January 11th – 17th, 2015

Prayer of the Week:  

Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed Him your beloved Son and anointed Him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into His Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess Him as Lord and Savior; who with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Daily Scripture Focus:

Sunday—Psalm 103:1-11John 1:29-42

Monday—Psalm 103:12-13John 1:19-28

Tuesday—Psalm 103:14-15John 1:29-34

Wednesday—Psalm 103:16-17John 1:35-42

Thursday—Psalm 103:18-19John 1:43-52

Friday— Psalm 103:20-22John 2:1-12

Saturday—Psalm 103:12-22John 1:43-52

Prayer List:  Delferd Sloan, Larry and Jesse Grossman, Joice Shindler, family of Peggy Whitfield, family of Betty Guthrie * Mandell Collins, Sr., Marcus Davis, Timeeka Gentry & family  Michele Raglin, Carl Rider, Faye Doyle, Dexter Jackson, Jasper Gunter, Allene Gunter, Junelle Sims, Vickie Janway * Joy Pennington, Wanda Collins, Jennifer Johnston, Amanda Collins, Michael Davis, Angelo Weda

January 4th, 2015

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John 1:1-18

Today’s Scripture Focus:  John 1:1-18

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 “Light and Life:  Journeying with John from Christmas to Pentecost”.  This will be our theme for the first half of 2015, in which we will cover selected writing from John’s Gospel and epistles.  By “John” we mean the Apostle.  We’ll write more about him in the weeks ahead.  What do we mean by “Christmas to Pentecost”?  This refers to the Christian calendar.  For over 1600 years, the Church has told the story of Jesus each year by observing His birth at Christmas, His ministry and teaching through Epiphany, His suffering and death in Lent, His resurrection and ascension during Easter, and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

The fourth Gospel is different.  Matthew, Mark, and Luke, known as the synoptic Gospels, all follow the same structure, but John uses different language, themes, stories, characters, and an entirely different timeline.  John gives us the perspective of a specific Christian community who already viewed themselves as not of this world.  Having already been cast out of the Jewish community, they saw themselves as “insiders” (those in Christ), and those who rejected Jesus as “outsiders” (the world).  That’s why much of John uses contrast language, such as light vs. darkness, life vs. death, Word vs. world, etc.

Today’s scripture focus is known as the Prologue of John.  It is a poem that introduces the major themes of the Gospel.  In a society which was mostly illiterate, major teachings were often conveyed in poetic form, and great honor was ascribed to those who could memorize and recite poetry publicly.  In this poem the entire Gospel is summarized:  God bridged the gap between Heaven and earth by sending the Son, but most of those to whom the Son was sent rejected Him.  However, those who welcomed Him became God’s children.  John the Baptist served as a witness to this truth.  We’ll talk more about him next week.

Word, Light, and Life are three terms important in understanding the writings of John.  In many ways, John’s Prologue mirrors the creation account in Genesis 1.  The Word was the creative power used by God to create the heavens and the earth.  Here we discover that God’s Word took on flesh and came to the creation in order to reveal God’s love.  Light in John represents truth.  The creation had lived in darkness since the Fall of the first man.  Now, a man would come to reveal God’s truth.  The word Life is used 47 times in John, as opposed to 14 times total in the other three Gospels.  Life will be given to those who receive the Word and the Light of God’s love and truth.  In 2015, let us live in that light!   

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

Many people make resolutions this time of year.  What are some ways we as Christians can “resolve” to walk in more light (be closer to God) this year? 

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

 

 

January 4th – 10th, 2015

Prayer of the Week:  

O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of Him who humbled Himself to share our humanity, Your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Daily Scripture Focus:

Sunday—John 1:1-18

Monday—Psalm 103:1-2John 1:1-18

Tuesday—Psalm 103:3-4, John 1:19-28

Wednesday—Psalm 103:5-6John 1:29-34

Thursday—Psalm 103:7-8John 1:35-42

Friday— Psalm 103:9-11John 1:43-52

Saturday—Psalm 103:1-11John 1:29-42

Prayer List:  Marlin Donohoe, Destiny Collins, Sav-a-lot employees, Teneeka Genry & family, Charles Timmons Jr, Pete Childress, family of Maybelle Gilbert  * Delferd Sloan, Larry and Jesse Grossman, Joice Shindler, family of Peggy Whitfield, family of Betty Guthrie * Wanda Collins, Mandell Collins, Sr., Marcus Davis, Timeeka Gentry & family  Michele Raglin, Carl Rider, Faye Doyle, Dexter Jackson, Jasper Gunter, Allene Gunter, Junelle Sims, Vickie Janway

December 21st, 2014

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Daniel 12:5-10

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Daniel 12:5-10

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                 This is our final Sunday in the section of scripture known as “Major Prophets”.  For five years now, we have spent the weeks leading up to Christmas hearing from ancient voices that called God’s people to repentance and offered them comfort.  Since Daniel was written after the fall of Jerusalem, it is filled with visions the speak to a people who are starting over.  They have already suffered the consequences of prolonged disobedience, have learned to trust God again, and are now awaiting deliverance.  The visions of Daniel let God’s people know the world will get worse, but they will ultimately be protected and triumphant.

Daniel 11 and 12 conclude Daniel’s final vision.  An elderly man at this point, he has been fasting in hopes of success for the Jews who have finally been allowed to return and rebuild Jerusalem.  A fantastic heavenly being appears to him, and tells him of things to come.  The first part of Daniel 11 foretells the events surrounding the Greek Empire, which will be the next great world power on the scene, and will ultimately torment the Jews after they rebuild the Temple.  Such historic figures as Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, and Ptolemy are described.  Ultimately, Antiochus will set up an altar to Zeus in the Most Holy Place.

Under Antiochus, Judaism was outlawed.  Pigs were slaughtered in the Most Holy Place, an abomination to Jews!  Eventually the Jews, under the Maccabees, successfully rebelled against Antiochus and rededicated the Temple.  This event is still celebrated by Jewish people each year during the festival of Hanukah, which is actually going on right now.  At the end of chapter 11, the scene shifts to another world dictator who will be far, far  worse than any seen before.  The events listed here do not correspond to those of the Greeks or any empire that came afterwards.  Therefore, scholars have concluded these verses speak of events yet to come.

Daniel concludes with the elderly prophet still on the banks of the river.  Two more heavenly messengers have joined the first, and between them they discuss when all of these events will occur?  Three time periods are mentioned—times, 1295 days, and 1335 days.  Much has been made of the exact meaning of these days, and the truth is we simply can’t be sure what they mean.  Jesus said in Matthew 24 that “Nobody knows when that day or hour will come, not the heavenly angels and not the Son.  Only the Father knows.”  And that is what is important for us today—there is a God in Heaven, and God knows.  Like Daniel, our future inheritance is secure in God’s hands.

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

What comes to mind when you hear the phrases “end times”, “prophetic events”, or “Last Days”?  Do these phrases fill you with expectation or dread?  Do you think we are close to the end times? 

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

December 21st – 27th, 2014

Prayer of the Week:  

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by Your daily visitation, that Your Son Jesus Christ, at His coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for Himself; who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Daily Scripture Focus:

Please read the scriptures of your choice this week.  Next week our new calendar will be revealed, and it will begin with the Gospel of John.

Prayer List:  J’Lynn Synn * Wanda Collins, Michael Davis, Ginger Gassaway, Mandall Collins Sr., Michele Raglin, Carl Rider, Faye Doyle, Dexter Jackson, Jasper Gunter, Allene Gunter  * Betty Guthrie, Marlin Donohoe, Wanda Collins,  Destiny Collins, Sav-a-lot employees, Teneeka Genry & family, Charles Timmons Jr, Pete Childress, family of Maybelle Gilbert  * Delferd Sloan, Larry and Jesse Grossman, Joice Shindler, family of Peggy Whitfield

December 14th, 2014

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Daniel 10:4-14

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Daniel 10:4-14

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                 Chapters 10-12 of Daniel form a single vision—Daniel’s fourth and final one.  This vision is of a final great conflict.  Prior to this vision, Daniel had been reading the words of Jeremiah, who had witnessed the final days of Jerusalem before its destruction.  Jeremiah wrote that Israel’s punishment would last 70 years.  Daniel, now in his 80s and realizing the 70 years was almost up, began to cry out to God to remember this promise and have mercy on God’s people.  The angel Gabriel comes to Daniel and lets him know his prayers have been heard, but many events are yet to come over a period of 70 “weeks”.

Immediately after this encounter, the first party of Jewish exiles returned to Jerusalem.  However, they faced severe opposition to the point of ceasing the work of rebuilding the city.  In order to identify with his brothers and sisters in the homeland, Daniel entered a period of mourning.  For three weeks he prayed, abstained from choice food and wine, and neglected a skin care regimen that made life more comfortable in the desert.  During this disappointing time, Daniel received this final vision of great conflict.  Today’s scripture focus details the spiritual conflict that took place in the heavenly realms, foreshadowing the earthly conflict to come.

While Daniel is praying by the river side, a Heavenly Messenger appears.  The scripture does not identify who this being is.  It is probably not Gabriel, as Daniel had previously interacted with this angel, and this Messenger caused Daniel to lose control of his physical body and fall to the ground.  Some have speculated this was a theophany—an appearance of God or the Son of God.  However, this explanation is also troubling as the Messenger mentions needing the help of the angel Michael.  God doesn’t need help!  This being, then, is most likely one of the highest order of heavenly creatures, who ministered at the throne of God.

God had heard Daniel’s prayer the very first day he prayed, and had sent an answer.  However, the Messenger had been detained by conflict with “the Prince of Persia”, a demon with jurisdiction over this territory.  The conflict was apparently so intense that the Messenger called for another angel, Michael, to sidetrack the prince so God’s message could be delivered to Daniel.  Rather than get caught up in the identity and nature of the spiritual beings mentioned in this chapter, it is important to focus on what God wanted Daniel to know—there is a God in Heaven.  This God was more powerful than any force—natural or spiritual—that comes against God’s people.

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

Today’s scripture focus deals with evil forces opposing the message of God.  How does evil interfere with God’s message today, and what can Christians learn from how Daniel responded to spiritual conflict? 

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

December 14th – 20th, 2014

Prayer of the Week:  

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let Your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with You and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Daily Scripture Focus:

Sunday—Psalm 102:15-21Daniel 10:4-14

Monday—Psalm 102:22Daniel 11:1-19

Tuesday—Psalm 102:23Daniel 11:20-35

Wednesday—Psalm 102:24Daniel 11:36-45

Thursday—Psalm 102:25-26Daniel 12:1-7

Friday— Psalm 102:27-28Daniel 12:8-13

Saturday—Psalm 102:22-28Daniel 12:5-10

Prayer List:  Delferd Sloan, Larry and Jesse Grossman, Joice Shindler, Smith family * J’Lynn Synn * Wanda Collins, Michael Davis, Ginger Gassaway, Mandall Collins Sr., Michele Raglin, Carl Rider, Faye Doyle, Dexter Jackson, Jasper Gunter, Allene Gunter  * Betty Guthrie, Marlin Donohoe, Wanda Collins,  Destiny Collins, Sav-a-lot employees, Teneeka Genry & family, Charles Timmons Jr, Pete Childress, family of Maybelle Gilbert