What Do You Want?

Here we are at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  After he is baptized, his first followers enter the scene.  John the Baptist directs those who were with him to now follow Jesus.    

We hear the first words of Jesus in the Gospel of John: “What do you want?”  Interesting: Jesus asks a question, rather than telling his new disciples what to do!  

Jesus meets each of us and asks this same question: “What it is that you most want in life?”  Jesus figures, that if his friends know what they really want from their hearts, then that will be just what Jesus wants.   

What do you really want in life?  Think about it.  What kind of a person do you want to be?  Picture Jesus asking you this one all-important question.  What will be your answer?

John 1:29-42

On Sundays we follow the Gospels from the Revised Common Lectionary.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

The One Drawn from Water

The exciting book of Exodus begins.  We left off in Genesis with the wonderful story of Joseph and his death.  In Exodus the thread is picked up when we find God’s people enslaved by a pharaoh who didn’t know about Joseph and all that he did for Egypt.

Right away we jump into the story of the slavery of God’s people.  Like Joseph and so many others before him, God calls another person who will be the leader of God’s people. His name is Moses, meaning, “One drawn from water.”   You’ll read how he was saved as an infant from water from a pharaoh as evil as Herod that we read about in Christmastime.

Every time Moses heard his name, he remembered his being saved from water.  Each of us as well could be called “Moses” because we have been saved by the precious waters of Baptism.   What plan does God have for you, just has he had for Moses?  

Exodus 1:1-2:11

The Saturday passages follow the reading list that Jewish people use in their synagogue worship throughout the world. They are taken from
“The Torah,” the first five books of the Bible from Genesis to Deuteronomy that are read each year beginning with autumn.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

Earth, Air, Fire and Water

I hope you will like our Fridays with Matthew.  We’ll be making our way through his gospel about one chapter a week. Today, we hear once more the Advent cries of John the Baptist in the desert.  In this one chapter, we get the feel of Advent and Christmas, bringing us up to the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

Ancient peoples thought that everything was made up of four elements—earth, air, fire and water.  These are present at Jesus’ baptism. Earth and the airs of heaven are there, together with water and the fire of the baptism of the Holy Spirit!  May the Holy Spirit set fire to our hearts for God and all that matters to God! 

Matthew 3

Fridays are dedicated to the Gospels. This being Year C,
the third year in the cycle, we generally read from the Gospel of Luke.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

Love, Not Laws

I have to be honest; I’ve been stopped by the police a few times in my life as a driver!  One time was right after I came to serve a church.  I went across an intersection after the light had turned amber…That’s a no no!  Right away the siren blared, the lights flashed, and I found myself peering through the car window at the policeman who stopped me.

He looked at my driver’s license and recognized the address.  “Are you the pastor?”  “Yes,” I said. “Sorry that we’re meeting under these circumstances!”  He warned me and did not give me a ticket. Afterward, whenever I saw the policeman, I always felt a bit ashamed, wondering what he thought about me for running that light.  

God’s people thought they would get on God’s good side if they just kept all God’s many Old Testament laws.  When Jesus came, this changed. When we give our lives to Jesus, we get all the benefits of what Jesus won for us.  All we need to do is love and believe that God loves us back, in and through Jesus. We do need to keep laws, but it’s Jesus love in us and not law-keeping, that makes us right with God.

That policeman: I hoped he liked me even though I broke a law.  But you know…whether he liked me or not, it didn’t matter; neither does it matter if there are some who don’t like you. You and I are liked and loved by God because we are wrapped in the love of Jesus.  Glory to God!

Galatians 3:24-29

Thursdays are dedicated to the letters of Paul, other letters,
the Book of Acts, and the Book of Revelation.
This year in the season of Advent to Epiphany we read the letters of Titus, Philemon, Galatians and Philippians.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

God’s Protection All Around

People and their enemies—this is a theme that runs through the psalms and through history itself.  In the middle of this psalm-writer’s complaints to God about the person’s enemies and what God is going to do about them, there’s a verse in the middle that stands out from all the rest—our verse for the day. 

The verse is like the center pole of a tent that keeps it from collapsing.  David feels great protection, knowing that God is his shield.  A shield was the basic weapon of defense for people long ago; swords and arrows were the weapons of attack. 

May you and I find comfort in knowing that God is our shield, protecting us from our all enemies…especially the ones of the spiritual world.  May we find comfort in God’s protection above us, beneath us and all around us.

Psalm 7

Wednesdays are devoted to the reading of the Psalms,
one a week across the three-year cycle.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

Feeling at Home

If you are growing up in a house owned by your parents, somewhere in all their important papers there is a title to the property.  This includes the exact location and the dimension of the lot where your house is built.  It’s very important to know what is yours and what isn’t; after all it’s your own land, your yard, and all that goes into calling where you live, your home.  We also speak of the country where one lives as one’s homeland.

Now that God’s people have entered into the Promised Land, they need to find out what’s theirs and what isn’t.  That’s what chapters 13 to 21 are all about.  It’s not reading as exciting as the previous chapters, but still it is important for a wandering people who were slaves in Egypt and who wandered for forty years in the desert, finally to have a place they can call home.

What is it that makes you feel at home?  It’s no only the land and the building; there’s a whole feeling that goes into it.  What’s it like for you at home?  Take all this to prayer, whether the feelings are good or not-so-good.  When you pray like this, one thing will happen: you’ll come to feel at home with God and God will feel at home in your heart.  

Joshua 17:14-18

Tuesdays are dedicated to the the History and Writings
of the Hebrew Scriptures.
This year in the season of Advent to Epiphany we read
Joshua and Proverbs 1—3

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

“God-With-Us”

In the middle of a frightening and dangerous time for God’s people, God gives King Ahaz a sign that God will be with them.  In fact, that will be the name of the one to come: Immanuel, “God-with-us.”  This refers to the coming blessed one, the Messiah, which means, “The Anointed One.”  

The sign begins with the miracle that Mary received in her life: while a virgin, she conceived and gave birth to a son—the very Son of God.  This week of the Baptism of Jesus, keep awake to what God is up to when things get shaky in your life and in your world.  Here’s the big fact that we don’t want to forget: “GOD-WITH-US!”  What a name!

Isaiah 7:10-16

Mondays are dedicated to the reading of the Hebrew Prophets.
This year in the season of Advent to Epiphany we read Isaiah 1—12.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.