Thoughts: This psalm reminds us that one proper response to our Lord is trembling. We should praise and extol and worship. Holy is God! Yet how often do we, instead, hear the name of the Lord being used in vulgar conversation? Whenever I hear someone use the name "Jesus Christ" as a curse word, I whisper under my breath "loves you." For me this helps ease the offense I feel.
When I was teaching confirmation, I tried to show the kids how it would feel if their name was a curse word. They seemed to get it, but old habits die hard. If we truly understand the power of God's name, we will never use it lightly. We're told that Moses, Aaron and Samuel called on the name of God and were forgiven. God answered them and their wrongdoings were set aside. By whom? By the beautiful and precious name of Jesus Christ.
Discussion: Talk about the holiness of God. How is he different from any other being in the universe?
Activity: Write out those discussed ways (and anymore you can think of) in which the God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is uniquely different and set apart. Thank him for each and imparting his holiness to you.
Devotional Thoughts by Laurie Neill, Discipleship Pastor, First Lutheran Church, Fargo, N.D. Discussion & Activity by Freddy Richardson, New Hope for a New Day.
Thoughts: It's easy to love those in our lives who love us. They care for us, treat us with respect, spend time with us. It makes sense that we would love them. But in this scripture, God calls us to love our enemies. How does that make sense? Well, in an earthly sense, it doesn't. The earth tells us that if someone is mean to us, we shouldn't be nice back. And we CERTAINLY shouldn't love them! Why would we want to? The thing is, we probably don't. Even as Christians, it doesn't come natural to show kindness and grace to those that treat us the opposite. But it's our job. To meet negativity with positivity, to meet disrespect with respect, to meet hate with love. Why? Because that's who God is. He meets us with love every single time and as His disciples it's our calling to do the same to others. No we're not perfect, and we never will be, but each time we pray for someone who persecute us or love an enemy, we are that much closer to living the life He wants for us. A life glorifies and reflects Him in every way!
Discussion: How does the world make it hard for us to love those who don't love us? How can we practically love our enemies? How can you personally love the "enemies" you come into contact with in your own life?
Activity: Pick one person that you struggle to love and the next time you see them, show them God's love.
Thoughts: The Lord did not save us to sit and sour, but to serve and shine. We are to be the light in this dark world.Being the light can mean many different things. It can mean being there for someone to bring comfort in sorrow, encouraging others through a difficult time, or affirming and praising believers in the work of the kingdom. Being the light means to serve others-feed the hungry, cloth the naked, and evangelize the lost. Serve and share the gospel. Our heart's desire should be to add value to all those with whom we come in contact. Many of us have done good works and ministered to others, only to realize later that we got a bigger blessing than the ones we were serving because the Lord never ministers through us without ministering to us.
Discussion: Ask Yourself: Am I letting my light shine? Whom can I help, encourage and lift up?
Activity: By yourself or with a small group of people. make a plan to be a light in a specific way. Serve in a place you normally wouldn't. Evangelize someone you normally wouldn't. Be intentional in shining your light in some way!
Devotional Thoughts & Discussion from Brian Fossett, Fossett Evangelistic Ministries, Touched by the Truth Daily Devotions
Thoughts: Can you imagine going to college, but instead of attending a formal classroom, you follow your teacher from town to town, learning from His words and examples? Our "class" today occurs on a mountain. Jesus sat on the mountainside, and His disciples came and sat around Him. While the birds sang, and the wind rustled in nearby trees, Jesus' precious words poured from His mouth--words that certainly proclaimed an entirely new way of thinking to these disciples.Though we are familiar with the beatitudes, it would be good for us to take some time to ponder in a greater depth, their meaning and their implications to us, as believers in this 21st century. Like the disciples' time, we live in an age where people are greedy, riches are everything, and self-advancement is the "common" attitude among all people. As believers, how are we to think? Are the words of Christ still applicable to us today? Yes! Just as when He originally spoke these words, Jesus is speaking to believers of our day as well, saying that riches are not blessings. Being famous, or popular, or well known is not to be our goal. Rather, let us seek the things of Christ.
Discussion: Which of the Beatitudes do you connect with or identify most, either because you embrace it or struggle to? How can you improve to embrace these in your daily life? Would it be difficult or hard?
Activity: Trying to take them all on at once can be overwhelming, choose one specifically to embrace to the fullest and live to the highest level this week!
Devotional Thoughts from https://www.devotional-reflections-from-the-bible.com
Thoughts: Whom Shall I Fear? Fear is something that has a tight grip on all of us in some way. And some people in more ways than others. Fear of the unknown, fear of disappointing those around us, fear of losing someone we love, fear of failure, fear of spiders, fear of making decisions, fear of losing our job. Whatever it may be, we all live with fears that are very real and impacts us on some level. God, in this scripture, gives us a message that should shatter those fears. He is the Light, He is the Salvation, He is the stronghold of our lives. Our God of the universe, our God of seemingly impossible Miracles, our God of never ending strength is also OUR creator. He has a hold on our life. With Him in control, we truly have nothing to fear. We will face struggle, tough times and tragedy, but those valleys have peaks of joy, grace and love.
Discussion: What are some of the fears are society struggles with most? Why? What fears affect you most on a daily basis? How can you defeat those every day? How can you help those closest to you find peace in their fears?
Activity: Write down a fear or two that you have. Whether it is something little or something that has had a hold on your life. Say a prayer about it, ask God to give you peace in the face of that fear. Now rip up the paper and throw it away. You have given that to God and can take comfort that He is in control. Additional Activity: Listen to Whom Shall I Fear by Chris Tomlin.
Thoughts: In this Scripture, John calls Jesus Rabbi, which The Bible tells us translates to Teacher. The Bible has over 150 names and titles for Jesus, according to Msgr. Charles Pope. Teacher is one of my personal favorites. When you think about a teacher in a classroom, they want the absolute best for their kids. They want them to become more educated in their field of study, but it doesn't stop there. The best teachers help their students become better all around. Better in other subjects, better people, better learners, etc. Jesus is the same way to you and me!! He wants the best for us and to help us grow in ever single aspect of life. Even though we may not be with Him in prayer or in worship every moment, or we have a season where we feel disconnected, He doesn't forget about us. A teacher doesn't stop thinking about his or her students after school at night or even after they are no longer in their classroom. I bet there are teachers you could go back and see from your elementary, middle or high school days, and they would remember you. Or at the very least, you remember them and the impact they had on you. And how that shaped who you have become today. On days where Jesus feels too big, distant, or unreachable, don't forget that He wants to teach you, correct you, lead you and help you be better, in all areas of you life. He wants to be our teacher!!
Discussion: What are some of the titles for Jesus you connect to? What are some that confuse you? Can you remember a teacher who deeply impacted your life? How did they do it and Why did they have such an impact on you?
Activity: When you are praying this week, speak to God like the teacher He is
Thoughts: The Untied Methodist Church recognizes two sacraments: communion and baptism. While members of the United Methodist Church may take communion hundreds of times throughout their lives, most of us are baptized only once. Since our church accepts infant baptism, many of were baptized when we were babies. We may have looked precious in heirloom christening gowns; we may have slept peacefully; we may have screamed our little hearts out. But we have no conscious memories of our dedication to our Heavenly Father.Our baptism was, obviously, a choice made by our parents. They made impressive promises –to teach us the meaning and purpose of this holy sacrament and the principles of our holy faith;
No recorded ritual attended the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. John protested that Jesus should baptize him, but Jesus insisted that John should baptize him. When Jesus came up out of the water, the spirit of God descended upon Jesus like a dove, and God said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” God is well pleased with every precious child who is brought into his house to be baptized. May we all be confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal.
Discussion: Who baptized you? When? Where?
Activity:Pay close attention to the next baptism you witness. Learn the child’s name and take a special interest in him/her, so that you may help to “bless, preserve, and keep” this child of God.
From Word at Home January 2011
Thoughts: This story of the Magi seeking the Christ child is an amazing story of faith. The interesting piece is the attitude of faith of each character. The Magi are seeking Christ with a faith based in love and reverence. Herod and “all Jerusalem with him” had faith based in fear and dread. The one thing all these characters shared in common from kings to shepherds, was the realization that the birth of this Child is significant and that nothing will ever be the same again. For us, as for all people who have heard the news of Christ’s birth throughout time, the attitude and feeling with which we receive the news of His birth will be the basis for our relationship with God. Do we dread or love God?
Discussion: Why was Herod “disturbed” by the Magi’s announcement?
If you heard today that Jesus had returned to Earth, how would you feel about that?
Talk about the journey of the Magi. Who do you think they were? What would they have required for their travels? How long do you think their trip was? What does that say about their faith?
Activity:Make a birth announcement for the baby Jesus. Pretend you are invited to a “new baby shower”. What kind of gift do you bring? Who do you think would be invited? Research Herod. Try to discover why the birth of Christ may have upset him.
From Word at Home January 2011
Thoughts: Of course I thought Mary was pretty. She was slender and graceful, and she had a dimple in her left cheek that flashed when she smiled. But she was more than pretty; she was sweet and kind and thoughtful. I was very much in love with Mary.
Then the ugly rumors started. People raised their eyebrows when they looked at me; they shrugged their shoulders; they avoided me.
Mary came to me and clutched my hands. “Joseph! You must believe me! Yes, I am with child. But my child is god’s son! Joseph, I have been chosen – I have been honored – to bear God’s Son. The angel came to me and told me I had found favor with God, that I was blessed among women. And I need you, Joseph. Please believe me.
I held her childish body close, and I did believe her.
Discussion: What would have happened if Joseph had refused to believe the angel of the Lord?
Activity: Like Joseph, let us do as the angel of the Lord bids us.
From Word at Home December 2013
Thoughts: Once there were two baby boys, born six months apart.
The father of the older one was a high priest. The younger baby’s earthly father was a carpenter.Their mothers were cousins. The priest bluntly described his wife as “well stricken in years.” The carpenter was betrothed to the younger baby’s mother, and she said she “knew not a man.”An angel foretold that the priest’s son would be “great in the sight of the Lord.” The angel Gabriel told the virgin mother that her son would be called “the Son of God.” The priest’s son was to be named John, which means “God is gracious.” The Son of God was to be named “God saves.”
Discussion: Jesus had four brothers and at least two sisters. What did this Nazareth family of seven think of their only-child cousin, city kid from Jerusalem?
Activity: Send a Christmas card to a relative whom you seldom see, with a note remembering good times together when you were children.
From Word at Home 2013:Volume 6, Issue 50
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