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Past Fun, Fellowship, and Ministry at Troy First

Scripture: James 1:17-27

By: Sue Oleson

             

Thoughts:          Many names are used for God – Lord, Father, Creator, the Almighty.  James 1:17 calls God “The Father of lights.”  When James wrote, lights were not plentiful, nor were they easily obtained.

 

Of course, there were natural lights – made by God – the sun, the moon, the stars, lightning.  Man had discovered fire and had made candles and lanterns.  Natural lights were not controllable.  Man-made lights were temporary.  But the Father of lights was not variable, nor was there any shadow of turning with Him.

 

“Great is thy faithfulness, great is they faithfulness.  There is no shadow of turning with thee.  Thou changest not, the compassions they fail not.  Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.”

 

Discussion:        What special gift do you remember receiving?

 

Activity:              Give careful thought to the next gift you give.  Try to give the good and perfect gift.

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By: Sue Oleson

 

Scripture:           Ephesians 6:10-20

 

Thoughts:          Some of us are list-makers.  We describe the supremely organized person as making lists of his/her lists.  Today’s scripture contains a list that would make pacifists tremble.

 

We are admonished (twice)

  • to put on the whole armor of God;

  • to put on the breastplate of righteousness;

  • to take the shield of faith;

  • to take the helmet of salvation;

  • to take the sword of the Spirit.

     

    All of these will enable us “… to withstand the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

     

    Often we hear – and say, “I’ve done everything I can.”  Have we indeed “done all”?  Are we still standing?

     

    Discussion:        What particularly evil day have you withstood.

     

    Activity:              Reach out with kind words to someone who is beset by evil days.

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By: Sue Oleson

Scripture:           Ephesians 5:15-20

 

Thoughts:          I am blessed with sweet memories of my mother’s singing as she worked.  Mostly, she sang hymns, and she knew all the verses.  Our days were filled with the joy of “There’s within my heart a melody,” the reminder that “Softly and Tenderly, Jesus is calling,” and the supplication, “Spirit of God, descend you my heart.”

 

Her singing was dear and familiar background to our days at home.  We scarcely heard it consciously.  One summer our cousin from Los Angeles visited us.  He seemed very sophisticated and very rich; he had money to buy double-decker ice cream cones.

 

The first morning of his visit, he remarked, “Your mother must be very happy today.” 

 

I looked up from my pancakes in surprise.  “What makes you think she’s happy?”

 

“She’s singing!” my cousin exclaimed.

 

“She always sings,” my sister told him.  “Please pass the syrup.”

 

Discussion:        What is your favorite hymn?

 

Activity:              Do you know this verse?

                        “In simple trust like theirs who heard

                             Beside the Syrian sea,

                             The gracious calling of the Lord,

                             Let us, like them, without a word,

                             Rise up and follow thee.”

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By: Sue Oleson

 

Scripture:         Ephesians 4:25 – 5:2

 

Thoughts:         “Be ye angry, and sin not . . . .”

                             “Be ye angry, but sin not . . . .”

 

We have been taught that both “and” and “but” are conjunctions.  “And” signals a logical following action.  “I saw my friend, and I waved.”

 

“But” signals a change of direction.  “I detest Brussel sprouts, but I ate them when Aunt Atossa served them for dinner.”

 

Realistically, we know that angry feelings will come, unless you live alone in a mountain hut and see no one.  Even then, you might become angry with a rabbit who feasted on the emerging carrots in your garden. Or a raucous blue jay who wakened you from a delicious morning sleep.

 

If we do become angry and sin not, perhaps we may begin to enter a state of grace.  Could we learn to quell our anger and not be tempted to sin?

 

Discussion:      How would you define “righteous anger”?

 

Activity:            Ephesians 4:32 is worth memorizing.  “And be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

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By: Sue Oleson

 

Scripture:           Ephesians 4:1-6

 

Thoughts:          For those of us who were required to memorize Bible verses, Ephesians 4:5 was a winner.  “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.”  Six words – three of them the same word!  It memorized itself.

 

Did we ponder the profound theology in those terse words?  Are you kidding?  Bobby Force had already recited 233 verses, and you were six behind.  What other short verses did Paul write?

 

The best writing is often brief and unadorned.  We pray to one God.  We believe in Christianity.  We revere baptism as the “. . . outward and visible sign of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ . . . . “

 

Discussion:        Why does the United Methodist Church accept three different forms of baptism?

 

Activity:              Write a note to someone who was present at your baptism and ask for his/her memories of this sacred ritual.

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By: Sue Oleson

 

Scripture:           John 6:1-21

 

Thoughts:          In these 21 verses, Jesus speaks briefly four times.  He asks one question; he issues two directions; he give reassurance to his frightened disciples.

 

First, he asks Philip a rhetorical question.  He already knows the answer.  “How are we going to feed these people?”

 

Next is the first direction.  “Tell the men to sit down.”  If the men in the crowd sit down, the women and children would follow suit.  Food could be distributed more efficiently and more evenly.

 

The second directive pleases those of us who were reared with thrift as a guiding principle.  “Collect the leftovers.”

 

Jesus leaves to have some time alone in the mountains.  Left to their own devices, the disciples get into a boat to go to Capernaum.  A sudden storm erupts over the Sea of Galilee, and the disciples are frightened.

 

Jesus has miraculously fed thousands of people.  Now he walks across the sea to save his chosen twelve.  With meticulous grammar, he reassures them, “It is I; be not afraid.”

 

Discussion:        In the course of a day, how many questions do we ask?  How many directions do we issue?  How many assurances do we give?

 

Activity:              Remember the words of the hymn:  “Let me no wrong nor idle words unthinking say.”

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By: Sue Oleson

 

Scripture:           Genesis 12:1-9

 

Thoughts:          Abram lived very comfortably in Haran.  But God had other plans for him.  “Go to a land that I will show you,” he told Abram.

 

Where?  What land?  How far away is it?  Who lives there?  Surely these are questions Abram wanted to ask.  But he didn’t.  He departed.  After all, he was young – only 75 years old.

 

When Abram arrived in the plain of March, God said, “I’ll give this land to your descendants.”  Again,  Abram wanted to say, “But God, I have no descendants.”  But he didn’t.  He built an altar and prayed to the Lord.  What unquestioning faith!

 

Discussion:        Would we go to an unknown land if God directed us there?  Sharper question – would we hear the direction?

 

Activity:              God promised Abram he would be a blessing in this new land.  Be a blessing today to someone in your own land.

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By: Sue Oleson

 

Scripture:           1 Corinthians 10:31 – 11:1

10:31  So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.  32  Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God.  33  Just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved.  11:1  Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

 

Thoughts:          Whatever you do, do it to honor God.  Does everything that pleases God have to be boring?  Is ambushing Rev. Hal with squirt guns honoring God?  Is having dinner together as a family of Worktrippers pleasing God?  Is laughing and possibly getting paint on each other honoring God?

 

We all have our own definition of that glorifies, pleases or honors God, but I can tell you that squirt guns, dinner and drips of paint brought our youth together as one family, the crews together as one body and God was glorified in the work that was completed in Racine, WI on our Senior High Worktrip.

 

Discussion:        How would we act and what would we do or NOT do if we did everything for the glory of God?

 

Activity:              Decide how you will honor God today and DO IT!  Also, come hear our Worktrip report on July 12 at 10:00am in worship.

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By: Sue Oleson

 

Scripture:           Mark 6:1-13

 

Thoughts:          When Richard Campbell Raines was appointed bishop of Indiana, he told his wife that now he was a bishop, he would conduct himself with utmost dignity, and he expected to be treated with great reverence and respect.  The next morning his wife awakened him by hurling pillows at him and yelling, “Hi, Bish!”

 

Our families keep us humble.  The youngest child arrives to find a cast of characters already on stage with well-defined rôles and scripts.  This youngest child has only a bit part, and he needs to learn his lines quickly.

 

Although Jesus was Mary’s first born, his brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Juda and his unnamed sisters probably paid scant attention to his importance.  “That’s my slingshot!” “Mom gave me this cookie!”  Go get your own drink of water!”

 

A prophet is not without honor – except at home.

 

Discussion:        Of what significance are the studies of birth orders in families?

                            

Activity:              Remember to honor our own prophets.  Recently they cleaned and painted and installed new carpeting in our parsonage.

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By: Sue Oleson

 

Scripture:           Mark 5:21-43

 

Thoughts:          Jesus lived in a society which valued sons.  Sons could carry on the family name; they could work in the family business or on the family farm.  Bluntly, fathering sons was considered a measure of a man’s virility.

 

So it is endearing to hear Jairus speak lovingly of his little daughter.  Our hearts hurt with his as he implores Jesus to come and heal his precious daughter.

 

We can picture Jairus guiding Jesus through the throngs of people, hurrying desperately to his daughter’s bedside.  When Jesus stopped to acknowledge the touch of a poor, ill woman, Jairus must have wanted to scream, “Never mind her!  We’re wasting time!  We must hurry!  Come on!”

 

We want attention, and we want it now – full and undivided attention.

 

Discussion:        During an average day, what events and what people receive our full attention?

                            

Activity:              This Sunday, concentrate on the words of the congregational hymns.

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