Then I said: “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. – Nehemiah 1:5-6
Nehemiah’s concern about the vulnerable state of Jerusalem and the people of Israel led him to call out to God. He identified with God’s people, confessing their sin as well as his own family’s sin. His prayer reflects his sorrow and deep concern for God’s people and his deep trust in God. What concerns cause you to call out to God?
Almighty and Holy Lord, like Nehemiah, I come to You, trusting that You are “for” Your people. Hear my heartfelt prayer and lament and deliver us as I call out to You Lord God, Father, I pray that you keep your people safe. May we not get discouraged and give up but instead reach out in new ways to bring the good news to others in our communities. Lord Jesus, I pray for the many who are struggling during this virus. I pray for those who are controlled by addictions and the world around them. May we remain focused on the coming of Your Son and continue to prepare and love knowing You will return. In Jesus’ name, amen
Have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me. – Phil 4:13
Have you ever faced something really difficult? For me this virus has been difficult in many ways, but it is not the only difficulty we face today. Maybe a separation has just happened, a job lost or any type of struggle.
How do you deal with life’s difficult situations? How do you keep going when you just want to curl up in your bed, pull the covers over your head, and never come out?
The good news is in the moments where you feel the most helpless Jesus is there to give you strength. If you will spend time with Him, and get close to Him, He will give you the strength you need to keep going in difficult circumstances.
12 Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your hearts, with fasting, with weeping, and with sorrow; 13 tear your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the LORD your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, very patient, full of faithful love, and ready to forgive.
Joel is an interesting book. It mentions no kings or external events to help scholars date its writing, and we know nothing about the prophet “Joel, Pethuel’s son” (Joel 1:1) or about his father. Yet Joel’s profound, heartfelt appeal for repentance echoes for every generation of God’s people. Our God, the prophet said, is “very patient,” “ready to forgive.” God’s mercy is always there, but we can only claim it honestly when we truly turn away from what is wrong in our lives.
“Tear your hearts and not your clothing” may sound odd. But “in the ancient world people would tear their clothing to show that they were sorry and wanted a change of circumstances…. Joel urges people to make sincere and lasting changes and not simply outward signs.”* That was also a key to the message Jesus, John the Baptist and the apostles preached. In your own life, what’s the difference between simply trying to look sorry and genuinely choosing to change? Have a great week.
Some days are harder than others, this is just a reality. Yesterday I began my day with Ray and the men's group and after I left there my heart was missing my family. (church). So when I got home I went out to my garden and set my phone to play the old hymns. Boy there are some powerful reminders of our journey with God. One song in particular jumped out at me and I would like to share it with you. I pray you enjoy it as well.
This ancient hymn reminds us that our victory is already won and the Lord brings light to our path, even in dark times like these. And in the version I heard the singer ended it with many Amens. "It is so" YES, it is so we have already gained victory and even in times like these our God is with us. How great is our God. Let us all rejoice!
Below are the words followed by a link. Enjoy and know we are together as one, always.
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one
Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art
High King of Heaven, my victory won
May I reach Heaven's joys, O bright Heav'n's Sun
Heart of my own heart, whate'er befall
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all. Amen
Ephesians 2:11-20 11 So remember that once you were Gentiles by physical descent, who were called “uncircumcised” by Jews who are physically circumcised. 12 At that time you were without Christ. You were aliens rather than citizens of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of God’s promise. In this world you had no hope and no God. 13 But now, thanks to Christ Jesus, you who once were so far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14 Christ is our peace. He made both Jews and Gentiles into one group. With his body, he broke down the barrier of hatred that divided us. 15 He canceled the detailed rules of the Law so that he could create one new person out of the two groups, making peace. 16 He reconciled them both as one body to God by the cross, which ended the hostility to God.
17 When he came, he announced the good news of peace to you who were far away from God and to those who were near. 18 We both have access to the Father through Christ by the one Spirit. 19 So now you are no longer strangers and aliens. Rather, you are fellow citizens with God’s people, and you belong to God’s household. 20 As God’s household, you are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.
In this time period of history where division seems to be the objective let us remember that in God's creation we were meant ot be one unified through the Creator. Our Savior, Jesus, came to restore the unity to a family that had split in to many camps. In the Epistle of Ephesians, Paul tells us that the church came into being to act as an instrument of this unity. When the church is being what it should be, what God calls us to be, then it is a place where the walls of suspicion, fear and mistrust are down, and no one is a stranger or an outcast. In the church, we’re called to make unity in Christ a real, living force, one that works actively against injustice, hatred and prejudice wherever we find it.
While we gather differently, we are still the CHURCH. The active hands, feet and voice of our Lord. May each of us live this call in every way possible. May we be the love, unity and peace God meant us to be today.
Almighty God, Creator and giver of all good bless me this day. Father, Loving Jesus, my heart aches when I see the angry divisions in our world and the pain and suffering they cause. My heart was raised up the other day as I witnessed many protesters and Presidential supporters gathered without incident in the city I love. Thank you Lord. But Father, you see so much more than I do—how your loving, unifying heart must ache. Make me an instrument of your peace. May the church be this instrument as well. Lord, forgive me of my sins and give me the courage to stand when I am called to stand for You. Father, I pray this in Your Son;'s name, Amen.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” - Romans 8:1-2
Sunday morning I spoke a bit about the Holy Spirit and His presence in our lives. The importance he has in our lives. Since Sunday I have received a few e-mails asking questions about the Holy Spirit and lack of understanding. So i thought I would go to Romans chapter 8 to maybe help out. I of course recommend reading the entire Book of Romans. Take your time it is a good read.
What Paul tells us in chapter 8 is that it is the Holy Spirit who sets us free. Paul is going to reveal that we cannot live for God without the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is mentioned 19 times in this chapter. That is more than any other chapter in the Bible. This is not a coincidence. The Holy Spirit is a power, a weapon against sin. Paul will say, He – the Holy Spirit – is a family privilege. Only those in the family of God have the Spirit of God; and only those who have the Spirit of God can win against sin.
Paul writings bring out many questions to us as disciples. Here he is challenging you to look inward and ask yourself; Am I depending on the Spirit’s power or my own will power to overcome sin in my life? There is only one way to live as more than a conqueror each day – and that is through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
Almighty God continue to teach me and bring me closer to you. Thank you fro the gift of the Holy Spirit who I am getting better acquainted with daily. Lord guide me and keep on Your path. Father I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Meet the pastor
Rev. Pastor Carl Schreiber has been serving East Orrington Congregational Church (EOCC) since March 12, 2006