[Beyond Sunday] And So We Give Thanks…

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you.
Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God, by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes, which I am commanding you today. When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock, and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good. Do not say to yourself, “My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today.

-Deuteronomy 8:7-18

Fortune makes us complacent.  As far back as ancient Israel, they understood that hardship fosters reliance and gratitude and that those attitudes are difficult to hang on to when times are good.  Yet gratitude is the thing that keeps us connected to God and our better selves.   [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect on your own life and community.

Texts to read:

  • Deuteronomy 6:10-11:32

Questions to ponder:

  • What is the virtue of self-sufficiency?
  •  What is the danger of self-sufficiency?
  • How can reliance on God and gratitude make us more attuned to the needs of others?

Do and share:

  • Take a picture of something for which you are grateful and share it to our Facebook or Twitter(@dpumc) with the tag #ongoingthanks
  • Start a “Gratitude Fund” in an envelope.  Every time you buy a Christmas gift for your family put at least 10% of the cost into the envelope.  The week of Christmas, use that money to bless someone in need.

 

[Beyond Sunday] Take Up Your Cross and Follow

Therefore, my brothers and sisters whom I love and miss, who are my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord.
Loved ones, I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to come to an agreement in the Lord. Yes, and I’m also asking you, loyal friend, to help these women who have struggled together with me in the ministry of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my coworkers whose names are in the scroll of life.
Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.
From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, heard, or saw in us. The God of peace will be with you.

-Philippians 4:1-9

Christ calls us to take up our cross and follow in his way.  It is an easy cross at first glance: joy, thanksgiving, prayer, peace, and gentleness to one another.   Yet, extending to others the grace we have received is not always easy.  [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect on your own life and community.

Texts to read:

  • Luke 9:18-27
  • Roman 14:1-9

Questions to ponder:

  • Who are the people in your life you find frustrating? What about their behavior is difficult for you?
  • Do you find yourself judging things you cannot see (like motivations or background?)
  • What would it mean to approach everyone with forbearance?

Do and share:

  • Watch a musical version of Les Miserables and identify all the places grace is offered (or not)
  • Share a quote or picture about patience on our Facebook page or tweet us at @dpumc

 

[Beyond Sunday] Give Up “I’m Right”

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

-Philippians 2:1-11 (selected)

Living with other people will involve conflict.  But disagreements can be handled with grace if we remember we all have the same goal in mind and if we approach one another with humility.   [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect on your own life and community.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • Describe an issue of conflict you are experiencing right now?
  • Why do you hold your position? (Why are you right?)
  • Try to describe an opposing position of integrity.
  • What do you have to risk being wrong about to bridge the gap?

Do and share:

  • Find someone who disagrees with you on an important issue. Ask them “Can you tell me what you think about [issue] and why you think that way?”  Just listen; offer no comment or rebuttal.  Later, Try to write down their argument without editorializing.  What do you notice about yourself in those moments?   How could God be using this conflict to help you grow?

 

[Beyond Sunday] Give Up “I Like”

I thank my God every time I mention you in my prayers. I’m thankful for all of you every time I pray, and it’s always a prayer full of joy.

I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus. I have good reason to think this way about all of you because I keep you in my heart.

God is my witness that I feel affection for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.

This is my prayer: that your love might become even more and more rich with knowledge and all kinds of insight. I pray this so that you will be able to decide what really matters and so you will be sincere and blameless on the day of Christ. I pray that you will then be filled with the fruit of righteousness, which comes from Jesus Christ, in order to give glory and praise to God.

Most important, live together in a manner worthy of Christ’s gospel. Do this, whether I come and see you or I’m absent and hear about you. Do this so that you stand firm, united in one spirit and mind as you struggle together to remain faithful to the gospel.

God has generously granted you the privilege, not only of believing in Christ but also of suffering for Christ’s sake. You are having the same struggle that you saw

meface and now hear that I’m still facing.

-Philippians 1 (selected)

Living with other people is uncomfortable.  One person talks too loud, or asks too many questions, or just does that thing that grates on our very last nerve.  Yet we are wired to need each other.  Even our faith is incomplete without the fellowship of others.  Only when we learn to be grateful everyone– even for those who make us uncomfortable– are we able to approach others with the love of Christ.   [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect on your own life and community.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • Is there someone in your community with whom you struggle to get along?
  • How often do you pray for them and give thanks for the good things they do?
  • If you gave thanks for that person regularly, what might change in your relationship?

Do and share:

  • Write a prayer of thanksgiving for someone who annoys you.  Use it in your time with God for 7 days.
  • Write a note to someone you might unintentionally annoy thanking them for their love and patience toward you.