Monday Message

The Monday Message offers a chance to further reflect on the Sunday sermon.  This email based devotional is designed to help us continue to wrestle with God’s Word during the week. If you are not receiving this message you can sign up here.

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Monday
May152017

Monday Message From Pastor Andrew on JOY

18And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your sight.”  Then the woman went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and her countenance was sad no longer.
1 Samuel 1:18
 
After church one Sunday, a visitor to the church asked me to pray that he might find a wife.  I told him that I would be happy to pray for him but likely it was not as simple as that.  To his puzzled expression, I told him that in addition to praying for a wife, we should pray that he might know God’s blessing now.
 
“Look,” I explained.  “It isn’t likely that God is going to give you a wife this afternoon.  That kind of thing takes time to happen.  I am pretty sure that God wants you to find joy before all of that unfolds.  And frankly, finding happiness in marriage usually comes from bringing joy into the marriage.”
 
Now, I’m not positive my answer to this prayer request was very pastoral or even universally correct in regard to marriage.  But in the moment, I was struck by the tendency we have in believing that we’d be happy if we could just get some circumstance of life straightened out (your circumstance may not be finding a spouse). 
 
My hunch is that God is aware of our circumstances.  God may even want to straighten these circumstances out for us, too.  But God does not want our lives to be dependent upon circumstances being just right.  He has created us for spiritual depth not just circumstantial responsiveness.
 
In our text for this morning, Hannah is unhappy in her circumstances.  This verse occurs in the temple where she is weeping in prayer asking God to change her circumstances.  In response to her prayer, the priest tells her to “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.” 
 
In a single moment, Hannah discovers two things.  First, she discovers that God does care about her circumstances.  Though the priest’s words are vague and fall a bit short of a promise that she will get things straightened out, she is blessed by the peace of God in the prayer.  Second, she finds happiness before her circumstances change. 
Happiness that is not tied to circumstances is called joy.  Hannah found joy in God’s being present to her now… where she was… as she was. 
 
This is the joy of Jesus that is available to us no matter the circumstances we find ourselves in.  We are not alone.  His Holy Spirit rests upon us.  We are loved.  God has not even withheld his own son from us but gave him up for us all.  God has us.  God has our circumstances in hand.
 
So, this afternoon, do not hold back.  Lift your circumstances before the Lord.  He cares about them because he cares about you.  But also ask him for joy.  Ask him to help you to know his peace, his presence, his blessing upon you.  In this way, we will find that God will bear us through all things with joy that is greater than what our circumstances seem to warrant.
Friday
May052017

MONDAY MESSAGE: ON SABBATH AND REST BY REV. ANDREW

5Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.
Psalm 62:5
 
Sabbath is a perspective.  I know, I know.  Many of you who grew up in church will argue with me and tell me that it is a day of the week.  And it is that.  But before it is a day of the week, it is a perspective.
 
The perspective that the world gives to us is that nothing is free.  We need to work for everything.  If we aren’t working, we better have saved up enough to be able to afford the vacation.  Vacations only happen because we have saved up or borrowed against tomorrow’s paying for it.  Sometimes the best way to stay ahead is to never stop working.
 
But Sabbath contends that it is God who takes care of us.  In fact, God is more important than work.  Work is a gift but provision is from the Lord.  To keep the order of things, God asks us to pause once a week and be reminded of this perspective.  We stop our working for money, our working for social position, our working for athletic glory, and our “fear of missing out” if we aren’t working.  We choose to live freed from the demands of life and to rest in God.
 
A funny thing happens when we Sabbath.  We find rest… true rest… rest for our souls.  We find freedom from the tyranny of all the things we think we need to be doing.  We carry that freedom back into all of those things where we work anew with the hope and the joy that comes only from resting in God… only from Sabbath.
 
Jesus, you know the pressures and the stress we feel.  Help us to pause this moment… to pause this week… and to rest in You.  Will you bear our burdens to create space for this?  Will you give us courage to prioritize You?  We ask that you would change our perspective in rest for our souls in You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 
Friday
May052017

MONDAY MESSAGE: PHILIPPIANS 4 BY REV. ANDREW

6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 4:6-7
 
This text is better practiced than talked about.  So, I want to pass along an exercise that I shared during the sermon this Sunday.  It is one that springs from our verses for today.  It is one I practice often.
 
Find a quiet place to be for the next five minutes.  If you need to close the door to your office or step outside for a moment, this will not take long.
 
Once you are in a quiet, safe place, sit down.  Close your eyes and become aware of the nearness of God as you pray.  Cup your hands in front of you.  Take the anxiety that is closest to your mind… the one that has been hovering over your head all day long.  In your mind’s eye, place your anxiety in your hands.  You are holding it in front of you.  Feel the weight of it in your hands.  In prayer, describe it to God.  Let him know what it is.  Don’t try to solve it.  We do not go to prayer to solve but to invite God in. 
 
Now thank God.  Thank Jesus for how much he loves you. Thank him that he is good.  Thank him that he will never leave you alone under the weight of your anxieties.  Thank him that he invites us to cast our cares upon him.  Thank him that you do not do this alone… but can lean into him… trust him.
 
Now, turn your hands over, dropping the anxiety that you have been holding at the feet of Jesus.  Feel your hands freed from the weight.  Thank God again and choose to rejoice as you trust God to hold your anxiety for you.
 
Open your eyes.  Notice the peace that comes from the Presence of God where you have invited Jesus into what was your anxiety.  Practice leaning into that peace the rest of today.  Any time you need, know that God desires for you to “cast your anxieties upon the Lord, because he cares for you.”  (1 Peter 5:7)
 
Jesus, we thank you that we are not alone in our anxiety.  We also know that it is often our anxieties that keep us from lifting our eyes to you.  Our worries keep us from the joy that you desire for us in life.  Teach us to pray such that we begin to see our anxieties as a call to prayer.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Friday
May052017

MONDAY MESSAGE: ON LUKE 24, BY REV. ANDREW

 

While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
Luke 24:15-16
 
Shortly after the resurrection and before all the disciples witnessed the resurrected Jesus, two disciples left Jerusalem to go to a nearby town called Emmaus.  Perhaps getting some distance from Jerusalem was good for them.  Perhaps having time to think and reflect was what they needed.  As they walked the seven miles to Emmaus, they talked and processed all that had happened.
 
This Monday, we go back to places of work and school that seems unaffected by the darkness of Good Friday or the celebrations of Easter Sunday.  The current of life pulls us back into the normal flow of life.  Perhaps we need our own walk to Emmaus.  Perhaps we would be blessed by pausing at our desk or over the sink of dishes or while we drive in our cars.  Let us seek time today to pause and to process… to think about what Easter means in our lives.  Perhaps there are even people we know and trust with whom we can talk and discuss these things.
 
The text tells us that while the disciples “were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.”  This happens to us too!  When we pause to contemplate Jesus, he is near to us.  Often he is nearer to us than we recognize.
 
This Monday after Easter, take time to prayerfully think and process.  What does Easter mean to you on the Monday after?  Ask and expect Jesus to come close to you as you do.
 
Jesus, we are grateful for the ways that resurrection spoke to us yesterday.  What does it mean for us today?  We ask you to come alongside of us and help us to recognize your Presence.  Help us to see our work, our school, and our relationships in light of Easter.  We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Tuesday
Apr112017

Monday Message: On Holy Week from Pastor Andrew 

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly more than we can ask or imagine, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21
 
If we follow the liturgical calendar, this past Sunday marked Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.  Led by his disciples, Jesus entered Jerusalem for Passover at the head of a parade.  He was celebrated as the king of Israel who would save.  It was a social and political high that would only make Jesus’ crucifixion five days later all the more difficult to experience.
 
Imagine that you are one of the disciples.  It is Monday after Palm Sunday.  Your heart is full of the hopes that Jesus might just pull off a revolution.  Perhaps the crowds would recognize Jesus for who you know him to be and you would all be swept into power with Jesus.
 
Of course, these hopes will eventually be dashed in the Garden of Gethsemane.   Any potential of Jesus taking power will seem ridiculous when he is nailed to the cross.  It would be easy to be swept up in the cynicism and unbelief of the world that Friday.  Is it possible to believe when everything else in the world seems to point to unbelief?  How can we hold onto faith when the rest of the world has no faith (and circumstances seem to show they are right)?
 
Perhaps you are familiar with this doubt in your life, in your work, or in your community.  Perhaps the ways that you had hoped Jesus would break through in your life and circumstances have been disappointed.  If so, be encouraged by the words of our text from the book of Ephesians.  God’s power is at work to the ultimate end of glory to Jesus and those who cling to him.  It is able to accomplish abundantly more all you have asked for or imagined.
 
The doubt that was part of Holy Week would have been most overwhelming at the cross.  Even at this point when all hope seemed lost, God was not done.  He moved through cross and tomb to achieve abundantly far more than anyone would have imagined.  Social and political victory in Jerusalem proved a goal far too small.  Instead Jesus moved to break the power of sin and death over all of humanity.
 
This Holy Week, be reminded that Jesus is still moving in our world.  Do not give up hope but cling to Jesus in faith.  Then do not be surprised when Jesus moves in resurrection.
 
Jesus, remind us this Holy Week of the ways that you meet the doubts and expectations of your followers.  Remind us that when all seems lost, you are not at an end.  Rather, you are moving still for your glory and ours.  We glorify you this Easter for what you have done and what you are still to do.