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January 12, 2020 at 12:04 pm · · 0 comments

Boundaries – Week 2

Many of us have complicated relationships with the word “no.” In our overscheduled, overcommitted society, many of us have difficulty saying “no.” This Sunday in our sermon series Boundaries, we talked about the hidden gift of “no.” We looked at some practical ways of when and how to say no in order to fulfill our God-given purpose.

In Genesis 2, God created a human out of the dust of the earth and breathed life into him. We are created, we are not the Creator. As created, finite beings, we have limits. For example, we have limits in the sense that we need a certain amount of sleep, food, and relationships to survive and thrive. God did not intend for us to do it all, we were not created for that. God made us with the hidden gift of no. The gift of no brings sanity and helps us to focus on our priorities and the things that matter most in our lives. Our limits help us to recognize where we begin and end, and they help us to know where our boundaries need to be.

Every time we say yes to something, we say no to something else. We are responsible for our own limits, not the limits of other people. Only we know what is within our own limits. When we have our priorities set, it is easier to know when we need to say “yes” or “no.” The UMC mission is to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” The top priority of our church is to fulfill that mission. One key question to ask yourself is “Am I using my gifts, resources, and life to the best advancement of the kingdom of God?”

We know when to say “no” when red flags of resentment, anger, or frustration begin to build up when we are asked to do something. When that happens, we need to reflect and pray to God about where in our life we need to say no. Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend recommend practicing with “baby no’s”- which are small “no’s” spoken in loving, supportive relationships. Once we feel comfortable with baby no’s, we can move up to “grown up no’s,” which are the no’s we say to the people whom it is most difficult to set a boundary. “No” is a hidden gift from God we need to use in order to protect, nurture, and develop the life God has given us and desires us to live.

Scripture:

Monday- Genesis 2:4-9

Tuesday- Genesis 2:15-24

Wednesday- Genesis 3:1-7

Thursday- Genesis 3:8-19

Friday- Genesis 3:20-24

Questions to Consider and Discuss:

  1. How can the word “no” be a hidden gift?
  2. Is there an area of your life where God is calling you to say no in order to say yes to a more important priority?

January 5, 2020 at 12:24 pm · · 0 comments

Boundaries – Week 1

This Sunday we embarked on a new series for the new year called Boundaries with the tag line “When to Say Yes and How to Say No to Fulfill our Purpose.” Many of us struggle with boundaries, and life without boundaries can lead to bitterness, shame, burn out, and unhealthy relationships. Throughout this series, we are looking at some teachings in Scripture and the book Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend to help us live a more free, fruitful, and fulfilling life in Christ.

The word “boundary” is a line that marks the limits of an area. We have boundaries all around us. We have boundaries in sports, in driving, and around our homes and yards. Each of us personally have boundaries physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Boundaries mark what is me and what isn’t me.

In Galatians 6:2, Paul writes, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in doing so, you fulfill the law of Christ.” This verse highlights our responsibility to others. Sometimes people have burdens too big to bear on their own- perhaps they don’t have the strength, the resources, or the knowledge. These burdens are like a big boulder or rock that crush us or weigh us down. Christ lived out this verse- he did for us what we could not do for ourselves. Jesus carried our burdens and sins all the way to the cross. As Christians, we are called to help carry each other’s burdens, and in doing so, we exhibit the love of Christ. Sometimes carrying each other’s burdens looks like bringing over a casserole, lending a listening ear, giving money, or referring to a counselor.

In Galatians 6:5, Paul continues, “Each one should carry their own load.” These two verses say almost opposite things; however, there is a difference between the word “burden” and “load.” A load is like cargo or the weight of daily toil. A load is something we carry around each day like a backpack. Galatians 6:5 highlights our responsibility for ourselves. Some examples of the things we carry each day that we are responsible for include our attitudes and beliefs, our behaviors, our choices, our feelings, our thoughts, our limits, our desires, and our love.

As followers of Christ, we live within the tension of these two verses. We are responsible to others, we are responsible for ourselves. Said another way, if I only take care of you, I cannot take care of myself and my own load. Likewise, if I only take care of me, I cannot take care of you- I fail to fulfill the law of Christ and help carry your burdens. Leaning into this principle is key to living a life with boundaries. Living by this principle will help us to let go of the anger, shame, and tension in relationships, and embrace God’s purposes for us.

Scriptures:

  • Monday-Galatians 5:16-21
  • Tuesday- Galatians 5:22-26
  • Wednesday- Galatians 6:1-5
  • Thursday- Galatians 6:6-10
  • Friday- Psalm 16:1-11

Questions to Consider or Discuss:

  1. In what ways are you realistically responsible to others? What is one opportunity God is showing you right now to help carry the burdens of another?
  2. In what ways are you realistically responsible for yourself? In what situation today are you acting as if the load of daily toil is a boulder you shouldn’t have to carry?

December 15, 2019 at 12:27 pm · · Comments Off on Messy Christmas – Week 3

Messy Christmas – Week 3

This Advent season we are discovering the hope and joy of Christ in the midst of what is often a messy, imperfect Christmas. This Sunday we talked about those sometimes complicated and tense relationships with our families.

Matthew 1:1-17 details the family tree of Jesus, going all the way back to Abraham, the father of Israel. Did you know that Jesus was born into a pretty crazy, messy family? Abraham lied to kings about his relationship with his wife Sarah, saying she was his sister. At the request of his jealous wife Sarah, Abraham also forced their servant Hagar away once she gave birth to a son Ishmael, sending her off with next to nothing. Jacob was a liar and trickster, misleading several of his family members. Judah sold his own brother into slavery and had relations with his daughter-in-law. Rahab was a prostitute, who helped the Israelites capture a city. David was an adulterer and a murderer. Solomon had 700 wives and concubines. We can only imagine how dramatic some of those family gatherings must have been!

Each person in Jesus’ genealogy has something dark in their story. Yet, here’s the amazing thing: Jesus was born into this messy family. The Savior of the world came from a crazy family, full of sinners and complicated relationships. Yet God used each of these people, in spite of their shortcomings and failures, to play a part in God’s unfolding story of salvation for the whole world. No one is unredeemable or beyond the reach of God’s grace. Matthew 1 demonstrates how God can bring restoration and hope in the midst of our complicated, messy families.

This Advent season, look for ways God’s grace is showing up in and through your family, no matter how crazy it may be. Sometimes God calls us to be the vessels through which the good news of Christ shows up for our families. How is God inviting you to share Christ with your family this Christmas? Maybe it’s through forgiving a family member who wronged you or asking for forgiveness someone you wronged. Maybe it’s spreading peace in the midst of disagreements or by being a comforting presence to someone in your family who is having a tough time. Maybe it is through inviting a family member to one of our Christmas Eve services. Jesus came from a messy family to help us with our own. God can bring redemption out of our complicated, broken family relationships.

Messy Christmas Advent Calendar:

  • Monday December 16- Read Matthew 1:1-17. This is the lineage of Jesus’ family- it was a family with a lot of messy, complicated relationships. Consider, where might joy be present in the midst of Jesus’ messy family? In what ways does your family bring you joy?
  • Tuesday December 17- Smile at everyone you see today. Even a simple smile can bring joy to someone having a rough day.
  • Wednesday December 18- Write a note or card thanking someone who has brought you joy recently.
  • Thursday December 19- Have each person in your family share something that brought them joy this week.
  • Friday December 20- Invite a few of your favorite people over for dinner or a game night.
  • Saturday December 21- Bring joy to your neighbors by leaving a small gift or sweet treat on the doorsteps with an encouraging note.

December 1, 2019 at 12:28 pm · · Comments Off on Messy Christmas – Week 1

Messy Christmas – Week 1

Christmas is often referred to as the most wonderful time of the year. However, this time of year is also often filled with stress and tension. Many of us have high expectations for what our Christmas should be like, and often those expectations do not line up with reality. Sometimes Christmas is a lot more messy than merry. This Sunday we began a new series called A Very Messy Christmas, which is about discovering the good news of a Christ, who is born in the middle of our messy, imperfect lives. We can find hope that God comes to us in the midst of our messy lives and redeems us.

This Sunday we talked about expectations and pressures around the Christmas. At Christmas, we struggle with pressures to buy the perfect Christmas gifts, to have our homes decorated like Better Homes and Garden magazine, for our Christmas cookies to look like Rachel Ray’s cookies,  for our family to get a long at the dinner table. Sometimes we struggle with pressures from family members around the holidays with judgments on how we live our lives. What pressures and expectations are you facing this Advent season?

In Luke 1:57-66, Zechariah and Elizabeth faced a lot of pressures from relatives and neighbors on what to name their son. About nine months earlier, Zechariah had received a vision from an angel that they would have a son, who would prepare the way for the Savior of the world. The angel said they were to name this son John. Zechariah questioned the prophecy, so the angel said he would be mute until the child was born. When their baby was born, on the eighth day Elizabeth and Zechariah took him to be circumcised and named. All the neighbors and relatives pressured Elizabeth and Zechariah to name their newborn baby Zechariah, after his father. But they both knew that God called them to name him John, so they politely but firmly told everyone gathered that their son would be named John. At this, Zechariah’s voice came back, and he began praising God. Then, the whole town knew that God had great things in store for John and that God’s power and presence rested upon him.

Making sure the relatives approved of her child’s name and ensuring that she was meeting other people’s expectations for her family’s life were not on the top of Elizabeth’s priority list. Elizabeth was more concerned about following God than pleasing people. This story is an invitation for us to focus on Christ’s desires for our lives over other people’s expectations and approval. Being in Christ is the best place for us to be. We encourage you to recognize the external pressures and expectations that are burdening you this Advent season. Then, release them to God in prayer. Seek God’s desires over the approval of others, and make this Advent season a little more merry in the midst of the mess.

A Very Messy Christmas Advent Calendar:

  • Monday December 2- Read Luke 1:57-66. Consider, what struggles did Elizabeth and Zechariah face during the birth of their son? Where is hope found in this story?
  • Tuesday December 3- Go to an online news site, or look through a newspaper. Find examples of bad news in these stories. Now, go back and see if you can find any good news. Consider, where God is present in the midst of these stories.
  • Wednesday December 4- Watch Orly Wahba’s TED talk called Kindness.
  • Thursday December 5- Bring hope to someone who is struggling through a random act of kindness.
  • Friday December 6- Have each person in your family share something that brought them hope this week.
  • Saturday December 7- Write down ten things you are grateful for this Advent season.

Through the Valley: Week 3

November 17, 2019 at 8:48 am · · Comments Off on Through the Valley: Week 3

Through the Valley: Week 3

This Sunday we concluded our series Through the Valley, a three-week series about how to weather the seasons of loss and grief and rely on God’s comfort and strength in the midst of the valley.

John 11 is a story about people who were in the valley. Mary and Martha had just lost their brother Lazarus, and they were suffering, in pain, and disappointed that Jesus didn’t come sooner to heal Lazarus. When Jesus arrived and saw their suffering, he was deeply disturbed and troubled. He asked where they had laid Lazarus. The townsfolk responded, “Come and see.” They invited Jesus into the place of deepest sorrow, the tomb of Lazarus. It is here that Jesus began to cry. His weeping showed the depth of his love for his friend and compassion for those who were grieving. Jesus also was weeping for himself. He knew the suffering he would soon endure on the cross. When we invite Jesus into our deepest hurts, Jesus weeps with us. Our God is close to the brokenhearted and shares with our sorrows. Jesus does not weep as one who is unfamiliar to suffering, Jesus knows what it is to suffer. He has been through the darkest valley and came out the other side. Jesus’ sacrifice makes our eternal life possible. Jesus faced great suffering, enduring it all, and came out glorified.

The invitation “Come and see” in John 11 is not the first time it appears. “Come and see” is the same invitation Jesus gave his first disciples in John 1. “Come and see” is an invitation into discipleship, into radical obedience to follow God. It is an invitation to new and abundant life. After Jesus cried with Mary and Martha, he then essentially invited them to “Come and see.” He had someone remove the stone from the tomb and called “Lazarus, come out,” and Lazarus walked out of the tomb. Mary and Martha journeyed through the valley of the shadow of death to see a new day dawning, thanks to the resurrecting power of Jesus. While we will likely not see a physical resurrection of a lost loved one like Mary and Martha did, new life and resurrection can spring forth in Christ as we journey through the valley. The valley is not permanent, and death does not have the final word in Christ. In time, Jesus leads us through the valley to a new day dawning. Jesus’ invitation to “Come and see” is an invitation to healing, to hope, and to new life. It is an invitation to believe that Jesus is indeed the resurrection and the life.

Scripture Readings:

  • Monday- John 11:1-16
  • Tuesday- John 11:17-27
  • Wednesday- John 11:28-37
  • Thursday- John 11:38-46
  • Friday- John 1:35-42

Questions to Consider and Discuss:

  • What is the significance of Jesus weeping to you?
  • Think back to the valleys of your own life. How did God bring you healing, hope, and/or a new beginning through that valley?

Through the Valley: Week 2

November 10, 2019 at 8:52 am · · Comments Off on Through the Valley: Week 2

Through the Valley: Week 2

Being a Christian does not mean life is all sunshine and mountaintops. Sometimes in life we have to walk through the valley of darkness and suffering. We are in the middle of the series “Through the Valley,” which is inspired by Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” When we walk through the valley of depression, fear, sickness, aging, or grief, God is present, walking alongside us.

Isaiah 46:1-13 was written to a people who had been in the valley for a long time. The Judeans had been conquered by Babylon and exiled to a foreign land to live. They grieved the loss of loved ones, they mourned uprooting from their home and moving to a new land, and they struggled with sickness and aging. Isaiah 46 is believed to have been written to the Judeans while in exile or immediately after the exile. In Isaiah 46, God calls out the idols the Judeans worshipped, saying that they were powerless when compared with God. While these idols had to be carried, God carries us.

In this scripture, God offers a word of hope that God carries us from before we were born in our mother’s womb all the way until we turn gray and die. God invited the Judeans to remember how God had carried and supported them- from the Exodus in Egypt to the Promised Land to God’s continual faithfulness to the covenant to ensuring that the Jewish people survived as a distinct group. Not only does God walk with us through the valley, but God also carries us. The word “carry” reminds us of the parable of the lost sheep and the shepherd who carried the lost sheep back into the fold. God holds us, supports us, and bears our burdens too. There is no place we can go that God is not willing to go. We can find hope in the truth that God carries us from womb to tomb.

Questions to Consider and Discuss:

  • Read Isaiah 46:3-4. What is one invitation from God that you receive as you read this passage?
  • How have you experienced God carrying you through the valley?

Scripture Readings:

  • Monday- Isaiah 46:1-13
  • Tuesday- Isaiah 53:1-12
  • Wednesday- Luke 15:3-7
  • Thursday- Matthew 11:25-30
  • Friday- Psalm 23:1-6

Through the Valley: Week 1

November 4, 2019 at 10:19 pm · · Comments Off on Through the Valley: Week 1

Through the Valley: Week 1

Sometimes we paint a picture that the Christian faith is all about the mountaintops, and we expect Christians to be good and happy all the time. But we all know that the Christian faith is not all sunshine and mountaintops. The Christian faith does not mean that we get to avoid suffering or pain. In Psalm 23:4 we find a promise, “Even though I walk through the valley of darkness, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” The operative word is “through”- God walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death. This Sunday we began a three-week series called Through the Valley, about faith in the midst of the struggle, pain, and darkness. This Sunday was All Saints Sunday, which meant that we remembered the saints who have gone before us. In light of All Saints Sunday, we began our series talking about grieving loss of loved ones.

We often deal with grief by numbing or avoiding it, but those two ways of dealing with grief cause more harm in the long run. Ruth 1 can teach us some important truths about grief. In Ruth 1, we encounter a woman named Naomi who endures much grief- she loses her homeland and extended family in a move to Moab because of a famine. Then, her husband and both of her sons die. In the midst of all the grief, she decides to return home to Bethlehem. When she is greeted by her community, she doesn’t hide her grief, she gives voice to her deepest feelings. She is honest with God and with her community about her grief. She expresses emotions of anger, bitterness, and emptiness. While we tend to numb or stuff down our grief, Naomi teaches us how to lean into our grief. When we lean into our grief, God begins to lead us through the darkest valley. After Naomi’s outburst, the scripture says that Ruth and her arrived during the season of the barley harvest. New life was bursting forth at the harvest. God is at work redeeming Naomi’s tears. In time, as she journeys with God through the darkest valley, she becomes instrumental in match-making for Ruth and Boaz, and she has grandchildren, who are a part of the lineage of Jesus. Grief and loss do not have the final word, God does.

There is something powerful in how the community responds to Naomi’s grief. They don’t criticize or question her or share unhelpful platitudes. They allow her to feel what she feels. They engage in a ministry of presence with her. Ministry of presence is simply being present to someone who is grieving. It is not necessarily saying anything, for there isn’t anything we can say that will fix the pain. Ministry of presence is listening to them and telling and showing them that you are there for them in the midst of the struggle. Ministry of presence lets people know that they are not alone and that God and their community cares for them in the midst of the valley.

Henri Nouwen shared a thought-provoking quote about loss: “And still I also believe that absence might lead to the awareness of a new presence. Lately, I have found much comfort in the words of Jesus: ‘It is for your good that I leave, because unless I leave my Spirit cannot come.’ Jesus’ leaving meant that he would become more intimately present to us, that he would unite himself in a new way with us. Because of his death we can say: ‘Not I live but Christ lives in me.’ I have a feeling that this is not just true of Jesus, but in and through Jesus of all people who leave us. In their absence we can develop a new intimacy with them and grow. We even can become more like them and fulfill their mission in life until the day comes that we too have to leave so that our spirit can stay with those we love. In this way mourning can slowly turn into joy, and grief into rebirth.”

Scripture Readings:

  • Monday- Ruth 1
  • Tuesday- Ruth 2
  • Wednesday- Ruth 3
  • Thursday- Ruth 4
  • Friday- Psalm 43

Questions to Consider and Discuss:

  1. In your own experience, how have you dealt with grief? What does it look like to “lean into grief”?
  2. How is God inviting you to engage in a  ministry of presence with someone who is hurting?

Be the Change: Week 2

October 28, 2019 at 4:14 pm · · Comments Off on Be the Change: Week 2

Be the Change: Week 2

This week we finished up our two-week series called Be the Change, inspired by the quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” We looked at the story of Jesus feeding the multitudes in John 6. In John’s version of this story, a young boy offers his bread and fish to Jesus to help feed people. When the disciple Andrew sees the meager offering, he inquires, “What good is that for a crowd like this?” That is a question that perhaps many of us ask in our lives. What good is my talent in the midst of people so much more talented than me? What good is my voice in a room full of people with much more wisdom? What good is my $20 with a need of $20,000? We live in a culture of scarcity, a mindset of never enough.

Yet Jesus has a profound response to this culture of scarcity. In this story, Jesus took the five loaves of bread and two fish, gave thanks to God, and gave it to the crowds gathered. Somehow the baskets of bread never emptied, and everyone had enough to eat. In this story, Jesus shows himself as the great provider, who can bring enough and even abundance out of the things we view as scarce. The young boy didn’t listen to the voice of scarcity, he chose to offer what he had to Jesus. The young boy chose to be the change and offer his gifts to Christ. He trusted God to provide and believed God was the source of blessing. What if we resisted the mindset of scarcity and trust that God provides? What if we offered our own forms of five loaves of bread and two fish to God?

From the UMCOR Sager Brown mission trip to Project Read to youth mission trips to small groups and Sunday Schools- all these ministries and missions exist because someone stepped up and said, “Yes, I’ll be the change.” These ministries transform lives because someone offered to God their own forms of five loaves of bread and two fish to God and trusted God to use them to be a force for good in the world. The next time you ask yourself the question “What good is that for a crowd like this?” remember the young boy with the five loaves of bread and two fish. Remember that our offerings have the capacity to be the change and do good in our world. Trust that God has the power to bring enough and even abundance out of the things we sometimes see as scarce.

“The world lies in the power of the evil one. The world does not recognize the light that shines in the darkness. It never did; it never will. But there are people, who in the midst of the world, live with the knowledge that he is alive and dwells within us, that he has overcome the power of death and opens the way of glory. Are there people who come together, who come around the table and do what he did, in memory of him? Are there people who keep telling each other the stories of hope and, together, go out to care for their fellow human beings, not pretending to solve all problems, but to bring a smile to a dying man and a little hope to a lonely child? It is so little, so spectacular, yes, so hidden, this Eucharistic life, but it is like yeast, like a mustard see, like a smile on a baby’s face. It is what keeps faith, hope, and love alive in a world that is constantly on the brink of self-destruction.” – Henri Nouwen

Scripture Readings: 
Monday- John 6:1-14
Tuesday- Matthew 14:13-21
Wednesday- Mark 6:30-43
Thursday- Luke 9:10-17
Friday- Psalm 147:1-20
* As you read the different versions of the feeding of the five thousand this week, consider these questions: How are the stories alike? How are they different from each other?

Questions to Consider and Discuss:

  1. Where in your life do you have a scarcity mindset?
  2. What are your own forms of “bread and fish” that you can offer to God?

Be the Change: Week 1

October 20, 2019 at 4:18 pm · · Comments Off on Be the Change: Week 1

Be the Change: Week 1

Sometimes we wonder if one person can actually make a difference in the world. Sometimes we become so overwhelmed by all that is wrong with the world that we doubt that we can make a positive impact as just one person. This Sunday we began a two-week series called “Be the Change,” a series where we are asking the question “Can one person actually make a difference?” Through this series, we hope to embrace and live out the quote “Be the change you want to see in the world.” To change the world, we have to change ourselves first.

Daniel was a prophet who lived during an era when the Jews were living under the Persian rule. Daniel was a Jew with a strong faith in God, and he served the Persian king by interpreting dreams and signs. But when a law was passed forbidding people to worship any god other than King Darius or else they would be thrown into a pit of lions, Daniel was put into a difficult position- to save his life and dishonor God or to risk his life and honor God. Daniel chose to pray to God by an open window in his home just like he always did. His disobedience to the Persian law lands him in a pit of lions; however, God ensured that the lions would not touch Daniel and his life was spared. This miracle moved King Darius to belief in God, and he abolished the law about worshipping King Darius and replaced it with a call for everyone to follow the God of Daniel.

Daniel was just one person going against the Persian law and government. His action to stand up for his faith combined with God’s power led to monumental change in the land. King Darius along with many others in the empire began to follow God. Daniel dared to be the change he desired to see in the world. The same can hold true for us too. When we commit to “being the change” and that combines with the mighty power of God, we can create positive change in our world. Positive change does not always have to be something big and drastic, it can start small. Positive change often starts with just one- one prayer in front of an open window, one act of civil disobedience against an injustice, one child to sponsor, one $20 bill you give, one commitment to listen to understand. Will you dare to be a Daniel in our world?

Scripture Readings:
Monday- Daniel 6:1-9
Tuesday- Daniel 6:10-22
Wednesday- Daniel 6:23-28
Thursday- Daniel 3:1-18
Friday- Daniel 3:19-30

Questions to Consider and Discuss:
1. What are your thoughts on the quote “Be the change you want to see in the world”? Do you like the quote? Why or why not?
2. How is God inviting you to “be the change” in your own spheres of influence?

Set in Stone: Week 5

October 6, 2019 at 9:15 am · · Comments Off on Set in Stone: Week 5

Set in Stone: Week 5

This Sunday we wrapped up our sermon series on the Ten Commandments called Set in Stone by looking at the last four commandments.

“Do not kill.” Exodus 20:13 All humans are made in the image of God, which means that when we harm another person, we harm the image of God. All life matters to God. This commandment was given in a tribal society, where people feared for their lives as different tribes conquered each other. Some of us may wonder how this command relates to us today. However, we aren’t as different from the ancient Israelites as we would like to think. Our society is filled with violence. This commandment invites us to consider how we might change the church to be the sort of place that produces and supports nonviolent people. Jesus expanded this commandment to include that if you hate or resent another, you have killed in your heart.

“Do not steal.” Exodus 20:15 Stealing is taking something that is not ours without the owner’s permission. If you have ever been stolen from, you know the fear, anger, and feeling of being violated that theft causes. Stealing harms people and hurts the community. This command protects people’s property, but it also was given to protect the poor. In the Promised Land, everyone was given a parcel of land. There was no reason to steal because the community took care of each other and everyone had enough.

“Do not testify falsely against your neighbor.” Exodus 20:16 This commandment extends further than the courtroom to include lying in any form. Gossip and rumors can be forms of bearing false witness. This commandment speaks to the power of our words. Our words have the power to be weapons of destruction or the building blocks of community. God is a God of Truth, and as followers of Christ, we are called to be a people of truth and honesty.

“Do not covet.” Exodus 20:17 To covet is to crave and strongly desire anything that belongs to someone else. We could covet another’s possessions or even covet someone else’s personality traits. You perhaps have heard it said that comparison is the thief of joy. Comparison and coveting are closely linked. Coveting is the thief of joy too. It can lead to jealousy and resentment, and it can be quite harmful for ourselves and our relationships with others.

All four of these commandments can be summed up in this way: Love your neighbor as yourself. When we love our neighbors, we start to see them as God sees them- as beloved and worthy children of God.

Scripture Readings:

  • Monday- Exodus 20:13-17
  • Tuesday- Genesis 4:1-16
  • Wednesday- Matthew 5:21-26
  • Thursday- James 3:1-12
  • Friday- Psalm 19:1-14

Questions to Consider and Discuss:

  1. How does is disobeying these commandments cause harm to one’s neighbor? Community? Self?
  2. Which one of these commandments do you struggle with following the most?
  3. How is God inviting you to love your neighbor this week through these commandments?