2019 Messages Online

2 Kings 2:1-14 (June 30, 2019)

Now the Lord was going to take Elijah up to heaven in a windstorm, and Elijah and Elisha were leaving Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, because the Lord has sent me to Bethel.”

But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives and as you live, I won’t leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.

The group of prophets from Bethel came out to Elisha. These prophets said to Elisha, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master away from you today?”

Elisha said, “Yes, I know. Don’t talk about it!”

Elijah said, “Elisha, stay here, because the Lord has sent me to Jericho.”

But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives and as you live, I won’t leave you.” So they went to Jericho.

The group of prophets from Jericho approached Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master away from you today?”

He said, “Yes, I know. Don’t talk about it!”

Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, because the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.”

But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives and as you live, I won’t leave you.” So both of them went on together. Fifty members from the group of prophets also went along, but they stood at a distance. Both Elijah and Elisha stood beside the Jordan River. Elijah then took his coat, rolled it up, and hit the water. Then the water was divided in two! Both of them crossed over on dry ground. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “What do you want me to do for you before I’m taken away from you?”

Elisha said, “Let me have twice your spirit.”

Elijah said, “You’ve made a difficult request. If you can see me when I’m taken from you, then it will be yours. If you don’t see me, it won’t happen.”

They were walking along, talking, when suddenly a fiery chariot and fiery horses appeared and separated the two of them. Then Elijah went to heaven in a windstorm.

Elisha was watching, and he cried out, “Oh, my father, my father! Israel’s chariots and its riders!” When he could no longer see him, Elisha took hold of his clothes and ripped them in two.

Then Elisha picked up the coat that had fallen from Elijah. He went back and stood beside the banks of the Jordan River. He took the coat that had fallen from Elijah and hit the water. He said, “Where is the Lord, Elijah’s God?” And when he hit the water, it divided in two! Then Elisha crossed over.

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 (June 23, 2019)

Doesn’t Wisdom cry out
    and Understanding shout?
Atop the heights along the path,
    at the crossroads she takes her stand.
By the gate before the city,
    at the entrances she shouts:

I cry out to you, people;
    my voice goes out to all of humanity.

The Lord created me at the beginning of his way,
    before his deeds long in the past.
I was formed in ancient times,
    at the beginning, before the earth was.
When there were no watery depths, I was brought forth,
    when there were no springs flowing with water.
Before the mountains were settled,
    before the hills, I was brought forth;
    before God made the earth and the fields
    or the first of the dry land.
I was there when he established the heavens,
    when he marked out the horizon on the deep sea,
    when he thickened the clouds above,
    when he secured the fountains of the deep,
    when he set a limit for the sea,
        so the water couldn’t go beyond his command,
    when he marked out the earth’s foundations.
I was beside him as a master of crafts.
    I was having fun,
    smiling before him all the time,
    frolicking with his inhabited earth
    and delighting in the human race.

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 (June 16, 2019)

Doesn’t Wisdom cry out
    and Understanding shout?
Atop the heights along the path,
    at the crossroads she takes her stand.
By the gate before the city,
    at the entrances she shouts:

I cry out to you, people;
    my voice goes out to all of humanity.

The Lord created me at the beginning of his way,
    before his deeds long in the past.
I was formed in ancient times,
    at the beginning, before the earth was.
When there were no watery depths, I was brought forth,
    when there were no springs flowing with water.
Before the mountains were settled,
    before the hills, I was brought forth;
    before God made the earth and the fields
    or the first of the dry land.
I was there when he established the heavens,
    when he marked out the horizon on the deep sea,
    when he thickened the clouds above,
    when he secured the fountains of the deep,
    when he set a limit for the sea,
        so the water couldn’t go beyond his command,
    when he marked out the earth’s foundations.
I was beside him as a master of crafts.
    I was having fun,
    smiling before him all the time,
    frolicking with his inhabited earth
    and delighting in the human race.

Romans 8:12-25 (June 9, 2019)

So then, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation, but it isn’t an obligation to ourselves to live our lives on the basis of selfishness. If you live on the basis of selfishness, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the actions of the body, you will live. All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters. You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit, we cry, “Abba, Father.” The same Spirit agrees with our spirit, that we are God’s children. But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ, if we really suffer with him so that we can also be glorified with him.

I believe that the present suffering is nothing compared to the coming glory that is going to be revealed to us. The whole creation waits breathless with anticipation for the revelation of God’s sons and daughters. Creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice—it was the choice of the one who subjected it—but in the hope that the creation itself will be set free from slavery to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of God’s children. We know that the whole creation is groaning together and suffering labor pains up until now. And it’s not only the creation. We ourselves who have the Spirit as the first crop of the harvest also groan inside as we wait to be adopted and for our bodies to be set free. We were saved in hope. If we see what we hope for, that isn’t hope. Who hopes for what they already see? But if we hope for what we don’t see, we wait for it with patience.

Matthew 17:14-20 (June 2, 2019)

When they came to the crowd, a man met Jesus. He knelt before him,saying, “Lord, show mercy to my son. He is epileptic and suffers terribly, for he often falls into the fire or the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.”

Jesus answered, “You faithless and crooked generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.”Then Jesus spoke harshly to the demon. And it came out of the child, who was healed from that time on.

Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and said, “Why couldn’t we throw the demon out?”

“Because you have little faith,” he said. “I assure you that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Go from here to there,’ and it will go. There will be nothing that you can’t do.”

Genesis 22:1-14 (May 26, 2019)

After these events, God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!”

Abraham answered, “I’m here.”

God said, “Take your son, your only son whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah. Offer him up as an entirely burned offering there on one of the mountains that I will show you.” Abraham got up early in the morning, harnessed his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, together with his son Isaac. He split the wood for the entirely burned offering, set out, and went to the place God had described to him.

On the third day, Abraham looked up and saw the place at a distance.Abraham said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will walk up there, worship, and then come back to you.”

Abraham took the wood for the entirely burned offering and laid it on his son Isaac. He took the fire and the knife in his hand, and the two of them walked on together. Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father?”

Abraham said, “I’m here, my son.”

Isaac said, “Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the entirely burned offering?”

Abraham said, “The lamb for the entirely burned offering? God will see to it, my son.” The two of them walked on together.

They arrived at the place God had described to him. Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He tied up his son Isaac and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. Then Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. But the Lord’s messenger called out to Abraham from heaven, “Abraham? Abraham?”

Abraham said, “I’m here.”

The messenger said, “Don’t stretch out your hand against the young man, and don’t do anything to him. I now know that you revere God and didn’t hold back your son, your only son, from me.” Abraham looked up and saw a single ram caught by its horns in the dense underbrush. Abraham went over, took the ram, and offered it as an entirely burned offering instead of his son. Abraham named that place “the Lord sees.”That is the reason people today say, “On this mountain the Lord is seen.”

The Lord’s messenger called out to Abraham from heaven a second timeand said, “I give my word as the Lord that because you did this and didn’t hold back your son, your only son, I will bless you richly and I will give you countless descendants, as many as the stars in the sky and as the grains of sand on the seashore. They will conquer their enemies’ cities. All the nations of the earth will be blessed because of your descendants, because you obeyed me.”

Genesis 21:1-21 (May 19, 2019)

The Lord was attentive to Sarah just as he had said, and the Lord carried out just what he had promised her. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son for Abraham when he was old, at the very time God had told him. Abraham named his son—the one Sarah bore him—Isaac.Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old just as God had commanded him. Abraham was 100 years old when his son Isaac was born. Sarah said, “God has given me laughter. Everyone who hears about it will laugh with me.” She said, “Who could have told Abraham that Sarah would nurse sons? But now I’ve given birth to a son when he was old!”

The boy grew and stopped nursing. On the day he stopped nursing, Abraham prepared a huge banquet. Sarah saw Hagar’s son laughing, the one Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham. So she said to Abraham, “Send this servant away with her son! This servant’s son won’t share the inheritance with my son Isaac.”

This upset Abraham terribly because the boy was his son. God said to Abraham, “Don’t be upset about the boy and your servant. Do everything Sarah tells you to do because your descendants will be traced through Isaac. But I will make of your servant’s son a great nation too, because he is also your descendant.” Abraham got up early in the morning, took some bread and a flask of water, and gave it to Hagar. He put the boy in her shoulder sling and sent her away.

She left and wandered through the desert near Beer-sheba. Finally the water in the flask ran out, and she put the boy down under one of the desert shrubs. She walked away from him about as far as a bow shot and sat down, telling herself, I can’t bear to see the boy die. She sat at a distance, cried out in grief, and wept.

God heard the boy’s cries, and God’s messenger called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “Hagar! What’s wrong? Don’t be afraid. God has heard the boy’s cries over there. Get up, pick up the boy, and take him by the hand because I will make of him a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well. She went over, filled the water flask, and gave the boy a drink. God remained with the boy; he grew up, lived in the desert, and became an expert archer. He lived in the Paran desert, and his mother found him an Egyptian wife.

Genesis 20:1-18 (May 12, 2019)

Abraham traveled from there toward the land of the arid southern plain, and he settled as an immigrant in Gerar, between Kadesh and Shur.Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She’s my sister.” So King Abimelech of Gerar took her into his household.

But God appeared to Abimelech that night in a dream and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of this woman you have taken. She is a married woman.”

Now Abimelech hadn’t gone near her, and he said, “Lord, will you really put an innocent nation to death? Didn’t he say to me, ‘She’s my sister,’ and didn’t she—even she—say, ‘He’s my brother’? My intentions were pure, and I acted innocently when I did this.”

God said to him in the dream, “I know that your intentions were pure when you did this. In fact, I kept you from sinning against me. That’s why I didn’t allow you to touch her. Now return the man’s wife. He’s a prophet; he will pray for you so you may live. But if you don’t return her, know that you and everyone with you will die!”

Abimelech got up early in the morning and summoned all of his servants. When he told them everything that had happened, the men were terrified. Then Abimelech summoned Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? What sin did I commit against you that you have brought this terrible sin to me and my kingdom, by doing to me something that simply isn’t done?” Abimelech said to Abraham, “What were you thinking when you did this thing?”

Abraham said, “I thought to myself, No one reveres God here and they will kill me to get my wife. She is, truthfully, my sister—my father’s daughter but not my mother’s daughter—and she’s now my wife. When God led me away from my father’s household, I said to her, ‘This is the loyalty I expect from you: in each place we visit, tell them, “He is my brother.”’”

Abimelech took flocks, cattle, male servants, and female servants, and gave them to Abraham; and Abimelech returned his wife Sarah.Abimelech said, “My land is here available to you. Live wherever you wish.” To Sarah, he said, “I’ve given your brother one thousand pieces of silver. It means that neither you nor anyone with you has done anything wrong. Everything has been set right.” Abraham prayed to God; and God restored Abimelech, his wife, and his women servants to health, and they were able to have children. Because of the incident with Abraham’s wife Sarah, the Lord had kept all of the women in Abimelech’s household from having children.

John 21:1-19 (May 5, 2019)

Later, Jesus himself appeared again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. This is how it happened: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter told them, “I’m going fishing.”

They said, “We’ll go with you.” They set out in a boat, but throughout the night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples didn’t realize it was Jesus.

Jesus called to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”

They answered him, “No.”

He said, “Cast your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”

So they did, and there were so many fish that they couldn’t haul in the net. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard it was the Lord, he wrapped his coat around himself (for he was naked) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they weren’t far from shore, only about one hundred yards.

When they landed, they saw a fire there, with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you’ve just caught.” Simon Peter got up and pulled the net to shore. It was full of large fish, one hundred fifty-three of them. Yet the net hadn’t torn, even with so many fish. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples could bring themselves to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread, and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

When they finished eating, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” Jesus asked a second time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Take care of my sheep.” He asked a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was sad that Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” He replied, “Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. I assure you that when you were younger you tied your own belt and walked around wherever you wanted. When you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and another will tie your belt and lead you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to show the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. After saying this, Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me.”

John 20:19-31 (April 28, 2019)

It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.”Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, they aren’t forgiven.”

Thomas, the one called Didymus, one of the Twelve, wasn’t with the disciples when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We’ve seen the Lord!”

But he replied, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, put my finger in the wounds left by the nails, and put my hand into his side, I won’t believe.”

After eight days his disciples were again in a house and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus entered and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here. Look at my hands. Put your hand into my side. No more disbelief. Believe!”

Thomas responded to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus replied, “Do you believe because you see me? Happy are those who don’t see and yet believe.”

Then Jesus did many other miraculous signs in his disciples’ presence, signs that aren’t recorded in this scroll. But these things are written so that you will believe that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, and that believing, you will have life in his name.

Luke 24:1-12 (Easter 2019)

Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, the women went to the tomb, bringing the fragrant spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. They didn’t know what to make of this. Suddenly, two men were standing beside them in gleaming bright clothing. The women were frightened and bowed their faces toward the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He isn’t here, but has been raised. Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee, that the Human One must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”Then they remembered his words. When they returned from the tomb, they reported all these things to the eleven and all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles. Their words struck the apostles as nonsense, and they didn’t believe the women. But Peter ran to the tomb. When he bent over to look inside, he saw only the linen cloth. Then he returned home, wondering what had happened.

Lenten Breakfast Presentation (4/17/19)

The presentation following the community lenten breakfast given by the Rev. Dr. Richard Boone on his work as the program coordinator for the Horizon Prison Initiative at London Correctional Institution. More information on Rev. Boone and his ministry can be found here: https://www.westohioumc.org/conference/ccw-richard-boone.

John 17:20-26

“I’m not praying only for them but also for those who believe in me because of their word. I pray they will be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. I pray that they also will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me. I’ve given them the glory that you gave me so that they can be one just as we are one. I’m in them and you are in me so that they will be made perfectly one. Then the world will know that you sent me and that you have loved them just as you loved me.

“Father, I want those you gave me to be with me where I am. Then they can see my glory, which you gave me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

“Righteous Father, even the world didn’t know you, but I’ve known you, and these believers know that you sent me. I’ve made your name known to them and will continue to make it known so that your love for me will be in them, and I myself will be in them.”

This week’s theme: Simplifying ____________________.

A human inclination: We __________ to be _________________________.

A Holy Week reminder: No matter what, ______________________________.

Following Jesus’ example: In prayer, we ____________________ to __________.

    1. Introduction: How is it with your spirit?
    2. Application: What has been your own practice of prayer? Where did you learn it? Has prayer changed you and/or deepened your faith
    3. Scripture: How does it make you feel to read that Jesus prayed for you before he was arrested? Do you think Jesus still prays for us
    4. Scripture: Jesus entrusted what was most important to him (us) to God in prayer. How might we do the same with what matters to us?
    5. Application: Have you ever prayed for strangers? How often do you pray for yourself? Do you try to keep track of who to be praying for
    6. Application: Do you include confession in your prayers? Why might confession be an important practice to cultivate?
    7. Conclusion: What will you take away from Lent and this small group study? Will you continue any simplifying practices in your life?

Matthew 7:1-5

“Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you. Why do you see the splinter that’s in your brother’s or sister’s eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye? How can you say to your brother or sister, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when there’s a log in your eye? You deceive yourself! First take the log out of your eye, and then you’ll see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s or sister’s eye.”

This week’s theme: Simplifying ____________________.

An important question: What does “____________________” even mean?

Trusting the metaphor: Having__________ in our eyes __________.

The take-home lesson: Jesus invites us to __________ with __________.

    1. Introduction: How is it with your spirit?
    2. Application: Can you think of a relationship with another person that has been particularly beneficial to your faith? What was it about the relationship that was helpful for you?
    3. Scripture: Do you see a difference between saying “Don’t judge” and “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged” (v.1)? In what way?
    4. Scripture: Why might we notice the splinter in another’s eye before the log in our own (v.3)? How might we work against this tendency?
    5. Application: Have you ever said you were sorry to someone when you did not feel you were at fault? What prompted you to do this? How did your action change the relationship
    6. Application: Are there people you still need to forgive? What might be getting in the way?

Mark 6:30-34

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him everything they had done and taught. Many people were coming and going, so there was no time to eat. He said to the apostles, “Come by yourselves to a secluded place and rest for a while.” They departed in a boat by themselves for a deserted place.

Many people saw them leaving and recognized them, so they ran ahead from all the cities and arrived before them. When Jesus arrived and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then he began to teach them many things.

This week’s theme: Simplifying the __________.

That old adage: if you want something done, ____________________.

A familiar misconception: __________ are not __________.

Making space in the schedule: Don’t miss the ______________________________.

    1. Introduction: How is it with your spirit?
    2. Application: Do you feel in control of your schedule or the other way around? How does that impact your life and spirit?
    3. Scripture: Have you ever pictured Jesus retreating to a deserted place from the crowds just to have a chance to eat (v.31-32)? How does this influence your perception of Jesus?
    4. Scripture: What might it mean to be a “sheep without a shepherd?” What do you think the crowd wanted from Jesus? What did they get?
    5. Application: How do you include rest in your schedule? How do you tend to respond when someone interrupts your time for rest?
    6. Application: Why is it so difficult to let go of what appear to be legitimate obligations? What might sit beneath this need to see ourselves as responsible people in control of our lives?

Isaiah 55

All of you who are thirsty, come to the water!
Whoever has no money, come, buy food and eat!
Without money, at no cost, buy wine and milk!
Why spend money for what isn’t food,
    and your earnings for what doesn’t satisfy?
Listen carefully to me and eat what is good;
    enjoy the richest of feasts.
Listen and come to me;
    listen, and you will live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
    my faithful loyalty to David.
Look, I made him a witness to the peoples,
    a prince and commander of peoples.
Look, you will call a nation you don’t know,
    a nation you don’t know will run to you
    because of the Lord your God,
    the holy one of Israel, who has glorified you.

Seek the Lord when he can still be found;
    call him while he is yet near.
Let the wicked abandon their ways
    and the sinful their schemes.
Let them return to the Lord so that he may have mercy on them,
    to our God, because he is generous with forgiveness.
My plans aren’t your plans,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways,
    and my plans than your plans.
Just as the rain and the snow come down from the sky
        and don’t return there without watering the earth,
        making it conceive and yield plants
        and providing seed to the sower and food to the eater,
    so is my word that comes from my mouth;
        it does not return to me empty.
        Instead, it does what I want,
        and accomplishes what I intend.

Yes, you will go out with celebration,
    and you will be brought back in peace.
Even the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you;
    all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
In place of the thorn the cypress will grow;
    in place of the nettle the myrtle will grow.
This will attest to the Lord’s stature,
        an enduring reminder that won’t be removed.

This week’s theme: Simplifying ____________________.

The basics: If you don’t __________ then you get __________.

Looking in the right place: __________ comes from __________.

The result: What does God intend? ____________________.

    1. Introduction: How is it with your spirit?
    2. Application: How have you experienced the scripture/practices of the past week? Have they prompted any thoughts/questions in you?
    3. Scripture: What might it mean that God offers food and drink “at no cost” (v.1)? What might be the food and drink that God offers?
    4. Scripture: What might the food that “isn’t food … [and] doesn’t satisfy” (v.2) be for us? Where do we look for fulfillment in life?
    5. Scripture: What might it mean that God’s words “does not return empty” (v.11)? How have we been changed by God’s words?
    6. Application: How would you characterize a “simplified mind”? Do you know anyone who exemplifies this? What are they like?
    7. Application: How do you allow space in life to hear God speak? Is there anything you’d like to try to create more space for listening?

Psalm 139:1-18

Lord, you have examined me.
    You know me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up.
    Even from far away, you comprehend my plans.
You study my traveling and resting.
    You are thoroughly familiar with all my ways.
There isn’t a word on my tongue, Lord,
    that you don’t already know completely.
You surround me—front and back.
    You put your hand on me.
That kind of knowledge is too much for me;
    it’s so high above me that I can’t reach it.

Where could I go to get away from your spirit?
    Where could I go to escape your presence?
If I went up to heaven, you would be there.
    If I went down to the grave, you would be there too!
If I could fly on the wings of dawn,
    stopping to rest only on the far side of the ocean—
        even there your hand would guide me;
        even there your strong hand would hold me tight!
If I said, “The darkness will definitely hide me;
        the light will become night around me,”
    even then the darkness isn’t too dark for you!
        Nighttime would shine bright as day,
        because darkness is the same as light to you!

You are the one who created my innermost parts;
    you knit me together while I was still in my mother’s womb.
I give thanks to you that I was marvelously set apart.
    Your works are wonderful—I know that very well.
My bones weren’t hidden from you
    when I was being put together in a secret place,
    when I was being woven together in the deep parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my embryo,
    and on your scroll every day was written that was being formed for me,
    before any one of them had yet happened.
God, your plans are incomprehensible to me!
    Their total number is countless!
If I tried to count them—they outnumber grains of sand!
    If I came to the very end—I’d still be with you.

At first glance: __________ is __________.

 Natural Response: We focus on __________ and __________.

Remember this: God _______________ us and _______________ us.

    1. Introduction: How is it with your spirit?
    2. Application: What have you learned about yourself from the spiritual practices of the past week?
    3. Scripture: How does being fully examined by God make you feel? Does it incline you to give thanks, flee, or both? Why?
    4. Scripture: What might it mean to be “fearfully and wonderfully made” (v.14)? Do you often live as though this were true?
    5. Application: Are you challenged or comforted when encouraged to love yourself as God loves you? What might it mean to love ourselves as God loves us?
    6. Application: How might we allow ourselves to live as who God knows us to be instead of the image we want others to see? How might we allow others to do to the same when they’re with us?

Mark 12:38-44

As he was teaching, he said, “Watch out for the legal experts. They like to walk around in long robes. They want to be greeted with honor in the markets. They long for places of honor in the synagogues and at banquets. 

They are the ones who cheat widows out of their homes, and to show off they say long prayers. They will be judged most harshly.”

Jesus sat across from the collection box for the temple treasury and observed how the crowd gave their money. Many rich people were throwing in lots of money. One poor widow came forward and put in two small copper coins worth a penny. 

Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I assure you that this poor widow has put in more than everyone who’s been putting money in the treasury. All of them are giving out of their spare change. But she from her hopeless poverty has given everything she had, even what she needed to live on.”

Common Understanding: Be like the widow and ______________________________.

 John Wesley’s Money Management Principle: _______ all you can, _______ all you can, and _______ all you can.

Reinterpretation: Don’t be a ____________ to money.

    1. Introduction: How is it with your spirit?
    2. Application: Have you participated in any of the practices so far? Which suggested activity caused the strongest reaction, positive or negative, within you? Why might that be?
    3. Application: What is your personal relationship with money? How does it feel to devote a week of practices to examining it?
    4. Scripture: How did the reinterpretation of the widow’s story sit with you? Do you feel it loses anything important? Does it enrich the story for you?
    5. Application: Do you consider Wesley’s money management principle helpful? Why or why not?
    6. Application: Do you see yourself adopting any of these practices on an ongoing basis? Why or why not?

Deuteronomy 18:17-22 (March 3, 2019)
17 The Lord said to me: What they’ve said is right. 18 I’ll raise up a prophet for them from among their fellow Israelites—one just like you. I’ll put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. 19 I myself will hold accountable anyone who doesn’t listen to my words, which that prophet will speak in my name. 20 However, any prophet who arrogantly speaks a word in my name that I haven’t commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods—that prophet must die. 

21 Now, you might be wondering, How will we know which word God hasn’t spoken? 22 Here’s the answer: The prophet who speaks in the Lord’s name and the thing doesn’t happen or come about—that’s the word the Lord hasn’t spoken. That prophet spoke arrogantly. Don’t be afraid of him.

Psalm 67 (February 17, 2019)
67 Let God grant us grace and bless us;
let God make his face shine on us, Selah
2 so that your way becomes known on earth,
so that your salvation becomes known among all the nations.3 Let the people thank you, God!
Let all the people thank you!
4 Let the people celebrate
and shout with joy
because you judge the nations fairly
and guide all nations on the earth. Selah
5 Let the people thank you, God!
Let all the people thank you!
6 The earth has yielded its harvest.
God blesses us—our God blesses us!
7 Let God continue to bless us;
let the far ends of the earth honor him. 

Psalm 44 (February 10, 2019)
44 We have heard it, God, with our own ears;
our ancestors told us about it:
about the deeds you did in their days,
in days long past.
2 You, by your own hand, removed all the nations,
but you planted our ancestors.
You crushed all the peoples,
but you set our ancestors free.
3 No, not by their own swords
did they take possession of the land—
their own arms didn’t save them.
No, it was your strong hand, your arm,
and the light of your face
because you were pleased with them.
4 It’s you, God! You who are my king,
the one who orders salvation for Jacob.
5 We’ve pushed our foes away by your help;
we’ve trampled our enemies by your name.
6 No, I won’t trust in my bow;
my sword won’t save me
7 because it’s you who saved us from our foes,
you who put those who hate us to shame.
8 So we glory in God at all times
and give thanks to your name forever. Selah 

9 But now you’ve rejected and humiliated us.
You no longer accompany our armies.
10 You make us retreat from the enemy;
our adversaries plunder us.
11 You’ve handed us over like sheep for butchering;
you’ve scattered us among the nations.
12 You’ve sold your people for nothing,
not even bothering to set a decent price.
13 You’ve made us a joke to all our neighbors;
we’re mocked and ridiculed by everyone around us.
14 You’ve made us a bad joke to the nations,
something to be laughed at by all peoples.
15 All day long my disgrace confronts me,
and shame covers my face
16 because of the voices of those
who make fun of me and bad-mouth me,
because of the enemy who is out for revenge.

17 All this has come upon us,
but we haven’t forgotten you
or broken your covenant.
18 Our hearts haven’t turned away,
neither have our steps strayed from your way.
19 But you’ve crushed us in the place where jackals live,
covering us with deepest darkness.
20 If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread out our hands to some strange deity,
21 wouldn’t God have discovered it?
After all, God knows every secret of the heart.
22 No, God, it’s because of you that we are getting killed every day—
it’s because of you that we are considered sheep ready for slaughter.

23 Wake up! Why are you sleeping, Lord?
Get up! Don’t reject us forever!
24 Why are you hiding your face,
forgetting our suffering and oppression?
25 Look: we’re going down to the dust;
our stomachs are flat on the ground!
26 Stand up! Help us!
Save us for the sake of your faithful love.

Psalm 32 (February 3, 2019)

The one whose wrongdoing is forgiven,
whose sin is covered over, is truly happy!
2 The one the Lord doesn’t consider guilty—
in whose spirit there is no dishonesty—
that one is truly happy!
 
3 When I kept quiet, my bones wore out;
I was groaning all day long—
every day, every night!—
4 because your hand was heavy upon me.
My energy was sapped as if in a summer drought. Selah
5 So I admitted my sin to you;
I didn’t conceal my guilt.
“I’ll confess my sins to the Lord, ” is what I said.
Then you removed the guilt of my sin. Selah
 
6 That’s why all the faithful should pray to you during troubled times,
so that a great flood of water won’t reach them.
7 You are my secret hideout!
You protect me from trouble.
You surround me with songs of rescue! Selah
 
8 I will instruct you and teach you
about the direction you should go.
I’ll advise you and keep my eye on you.
9 Don’t be like some senseless horse or mule,
whose movement must be controlled
with a bit and a bridle.
Don’t be anything like that!
10 The pain of the wicked is severe,
but faithful love surrounds the one who trusts the Lord.
11 You who are righteous, rejoice in the Lord and be glad!
All you whose hearts are right, sing out in joy!
Mark 2:18-22 (January 27, 2019)
18 John’s disciples and the Pharisees had a habit of fasting. Some people asked Jesus, “Why do John’s disciples and the Pharisees’ disciples fast, but yours don’t?”19 Jesus said, “The wedding guests can’t fast while the groom is with them, can they? As long as they have the groom with them, they can’t fast. 20 But the days will come when the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.21 “No one sews a piece of new, unshrunk cloth on old clothes; otherwise, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and makes a worse tear. 22 No one pours new wine into old leather wineskins; otherwise, the wine would burst the wineskins and the wine would be lost and the wineskins destroyed. But new wine is for new wineskins.”
John 2:1-11 (January 20, 2019)
2 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and 2 Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. 3 When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They don’t have any wine.” 4 Jesus replied, “Woman, what does that have to do with me? My time hasn’t come yet.” 5 His mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Nearby were six stone water jars used for the Jewish cleansing ritual, each able to hold about twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water,” and they filled them to the brim. 8 Then he told them, “Now draw some from them and take it to the headwaiter,” and they did. 9 The headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine. He didn’t know where it came from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. The headwaiter called the groom 10 and said, “Everyone serves the good wine first. They bring out the second-rate wine only when the guests are drinking freely. You kept the good wine until now.” 11 This was the first miraculous sign that Jesus did in Cana of Galilee. He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.
Luke 3:15-22 (January 13, 2019)
15 The people were filled with expectation, and everyone wondered whether John might be the Christ. 16 John replied to them all, “I baptize you with water, but the one who is more powerful than me is coming. I’m not worthy to loosen the strap of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 The shovel he uses to sift the wheat from the husks is in his hands. He will clean out his threshing area and bring the wheat into his barn. But he will burn the husks with a fire that can’t be put out.” 18 With many other words John appealed to them, proclaiming good news to the people. 19 But Herod the ruler had been criticized harshly by John because of Herodias, Herod’s brother’s wife, and because of all the evil he had done. 20 He added this to the list of his evil deeds: he locked John up in prison. 21 When everyone was being baptized, Jesus also was baptized. While he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit came down on him in bodily form like a dove. And there was a voice from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.”