Monday Morning Meditation 9-13-21

Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of rushing rain.” So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; there he bowed himself down upon the earth and put his face between his knees. He said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” He went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” Then he said, “Go again seven times.” At the seventh time he said, “Look, a little cloud no bigger than a person’s hand is rising out of the sea.” Then he said, “Go say to Ahab, ‘Harness your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’” In a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind; there was a heavy rain.  1 Kings 18:41-45

There was a great drought that caused famine across the land.  The people were concerned, the people were frightened, the people were upset.  Every day was filled with the struggle of the crisis, a lack of food, a lack of water, a lack of the daily needs of life.  The stress must have been unbearable – and that sounds familiar to us, doesn’t it?

Some turned to God in prayer, only to receive no answer (or at least not yet).  But then the prophet Elijah tells Ahab rain is on the way.  Ahab could see nothing, so Elijah tells him to look seven times when Ahab sees the tiny cloud, promising the much-needed rain.

Can you see the tiny cloud in your life?  Can you see that little positive image way off in the distance while you remain in the tensions of the day? If not, have you looked seven times? 

We are all still going through incredible struggles with the pandemic, with the tensions in our nation, with the ongoing political divisions, yet there is a cloud of hope in the distance.

Let’s all look “toward the sea” for the signs of God’s action.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 8-16-21

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD. Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications! Psalm 130 V 1-2

Do you feel that you are in the depths right now?  How about those around you?

The world is certainly in the depths – rampant wildfires, blistering heat in areas known to be cooler, earthquakes, flooding and hurricanes.  And, we are still battling a pandemic.

The Psalmist certainly knows about the depths.  David often wrote Psalms during his darkest days.  He would write out the words of his heart and you can almost see his tears.  David and the other Psalmists wrote these honest thoughts as a prayer and a healing balm.  Even in his deepest pits, David retained hope in the Lord.

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning (v 5-6).

Perhaps we should turn to the Psalms – read them, pray through them, lift them up as prayers to the Lord.  Perhaps we can turn to the Psalms as our prayers for this world and each other.

Peace,

Pastor Bill There will be no Monday Morning Meditation until I return from vacation in September. 

Monday Morning Meditation 8-9-21

Give ear to my words, O LORD; give heed to my sighing.
Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I pray.
O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch. Psalm 5:1-3

Did you ever have one of “those” days?  Did you ever have a period in your life when you just felt down?  It happens to most of us.  Yes, I know, we are all supposed to be filled with joy yet things happen that can temporarily rob us of that joy.

Whether it was King David or another Psalmist, we know that people often felt this pain.  The Psalms are filled with joy and pain, with good and bad.  The Psalms remind us that we do sometimes feel the pain of life – and it is okay to bring it to God.

If you are in one of those times, take a trip through the Psalms and know someone else has also gone through the same – and that God is still with you.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 8-2-21

 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Matthew 14:22-23

Where is your “mountain”?  Throughout the gospels, Jesus withdraws from the crowds and the disciples to pray, and He often goes up a mountain.

Have you ever prayed up a mountain?  There is something truly majestic, as you physically and mentally remove yourself from the trappings of the world.  They you gaze around and see so much of the beauty of the earth.

Perhaps your space is by water – the ocean or a lake – and the rhythm of the water flow becomes the rhythm of your breath.

For some it is in the woods, hearing each footstep on the fallen leaves and branches as you find a quiet spot.

We cannot always retreat up a mountain or any other place, but it is important to find ways to get away from the noise of life so we can spend the time with God. 

As you travel through this week, find a “mountain”, even if it is just a quiet corner in your home.  Spend some extra time with God, away from the news, away from the noise, away from all that distracts you.  You might just find yourself able to face whatever this week brings – and you face it with God.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 7-26-21

6They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; 8so, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them. Acts 16:6-15

Have you ever had one of those experiences where you kept trying to go somewhere, only to be delayed.  Maybe you forgot something and had to go back into the house.  Perhaps you were just not moving as fast as you should have.  Or something else kept blocking you from getting out and doing what you had on your schedule. 

Suddenly the phone call comes, or the person knocks, or some other method of communication.  You are needed elsewhere and it is very important.

I cannot tell you how many times this has happened to me – both in the pastorate and personally.  I just cannot seem to get moving on the planned schedule when suddenly I’m called somewhere else.

Paul experienced this and it must have been frustrating for him.  After all, Jesus had called Paul to his ministry, and now Jesus is preventing him from traveling to Asia.  He goes to sleep and then has the vision, “come over to Macedonia and help us.”

Plans and schedules are very important – but it is also important to be open to the Holy Spirit for often the Spirit will send us where we truly need to be.

Have a peaceful and blessed week and remain open to the Spirit.

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 7-12-21

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. Mark 1:35

Mark’s gospel is short, sweet and to the point.  35 verses in and Jesus has already been baptized, faced the devil’s temptations in the wilderness, began his ministry of teaching, preaching and healing, and began to call his disciples.

And now, Jesus heads into a quiet place to pray.  This will not be the only time we read this in the gospels.  Jesus’ regular routine was to preach, teach, heal and pray. 

This week I begin a four-day spiritual retreat of prayer and bible study.  One of my goals is to rekindle my daily prayer routine, not saying I was not praying daily, but to truly build it back up to where it should be. 

It is easy to slip out of the discipline, especially with the wild world we live in today, however that wild world is all the reason to pray more.

As you begin your week, find time to be alone with God.  Spend a little more time in prayer, even if it is only a few minutes more.  Then see how much more you can do.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Reflections for Independence Day

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance. Ps. 33:1
 

My family attended a traditional July 4th concert.  The band played the standard patriotic songs and marches, as well as some great movie themes.  We stood to sing the National Anthem together and enjoyed the night.  This is America. 

In Philadelphia, White Supremacy groups were protesting in front of our nation’s most historic and iconic landmarks.  This is America. 

During the concert, children of difference colors were playing ball together.  Watching these children running around, laughing, helping each other and even shaking hands reminded me of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  This is America. 

At the end of the concert, we were treated to a spectacular fireworks display.  This is America. 

Three of these things were absolutely wonderful.  One was horrendous.  All of them reflect America today.  We can be the best of the best, and, unfortunately, we can be far from our ideals. 

In worship, during the “Prayers of the People” I gave thanks to God for the founding and independence of our nation.  I thanked God for those who have defended our freedom, and asked safety for those currently doing so.  And I thanked God for those who point out our sins as a nation.  

The Prayer of Examen is a daily spiritual exercise of praying for God to show us where we went astray – not to beat ourselves up, but to ask forgiveness and pray for the strength to become more of what God wants us to be.  This is also a good idea of a nation.  We do need to examine those areas where we can bring liberty and justice for all – and do so in a kind fashion. 

We must never lose sight of our potential to be a “city on the hill”, and we must never lose sight of our capacity to take our blessings for granted.   

As you celebrate, take a moment to give thanks for our nation and ask God to truly bless us. 

Peace, 

Pastor Bill 

Monday Morning Meditation 6-28-21

54When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. 55But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56“Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 57But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. 58Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died.  Acts 7:54-60

Throughout June I have been preaching on different visions in the scriptures.  We looked at two from the Old Testament (the Call of Isaiah and the Valley of the Dry Bones) as well as two from the New Testament (Peter’s vision on the rooftop and Paul’s conversion).  Each of these visions teach us more about God.  If you are interested in these sermons, you can click here for a link to our worship services.

Today’s scripture from Acts is a different kind of vision.  Stephen, as he is dying, sees Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  He has a death vision, or as I often put it, the veil between this world and the next is opened as Stephen enters into Heaven.

If you have stood by the bedside of someone dying, you may have seen this – they might be looking intently off in the distance, and even having conversations.  I have seen this many times, both in my role as Pastor and with family members.  While it is primarily a comfort to those about to pass, it is also a sign for us – that God continually walks with us and will guide us to the next life.

Jesus said “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am (John 14:2-3). This is a promise of comfort to us. 

As you journey through this week, know that God is with you.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Link to Worship Services