Today, Is World Communion Day, it is the day that millions of Christians around the world take time to remember what Christ did for us. On the night that Jesus was betrayed, He went into a room with His disciples and they shared the Passover meal. The disciples and Jesus were participating in the Jewish practice of remembering when God freed their people from slavery in Egypt. They practiced this so they would never forget how it felt to be a slave and always remember that God showed them grace and saved them. Remembering who we are in Christ is the most important part of being a Christian. We remember that each of us are fearfully and wonderfully made by God. We are loved by God. We are forgiven by God through grace and have been freed from the prisons that bind us. Remembering the stories of Passover and the Last Supper are essential practices for our faith. Wherever you are today, take a minute to remember what Jesus means to you. Take a moment to break bread, say a prayer on your knees, or share an act of kindness with someone; so that you are practicing your faith and remembering who you are in Christ.
What do you really want in life? What is it that you really desire? As we move our way through the scriptures starting with Adam and Eve all the way to Jesus, we will see one sin more than any other reoccurring. That is the sin of wanting something that belongs to someone else. Adam and Eve had everything in the garden including a close relationship with God, but they also wanted the apple. The technical term for this in scripture is “coveting” to covet or want what is your neighbor; it means to be jealous or to envy. This is something that we all struggle with every day. We want to be popular like someone else, to have money like those people, to be cute and funny like she is, to be strong and gifted like he is, etc. To covet or envy what someone has us constantly comparing, which really makes us think that we are just not as good enough as we are. We want more. Jealoush and envy is inside our hearts and heads but it leads us to sin in many ways. The story of Joseph and the colored coat shows us how bad it can get. Joseph’s brother’s get so jealous that they actually sell their brother to become a slave. It is shocking, that jealousy can lead us to such hate in our hearts. If I was Joseph, I would want revenge on my brothers. Yet, God shows Joseph how to have compassion to forgive his brothers. His brothers simply forgot what Adam and Eve forgot as well, they all forget that they were made in the image of God already. They forgot they were good enough. You don’t have to be jealous of someone else because God made you in God’s image. God made you wonderful. You can be confident that you are already good enough. Don’t let jealous and envy ruin your life and hate your friends. Simply remember that you are good enough because you are a child of God.
Did you know that God has made a very special promise with you? God has made a personal covenant with each one us. It is a new covenant, a new promise that God has chosen us, to be with us, to lead us, to forgive us, to teach us, and to love us. A covenant is much like a contract but God’s contract is different than most because all we have to do is accept the promises of God for our lives. Thankfully, this contract is not dependent on our actions. We don’t have to be good, or look a certain part, or be a certain person, in order for God to keep the promise. God’s promise is to love us just as we are today. Sometimes, I wonder if sometimes when we are praying we aren’t trying to “bargain” with God to get a better deal on these promises. I mean, when I think about what I pray for sometimes I realize; God never promised us that we would have good grades, that our football team would always win, or that we would have lots of money and security. In fact in the story of Abraham (Genesis 12), God actually asks Abraham and his wife Sarah to give up all those worldly things, and simply to trust God. When we trust God, then we do find all the riches of the world because we no longer have to worry and stress as much. We don’t have to try to be perfect and meet all the expectations. When we trust God we don’t always have to be in control. We give our lives to God and God will provide what we need. This week talk to God about the real promises God has made with you, and work on accepting each and every one of them.
In the beginning God created the heavens, the earth, humans, a day of rest, and said that it was good. Usually, we think of “good” meaning average, but in reality the opposite of good is evil. So good really means righteous and having God’s approval and desire. God made each one of us in the image of God. But we all know the story of Adam and Eve and how our good becomes broken. Often this story is presented as the introduction of sin or evil into the world. I think this story actually introduces why we need love, redemption, and grace in the world. God tells Adam and Eve that if they eat from the tree of knowledge they will die. The serpent promises them that if they eat from the tree they will be like God.. But didn’t we just say that they were already made in the image of God? Maybe eating from this tree doesn’t make them be like God, but makes them forget that they were already made in the image of God. When they forget that God made them, then the story says that they come embarrassed and ashamed of themselves. This shame is how sin breaks us, it makes us forget that are holy and good. Yet, God doesn’t let this shame and sin kill us. God shows us love, mercy and care. Just like he takes care of Adam and Eve by making them clothes so they no longer are ashamed. How has shame broken you and kept you from living the good life God made you to live? Pray this week about giving your shame to God and remembering that you are good.
What is the last thing you got really excited about and celebrated? For some of us that might be getting our driver’s license or some kind of sports activity. When we celebrate something we love we usually tend to tell everyone and get really excited about it. We turn our focus, attention, and emotion towards that person or thing. Many of us don’t realize that worshipping God is just a celebration of who God is and what God has done. It doesn’t always have to be just about singing, or praying, or journaling. Everyday things can become worship if you focus on God. It is all about who you are celebrating vs what you are doing. Painting a picture to reflect God’s creation can become worship, or it can be just painting a flower. It is all about what you are focusing on while doing it. God wants a relationship with you and relationships involved attention, emotion, and celebration. Once you get to know more about God you will realize how easy it is to celebrate all that God has done. It is easy to love God and get excited. Focus on God through worship this week in everything you do.
What is your favorite vending machine snack? Mine would be a Snickers every time. Have you ever had that moment when you paid for something, hit the button, then your snack got stuck? There’s nothing worse than holding up your end of the deal, but then not getting the thing that you expect in return. But if you think about it, there are actually a lot of situations in life that happen like this. You do your part and take the right steps, but things don’t go the way you expect. I realized that sometimes when we are praying to God, we treat God just like a vending machine. Have you ever put yourself out there and prayed about things in your life—but the prayer isn’t answered? How does that make you feel? Do you start to doubt God or yourself? Chances are none of your other friendships function like a vending machine. You don’t only talk to your friends if you want something. You don’t blame your friends if you’re struggling in a class or with a teacher. God wants to be our friend and wants a relationship with us. So we have to talk to God like a friend and not like a vending machine. Psalm 145:18 states: “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth (Psalm 145:18 NIV)” Which means anytime you talk to God you are near to God. You are not alone, God is with you. It is also comforting to know that God is bigger than us, is all knowing, and is smarter than us. When we pray we get closer to God, who knows all the things that we don’t know. Spend time with God this week in prayer, talk to God like a friend, and you will feel God’s presence more and more.
Who do you know best in the world? Sister? Best friend? Grandparent? You probably know their favorite music, movies, hobbies, food, and dreams. It is great having someone you just “get” and they “get” you. But how do we “get” to know God in the same way? It can sometimes be hard to get to know God. It would be nice if God would answer text messages or snap us. Most of us have been told the Sunday School answer to get to know God we need to pray & read our bibles. Those things are great things to do, but to be honest there are a lot of reasons that doesn’t always work for me; like I am busy and sometimes it feels like homework. God wants it to feel more like when you got to know your best friend. My guess is that when you met your best friend, you were part of something together like class, band, a team, youth trip, camp, etc. You and your best friend have something in common which brought you closer together, you experienced and shared life together. There are many scriptures that remind us that God is already together with us in life, because God created all life on this earth. See how scripture tell us that we can get to know God better simply by noticing all that God created (see Romans 1:20, Psalm 19:1-4). Knowing God and sharing life with God can happen at any time and in any place. We just have to take a second to look around and see God in nature and in the people around us. Every day we pass something beautiful that God created, if we take time to notice we might learn how creative, thoughtful, imaginative, and personal God is. God pays attention to every little detail. If we pay attention to the details we might see, feel, smell, and learn more about God. This week take time to notice God through all the life that surrounds you.
Where do you turn when bad things happen in life? How do you handle the anxiety when you learn that you are not in control of your life? The honest truth is that bad things are going to happen; accidents happen and people get hurt, grief hits at loss of a loved one, and friends can betray us. We can’t always be in control of what is happening to us. That is why we need a place to hide (refuge) and a safe place to turn when everything in life gets turned upside down. In Psalm 91, we get a lot of pictures of how God protects us. God is like a mother bird protecting her young. God is like a strong castle or bunker that protects us from weather or enemies. What the Psalm doesn’t say is that the enemies, weather, or prey won’t come.. It just promises that God will be with us.. God will give us strength and truth. The truth is that we can trust God even on our worst day. The truth is that God has given us a family to help us when we feel anxious. So next time you feel like life is out of control or bad things are happening; first remember that God is there and then call someone from church and let them be a peaceful voice of hope and love. Pick-up the phone to hear them say, “I am so sorry this is happening to you. I am here. I love you.”
How many decisions do you make in a single day that direct the path of your life? We make decisions about what we eat, what we wear, what we say, what we do, where we go, what we learn, etc. All these decisions direct the path of our lives whether we realize it or not. As we learn and grow we will pick good paths and we will pick paths that lead us down tough roads (or lead us to sin). In Psalm 65, it talks about how God is always there to rescue us and forgive us. God gives us what we do not deserve (forgiveness and grace). In Psalm 65:11, it shows us how even the hard paths are filled with an abundance that only God can give. The entire Psalm talks about how there are reminder of God's abundance all around us. So even when you are struggling in life, trust that God is with you and God will provide for you in ways you never imagined. When was the last time you took a second to list all the things that God has given you? Take a minute to make a list of things you are thankful for and then read Psalm 65 to compare notes on the ways God provides and rescues us everyday. Read the blessing in the picture above to ask God to show you the path and to lead you; just like God show's the stars where to shine in the sky and leads the ocean to the shore. You too will shines God's glory all over this earth.
How do we stay connected to God when life is falling apart? Psalm 13 is a song written by King David, when his life was falling apart; people he knew wanted him dead. When it feels like our lives are falling apart it is ok to bring your complaints to God. Like David, Talk to God about how you have been wrestling with the voices in your head and dealing with a broken heart. And then ask God for help. Often times when I feel like my life is out of control, I take time to sing some of my favorite Jesus songs in the car. Sometimes I have to sing the same song over and over to remind myself that God is good, God loves me, and God is with me. It amazes me that when I remember those things how much better I feel even if none of my circumstances have changed. Take a minute today to practice what it is to talk to God about the hard times in your life.. Think about a crisis in your life (either current or old) write down your complaints about that crisis and your plea (ask for help) to God. Then write all the good things you believe about God. How hard is it to live in a world where you say God you have forgotten me and God is good? God knows life is hard and expects us to come to God whenever we need a big hug and reminder that God is there.