John 1:1-18 Common English Bible (CEB)
1 In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. 2 The Word was with God in the beginning. 3 Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being. What came into being 4 through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light. 6 A man named John was sent from God. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light. 8 He himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light. 9 The true light that shines on all people was coming into the world. 10 The light was in the world, and the world came into being through the light, but the world didn’t recognize the light. 11 The light came to his own people, and his own people didn’t welcome him. 12 But those who did welcome him, those who believed in his name, he authorized to become God’s children, 13 born not from blood nor from human desire or passion, but born from God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. 15 John testified about him, crying out, “This is the one of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is greater than me because he existed before me.'” 16 From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace, 17 as the Law was given through Moses, so grace and truth came into being through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. God the only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made God known.
Ephesians 4:22-24 (CEB)
22 change the former way of life that was part of the person you once were, corrupted by deceitful
desires. 23 Instead, renew the thinking in your mind by the Spirit 24 and clothe yourself with the
new person created according to God’s image in justice and true holiness.
New Year, New You: Transforming Resolutions
by Dava Cooper, Intern of Youth Spiritual Formation
I have come a long way over these last few months. For one thing I’m standing here which I
would have never dreamed of. Each year we learn, we change, we evolve based on the life we
experience. We are fast approaching January 1st 2019. There is lots of talk about New Year’s
resolutions. There is a thought behind resolutions: to become a better person, the realization that
we fall short. I don’t know about you all but I strive for some every year. To be kinder, to eat
better, to exercise more often, to send thinking of you cards, and to do something that will draw
me closer to God. I do well for the first few weeks maybe even a month then I get busy… These
resolutions fall further down my to-do list.
What do you do to spend time with God?
In Romans Paul urges personal responsibility. He tells us to no longer conform to the patterns of
this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
I’m not sure where this story came from but I used it once for a devotions for before a planning
meeting, maybe years ago in ABW.
…there was this little boy that fell out of bed every night. No matter what his parents did he still
fell out of bed. An uncle came to visit him and in the middle of the night he heard a large thump
and running into the little boy’s bedroom he asked “what happened?”
The boy told him that no matter what he did he continued to fall out of bed. When the uncle
asked him why do you think you fall out of bed every night the boy answered “I don’t know but
maybe I just stay too close to where I got in?”
Are we doing the same thing with our relationship with God? What do you do to spend time with
God? are you stuck in a rut? In James it says “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
Are you staying on the edge of the bed with your relationship with God?
I used to belong to a small group of women that met 3 times a week for a Bible study. When I
joined the group we met at 6:30 am Monday, Wednesday and Friday. People thought we were
crazy. First because it was at 6:30 in the morning and second because we met 3 times a week.
It’s not normal to meet 3 times a week with the same group of people for a Bible study.
This Bible study was a part of my weekly routine just as going to work was. It wasn’t an option
in my weekly schedule. I was something I intentionally did. Being able to study and share with
others truly changed my relationship with God, and my spiritual life grew abundantly.
Transforming your mind in Christ creates a new you! Being intentional in what you put in your
mind. Intentional meaning to do something on purpose or deliberately. I challenge you to be
mindful of the things you put into your body emotionally, spiritually and physically and to make
a change this year in how you spend your time with God. Journal if you don’t, if you’re not
really a meditator, try to meditate, join or start a Bible study, pray out loud (LaMoine is one of
our churches biggest prayer warriors. She spends time in this place, this sanctuary, praying out
loud for this congregation almost daily), change the type of music you listen to, be more cautious
on what you spend time on in social media, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube just to name a
few. If you don’t have a daily or regular time spent with God create one. Put this at the top of your
to do list. Like brushing your teeth and getting dressed, being intentional about it.
That Romans passage about our personal responsibility of renewing of our minds also reminds us
that when we spend this time with God, when we let God in, when we take the time to listen to
God, we will have the understanding of God’s will for us. We will be able to hear God’s
directions for how we are to live our lives.
I have one more challenge for you this coming year.
Second Corinthians 9:7-8 reads:
7 Everyone should give whatever they have decided in their heart. They shouldn’t give with
hesitation or because of pressure. God loves a cheerful giver. 8 God has the power to provide you
with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need
always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work.
Some of you may have heard this story before but a few years back I happened to be at the south
end of town and you know, you’ve seen them, the people holding signs around 33rd street and
Iowa, by Wal-Mart. There was a gentleman there with a sign asking for food. I parked my car
and walked to him and told him I would take him to lunch. For him to choose the place to go and
of all places he chooses McDonald’s. But he wanted to meet me there, he did not want to ride in
my car. I have never done anything like this before and I was nervous. I didn’t know what we
would talk about or even if we would talk.
God gives us many gifts in life. We have “stuff” and we have talents. I believe God gives us these
things so that we may share them with those around us. We so often think about gracious giving
being geared toward those in poor financial need or spiritual need but there are other ways to
give as well.
My daughter Janae is a huge Harry Potter fan. She has read all the books multiple time over.
When they were living in Louisiana her husband, Lance, brought home from the post office these
really cool Harry Potter stamps. She was so excited. He thought she would want to frame them
and display them with their many other collectibles from Star Wars to Marvel and DC comics.
I received this letter in the mail. Who writes letters anymore? It was from Janae. I was nervous to
open it. Janae was so excited about the stamps. And this is what she writes: “Lance came home
with the most amazing stamps! So I immediately started writing letters so I could use the stamps.
As soon as I got them in my hands, I just had to share them, I couldn’t think of anything else.”
She went on to share what they were up to. To receive a hand written letter now a days is a
novelty and especially one from your grown children. There is something special and exciting
about someone spending the time to write you a letter or note.
It is easy for others to see Christ’s love lived out through our lives when we are generous with
our time, with our money, and with our belonging. And we reap the benefits tenfold through
watching joy overflow into other people’s lives.
This man that I had taken to lunch was timid at first. He thanked me for the food then realized I
was going to sit with him, and his smile grew. We ended up talking for an hour and half. I
learned he was a vet, was divorced, has children that he sees once in a while. For the skeptic out
there you might be thinking he made up all the stories and you might be right. But the difference
in his presence from the time I first saw him to our parting ways after lunch was 100% different.
He walked taller, held his head up and his face had softened. And I walked away feeling full in
so many ways.
We participate in many outreach ministries as well as our own programming within our
church walls. I can list them all for you but I know you hear about them often. Sometimes it’s
hard to get volunteers for these things. We tend to think…someone else will do it. Wendy’s got it
covered, Anne can do that, Susan will get the help she needs. Someone will stay and help Neal
clean up. Teach Sunday School? Are you kidding me?
When you see or hear of a need and give willingly, when you give your time and resources to
these you also giving time to our church family as well as our neighbors. Maybe your heart lies
in others efforts outside our walls, other organizations with our city or in the US or internationally.
Paul believes that generous giving is rewarded with abundant spiritual growth and prosperity so
that the giving can keep on giving.
Verse 11 in 2 Corinthians 9 says:
You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous in every way. Such generosity
produces thanksgiving to God through us.
Renew the thinking in your mind – be a new person created according to God’s image. God first,
then family, then church, then neighbors.
When you spend time with God in a new and exciting way it will transform the way in which
you see yourself within God. And the outward actions you take will be visible to others and
reflect in God’s image.
So my challenge to you for this upcoming year is to change things up a bit, be intentional, let
what you do renew your thinking and transform you in the image of God. See God through a
o If you spend daily time with God do it differently.
o Change your daily devotions book.
o Meditate if you don’t.
o Start a daily journal. A prayer journal or a daily journal on how you saw God
working through out the day.
o Pray out loud.
o Create a guided prayer.
o There are so many other options to consider.
Being Generous is a by-product of your relations with God. This can be in so many
different ways, but pick one, if you try to add too much for the top of your list you might
not be able to be faithful to them all. It will be overwhelming. Here are some things to
o Be generous with your forgiveness.
o Be generous with you time.
o Be generous with your financial giving.
o Care for others.
o Share your gifts and talents God himself has given you.
Pastors Matt’s last sermon series was on “Stained-Glass Words.” Looking at old words in a new way.
Joe Karnes talked about how beautiful stained glass is when the light shines through it! Let God’s
light shine through you and create a beautiful piece of art.
Please pray with me! Lord, you give to us abundantly. Create in us this beautiful master piece in
your image. For us to see You! To know You! For us to share You! For Your light to shine
through us. Amen.