We pray. We study the Bible. We make friends. We tell our stories. We give ourselves away in generosity and service.
It is Time! This week, Scripture+Shared launches. St. Luke’s leadership set a single lofty goal for this year, what we call “The One Big Thing” – 2000 people in regular Bible Study with others by the end of 2017. I believe this experience can change the life of participants, and change the life of our whole congregation. Please join us! Download the app on your smartphone, or go to www.stlukesmethodist.org/bible. Join a LIFT group. Find a Bible Buddy (see more info in the “Some Thoughts To Share” section below.)
A PERSONAL PRAYER
When I break open that Bible, the words seem so familiar now, as I have read them over and over for my whole adult life. They feel comfortable. They feel like home. But I know that it is not really enough for them to be comfortable and familiar to me, a place of refuge when the world seems difficult and rocky.
O Lord, help me to understand the words with my head, even those which are difficult and run against the things I so firmly believe, those which make me uncomfortable rather than comfortable. Let me be ok with the ambiguity of continuing to struggle with those I don’t understand.
Let me take the words of Scripture into my heart. Write your words on my heart, God, so that they become a real part of me. Break my heart if you must, so that your words can fall in.
Lead me to live these words, God. I want to obey them, but more importantly, I want them to change me from the inside out. Shape my whole life with Holy Scripture. Use them to change my hard and stubborn heart, so I can live their meaning and purpose in this world.
Show me how to share these words with others, so that together we might build friendships formed and cemented by a common bond of love of you and of neighbor.
Most of all, O God, let me look within and through the words of Scripture to see your son Jesus Christ, and to know the Living Word in the midst of words on a page. For you did not come to save me with a book, but with a human being. It is in his name I pray. Amen.
KEY VERSE FOR THE WEEK
Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. –Matthew 5:17 There are five (yes five) Scripture passages for Sunday’s sermon. You can go online and read them here: Exodus 24:3-8; Jeremiah 31:31-34, Mark 3:1-6, Matthew 5:17-20, Acts 8:29-35.
QUESTIONS FOR CONVERSATION
Do you find reading the Bible easy or difficult, interesting or boring? With whom might you share Scripture?
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
This Sunday, we will recognize all those who have been married 50 years or more in our worship services, and we will have a reception after the 11:00 service in the Fellowship Hall. At St. Luke’s, we believe in supporting marriage, and want to celebrate those whose commitments (and health) have lasted so long.
I hope you heard the marvelous testimonies last Sunday from PM Pals participants and volunteers. PM Pals is a monthly kids’ night out program that hosts special needs children and their siblings for fun activities with one to one “pals.” Parents of special needs children need a break. They need to connect with each other and with friends. This gives them a chance to do that. During the month of February, all one dollar bills in the offering plate go directly to support PM Pals. If you want to volunteer or find out more about it, contact Bevin Barrett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week, everyone in worship will receive a special gift – and we will also tell you what to do with that gift. Hope you will plan to be there!
Finally, yes, we finally launch Scripture+Shared this week, a new home grown Bible Study curriculum for small groups and Bible Buddies. We have been recording the videos, and it has been really exciting and fun, and I think everyone (including me) is learning a lot. Go to your app store on your tablet or smartphone now and download the app (search for Scripture Shared). Or go to http://www.stlukesmethodist.org/bible to read the material and watch the video lesson. You can read the material and get ready for your first LIFT group session, and then watch the video in the session together. Or you can read the material and watch the video on your own and invite a friend to do so as well, and then talk about it over coffee, or on the phone, or even via text. You can type your own answers to the questions and email them to that friend (we are calling them Bible Buddies). Finally, there are daily Bible readings to reinforce the lesson, so that you will get used to reading the Bible every day.
We start this week with a study of the life of Jesus in the gospels, called The Journey to Jerusalem. It will begin February 12 and conclude just after Easter. Together, we will look at the arc of Jesus’ life, and how Matthew, Mark, and Luke have specific themes and agendas as they tell the story. The study will overlap with my sermon series during the latter part of Lent.
Sunday, February 12
Dear Lord, I welcome your constant presence in my life. Your love offers a sense of peace that comes from trusting in a heavenly Father. I treasure our relationship, Lord, and I want to please you. Trusting in you has given me hope for forgiveness when I stumble, and confidence that your love will never fail. Guide me, Lord, as I attempt to walk the walk your son exampled and let me begin and end each day by recognizing your many blessings and giving joyful thanks to Thee. Amen. -Babs Smith
Monday, February 13
Dear God, Each and every day you shower us with your unending love. Your love shines through in the thoughtfulness of a friend, the kindness of a stranger, the kiss from a love one. Please open my heart to share your unconditional love with all who cross my path. Amen. -Franna Litton
Tuesday, February 14
Dear Lord, Thank you for being the source and model for unconditional love. Today as we celebrate the love in our lives, I’m thankful you so loved the world that you sent us your son. Amen.
Wednesday, February 15
Holy Spirit, Open my heart and my mind to you. Help me to take the time to shut out the secular world so that I may hear you and discern your will and direction for me. Put a fire in me to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ under your direction. Lord, I really need your guidance. Amen. -Ken Jacobson
Thursday, February 16
Gracious God, Thank you for another day in this beautiful world you created. Help me to feel the joy of your presence within me. Help me to share Your love with all those I meet. In Christ Jesus Holy Name, Amen.
Friday, February 17
Most Gracious God, I am grateful today for the gift of prayer. It is Your way of allowing us to invest in each other’s lives and stay in touch with You. I pray for guidance as a follower of Jesus. Amen. -Fannie Parker
Saturday, February 18
Lord, I pray today for peace in our world and country. I know it begins with me and my actions towards those I do not understand or like. Help me show your unconditional love today to everyone. Amen.
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