Bible Study

Messages of Encouragement

with Pastor Edith Bleecker

Page Two

Seeing the Face of God

May 05, 2021

Midweek study with Pastor Edith 


“Sermon Second Helpings” from Exodus 3 and 33. “Seeing the Face of God”

Reflecting back on Moses and his encounters with God, I like to remember how the relationship started. Moses, a man who once thought himself to be a Royal Egyptian only to discover that he was a poor Hebrew slave, finds himself living a meager yet peaceful life among a people who trusted in the one true God. His first encounter back in Exodus chapter 3 tells us that Moses, though standing in front of a burning bush miracle and hearing the very voice of God, does not shy away, but asks bold questions. The one that strikes me the most is when Moses asks God; “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, What is his name? Then what shall I tell them?”

I wonder if I am in awe of the same miracle working, mercy sharing, God as Moses was, and yet willing to be honest and open and ask the questions that burn in me. Do you have that kind of relationship with this same God that formed you as well? Later in chapter 33 Moses needs to hear from God again. He has been speaking with God and trying to mediate some kind of reconciliation due to the golden calf party (see Exodus 32 for a refresher). Here in chapter 33:18-20 Moses again is very bold; “Then Moses said, ‘Now show me your glory.’” What he wants is to see God face to face, but God has another plan.

Have you ever come to the point that you were so desperate to know for sure that God really exists and that He has not left you or abandoned someone you care very deeply about? Is it ok to be bold in our relationship with God to the point we can demand to see him? I would say yes, and even suggest that God is waiting for his children too long for him in such a personal and profound way. What does God do for Moses in this text and in this context? God informs Moses that no one can see the physical face of God and live (33:20), but he also assures Moses that he will be given the opportunity to dwell in God’s very presence, glory and goodness, if he follows the instructions (33:21-23).

What about here and now? My thought for you today is to consider how God shows his presence, glory and goodness through God’s creation, both in nature and in humanity. When you see someone caring unconditionally for another, you are looking at the face of God. When you put your feelings and agenda aside and care for someone, you become the face of God. The Reverend Rita Hayes puts it this way; “Let’s face it. God reveals goodness in ways we cannot begin to comprehend. Like Moses, we cannot venture into life without the abiding face (presence) of God. And God expects us to look into the faces of others and see a trace of God’s likeness reflected there.” (Christian Living Magazine, Spring 2021 edition Pg. 83)

AMEN!

I pressed on!

April 28, 2021

Midweek study with Pastor Edith

This week my husband and I celebrated 35 years of marriage and decided we needed to go out of town, but where? God provided with a phone call from a dear friend of mine who stayed in touch with me since we became friends in 1977. She and her parents invited Mark and I to drive up to their home and spend a couple of days relaxing with them. So, Monday morning we packed a few things and headed out.

For some of you, this may seem trivial, but please keep in mind that not only did the Pandemic keep us from doing these kinds of things, but illness and unexpected surgery really turned our lives upside down for more than just this past year. Needless to say, we were thankful to have the ability to visit out of town and for the good health and the kindness of our congregations to allow for us to have this time. Hence, the delay in posting this Midweek Meditation. Thank you for your patience.

2 Corinthians 4:7-8 (a portion of this past Sunday’s message text) says; “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side but not crushed; confused, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (Emphasis mine).

For me, this past year and often in the past 35 years while making a home with my husband and children and now grandchildren, there have been many times in my work and vocation when I have felt hard pressed, confused, persecuted (in very minimal ways, but still felt), struck down (too many times I heard the words; “No, I won’t help you with that”), and still The Lord lifted me up and lead me to the next step. He does that for all of us, if we will listen. I wasted a lot of time not listening and just sat in my anxiety, disappointment and depressed emotions.

Our text for this meditation inspires me; “You don’t have to stay in that endless, hopeless emotional roller coaster”! Verse 7 talks about the great treasure that has been entrusted to us when we trust in Christ, even though we are weak and fragile like “jars of clay”. The treasure is the Gospel, God’s good news that Jesus Saves and it has been entrusted to us who may be feeling the effects of being hard pressed (or depressed), confused, persecuted, abandoned, or struck down.

A dear friend sent me this thought one day while battling the effects of depression; “When I change around the letters of the word DEPRESSION, I see the words; I PRESSED ON”.

I pray that you will know today how much God loves you, so much so that He desires to lift you out of any situation that threatens to keep you down.

AMEN!

Midweek Lesson

April 21, 2021

Midweek study with Pastor Edith

Ephesians 4:21-24

As I write this and prepare to post it, I want to say that this has been a difficult morning. Not because of illness, or tragedy, or grief of loss, though there is much of that in the world around me that I know affects me even when I am about daily chores. No, the difficulty has come from encounters with very troubled and upset folks who are shocked at the way fellow believers treat them. If you read last week’s meditation, you can see how the Lord prepared me and you for just such a time as this. (see 2 Corinthians 5:16-21)

As I held my head in my hands at my desk and computer, my eyes landed on a little book; Church Signs and the Lord gave me a step back that made me chuckle. This particular church sign reads; “Don’t Let The Worries Of This World Kill You, Let The Church Help.” Wow! You could take that a couple of different ways. I took it as a humbling reminder that the “Church” (meaning all fellowships of Christian believers together) are made up of people and as the Scripture reminds us; “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, hence, we mess up often, even if we don’t recognize it.

God knows and loves us enough to encourage us to keep looking to Him daily (and even moment by moment) to seek His way in His Word and then “the Church” can be: “made new in the attitude of our minds; and put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph.4:23-24)

May the Lord bless you and keep you close to Him as you seek Him in His Word and my you sense His protection from all that would threaten the Unity of the bond we share in Him.

Be Reconciled

April 14, 2021

Midweek study with Pastor Edith

“Be Reconciled”!

That’s what I used to say to the checkbook when I was new at financial management, not only my personal finances but for the USAF Chaplain Fund for the chapel to which I was assigned in my early 20’s. Boy, am I glad I worked with experienced Airmen who could guide me through the process of managing the funds for such a large organization. Today I am thankful for all the help available to my husband and I as we navigate financial stability in a very unstable world. More than that, I am very thankful for those faithful to the Lord who guide us as we continue to live for Christ in an unstable environment where even fellow Christians participate in disunity at a time when we need to exemplify unity in the love of Christ and in God’s word.

Here’s the take-away for today:
So, from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God we're making his appeal through us.

We implore you on Christ’s behalf: "Be reconciled to God. God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:16-21-emphasis, mine.) “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, and they’ll know we are Christians by our love”.

AMEN!

Happy New You!

April 09, 2021

Midweek study with Pastor Edith

“Happy New You!” If you found new life through the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, what we know to be Easter, then you know what I’m talking about. If not, don’t stop reading, keep going, there is an encouragement for all of us in the following meditation.

“So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away and look, new things have arrived” (2 Corinthians 5:17 CEV)

The ‘If” here simply means you and I get to choose. It puts that ball of decision in our personal court, not for anyone else to force or dictate, I like that.

The “anyone” means, and let me quote from Pastor Bob Gardner from the Adult Bible Series for this Spring, Vol. 29, No. ;, [the word] ‘anyone’ opens up God’s plan of salvation to all who sincerely call upon the name of the Lord. Redemption is freely offered to Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female. This inclusive and all-encompassing love reveals the nature of a supreme God whose will is that none be lost.”

Please be encouraged that God loves “all ya’ll” and “Ere Body” . He loves us so much that He does not force his affection on us, but allows for us to choose, and even if we choose not to love Him, He still loves us.

Why not reflect on that a bit this week and look and see what difference that makes, not only in our day-to-day living, but in others around us that we encounter and encourage.

“Happy New You!”

Midweek Lent

April 01, 2021

Lent-midweek study with Pastor Edith

Did you know that Jesus turns our Hosanna’s into Hallelujah’s on the day of his resurrection?
Did you know that when we cry out to God “Help me now!” it is a joy to Him and yet comes with an opportunity to take the next step toward the help we ask for?

You see, when Jesus entered Jerusalem on the day we celebrate as Palm Sunday, He rode in on the colt of a donkey, a symbol of a King arriving in peace, and when he arrived the crowd cried out, many in a demanding voice, “Hosanna!” which means “Save Us”.

I can’t help thinking that many in the crowd who knew of the healings and the miracle of food for the 5 thousand, and even the event of bringing Lazarus back from the dead were not so much praising Jesus for his goodness as they were demanding of him what they wanted – “Save us Now!”

“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Luke 23:5)

Why do we tend to look for the “right now” answer, when what is in the “right now” may be a dead end road?

Jesus told his followers what was going to happen according to God’s plan, they then, and we now, turn a deaf ear and only want what we want, when we want it. It may be a very unselfish cry for “help now!” for a dear friend that is suffering so much. It might be a deep rooted whisper “stop this now!” for a virus or continuance of abuse. None of these escapes God’s awareness and yet we cry out. Perhaps the answer is to look up. Look up to the cross and look up at the heavens. He uses it all to draw us closer to him. It often hurts and feels unfair, but Jesus did not go to the cross because it was fair, He did it for you because He loves you.

The great news is; “He is Risen indeed!”.

Celebrate this Easter with a new boldness and willingness to trust Him, even when it hurts. He hurts alongside with you!

Leaning into Lent

March 24, 2021

Lent-midweek study with Pastor Edith

This coming Sunday will be Palm Sunday. How each congregation will celebrate may vary a bit, but more often than not it includes the waving of Palms. When I was young, I didn’t care why we waved palm branches in church, I was just excited to be part of the celebration. I wonder though, if the excitement has waned with the anxiety and division that has occurred during the past year. If you feel less than excited about Palm Sunday, I hope you will read this brief telling of the original event from the perspective of John Pollock in his book The Master- A Life of Jesus:

“They [the Apostles and followers of Jesus] entered Bethphage, a village set in fields and olive groves yet no rural backwater but a suburb of Jerusalem, filled already with Galilean pilgrims who streamed out to join the procession. They cut branches, especially palms, from the trees shading the lane and threw them ahead of the colt [upon which Jesus rode] to form a carpet of greenery, or waved them as they walked. The palm branch was a symbol of victory. Some members of the procession sang the traditional welcome from one of the ‘Psalms of Ascent’, with it’s invocation, ‘Hosannah (God Save Us), Hosannah, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’…Shocked Pharisees shouted above the noise, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ Jesus had always rebuked attempts to make him a king.

This time he called back, as he rode the symbol of peace and humility [the colt of a donkey], I tell you, if these stay silent, the very stones will cry out’.” Hosannah! (God Save Us!).

Have you found yourself asking for God’s help more lately? I want to assure you that God longs to help his children, and he listens when we call to him, but his answer is often shadowed by the human life we live in a human world that has been darkened by sin. Still, like my retired preacher friend from one of my congregations loves to say boldly, “God help us!”. He is one of the “Amen Corner”, you know the one’s that speak out during the sermon an “Amen” or “Hallelujah” or, “That’s right”. He encourages me to continue with the Word of God even if it appears that few are listening.

So, here’s my thought for this week; Don’t be afraid to boldly call out to God “Help Us!”, and take time to read in the Gospels the amazing telling of His answer for you.

Can I get an “Amen”?

Midweek Lent

March 17, 2021

Lent-midweek study with Pastor Edith

As Disciples of Jesus, it must have been hard to understand the heavenly teachings Jesus shared for their earthly good. So it often is for us. Read on, and I pray you will find more to lean on as you Lean Into Lent.

From the Gospel of John, chapter 6 and verses 28-29: “…they asked him [Jesus], ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’

Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’”

Sometimes it’s the believing, not just the knowing about Jesus, but the deep down in your heart and soul belief that Jesus loves you right where you are that hold us back from trusting and obeying. Max Lucado in his little book we’ve been sharing, writes about belief from the perspective of guilt/shame and pride;

“Pride and shame. You’d never know they were sisters. They appear so different. Pride puffs out her chest. Shame hangs her head. Pride boasts. Shame hides. Pride seeks to be seen. Shame seeks to be avoided. But don’t be fooled, the emotions have the same parentage. And the emotions have the same impact. They keep you from your Father. Pride says, ‘You’re too good for him.’ Shame says, ‘You’re too bad for him’. Pride drives you away. Shame keeps you away. If pride is what goes before the fall, then shame is what keeps you from getting up after one.” (He Did This Just For You pgs. 22-23)

This Lenten season is all about evaluating where you are in your belief and trust. My hope for all is that we seek Him without fear. God sent his son into the world to save it. No need to try to be anyone other than the person you are. It takes courage to look to Him for forgiveness and then to receive it, salvation comes through Him and no one else.

Jesus loves you this I know, for the Bible tells me so!

Midweek Lent

March 10, 2021

Lent-midweek study with Pastor Edith

This week’s posting continues from our Leaning into Lent with snippets from Max Ludaco’s book; “He Did This For You”.

I would encourage you on this very windy day to secure what you have so as to keep it from blowing away, like my mop bucket on wheels that I was using to clean up the garage , and I would encourage you to consider what needs to be secured in your spiritual walk. So much of life offers us distractions of which we sometimes just need to let go.

Here’s a snippet from Max and God’s word to help sort that out; “The most notorious road in the world is the Via Dolorosa, or “The Way of Sorrows”. According to tradition, it is the route Jesus took from Pilate’s hall to Calvary…Is the route accurate [today]? Probably not.

When Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70 and then again in A.D. 135, the streets of the city were destroyed. As a result, no one knows the exact route Christ followed that Friday. But we do know where the path actually began. The path began in the halls of heaven. The Father began his journey when he left his home in search of us. Armed with nothing more than a passion to win your heart, he came looking… [“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” – John 1:14].

The Bible has a word for this quest: reconciliation. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19)…The path to the cross tells us exactly how far God will go to put it back together. Reconciliation restitches the unraveled, reverses the rebellion, rekindles the cold passion. Reconciliation touches the shoulder of the wayward and woos him homeward” (Pgs. 18-20).

So much of life and living can unravel us, lead us into rebellion and often just leaves us with a cold and apathetic attitude. If you find yourself in any of these situations today, I invite you, Christ invites you, to take some time and Lean into Lent and let Him lift you up into His purpose and plan for you.

AMEN!

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