Devotional Day

(Psalm 32) – J G White
11 am, Sun, March 31, 2019 – UBC Digby

the Devotional life

Today we worship by having a mini festival of devotions. We share some of the tools we have been given that have guided our personal prayer life.  There are many ways we cultivate the inner life, many ways God cares for our souls and grows us in spirit.

Here is a scene with Jesus and His disciples, from Mark 6: 30 The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.

We look to Jesus as our guide and model for personal devotions and spiritual discipline.  You might take time every day for quiet time with God. You may take a sabbath each week to be even more devoted and in touch. You may take special days each year for a retreat of some sort: for rest, or renewal, or even inner wrestling.  

What is your devotional life like? Tell one another.

the Abundant life

One thing our Baptist tradition has taught us is that, with God, forgiveness and acceptance and love are abundant.  There is plenty for us, and for the whole world. Grace is amazing.

Deep inside, how my soul is doing will effect my whole life.  ‘Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,’ said Jesus. (Matthew 12:34)

Our Creator, our Saviour, our shared Spirit, is a God of abundance, not of scarcity.  But it is a slow lesson for so many of us to learn: to learn that generosity is greater than conserving and keeping and accumulating.  

Next Sunday here our theme will be Financial Health.  Today, in this moment: how has your ‘walk with the Lord’ helped you be a cheerful giver?  What has helped you become generous, and even make sacrifices with your time and your resources?

the Prayerful life

About twenty years ago I went to a men’s retreat at Camp Pagweak, near Pugwash.  Only about twenty men gathered there for a weekend, from across Cumberland and Colchester counties.  As a group of us got ready for bed in our cabin – a simple, out of date cabin – one fellow from our church in Parrsboro quietly caught our attention.  As the rest of us climbed into our bunks, Ernie (Scullion) first got down on his eighty-year old knees, by his bed, and prayed.

What we do with our bodies can impact our praying, just as the words we use, or other prayer tools.  This is why fasting can be important, or music.

I brought a few resource books for prayer and devotions today.  This is one part of my library I do keep as a special, separate section: prayer.  

What have you used to help your prayer life?

PRAYERS of the People

Do any of you have any prayers with you?  Books that guide with helpful words? Maybe you memorized a little prayer that you still use.  Let us use some of these tools to pray today. Take your turns, let us speak our prayers. Let us   pray.

the Scriptural life

I think I can truly say I grew up in the church.  And my home church had plenty of things for me, when I was a child and a teenager. But I was only taught the mere basics of the devotional life. Just two things, really: pray and study the Bible.  

The bit I learned about using the Bible did lay the foundation for what I learned once I moved away from home at 17.  This Book, the holy scriptures, continues to grow, for me: to become more important, inspiring, and challenging.

OK, show and tell time: what has helped you use the Bible in your life? A study Bible? A particular translation in English? A certain plan for reading it in a year?


(Isaiah 55:1-9; Luke 13:1-5) – J G White
11 am, Sun, March 24, 2019 – UBC Digby

A flight attendant spent a week’s vacation in the Rockies. She was captivated by the mountain peaks, the clear blue skies, and the beautiful forest. She also was charmed by a very eligible bachelor who owned and operated a cattle ranch and lived in a log cabin.

At the end of this week, after a wonderful time with this bachelor, she has to return home to her job. While on board the place, she was pondering, “Should I go back to the city or return to the woods and stay with this man in the cabin for the rest of her life?” She was struggling but believes that God will give her an answer.

To refresh herself, she went into the rest room and splashed some water on her face. Just then, there was some turbulence, a ‘ding’ sound went off and then a sign in the rest room lit up: PLEASE RETURN TO THE CABIN. She did – to the cabin back in the mountains. (modified from Reader’s Digest [1/81], p. 118)

Isaiah 55 – a great chapter!  God invites: Come to me; I will make an everlasting agreement with you.  The prophet injects: seek Lord while may be found… Let them return to the Lord.  

This is the phrase that has caught my attention for more than a week.  Return. Return to the Lord. Who is returning to God and Christ now?

One month ago Sharon and I heard Dr. Joel Thiessen, Ambrose University, Calgary, AB, give lectures in Wolfville about how churches thrive.

Sources of Attendance (in Canadian Churches):

Thiessen’s observations: 1. In most churches about 10% of people in the pews we can consider converts.  

  1. People raised in the congregation (green):  One disadvantage in this group: they tend to be slower to change.  Same for many things, not just churches.
  2. The largest groups in congregations are those who joined it when they moved to the town, or who came after leaving a different one in the area.  

So, Thiessen asks, if a congregation is growing in numbers, is it flourishing?  Depends… Most growing churches in Canada are growing because of transfer growth!  Is that good or not? We often decide. These are important questions.

Many of those who enter the local Church now are people returning.  Not new converts. We knew this, I knew this, but I have always felt the ideal way is to reach new, unsaved, unchurched men and women.  Perhaps I need to rethink my goals. Pay more attention to how we include the people of Christian experience out there who are not in Churches?

I think of my pastor friend (Garnet Parker) who dreamed of organizing a new congregation in Hants County for all those people out there who had been hurt the the church in the past, rejected by church, whatever.  The Church of the Unforgiven, or something like that. There’s a lot to be said for finding a place for those who left the church for good reason.

People leave the Faith for many reasons.  Some reasons are quite serious. Why do people suffer so?  That’s a big issue. Always has been. Look at the conversation Sara read from Luke 13.  People talk to Jesus about why a group of people got targeted by Pilate and were killed. Why? They wonder why some folks got killed when a stone tower fell on them.

Jesus’ answer seems to be two things. One, He says, No, these people did not deserve what they got, they were not being punished for something. Yet He also says, Watch out; you turn around, or you might end up the same way.  

This is just one of many moments we have from the Bible where Jesus deals with the suffering of people.  And that is just one reason people give up on being practicing Christians.

It is their return to the Lord that interests us today, to use Isaiah’s phrase.  Many people who come to these pews are returning. Some of you returned to this church of your childhood. In fact, you may have been a member here for decades, having joined when you were a teenager.  [I have a whole sermon for you about this pet peeve of mine – the problem of keeping your membership in a local church after you leave – naughty, naughty! But I will give you that sermon some other day.]

Some of you coming here was a return to church in general, though not this specific one. You were away from it for years, then came to this fellowship.  

Some of you are folk who left some other nearby congregation, and found us after a while, and stayed.

Of course, Baptist congregations have operated for hundreds of years with membership. Though many of you regular participants are not members.  Perhaps today’s a good day to review our membership procedures. If we are happy with people returning to God, or returning to us in this Church, we must pay attention to how we welcome and include them/you.

Article IV – Reception of Members

Upon recommendation of the Deacons and a vote of the Church, a person may be received into membership:  This is one of the most important ministries of the Deacons in any church.

      1. i) By baptism – A candidate who gives satisfactory evidence of faith in Christ and a desire to live for Christ, is accepted for baptism.  Baptists got named “Baptists” because our emphasis on baptism.  We believe in individual freedom: the choice to be baptized into Christianity is a choice of the individual person, not of anyone else.  
      2. ii) By letter – A member of a Christian Church practicing baptism by immersion may be received on the basis of a letter of dismission and recommendation from that Church.  Of course, since we believe so strongly in the local church, the reverse is true.  When you, a member of Digby Baptist, leave, you transfer your membership to where you are.  YOU DO NOT STAY A MEMBER HERE. Oops. That is my sermon for another day. 😉

iii) By experience – This is a very interesting part of our identity here.  Not every Baptist Church is like this, even in our own Association or Denomination.  It is what is called ‘open membership.’ We respect Anglicans as Christians, and welcome them as full members if they so desire.  So too with Uniteds, or Lutherans, or other forms of believers. Also…

iii) By experience – A candidate may become a member of the Church if there is satisfactory evidence of Christian experience when:

      1. a) The candidate has been baptized by immersion but is unable, for satisfactory reasons, to obtain a letter of transfer from another church.
      2. b) Members of established Christian churches not practising baptism by immersion, may be received into full membership of this Church through their Christian experience and by vote of this Church.  They must first come before a committee of the Deacons’ Board and be given every encouragement to be baptized by immersion.
      3. c) If a candidate by reason of infirmity is unable to follow our regular form of baptism, the person may be received into full membership by a vote of the Church’s members.  We do not say here in our Constitution that another form of baptism could be used, but I would also recommend that. Once, I baptized a man with a bit of water poured over his head, because he was ill and in bed all the time.  
      4. d) By restoration – “suspended” members may be restored to fellowship.  The unanimous vote of the deacons and a majority vote of the Church is necessary in such a case.  This is another topic altogether – how members can get suspended, and then restored to fellowship.

No matter how someone joins us, or if they officially become a member of the congregation or not, our fellowship is called by God to welcome disciples of Jesus into our ranks. We are in the work of calling people to return to God.  Repent is another Bible word close to this, which means turn around.  

For so many this is not a matter of joining Christ for the first time ever.  It is a return. A new beginning. A fresh start. We all need this, from time to time.  Next Sunday here, we have a show-and-tell about our devotions, our prayer life, our use of the Bible, and so on. This week, show & tell God how devoted you are!

Celtic Christianity

(Genesis 15:1-12, 15-18; Luke 13:31-35) – J G White
11 am, Sun, March 17, 2019 – UBC Digby

I bind unto myself today
the strong name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
I bind this day to me forever
by power of faith Christ’s incarnation,
his baptism in the Jordan river,
his death on the cross for my salvation.

That’s from St. Patrick’s Lorica, #1 in our hymbook. Since today is the day for Patrick of Ireland, let us explore Celtic Christianity.  It is an ancient tradition of spirituality and prayer, thoughts and theologies, faith and culture, rooted in the British Isles hundreds and hundreds of years ago.  

Today’s Old Testament story, from Genesis 15, suits our theme, because it is such an earthy story.  With a bunch of animal sacrifices, God ‘cuts a covenant’ with Father Abraham. Family is promised to him, and a land to live upon. ‘Look at the stars: so shall your descendants be.’ “To your descendants I give this land.”  The Celtic tradition is strong in its connection with all creation.

Years ago, for our prayer time, Sharon and I used ‘A Contemporary Celtic Prayer Book.’  With each day of the week, the author suggests the basics of the Celtic tradition.

Sunday.  Celtic spirituality contains wonderful elements of joyful celebration.  Celtic prayer very often starts with taking pleasure in original blessing more than lamenting original sin.  

Perhaps we can see that night of God with Abraham as a ceremony that was not about sin.  Even with animal sacrifices, it was not about forgiveness or paying for wrongdoing.  It was simply about a Divine promise, a blessing to Abraham and his people.

The prayers of the Celtic tradition have become much more popular in recent decades.  The prayers express the joy and blessing of God’s creation of us, and of all things. One sourcebook for Celtic prayer was compiled in Scotland just over 120 years ago, by Alexander Carmichael. Thanks to John Dickinson, we have a copy of the Carmina Gadelica in our little prayer corner, in the meeting room off the Hall. Let me share today a number of Celtic prayers of old.
Thanks to Thee, God,
Who brought’st me from yesterday
To the beginning of today,
Everlasting joy
To earn for my soul
With good intent.
And for every gift of peace
Thou bestowest on me,
My thoughts, my words,
My deeds, my desires
I dedicate to Thee.  (# 42)

Celtic spirituality valued pilgrimages to holy places.  On Monday, some of us make pilgrimages to “holy places” of work: to hearth-side or to commute.  Some of us, confined or retired, continue our daily life pilgrimages on our walk with Jesus.  

In this season before Good Friday and Easter, we remember they way Jesus was called by the Spirit to spend forty quiet days in the wilderness.  Before we take up our next task or journey, the next chapter of our lives, we do well to spend quiet time in prayer and fasting. And then, with Christ, we journey on.
Of course, there are prayers for actual journeys upon the landscape.
The pilgrim’s aiding
God be with thee in every pass,
Jesus be with thee on every hill,
Spirit be with thee on every stream,
Headland and ridge and lawn. (# 275)

Tuesday.  Celtic spirituality had an intuitive wisdom for the connection of everyday life with the spirit world.  Angels are near!

There is something so beautiful and important when we learn that every moment can be sacred, and blessed, and be time well spent with our Master. Perhaps you say grace before meals: a prayer of thanks and for a blessing. What about at many other moments in your day? Here are some old examples.

The consecration of the cloth
May the man of this clothing never be wounded,
May torn he never be;
What time he goes into battle or combat,
May the sanctuary shield of the Lord be his. (# )

The consecration of the seed
I will go out to sow the seed,
In the name of Him who gave it growth;
I will place my front in the wind,
And throw a gracious handful on high.
As much as falls into the earth,
The dew will make it to be full. (# 88)

Celtic spirituality is attuned to the cycle of prayer.   Wednesday is the centre point of our week’s holy work cycle. I have always like this prayer, from the book, Celtic Daily Prayer, that comes from the Northumbria Community.  It is part of the Evening Prayer office.
Lord, You have always given
bread for the coming day;
and though I am poor,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always given
strength for the coming day;
and though I am weak,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always given
peace for the coming day;
and though I am of anxious heart,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always kept me
safe in trials;
and now, tried as I am,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always marked
the road for the coming day;
and though it may be hidden,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always lightened
this darkness of mine;
and though the night is here,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always spoken
when time was ripe;
and though You be silent now,
today I believe.   (pp. 22-23)

Every day can be punctuated with prayer.  Taking many breaks for prayer is a gracious way to live.

Thursday.  The pagan Celts believed in “thin times” and “thin places,” special modes of being when times and places of our world and the spirit world came close and intersected.  They practiced warm hospitality to wayfarers, whether from this world or the next. The Christian Celts easily accommodated this to the Communion of Saints.  Think of that amazing chapter, Hebrews 11.  All those faithful people of the past. We are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, cheering us on today!

An older woman in the southwest of Ireland today  can think of inviting the whole company of heaven into her cottage.  These are her words:
I would like to have the men of Heaven
In my own house:
With vats of good cheer
Laid out for them…
I would like to be watching Heaven’s family
Drinking it through all eternity.

Friday. Celtic spirituality is paradoxical.  In early Celtic times saints fasted and sometimes stood for hours in cold water to discipline their passions.  

Through the centuries, however, there was a wonderful table hospitality among the Celts, a sense of celebration, night feasts with stories told and laughter shared – more in the tradition of Jesus, who loved to go to parties.

Jesus, as we noticed today, can scold people one minute, and weep for them in the next.  As we prepare for the story of His last passover with His friends, in Jerusalem, we see the traditional party and His tense praying.  The Passover was a celebration – of life: the people had been set free!  When Jesus sat down with His disciples in an upper room for the ceremonial banquet, he made it very serious… and went out from there to pray intensely in a hillside garden.

Our memories turn to all the times Jesus ate with strangers and with friends.  There is a lot to be said for a dinner party, and for an unplanned stop for coffee with someone.  Each little celebration matters. Sometimes, we appreciate every little meeting, every simple joy. The Celtic people had blessings for every little thing.  Like this charm of the Butter. Have you ever churned butter? I never have.
The charm made of Columba
To the maiden of the glen,
Her butter to make more,
Her milk to make surpassing.
   Come, ye rich lumps, come!
   Come, ye rich lumps, come!
   Come, ye rich lumps, masses large,
   Come, ye rich lumps, come!
Thou Who put beam in moon and sun,
Thou Who put food in ear and herd,
Thou Who put fish in stream and sea,
Send the butter up betimes! (# 382)

Remember: praying is serious business, and fun. It is a big task, and simple. Prayer is special, & ordinary.

Saturday. The Christian Celts, for greater part of two millenia, were neither puritanical nor dualistic.  They were close to the Earth’s cycles of fertility. They saw the Earth as good, sexuality as good, life as good – all being generous blessings.  The primitive worship moments we read of, like Abraham with those animal sacrifices, remind us that our faith in God can be down to earth.  Each physical bit of our lives can be experience of the Divine – the sacredness of the secular. Here are a few more prayers, for the most ordinary of things.  The ordinary matters to our God.

There are many prayers for healing. Ever twist an ankle?  Here is part of a Charm for Sprain.
In name of Father, Bone to bone,
In name of Son, Vein to vein,
In name of Spirit, Balm to balm,
The Three of threes. To the left foot.

Blood to blood, To God of gods,
Flesh to flesh, The Healer of healers,
Sinew to sinew, The Spirit of eternity,
To the left foot. The Three of threes,
To the left foot. (# 432)

How about a prayer to deal with envy?
Whoso made to thee the envy,
Swarthy man or woman fair,
Three I will send to thwart it:
Holy Spirit, Father, Son.   (# 156)

And how about a Prayer for seaweed? (I had a friend who collected seaweed off the beach for his garden.)
Produce of sea to land,
Produce of land to sea;
He who does not in time,
Scant shall be his share.

Seaweed being cast on shore
Bestow, Thou Being of bestowal;
Fruitfulness being brought to wealth,
O Christ, grant me my share! (# 363)

Our God – Father, Spirit, Son – is interested in every moment of life.  Our God is available in every moment of life. Our God has blessings for everything in life.  Our God is in our life.

Thanks be to God!

A Sense of Community

(Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Romans 10:8b-13) – J G White
11 am, Sun, March 10, 2019 – UBC Digby

Making your way in the world today
Takes everything you got
Taking a break from all your worries
It sure would help a lot
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
And they’re always glad you came
You want to be where you can see
The troubles are all the same
You want to be where everybody knows your name
You want to go where people know
people are all the same
You want to be where everybody knows your name
(Gary Portnoy / Judy Hart-Angelo © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC)

That old, television theme still resonates with people.  That sense of community is a powerful thing. Religion researcher, George Barna, said, “A church that fosters true community is indeed something special.”  Fellowship is a gift from God for us.

A sense of community in religious groups comes from a few main building blocks. Things like beliefs – our shared view of the world.  What we do together – worship and gatherings and activities to do good together. Also who we are – this group of people – and our story, our history that got us to this point.

We Believe.  We have facts about the universe we believe in, or that we try to, or that we are supposed to believe.  Our Baptist tradition has not insisted that people believe in any ‘creed.’ We claim the whole Bible as our basis of belief.  But sometimes we do shorten and simplify the things we believe together.

For instance, we sang a version today of the Apostle’s Creed.  An early Church statement of the basic beliefs about God. Most Baptists have lost the habit of reciting such things. The composer of this version, Barry Morrison, said: One of the great benefits in retrieving it [the Apostles’ Creed] is for the way it can connect us to the larger Christian Church where it can serve as a unifying statement of faith which bridges the historic, cultural, and theological divisions that have separated us into such a variety of denominations.

Do we all believe what we sang? And is our sense of community rooted in things we all believe as facts?  We believe this, we don’t believe that – so this is why we belong together?

I think if I took a secret ballot poll of thing things we each believe in and don’t believe, we would find a wide variety of views of the world.  We would have to look for the main things, the basic beliefs we share. Even then, not everyone in the pews in on the same page.

In our branch of Christianity, scriptural pieces like Romans 10 have been historically our strong foundation.  Our focus upon personal salvation has been very important.

If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you shall be saved. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  

Baptist Churches have always claimed that membership is based upon this stuff, based upon personal decisions and a change of heart brought about by God.  The technical term is ‘regenerate church membership;’ the requirement is to be saved, to be re-generated or re-born, be a new creation. This, along with baptism in water in the the name of the Triune God.  

It could be good – and important – for us to talk and share more with one another about what we do understand and believe.  We might be surprised at the variety of beliefs and God-experiences we have here!

What else binds us together?  We have a history, a story to tell, that has brought us to today.

In Deuteronomy 26 we have one of the classic Hebrew recitations of their shared story. In the Promised land, as an act of worship, they were to recite together: ‘A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien…’ and so on.  

I wonder what it would be like for us, in this congregation, to write our own story.  What would we say? How could we recite our history with God in two hundred words or less?  The telling of our story builds community. Not that we can live in the past. But to build on the past we must know and celebrate it.  We must learn from the past. We must be grateful. Perhaps, before our anniversary service in June, I will stretch out a long roll of paper for us to fill in the important moments in our life together, and our story will write itself.  

When we have a shared history, a story, we have a sense of belonging. Some of us have this strong sense of our Church as a family, a large, loving, spiritual family.  Some of you have a story about the wonderful welcome you found here. But that is not everyone’s experience. The Spirit of Christ always would have us pay attention to how we welcome and include people.

For example… say, I’m here one Sunday morning, and I see some stranger here in the pews with us.  I get to talk to him.

“Hi! Welcome.  Where are you from?”
“What’s your name?”
“What are you doing here?”
“So, you’re not from here?”
“Oh, this must be your wife: she’s a lovely singer; what’s it like being married to a Lady Pastor?”

Why are you here?  Do you know someone?”

Well, maybe you get my point. I’ve just embarrassed the life out of this fellow, and I certainly told him nothing about me.  Thanks for playing along, Hudson!

Truly welcoming people is real, spiritual work.  Some of it comes naturally and beautifully out of us, some of it takes some training improvement.

Author Ron Crandall says: Welcoming new people is not easy, and it uses up psychological energy…  One reason for the difficulty is that church visitors and new members in small churches are not merely “company” or “guests,” as it is sometimes put in megachurches. Rather, they are potential or actual new family members waiting to be adopted.  Making company feel welcome is a much different and less threatening task than adopting new family members.  (in Dennis Bickers, The Healthy Small Church, 2005, p. 85)

Remember, for a normal-sized church like ours to welcome new people in, we will be changed because of these new family members.  

Our sense of community also comes out of who we are right now. The people we are, and what we are doing.   We have our particular ways of doing things and of worshipping and socializing, ministry work we are doing, and visions for our future.  

Romans 10 and Deut 26 both have the roots of purposeful mission.  Our mission to confess our faith to others. Our work to tell the story we know of God in our lives – how we found light to guide our journey.  

We are one for a variety of reasons.

Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot.  Some of us are here because we value the comfort & safety & solid ground we find in church.

Sometimes you want to go Where everybody knows your name And they’re always glad you came.  Some of us are here because we find friendship and intimacy in the fellowship.  It’s social, personal.

You want to be where you can see The troubles are all the same.  Some of us come for the grace and forgiveness and help we need for our troubles.  

There is a network of beliefs that connect many of us here.  There is a network of shared experience and story that binds many of us here.  There is a network of shared life and activity that is important to many of us here.  It is not just one piece of the pie that Jesus uses to make us a community. It is expressed in all of this, together.  

Shared beliefs, shared story, shared activity:
Let us examine what we do share.
Let us see the Source of these things.
Let us draw closer to the One who gives it all.

Put into Practice

(2 Corinthians 3:12 – 4:2; Luke 6:39-49) – J G White
11 am, Sun, March 3, 2019 – UBC Digby

Let’s talk.  Let’s talk about how to put into practice the things a preacher talks about on Sunday.  Talk today of the things we consider at a Bible study. Let’s have a dialogue.

How: “How?” is an important question.  How to do what we are taught to do. How to act on what the Bible teaches.  How to put into practice what we already know.  

46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you?”  So Jesus asks at the end of His sermon recorded here in Luke 6. What do you know about, but have quite not learned to do, yet?

One thing for me: prayer.  I have years of experience learning about prayer, but not praying nearly enough. I think.  Years ago, an Anglican friend said that, if, at the Cathedral in Halifax, there was a sign in the hallway that said ‘Prayer Seminar this way,’ and another sign saying, ‘ Prayer Service that way,’ most of the clergy would head down to the seminar!  I’m a bit like that too.

True confession time. Will any of you tell what you know, what you have learned about, but not put into practice yet?

A few great Christian thinkers of the past one hundred years have said that our modern Christianity has failed: failed to put into practice what our Faith supposedly teaches.  So, what have we learned to do?  and how did we learn to put Jesus’ Way into practice in our lives?

We could start with examples right from Jesus’ sermon on the plain. 27 “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”

If Jesus has taught you to do this, even a bit, how did you learn this from Him?


A lot of Christians in the world are about to pay attention to a special season called Lent.  It is a time for prayer and fasting, a time for giving to the needy. We can take up some special spiritual disciplines so we can put ourselves more into the hands of God.  

Jesus said: 30 “Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.”  Giving can be a spiritual discipline. Has this been helpful to you?

Are there other spiritual practices that the Holy Spirit has used to transform you a little bit?

Last week we heard this from Jesus: 37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven;”  I think I grew up in a world of critics, and learned how to correct everyone around me.  I’m still really good at correcting people.  There’s no need of it! Can any of you tell of how God led you away from judging and condemning? Or how to forgive?

Jesus said: 45 “The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.” I know most of you by now, and I know the abundance of your hearts.  Not that our hearts are all full and perfect. Let us finish our dialogue sermon responding to this question: what good things do you see people around you doing, out of the abundance God has planted in their hearts?

Thanks be to God for one another today!

“Since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart.” 2 Cor 4:1