John 13:34-35 34 “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. 35 This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”
John 15:9-10 “As the Father loved me, I too have loved you. Remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
In the world we live today I hear much about the lack of compassion, respect to others and love. The passages above highlight Jesus telling the people that love is much more than a fluffy sentiment. It was written shortly before Jesus was put to death and he is showing the world what love looks like; giving of self, even sacrificing the self to the well being of the many. Of course we know this command was not new but it took love to a new level. "As I have loved you."
"As the Father loved me, I too have loved you." As christians our goal should be to be more like Christ. Our reflection, while not perfect should be that of God to others. We are to love not for self gratification, but self giving. A king of love that makes life genuinely worth living. It is a love that is willing to do the hard work; working out reconciling, binding of wounds, listening without judgement, seeing God in all people and knowing this love is rooted in God's eternal love of you.
Jesus taught the disciples this because He knew they would get tired, be persecuted and may want to give up, throwing their hands in the air, "what the use." Yet, what does not make sense to worldly life, Jesus tells us that loving as He loved us will bring energy, compassion and hope internally and eternally. So my friends, do not give up on the people. Continue to love one another, listening to each other, and being that reflection of hope and love at a new level. We have everything we need to make the Kingdom a reality. See you later today !!
Almighty and Holy God. As I come before you this morning the words of the Psalmist resonate in my mind. "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken". Father how lost I would be without hope. Thank you Father for the promises given, for the experiences I have had and the people you have surrounded me with for my journey. Father, forgive me in my weaknesses, for I stand before you humbly seeking a better relationship today. Guide me Lord. Father, I have so much gratitude and joy within my soul that may I reflect this to all Your people as I pray in the name of Your Son Jesus. Amen
1 Kings 17:7-10"And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. So he arose and went to Zarephath."
The bigger picture of this reading is that God sent Elijah to King Ahab with the message that there will be a drought because the people were worshiping Baal. Ahab wanted to kill the messenger so God sent Elijah to a brook and had the ravens feed him. Eventually though the Brook dried up. Now God, in His infinite wisdom sent Elijah even deeper into enemy territory, Zarephath, the home country of Jezebel. If there was anyone who wanted Elijah dead more than Ahab it was his evil wife.
To top it all off, Elijah was sent to a widow who was preparing a last meal for herself and son. But that was God's place for His prophet, and Elijah obeyed. And of course we know the rest of the story, Elijah was kept safe and provided for until the famine was over.
This story reminds me that we are to be obedient to the Word regardless if it sounds crazy. When we are obedient we honor and please God. Turn the other cheek, exhibit the Spirits of the Fruit, love thy God, love thy neighbor regardless if it fits our logic or not. We are called to be obedient. While we may not be called to sit by a stream, or declare a drought we are called to serve our Creator. In this time of life, I think there is no more important time than now to be obedient to God. Let us be leaders of kindness, hope, and positivity
In the men's group we talk often about living in gratitude and how it looks. A few Wednesdays ago I challenged everyone listening to live 48 hours talking and living in the positive and with gratitude. I have heard from a couple of people that said how they are seeing things and enjoying things they haven't in quite some time.The passage below is from one of my favorite Bible stories which we see another example of living in gratitude even when life is not easy.
RUTH 4:14a, 15 (NIV)The women said to Naomi, "Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth."
Gratitude is the most fruitful way of deepening your consciousness that you are not an “accident,” but a divine choice. It is important to realize how often we have had chances to be grateful and have not used them. When someone is kind to us, when an event turns out well, when a problem is solved, a relationship restored, a wound healed, there are very concrete reasons to offer thanks: be it with words, with flowers, with a letter, a card, a phone call, or just a gesture of affection. . . . Every time we decide to be grateful it will be easier to see new things to be grateful for. Gratitude begets gratitude, just as love begets love.
Almighty and Holy God as the sun rises, may your love rise in my heart,a love that dispels my tiredness, a love that overcomes difficulty, a love that builds relationships, a love that inspires diligence, a love that delivers excellence, a love that develops trust, a love that produces praise. Lord, may I live in the light of your love. Father, I know it is through Your love that I have been forgiven. Thank you as I pray through Your son Jesus Christ. Amen
Have you felt like giving up or giving in. Just quitting. It all feels like an uphill climb. An impossible task to bring peace and hope to the world around you while everyone else is bickering? Us against them, right versus left, facemask no facemask?
I don’t know exactly where you are right now. Maybe all is perfect and you see differently than most. But what I am seeing and hearing is a lot of negativity. Either you agree or you're wrong. The simple conversations of yesterday are gone. Maybe it is health issues, pulling up your roots and moving, loss of a job whatever it may be, I am guessing, you too, have been tempted to quit at one point.
Here’s where I want to encourage you. And cheer you on not to quit. With God’s help, we can endure. In fact I believe we can grow through times of trials. I find It’s amazing how many times the Bible tells us to “be patient” or to “endure” or to “persevere.”
2 Timothy 2:1-7 When the Apostle Paul was writing to young Timothy, he told him to be like a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer. He was telling Timothy not to give up or give in.
1 Corinthians 4:12 When Paul was writing to the church in Corinth, he told them that when he was persecuted, his response was to “endure it.
1 Peter 2:20 ”Peter instructed Christians suffering wrong for doing what was right, he encouraged them to “endure.”
Hebrews 12:1-2 And the writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus “endured the Cross” for us. We were the “joy” set before Him.
There is no easy path. The journey is marked with pain. Our perseverance matters though. What God is doing in us and through us has value. The kind of person we are being shaped into is of great significance. The harvest in our hurt has meaning. But only if we keep going. Only if we keep staying faithful, fixing our eyes on Jesus.
As I was writing this devotion I wondered how often I may have missed out on what God was doing for me. Things I did not experience because I too quickly ran the other direction? Switched teams? Many have done this I am certain, and in doing so is it possible we missed or will miss a future harvest because we are unwilling to endure a present hardship or disagreement?
So here is what I would say; Keep going! God is good and He is faithful. He will give you what you need. We must endure, or patiently persevere. Keep close to Jesus. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. This will not last. There is hope. There is joy. While we may never fully get over our pain, we can grow through it. And by God’s grace, we can get through it too! Hope to see you later today . Pastor Carl
Almighty and Holy God, bless us this very day. Bless our nation, its leaders and those you have put into place for us. I ask you Father, to be with our troops, our first responders and those working for you to make this world a better place. Bless goodness Lord. Father, I ask you to forgive me of my sins, help me to forgive others. Lead to where you want me so that I may use my gifts in the best ways. Father, be with those who may be lost, lonely, hurt or sick. May Your will be done in all things. Lord, I pray this in the name of Your Son, Jesus. Amen
Mark 10:433-45 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
In the Gospel of Mark (Mark 10:32- 35) we find two of the disciples jockeying for power and glory, and the other ten are “angry.” Jesus, as only Jesus can do, sees this as a teachable moment: “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”
Following the Christ, we too are called to cease our futile power grab, driven by our ego. As we humbly seek to serve rather than be served, we experience an anointing of divine power that propels us, like a pebble into the water, participating in the transformative ripple effect of God’s new creation.
Take this time in life to explore the many ways available to use your gifts in service through EOCC and partners. Identify how you would like to serve and as you use your gifts in service you become part of the ripple effect of God’s love! Mother Teresa says it well, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” I look forward to the rest of 2020 and into 2021 as we come together and cast our stones across the waters, creating ripples of God’s light and love!. May God’s blessings abound! PC
Almighty God we come before you in praise and humbleness. We thank you Lord for the blessing you have placed upon this church and Your people. May we live in continuous hope and love. Father we thank you for the answered prayers, especially those who are recovering from the Covid virus today. Yet Lord, our prayers do not rest, we continue to pray for all people to heal through Your Son's power, we pray for world peace, we pray for the strength to love , even our enemies, to forgive as you have forgiven us. Father we pray for our President and all elected people, for our first responders, our troops and all people . We pray for those running for office to remain safe and strong. Oh Lord, open our hardened hearts to the possibilities that lie ahead for each of us. May we remain in hope and compassion showing grace to all people. Father, give us this strength and wisdom. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen
Have you noticed the changing of the season? (we are close to peak) The leaves are turning quickly and brilliantly, the weather is getting cooler again (for the most part) and people are preparing for what lies next. This past spring Nancy planted her Delihas in the front garden in hopes they would bloom. Bloom they did. In fact this year the blooms were magnificent and plentiful, that is until the heavy freeze came and killed them all.
Last Sunday afternoon Nancy began the process of digging up the Delihas and preparing them for their winter storage. At the same time she was planting new bulbs, patting down the soil as if tucking them in for a long winter's nap. As I watched I wondered to myself, will these new seeds yield a harvest of spring blooms, will the Delihas survive yet another winter sitting in a bucket awaiting the next planting? I wondered what the coming months of changes and transitions will look like in my own life. Will there be change much like this past summer brought and with it an uneasiness, an uncertainty of what the next season of life will bring.
Fall, the season of transition. With Covid 19, the unrest in society, the elections and life within EOCC my mind wandered to the "what ifs." Will I allow outside circumstances to mire my journey with Christ or will it be one of healing, growth, abundance and joyfulness. I shut my eyes and I prayed. I sat and listened to the changes of the season happening now, the birds now more abundant at the feeders, the air smelling more crisp, the colors in my home reflecting the season and so forth. My heart relaxes as I hear, ( Sh'ma Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Eḥad): "Hear, O Israel: the LORD is our God, the LORD is One." Reminding me that while changes come, seasons change our One God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.. He is with us, forever faithful no matter the season or circumstances we may find ourselves in. For that we need to be thankful and spread this joy.
Further ,let us, even in this time of uncertainty continue to sow seeds of hope, of normalcy and be consistent with the teaching of our Lord, Jesus. May we praise Him and Trust Him in every season of our lives. May our faith not waver but grow in its conviction and desire to be more Christ like. God is good.... God bless everyone. pastor Carl
Almighty and Holy God, Thank You for Your unfailing love for me, Your blessings, and goodness. Thank You for Your faithfulness to guide me and see me through times of uncertainty, for lifting me up, and setting me on high. Thank You for Scripture, especially the Psalms that comforts and reminds me of Your promises, plan, and provision. Thank you for taking away my worries, the what-ifs, and reminding me that my help comes from You. Father, help me be a good steward and to sow wisely. Lord God, forgive me my tresspasses and help me to forgive others as I ask this and all things in Jesus' name. Amen
Meet the pastor
Rev. Pastor Carl Schreiber has been serving East Orrington Congregational Church (EOCC) since March 12, 2006