Friday, December 9, 2016

1 John 5:13-17

1 John 5:13-17
Contemporary English Version (CEV)

 Prayer is kind of a wild thing -- we pray when we are hurting and in need, we pray when we are joyful and thankful, we pray when we recognize our sin and pray for God's healing in our lives.  We pour out our souls to God, and yet it often feels so one-way -- we wonder if anything happens when we pray.

  Scripture assures us that God hears our prayers, that God cares about our prayers, that our prayers have power.  Scripture assures us that prayer isn't simply shouting into the void, but it's one half of a conversation between our souls and the divine, and that prayer has the capacity to heal you in a way nothing else can.
  So let us take our prayers seriously, and may we listen as much as we talk, and may the grace of God wash you anew today.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

1 John 5:6-12

1 John 5:6-12
Contemporary English Version (CEV)

  At Christmas, we talk a lot about gifts.  We spend hours debating what to get people, and then even more hours in the store or online searching for that perfect gift.  If we really think about it (and I often don't), we're trying to come up with some way to communicate what someone means to us.  We want them to find delight in our gift, but we also want them to know how important the relationship is to us.  We want them to see that gift as a symbol, as a token of our love.  The more meaningful the gift, the more clear it is how much we value the person.  I'd imagine you spend more time debating what to give your best friend or loved ones than you do the mailman.
  And so look at the gift of Christ -- God's own Son, given to us, that we may receive eternal life.  This is all a gift -- both the sacrifice of Christ and the gift of eternal life.  Think how meaningful these are.  Now recognize how amazing the love of God must be, how much he must value you, to give you such gifts.  May we receive them with delight, and count ourselves as treasured by God.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

1 John 5:1-5

1 John 5:1-5
Contemporary English Version (CEV)

 I always thought it would be cool to have one of those no-limit credit cards, especially one where someone else was paying the bills.  Imagine feeling like you could buy anything -- want to buy everyone in the world an ice cream cone?  Done.  Want a yacht?  Put it on the card.  It'd be fun, right?  You'd have complete confidence that you could buy anything.
  Jesus is trying to teach us to have that kind of confidence in God.  If we truly believe that all things are possible through faith, we are joining our lives with God's eternal and overwhelming victory.  We are a part of the greatest conquering force in the world, one that does so through the power of selfless love, and we shall celebrate this victory forever.  All of this is made possible through faith in Christ.
  What kind of confidence do you have?  Do you believe you are part of defeating the world?  Our faith gives us victory!

Monday, December 5, 2016

1 John 4:13-21

1 John 4:13-21
Contemporary English Version (CEV)

  Let's say you're walking down the street today and someone comes up to you and asks you to summarize the entire teachings of the Bible.  You'd be stuck trying to think of how best to sum it all up, right?  You'd want to try and capture all the important teachings, and you likely would be concerned about leaving something important out.  It's hard, especially considering how esoteric some of the things in the Bible are.  It's hard for adults who have lived with the Bible their entire lives to grasp some of the concepts.
  At the heart of the story, however, it can be so simple.  I think we tend to complicate it somewhat just because we have a hard time grasping that it really is so simple -- God has loved us eternally and unconditionally, and when we rejected God to his face, he loved us anyway.  He loved us when we didn't deserve it, and he promised that such love would always be with us, into the depths of eternity.  That's the Gospel story, and if we as the church could figure out how to live that out each and every day rather than arguing about some of the things we argue about, I bet a lot of people would be very interested in learning more about God and his undying love.
  So who and how will you love today?