We pray. We study the Bible. We make friends. We tell our stories. We give ourselves away in generosity and service.
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
This week, we continue our series called “Unstuck.” Two weeks ago we heard Jesus’ challenge to get up and get moving. Last week, we talked about our callings: what it is God calls us to do? This week, we will talk about whom God calls us to become, looking at Philippians 3, when St. Paul says “one thing I do…” It is getting closer to the launch of our new Bible Study ministry: Scripture + Shared. St. Luke’s leadership set a single lofty goal: 2000 people in regular Bible Study with others in 2017. In order to do that, we are creating our own Bible Study materials, and inviting every single one of you to participate.
1) A Weekly Bible study lesson for small groups and Sunday school classes, with a video lesson as well as written lesson and discussion questions. We will also be using this curriculum for “Bible Buddies,” for two or three people who may get together and study, or watch independently and exchange their thoughts about the study.
2) Daily Bible readings and reflections that reinforce the week’s Bible study.
3) A Family Bible study, following the same theme, with simple discussion questions that a family can do when they can grab a few minutes together.
4) An app for smartphones and tablets as a delivery method for weekly and daily content. The materials will be available on our website for printing as well.
We will begin this spring 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. For more information contact Kathy Neely at email@example.com. You can sign up online at https://www.stlukesmethodist.org/bible
A PERSONAL PRAYER
I remember when I stood before Bishop Leroy Hodapp in June of 1979 and answered the questions for ordination, asked of Methodist clergy since the days of John Wesley. Some were specific to my calling: Will you diligently instruct the children in every place? Will you visit from house to house? Have you studied the doctrines of the Methodist church, and will you preach and maintain them? But the hardest ones, the ones that came first and undergirded everything else, were about my soul and life, not about what my qualifications as a preacher. “Have you faith in Christ? Are you going on to perfection? Do you expect to be made perfect in love in this life? Are you earnestly striving after it? Are you resolved to devote yourself wholly to God and his work?” Powerful. And I remember Bishop Hodapp’s elaboration on the question: “If you are not going on to perfection, where are you going?” and “If you don’t expect to be made perfect in love, what do you expect?”
Every time I pray, I hear you ask me these questions yet again. O God, I resolve again today to make you first in my life. I pray that you might work within me to sanctify me, to move me on toward perfection, toward maturity in faith. Accept me just as I am, take me over and clothe me in your righteousness. Etch your character onto my life, that I might become just like you.
In the name of Jesus Christ, who is the prize for which I strive, I pray. Amen.
KEY VERSE FOR THE WEEK
“Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenlycall of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
Read the whole passage for Sunday’s sermon here: Philippians 3:7-16
QUESTIONS FOR CONVERSATION
What are your “eulogy values,” things that you want God to help you develop, to “etch into” your life and heart? What really matters to you about who you want to BE (as opposed to what you want to do?) What are some distractions at which you more than glance, and which cause you to lose your focus?
Sunday, January 22
Heavenly Father, you sent your son as one of us, fully human yet fully divine, so that we may come to know him and follow his ways. I confess that I want to be like Jesus, but I have made mistakes and fallen short of his example. Help me to lay down my guilt and shame at the foot of the cross and to strain toward your divine calling on my life. Help me focus on the things that I can change in order to live and love more like Jesus did. Amen.
Monday, January 23
God of infinity, thank you for the gift of Monday, a day to start a brand new week with you. Thank you for a new day full of opportunities to become the person you are shaping me to be. Show me what I need to do for you today and this week. Let me focus on following you and devoting my energy to your purpose. Amen.
Tuesday, January 24 – Personal Prayer Day
Today, we are focusing on the St. Luke’s Inside Out Habit – We study the Bible. Spend some time in God’s Word today. Search for a Bible verse that speaks to you or read your favorite verse. Then, write a personal prayer using that verse. If you feel comfortable, submit the prayer to firstname.lastname@example.org for the Prayer Calendar.
Wednesday, January 25
Heavenly Creator, I thank you for the gift of my community of faith here at St. Luke’s. Thank you for the sweet lady who answers the church phone when I call, and thank you for the people who stand outside to smile and greet me on Sundays. Thank you for the media people who bring great sound and videos, and thank you for all of the staff who work behind the scenes to grow me in my faith. Thank you for the Pastors who guide me and inspire me, and thank you for my church friends who live my life with me, pray for me, and hold me accountable. Amen.
Thursday, January 26 – Personal Prayer Day
Throughout life, God gives us glimpses of grace to sustain us and carry us through. Spend 10 minutes today thinking about how God is working in your life. Think about the ways He carefully and purposefully directs your path and opens doors for you. Think about all of the situations in your life where things fell into place perfectly. Then, spend time in prayer thanking God for guiding your life in big and small ways.
Friday, January 27
Father in Heaven, I want to be part of something amazing! I can feel you calling me to do something greater this year, and I am ready. I don’t want to miss any more of the opportunities that you give me. Guide me and grow me in small ways so that I can be part of your bigger plan. Amen.
Saturday, January 28
God, sometimes I feel like I don’t have time or resources to do anything. Yet, I know that I could use my time and resources more wisely for your purposes. Help me to seek you first always with my time, my talents, my money, and my whole life. Amen.