7 He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
John the Baptizer’s message to the throngs who flocked to him for baptism should be our message to all whom we encounter as we seek to do God’s will and work in the world around us. “One stronger than I is coming…I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:8) By our words and actions, we bless many people, but the greatest blessing we can bestow is to point others toward Jesus and help them connect to Him.
In the Message, John says, “His baptism…will change you from the inside out.” Our efforts bring much needed help and relief to others, but only Jesus can give strength for the living of each day and meeting all the challenges we face. Only Jesus can bestow unspeakable joy and the peace that passes understanding.
(c)2018 Diane Clay
Small group leader FUMC McKinney
Hebrews 2:17-18 Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.
I have noticed that when someone talks about a difficulty he or she is experiencing, others are quick to reply, “I know just how you feel.” But I have learned that is rarely the case. Everyone comes to each new experience with their own personality, memory, and behaviors. The reassurance in this verse from Hebrews is that God doesn’t view our suffering indifferently from on high, but as one of us who knows what it’s like to hurt and suffer. And the even better news is that He was victorious over all of the hurt and suffering that we might find hope and a promise that He will wipe away every tear.
(c) 2018 Marcia Hotchkiss
During Lent I like to reflect on the story of the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. Christ used the “encounter” to reveal more of himself to her, a sinner and outcast, than He had yet shown to His disciples. She immediately acknowledged Christ to be a prophet and the Messiah. This is amazing but her action afterward is inspirational.
She hurried back to her community telling everyone about Jesus. Her witnessing was so powerful and converted so many to the Christian faith that it drew the attention of the Roman Emperor Nero. Ironically, when she refused to deny her faith, she was killed by being thrown down a dry well. Her name is not certain but in Eastern Orthodox Catholic religions, she is known as Photine meaning “the luminous one” and is remembered four weeks after Pascha, known as “the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman”.
Amazing work, in a hostile environment, by one thought to be “inferior”. Her story reminds me of important truths: God aways sees us not as we are but as what we can become. He seeks the “unlikely’, even me, to accomplish His work. All past is truly forgiven. When the heart’s deepest desire is to follow Him, He will supply all the strength and courage needed to complete His work in the world. Thanks be to God.
(c) 2018 Verlene Springer
“The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge” Ezekiel 18:1-4
This passage reminds me to examine whether I am trying to displace blame, as the exiles did by suggesting that they were not in exile through any fault of their own but rather were suffering for the sins of their ancestors.
Am I focused on finding fault or blame, instead of dealing with the current situation or struggle that is present in my life? What is my resistance to the path I find myself walking? Could this be an opportunity for growth in perseverance, compassion or service? Can I notice where God is present in this situation? This Lent, I invite you to notice your feelings in light of your current struggles, not shifting the blame, but examining what offerings the spirit of the universe might have for you as you walk through them.
Acts 7:30-34 30 “Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight; and as he approached to look, there came the voice of the Lord: 32 ‘I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Moses began to tremble and did not dare to look. 33 Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have surely seen the mistreatment of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to rescue them. Come now, I will send you to Egypt.’
Forty years go by.
Can you imagine yourself sitting in the desert with Moses?
An angel appeared in the flames of a burning bush, an amazing sight!
Then, the voice of the Lord came.
Trembling. “Don’t look!” Holy, holy ground.
Affliction, groaning. RESCUE!!
Stephen reminds us of the story. The Spirit was with him.
How will I remember the story today? Does the story burn in me? Do I hear the voice of the Lord today? Can I try to hear it more clearly tomorrow?
Sometimes Lent can seem like 40 years instead of 40 days. We’re just getting started. Lord, help me to listen and be amazed.
(c) 2018 Elaine Weber
SMI Board of Directors
Blow the ram’s horn trumpet in Zion!
Trumpet the alarm on my holy mountain!
Shake the country up! Joel 2:1 from the Message
We are baptized Christians blessed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. But sometimes we forget who we really are. Lent is a time for purifying, for remembering and returning to who we are called to be, a time to be shaken up.
It’s easy to point the finger at the folks over there or the rest of the country and wish God would “shake” them up. But as we are often reminded: when we point, we have three fingers pointing back at ourselves. Perhaps this first day of Lent is the day to ask: what in my life could use shaking up? Is it my words about others or to others? Is it my attitude? Is it my prayer practice or lack thereof? Is there someone I need to console or befriend? Someone I need to forgive or encourage? Today let’s decide how we want God to shake up our life and ask God for that blessing this Lent.
(c) 2018 Eunice Cheshire
SMI Board of Directors
I invite you to ponder Isaiah 9:2-7.
Any child is a mystery.
This child is a mystery.
God’s love- a mystery.
Good News- absolutely!
“And she gave birth… and laid him in a manger”
May your every Christmas be wonder-full and mysterious.
(c) 2017 Rev. Brian Hardesty-Crouch