ng Daily Devotions th th September 29 â€“ October 27 2013
September 2013 Members and Friends of Faith Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ! The congregation of Faith United Methodist Church is celebrating the work of Christ which is done in and through this body. Your gifts help Faith UMC to mature disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Your vital gifts are multiplied as each disciple responds to a call to do that life-changing, povertyending, grace-filled, Kingdom-building, love-spreading, world-transforming work within congregation, in our local community and around the world. Thank you for being a partner in the work of God's transforming love. Through the month of October our annual stewardship focus - Overflowing: Your Gifts, Your Time, Your Prayers, Your Witness, God's Increase - will lead us to consider the ways in which we all will participate in God's initiatives through the ministries and mission of the church. Hear a word of encouragement from God through the prophet Malachi (3:10): Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing. Each day during this stewardship focus you will be invited to reflect on the scriptures found in Chapters 3 through 6 of The Story as they pertain to the stewardship of God's gifts in the lives of people like Moses and Joseph and his brothers, Moses, Miriam and Aaron, and Joshua. You will also, no doubt, celebrate the witness to God's overflow as we highlight some of the many ways in which God is working for the transformation of the world through the ministries and mission of Faith UMC. These stories acknowledge the profound impact of your financial support. During this focus we will celebrate the ways in which God receives our faithful gifts and opens the "windows of heaven" to release an overflowing abundance of all the good that God intends for all of God's people. We are grateful to be partners in God's work. We are always being invited to prayerfully discern how God is calling us next to participate. How will you be part of God's transforming work through your continued or increased financial support? How will you help shape the world in light of God's kingdom through the employment of your time? How will God's blessings overflow through you as you commit to prayer? How will you be a witness to the abundance of God's grace in Jesus? Let us put God to the test - see if God will not open the windows of heaven and pour down an overflowing blessing.
Revs. Cara and Steve Stultz Costello, co-pastors Dale Zimmerman, Stewardship Chairperson Stewardship Team Members in Ministry - Bob Kuchner, Sue Weaver, Becky Moore, Barb Rich, Al Wagner, Pam Wig
Sunday, September 29, 2013 Genesis 37 through 50 The words "favor" and "success" are implied or used many times in the telling of the story of Joseph . Joseph's rise from the pit his brother's placed him in to his power in Pharaoh's cabinet is a story of "success." At first glance we may not relate to Joseph's phenomenal success. We may think that the success spoken of excludes us because we do not hold influential positions or have a great deal of money. o o
Let's take a second glance...take a look at the phenomenal ways in which God has gifted you. As is the case with Joseph his favor and success is for the benefit of others. Consider how your favor and success might benefit others in the name of God.
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW... Our Faith UMC youth have been so deeply impacted by their encounters with God through the Youth Mission Trip and Sunday Evening "Refuge" Youth Group that several of them have spearheaded the design for and committed themselves to leadership of a new Youth Sunday School class called "Out of the Box." Yea - Katie Eriksen, Jordan Bednar, Maddie Plasterer and Tiffany Casturo! Yea God!
Monday, September 30, 2013 Genesis 37:19 "Joseph's brothers said to one another, 'Here comes this dreamer…" Joseph was a dreamer. Ultimately his dreams led to the reality of being able to rescue the neighboring nations of Egypt from starvation and ruin. Joseph's dreams were life-giving - they were God's dreams. o o
What are your dreams for the sake of others? What are God's dreams for others that might be borne in you?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW… Paulette Baker and Laura Luikart, beloved Kindergarten teachers within the North Canton school system, shortly after their respective retirements began to plan for a faith-based literacy program as an outreach to the children of North Canton. Each Wednesday this last July 130+ children and 70+ Faith UMC members in ministry grew in both spirit and truth.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013 Genesis 37:20 "Joseph's brothers continued,’...Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.' " Joseph's brothers derided him for his dreams. They tried to kill him and 'contain' his dreams. o o
What do you think...Can God's dreams be contained or limited? How is God's life-giving character spilling forth from you?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW...The children who participated in the Wednesday night "Faith Connections" program participated in the leadership of the Ash Wednesday worship last year. The experience was deeply meaningful to all.
Wednesday, October 2, 2013 Genesis 39:2 "The Lord was with Joseph and he was a successful man." Joseph was successful. The scripture makes sure to place prior to the mention of success that, "the Lord was with Joseph." God will reveal God's plan for Joseph's success through the need of neighboring nations. God means for Joseph's success to "spill over" to benefit others. o o o
How has/is the Lord preceded(ing) you in your success? How will you give thanks to God for leading you in this way? How is God calling you to use your success for the benefit of others?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW...Each year when our third graders receive their Bibles they are invited to a "Bible Exploration Celebration." This year in addition to receiving this gift they were given the opportunity to give out of their giftedness - they will bear the light of Christ to commence worship in the role of acolyte.
Thursday, October 3, 2013 Genesis 39:6b-20 Success can give us entrance into some pretty enticing places. In Joseph's case he was given the opportunity to participate in marital unfaithfulness. He refused to let God's intentions for his success be taken off track. Joseph knew that God meant for his privilege to extend far beyond himself. o
In what ways have you refused to participate in activity that would restrict God's benefits?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW...Kaelynn Harper and her family invite our congregation each year to participate in preparing back-to-school supplies for the children of Canton through the ministry of Faith Kitchen. Hundreds and hundreds of backpacks have been given in the name of Jesus.
Friday, October 4, 2013 Genesis 41:16 " Joseph responded to Pharaoh's request,â€™ It is not I; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.â€™" Joseph acknowledged that it was not by his own power that leads to a favorable outcome. I have heard the encouragement to leave a gap between what we are able to accomplish and our dreams. We, then, allow for God's power to fill the gap. o o
Are your dreams for how you can bring God's favor to others big enough? How are you leaving a gap between what you are able to accomplish and what God will be able to accomplish through you?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW...Body, Mind and Spirit; God created and cares for our whole selves. This year the Health and Wellness Team provided durable medical goods for many people as a way to participate in God's powerful acts of healing.
Saturday, October 5, 2013 Genesis 45:4-6 "Then Joseph said to his brothers, 'Come closer to me.' And they came closer. He said, 'I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold to Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.'" God took a pit-iful situation, surely leading to distress and death, and transformed it for the purposes of life. Joseph cooperated with God's purposes by being faithful to the gifts and opportunities that he was given. In doing so, not only was Joseph blessed but whole nations as well. God has gone and is going before each one of us in the person and power of Jesus presenting us with gifts and opportunities to be a blessing for the sake of others. o
How will you honor God's gifts to you by extending his blessing to others?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW...the disciples walked the road to Emmaus and encountered Jesus. Many pilgrims of Faith UMC have participated in the Emmaus program. This year a "4th Day" group was initiated at Faith to provide continued support and encouragement to these pilgrims on their discipleship walk with Jesus.
Sunday, October 6, 2013 Exodus 1:22 and 2:1-3 ”Then Pharaoh commanded all his people ,’Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live.’ Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river.” The infant, Moses, was a gift born under the most dangerous of circumstances - a time of fear, violence and scarcity. What was it that could have moved his mother to let him go? Could it have been the promise of hope? o
In times of scarcity do you tend to hold on or let go of the gifts that have been given?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW…Every Tuesday morning, when many of us are brewing our coffee, the Men's Prayer group is praying in the sanctuary balcony classroom. They pray for you, they pray for the FUMC congregation, they pray for their families, they pray for the community, they pray for the world. They know that commencing the day in conversation with God allows God to work in and through them to bring the kingdom into the rest of their day and indeed changes the world in the name of Jesus. God, thank you for receiving these prayers lifted and consecrated for the benefit of abundant life in Christ.
Monday, October 7, 2013 Exodus 3:7-10 “Then the LORD said, ‘I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey,… So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.’" God's greatest desire is to see all his people liberated for the things of life - free from bondage and death. God sends Moses to literally free the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt - to do God's liberating work. o
How is God calling you to be part of His liberating work?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW… Twice a year Pam and Tom Wig
call upon the people of FUMC to bake 100's of dozens of cookies and pray many hours of prayers symbolized by paper chains to take into Ohio prisons by way of the Kairos Ministry. This year Ron Luikart has heard the call to join in this liberating ministry. The cookies shared with inmates and prison employees alike bring a message of God's desire for all to be free from the bondage of sin by the grace of Jesus. Lord, thank you for your gift of freedom through Jesus.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013 Exodus 4:2 "The LORD said to Moses, ‘What is that in your hand?’ He said, ‘A staff.’” Moses' staff is something that he most likely takes for granted. He uses it in ordinary ways: for guiding a wayward sheep, for pointing toward the north star on a dark night, for stirring up the coals in a cooking fire. God uses for God's purposes this ordinary thing that Moses already has - no special equipment necessary to do God's work. o
What ordinary thing do you have -maybe even take for granted - that is or could be devoted to God's work?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW… Every other Wednesday "Sewing for Missions" takes things which have been deemed no longer useful by others and repurposes them for God's glory - old jeans into library totes for the children of the Henderson Settlement in Frakes, Kentucky; cast-off drapes into a banner for worship; pillow cases into dresses for the girls of Camphor Mission Station, Liberia. Thanks be to God a re-purposed life for all of us in the name of Jesus.
Wednesday, October 9, 2013 Exodus 4:10 and 11 ”But Moses said to the LORD,’O my Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.’ Then the LORD said to him, ‘Who gives speech to mortals? ‘” Moses responds to God's call by saying that he doesn't have the right gifts for this mission. God reminds Moses that he is well aware of the gifts that Moses has for, those gifts were given by God himself. God assures Moses that it is God's power moving through him - not Moses' own meager power - which will bring liberation. o
How is God calling you to let His power flow through you for the sake of the freedom of others?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW… "I can't use that drill." The girl said. "Yes, you can. I will show you how." her fellow student responded. One week later the two of them, 3 other of our FUMC youth and their adult chaperones had completing the building of a ramp enabling the man who was bound to his wheelchair and thus his living room freedom of mobility. Thanks be to God for God's power flowing though us for the benefit of all.
Thursday, October 10, 2013 Exodus 6:10 and 11 ”Then the LORD spoke to Moses, ‘Go and tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his land.’" Likely Moses had heard the stories of his mother 'letting him go' - sacrificially out of her arms and into the household of Pharaoh. Perhaps it was partly her example of 'letting go' which allowed him to participate in God's plan to see his people set free - 'let go.' o
Who has been an example for you of one who has sacrificially participated in God's plan to see the people of God set free - 'let go?'
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW… An usher found this note in the offering plate, "I have received from this church's generous gifts to me - bags of groceries, a gift card to Giant Eagle, a gas voucher. I am getting back on my feet and want to be able to help others as I have been helped. Maybe this is a start if it is blessed by God." Two dollars was included in the envelope. Thanks be to God who blesses and uses all of our gifts which are offered up for the sake of abundant and eternal life.
Friday, October 11, 2013 Exodus 15:30 "Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the Egyptians...” The Lord had brought the Israelites to freedom through the sea. We are brought to freedom through the waters of baptism. Through these waters we acknowledge our call to bring all others to freedom in the name of Jesus. o o o
What has God brought you through? How has God brought you to freedom? How are you responding to your baptismal call to lead others to freedom?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW...David attests to God bringing him through homelessness. He gives honor to the God of freedom by practicing the piano each day in the chapel (the instrument dedicated to the memory of Robert Schwab, Flora Fisher, Joanne Dodge and Fred Tabacchi) and playing in the sanctuary as we gather for worship. Thank you, God, for your gift to this congregation in and though your faithful servants.
Saturday, October 12, 2013 Exodus 17:3b ”And the people complained against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?’" Consistently the people complain. Consistently God provides - water, food, a place to camp. o o
How has God provided for your basic needs? How is God calling you to provide for the basic needs of others in his name?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW...The congregation responded extravagantly to the invitation from The Faith Food Cupboard Team to fill grocery bags with non-perishable food. Each month approximately 15 families benefit from the groceries and gift cards this congregation provides. Thanks be to God for the enthusiasm to fill those bags to overflowing that others may be filled in the name of Jesus.
Sunday, October 13, 2013 Exodus 19:3-4 ”Then Moses went up to God; the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself.’" I've been told that the only way around a situation is through it. Through is often the hardest way to go. Around would be much easier. Easier, though, does not leave room for God's leading. It is in the harder situations that we look to God for guidance. o
How do you attest to God seeing you through?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW...The Youth Ministry Team might have wondered how it was that God was going to see them through the 9 month time between youth directors. God worked tirelessly and powerfully in the lives of the Youth Adult Leaders in those months to care for and inspire our youth to be prepared for the season to come. And, O, what a season it is! Go to www.faithumcyouth.weebly.com. To take a look at the ways in which God has seen our youth ministry through and has pointed us toward the promised land. Thank you, Lord.
Monday, October 14, 2013 Exodus 19: 5-6a ”Then Moses went up to God; the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying,…’Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.’" We are called to be people of the covenant. When God began to work out the salvation of His people in the nation of Israel in the Hebrew Scriptures—a work that would culminate in the coming of Jesus the Messiah and His redemption of the people of God—God began that work by making a covenant. This covenant to which God is eternally faithful though we are often fickle - is based upon the promise of God's presence with us and claiming of us. In this passage from Exodus God calls us, "my treasured possession." We are called to ratify God's covenant in the way we are present to one another in the name of God. o
How have you been a person of the covenant today - truly present with another in the name of God?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW… Our Stephen Ministers and Leaders have completed 50 hours of training in order to provide one-on-one Christ-centered confidential care. Over the last year 25+ of Faith UMC's members and friends have received one-on-one confidential care from a Stephen Minister and many 100's of people have received a visit at the hospital or a care facility. Thank you, God, for your presence with your people through those who have answered this call to be a Stephen Minister in the name of the one who comes to dwell with us, Emmanuel.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013 Exodus 19:9b-10a “When Moses had told the words of the people to the LORD, the LORD said to Moses: ‘Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow.’" To be consecrated means to be dedicated to God's service. All the Hebrew people were consecrated after their crossing of the Red Sea for service in the name of God. In 1520 Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer, coined the phrase 'the priesthood of all believers." In this he affirmed the words of the Apostle Peter in his first letter to the house churches in Rome (2:9) that you are a "royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." We are all consecrated to service in the name of Jesus, the one who brings us from darkness to light, to walk alongside others on that path. o
How are you living into your consecration as a servant in the name of God?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW…The "Quilts to Share" group meets every Tuesday morning to loving craft symbols of God's love and warmth. These quilts have enfolded people in all stages of life: new-born, wounded, celebrated, grief-stricken, differently abled, elder. Thanks be to God for the nimble fingers and willing hands that are given over to this call of love in the name of the one who embraces us, Jesus the Christ.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013 Exodus 20:1-17 In the 10 Commandments God gives us rules to govern our relationships - ours with God and ours with one another. God desires above all a loving relationship with each of God's people and all of God's people. God also desires that God's people relate to one another lovingly. o o
Celebrate the ways in which you are mirroring God's love for you in how you love others. Consider ways in which you need to ask God to embolden you to ask for forgiveness for the ways in which you have not related to another lovingly.
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW...Each year all of those who lead the Faith congregation participate in leadership training. During that training each leader is encouraged to commit to Faith's Direct Dealing Policy. This policy was crafted with God's desire for our right relationship with Him and one another in mind. To see a copy of this policy and commit to right relationship with others within the church and in daily life go to www.faithumchurch.org and visit the resources section. Thanks be to God for our leaders who model love for God, one another, this congregation, community and world in the way that they lead.
Thursday, October 17, 2013 Exodus 25:1-2 and 8 ”The LORD said to Moses: ‘Tell the Israelites to take for me an offering; from all whose hearts prompt them to give you shall receive the offering for me…And have them make me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them.’" The offerings which the people of Israel bring to construct this sanctuary and the detailed instructions for doing so are vital for understanding the mission of God's people in the world. The sanctuary - tabernacle- was a symbol for God's desire to be right in the center of where God's people are. God's presence with us is the key to our wholeness as individuals and as a whole people of God. o
In what ways are you bringing an offering so that God's presence is known right where you are?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW...She is not a member of Faith. She stops by to ask for prayer every so often. Each time she comes she brings a blue newspaper bag full of pennies she has saved since the last time she came. She says," I want the children at the school in Paraguay that your church supports with penny offerings to know the love of God in the same way that all of you at Faith have shown it to me." God, thank you for sending Jesus to be with us right where we are so that we can follow his example to meet others where they are in his name.
Friday, October 18, 2013 Exodus 32:1 “When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron, and said to him, ‘Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’" Israel turns quickly away from God in a time of uncertainty. The people ask for other gods to be made. The gold that is used in the making of those gods are the spoils from their captors in Egypt. Freedom doesn't provide the certainty that slavery did. The idol of certainty can quickly replace God as our highest desire. o
How is this a time of uncertainty - in your relationships or finances, in our church, in our community, in our nation, in the world? Pray that God will give all of us the courage and wisdom to keep our eyes fixed on our steadfast God who will lead us into a life of freedom beyond our careful calculations.
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW...in 2009 the question was asked, "How will this church body pay off our nearly three quarter of a million dollar capital debt?" It was a time of uncertainty. God moved in and through each and all with gifts big and small toward the anticipation of freedom. In 2014 the last payment will be made freeing the congregation from debt a full year early. Thank you, God. Be dreaming about how God will use that kind of freedom for the benefit of more of God's people in the community of North Canton and beyond!
Saturday, October 19, 2013 Exodus 40 During the year that the Israelites camped near Mount Sinai, God taught them who he was and how that affected who they were. God taught them that because He is holy they were to be holy. To be holy is to be 'set apart - from certain things and for certain things. o
In what ways is God calling you to be set apart? Set apart from what? Set apart for what?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW...Each fall all Members in Ministry are invited to discern God's call upon our congregation for the coming year. In 2013 all ministries were shaped by God's vision for us to participate in "Acts of Grace." Innumerable testimonies were shared of the power of God's grace shared through: a cup of coffee for the guy behind me in line Free movie tickets for 117 people to witness the power of God to break down barriers in the movie "42: The Jackie Robinson Story." No-cost VBS for 200+ children A note of encouragement - a "Grace Note" And so many more! In 2014 we will live into God's vision for the congregation of Faith UMC as we give ourselves over to "Seeing Christ, Being Christ." Today ministry leaders and team members are gathering to discern how we have been set apart for the purposes of God in 2014. God of Vision, give us eyes to see your grace and to be participants in your loving purposes.
Sunday, October 20, 2013 Numbers 11:4-6 ”The rabble among them had a strong craving; and the Israelites also wept again, and said, ‘If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.’” Cravings...potato chips, chocolate, more time, bigger house, faster car...the opportunities are endless. When we crave we tend to achieve the opposite of our desire. Instead of being filled we are more depleted. God had given the Israelites what they needed for a wilderness journey but they wanted more. o
In what ways does "craving" keep you from giving thanks for the gifts that you have been given?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW…In the front covers of many of the Bixler Library books are name plates placed there to honor or memorialize our beloved of this congregation. They are duly honored and remembered as each Tuesday morning those books are read by faithful members in ministry to the Faith Friends Preschool students. Stop by and see how these little ones lean in and light up during story time on the rainbow rug. Thank you, Lord, for satisfying our needs in ways which further your kingdom.
Monday, October 21, 2013 Numbers 11:10-18 The Lord says that Moses shall call 70 elders together to be consecrated for the work of leadership. God is One in Three a community of Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. We are created for and called to live, work and grow in community. God provided accompanying leadership for Moses. You've probably heard it said that 'God does not call the equipped but equips the called." We are all called to the work of liberation. God will equip us for this work. o o
How are you called into leadership in ministry? Are you a prayer warrior or one who will travel across the world to be in mission? How has God equipped you to fulfill the call upon your life?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW… This last Saturday leaders of our congregation gathered to focus on the vision that God has for FUMC in the year 2014. Some of these leaders were Committee Chairpersons and some were Ministry Team members and still others were the members in ministry who work each day to be a part of what God is doing in our congregation and community and around the world. We are consecrated to the Lord's work - God will bless what we commit ourselves to be about in His name.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 Numbers 11:23 God is asking this question to Moses rhetorically; as a way to remind Moses that he already knows the answer. God is inviting Moses to remember that God formed all of creation out of nothing, that God spared him from the execution of all Hebrew boys at the hand of Pharaoh that God parted the waters leading to freedom, that God provided water from a rock and bread from heaven in the form of manna. Surely, if this is the way in which God has engaged with God's people in the past God will certainly do so again in the present and future. For, God is a life-giving God. o o o
When you have wondered if God will come through with life-giving promises? How has God surprised you with His "unlimited power?" How will you let God's "unlimited power" move through giving life to others in his name?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW…This child is small of stature and unassuming, even shy. When the choir sings she is 2 feet taller, bold and a powerful witness to God's "unlimited power." I picture her as a young confidant woman having grown knowing that her God loves her because she saw that love shining in the eyes of the congregation on those Sunday mornings when the children's choir sang. Thank you, God, for a church family who believes that their gifts can be multiplied when devoted to loving each other in your name.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013 Numbers 14:17-18a “But Moses said to the Lord…And now, therefore, let the power of the Lord be great in the way that you promised when you spoke, saying, 'The Lord is slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression…’" A gift from God...forgiveness. The people of Israel had been complaining against Moses and against God, "Why have you led us away from Egypt just to be wandering in the wilderness?!" This stance was so far from what God desired for these, His beloved children, the ones he had set apart for his purposes. How did God move the people of Israel from complaint to commitment to his purposes - through anger and wrath? No. God forgave them, had compassion on them, loved them. Love changes our hearts. When we are loved we love in return. And so, the people of Israel turned their backs on slavery and moved toward the promised Land. By the power of love they did this. o o
How are you set apart for God's greater purposes? What does God's love through forgiveness empower you to turn toward?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW…Women advocating for women by caring for women in the most basic of ways. The Circle of Love (one of Faith UMC's 4 United Methodist Women's Circles) assembles Personal Care Baskets for the women who take refuge with the Domestic Violence Project. Lord, thank you for moving in and through these UMW women for the sake of the wholeness of all women and families in Stark County.
Thursday, October 24, 2013 Deuteronomy 1 through 30 The people of Israel stand on a threshold. They needed a great deal of guidance before Moses would depart from them and they would move into the land which was promised to them. So Moses gave a lengthy and grand valedictory speech. "Remember who you are," he told them, "and to Whom you belong." 'Who and whose they are' is children of the lifegiving God. They have been created in this image and redeemed for this purpose - giving life, abundant and eternal, in His name. It was essential that they move forward in this identity so that others may come to know this abundance of life in God. o o
On what threshold do you stand? How will remembering your identity and call in God help you move forward to give life abundant and eternal in His name?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW…When one is standing upon a threshold a beautifully hued, soft as down, handknitted shawl placed around the shoulders helps with the passage from one place to another. The Barbara Whitacre Prayer Shawl Ministry crafts dozens of shawls each year aiding many by providing comfort in the knowledge that this FUMC community of faith enfolds those who are standing in this place in the embrace of our loving God. Thanks be to God for standing with us and providing a loving way forward in Jesus.
Friday, October 25, 2013 Deuteronomy 30:19-20 ”I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may life in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” "You have a choice at this juncture - life or death. Choose life." Moses urges the Israelites. This seems like a simple choice. Between the two - life and death - who would not choose life? And yet, they have chosen the ways of death so many times - complaining against God, reminiscing that their slavery had been better than their wandering, worshipping the shiny idols of this world. Choosing life means not choosing death. Choosing life means choosing to live in the ways that God lives. Choosing life in God means allowing God's life-giving purposes to move through them for the benefit of others. o o
Will you choose life in God this day? How will this choice benefit not only you but others in the name of Jesus?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW…Worship is the heart of the church. Bishop Richard Schnase has written in The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, "God uses worship to transform lives, heal wounded souls, renew hope, shape decisions, provoke change, inspire compassion, and bind people to one another." Each week we gather as the body of Christ at FUMC to choose life as we worship God. Thanks be to God for all of the ways that life is facilitated through Greeters, Ushers, Communion Stewards, Liturgists, and Musicians as we gather to worship in the name of Christ.
Saturday, October 26, 2013 Deuteronomy 31:7-8 ”Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel: ‘Be strong and bold, for you are the one who will go with this people into the Land that the Lord has sworn to their ancestors to give them; and you will put them in possession of it. It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.’" Joshua was commissioned to lead the people. But God would go before the nation of Israel. God always had led them to places of goodness and abundance and would do so now. The abundance came not from the charisma of their leaders good thing, because sometimes those leaders were at their wits end. The abundance came not as the result of the faithfulness of their following - good thing, because sometimes they didn't follow as closely as they might have. The abundance came from God. God invites them to be bold in the abundance that he offers. o
How will you be bold with the abundance that God has offered?
A WITNESS TO GOD'S OVERFLOW…We are the church - that is, those who gather in Jesus' name make up the church. And at FUMC we are blessed by this gathered body. We are also blessed with a facility which allows us to be bold in offering the abundant love of God. We are able to offer our facility for God's purposes to Troop 12 Scouts, the Alzheimer's Support Group, the Emmanuel Emmaus monthly gathering, The WWSOS (Widows and Widowers Starting Over Socially), the DAR (Daughters of the Revolution), the PEO (Philanthropic Educational organization), East Ohio UMC District and Conference Events, Mercy Hospice Annual Memorial Service, Guidestone Foster Care classes and many more. Thank you, God, for the bricks and mortar of our church and those who steward it faithfully - our Trustees and Custodial Staff - which allows us to extend your abundant love into the world in the name of Jesus.