How does seeing the deep care God has for the world make an impact on you? Please share.

 

Tuesday, October 4

Exodus 3:7-12

Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them.  Now go, I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”  He said, “I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

 God saw the misery of what was happening in Egypt. The Israelites were suffering terribly in slavery at the hands of the Egyptians. The Israelites cried out in pain to God. And God heard their prayers.

And then God responded to the prayers. It’s important to note how God responded to this injustice. God called or sent someone to fight against the injustice. We know, of course, that God called Moses to go to Egypt and to liberate the slaves.

God could have snapped the divine finger and the problem would have been solved. But God didn’t do this. God sent a human to take care of the injustice.

This action by God is very significant for each of us to understand. Most of the time God does not snap the divine finger and clean up a mess. Instead God calls someone to go into that mess to clean it up. God cares deeply about the injustices that God sees. God’s care comes with a responsibility and challenge—go and clean it up.

You might be involved in some sort of mess right now. Perhaps God is calling or asking you to clean it up.

Do you have a story of being involved in a mess in the past that your faith helped give you guidance to clean up? Please share.

 

Wednesday, October 5

 Job 34:12-15

Of a truth, God will not do wickedly,

    and the Almighty will not pervert justice.

 Who gave him charge over the earth,

    and who laid on him the whole world?

 If he should take back his spirit to himself

    and gather to himself his breath,

 all flesh would perish together,

    and all mortals return to dust.

 The story of Job is a deep and interesting conversation about God and the nature of suffering. 

In this Scripture Elihu is making the case about God. In particular, Elihu was sharing the benefits of God and what would happen to humans without God.

“If [God] should take back his spirit to himself, and gather to himself his breath, all flesh would perish together, and all mortals return to dust.” Job 34:14-15

Imagine how bleak our own lives would be without God.

We might not think often about the benefits of God in our own life.  If someone came up to you and asked you, “In twenty words or less would you share with me the benefits of a relationship with God?” what would you say? Please consider sharing your response.

 

Thursday, October 6

 John 20:19-23

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors were locked where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”  After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

 Jesus surprised the disciples by visiting them shortly after he had died. The disciples were in a locked room. They were afraid and disoriented because of the death of Jesus.

Jesus came into the room and changed everything.

The first words out of the mouth of Jesus were, “Peace be with you.” Jesus came into a situation of fear to bring peace.

At the end of the story Jesus breathed on them. His breath was literally the wind of God. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he said.

One way to describe the Holy Spirit is the breath of God. This breath offers each of us peace. It also offers us forgiveness. When we encounter this breath of God, we are different people.

Consider setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to pray to be used by the Holy Spirit during the day. Perhaps you could set your alarm for 9am, noon, and 3pm. Try this for a day and see what happens.

Have you had a time in your life, when you were particularly focused on being used by the Holy Spirit? Please share.

 

Friday, October 7

Matthew 14:13-21

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.  When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”  Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”  They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.”  And he said, “Bring them here to me.”  Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and blessed and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.  And all ate and were filled, and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

 Jesus was in a difficult place at the start of this story. John the Baptist had just died in a brutal and unjust way. Because John was holding Herod accountable for Herod’s actions, Herod had John killed.

Jesus wanted to be away by himself to process all that had happened.

The crowds, though, wouldn’t let Jesus be by himself. Crowds of people came to Jesus looking for something for themselves.

It would have been easy for Jesus to be upset with the crowds for invading his space. Jesus was sad and upset. He wanted to be alone. The crowds wouldn’t let this happen.

Instead of being upset Matthew wrote this about Jesus.

“When [Jesus] went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.

Jesus exhibited tremendous compassion for the people. Jesus didn’t respond to the crowds with irritation. He didn’t say, “Leave me alone I need some space for myself. I’m hurting about what has happened.” Instead the heart of Jesus went out to the people.

Have you had moments in your life when you’ve had an experience of God’s compassion? Please share.

 

Saturday, October 8

Romans 12:1-2

 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, on the basis of God’s mercy, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable act of worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 What does God desire? The Apostle Paul shared God’s desire or will in this Scripture.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

Read this Scripture over and over.  Try to memorize it. Write it down and carry it with you today. This Scripture is what God wants in the world. God always wants what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Make this Scripture your own prayer today.

Monday, September 26

Exodus 2:23-25, 3:7-12

After a long time the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned under their slavery and cried out. Their cry for help rose up to God from their slavery. God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God looked upon the Israelites, and God took notice of them.

 Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the

Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. Now go, I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”

 This week we’re going to read stories that show how God called people into situations that broke God’s heart. AND we’re going to hear a brief story of a person who followed God’s call to change the world.

Pastor Paul shared in his sermon yesterday how God took notice of the suffering of the Israelites. God didn’t ignore the suffering that was happening in the world. God responded to the suffering by sending a person—in this case Moses—to address the suffering. Moses led the people out of slavery.

William Wilberforce was an English evangelical who was prominent in ending the slave trade in the British colonies in the early 19th century. Wilberforce was willing to use his gifts to address conditions that broke his own heart. This is one definition of the Inspirational Intersection—using our gifts to address conditions in the world that break our heart.

Wilberforce’s faith led him to be a leading reformer of his time. His life is an example for anyone who wants to make a difference.

 

Tuesday, September 27

Ruth 1:15-18
So she said, “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said,

 “Do not press me to leave you,

    to turn back from following you!

Where you go, I will go;

    where you lodge, I will lodge;

your people shall be my people

    and your God my God.

 Where you die, I will die,

    and there will I be buried.

May the Lord do thus to me,

    and more as well,

if even death parts me from you!”

 When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.

 God is not mentioned in the story of Ruth, but we can see the results of God’s action. Ruth was not willing to leave Naomi alone. Even if it made sense for Ruth to go back to her family in a different country, Ruth was not willing to do it. She was willing to persistently stay with Naomi.

Dorothy Day was a Catholic lay woman who started the Catholic Worker movement. She started a newspaper called the Catholic Worker that highlighted the pain of workers during the Depression. Her Catholic faith was central to her own life. Her own faith led her to leave her husband who didn’t share her interest in the church.

She was a staunch follower of pacifism and spoke out strongly against the wars of the 20th century.

Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker have been models for people who want to follow their faith in community, and they have been models for people who desire justice.

Wednesday, September 28

1 Kings 17:1-7

Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” The word of the Lord came to him, saying,  “Go from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the Wadi Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the wadi, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”  So he went and did according to the word of the Lord; he went and lived by the Wadi Cherith, which is east of the Jordan.  The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the wadi.  But after a while the wadi dried up because there was no rain in the land.

 

Elijah was a man who lived out a full range of experiences in following his own Inspirational Intersection. Hs full story can be found in the last half of 1 Kings and the first few chapters of 2 Kings. Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, he revived a boy from death, he confronted King Ahab, and he had to flee for his life from Queen Jezebel.

Cesar Chavez was a devout Catholic who followed his faith to establish the first movement of farm workers in the history of the United States. Farm workers are the poorest of the poor. They work in extremely difficult conditions to pick the fruit that all of us enjoy in grocery stores. All of the grapes that we currently eat come from the Bakersfield, California region. They were picked by farm workers.

Cesar fasted for long periods of time as an act of purification.

In 1968 he went on a water only, 25 day fast. He repeated the fast in 1972 for 24 days, and again in 1988, this time for 36 days.

The last fast in 1988 most likely led to his death five years later.

His faith and his persistence led to astonishing success that still has an impact in California.

 

Thursday, September 29

Acts 9:1-9

Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.  Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”  He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.  For three days he was without sight and neither ate nor drank.

 Saul was a man who persecuted Christians. Because of Saul Stephen was stoned to death. Many others died also.

God noticed what was happening and called out to Saul to change his ways. God asked Saul in this story the question, “why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4)

Martin Luther King Jr. was an African American man who used his gifts to enter into the pain of the world. The pain that he entered was segregation in the South in the 1950s and 1960s. He taught his followers the philosophy of non-violent resistance. He aimed to appeal to the heart of the person who was oppressing him.

The Civil Rights Movement that he started was rooted in faith and the African American church. The worship services that he led often led people to put their lives in jeopardy for the cause of racial justice.

 

Friday, September 30

Genesis 3:20-21

The man named his wife Eve because she was the mother of all living.  And the Lord God made garments of skins for the man and for his wife and clothed them.

 Probably you remember that Adam ate the fruit of the tree that God asked Adam not to eat. But we might not remember what happened after Adam ate the fruit.

God drove Adam out of the Garden of Eden because God was concerned that Adam would become a god. But we read in these two verses that God made garments of skin or clothes for Adam and Eve. God was a clothes maker!

Even though God was very upset with Adam for what he did, God did not abandon Adam. This story is one of beautiful grace that God shared with Adam and Eve.

Sojourner Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, New York, but escaped with her infant daughter to freedom in 1826. After going to court to recover her son two years later, she became the first black woman to win her freedom in a case against a white man.

She gave herself the name Sojourner Truth after she became convinced that God had called her to leave the city and go into the countryside to testify to the hope that was in her. Her best-known speech was delivered extemporaneously at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio.

The speech became widely known during the Civil War by the title “Ain’t I a Woman?” The speech is worth reading for anyone who wants to read about the struggle of a faithful, African American woman in the 19th century.

 

Saturday, October 1

Genesis 16:7-16

The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am running away from my mistress Sarai.”  The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her.”  The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will so greatly multiply your offspring that they cannot be counted for multitude.”  And the angel of the Lord said to her,

 “Now you have conceived and shall bear a son;

    you shall call him Ishmael,

    for the Lord has given heed to your affliction.

He shall be a wild ass of a man,

with his hand against everyone,

    and everyone’s hand against him,

and he shall live at odds with all his kin.”

 So she named the Lord who spoke to her, “You are El-roi,” for she said, “Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?” Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.

 Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.  Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

 

The story of Hagar is a story that is not well known in the Bible. But it is a story that shows the love of God for a person who was shunned by others.

Hagar was married to Abraham. However Abraham was also married to Sarah. And Sarah made life miserable for Hagar. So much so that Hagar fled Abraham and Sarah and was ready to die in the wilderness.

God heard the cries of Hagar and would not let her die. Hagar eventually went back to Abraham. The two conceived and Hagar had a son, Ishmael. God’s heart and love for Hagar kept Hagar alive.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German clergyman in the 1930’s in Germany. He led the Confessing Church, a church that would not accept the horrible persecution that the Nazis enforced in Germany.

Because of his enduring faith Bonhoeffer was sent to a Concentration Camp. He was hanged at dawn on April 9, 1945. Bonhoeffer is still known today because of his steadfast witness to faith and justice.

Monday, September 19

Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-13

This passage is the central Scripture that explains the Inspirational Intersection. Pastor Paul has defined the Inspirational Intersection as “discovering the intersection between what God wants us to do and be and what we want to do and be.” 

An important first part of this discovery is identifying our own gifts.

This passage from Corinthians identifies a few gifts that people are given by God.  The gifts identified in this passage are wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirits, various kinds of tongues, interpretation of tongues.  Each gift is a manifestation of the Spirit.

Yesterday Pastor Paul encouraged people to identify and claim three spiritual gifts. The gifts that were identified yesterday were similar, but not exactly the same as the gifts listed in this passage.

If we have trouble identifying and claiming our gifts, God is willing to help us. As you pray today, talk to God about whether you have been given one of these gifts.  Perhaps your prayer could be, “Lord, help me know if I have the gift of (wisdom.)” There are nine gifts listed. Take a bit of time and share nine separate prayers to God.

What are your spiritual gifts? Please share.

 

Tuesday, September 20

Read Romans 12:1-8

Like the passage we read yesterday, this passage shares a listing of spiritual gifts. And it shares the idea of a body or community. A healthy community is made up of different gifts. One way to think of a faith community is not a collection of people, but a collection of gifts.

The gifts that are listed here are prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhorting, giver, leader, compassionate.

It’s important not only to identify the gifts each of us have, but to see these gifts in other people. Sharing with another person the gifts you see in that person can be a terrific benefit to the person.

Take a moment to reflect on a friend of yours.  Which of the above seven gifts to you see in that person? The person doesn’t have all seven gifts, but the person has at least one. Take some time to pray over the person and reflect on the person’s gifts.

To take the next step, consider writing or emailing a note to the person. In the note share what gifts you see in the person. Your note or email could be the highlight of the person’s day!

 

Wednesday, September 21

Read Ephesians 4:1-16

Like the passage in 1 Corinthians 12, this passage shares foundational teachings about gifts and the purpose of gifts in a community. The gifts that are listed in this passage are more like positions. The positions listed are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.

Look at the purpose of the positions.

  • “to equip the saints for the work of ministry,
  • for building up the body of Christ
  • until all of us come to the unity of the faith
  • and of the knowledge of the Son of God
  • to maturity
  • to the measure of the full stature of God”

Ephesians 4:13

One important point from this purpose is to see that these gifts are not meant for us. They are shared by God with us, so that others might be helped, and they are shared so others can be helped in their faith. When a gift becomes more about the person then the actual gift, then the purpose of the gift has become lost.

Can you think of an example of seeing someone using their gifts? Please share.

 

Thursday, September 22

Read 1 Peter 4:8-11

These verses from 1 Peter share one result of using our gifts.   Gift are given to so that God can receive glory.

As was shared in the devotion yesterday, we can probably think of a time when we saw someone using their gifts in a powerful way. Think about the person as the person shared his or her gifts. The person was probably happy, driven, inspired—operating at their fullest potential.

We might think of a time in our life when we were using our gifts in a powerful way. Think of the joy we experienced during this time. Most likely we were working hard and perhaps even experiencing stress about the outcome. But during this time, we were most likely operating at our highest potential of our humanity. 

When was a time that you were using your gifts? Please share.

 

Friday, September 23

Read Jonah 1:1-3

Sometimes we don’t do what God wants us to do. The prophet Jonah is one person who didn’t do what God wanted him to do. God asked Jonah to go to Nineveh. Instead Jonah went the opposite direction. 

If you have some extra time, read the book of Jonah today. It’s only four chapters. As you do this, you might identify how unhappy Jonah was in the story.

This is what happens if we don’t use our gifts in a way that God wants us to use them. We become unhappy and dissatisfied. Life doesn’t work out in ways that we want life to work out.

Resisting God is a decision that can lead to great unhappiness.

It’s a tribute to God that God does not give up on us when we resist God’s desires. God didn’t give up on Jonah. God is persistent with us—always asking us to choose God’s ways.

It’s hard to have to recognize times in our life when we were resisting what God wanted for us. However, sharing these moments can help others. Please share a time in your life when you were resisting what God wanted you to do.

 

Saturday, September 24

Read Genesis 2:4-7

One important point about spiritual gifts is the idea that they come from God. God gives us these gifts.

In these short verses from Genesis we read about God creating humanity. God took dust, blew the Spirit into the dust, and the result was a human.  Every part of the human is from God.

Each person is different than the other—but the source of our creation is the same.

In his sermon on Sunday, Pastor Paul encouraged people to claim their gifts. We might resist doing this because we might believe we are being prideful. But claiming our spiritual gifts is not an act of pride. We are recognizing what God has done in our own life. Claiming our gifts is an act of praise to God.

How easy is it for you to claim your gifts? Please share.

Monday, September 12

Genesis 12:1-3

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.  I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Some people look at this reading as the start of the Old Testament. The reading begins the story of God’s relationship with a group of people. In verse two we read that God told Abram to go to a different land because God would make a great nation. In this reading nation doesn’t mean a nation like the “United States” or “France” or another current nation. It means a group of people who are connected to each other. In this case it means a group of people who are connected by faith.

It is not far-fetched to paraphrase this reading to say that God would make a great church.

Pastor Paul shared in his sermon yesterday that there is one church. He talked about how his family celebrates one church in two congregations. The church is made up of followers of Jesus Christ. A spiritual connection happens between followers of Jesus. So even if people worship in different congregations, people who are disciples are part of one church. The origins of being the church comes from this story in Genesis.

Take some time today to talk to someone who attends a different congregation. Celebrate with that person that the two of you are part of one church.

Do you have close friends who are part of another congregation to whom you talk often about faith? Please share.

 

Tuesday, September 13

Matthew 28:16-20

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  When they saw him, they worshiped him, but they doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Yesterday we read in Genesis 12:2 that the word “nation” was in a command by God. In today’s reading the word, “nation” is found in this command from Jesus. Verse 19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, …”

In this case the word “nations” comes from the Greek word, ethne. When Jesus shared this verse he didn’t only mean the nations that existed in his day. He also meant future nations.

The word, ethne is more than a description of a political state. Ethne means a group of people who are connected to each other. If we push into this command we can see where Jesus was encouraging the apostles to develop the church.

In the past Pastor Paul has defined a church as “a dynamic network of friends leading and experiencing personal and social transformation as they follow God.” This definition of a church is what Jesus encourage his followers to create and develop.

What are your thoughts about this definition of a church? Please share.

 

Wednesday, September 14

Matthew 16:13-20

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  And they said, “Some say John the Baptist but others Elijah and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my Father in heaven.  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”  Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

In this story Jesus told Peter, “you are Peter, and on this rock [on you] I will build my church.” This is one of two places in the gospels that Jesus used the word, church. The other place is Matthew 18:17.

The English word, church, comes from the Greek word, ekklesia. Ekklesia is made up of two parts—ek and kaleo. Ek means “out” and kaleo means “call.” Ekklesia is a group of people who are called out of something. They are called out of the values of the world.  Values like power and abuse and hate. The church is called out to live by different values. These values are personal—the Fruit of the Spirit, love joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These values are also social—justice, righteousness and peace.

The church should look vastly different than an organization in the world.

What are some examples that you’ve seen of congregations who have illustrated this being called out? Please share.

Thursday, September 15

Ephesians 2:11-22

So then, remember that at one time you gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision”—a circumcision made in the flesh by human hands—  remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us,  abolishing the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace,  and might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.  So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.  So then, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God,  built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone;  in him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord,  in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

Verses 19-20 share another definition of the church: “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone”

One can see how these verses form the biblical foundation for the Purpose Statement of Chain of Lakes Church.

Even though nineteen congregations exist in Blaine, one church exists. All of those congregations are part of the one church.

Being a disciple or follower of Jesus means you will have an instant connection with other disciples who participate in other congregations. As we read in Ephesians you are citizens with them and members of the household of God.

You might think of a family member or close friend who participates in another congregation. You are part of the one church.

Do you know of someone who you feel close to because you are both spiritual and part of a congregation, that is do you talk to the person often about your experience in a congregation? Please share.

 

Friday, September 16

1 Corinthians 12:12-26
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.  For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.  If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.  And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?  But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.  If all were a single member, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many members yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”  On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,  and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect,  whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

The Apostle Paul shared in this reading that the body of Christ—the church—is one. One church exists. Verse 13 explains this well, “For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”

Chain of Lakes is a PC(USA) church—Presbyterian. But the people who are part of the church are part of one body. We could paraphrase these verses from the Apostle Paul to say, “Presbyterians can’t say to Lutherans—you are not part of the body.

Presbyterians can’t say to the people from the Church of Christ—you are not part of the body. Presbyterians can’t say to those who don’t have a denomination—you are not part of the body. Everyone who follows Jesus is part of the one body.”

This isn’t an easy reading to follow because throughout history people have thought of their brand of church as the only brand or a superior brand.  But the Apostle Paul was clear that this way of thinking is wrong. We are all baptized into one body—Presbyterians, Lutherans, Church of Christ, nondenominational people.

All of these denominations are made to enjoy or drink of one Spirit.

What are the different denominations of congregations in which you’ve participated? Please share.

 

Saturday, September 17
 Acts 2:37-47
 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”  Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.”  And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”  So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.  They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Awe came upon everyone because many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.  All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.  Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts,  praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Pastor Paul preaches on this story from Acts on special occasions at Chain of Lakes and did so at the Grand Opening  this past Sunday.

Read the story closely. The Holy Spirit moved among the people. People were speaking in different languages (some believe that the people were speaking in tongues). But despite the cacophony of noise everyone could understand what everyone was saying.

Awe came upon everyone. Awe is a three-letter synonym for wow. It’s as if “wow” came upon everyone.

The church exists for people to have these experiences of “wow.” For an individual congregation to have power the people must have these experiences of “wow.”

Reflect today on your experiences of “wow” in a church. They will define the power that the church is having in your own life. Have you had an experience of “wow” in a congregation? Please share.

Monday, September 5

Proverbs 10:27-32

The fear of the Lord prolongs life,

    but the years of the wicked will be short.

The hope of the righteous ends in gladness,

    but the expectation of the wicked comes to nothing.

The way of the Lord is a stronghold for the upright

    but destruction for evildoers.

The righteous will never totter,

    but the wicked will not remain on the earth.

The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom,

    but the perverse tongue will be cut off.
The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable,

    but the mouth of the wicked what is perverse.

This week we will have the opportunity to read the proverb section of the book of Proverbs. A proverb is a short saying that expresses a general truth for practical living. From chapters 10-31 we read about these general truths for practical living. Often a proverb is a two-sentence statement that is separated by the word, “but.” Sometimes the second statement contrasts part of the first statement.

It’s important not to take any one proverb and see it as the ultimate word of God for our life. Each proverb represents a nugget of wisdom. There are approximately 900 proverbs in the book of Proverbs. Taken together they illustrate wisdom.

Three themes that often come out in these proverbs are justice, righteousness and equity. Taken together the proverbs give illustrations of these three themes.

We often read about the “fear of the Lord” in Proverbs. In Proverbs 9:10 we read that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Fourteen times in the book of Proverbs we read about the fear of the Lord.

The fear of the Lord is not being afraid of God; instead, it’s a deep reverence for God. It’s choosing a path that God wants for us instead of ignoring God.

Part of choosing the fear of the Lord is being aware of God. What can you do today to be aware of God? What are some strategies that you use to keep God in front of you? Please share.

 

Tuesday, September 6

Proverbs 11:24-31
Some give freely yet grow all the richer;

    others withhold what is due and only suffer want.

A generous person will be enriched,

    and one who gives water will get water.

The people curse those who hold back grain,

    but a blessing is on the head of those who sell it.

Whoever diligently seeks good seeks favor,

    but evil comes to the one who searches for it.

Those who trust in their riches will wither,

    but the righteous will flourish like green leaves.

Those who trouble their households will inherit wind,

    and the fool will be servant to the wise.

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,

    and the wise capture souls.

If the righteous are repaid on earth,

    how much more the wicked and the sinner!

One of the overall themes of Proverbs is trust. When we read about trust we will often be asked about where we put our ultimate trust.

In many cases in the book of Proverbs we will read about the foolishness of trusting our own riches.

“Those who trust in their riches will wither, but the righteous will flourish like green leaves.” Proverbs 11:28

Whether we feel rich or not, most of us reading this devotion are wealthier than ninety percent of the world. We have access to housing, food, transportation, and entertainment that a majority of the world would envy.

But we often don’t feel secure in what we have. The writer of this proverb is saying that we can’t flourish by trusting in our wealth. We will never have a sense of security if constantly  worrying or trying to acquire money.

This is not an easy message, because our culture encourages us to accumulate wealth; and we are often bombarded with warning signs that our wealth might be in danger.

What are some strategies that you use to ignore the drumbeat of trusting in our riches? Please share.

 

Wednesday, September 7

Proverbs 12:13-22
The evil are ensnared by the transgression of their lips,

    but the righteous escape from trouble.

From the fruit of the mouth one is filled with good things,

    and manual labor has its reward.

Fools think their own way is right,

    but the wise listen to advice.

Fools show their anger at once,

    but the prudent ignore an insult.

Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence,

    but a false witness speaks deceitfully.

Rash words are like sword thrusts,

    but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Truthful lips endure forever,

    but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.

Deceit is in the mind of those who plan evil,

    but those who counsel peace have joy.

No harm happens to the righteous,

    but the wicked are filled with trouble.

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord,

    but those who act faithfully are his delight.

 In his sermon series on Wisdom, Pastor Paul has talked about how choosing wisdom leads a person to a path. These choices that we make happen every day. We might make twenty to thirty choices a day about whether we take the path of wisdom or the path of foolishness.

Verse 15 describes the path of foolishness.

“Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to advice.”

The path of foolishness is full of pride. It’s believing that my way and decisions are the best way, and I’m not going to listen to anyone else. Even if Jesus came to us and suggested another way, a foolish person would ignore this advice.

The choice of wisdom is much different. These choices begin with God and are open to other opinions.

How easy is it for you to listen to advice? Do you have times in your life when you’ve been so stubborn or prideful that you were led to foolishness? These times are not easy to acknowledge, but they are helpful for us today as we attempt to choose wisdom.

Please share.

 

Thursday, September 8

Proverbs 15:14-18

The mind of one who has understanding seeks knowledge,

    but the mouths of fools feed on folly.

All the days of the poor are hard,

    but a cheerful heart has a continual feast.

Better is a little with the fear of the Lord

    than great treasure and trouble with it.

Better is a dinner of vegetables where love is

    than a fatted ox and hatred with it.

Those who are hot-tempered stir up strife,

    but those who are slow to anger calm contention.

In these proverbs we again read about the fear of the Lord and the demonstration that our anger or pride can lead to foolish decisions.

In these proverbs we also read about the importance of love.

“Better is a dinner of vegetables where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it.” Proverbs 15:17

The writer of this proverb is not making a statement about vegetarianism. Instead, the assumption of the writer that eating meat is better than eating vegetables. But even if that is the case for the writer, it’s better to live with an atmosphere of love than hatred.

There is a pragmatism to these proverbs. It’s as if the writer is saying, “The difference of pleasure between love and hate is greater than the difference of pleasure between eating meat and eating vegetables.

What are your thoughts about these proverbs? Please share!

 

Friday, September 9

Proverbs 16:1-9

The plans of the mind belong to mortals,

    but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.

All one’s ways may be pure in one’s own eyes,

    but the Lord weighs the spirit.

Commit your work to the Lord,

    and your plans will be established.

The Lord has made everything for its purpose,

    even the wicked for the day of trouble.

All those who are arrogant are an abomination to the Lord;

    be assured, they will not go unpunished.

By loyalty and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,

    and by the fear of the Lord one avoids evil.

When the ways of people please the Lord,

    he causes even their enemies to be at peace with them.

Better is a little with righteousness

    than large income with injustice.

The human mind plans the way,

    but the Lord directs the steps.

 In these proverbs we can see the themes of righteousness and justice and the fear of the Lord expressed in different ways.

Again, we read about the different paths that are available to us. We can commit ourselves to God and seek God first in all we do. Or we can arrogantly choose our own path and ignore God.

Verse nine is a proverb worth memorizing.

“The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps.”

When we seek God first, we don’t turn off our mind. We use our mind to seek the direction of God.

What are some strategies that you’ve used that are helpful to seek God’s direction? Or perhaps some moments when you’ve had to make a decision, and you were able to find God’s direction. What worked for you? Please share.

 

Saturday, September 10

Proverbs 19:20-23

Listen to advice and accept instruction,

    that you may gain wisdom for the future.

The human mind may devise many plans,

    but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established.

What is desirable in a person is loyalty,

    and it is better to be poor than a liar.

The fear of the Lord is life indeed;

    filled with it one rests secure

    and suffers no harm.

 These verses share an excellent summary of the message of the book of Proverbs. Listen to advice from others and gain wisdom. Have a sense of the fear of the Lord as this will give a person security. Seek God with our own ideas.

What have you learned about reading the book of Proverbs that can be helpful to you in your own life?

Please share.

Monday, August 29

Proverbs 1:20-33

Wisdom cries out in the street;

    in the squares she raises her voice.

At the busiest corner she cries out;

    at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:

“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?

How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing

    and fools hate knowledge?

Give heed to my reproof;

I will pour out my thoughts to you;

    I will make my words known to you.

Because I have called and you refused,

    have stretched out my hand and no one heeded,
 and because you have ignored all my counsel

    and would have none of my reproof,

 I also will laugh at your calamity;

    I will mock when panic strikes you,

when panic strikes you like a storm

    and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,

    when distress and anguish come upon you.

 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;

    they will seek me diligently but will not find me.

 Because they hated knowledge

    and did not choose the fear of the Lord,

would have none of my counsel

    and despised all my reproof,

therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way

    and be sated with their own devices.

 For waywardness kills the simple,

    and the complacency of fools destroys them;

but those who listen to me will be secure

    and will live at ease without dread of disaster.”

This week we have the opportunity to read sections of the first part of the book of Proverbs. In this section we read about wisdom. And we come across this figure of Wisdom.

Wisdom—in Greek the word is Sophia—almost seems like a real person. Some people have seen Sophia as a god. This idea has been controversial, but it’s important to know.

Here we see Wisdom with the attributes of a person. Wisdom has a voice and is crying out to people. Wisdom has thoughts and shares them with people who will listen.

Often Wisdom is calling out to people to choose a path. It is the path of wisdom, of course. When this path is identified, we often find another path. It’s a contrary path. It’s a path of people who are scoffers, one where people hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, one where people choose their own way.

Wisdom communicates that this path will lead to disaster.

Each day each of us has a choice to choose one of these paths. The choice is not always easy.

What are some ways that you have found helpful to choose the path of wisdom? Please share.

 

Tuesday, August 30

Proverbs 3:1-12

My child, do not forget my teaching,

    but let your heart keep my commandments,

for length of days and years of life

    and abundant welfare they will give you.

 Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you;

    bind them around your neck;

    write them on the tablet of your heart.

Then you will find favor and high regard

    in the sight of God and of people.

 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

    and do not rely on your own insight.

 In all your ways acknowledge him,

    and he will make straight your paths.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;

    fear the Lord and turn away from evil.

It will be a healing for your flesh

    and a refreshment for your body.

 Honor the Lord with your substance

    and with the first fruits of all your produce;

then your barns will be filled with plenty,

    and your vats will be bursting with wine.

  My child, do not despise the Lord’s discipline

    or be weary of his reproof,

 for the Lord reproves the one he loves,

    as a father the son in whom he delights.


Verses 5-6 are worth memorizing.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.”

We read often in the book of Proverbs that wisdom is a choice that begins with the fear or acknowledgment of God. The other path is one where people don’t turn to God. People rely on themselves.

This is the choice—start with God or start with ourselves.

Human insight and knowledge is important. We use them in making decisions and living our lives. But we turn to God first and then use our insight and knowledge. By turning to God first we are trusting in the Lord.

A simple prayer that can be helpful is this, “Help me choose you first today. Don’t let me be so self-centered that I fail to look for your guidance.”

Try this prayer and see what happens. Remind yourself to pray this prayer.

Memorizing Proverbs 3:5-6 and sharing this prayer will help ground us in wisdom.

 

Wednesday, August 31

Proverbs 3:19-20

The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
    by understanding he established the heavens;
by his knowledge the deeps broke open,
    and the clouds drop down the dew.
Once again we come across the idea that Wisdom founded the earth.

We can interpret these verses in two ways—and perhaps even more. One way is to see Wisdom as divine who was with God when the earth was created. Another way is to see wisdom as a concept that was put into the earth at creation.

Throughout history, people have given strong arguments for each way.

Quite a lot is at stake in which way we interpret these verses. The church has always seen God as a Trinity (which has never been easy for many people to understand). The Trinity believes that God is three in one—Father, Son and Holy Spirit or Creator, Christ and Holy Spirit. To think that wisdom is divine suggests that another part of the divine has not been mentioned.

In our day-to-day faith life, the way we interpret these verses might not seem significant. But for people who teach and preach a lot is riding on our interpretation.

What are your thoughts?

 

Thursday, September 1

Proverbs 8:1-21

Does not wisdom call

    and understanding raise her voice?

On the heights, beside the way,

    at the crossroads she takes her stand;

beside the gates in front of the town,

    at the entrance of the portals she cries out:

“To you, O people, I call,

    and my cry is to all who live.

O simple ones, learn prudence;

    acquire intelligence, you who lack it.

Hear, for I will speak noble things,

    and from my lips will come what is right,

for my mouth will utter truth;

    wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
 All the words of my mouth are righteous;

    there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.

They are all straight to one who understands

    and right to those who find knowledge.
 Take my instruction instead of silver

    and knowledge rather than choice gold,

for wisdom is better than jewels,

    and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.

 I, wisdom, live with prudence,

    and I attain knowledge and discretion.

 The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.

Pride and arrogance and the way of evil

    and perverted speech I hate.

I have good advice and sound wisdom;

    I have insight; I have strength.

By me kings reign,

    and rulers decree what is just;

 by me rulers rule,

    and nobles, all who govern rightly.

 I love those who love me,

    and those who seek me diligently find me.

Riches and honor are with me,

    enduring wealth and prosperity.

 My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold,

    and my yield than choice silver.

 I walk in the way of righteousness,

    along the paths of justice,

endowing with wealth those who love me

    and filling their treasuries.

 

The eighth chapter of Proverbs has been one of the more controversial chapters in the Scriptures. The controversy has to do with whether Wisdom is divine or something else.

However a person looks at this issue, we can see attributes of wisdom in this chapter.

The words of wisdom are righteous (verse 8)

The instruction of wisdom is better than money (verse 10)

Through wisdom a person lives with prudence, knowledge and discretion (verse 12)

The fear of the Lord is the path of wisdom (verse 13)

The fruit of wisdom is better than gold (verse 19)

The concepts of wisdom are righteousness and justice. (verse 20-21)

These ideas give us a general understanding of the path of wisdom. By choosing this path we live by these ideals.

What take-aways do you have from these words? Please share.

 

Friday, September 2

Proverbs 8:22-36

“The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,

    the first of his acts of long ago.

Ages ago I was set up,

    at the first, before the beginning of the earth.

When there were no depths I was brought forth,

    when there were no springs abounding with water.

Before the mountains had been shaped,

    before the hills, I was brought forth,

when he had not yet made earth and fields

    or the world’s first bits of soil.

When he established the heavens, I was there;

    when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,

when he made firm the skies above,

    when he established the fountains of the deep,

when he assigned to the sea its limit,

    so that the waters might not transgress his command,

when he marked out the foundations of the earth,

 then I was beside him, like a master worker,

and I was daily his delight,

    playing before him always,

playing in his inhabited world

    and delighting in the human race.

“And now, my children, listen to me:

    happy are those who keep my ways.
 Hear instruction and be wise,

    and do not neglect it.

Happy is the one who listens to me,

    watching daily at my gates,

    waiting beside my doors.

For whoever finds me finds life

    and obtains favor from the Lord,

but those who miss me injure themselves;

    all who hate me love death.”

 When we read these verses we can see how someone would see Wisdom as divine.

Whether we look at Wisdom this way or not, the important idea is choosing the path of wisdom that is presented to us.

Praying for wisdom is significant. In a recent sermon Pastor Paul offered the following prayers that can help us live out wisdom.

“Lord, help me choose the path of wisdom in this situation that is causing my burden.”

“Lord, may this situation lead me to greater wisdom and understanding. Lord, may my suffering reveal to me the path of wisdom.”

Pray these prayers today!

 

Saturday, September 3

Proverbs 9:1-6

Wisdom has built her house;

    she has hewn her seven pillars.

 She has slaughtered her animals; she has mixed her wine;

    she has also set her table.

 She has sent out her female servants; she calls

    from the highest places in the town,

 “You who are simple, turn in here!”

    To those without sense she says,

 “Come, eat of my bread

    and drink of the wine I have mixed.

 Lay aside immaturity and live,

    and walk in the way of insight.”


Throughout history people have debated what are the seven pillars of wisdom that are mentioned here.

Some have seen them as the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Some have seen them as the seven churches in the book of Revelation.

Some have seen seven as a holy number.

Some have seen seven to be a description of many.

We can imagine our own home to be a house of wisdom. We could even imagine a church building to be a house of wisdom. It could be possible for a congregation to name itself, “House of Wisdom.”

Whatever the meaning, pray that your own foundation will be of wisdom.

Monday, August 22

Read Proverbs 2:1-15

My child, if you accept my words

    and treasure up my commandments within you,

making your ear attentive to wisdom

    and inclining your heart to understanding,

if you indeed cry out for insight

    and raise your voice for understanding,

if you seek it like silver

    and search for it as for hidden treasures—

then you will understand the fear of the Lord

    and find the knowledge of God.

For the Lord gives wisdom;

    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;

he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;

    he is a shield to those who walk blamelessly,

guarding the paths of justice

    and preserving the way of his faithful ones.

Then you will understand righteousness and justice

    and equity, every good path,

for wisdom will come into your heart,

    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;

prudence will watch over you,

    and understanding will guard you.

It will save you from the way of evil,

    from those who speak perversely,

who forsake the paths of uprightness

    to walk in the ways of darkness,

who rejoice in doing evil

    and delight in the perverseness of evil,

 those whose paths are crooked

    and who are devious in their ways.

This chapter along with the next five in Proverbs start out with a child being addressed. In this passage a parent is trying to pass on wisdom to his or her child. If any of us have been parents, we can appreciate this. We probably have memories of times when we tried to pass on wisdom to our children.

These verses describe wisdom as something to be sought. It doesn’t come naturally to a person but must be something that a person seeks. Even though the Lord gives wisdom, a person still must search for it.

Pastor Paul chose the title “Choosing the Path of Wisdom” to describe this sermon series on wisdom. Experiencing wisdom involves a choice that a person makes. This choice leads a person onto a path. On the path a person will understand righteousness, justice and equity.

Whatever situation we find ourselves, we can choose to seek wisdom. Wisdom is not intelligence or knowledge—though it does involve intelligence and knowledge. Wisdom is an understanding of the path that God intends for us.

Have you had an experiencing of choosing the path of wisdom in a situation you found yourself? Please share

 

Tuesday, August 23

Read Proverbs 1:2-7

For learning about wisdom and instruction,

    for understanding words of insight,

for gaining instruction in wise dealing,

    righteousness, justice, and equity;

to teach shrewdness to the simple,

    knowledge and prudence to the young—

let the wise, too, hear and gain in learning

    and the discerning acquire skill,

to understand a proverb and a figure,

    the words of the wise and their riddles.

 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;

    fools despise wisdom and instruction.

 

In verse seven we read that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge or wisdom.” Knowledge is not the accumulation of information. The knowledge identified here is not something that would help us get perfect grades in school. This knowledge is understanding and insight and instruction.

The phrase, “the fear of the Lord” does not mean we are afraid of God. Fear in this case has the sense of reverence or respect or awe. Think of seeing a meteor shower at night and knowing that those meteors are light years away.

The fear of the Lord helps us understand that each of us is not the center of the universe. So when we are seeking wisdom we don’t seek information that will inevitably help us. We are seeking understanding and insight in a situation.

Wisdom in Proverbs is situational. We have to seek wisdom in every situation that we find ourselves.

n this day pray often that you will find wisdom. In each situation you find yourself, ask for wisdom. And then share with others how your experience was.

 

Wednesday, August 24

Read Job 28:23-28

“God understands the way to it,

    and he knows its place.

 For he looks to the ends of the earth

    and sees everything under the heavens.

When he gave to the wind its weight

    and apportioned out the waters by measure,

when he made a decree for the rain,

    and a way for the thunderbolt,

 then he saw it and declared it;

    he established it and searched it out.

 And he said to humankind,

‘Truly, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;

    and to depart from evil is understanding.’ ”

 

In this chapter Job had asked about the origination of wisdom. “Where does wisdom come from” he asked in different places. Where is this place of understanding?

Job answered his own question in these last six verses of the chapter. God understands the way to wisdom and knows the place of wisdom.

In verse 28 we see the two different paths. One is wisdom and the other is evil. Often these paths of wisdom and evil are set in contrast to each other in the Bible.

Job wrote in the last verse in this passage that the fear of the Lord is wisdom. Out of great respect and admiration and awe for God, we can find wisdom. By having this great sense of respect and admiration we can find the path of wisdom.

How are you doing at discovering this path of wisdom? Do you find the idea daunting or perhaps you find it exciting, even exhilarating. What are the emotions you experience as you search for wisdom?

 

Thursday, August 25

Read Psalm 1

Happy are those

    who do not follow the advice of the wicked

or take the path that sinners tread

    or sit in the seat of scoffers,

 but their delight is in the law of the Lord,

    and on his law they meditate day and night.
 They are like trees

    planted by streams of water,

which yield their fruit in its season,

    and their leaves do not wither.

In all that they do, they prosper.

The wicked are not so

    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment

    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous,
 for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,

    but the way of the wicked will perish.

This is an especially powerful wisdom Psalm that describes the different paths that a person can take. One is a path that sinners take and skeptics or scoffers find.

The other is the path of wisdom. On this path a person takes delight in the law of God. A person could exchange “law of God” for “wisdom of God.” When we are searching and seeking wisdom the path is delightful. Finding this wisdom might be an extensive search. We might be searching day and night for it.

But when we find wisdom in a situation we find great comfort. This path of wisdom gives us a rootedness in life.

A tree is a terrific metaphor to describe the rootedness and path of wisdom. It doesn’t always flourish, but in certain seasons the tree does flourish.

So often we think of success as money or happiness or relationships or achieving life goals. What if we thought of success as being on the path of wisdom? We see life as searching and discovering wisdom in every particular journey that we find ourselves. This search for wisdom can give us meaning.

Have you had an experience of discovering wisdom and experiencing happiness or a blessing? Please share.

 

Friday, August 26

Read Proverbs 3:13-26

Happy are those who find wisdom

    and those who get understanding,

 for her income is better than silver

    and her revenue better than gold.

She is more precious than jewels,

    and nothing you desire can compare with her.

 Long life is in her right hand;

    in her left hand are riches and honor.

 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,

    and all her paths are peace.

 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;

    those who hold her fast are called happy.

The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;

    by understanding he established the heavens;

 by his knowledge the deeps broke open,

    and the clouds drop down the dew.

My child, do not let these escape from your sight:

    keep sound wisdom and prudence,

 and they will be life for your soul

    and adornment for your neck.

 Then you will walk on your way securely,

    and your foot will not stumble.

 If you sit down, you will not be afraid;

    when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

 Then you will not be afraid of sudden panic

    or of the storm that strikes the wicked,

 for the Lord will be your confidence

    and will keep your foot from being caught.

 

The images in this passage are similar to the images we read about in Psalm 1. We read that the path of wisdom is like a tree of life. A person finds happiness in finding wisdom.

Discovering wisdom brings life

Discovering wisdom also brings us security. When we have confidence that we can find wisdom we experience what the Apostle Paul described as the “peace that passes understanding.” We have a confidence that we can find wisdom in any situation that we find ourselves. This is faith. It’s more than belief in God—it’s also the belief that we can find and discover wisdom. The process starts with a deep reverence for God and lands on wisdom.

People pay thousands of dollars to find this sense of peace. Through faith and exploring our faith, all of us can find it for free.

What a delightful journey!

 

Saturday, August 27

Read Proverbs 8:32-35

 “And now, my children, listen to me:

    happy are those who keep my ways.

 Hear instruction and be wise,

    and do not neglect it.

 Happy is the one who listens to me,

    watching daily at my gates,

    waiting beside my doors.

 For whoever finds me finds life

    and obtains favor from the Lord.

 Once again we read that finding wisdom is similar to finding life. It’s the peace that was expressed in yesterday’s devotion.

If we aren’t searching for wisdom, we miss out on so much in life. It’s like we only enjoy half a loaf.

An important theme for this week has been keep searching for wisdom. You will discover it at some point. When you discover wisdom you will find life. The search is exhilarating.

Have you thought that the life of faith is like a search for wisdom and this is exhilarating? Please share some of your thoughts.

Monday, August 15 
 Luke 10:29-37    But wanting to vindicate himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and took off, leaving him half dead.  Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.  So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan while traveling came upon him, and when he saw him he was moved with compassion.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, treating them with oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him, and when I come back I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

The story of the Good Samaritan is easily one of the most important stories of the Bible. The story has so much depth that we could read it every day for thirty days and still see something new on our thirtieth day of reading.

The story is a response to the question, “Who is my neighbor?”

Neighbors might be many different people to us. They might be people who live in an adjacent house or apartment; they might be close friends who we would trust. Most likely our neighbor would not be someone who has a different world view than us.

But here Jesus is actually suggesting that our neighbor could be this type of person. Samaritans and Jews had vastly different world views. Both religions came from the same starting point, but they had gotten to a point where when Jesus lived, Samaritans and Jews were enemies. They had a different world view.

But in this story a Samaritan was helping a Jew.

The story concluded by the lawyer—the person who asked the first question—saying that a neighbor is a person who shows mercy.

From this story we learn that our calling from God is to share and show mercy to all people—especially people who have a different world view than ours.

How hard do you find it to share mercy with someone who has a different world view than you? Please share

Tuesday, August 16 
 Psalm 103:1-14  Bless the Lord, O my soul,

    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works vindication
    and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
    his acts to the people of Israel.

 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
    so far he removes our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion for his children,
    so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him. 
For he knows how we were made;

    he remembers that we are dust.

 Verse eight in this Psalm is one to memorize.

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

This is the perspective that God has for us. As followers of God, we are called to have the same perspective towards our neighbors—especially people who have a different world view than us.

Oftentimes it’s anger that leads us to have problems with a person who has a different world view. We see the person as less than human; we are quick to criticize; we might try to convince the person to change his or her views and conform to the views that we have.

The best way to relate to a person with a different world view is to be like God—merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

We can take hope in that this perspective on others is possible to share—even if it seems extraordinarily difficult. God is willing to help us be merciful people. Sometimes God is waiting for our prayers.

Do you have a story of someone sharing mercy with another person? Others would love to hear more about your story.

 Wednesday, August 17
Matthew 9:10-13
 And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

The Pharisees had a vastly different world view than tax collectors and sinners. Tax collectors were agents of the Roman government. They were often corrupt. A Pharisee often saw himself as righteous; they didn’t see themselves as sinners.

But here was Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus came to call sinners to his way.

Sometimes a way to relate to someone in a healthy world view is to invite them out for dinner. Have a meal with them. Only talk about your differences if it seems to be a healthy and safe space to do so.

Having dinner with someone who is different turns the person into a human for us. We can see the person’s strengths and weaknesses.

With whom can you have dinner in the next week?

 

Thursday, August 18
Ephesians 4:11-16   He himself granted that some are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming;  but speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,  from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

Speaking the truth in love is a way we become mature followers of Jesus. As we read in this passage, when we speak the truth in love we grow up.

Truth and love need each other. Speaking the truth without love can be judgmental and even harmful to the other person. Sharing love without sharing the truth can lead us to enable actions by another person that are not healthy.

You might have a person who has a different world view with whom you would like to speak the truth in love. An important way to do this is to first establish the love you have for the person. Go out of your way to convince the person that you care for the person. Your caring is authentic and real. You want the person to know and trust this.

From this atmosphere of love you can speak the truth.

Do you have a story of speaking the truth in love with someone? Without sharing names would you consider sharing the story?

 

Friday, August 19
Romans 13:8-10   
Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; you shall not murder; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

To keep a person who has a different worldview as a friend, it’s essential to see the person as a neighbor. The person is not an enemy. Different views don’t have to make people oppose each other. As a neighbor you don’t have to change the other person’s mind or try to convince the person of the error (as you see it) in their ways.

Instead focus on love. And keep speaking the truth (see yesterday’s devotion.)

How hard is it to see people with different world views as your neighbors. This view of being a neighbor is not based on geography, of course. This view is based on the idea that everyone is our neighbor at some level.

Is this hard for you? On the scale of 1-10 with ten being the highest, what number would you give yourself? Please consider sharing your number.


Saturday, August 20
Psalm 75    We give thanks to you, O God;

    we give thanks; your name is near.

People tell of your wondrous deeds.

At the set time that I appoint,

    I will judge with equity.

When the earth totters, with all its inhabitants,

    it is I who keep its pillars steady. Selah

 I say to the boastful, “Do not boast,”

    and to the wicked, “Do not lift up your horn;

do not lift up your horn on high

    or speak with insolent neck.”

  For not from the east or from the west

    and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,

but it is God who executes judgment,

    putting down one and lifting up another.

For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup

    with foaming wine, well mixed;

he will pour a draught from it,

    and all the wicked of the earth

    shall drain it down to the dregs.

But I will rejoice forever;

    I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.

All the horns of the wicked I will cut off,

    but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.

It’s easy to want to judge people with different world views than us. We might want to feel superior in our views; or we might want to look at the person as diminished because of their views.

This is not the way of faith.

Ultimately God is the one who judges. We are not called to judge others because God can do this.

Do you have a hard time resisting judgment or letting go of your judgment to God? If this is so, what is hard about resisting or letting go of judgment. Consider sharing your responses to these questions.

Monday, August 8

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

and before you were born I consecrated you;

I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” But the Lord said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a boy,’

for you shall go to all to whom I send you,

and you shall speak whatever I command you.

Do not be afraid of them,

for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”

Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me,

“Now I have put my words in your mouth.

See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down,

to destroy and to overthrow,

to build and to plant.”

We’ve read this passage often when we look at God’s love for youth. This passage is so powerful because it shares the trust that God has for youth. God didn’t believe that being a young person disqualified a person for service. God issued a call to Jeremiah even though Jeremiah was a teenager.

If we think about this deeply, we’ll understand what a risk it was for God to call Jeremiah. God wanted Jeremiah to share God’s word with the country of Judah. Over time Jeremiah witnessed the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the terrible exile of the people of Israel.

Jeremiah tried to avoid God’s call by sharing that he was only a youth. Look at verse six, “Truly, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy or youth.” However, being a young person was not a reason not to receive a call from God. Look at how God responded in verse 7, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy or youth’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you.”

As you pray today, pray that we at Chain of Lakes will value youth in the same way that God did in this passage. Also pray that the church worldwide will have the courage to issue a call to youth to serve.

 

Tuesday, August 9
 John 11:17-37  

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”  Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live,  and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”

When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.”  And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him.  Now Jesus had not yet come to the village but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house consoling her saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there.  When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.”  Jesus began to weep.  So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”  But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

 

Often we think that involving youth is a complicated process.  We look for the right ministry, or person, or technique to keep youth involved in the church. Though having the right ministry, person, or technique is important, even more important is the level of care that congregations display for youth.   

In this story Jesus shared deep care for Lazarus. In verse 35 Jesus wept. His tears revealed his care.

Congregations are called to care for youth in the same way.  Youth ministry in a church starts with the personal care that adults have for youth.

Today as you pray, pray for a particular youth in our congregation. Think about this youth for a moment. What are the youth’s needs? With what is the youth struggling with?  Pray for that youth. If you don’t know the youth’s needs or the youth’s struggles, take some time over the next month to get to know the youth. 

Just taking time to show care is one of the most important things you can do for youth ministry at Chain of Lakes! Pray that our congregation will always share deep care for youth and children.

 

Wednesday, August 10

Psalm 1

Happy are those

    who do not follow the advice of the wicked

or take the path that sinners tread

    or sit in the seat of scoffers,

but their delight is in the law of the Lord,

    and on his law they meditate day and night.

They are like trees

    planted by streams of water,

which yield their fruit in its season,

    and their leaves do not wither.

In all that they do, they prosper.

The wicked are not so

    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous, for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

 In this passage the Psalmist shared a powerful metaphor of faith.  In verse three he wrote, “They are like trees, planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.  In all that they do, they prosper.” 

This metaphor of a strong tree is what we want for all people.  We pray that no matter what happens to a person, that person will stay planted in streams of water, yield their fruit in the right season, and their leaves will not wither.

Today as you pray, pray that every youth who attended Vacation Bible School this past week will grow to be this type of tree.

Pray for each one of the youth who attended Vacation Bible School:  Addie, Aiyanna, Annette, Audrey, Camden, Danny, Eastyn, Eli, Emily, Henry, Kendel, Landon, Lexi, River, Sinclair, Skylar and Trenton.

 

Thursday, August 11

1 Samuel 3:1-21

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.

 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room;  the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!”  and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.”  Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.  The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy.  Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

  Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Then the Lord said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle.  On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end.  For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.  Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering forever.”

  Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli.  But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” He said, “Here I am.” Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.”  So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, “It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.”

 As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.  And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.

 Just like in the story of Jeremiah we read a story of a youth who was called by God. God called Samuel to be his follower.  In his life Samuel went on to help choose Saul and David to be kings—Samuel was one of the most important prophets in the Old Testament.

Not only was Samuel young, he was mentored by an adult.  Look at the start of this story. “Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli.”  (1 Samuel 3:1)  Samuel received a call from God, but needed Eli to help him know that it was God who was issuing the call. Samuel couldn’t have known that God was calling him if he hadn’t had Eli.

Do you know of a youth to whom you could be an Eli?  A youth who you could mentor, someone in whom you could take a special interest. That youth could be a part of Chain of Lakes, or the youth could be someone in your neighborhood. 

Think how powerful we at Chain of Lakes would be if every youth had an adult mentor in the church!!

Today as you pray, pray for mentors for youth.  Pray that many adults could be an Eli to young people.

 

Friday, August 12

Luke 18:15-17
People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them, and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. But Jesus called for them and said, “Let the children come to me, and do not stop them, for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”

In Jesus’ day children were viewed as property.  They had no legal rights and were not viewed as fully human. This is why Luke started out this story by using the word, “even,” “People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them.”  It was shocking to people that Jesus would touch infants.

We know that in Jesus’ eyes infants were very important. 

Today as you pray, pray that our world will respect and teach children in a similar way to Jesus. Pray for a world where children don’t suffer from poverty, physical and sexual abuse, that children receive a quality education. 

Children were especially important to Jesus; pray for a world that shares this value!

 

Saturday, August 13

John 21:1-17

After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he showed himself in this way.  Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach, but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.”  He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.  That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he had taken it off, and jumped into the sea.  But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.

 When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them, and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

 This was a story that was shared on the last day of Vacation Bible School this past week at Chain of Lakes.

We can imagine the frustration of the disciples as they tried to catch fish. They threw out their nets the entire time, but had caught nothing.

Jesus gave the disciples hope in their fishing. He encouraged them to throw the net to the other side of the boat. Suddenly the net was swamped with fish—153 of them. There were so many fish that for a while it seemed that the boat might be swamped under the water.

We can take many lessons from this story. One lesson is persistent. We can practically hear Jesus say, “try something new if your way is not working.”

We can take this lesson and apply it to youth ministry. Sometimes it takes a lot of patience to connect youth and even children to church. We throw our out net symbolically for a long time, but nothing comes into the net.

“Try something new,” we can practically hear Jesus telling us. “Who knows, you might catch 153 youth!”

Do you have a story of being in a church that tried something new with youth and was very successful? Please share.

Monday, August 1

Matthew 5:21-26   “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder,’ and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment, and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council, and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.  So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you,  leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.  Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison.  Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

 This is an important passage to understand.

At first glance it might appear that Jesus was condemning anger. Condemning anger would be outside of the way Jesus approached people. Jesus always accepted people (and accepts us) where we are. It’s impossible for humans not to experience anger. Jesus would never ask us to do something that is impossible.

Some people add the phrase without cause to verse 22. The verse would then read, “But I say to you that if you are angry [without cause] with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment.

Today’s reading comes from the antithesis section of the Sermon on the Mount. This section goes from Matthew 5:21-5:48. Consider reading the entire section. We’ll discover that in this section Jesus revealed his deep care for the friendships that humans have with each other. If something gets in the way of a friendship, Jesus would want us to recognize this and take appropriate action that would deepen our friendship.

We can imagine Jesus saying, “If your anger is getting in the way of a friendship, do everything you can to be reconciled with your friend. Your friendship is even more important than worship. So if you are worshiping and you are angry with someone, go and talk to that person immediately. Don’t let the sun set on your anger.”

Do you have stories of your own anger getting in the way of a friendship? Please share.

 

Tuesday, August 2 
Mark 3:1-6  Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They were watching him to see whether he would cure him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him.  And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.”  Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
Jesus was like you and me—he experienced anger.

In this story Jesus wanted to help the man who had a withered hand. It’s hard to imagine living with a hand that was so deformed. This deformity had to prevent the man from earning complete wages. It might have caused the family shame—others could have easily thought that God was punishing the man for something he had done.

Jesus wanted to heal the man. And even more significantly Jesus wanted the leaders of the synagogue to want the man to be healed. Unfortunately, the religious leaders were more interested in following the ancient Sabbath laws. It would have broken a law for Jesus to heal this man on the Sabbath. This grieved Jesus—it made him angry.

The anger of Jesus was justified, of course. This leads us to think of other situations where anger would be justified. What would these situations be? Have you ever found yourself feeling anger that you believed was justified? What led you to believe that your anger was justified? Please share.


Wednesday, August 3
Ephesians 4:25-5:2  So then, putting away falsehood, let each of you speak the truth with your neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Those who steal must give up stealing; rather, let them labor, doing good work with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy.  Let no evil talk come out of your mouths but only what is good for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

The writer of Ephesians made a powerful statement that can help us with anger in verse 26: “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,”

Being angry is not a sin or problematic. What we do with our anger is very significant. And letting go of our anger is very significant.

On Sunday Pastor Paul shared some strategies for letting go of anger. One of those strategies is recognition. Knowing that we are angry is important. Being able to say, “I am angry” can be a significant step for dealing with our anger and following the teaching of verse 26.

This is hard, for many people were not taught how to identify their emotions. And because anger has such a volatile history, people have not been encouraged to vocalize their own anger.

How hard is it for you to recognize your anger? What tools do you use to let go of your anger? Please share. Your sharing can help another person with their anger.

Thursday, August 4
Exodus 32:7-14  The Lord said to Moses, “Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ ” The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are.  Now let me alone so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, and of you I will make a great nation.”

 But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?  Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people.

 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’ ”  And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.


God—the abba of Jesus and the first person of the Trinity—had moments of intense anger. This story is one of them.

God was extremely upset with the Israelites and was justified to have anger. The Israelites had made a golden calf and were worshiping the calf. God wanted to destroy the people because they were worshiping a calf.

The anger of God might be disconcerting to us. However, if we think about how God dealt with God’s anger, we can be encouraged. God didn’t follow-up on God’s plan of destruction.

Moses convinced God to let go of the divine anger.

God didn’t let anger consume God. God let it go. Even if we become angry, we can learn and teach ourselves to let it go. What are some strategies that you have used in the past that help you let go of anger. Please share!

 

Friday, August 5

Exodus 34:6  The Lord passed before him and proclaimed,
“The Lord, the Lord,
a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger,
and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,

Just two chapters after the chapter we read yesterday, God revealed the divine character to Jesus. We can read the divine character in this verse. One part of the verse that stands out for us is God is slow to anger.

God does not say that God would never experience anger. But God was willing to be slow to anger. God was not going to act rashly when God had this experience.

This idea is important to us. What would it look like if others could describe us as slow to anger? Would we have to change significantly for us to be slow to anger?

One strategy that can help us is our own prayer life. If we are experiencing anger, give that anger to God in our prayers. A breath prayer like, “Lord help me release this anger” can help immensely. Breathing that prayer out and in for three minutes can help our own spiritual situation.

What are some other strategies that help you be slow to anger? Please share.

 

Saturday, August 6

Proverbs 15:18 & Matthew 18:15-20  Those who are hot-tempered stir up strife,
    but those who are slow to anger calm contention.

“If your brother or sister sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If you are listened to, you have regained that one.  But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If that person refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church, and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a gentile and a tax collector.  Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.  Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

The reading from Proverbs is a specific example of what we’ve been reading all week. We don’t want to be tripped up by our anger—we will stir up strife; instead we want to be slow to anger.

The story from Matthew 18 illustrates a way to let go of anger we might have towards a friend. First meet with that person and let the person know how you’ve been hurt. If the person listens to you, then your friendship will be restored. If necessary, bring another person or two to have this conversation. If nothing happens, tell a network of your friends what is happening.

If that does not work, then let go of the friendship.

The focus of the angry person is on him or herself. WE own our own anger. Even if another person causes us to be angry, that anger is ours. It’s up to each of us to deal with our anger.

How can this process help you with your anger? Please share.

 
 

Monday, July 25

Genesis 5:25-27 When Methuselah had lived one hundred eighty-seven years, he became the father of Lamech. Methuselah lived after the birth of Lamech seven hundred eighty-two years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty-nine years, and he died.
 
Methusaleh is the oldest person in the Bible and an excellent example of looking at aging—the theme of the week.
According to this story he lived 187 years before he fathered Lamech. He then lived another 782 years meaning he lived to the age of 969.
It’s hard to imagine that this actually happened. The oldest person of the last century is Jeanne Calmut who lived to 122. The oldest current living person is Lucile Randon who lives in France and is 118.
Thinking that Methusaleh didn’t live to the age of 969 doesn’t lower our respect for the authority of the Scriptures. Many different explanations exist for the age of Methusaleh. Some believe that each year of Methusaleh was ten years; others have written that the length of age was meant to illustrate that Methusaleh lived a long time ago.
Methusaleh is listed in other genealogies in the Scriptures. If you have some time look at 1 Chronicles 1:3 and Luke 3:37 where Methusaleh is listed as part of the ancestory of Jesus.
Who is the oldest person you have ever known? What is something about them that you found interesting? Please share.
 
Tuesday July 26 
Proverbs 16:31 & 20:29 Gray hair is a crown of glory, it is gained in a righteous life.
The glory of youths is their strength, but the beauty of the aged is their gray hair.
 
When this Proverb was written, grey hair was seen as a symbol of wisdom. In other places in the Bible we read that age is seen as a reflection of wisdom. If you have some time read, Proverbs 8:22-31.
In his sermon on Sunday, Pastor Paul encouraged people to stay open-minded as they grow older. It’s easy to fall into patterns and ruts and not want to change. We like something that is happening and want to keep that pattern.
This can happen in churches. The famous last words of the church are “we have never done it that way before.” Usually these eight words are shared by people who have grey hair. There can be an intolerance for different ways of being together as a community.
How open are you to new ideas and new ways of doing things? On a scale of 1-10 with ten being the highest where would you identify yourself?
What prevents you from having a higher number? Please share? Your sharing can help others.
 
 
Wednesday July 27 
2 Corinthians 4:16-5:7 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For our slight, momentary affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen, for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. For we know that, if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be further clothed with our heavenly dwelling, for surely when we have been clothed in it we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan under our burden because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. The one who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a down payment. So we are always confident, even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight.
 
It’s hard to know if the Apostle Paul was talking about aging when he talked about his outer nature wasting away. People think that Paul was born about the same year as Jesus and lived until his early 60’s.
He never stopped advocating for Jesus. He was killed because of his outspoken teaching.
Paul was probably in his late 50’s when he wrote this letter that we know of as 2 Corinthians. He far exceeded the life expectancy of people in his day.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to think that when he wrote these words he was experiencing some level of health decline because of his age.
Paul knew that even though his body or earthly tent was wasting away he had something to look forward to. Paul knew that God had prepared a place for him and for humanity. We know of this place as heaven. The prospect of heaven gave him comfort as his outer nature wasted away.
What are your thoughts about dying? Do you believe that heaven awaits you when you die? Are you worried about what happens after death? Our views of death are important for our own mental health.
Please share.
 
Thursday July 28
Isaiah 46:3-4 Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he; even when you turn gray I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.
This section of Isaiah is known as second Isaiah. It was written after Israel was conquered by a foreign country. The people of Israel had been exiled.
This harsh reality must have led some people to question God. People must have wondered why God had left them to be conquered by a foreign country.
Through Isaiah God assured the people that God had not abandoned them. Even until their old age, God was willing to be with the people. Even when people’s hair turns gray, God would be with them.
Have you had moments in your life that felt like God had abandoned you? Have you wondered if God is still present? These verses can give us comfort that God is always with us.
If you have had a moment when you felt abandoned, please share.
 
Friday July 29  
Ruth 4:13-17 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. When they came together, the Lord made her conceive, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom and became his nurse. The women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David.
At the end of the book of Ruth, the women around Naomi made a powerful statement. The statement is even more powerful when we remember what Naomi had said earlier in the book of Ruth. Naomi believed that because of the death of her husband and the death of her sons that the Lord had turned against her.
In talking to Ruth, Naomi had said, “No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the Lord has turned against me.” Ruth 1:13
At the end of the book of Ruth, Naomi was in a different place. She was told by the women that God was a restorer of life and a nourisher of a person’s old age.
Have you had a turn similar to Naomi’s in your thoughts about God? Have you had an experience where you were angry with God, and then life changed? Having this type of experience is not embarrassing. Instead these types of experiences reveal our own humanity. And these types of experiences connect us to Naomi, a significant person in the Bible.
Please share.
 
Saturday July 30 
Psalm 90:12 & Psalm 39:4-5   So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart. “Lord, let me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing in your sight. Surely everyone stands as a mere breath.
Most people would not want to know the date of their death.
But the Psalmist is different The Psalmist saw his death as something inevitable. Knowing the date would lead him into the arms of God. Knowing this information would give the person a wise heart.
Would you like to know the date of your death? If you knew the date of your death, do you think this would lead you into the arms of God? Do you think you would have a wise heart?
Please share.
 
 

Events

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Community Gardens

Very big pumpkin grown in the Chain of Lakes Community Garden by Jeremy Feuks. 10/7/2021
Chain of Lakes Church is excited to offer a Community Garden Ministry next to the new church building at 2650 125th Ave NE, Blaine, MN 55449. It’s just east of  Malmborg’s Garden Center on 125th Ave NE in Blaine or .8 miles east of Radisson Rd on 125th Ave NE, Blaine.
 
Contact the office for information at 763.208.8049 or info@colpres.org
 
If you are interested in a garden plot complete this form:
Community Garden Plot Application 2022 – Chain of Lakes
 
Please print and complete the application, and up until May 22, mail to:
Chain of Lakes Church
10130 Davenport Street NE #160
Blaine, MN 55449

Event Photos

Some highlights from recent events in the community! Click on image for clear, entire picture

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