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Lenten Bible Study – Day 6

Tuesday, February 23, 2021 – Day 6
Mark 4:21-22 
21 He said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? 22 For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. 23 Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” 24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. 25 For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.”
You may be thinking; didn’t we just do a parable about lamps a few days ago? Well you are right, we did. However, when ever I read something in a few different places in the Bible I take special notice. It is either something Jesus said a lot, or something that the people remembered. We cannot nor should not hide our light. Christ’s love in us should not be hidden, rather it should shine for others to see for God’s glory.
There is a famous saying attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi, he says “preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary”. I love this quote and it is a great reminder to be constantly doing mission every day. Our lives should look like we really believe the words in the Bible! Most people in the Churches across the world believe we need to be proclaiming Jesus. The Bible tells us to go out and share the good news to be a lamp on a stand, but why can it be difficult?
There are a few reasons that some of us struggle to share their faith. In our world not, everyone is welcoming to hear about our faith. Some of us don’t feel like we know the Bible well enough to share our faith. That is why our actions are so important. It is not an either or of talking or doing, it is both. However, our action can open doors to conversation. Our action can preach the name of Jesus so much better than we can with words. What makes us shine like a lamp is how we treat our neighbors. It is in our loving actions, which will always shine the brightest. So bright that it proclaims the love of Christ to everyone who sees us! 
Lord, we are thankful for your love. During this Lenten season let us be intentionally vigilant about being a bright light. Let our action be ones that we want to put up high and let others see, all for your glory. Amen. 

Lenten Bible Study – Day 5

Monday, February 22, 2021- Day 5
Luke 7: 41-43
41‘A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii,* and the other fifty. 42When they could not pay, he cancelled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?’ 43Simon answered, ‘I suppose the one for whom he cancelled the greater debt.’ And Jesus* said to him, ‘You have judged rightly.’
The story that surrounds this little parable is this: Jesus has been invited to diner by Simon the Pharisee. Jesus is eating with Simon and in walks a “sinful” woman. She washes Jesus’ feet with her tears and dries them with her hair. She then pours expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet. Simon is profoundly disturbed because he knows this woman is “sinful”. If Jesus were a prophet, and many said he was, Jesus would have known she was sinful and would not have let her touch him. Jesus, somehow knowing what was on Simon’s mind asks the question in the parable.
Let’s take it apart. Who is the creditor? Jesus, the incarnate God. Who is the 500 denarii debtor? The woman, who knows her sins are many. So, when the woman washes Jesus’ feet, dries them with her hair and anoints them with perfume, she is acknowledging her need for forgiveness.
Who is the 50 denarii debtor? Simon, who believes himself to be different from the woman. He is not sinful. So Simon has not been particularly hospitable to Jesus. He has not washed Jesus feet as was customary for hosts. He has not given Jesus a kiss on the cheek, as was also custom. Simon did not anoint Jesus’ head with oil, which would have been to honor Jesus. Simon has not given anything because he does not believe he needs anything.
Jesus’ forgiveness of the woman’s sins matches her expressed need. Simon gets what he thinks he needs – nothing. She loves Jesus a great deal. Simon, not at all.
Now which of them will love him more?’ 43Simon answered, ‘I suppose the one for whom he cancelled the greater debt.’ And Jesus* said to him, ‘You have judged rightly.’
What Simon misses is, in Paul’s words, this:
21 … [I]rrespective of law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith.
We are all sinners and need forgiveness. Much forgiveness. That is why Jesus came and died. So that we could be forgiven. If we don’t think we need it, and so don’t want it, maybe We deny that Jesus needed to die. We deny the Gospel. Don’t be Simon. Be like the woman. We need forgiveness and must go to the only one who can give it. So go to Jesus and get it.
Lord we confess that we have not done the things we should have done, done things we should not have done, said things we should not have said and not said things we should have said. We need your mercy. We are at your feet. Lead us through repentance this Lenten season and give us the forgiveness we need. Amen

Lenten Bible Study – Day 4

Saturday February 20, 2021 – Day 4
Matthew 7: 24-27 
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”
A few years ago I was leading a youth retreat in Texas. During one of our sessions we had 2 youth leaders share their personal faith journeys. Even though they were both really young they had both been through some very tough struggles. Jack was a 24 year old man who had already had cancer. Sarah was 23, she shared with the group how her father was a drug addict and physically abusive. The stories were very powerful and detailed the struggle and pain that each had experienced. The common theme in their stories was how their faith in God got them through the struggles. At the end of the stories one of the 8th graders inappropriately asked, “do bad things have to happen to you to be a youth leader”? 
The truth is obviously everyone will go through difficulties. Some of us will suffer more than others, but we will all experience some pain. Jesus never makes any promises of an easy life, or even pain free life. What Jesus promises is that we won’t have to go through it alone. That if we keep our faith and live a life according to Jesus words that we will be able to weather the storm. There are many people who see terrible things in the world and say God doesn’t exist. However, a “perfect” life was never what was promised. Think of all the people blessed by God in the Bible, they all had a lot of pain in their lives (Abraham, Job, Moses, all the disciples, etc).
We know storms are brewing and will affect our lives. No matter how much we have gone through we know there can always be another one coming. We must always be thinking about what our foundation is in our lives, what are we building our houses on? We must be learning about Jesus words and acting on them, by doing so we know we will be strong enough for the storm.
Jesus let our focus be on you. Build us into strong disciples that care for each other. Let us always remember your promises for us and be thankful for your love and grace. Amen.

JMPC Sunshine 01.08.2021

On December 21, 2020 there was a celestial event that has not been seen since the year 1226 CE when Genghis Kahn was rampaging in Asia. The celestial event was the conjunction of two planets in our solar system – Jupiter and Saturn. Normally these two planets are just bright lights in the sky and are misidentified as stars to the astronomically challenged. From time to time, orbital paths across the sky of Jupiter and Saturn make them line up in a way that intensifies their brightness to the point they look like one bright star. This conjunction on December 21 was labeled the “Christmas Star” mainly because it appeared so close to Christmas. Such celestial events are something we humans have always looked at with wonder. From solar and lunar eclipses to passing comets, human beings have historically interpreted such sights as heralds or omens of some kind of change in the course of human history. (See Genghis Kahn rampaging Asia in 1226.) Halley’s Comet was said to have appeared just as the Normans were invading England in 1066 CE. King Harold of England saw it as a bad sign while King William of Normandy saw it as proof he was to succeed (which he did). A 585 BCE solar eclipse was so frightening it the warring Medes and Lydians in that they ended their war and left the battlefield. Then there was the Star of Bethlehem that portended the birth of a new king. Many believe that this star was, in fact, a Jupiter/Saturn conjunction. Whatever it was, the three “Wisemen” or “Kings” used it as a navigational aid to find the new king that was heralded by the “star”. This story only appears in Matthew’s Gospel. What do we make of this story? What does it mean to us in 2020? Hear about it Sunday, January 10, 2021 when Pastor Jeff preaches “Three Kings” at 10am on Facebook Live. You can also come to the parking lot and listen on the radio, though the worship team will be inside. We hope you join us.


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