Friday, March 5, 2021 – Fountain of Living Water

Read: John 7:32-52

Today’s reading finds Jesus still at the Feast of the Tabernacles still. I think it is important for us to understand what this festival is all about. It is also known as Sukkot and is still celebrated today by Jews. Take a moment to watch this fun little video about Sukkot or the Festival of the Tabernacles.

In my video I am going to say a little more about the Festival, but I also would like you to take a moment to watch this Bible Project video about the Water of Life. After that I will see you in my video. Enjoy!

Questions to Consider:

  1. We having Living Water bubbling up inside of us, a gift from Jesus, the Holy Spirit filling us.  How is the Holy Spirit moving inside you, moving you to bring life, joy and thanksgiving into this world? 
  2. We have been praying the Prayer of Jabez for a few weeks now, is the Holy Spirit speaking to you, flowing inside you?  It is okay if you are not hearing anything, keep on praying.  If you are hearing the Spirit move what is the Spirit saying?  Write about this? 

So What Activity:  As we explore images of new life, light and living water it is a wonderful time to get outside and do some gardening.  Do you have some plants in your yard that need some care?  Do you have some areas of the yard that need some new landscaping?  Maybe you are thinking a little smaller and just need a new houseplant.  I encourage you to bring some new life into your or around your home to help remind you of the life giving power of Jesus. 

Blessings,

Sermon starts at 35:00 – If you are interested in having a review on the Hallel – Just for fun.

Thursday, March 4, 2021 – Not Our Time, But God’s

I often wonder why God waited until I was older to call me into ministry.  Sometimes I even get a little sad when I think of all the time that I “wasted” in my earlier life, time that I could have used better to serve God.  But then when I sit back and look at the full picture of my life I see that God was preparing me for my call during my 20’s and 30’s.  I also remember that being a stay at home mom was not “wasted” time.  That was important work.  I also remember that being a teacher was important work as well.  Even though I was not close to God in those years and for much of that time I was angry at God, I understand that I needed to live that part of my life to get to this part of my life.  I look back and can’t exactly pick out what I would remove from the timeline to have received my call earlier.  Would I give up time with my babies being that stay at home mom, no, that was too short as it is.  Would I take away one year of teaching all those sweet first graders, no, I was a good teacher.  How about my time in Children’s Ministry?  That shaped me in a powerful way, I couldn’t trade that away.  I see now that God’s timing is perfect.  God waits for the perfect opportunities in our lives to open and close doors. 

Read: John 7:1-31

Questions to Consider:

  1. When have you felt the Holy Spirit calling you to do something and listened?  How did it turn out?
  2. When have you felt the Holy Spirit calling you to do something and didn’t listen?  Why didn’t you listen? 

So What Activity:  Take a walk outside and take some time to listen to the Holy Spirit.  If you feel the Spirit prompting you towards some action move towards that opportunity.     

Blessings,

March 3, 2021 – Defection, Deterioration and Determination

Greetings Lake Deaton Family,

I hope you are all well. I had my surgical procedure on Monday, and all went well. I will now wait until next week to find out if the cancer had spread through my lymph nodes, but I am anticipating that it had remained localized and that all is complete. Thank you all so much for your prayers and cards!!!

The scripture from yesterday’s and today’s reading is pretty much in-your-face Jesus 101! The people want Jesus to perform miracles like he is a carnival side show. Jesus is trying to point them to real life, which is found through complete surrender to Himself. Often, we read things like this and think those people are all messed up, don’t they know who it is standing before them? But I think we haven’t changed much in 2,000 years. Today we are looking at a different kind of show, but many of us still are in it for the show. We talk about the music, it was too loud, or not loud enough, it didn’t speak to me, or the pastor’s comments didn’t grab me. The list can go on and on. We live in a consumerist world and we take our consumerism with us as we enter into the church. 

You may need to read the first part of John chapter 6 again today, before reading the scripture below. As you read think about why some people left Jesus, and then think about what Jesus was offering to the people that we might desperately need today. 

As you read, I invite you to open your heart to being messed with. Maybe some of us are looking at Jesus and wanting the wrong thing, let’s open our hearts to the real Jesus and the real message of the Gospel. 

Read: John 6:60-71

Questions to Consider:

  1. Why did the people leave Jesus? (Vs 66)
  2. What do you think it means when Jesus says that he is the bread of life and that unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood, we cannot have eternal life?
  3. What would it mean for you today to eat his flesh and drink his blood? What does that look like in the 21st century?

So What Activity:   Spend some time today in quiet meditation before Jesus. As you spend this time write down any areas in your life where you feel you may be looking at Jesus (or the church) as a carnival side show. Then write down what Jesus is asking of you in order to move into a deeper surrender into discipleship. 

Blessings, 

March 2, 2021 – Bread of Life

When I was very young, my family would go on vacation to visit my aunt and uncle out at the farm. My aunt made homemade bread in a huge brick oven. It smelled so good and the bread was delicious especially coming right out of the oven. But then, I would join my cousins going throughout the small town selling the bread. Of course, most people recognized my cousins, and they knew the bread came from my aunt’s oven, they loved it. Most of the time we got paid in other goods rather than money. Our basket was filled with eggs, milk, rice, beans, or whatever goods were appropriate as payment. This simple life provided for the needs for everyone in town. In today’s scripture the crowds are following Jesus because they wanted to be fed. Possibly, they were hungry, and they had heard how Jesus had fed a multitude of people. Jesus is saddened that they were missing the point. They asked for signs so they could believe, Jesus challenged them by saying… “I am the bread of life.” Sometimes, we might have the answer right in front of us, but we are unable to see it because we are too focused on our immediate need. Jesus can see beyond the surface and see the true spiritual need in our hearts. Today you might have an apparent need, trust God with that need, lay it before him, and go about your day in confidence that the living God remains and abides with you.

Read: John 6:22-59

Questions to Consider:

  1. How does Jesus handle the crowd that wants to see miracles in order to believe?
  2. What is Jesus’ purpose in using terms such as “living water” and “bread of life”?
  3. Have you ever had an experience when God has provided a spiritual need you had?

So What Activity:   Today, as you eat and drink every meal, take time to thank God who provides spiritual food to supply your need.

Blessings, 

Monday, March 1, 2021 – Loaves and Fishes

We are getting very close to the Sunday last year when we started to live this weird life that we are living now.  Do you all remember last year when we all went out to the grocery store and for some reason bought all that toilet paper?  That was weird.  For some reason we were afraid that there wouldn’t be enough toilet paper for everyone.  Then we bought up all the flour, sugar and yeast in the store because everyone started to bake bread and other baked goods.  We did that because we were board.  Then a lot of people started buy home gym products online because we all gained a little weight and couldn’t go out to the gym.  What a strange year we have lived through. 

Well, what I really want to focus on in all of that is the toilet paper and that we though we wouldn’t have enough.  That was wrong. We worship a God of abundance.  A God who has created a world that has enough for all of his children.  This last year has contained many lessons but one of them has been about how well we shine God’s light or well we do not shine God’s light. 

Read: John 6:1-21

Questions to Consider:

  1. Has there been times in your life that you have felt like there has not been enough of something and you needed to keep that resource hidden away for yourself?  Why did you feel that way? 
  2. What would it look like to live our lives out of abundance instead of out of scarcity? 
  3. What resource do you have that could be used for the glory of God? 

So What Activity:   Bake some bread or another baked good and give it away to someone.  Include a note of love and encouragement to that person. 

Blessings,

Loaf of bread I made last year during quarantine.

Saturday, February 27, 2021 – Life and Judgement

I know that you will find this hard to believe, but sometimes pastors get attacked by their parishioners! Here’s the even harder thing to believe, sometimes we deserve it!! As a human I have to be real with myself and realize that I sometimes do things wrong, hopefully not with intention, but whatever it is that I am doing still ends up being the wrong decision. 

I have learned over close to 30 years of ministry to examine myself whenever I am getting accused or attacked for something I’ve done. If it is because of my own wrong decisions I try to make amends, but if it is because I am being faithful to the will of God, in love, I try to stay on course!

Today’s passage is Jesus’ response to being attacked by the religious insiders of his day. Jesus has just healed a man on the Sabbath day and the church people go after him. The difference between Jesus and me, is that Jesus doesn’t do it wrong. He is living into a new system and His system often brings about conflict with the established church. As you read Jesus’ response to the attacks being leveled at him, think through the power of his words, then watch the video and take time to think through the questions to consider. 

Read: John 5:19-47

Questions to Consider:

  1. What does Jesus say about his relationship with the Father? 
  2. How do we bring honor to the Father as Christians today? 
  3. How do we find life in Christ today?

So What Activity: As you go through your day, look out for opportunities to bless someone else that crosses your path. As God to give you a way to bless someone, if you are unable to think of a way yourself, and then send me an email to share what you have done at jdivine@lakedeatonumc.com.  

Blessings,

Friday, February 26, 2021 – The Work of Compassion

Jesus was always seeming to get in trouble with the religious leaders and a lot of the trouble he got into had to do with the Sabbath.  I read in a commentary this week that the law simply said that the Sabbath day must be different from other days and that on it neither a man or his servants or his animals must work.  That is pretty broad, simple, lot of room for interpretation, and that is exactly what the people did.  They took that simple law and set out thirty-nine different classifications of work.  In the case of today’s story one of those classifications of work was to carry a burden.  The man in the story was carrying his mat, which could be seen as a burden.  Sometimes humanity works really hard at making simple things, like a day to rest, into something difficult, like thirty-nine different classifications for work. 

Read: John 5:1-18

As I recorded the video I got to thinking about how this time of Pandemic has caused a lot of us to move physically away from people.  We have done this for safety but a side effect has been that it has been harder to show love and compassion to others.  However, we cannot and should not let anything stop us from showing people the Light.  It is our task to shine the Light into the world, showing everyone the compassion and love of God.

Questions to Consider:

  1. Has this time of Pandemic been a time when you have rested from many things, one of them being showing a great deal of compassion and love to others?
  2. We have lost the ability to physically touch many people, to hug, hold hands, pat each other on the back.  How have you felt this loss of touch in your life?
  3. What new ways have you or could you shine the light of God into the world to show compassion and love to your family, friends, and to the world? 

So What Activity:  I have two activities for you today.  One is related to the questions above and the other is to watch a video about the compassion of God.  Enjoy. 

  1. Reach out to someone you have not talked to in a while, someone you may have lost touch with during this time of Pandemic.  Find out how they are doing.  Show them love and compassion, maybe not in the old ways, but in some new way. 
  2. Watch this video about the compassion of God. 

Blessings,

Thursday, February 25, 2021 – Faith

I am terrible with distance.  But I do know how far a half marathon is because I have run one, it is 13.1 miles.  I can tell you from experience that 13 miles is a long way to run or walk. Now add 7 miles to the 13 and it makes 20 and that is really a long way.  20 miles is a long way to walk for anything.  Can you image having to walk 20 miles for something?  Well in today’s story the government official walked 20 miles from Capernaum to Cana to ask Jesus to heal his daughter.  Take a moment to read the story and then I will see you in the video. 

Read: John 4:43-54

Questions to Consider:

  1. Have you ever had to go a long way to get something done?  Write about this. 
  2. What has been your experience with the faithfulness of God? 
  3. Would you have been able to so easily walk away from Jesus and back home, knowing, on faith, that Jesus had done what he said he would do?  Write about this. 

So What Activity:  We are asking God to help us to decern Gods vision for Lake Deaton UMC.  There is a lot of faith involved in that, especially when you consider that we are starting out the process in prayer.  We are praying and expecting, faithfully, that God will have something to say to us as a church family.  Are you saying the Prayer of Jabez each day, two times a day?  If not today is the day to start the practice.  Print out the card, tape it up on your bathroom mirror.  This way you can say the prayer in the morning when you brush your teeth and in the evening when you brush your teeth.     

Blessings,

Wednesday, February 24, 2021 – Living Water

Welcome to week two of our Lenten Study. While we are only a few short chapters into the Gospel of John there has been so much that has happened. One thing that has stuck out to me this year, as I have been reading John, is the variety of people with whom Jesus is connecting. We first had the couple from Cana, basically nobodies from an out of the way little village. Then we had Nicodemus, a Pharisee of some influence and importance. Today we see Jesus first with an outcast Samaritan woman, and then with the whole community of the Samaritan Village of Sychar. 

As you read the story today, think about the people Jesus has already connected with and then think about the people he connects with in this story and see if you can find a pattern. I then invite you to watch the video, work through the questions and finish with the “So What Activity” for today. 

Read: John 4:1-42

Questions to Consider:

  1. What Is consistent about the people that Jesus has connected with so far? What is different?
  2. Why do you think it is important that we have found Jesus interacting with three very different groups of people within these first chapters of John?
  3. What does this mean for the people of the world today? 

So What Activity:  As you go through your day today think about the different people you see on the journey and remind yourself that they are each of vital significance for Jesus. Then, as you are able, lift up a prayer of blessing upon each of them within your heart.

Blessings, 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021 – Without Envy

I cannot sing.  Not one little bit.  If you were to come to a concert to hear me sing you would all leave the room, or maybe you would sit nicely through one concert, because you are nice, but you would never return.  I also cannot play the piano, even though I had years of lessons.  However, David sings beautifully and leads us each week so well in worship.  Rick plays the piano as if it was the easiest thing in the world.  They have gifts for music. We all have different gifts that God has given us.  Different abilities that we can use for Gods glory. However, sometimes we look at the gifts of others, or look at how others complement or flock to see the gifts of others and get, well, a little jealous.  Read our scripture for the day and then I will see you in the video for a story of a time when I was jealous.

Read: John 3:22-36

Questions to Consider:

  1. Have you ever or are you currently struggling with jealously? 
  2. What gifts did God give you?  How are you using these gifts? 

So What Activity:  Are you currently using your gifts for the glory of God?  If you are journal about this.  If you are not, why not?  What is keeping you from serving?  Where is an area that you could serve in the church.  https://www.lakedeatonumc.com/weekend-teams

Blessings,