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Psalm 22:23-25 February 28, 2015

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We thank God and praise God publicly for the fact God does not “despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted.” Instead, God hears our cry and brings comfort or strength through whatever is needed.

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Romans 4:13-17; 18-25 February 26, 2015

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Faith in God’s promise is what made Abraham the “father of many nations”. That faith, which leads to total trust, is what I want to strive for.

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 February 25, 2015

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God told Abram he was making a covenant with him. God changed his name to Abraham, the father of nations. Not only that, the 99-year-old’s wife, Sarai, would now be Sarah and the old barren woman would bear a son!

God invites Abram and Sarai “to a free fall off a cliff, away from security, away from the known, away from a life that seemed to be winding down more or less comfortably.”*

The two humans accepted God’s invitation, putting their trust in God and putting into motion the covenant that would become the foundation of three major religions today.

*Elise Erikson Barrett

Psalm 22:25-31 February 24, 2015

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God has always been humanity’s savior. We depended upon God in ancient times and continue to do so today. We will always praise God, our “rock and salvation”.

The devotion writer, Elise Erikson Barrett, compares this caring and responsibility to that of a parent. Our Creator loves and protects us. God is forever trustworthy.

Ash Wednesday: Isaiah 58:1-12 February 24, 2015

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Unfortunately this comment on society is no different today than it was in the time of Isaiah:

Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that
practiced righteousness
and did not forsake the
ordinance of their God . . .
. . . Look, you serve your own
interest on your fast day,
and oppress all your workers.

The Pope made a spectacular suggestion this week:  instead of giving up chocolate or beef for Lent, try giving up feeling superior, distrust or dislike for the poor or homeless.

Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and to bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
. . . Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer . . .
. . . and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.

Tim Whitaker, a retired United Methodist bishop, comments on how fasting among our denomination is not practiced much. Many of us, myself definitely included, have forgotten one of Wesley’s General Rules was to practice “fasting or abstinence”. He points out that Jesus said “whenever you fast”, “if you fast”.

Whitaker describes various ways people fast or abstain from certain foods or actions.

However we do it, fasting is an offering to God to overcome being and doing what we want so that we may be and do what God wants.

And he reminds us what type of fast God really wants from us, what Micah said God requires: that we do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.

Joanie Friedman, preached this past Sunday as our new Lay Leader. She said a number of uneasy truths about our congregation and talked about how many of us need to give up control and wanting to do things on our own. Thinking we can do things without help, or in my case, realizing a task is easier when we don’t have to explain or train anyone else, is perhaps something to abstain from. Living more humbly and being more patient and kind (that’s love!) is what I will work towards this Lenten season. Lord, help me!

Isaiah 40:21-31 February 11, 2015

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Why do we feel discouraged, unloved, unsupported? If we believe in the Almighty Creator, we should stand by our belief and accept that 
God has power, yet also cares how God’s creatures are doing.

He gives power to the faint,
and strengthens the powerless.

. . . those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.

We are reminded to remain positive in spite of setbacks. These words were written for the people of Judah who had been invaded and defeated by Babylon. Have hope that God will act because good WILL eventually win.

Just like the Jewish exiles, we have to draw upon our faith and trust in God if we are to remain positive in today’s world.

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1 Corinthians 8:1-13 February 1, 2015

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Paul uses food offered to Corinthian gods as an example of how believers in Christ can give the wrong impression and lead other followers astray. If they eat food offered in those temples because they don’t believe in those idols, they may give the wrong impression to others. Better to always take the higher road and avoid leading others astray.

Respect the beliefs and opinions of others but stand by your own beliefs. Don’t let potential idols (money, status, work, etc.) lead self or others astray. “Let love lead” each of us to live lives good for all.