Archives for June 2020

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Headed in That Direction

...there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb (Revelation 7:9-10). "Th...

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On Earth

I looked, and there was a great multitude from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb crying, "Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!" (Revelation 7:9-10). What a beautiful scene: that great multitude, as "diverse" as we could possibly imagine, gathered to worship, cente...

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It Matters

They chose Nicholas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism (Acts 6:5). We've been looking at how the first Christians responded to a significant challenge and problem, a disparity in treatment between the Hebraic and Grecian widows. Usually, when we hear a sermon on this passage, we're looking at the beginning of the "office of deacon" and think the major take-away has to do...

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Listen Up!

Acts 6:1-7 When you're driving your car and hear a new noise, one that's different than normal, you become alarmed and rightly so. If you're wise you gather information about the noise -- when does it occur, at what speeds, in what temperatures, etc. -- you seek to determine its cause, and you take steps to fix it. If you're unwise you can ignore it, hoping it will go awa...

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A Better Way

This proposal pleased the whole group ... So the word of God spread (Acts 6:5a, 7a). I was in my second year of teaching. My students were third graders and we were off to a good start. One day a new girl joined our class. I didn't know why, but the kids didn't welcome her as I expected they would. Trying to make up for their cold shoulder, I paid extra attention to her. ...

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The Mosaic

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing,the Hellenistic Jewsamong them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widowswere being overlooked in the daily distribution of food (Acts 6:1). So you think we've got problems, huh? The truth of the matter is that problems have existed in the church from the very beginning. God is building a spiritual ...

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From Mixed to Fixed

the Grecian Jews complained against Hebraic Jews (Acts 6:1). Everything human has problems. This does not mean that every single thing humans do is bad. Just that it is mixed, a mixture of some of our best impulses and some of our worst, of mistaken certainties and honest questions, of motives base and noble, of God's Spirit and our sinfulness. This "mixture principle" ...

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The View from the Same Side

A priest, when he saw the man, passed by on the other side. So, too, a Levite saw himand passed by on the other side. But when a Samaritan came to where the man was he went to him (Luke 10:31-34). What we do is heavily dependent on what we see what we are willing to see. The priest and Levite in this parable see a danger, a not-my-problem situation. We don't know what ...

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What Good Looks Like

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came to where the man was;and when he saw him, he took pity on him (Luke 10:33). Samaritans were a people the Jewish faithful had despised for generations. So it is ironic that their name has become forever paired with "good." That has happened because, with this story of the Samaritan, Jesus shows us what good looks like. The Samaritan ...

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Overheard

Luke 10:25-37 "Whwhwhat happened? Where am I?" "You're at the Jericho Palms Motel, pal. I run the place." "What am I doing here? How did I get here? Ouch! What's the story with all these bandages?" "You don't know what happened to you?" "Let's see I had some business in Jerusalem, and was heading home, and oh, my: I remember now! It was terrible what they did to me ...

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Love Your Enemies

But he wanted to justify himself,so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" (Luke 10:29) To the first-century Jewish mind, the Parable of the Good Samaritan is scandalous. I remember hearing it as a kid, and without any understanding of the historical setting of the story, it still made sense. Out of three who saw the injured man, only one was willing to love his neigh...

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Subversive Stories

In reply, Jesus said, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho " (Luke 10:30). We're continuing our new Race, Power and Healing series by listening to one of Jesus' most familiar and beloved parables. "Good Samaritan" has entered our language and even our legal system despite many people no longer knowing where the phrase originated. This sermon series began with ...

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The People Problem

"The LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it." (Genesis 4:6-7) At the root of every sin is a broken relationship. From the beginning of the Bible to the end, God is clear about one thing: ...

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Rhetorical Questions?

Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?""I don't know," he replied, "am I my brother's keeper?"" (Genesis 4:9). Well, that was unexpected: on top of a pandemic, lock-downs, re-openings, hygiene and masksa brutal, appalling killing of an unarmed, handcuffed African- American man by a white police officer (while three other officers stood by) and rightful ...

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We Interrupt the Connect Devotional...

Genesis 4:1-16 Thanks to the wonders of modern medicine it's only about once a century that we experience a global pandemic, and because of the enduring reality of sin there are times in each generation when an event confronts us with layer upon layer of brokenness and sin. And with that confrontation an opportunity to make crooked things straight. Given the magnitude o...

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Go-To Community

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-40).Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home (Luke 1:56). Who is your go-to person, or persons? Say you have gotten good news...or bad news. You are confused or overjoyed. You need someone to ...

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Let It Be

"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May your word to me be fulfilled."Then the angel left her (Luke 1:26-38). It's June and already feeling summery, but our Scripture for this fifth and final week of our Into the Unknown series may have more of a December ring to it. Most of us have heard this scene recounted during Christmases past. Some strange guy comes to Ma...

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Decluttered

The LORD appeared to Abram so he built an altar to the LORD who had appeared to him. From there, he went on and pitched his tent there he built an altar to the LORD (Genesis 12:7-8). Marie Kondo has made a name for herself and a small fortune by teaching us how to declutter. We could have learned all that and more from Abram. Abram pitched his tent, but he built his ...

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The Flow of Blessing

"Go from your country, your people and your father's householdto the landI will show you."I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (Genesis 12:1-3). Have you ever wondered ...

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Leave and Go--Together

"Leave your country, your people, and your father's house and go " (Genesis 12:1). Abram left everything, but he didn't leave alone. We had one of the most significant "leave and go" moments of our lives about two years ago. Our pastoral assignment in Massachusetts was drawing to a close. And we were experiencing those hard-to- capture but also hard-to-ignore nudges and ...

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Listen Up

Then the LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you." So Abram left, as the LORD had told him... (Genesis 12:1, 4a). Sometimes the harder thing is when God's word is "Stay," as in Stay and I will bless My people with a better recovery from this virus. In Abram's case, God's word was "Go." We wo...

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On the Road...Again?

Genesis 12:1-9 Why did Abram have to go? Why couldn't God have blessed him, made him into a great nation, even blessed the whole world through him right where he was? Because something necessary happens on the way. As we head into this new week of our Into the Unknown series, we pick up this ancient story of an incredible journey. Journey-stories are among our most an...

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