Dr. Tom Pace, Dr. Tom Pace lll, Senior Pastor St. Lukes UMC, Sr Pastor St Lukes

Gracious God,

How much is enough? I confess that it seems no matter what I have, I think more would be better. A bigger house in which all these grandchildren could play would be excellent. A bigger bank account would mean I don’t worry at all about money. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a house in the mountains where I could spend summers? I wonder, God, is my desire for such things inconsistent with love for you?

In my mind I know that these possessions will provide pleasure and happiness for a while. But then, God, that will fade, and there will be something else that I will want, believing if I just had that one thing… I know in my mind that trust in you is my only real security, but sometimes another voice tells me that spiritual security is all well and good, but if I just had a bigger nest egg, I would have peace. I know in my mind that wealth and success are not the same things, but I sure love to read the “success stories” of those who got rich. God, come and satisfy my soul with that which is real and essential rather than temporal. Set me free from my desire for more and more and more.

And yet, I was just reading how you taught us that we should indeed have a desire, an appetite for more and more. Paul writes to the Thessalonians about his joy that “their faith is growing more and more, and the love you have for one another is increasing.” (2 Thess 1:3) God, give me that kind of appetite, one for that which makes me rich toward God, a deep hunger for that which is eternal.

I pray in the name of Christ, who is the bread of life, offering me his presence so that I might never be hungry again. Amen.

We had a great start last week to “2019: The Year of Gratitude.” In order to develop gratitude of the heart, we have to build it into our daily habits. So, we are challenging one another to write 365 thank you notes or other expressions of gratitude, one each day, offered for what someone has done or who they are. These expressions should be beyond expected common courtesy. If you haven’t started yet, start now, and just aim at one each day. If you quit, just come back and start again, and keep at it. The practice of thanksgiving builds a heart of gratitude. Send me some of the thank you notes you have written to others, so that we might use them to encourage one another.

This week, we are working to conclude our 2019 Glorifying God In Generosity campaign. Thanks so much to all of you who have made your commitment. I am overwhelmed by the generosity of this congregation. We do have very important decisions to make about our 2019 budget based on commitments we receive, so if you have not yet made your commitment, I invite you to go online and do so here, or email Teresa Robertson at [email protected]

St. Luke’s Christmas offering this year was earmarked to begin an Early Childhood Education Program, a day school, on our Gethsemane campus. We dedicated 100% of our Christmas Eve offering to the project. We set a goal of $1.45 million to cover the cost of bringing the facility up to code for licensing and for the start-up expenses for the day school. I am overjoyed to share that we received contributions and pledges of $1.54 million! Thanks be to God for this congregation and your incredible generosity. So now we move forward, and get the day school going as soon as possible in 2020!

Beginning this Sunday, January 13, I will begin a sermon series “A Diet of the Mind.” In the marvelous movie about John Nash, the brilliant physicist with schizophrenia, there is a scene in which Nash says to a representative of the Nobel Prize committee inquiring about his mental health, “You see, I am crazy. And I still see things that are not real. I just choose not to acknowledge them. Like a diet of the mind, I choose not to indulge certain appetites.” During this series, we will look at the appetites and drives that can own us, and how we can choose not to indulge them. Over the course of four weeks, we will consider our desire for possessions, intimacy, approval, and other addictions. St. Paul says “all things are permissible, but I will let nothing master me.” Plan to be a part of this important series.

Come this weekend and see Tapestry Players presentation of Little Women in the Rotunda Theatre! More information here.

We have lots of good learning groups and small groups beginning these next couple of weeks – a small group on gratitude, a class on the joy of discipline, Men’s Life beginning in two weeks…Go to stlukesmethodist.org/groupfinder to sign up for all of these opportunities.

Sunday, January 13
Dear Heavenly Father, as we begin a new year strengthen our prayer life. Help us to be able to share our dreams, our fears, our circumstances, our hopes, our concerns, our requests, and our joys. Be with us even when words fail and hear our hearts. Let us remember that you have told us that in every situation we can come to you by prayer and petition and give you our requests with thanksgiving. Thank you God for hearing our prayers. Amen.

Monday, January 14
Most Gracious God, as the new year begins, we know that our days will be filled with the same mundane tasks as before. Let us serve others gladly and see the blessing we give to others as we serve. Thank you for letting us be the ones to carry your grace to others. Amen.

Tuesday, January 15
Dear Lord, We pray for our loved ones who are battling cancer; help the doctors in their diagnosis and treatment of this horrible illness. Give those who are sick the endurance to fight, and surround us with your love. Amen.

Wednesday, January 16
Dear God, give those who are struggling comfort in their suffering and peaceful hearts in their worry and stress. Make us mindful of the needs of others around us, so that we might serve them. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Thursday, January 17
Heavenly Father, I ask that you would be with those who are facing serious illness and trials. Give them wisdom and strength for the next step in their journey, and may they be lifted up and find peace and comfort in your presence. And, help us to reach out to each person we meet, and let them see your light shine within us. In the name of Thy dear son, Jesus, Amen.

Friday, January 18
Gracious Heavenly Father, hear our prayer. Bless the members of our long time small group that they may find the camaraderie, the scripture studies, and caring friendships leading us to a deeper understanding of our purposes in the faith. Thank you for your never-ending love that surrounds us as we live our faith out loud. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Saturday, January 19
Lord Jesus, protect our marriage as it has been going through difficult times lately. Help each of us to see our own wrongdoings and take the small steps needed to mend our relationship. I also pray for other people who are struggling in their marriage. Send your love and grace into their hearts as well. Amen.