[Beyond Sunday] Way Maker

Now those who were scattered went from place to place, proclaiming the word. Philip went down to the city[a] of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah[b] to them. The crowds with one accord listened eagerly to what was said by Philip, hearing and seeing the signs that he did, for unclean spirits, crying with loud shrieks, came out of many who were possessed; and many others who were paralyzed or lame were cured. So there was great joy in that city.

Now a certain man named Simon had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he was someone great. 10 All of them, from the least to the greatest, listened to him eagerly, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they listened eagerly to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip, who was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed. After being baptized, he stayed constantly with Philip and was amazed when he saw the signs and great miracles that took place.

-Acts 8:4-13

God will always makes a way.  Even when we are uncertain about sharing our faith.  Even when we feel the audience is hostile or alien, still God will make a way.  Are we willing to be God’s way in the world? [hear sermon audio]

 

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect in your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • What situations in your life seem like insurmountable obstacles?
  • What are you most afraid of in that situation?
  • What would be the best possible outcome for all involved?
  • How do you pray about that situation?

 

Do and share:

  • Share a story online of a time God helped clear a way for you.
  • Find a video of your favorite praise music and share in our Facebook group or on Twitter (@dpumc).

 

[Beyond Sunday] Oh For a Thousand Tongues…

O For a thousand tongues to sing
My dear Redeemer’s praise!
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the world abroad
The honors of Thy name.

He breaks the power of cancell’d sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood avail’d for me

In Christ, your head, ye then shall know,
Shall feel your sins forgiven;
Anticipate your heaven below,
And own that love is heaven.

-From O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing

We are created to praise God.  We praise because of all God has done.  We praise because of all the things God is about in the world.  We praise simply because God is God.  And in singing our praises, we steadily formed in a faith that transcends even words and melodies to become the song of our heart and the rhythm of our lives.    [hear sermon audio]

 

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect in your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

(from Spiritual Classics ed. Richard Foster)

  • How can I enhance the experience of worship for others?
  • In what ways can I guard against the worshiping experience of others?
  • In my life, how can I avoid needless criticism and complaint?

 

Do and share:

  • Make a list of your favorite hymns and songs that have formed your faith.  Reflect on what it is that makes a particular hymn dear to you.
  • Find a video of your favorite praise music and share in our Facebook group or on Twitter (@dpumc).

 

[Beyond Sunday] What are you Made for?

One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? 26 He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” 27 Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; 28 so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”

-Mark 2:23-28

Every commandment of God is also a blessing, every duty a means of grace.  When we are called to stop a rest it is for the good of our own souls.  Yet when we turn God into a taskmaster, we limit those who hear the good news of Christ’s love    [hear sermon audio]

 

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect in your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • Where do you find rest in the midst of business?
  • Have you ever found religion as draining as it was life-giving?  Why do you think that was?
  • Who in our community needs to hear the good news of Jesus Christ?

Do and share:

  • Take a picture of your Sabbath place or practice and share it on our Facebook.
  • Share a your sabbath prayer requests via Facebook or Twitter (@dpumc).

 

[Beyond Sunday] Coming by Night

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews.2He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” 3Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 4Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” 5Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 8The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”10Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? 11“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

-John 3:1-17

In the night, we stumble.  We struggle to see things as they are, even ourselves.  Nicodemus comes by night, thinking, perhaps that he has all the answers, only to have his eyes opened to a whole new way of being.    [hear sermon audio]

 

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect in your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • What is something you thought you knew that you later turned out to be wrong about?
  • How has learning opened your eyes or changed your faith?
  • What questions do you have today about faith?

Do and share:

  • Pick an object and take pictures of it in the morning, noon, evening, and at night.  Observe how the changing time of day, changes your perception.
  • Share a story of having your eyes opened via Facebook or Twitter (@dpumc).

 

[Beyond Sunday] Pentecost (Confirmation)

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

-Acts 2:1-13

Clarity in the midst of chaos makes us brave.  The coming of the Holy Spirit empowers the disciples to unite and spread the gospel.    [hear sermon audio]

 

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect in your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • Who in your circle of influence needs to hear the Gospel?
  • What cultural languages do you speak?
  • What would it take for you to be brave enough to share your faith?

Do and share:

  • Find one person this week to tell the story of the first time you remember hearing about Jesus.
  • Share your hopes for our confirmands via Facebook or Twitter (@dpumc).

 

[Beyond Sunday] Mother’s day

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”

-John 14:15-21

Christ promises that we will never be left orphaned.  In all our lives, the Spirit uses people to comfort, care for, teach and guide us.  Often we come to call them mothers.    [hear sermon audio]

 

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect in your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • Is there a woman in the Bible with whom you strongly identify?  Why?
  • What women in your life have helped you grow in faith?
  • How do you help the women in your life embrace their God-given gifts and talents?

Do and share:

  • Donate to a charity that supports women’s empowerment or maternal health.
  • Share a memory of a spiritual mother from your life on ourFacebook or Twitter (@dpumc).

 

[Beyond Sunday] Graduation Sunday

9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants[a] any longer, because the servant[b] does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

-John 15:9-17

As Jesus prepares his disciples for the next phase of their life, he leaves them with a parting commandment: To love as Christ loved.  As our graduates prepare to go out into the world, the same advice holds true.    [hear sermon audio]

 

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect in your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • Who are the people in your life that it’s easy to love?
  • When have you needed to put someone else’s interests before your own?
  • How might the love described here be different than what we typically see in tv and movies?

Do and share:

  • Take a picture of love in action. Share it with us on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Share your hopes for our graduating seniors via Facebook or Twitter (@dpumc).

 

[Beyond Sunday] We Had Hoped…

image: Emmaus Door

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread

-Luke 24:13-34

Worry, doubt, shame and grief can all rob us of our hope.  On the road to Emmaus, two disciples find themselves unable to rationalize all that has happened.  But then a strange encounter with a teacher opens there eyes to the new thing God is about.  When hope fails in our lives, how might God show up in unexpected ways to renew our hearts?    [hear sermon audio]

 

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect in your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • Have you ever hoped for something that did not happen?  How did it make you feel?
  • How might small habits help us regain our hope in difficult times?
  • What habits are you currently cultivating in your life?

Do and share:

  • Take a short video of yourself describing a time when hope was difficult and what helped you see God at work. Share it with us on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Share your hopeful prayer request on Facebook or Twitter (@dpumc).

 

[Beyond Sunday] There’s So Much To Worry About

image: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink,[j] or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?[k] 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God[l] and his[m]righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

-Matthew 6:25-34

We all carry weights like doubt, shame, and grief.  These can get in the way of our relationship with God and with one another.  Fear and anxiety feel like the order of our day.  But Christ reminds us that worry only puts the burden of our life on us, rather than on God, who is eager to provide.  In learning to focus on God, rather than ourselves, we are relieved of stress and worry.    [hear sermon audio]

 

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect in your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • What do you worry about most?
  • What might that worry be trying to tell you?
  • How do you spend your mental energy?  Thinking more about yourself or others?

Do and share:

  • Name something that causes you anxiety.  Lift it in prayer this week and make a plan.  Ask God for the strength to commit to your plan and see it through.  Every time you feel yourself start to worry, remind yourself there is a plan and you’ve given it to God.
  • Share your worry prayer request on Facebook or Twitter (@dpumc).

 

[Beyond Sunday] If You Really Knew Me

image: Detail from Sistine Chapel 

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
    Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.

-Psalm 139: 14

We all carry weights like doubt, shame, and grief.  These can get in the way of our relationship with God and with one another.  But in Christ’s resurrection, we are all made new creations.  We have only to set down the burdens we carry and step into the life God has for us.  Psalm 139 reminds us that we are beloved creations of God.  Nothing we do or believe we are could ever separate us from God.  [hear sermon audio]

 

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect in your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • How do you understand the difference between guilt and shame?
  • How is guilt helpful in teachings how to live?
  • Why is shame unhelpful?
  • What shame do you need to release to God?

Do and share:

  • Find art images that depict shame.  Journal about what you see in them.  Are their similarities?  What in the images you chose resonates with you?
  • Share your prayer request on Facebook or Twitter (@dpumc).