Bible Study

Messages of Encouragement

with Pastor Edith Bleecker

We Are Expecting!

January 19, 2022

Midweek Study with Pastor Edith
Romans 15:13

We are expecting! That’s right my family is expecting. Now before you start asking what you can bring to the baby shower, I just want to clarify that we are not expecting a baby, at least not that I have been made aware, but we are expecting the return of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. As such, we have hope. Hope for today, tomorrow and for eternity. Perhaps you have had moments where you thought you lost hope, it is easy to feel that when the world is as crazy at it is, but take heart, He has overcome the world (see John 16:33).

Because God in his mercy and grace made a way for us to be one with him in Christ, we can have hope. The Dutch priest and theologian Henri Nowen writes: “The paradox of expectation is that those who believe in tomorrow can better live today; those who expect joy to come out of sadness can discover the beginnings of a new life amid the old; those who look forward to the returning Lord can discover him already in their midst” (an excerpt from Never Forget Hope, 2011 pg. 56).

Are you expecting? I hope so. “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

Amen!

Who do you think you are?

January 12, 2022

Midweek Study with Pastor Edith
Deuteronomy 31:8

This week I have been spending a lot of time going through a lot of stuff. Stuff that I was given, stuff that I bought, stuff that I discovered in the parsonage where I live, just a lot of stuff. I know some of you start a new year by downsizing your stuff, I however, was not intending to do that as I am not a very good organizer and was just sort of hoping the stuff I didn’t need would somehow just go away.

Getting new flooring all throughout the house in which my hubby and I dwell made it necessary for me to move everything from the rooms being renewed to rooms already renewed, hence, I have been shuffling my stuff for a while. I came to the obvious realization that stuff was causing me stress. Not the good kind of stress that motivates, but the negative kind of stress that tells you to just sit down and don’t do anything. In times of this type of stress I find myself thinking badly about myself, feelings of inadequacy and anxiety can sometimes render me useless, or so I thought. I came across a list of encouraging words from the Bible and from a few celebrities that I had saved in a long-lost binder that I started when I first came into the pastorate. Bonus! It seems buckling down and cleaning out pays off.

Here’s what I have for all of you who may be feeling some of the stress of negative thoughts about yourself.

Inspiration from Deuteronomy 31:8 – “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed”.

Inspiration from Milton Berle – “I’d rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are; because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star, I’d rather be a has-been than a might-have-been, by far; for a might-have –been has never been, but a has was once an are.”

AMEN!

Do not Judge, or You too will be Judged

January 06, 2022

Midweek Study with Pastor Edith

Matthew 7:1-2

Recently I broke a tooth and it forced me to pay careful attention as to how I chew my food so as not to cause great pain until I can get it fixed. While I await my upcoming appointment, as this is not considered an emergency, I have stored up very soft foods and even baby food in an effort to keep up with my protein and veggies. All this to say, chewing consideration has become a focus for me. So, take a moment with me and chew on this passage of scripture and consider carefully how it might apply to your daily walk with The Lord. I can see many ways this can help me in mine.

Matthew 7:1-2; “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others you will be judged. And with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

One of the ways the teaching of this passage comes to our weekly worship services is in the reciting of The Lord’s Prayer. Think about how many times you’ve recited this prayer and how often you have considered the part where we say; “and forgive us our trespasses (some use debts, others use the word sins) as we forgive those who trespass against us (or our debtors, or those who have sinned against us). Notice how there is a measurement here – “and forgive us… AS we forgive…” Only two letters, yet there is a strong connection to the way we forgive and the way God forgives. Truly something to chew on this week .

I came across a poem by Tom Norvell, entitled If My Eyes Could See. I want to close this meditation with a few lines from it; “If my eyes could see the things His eyes see, I would be less distressed over what is happening today, and more hopeful about what will happen tomorrow. If my eyes could see the things His eyes see, my heart would be full, and my resolve would be strong. If my eyes could see like His eyes can see I would be more careful of who I condemn and less selective with who I forgive. I would ignore more offenses, and lower my defenses… If my eyes could see as His eyes can see, I could see others the way He looks at me, and then I could live my life like He intends it to be.”

AMEN

Good Things & Bad Things

December 30, 2021

Midweek Study with Pastor Edith

Luke 6:45

In my NIV bible the subtitle for this teaching is “A Tree and Its Fruit”. Jesus is teaching his followers that they will be known by the fruit of their living. I believe part of his lesson here is to remind the people that they can try to fool others and even themselves in believing that they are something they are not. Faithfulness and goodness are the result of what is stored up in the heart of a person, not the outward show of things, though, fruit is the outward expression of the inward change God makes when we seek him.

Jesus says “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (emphasis, mine).

If it is true that “out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks”, then it stands to reason that it is of the utmost importance to be mindful of what we keep in our hearts. In other words, like the children’s song says “Oh be careful little eyes what you see… Oh be careful little ears what you hear…” What we spend most of our time looking at or listening to is what will fill our hearts and minds and what fills our hearts and minds is what we talk about. What we talk about reveals what we believe to be true and can have a profound effect on those listening to what we are saying.

So, the next time you find yourself in a conversation, try to pay attention to the amount of the conversation that seems to be disheartening and even self-centered and how much of the conversation is about the hope you find in Christ to show the way through whatever circumstances are the topic of discussion. It’s a challenge, no doubt, but it is worth it and you might just be the beacon of light for someone’s dark moment.

My recommendation for this new year is to take time daily to praise and worship the God who created you and the whole universe. To start, I have found 19 Psalms that will help us do just that, I will call this little exercise “19 days of praise” and will endeavor to take just a few minutes throughout the day every day for the next 19 days to read the psalm and even sing it as the book of Psalms was the original hymnal .

Here is the list I have found, and feel free to build on this with Psalms and Spiritual songs you have discovered: Psalm: 23,24,34,46,93,96-100,103,114,115,118,131,136,139,145,150.

HAPPY NEW YOU!

Keeping Christ in Christmas

December 25, 2021

Midweek Study with Pastor Edith

A friend recently gave me a beautiful bookmark that has the acronym: C.H.R.I.S.T.

I thought it would be very helpful to see how the verses that go with each letter might help us keep Christ in Christmas this week and hopefully, keep Christ in our daily living for the year ahead. I will confess that I made a few adjustments as I felt the Spirit move me to alternate scriptures. So here is my version of C.H.R.I.S.T.:

C - Commitment
Psalm 37:4-6.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”

H – HUMILITY
James 4:10
“Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up”.

R – Responsibility
Luke 12:48b
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked”.

I – Integrity
Psalm 25:21
“May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you”.

S – Service
Matthew 20:26-28
“…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”.

T – Truth 
John 8:31-32
“…Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’”.

I pray you will seek out a place of worship to celebrate Christmas Eve, this Friday, and some churches will host a Christmas day service as well. The two congregations I am blessed to serve with are having a simple and delightful Christmas Eve Candlelight service.

We would be delighted to worship with you and your entire family.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Father

December 17, 2021

Midweek Study with Pastor Edith

Isaiah 9:6

I recently came across a special Christmas edition of the Our Daily Bread devotional and it seems very appropriate for the days in which we live. Please take a moment and sit still with God’s word and these precious revelations. “And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” “The symbolic use of the word father was an ancient Hebrew reference for ‘possessor of’.

In Isaiah 9:6 the Messiah is described as both the Son and a Father. He became a child in time (through the incarnation), but He is the Father (possessor) of eternity. The devotional goes on to illustrate through the Psalms how the name of our Messiah “endures forever” and how He was preexistent; “…even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God”. “In Exodus 3 we find the name “I AM”. This name describes and defines the God who is… [which is echoed in the statement Jesus made in John 8:58]; “Before Abraham was, I Am”. “The self-existence of God’s Messiah means that He will not leave us, as all earthly fathers eventually do.

The Eternal God took upon Himself the limitations of a human body so that He could bring us into an everlasting relationship with Himself.” AMEN!

Borrowed from Portions of the 2007 Christmas Edition, Our Daily Bread, Special Feature “A Timeless Name”

Blessed

December 10, 2021

Midweek Study with Pastor Edith

Luke 1:26-38

One of the most difficult things for me to preach during this marvelous Christmas season is the heart of Mary. She was a devout, young, betrothed girl when the angel Gabriel came to her and said; “Greetings, you who are highly favored, the Lord is with you”.

Now, before you jump ahead and presume that I have forgotten the wonderful gift God gave humanity through this humble maiden, let me just remind you, that I too have had children and even though they have been and are a great blessing and joy to me, this journey has had it’s tough moments. The telling of the visit of the angel to Mary and the message he brought is difficult for me because I know what it is like to be told “You are pregnant” and even though, for me and my husband, we were overjoyed, I was still scared. I had questions like; what if the pregnancy doesn’t go well? What do I do? Or, what if I am not the mom this child needs me to be? What if I can’t handle the sleepless nights and the never-ending need for me to provide for this helpless little one? Some of you, can relate.

Here is the joy of God’s word for all of us today, men and women. God speaks to us right where we are. He didn’t tell Mary to do anything special to prepare, the angel simply said she was “highly favored”, in other words, blessed, just the way she was. Here is the kicker though, Mary would be the mother of the Savior of the world, and as such, she would see him struggle to reach those around him and often feel isolated and misunderstood. Mary would see her son ridiculed, beaten, and crucified while much of the community around her just stood idly by and watched. Is this what it means to be “blessed”?

We are in what is known by many denominations as the season of Advent, a time of waiting and watching for the coming of the Lord. This is a season for believers to take time to evaluate what we know to be true about what it means to be blessed and what price Christ paid for us to receive the greatest blessing, eternal life with God. We cannot deny that following Jesus Christ means to be willing to suffer, though I have never yet known what it means to suffer in the ways many have and are currently suffering, still, I must be willing. We cannot deny that being blessed by the good news that Christ paid it all and that we can trust him is not just a one-way transaction, it is a gift that we are to share with others.

So, here’s a thought; Why not join me in reading again the account of the visit of the angel Gabriel to Mary and ask ourselves, men and women alike; Am I willing to say to the Lord, “Let it be to me and you have said” and pray daily to have strength to follow through. For God’s glory first and foremost, and for our ultimate good.

AMEN

What are we waiting for?

December 01, 2021

Midweek Study with Pastor Edith

Isaiah 7:14 + James 5:8

Happy 1st day of December! Happy 1st week of Advent!

Advent is all about waiting and watching for the coming of Christ. The word Advent comes from the Latin Adventus, which means “coming”. And so, we wait and watch and we also remember Christ’s first entry into our world which was foretold by the prophet Isaiah in chapter 7 and verse 14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel [which means God with us]”.

Fleming Rutledge reflects on the Church’s response to Advent in her article published in Good News magazine entitled “Discovering Advent – Grace in the darkness”: “The church lives in Advent. That is to say, the church lives between two advents. Jesus Christ has come, Jesus Christ will come. We do not know the day or the hour. If you find this tension almost unbearable at times, then you understand the Christian life.

We live at what the New Testament depicts as the turn of the ages. In Jesus Christ, the kingdom of God is in head-on collision with the powers of darkness. The point of impact is the place where Christians take their stand…He came to us once as a stranger, and we put him on a cross. He comes among us now, in the guise of the stranger at the door. He will come in the future, not as a stranger, but as the King in his glory, and ‘at the name of Jesus every knee should bow’ (Phil. 2:10).

‘The coming of the Lord is at hand’, says Saint James. ‘Behold, the judge is standing at the door’ (James 5:8-9). Keep awake, then…if he comes suddenly, he must not find you asleep.”

This is a great time to ask ourselves “what are we waiting for?”. Are we waiting for things to get better? Are we waiting for a special present that will make us happy? Are we waiting for His kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven? I want to among those who choose the third response. How about you?

On a fun note, I am recalling a Mr. Rogers song about waiting. Maybe you remember it too. It starts off: “Let’s think of something to do while we’re waiting, while we’re waiting for something new to do” How about while we’re waiting, we sing a little bolder the Christmas hymns of praise, and tell the people around us what my granddaughter has been saying often to me throughout the day; “I love you!” And then we should watch for what God wants us to do while we’re waiting for his new thing to happen.

“O come, O come Emmanuel”!

AMEN!

Thankful

November 26, 2021

Midweek Study with Pastor Edith 

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

I am currently enjoying a very quiet Wednesday as my phone and internet are disconnected due to carpeting being installed. I suppose many of you would find this disconcerting, but for me, I say, Thank you Lord! With this in mind let me share with you a note of encouragement for this Thanksgiving week. In Steve Harpers little book; Five Marks of a Methodist, I read that John Wesley believed that a Methodist, or more simply put, A Christian, has 5 distinguishing marks in the way in which they live: “A Methodist; Loves God, Rejoices in God, Gives Thanks, Prays Constantly, and Loves Others”. Today I want to share the Wesleyan way of the mark of Giving Thanks. According to Steve Harper; “Wesley uses Paul’s words to describe the third mark: ‘Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus’ (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

I have been a Christian for more than fifty years, but every time I read these words I still think, ‘Whoa! We have gone to the deep end of the pool with this idea…How are we to give thanks ‘in every situation’ when some situations seem to come not from the will of God but from the pit of hell?...Unfortunately, John doesn’t provide a fully satisfying response. But of course, no one ever has or can…Anne Lamott [writes] in her book Help, Thanks, and Wow, when she shows how saying ‘thanks’ is always our first response when we recognize that God has helped us.’” Steve goes on to say; “So we as disciples give thanks—not for what is happening to us but for the fact that nothing can happen to us apart from the presence of God with us…We don’t receive all people and circumstances because everything is good; we receive because God is present in everything, ready and willing to come to our assistance” (Five Marks of a Methodist pgs.25-30).

Somehow, even though I do believe that God is ever present and willing to come to our aid, I sometimes still feel like I have “gone to the deep end of the pool” and am barely keeping my head above water. If you find yourself in the deep end too, let me encourage you to not give up on God. He is good, the world he created is not so good because humanity has chosen to go their own way and not God’s way. We get to choose to go God’s way every day (sweet, I made a rhyme). And sometimes His way is a difficult way, still, He is with us all the way (double sweet, another rhyme ). So, for thanksgiving this year, how about letting someone you know, who may be going through a tough time, that you are thankful for them and you would like to be God’s hands and feet to encourage them.

Now, I am off to the church to utilize our internet there to post this. I hope it reaches you at just the right time and is encouraging to you.

Thankful to be here, Edith

Joy Depends on the Lord

November 20, 2021

Midweek Study with Pastor Edith

Psalm 16:11

It has been said that happiness depends on what happens, but joy depends on the Lord. This is a good reminder when you find yourself unhappy. Let’s be honest, you probably don’t spend every waking moment singing merrily along your way, but don’t forget that there is the possibility of joy throughout the day. (sweet, that rhymes )

Our scripture for today reads this way from the New International Version:
“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand”.

Even as I type this, I have a little one walking in circles singing “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart…I’ve got the love of Jesus, love of Jesus down in my heart to stay”. It would seem she has found joy even while walking in circles. Do feel like you have moments when you don’t see much progress? Take heart, dear one, God is still with you and with his Son at his right hand and the Holy Spirit moving all around you calling you to simply enjoy the joy down in your heart. That’s what you have when you confess your sins and receive his forgiveness.

It’s a brand new day, why not say; “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart…” (C’mon sing along with us).

AMEN! Edith

Remembering Our Veterans

November 11, 2021

Midweek Study with Pastor Edith

John 15:13

I want to begin by saying “Thank You” to all the Veterans for their commitment and service for our country, as tomorrow, November 11th, we have an opportunity to celebrate Veterans Day. I am blessed to be married to a veteran whom God brought into my life when I was stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho some 37 years ago. We met people from all over the world and from every walk of life and it was an awesome experience to see that we could work together well for a common cause.

Wouldn’t it be even more amazing to have that same experience with our fellow human beings right where we are now?

Please take an extra moment this week and thank a veteran. Some have war time scars that are visible and some have conflict scars no one can see. Others of us have only very happy memories of serving during peace time, either way, to willingly choose to leave home and family to enter into the military is a big thing, so look the veteran square in the eye and with a grateful heart, say “Thank you for your service”.

The scripture for this week is often quoted for Memorial Day, and rightly so, but I felt it would be good food for thought for this week as we have an opportunity to thank those who willingly serve and give a thank you prayer for those who have served in years gone by. John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (NIV).

In an article I found concerning this scripture, Meg Bucher writes; “The love Christ introduced is agape love. This love, according to christianity.com, “refers to a pure, willful, sacrificial love that intentionally desires another’s highest good.” Contrary to the way the world loves selfishly, Jesus loved selflessly and taught His followers to aim for the same. This type of love is almost indescribable, a product of the very character of God, who is perfect love”. (for Crosswalk.com – accessed 11-10-2021) I will close this meditation with the words of a hymn that speaks to my heart about God’s heart for the reason we even have to have military forces: “Keep bright in us the vision of days when war shall cease, when hatred and division give way to love and peace, til dawns the morning glorious when truth and justice reign, and Christ shall rule victorious o’er all the world’s domain” (O God of Every Nation – United Methodist Hymnal #435)

AMEN!

“Hurry Momma, bake a mistition!”

October 26, 2021

Midweek Study with Pastor Edith

Joshua 24:14-15

I heard a story quite a while back about a little boy who was riding in the car with his mom when they came to a stoplight that was flashing all three colors (obviously malfunctioning or perhaps a dangerous “smile, you’re on Candid Camera” moment). Some folks knew to come to a complete stop, look and then proceed with caution. Others, however, saw this as a marvelous chance to run the light and get ahead. The mom was getting a bit antsy as she had never come upon this situation before and couldn’t remember what her drivers manual said so many years ago when she took her driving test.

Suddenly her little son, blurted out “Hurry Momma, bake a mistition!”.

Mom stepped on the gas at the sound of blaring horns and screeching tires. When they reached a safe distance from the light, mom pulled over and asked her son what in the world was he saying, all she heard for sure was “Hurry Momma!”.

The boy simply told her that she had recently been asking him to stop “dilly- dallying” and bake a mistition.

“What?” she said, “what is a mistiton”?

“You know”, he said, it’s when you make up your mind”.

It seems he thought she needed to be reminded to do the same. Today’s text asks the original audience and now asks us as well to make a decision; “If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…” (24:15a). It becomes apparent as you study this passage and it’s historical context, that there is a sense of urgency in the command “choose for yourselves this day” (emphasis, mine) and it also becomes apparent that one way or another the people would be serving some kind of a god.

In my recent study of Spiritual renewal and Covenant renewal, I was reminded that having a sense of urgency is the first step on the journey of renewal. To have a sort of a “wake up call” that makes it clear that we do not have all the time in the world, but that time indeed is marching on and if we simply sit back and let the chips fall where they may, well, we will soon find ourselves in the service of someone, or several someone’s who will direct our future, and not in a way that leads to life everlasting.

At the same time, it is important to realize that we must choose wisely. Be aware, be informed, stay close to God’s word, and stay involved with those around you who need to be cared for. When Joshua says to the people, “choose this day whom you will serve” there is evidence that people somehow inevitably find themselves serving or worshipping something or someone, and he says for him, the choice is clear. He chooses to follow the Lord that brought them out of bondage and never ceases guide them; “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (24:b).

Don’t just “bake a mistition”, make a decision AMEN.

FAITH - A Growing Fixture

October 13, 2021

Midweek study with Pastor Edith

Hebrews 11:1, 12:2-3

Before we jump into our study time, I want to share with you a “God moment”, brought to you by my grandchildren. Now, don’t stop reading because you think this is just another “brag time”, stay with me because I think you could use a smile and a reminder of how God uses his Word and his Way to grow us day by day in a faith that can be fixed.

A while ago, my grandkids were with me for a little fun without boundaries time (which is always disconcerting to their grandfather ) when an argument ensued. One wanted to do one thing, and the other wanted to do another thing. When we decided to settle the matter with the “paper, scissors, rock” routine, my granddaughter came up with “scissors” and her brother with the “rock”. I expected a tear filled, sit and pout, but was quite surprised when she simply stomped her foot and shouted “Camel Biscuits!” That was my complete undoing. I got down to hug her and started to giggle and before you know it we were all laughing. Suddenly the problem didn’t seem so big and somehow, we all got along doing a little bit of what one wanted and later a bit of what the other wanted.

When it comes to faith, it seems we all have trouble “fixing our eyes upon Jesus”, as Hebrews 12:2 recommends, and we find ourselves trying to make things happen the way we want them to happen believing somehow that it is surely what God wants. Just listen to the way we pray: “Oh God, please give….”, or “Heavenly Father, heal…”, or “Bless us with…”, Do you hear how that sounds a bit demanding when our faith is to be growing to be more and more like Jesus who prayed “thy will be done” and less and less like people who want what we want when we want it.

Unfortunately, I find myself throwing a bit more of a fit than “camel biscuits”, like my granddaughter expressed, when I should refocus my desires and my prayers to look more like what Hebrews 11:1 says; “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”. Please take some time and consider what God’s ultimate plan is for us all, a plan we can’t physically see right now. From our recent studies in scripture and some inspiration from Max Lucado’s book, Just Like Jesus, it would seem that God’s plan is for us to grow more and more to be just like Jesus. The way to grow is to “Fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning it’s shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3).

The chorus of a hymn that rolls around in my head when I feel “opposition” goes like this; “I need no other argument; I need no other plea. It is enough that Jesus died, and that he died for me” (Sing To The Lord Hymnal #435).

AMEN

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