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Celebrating Pentecost

Midweek Study with Pastor Edith
Acts 2:1-4
May 24, 2023

This Sunday our churches will be celebrating Pentecost, or as many have said, the birthday of the church. It is interesting to note that it is also Memorial Day weekend. I guess you could say we are welcoming new birth and remembering those who have passed on. As I type this, I am sitting at the desk where I have spent many hours studying and preparing sermons and midweek postings. This has been a very special place for me and sadly enough this will be my last day at this desk located in the Parsonage which I have been clearing out since our move to a new home.

Change has never been easy for me, but as another brilliant person once said; “Change is the one constant we have in this life”. I agree to a great degree, but I also believe that the Holy Spirit is the greatest constant we have. Believer and non-believer alike are all surrounded by this presence of God. When a person comes to faith in Christ, this gift is given, and like all gifts, this gift needs to be opened, or shall I say, we need to be open to this gift.

Referring to the scripture for today The Reverend Amy Steele writes; “One Bible translation reports that those who witnessed the Spirit that day [Pentecost] were amazed and astonished. I imagine them humbled and devastated by the ultimate. In this case, the ultimate was a manifestation of the Spirit of God. The crowd who had gathered sensed something just out of reach—the letting go of the familiar to embrace the unknown.”

Take time this week to sit quietly with God and ask for his Holy Spirit to help you with the changes you are facing. Know that He is with you always, ready to help you embrace the unknown and willing to guide you every step of the way.



No World Peace

Midweek Study with Pastor Edith
John 14:27
May 17, 2023

When our children were very young we often played scripture memory song cassette tapes in the car whenever we traveled. One of our favorite tapes was “GT and the Halo Express”. In case you’ve not heard of this series that was probably produced back in the late 80’s, let me give you a quick review; GT stands for Good Tidings, and yes, he is an angel. GT is part of a musical band known as The Halo Express. Their mission is to magically appear whenever children are in need of comfort or assurance from God. One of my favorite songs from the series comes from our text today; “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”.

In the GT presentation of this scripture, A brother and sister are having trouble with bullies at school. They try to act tough, but deep down they are very afraid. All this to ask you today; are you afraid? I am, and it’s no shame to admit it because I live in a fearful time and so do you. Maybe, like me, you find yourself in the middle of changes that are not easy to accept. Maybe you are facing a medical crisis, or financial worries. Maybe you watch the news and wonder how this country, and even our world is going to survive for much longer. Whatever the trouble may be, how about we try doing what my kids did; sing the scripture, and if you don’t have a tune, simply say it out loud and picture Jesus comforting you and if you repeat it often enough, I believe you will experience a peace that is out of this world.



16/6 Instead of 24/7

Midweek Study with Pastor Edith
Hebrews 4:9-10
May 3, 2023

“16/6 Instead of 24/7” R and R"

I remember hearing folks talk about that during my time in the Air Force. It was a statement of going on “leave” to get some Rest and Relaxation. Many times, military members would have to take “leave” in order to attend funerals or other family events that would not be so much rest and relaxation as it would be stressful and included obligations to be met.

In my world today, R and R is called a day off, a vacation, or if you qualify for longer, a sabbatical. I will admit that I don’t do these things regularly, and I am often paying the price and so are the people that have to deal with a grumpy me.

Our text today deals with the principle of Sabbath rest. God gave the commandments to a wondering people and the fourth one was; “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy”. I’ve been reading that the commandments of God were not just to help them live in an ordered community, but they would also provide for them their identity. They were to live as a set apart people of God, who didn’t just do what everybody else did, but they would do what God called them to do including taking a day to rest and reflect on what God was doing for and through them.

I want to be identified as a person who loves and serves God, so it would stand to reason that I would pay attention to God’s command, not suggestion, to take R and R every week; to Rest and Reflect. Here is where working on these weekly meditations really meddles with me . I don’t practice what I preach often enough and it isn’t because I want to be disobedient, or even that I think it noble to not take time off, it’s that I get caught up in the 24/7 pattern of my culture. I bet many who are reading this can say an Amen to that too.

Hebrews 4:9-10 says; “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his”.

I want to encourage you to consider with me the implications of not setting aside a regular day for R and R. It not only affects you, but all with whom you work and dwell. I pray we will learn to R and R well.



When You are Lost

Midweek Study with Pastor Edith
John 21:4-14
April 18, 2023

"Conviction, Consistency and Concentration"

"Nobody has to tell me to “Get Lost”, I do it naturally. Any time I am driving to a new location, and sometimes to a not-so-new location. Often, I “get lost” when I am driving to a new location and sometimes when I am driving to a not-so-new location. I really “get lost” in my thoughts when I am ruminating over something someone said, or did that upset me. Yep, I “get Lost” a lot.

In our text for today I imagine that the disciples choose to go fishing so they can purposely “get lost” in their work so as not to ruminate over the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, their beloved friend, mentor and Messiah (though there is evidence they didn’t fully get the last one until he ascended to heaven in their presence). Jesus knows these guys really well, and he knows that they need a break from all the events of the previous days, so he goes to find them. He goes to encourage them, in a way only Jesus could do, he gives them a new idea.

It seems the guys have been fishing for quite a while when Jesus comes to the shore. He inquires if they have had any luck catching fish. Nope, no fish. So, Jesus tells them to try something new; “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some”. Find some? They caught so many the net was too heavy to haul into the boat. John realizes this miracle man is Jesus himself and tells Peter; “it is the Lord”. Peter gets so excited he jumps into the water to run toward Jesus (of course, that leaves the others to do the work of towing the net to shore without his help ).

These disciples had conviction – Keep fishing. They had consistency – fish the same way they had always fished. They had concentration, but it was misplaced. Oswald Chambers shared an insight on this passage which inspires me to write this meditation; “If you have heard Jesus Christ’s voice on the waves of the sea, you can let your convictions and your consistency take care of themselves by concentrating on maintaining your intimate relationship to Him” (My Utmost for His Highest, 1992 “Discovery House” edition for April 17)

Does your faith need a little maintenance? Why not have a little talk with Jesus today?



Doubt and Wisdom

Midweek Study with Pastor Edith
John 20:19-29
April 12, 2023

“Doubt and Wisdom go hand in hand"

I got a phone call from a dear friend whom I have not seen in years. She heard that Mark and I are expecting our 5th grandchild in November and wanted to congratulate us. In the course of the conversation she expressed her concern for the recent shooting event in Louisville KY. Funny how a conversation about new life turned into a conversation about lives taken too early. She and I agreed the world is becoming more insane every year. It’s enough to make you doubt your faith. Doubt your faith in humanity, and even doubt your faith in God. After all, couldn’t God prevent such tragedy? Where is God anyway?

My heart goes out to the families who unknowingly celebrated their last Easter with their loved ones. I can’t imagine what the family of the young man who did the killing must be going through. Here is yet another reason why God’s people need to pray constantly. Pray as The Holy Spirit leads you, looking to God’s word to guide so you will be able to discern His voice.

Today’s scripture reading is a reminder to me that doubting isn’t always a bad thing. Doubting can lead me to ask questions; age old questions and new questions. It was Thomas’ doubt that proved him to be faithful. He took Jesus at his word and when the Savior said that people should be careful not to believe everything everyone says because many would come pretending to be the Savior only to mislead and manipulate them.

Pastor Michelle Morris states; “We cannot grow in our discipleship, our faith, our wisdom without asking new questions and raising new inquiries. And we will not be inspired to ask such questions if we do not have doubts” (Adult Bible Studies, Abingdon Press, Sprint 2023 pg. 45).

So, if you are experiencing doubt, take it to the Lord in prayer. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you through your reading of the above scripture and others you are led to explore, then quietly listen for direction. May God bless you as you journey with Jesus in His Word. Wisdom is on the way.



The Resurrection

Midweek Study with Pastor Edith
Matthew 28:1-10
April 5, 2023 

This Sunday we will be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. A historical fact and a spiritual joy. In a Sunday School class I attend, the lesson for this week focuses on overturned expectations and the purpose in the power of the resurrection; “Because of that Sunday, the very things the women were probably experiencing on their way to the tomb lost their power and sting as they ran from it. They left the threat of death behind them.”

Christians are Easter People and as such, while we experience the pain of loss, “it is that the power of that pain will not overwhelm us.” I am learning here that the resurrection of Christ changes everything. It changes the way I face death and dying. It also changes the way I live. How I treat others, how I work through the day to day troubles that come my way. It gives me the power to say I will not be overcome, because He is always with me in the power of the same Holy Spirit that raised Christ from the dead.

I love the way Pastor Michelle Morris in this Sunday School lesson describes the purpose of this power; “If this world could know the fullness of what it means to serve God faithfully through love of neighbor, if everyone saw themselves and everyone else as a beloved child of God, if everyone was valued the way God values each of us, the reign of God would break full through, and death and all of its power would be no more” (Adult Bible Studies, Cokesbury Publishers; Spring 2023, vol. 30, No. 3, pgs. 61-62).

The last verse of a favorite Easter hymn, Christ the Lord is Risen Today, summarizes this well; “King of glory, soul of bliss, Alleluia! Everlasting life is this, Alleluia! Thee to know, thy power to prove, Alleluia! Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia! ALLELUIA! He is Risen!


Children of God

Midweek Study with Pastor Edith
John 3:1-3 + Matthew 18:1-4 + 1John 3:1
March 22, 2023

I have been reviewing again the telling of Nicodemus and his encounter with Christ in which Jesus declares “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

As I am studying, I am also preparing for my grandchildren to come and play at Oma’s house while their parents do their work. It is interesting to note that the text I have been studying is a reminder that God has no grandchildren, He only has children. The encounter between Nicodemus and Jesus is one in which Nicodemus is being exposed to the reality that he cannot depend on anything, any tradition, or even his lineage to ensure his salvation, it is only through a spiritual new birth that he, and anyone, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Isn’t it wonderful how much God loves us that he allows each one of us to choose Him daily as our loving Heavenly Father! The Apostle John states it well; “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” When my grandchildren come over to spend the day with me, I try my very best to just focus on them. Housework and church work take a back seat, there are 24 hours in the day and seven days in the week for me to choose other times and days to work, this is precious memory making, Jesus sharing, creative problem-solving time for us together. God does the same for each one of his children. He lavishes his love and attention on us, and we ought to take time to thank him and consider how we might love others into the Kingdom. Take note, that this will be very humbling.

God has a word for this too; “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18: 3-4).

I am often humbled by my kids and grandkids, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Some of the best lessons about in humility have come through my time with them. Some of the best lessons in humility have also come from my time with my Heavenly Father.

Max Lucado states it well; “Humility is the soil out of which the fruit of the Spirit grows”.



Calmer Waves

Midweek Study with Pastor Edith
Psalm 23
March 15, 2023

I am sitting at the kitchen table of a home new to my husband and I, and I am admiring the beautiful blue sky and the freshly mown grass thanking God that for the first time in several years my sweet hubby was physically able to navigate the riding mower and seemed to enjoy doing so, even if it is only 42 degrees . You see, several years ago my sweet man was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus which makes walking, driving and general physical activity feel like he is on a dock in a very tumultuous bay. Once diagnosed, he had surgery to implant a shunt which would decrease the water pressure on his brain. It was amazing to see how he improved even a day after the surgery. He was then able to drive again and move about with less wavering, but it’s still there, and he often tells me that he still feels like he is on a dock, but the waves are a bit calmer.

Recently, I was chatting with a dear friend whose husband is going through a painful illness and as we talked and prayed I felt a nudging by the Holy Spirit to tell her that perhaps this is one of the ways we walk through the Valley of the Shadow. It’s scary and painful sometimes to see loved ones suffer, but we keep walking and believing that one day it will be as it should be, as God originally designed life to be.

The Psalmist writes: “Even though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of death [another translation says ‘through the darkest valley’] I will fear no evil, for you are with me”.

That is a truth we need to remember, especially when life doesn’t seem to make sense. There is so much suffering in our world, and there doesn’t seem to be a cure, at least not on this side of Heaven. But we keep on walking and we keep on believing. Giving up is not the answer, if it were God would not have sent his Son to redeem us. What would be the point?

Thanks be to God, he did and he does walk with us even in the darkest valley.