Weekly Word Blog - Bill's comments on the coming weekend's scriptures posted each Tuesday

By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace. -Hebrews 11:31

And then there is Rahab

The 11thchapter of Hebrews is a long catalogue of saints and what they did to earn our remembrance. David made the list, but Solomon did not. In fact, David is the only king mentioned, a grim reminder that for early Christians those with political power were always respected, but rarely considered righteous.

Pentecost 10
Imagine how glad the spies were to be accepted by Rahab
Hebrews 11:29-12:2
Genesis 19:1-17
"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1)

No Sanctuary Needed

What do we do if we lose our preacher, our organist, our choir? How will we go on if our church building is torn down, or worse yet, made into a beer hall? (which is what often happens in Pittsburgh) How can I worship God in without my holy stuff?

Pentecost 9
Most people tie their faith to visible things
Hebrews 11:1-3
John 4:1-26

Being Stubborn

I looked up the word stubborn in the dictionary this week and found my picture next to the definition. In Hosea 11, God accuses his people of being like undisciplined teens – the more you love them the further they pull away. 

We look to our phones, rather than to God
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Ps 85:10

What we need from religion

What do you need to get out of your worship experience? I think religion is all about living right and being at peace. Or to put it another way, doing day to day the things that prove us to be godly, principled, people of integrity – and, at the same time, having an inner peace.

Pentecost 7
When heaven and earth kiss
Psalm 85
The end has come upon my people Israel

A Nation on the Edge

Amos is an important prophet in the Old Testament. Why? Because he speaks a timeless message about social justice. If social justice bothers you, then take a pair of scissors and chop out of the Bible the parts that you don’t like.

Pentecost 6
Amos wasn't well received in his day
Amos 8:1-12
You shall love... your neighbor as yourself

A Simple Command

Some people state a very simple rule, “What goes around comes around.” Jesus shows us an even simpler rule. Love. In being compassionate we become human. We see the whole world as our neighbor.

Pentecost 5
If we don't see the other as like us, we don't see a neighbor
Luke 10:25-37

Harvesting the Spirit

Funny thing. When it comes to life, we often expect what we harvest will be different from what we plant. What we really want are the fruits of the Spirit. If you grow a spiritual relationship with God, you will become both creative and compassionate.

Pentecost 4
A healthy business relationship with BT required EJ to go to rehab
Galatians 6:7-9
For freedom, Christ has set us free.

The Right Fruit for Freedom

The Apostle Paul makes a bold statement at the beginning of his letter to the Galatians. He says, “For freedom, Christ has set us free.” In other words, a major reason for Jesus to come into our lives is to make us free. Paul means this first in terms of our inner spirit. The fruit of that freedom loving spirit is compassion.

Pentecost 3
Dog know how to be dogs. We need to learn to be human.
Galatians 5:1, 13-25
Jesus commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man.

Non-anxious Jesus

Jesus is always busy doing good, but he’s never in a hurry. Obstacles are placed in his way, but he remains calm. He also remains compassionate. The 8th chapter of Luke describes a really stress-packed week for Jesus. Yet Jesus isn't stressed.

Pentecost 2
Be the cat, not the box
Luke 8:26-39
God’s love has been poured into our hearts.

Therefor Grace

There’s a vicious circle that I often get stuck in; I think that because I am a Christian, I should always have the right answer, never have any doubts, and in practice, be a model of perfection. Guess what? I’m not perfect yet. 

Pentecost 2
The Love of God has been poured into our hearts
Romans 5:1-5
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

Freedom 2.0

We have not received a spirit of restrained language, rigid rules, repeated practice with fountain pen and paper; we have received fire.

Pentecost
Slavery is outdated - much of what we do in church may be too
Romans 8:14-17
Acts 2:1-21
Paul and Silas are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

There are many people today who once they become Christians, become less valuable to their employers, because they aren’t willing to lie or do things that are unethical at work anymore. Christianity is a dangerous thing. In Acts 16 Paul and Silas went to jail because of the gospel of truth and justice.

Easter 7
Today we model our Christian witness after the abolitionists of 1800s
Acts 16:16-23
“Come over to Macedonia and help us...”

How are churches made?

Wherever we can get people together to pray, study the Bible, and worship, we can do Church. We do well to remember that local churches are supposed to reproduce. They are supposed to send their best out into the field to help other people have a congregation of their own. Does your church have sufficient charity and spiritual passion to give away its best leaders and start new congregation elsewhere?

Easter 6
Suburban home houses a new congregation
Acts 16:9-15
"I give you a new commandment, that you love one another."

LOVE first; Abide in Jesus Always

In too many governments around the world, and perhaps even here, the competitive spirit of partisanship and winning overtakes the basic task of government, that is to be in a healthy and positive relationship with the people. In too many churches, perhaps your own, the routine of being churchy has buried the joy of being in fellowship with each other and in love with Christ.

Easter 5
The will to sacrifice always depends upon relationships
John 13:31-35
She was devoted to good works and acts of charity.

A Funeral Dinner for Dorcas

Each of us have been blessed by people who day after day did "good works and acts of charity." Shall I name Margaret? Shall I name Suzy Q? These people live on in our memories. They also live, which is the point of the story of Dorcas, because of the power of Christ's resurrection over death.

Easter 4
Mother's Day
Funeral dinner on subway for Dr. Pirogov
Acts 9:36-43
Luke 10:38-42
"...for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me."

A Psalm for Going the Next Round

What does it mean to us? It means that Christ's resurrection was for everyone. Even those who are broken in the pit, can be drawn up.

Easter 3
Holy Saturday vigil
God is my coach
Psalm 30
The disciples said to Thomas, “We have seen the Lord.” John 20:25

Don't Bury the Lead

We live in a era in which it is not proper to speak about the deep mystery of Easter. Okay, Jesus' resurrection gets one day. Why can't we be more like Mary and the disciples, who keep saying , “We have seen the Lord” until even Thomas believes it.

Easter 2
Francesca Resurrection
John 20:18-29
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb...

How did you come to Easter?

We receive on Easter morning the blessing that Jesus spoke to Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen, but believe.” Reflect upon all that you see. Come to faith, like Peter, or Mary, or John. Just come to faith.

Easter Morning
Demons flee and Christ is triumphant -- but this is what the artist sees
John 20:1-18
As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice

Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday?

Palm and Passion Sunday are not in opposition. They are Acts in the same drama. The story of Palm Sunday provides two of the five reasons for Jesus going to the cross.

Lent 6
Palm Sunday
Drama allows multiple interpretations
Luke 19:28-40
But Judas Iscariot said,"Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?"

Would You Betray Jesus?

If you were a friend of Jesus in the first century, could you see yourself behaving any differently from Judas? If we value money, security, and always having ourselves come out on top, then we will betray Jesus. It is only a matter of time.

Lent 5
Judas isn't that different from you or I
John 12:1-8

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