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Sunday Worship Videos

Select a link below to view past videos of sermons. Don’t forget to also check out Pastor Paul’s blog!

Sunday, January 17, 2021
Everyday Joy – Power of Praise
Current video shown above

Sunday, January 10, 2021
Everyday Joy – Sharing Joy Every Day

Sunday, January 3, 2021
Everyday Joy – Reflecting God’s Light Everyday

Sunday, December 27, 2020
Worship Service presented by the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area

Christmas Eve, 2020

Sunday, December 20, 2020
The Wonder of Christmas – Joy!

Sunday, December 13, 2020
The Wonder of Christmas – Anticipation

Sunday, December 6, 2020
The Wonder of Christmas – Surprise

Sunday, November 29, 2020
The Wonder of Christmas – the Promise

Sunday, November 22, 2020
The Challenge for “Go-Eps”
Rev. Brenda Alexander

Sunday, November 15, 2020
What Do You Believe? Chain of Lakes Church

Sunday, November 8, 2020
What Do You Believe?  What is the church?

Sunday, November 1, 2020
What Do You Believe? Who are we as humans?

Sunday, October 25, 2020
What Do You Believe? Who is the Holy Spirit?

Sunday, October 18, 2020
What Do You Believe? Who is Jesus?

Sunday, October 11, 2020
What Do You Believe – about God?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Local Impact

Are you available to volunteer at food pick-up locations?
 

Hope for the Community 
Every Thursday, Hope for the Community at Hope Church, 1264 109th Avenue NE, Blaine, provides food for approximately 700 families. The third Thursday of each month is designated as Chain of Lakes Volunteer Day. Are you available to volunteer Thursday, January 21?  

Volunteer any time you are available Thursday between 10am –  5pm, or choose one of the suggested shifts: 10am – noon; noon – 2pm; 2pm – 5pm. Once you are there, ask for Jeff – he will give you instructions and get you started

Volunteers are also needed on Wednesdays, noon to 2:30 to prepare for Thursday.

Manna Market
Substance Church,
8299 Central Ave NE                   
Spring Lake Park, MN 55432  
 

Mondays ~ 2:30pm – 8pm
Thursdays ~ 2:30pm- 8pm
Fridays ~ 2:30am – 8pm        
Saturdays ~ 8am – Noon                                                      
Enter Door 5, Go to Registration Desk

Wear work clothing, comfortable shoes, bring your own mask and gloves


Are you able to donate meals?

Stepping Stone Emergency Housing

3300 4th Ave N, Cronin Building #14, Anoka, MN 55303

Provide food for 66 people

For details ~ call 763.208.8049

Sharon Pederson will return your call

This is a great service project for an entire family

___________

 
 

Are you in need of food?                    

Drive Through Food Pick up Locations

Substance Church,  Manna Market
8299 Central Ave NE                   
Spring Lake Park, MN 55432      

Food Pick up Times:
Mondays ~ 4pm – 6pm
Thursdays ~ 4pm – 6pm
Saturdays ~ 10am – 11:30am

Hope Church, Hope for the Community
1264 109th Ave NE
Blaine, MN 55434

Food Pick up Times:
Thursday ~ 10am – 5pm

If you are in line before the end time, you will receive food, while supplies last

Anoka County Transit Link is coordinating with food shelves to deliver food for free

Contact your local food shelf and ask them to have your goods delivered by Anoka County Transit Link. More information at Grocery and Goods Delivery – Metropolitan Council (metrocouncil.org)

Items needed by Stepping Stone Emergency Housing
Chain of Lakes is a faith partner with Stepping Stone Emergency Housing. The Chain of Lakes Local Impact Team is asking for donations of  the following items, which will be collected at Chain of Lakes Church from January 18 – February 12, Monday – Friday, 10am – 4pm. Items needed are body wash, lotion, mouth wash, wash cloths and shower shoes/flip-flops in adult sizes. Stepping Stone is grateful for all donations.

Get a free facemask at Chain of Lakes

Wearing a facemask in public areas, along with social distancing, helps prevent the spread of the corona virus. Volunteers at Chain of Lakes are sewing masks, and offering them free of charge to anyone who needs one. Call the office to make sure the church will be open – 763.208.8049.
 
Printed instructions for sewing a mask, and for making a mask with no sewing, are also available at the church, or get the PDF from the Center for Disease Control.
 
Ending Homelessness through Partnerships
The Local Impact team wants to be part of a movement that ends homelessness among youth and adults in Anoka County. The team does this through partnerships with groups who directly help serve homeless youth and homeless adults.
 
Since its existence Chain of Lakes has established partnerships with the following schools:
  • Blaine High School
  • Anoka Regional High School
  • Anoka Technical High School
  • Spring Lake Park School District
The Local Impact Team has organized many events to help serve at:
  • HOPE 4 Youth
  • Stepping Stone Emergency Housing
  • Feed My Starving Children
 

Daily Devotions

Daily devotions, organized by week. Comments about the devotion can be emailed to pastor@colpres.org

Last week Psalm 145 was studied in the devotion. This week we have the opportunity to go deep into the next Psalm, Psalm 146.

This is a Psalm that provides the rationale for praising God. Each of us can experience the power of praise when we become very familiar with this Psalm of praise.

 

Monday, January 18

Read Psalm 146:1-2

Starting with Psalm 146 the last five Psalms in the Scriptures begin with the word, “Praise.” In fact, all five begin with the phrase, “Praise the Lord.” The word “Praise” is translated from the Hebrew word “Hallel.” Add “yah” (you) and the word Hallelujah is formed.  Hallel means Praise; yah means you.

Four times in these two verses a form of the word “praise” is used.

In his sermon this past Sunday, Pastor Paul encouraged people to be known as people of praise. He encouraged everyone this week to share the phrase “Praise the Lord” three times during the day. See if you can start by saying this phrase three times a day.

Expressing praise in an authentic way is a matter of the heart. We don’t think or analyze praise; instead we express praise. When praise is expressed it comes from our own heart or inner spirit.

Orient your day today around praise. Your life will most likely be better if you do.

 

Tuesday, January 19

Read Psalm 146:3-4

It’s a bit ironic that we read these two verses the day before the Inauguration in the United States when power is transferred between Presidents. 

The Psalmist was sharing in these verses that even though we humans can have deep sympathies for a political leader, our ultimate allegiance belongs to God. Leaders can do great things and can generate terrific allegiance, but at some point their authority will end.

Instead of putting our ultimate trust or allegiance with a political leader, how about putting our ultimate trust or allegiance with God? This is what these two verses encourage us to do.

Have you had a moment when you were disappointed by a political leader that you loved?

Nothing wrong in being involved in politics or having aspirations for a politician. But realistically our ultimate allegiance belongs to God. God is greater than any created person or ideology.

On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate your own trust in God? What number would you give it? As you pray today, pray that the number can increase.  

 

Wednesday, January 20

Read Psalm 146:5-7a

Verse 5 is a powerful verse that is worth committing to memory.

“Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God, …”

The writer of the Psalm shared that when we look to God for help and strength that ultimately we won’t be disappointed. Or as we read in Psalm 46:1,

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change.”

It’s not surprising to be afraid when hard things happen or the world spins out of control or the Capitol Building is overrun by a mob.

But even when it seems like the world is spinning out of control, we can still turn to God for help and support.

On this important day in the life of the United States, take some extra time to look to the God of Jacob. Spend some time praying for support and encouragement.

And no matter what your political views, take some time to pray for President Biden and Vice-President Harris. Pray that through their work the strong divisions and polarization in the United States can lessen.

 

Thursday, January 21

Read Psalm 146:7b-8

These four sentences share the extraordinary care that God has for those who live on the margins.  God wants to see the prisoners free; God wants to open the eyes of the blind; God wants to lift up those who are bowed down; God wants to love all who are righteous.

But God does not choose just to wave the divine hand to accomplish the intent of these four sentences. God looks to people to be divine agents of love, reconciliation, and justice.

Perhaps you can be that person!

Today as you pray, ask God to lead you to be an agent of love, reconciliation, and justice. May your day today be a reflection of these four sentences.

 

Friday, January 22

Read Psalm 146:9

Just like the four sentences from yesterday, this verse again shares the intent of God to care for those who are on the margins.  God has deep compassion for strangers, orphans and widows. God is disgusted by the way of the wicked.

The first part of the Chain of Lakes Purpose Statement says that Chain of Lakes will be a place where “strangers become friends.” Take some time today to pray for the strangers. In the case of Chain of Lakes, a stranger can be a person who is a stranger to God and/or a stranger to this faith community.

Pray that the people of Chain of Lakes will have a passion for strangers. Pray that the ministry of Chain of Lakes can be targeted for those who are outside of the community and not just for the people who are on the inside of the community. Pray that the Core Value of Outward Focus can be lived out.

Pray that the leaders and people of Chain of Lakes will keep the needs of the broader world before them and won’t only focus on the needs of the congregation. 

May this verse inspire every congregation to look beyond themselves. This is what God wants.

 

Saturday, January 23

Read Psalm 146:10

The ending of this Psalm brings back a reminder of the beginning. Just as the Psalm started out with “Praise the Lord,” it ends with “Praise the Lord.”

In the sermon this past Sunday, Pastor Paul shared that praise is all about God. In praise we compliment God for a quality of God. Praise is like thanks in that the person doing the praise is expressing gratitude, but it’s different than thanks. Praise is expressing appreciation about God; thanks is expressing appreciation for something that happened to us.

Keep spending time focusing your day on praise. Set the timer on your phone to go off three or four times. When it does go off, spend some time expressing a compliment of God. Your own spirit will thank you for this!

In his sermon on Sunday, Pastor Paul encouraged people to read Psalm 145 every day this week. Psalm 145 is a monumental Psalm. It is like Psalm 1 and 8 and 23 and 103 and 139. It is so special that when someone says the number, we are reminded of how powerful the Psalm is.

Take some time to read the entire Psalm every day this week. Then go back and read the particular verses for the day followed by the devotion.

In doing this, you will most likely have a sense of connection to God and have an experience of joy.

 

Monday, January 11

Read Psalm 145:1-3

The superscription of Psalm 145 shared the words, “Praise” and “Of David.” This is the only Psalm of the 150 in the Scriptures that has the word Praise in the superscription.

One definition of praise of God is when we praise God for a quality of God.

In the first three verses David wrote that he would extol God, bless God and praise God. The words, “extol” and “bless” are synonyms for the word, “praise.”

Verse three shares some reasons for praise.

“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; his greatness is unsearchable.”

These words are worth memorizing.

Today as you pray praise God for God’s greatness. Say this prayer of praise, “I praise you God for your greatness.”

Say this prayer over and over again. Say it slowly. Most likely as you pray this prayer, your heart will be connected to God.

 

Tuesday, January 12

Read Psalm 145:4-6

Meditating on God’s work as in verse 5 will connect us to God.

“On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.” Psalm 145:5

One way to live out this verse is to get out into nature. When we spend time in God’s creation, we have a new appreciation for the world. Even in January when it is cold and snowy we can connect to God outdoors.

One way people connect to God is through prayer walks. Take some time to go on a prayer walk today. As you are taking your walk, spend time talking to God. Be deliberate in your conversation with God. Or be silent and notice the wonderful majesty of creation.

 

Wednesday, January 13

Read Psalm 145:7-9

“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Psalm 145:8

Many years before this verse was written by David, Moses wanted to see God. This was difficult as no one had ever seen God and lived.

God relented to the request of Moses and asked Moses to climb to the top of Mount Sinai. God then passed before Moses and proclaimed the following, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Exodus 34:6

After God passed before Moses, Moses bowed his head and worshiped God.

Other variations on this verse can be found at Psalm 25:7, Psalm 27:13, Psalm 100:5, Psalm 106:1, Psalm 107:1 and Psalm 118:1.

Write this verse down and carry it with you. This verse will help connect us to the heart of God and will help us experience joy.

 

Thursday, January 14

Read Psalm 145:10-13a

Four times the word kingdom is used in these verses. Many believe that heaven is God’s kingdom, that when we die and go to heaven, we will experience the fullness of God’s kingdom.

However, God’s kingdom is not something that we have to wait for until our death. David wrote that “God’s kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and that God’s dominion endures throughout all generations.” Psalm 145:13a

Being in God’s kingdom is a realm of joy.

Think about some recent times that you have experienced joy. Perhaps the experience was one of intense happiness. Or perhaps the experience was one of deep connection—either to someone we love or to God. That experience is a reflection of God’s kingdom.

God’s kingdom is something that all of us are called to create on earth. We work for justice and righteousness for all people—that is God’s kingdom. And God’s kingdom is something that can just come to us. God’s kingdom can surprise us in unexpected ways.

Being aware of God’s kingdom is a task of followers of Jesus Christ.

 

Friday, January 15

Read Psalm 145:13b-20

In his sermons on joy Pastor Paul has shared that people can experience joy through P.O.R.  The acronym stands for P-prayer; O—orientation to joy; R—recognize joy.

These verses in Psalm 145 share what happens when a person connects to God.

The people who connect have a sense of God’s justice and kindness. When they call on God, God is near. God hears prayers and saves them. God watches over those who love God.

The following verses express the sentiments in the preceding paragraph.

“The Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings.

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

God fulfills the desire of all who fear him; [God] also hears their cry and saves them.

The Lord watches over all who love God, but all the wicked God will destroy.” (Psalm 145:17-20)

The result of these verses is connection and ultimately joy.

 

Saturday, January 16

Read Psalm 145:21

This last verse of Psalm 145 starts out, “My mouth will speak of the praise of the Lord” 

How often do you speak out loud of the praise of the Lord. Do you speak of the praise of the Lord once a day, twice a day, five times a day?

Perhaps today you can focus on speaking about your own praise of God. Be intentional about speaking of the qualities of God that you especially appreciate.

Your words of praise will undoubtedly touch another person’s heart. And it will form a perspective of joy on your day.

This past Sunday Pastor Paul started a sermon series on joy by looking at light. This light is not a physical light. It is a spiritual light that can guide us.

This week we have the opportunity to read about this light. The readings that are shared are excellent descriptions of God and God’s light. This light connects us to joy.

 

Monday, January 4

Read John 1:1-5

“What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:3b-5)

These words from the Prologue to John describe a foundation of life. We read about this foundation all throughout the Scriptures. We read about it in Psalm 23:4 when we learn that “even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we fear no evil.” We learn about it on Easter morning when Mary Magdalene went to the tomb to tend to a dead body, but instead discovered that Jesus was alive.

The relationship between light and darkness is not only a physical relationship. It is a spiritual relationship. “Even though” we go through hard times or see people suffer, the promise of light is that these hard times and suffering won’t last. The light can be muted for a while, but it can’t be extinguished. This spiritual reality defines the belief system of a disciple.

Reflect today on how you have internalized for yourself this spiritual message. Even though pain and darkness can come, to what extent do you have faith that the light will ultimately come?

 

Tuesday, January 5

Read Psalm 4:6-7

In a number of different places in the Old Testament we read about the shining face of God. If you have some extra time, read Numbers 6:22-26, Psalm 31:4-6, Psalm 80:3, and Psalm 89:15.

The face of God is a metaphor for God’s light. We don’t think that God has a face, but we can imagine God’s face shining light.

When a person has a sense of peace, we can literally see light shining in the person. The person’s expression shares light and energy, and ultimately peace.

The light of God’s face is not a physical light—it’s deeply spiritual. As you pray today, ask that the light of God’s face might be with you. Look for that light in other people’s faces. Pay attention to when you see this light.

 

Wednesday, January 6

Read Psalm 27:1

God’s light can give us a sense of confidence. This is what the writer of this Psalm was communicating – “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

God’s light gives us an assurance that we can’t receive in any other place. This light gives us a confidence, a sense of peace, and the reality of connection.

Even if we have moments of being afraid, we do not have to fear. These moments of being afraid are temporary and aren’t necessarily long-lasting. God’s light leads us to a far different place.

We can see the relationship of God’s light and joy. On Sunday Pastor Paul shared that joy is letting God’s light shine. When this happens, we enter a different realm. It’s a place of inner peace and serenity.

Today pray that you have confidence that these moments of being afraid won’t last for you. Pray that you can have this type of confidence.

 

Thursday, January 7

Read Matthew 5:14-16

In his most famous sermon Jesus said, “you are the light of the world.” The “you” in this phrase is plural. One way to interpret this is to say that communities of people reflect God’s light.

Faith communities can be known for this light—really it is a spiritual energy. When people come into contact with the community they sense that something is different about this place. Often in the first minute of a visit, people can get this impression of energy. Even if a person experiences a faith community in an on-line setting a person can get this sense of energy. 

 

Today as you pray, pray that congregations will be known as communities of light. Pray that Chain of Lakes Church will be known as a congregation of light. This spiritual energy can last with a person for a very long time.  

 

Friday, January 8

Read John 8:12

Seven times in the gospel of John, Jesus made an “I am” statement. These I am statements share the identity of Jesus. These seven statements are worth knowing.

“I am the bread of life.” (John 6:35)

“I am the gate for the sheep.” (John 10:7,9)

“I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25)

“I am the good shepherd.” (John 10:11, 14).

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)

“I am the true vine.” (John 15:1, 5)

And today we read that Jesus said,

I am the light of the world (John 8:12)

Followers of Jesus Christ are looking to be led by this light. It’s the light of life and love and wholeness.

Sometimes people make faith to be much more complicated than it really is. To know Jesus is to be willing to be led by this light. It’s a light that always shines in the darkness.

Recommit yourself to this light today. Pray that you can be on the lookout for this light.

 

Saturday, January 15

Read Revelation 22:1-5

The last chapter of the Bible is similar to the first chapter of the Bible in that light appears. In the Creation story we read that God said, “let there be light.” This was a physical light. In these verses from Revelation that God will be the light of all people and that this light will never be extinguished.

These verses are a description of heaven.

In his sermon on Sunday Pastor Paul shared that when people have near-death experiences they often remark how they saw a light. This light is wonderful and beautiful and very inviting.

This light is a profoundly spiritual illustration of God’s Kingdom.

Today as you pray, pray for the light of the Kingdom. Pray that heaven can indeed come into earth. And that when heaven comes into earth the words of this last chapter of the Bible will come true.

The season of Christmas is not over until Epiphany, which is Wednesday, January 6.  Until then we can still savor the Christmas story.

As followers of Jesus Christ we are always called to remember the “reason for the season.”

One way we can do this is by being open to receiving the gift of grace that baby Jesus brought to us.  We opened many gifts during Christmas.  Perhaps this week we can think and reflect on opening this gift of grace.  This week you’ll have the opportunity to read, study, and pray about receiving this significant gift.

Monday, December 28

Read Matthew 1:18-25

Christmas is celebrated because of this story. In the first part of his Christmas Eve sermon Pastor Paul explored this reading. He shared the challenges that Joseph encountered when he found out that Mary was pregnant. 

Most likely we’ve read and heard this story many, many times, but we can always learn something new. 

As you read this story today, ask God to share with you something new about the story. In particular, reflect on Joseph and the decisions he had to make.

This story was a profound illustration of the gift of grace. As you pray today give thanks for the grace that you’ve received. 

 

Tuesday, December 29

Read Matthew 2:1-12

The tradition of gift giving began when the Magi presented gifts to Jesus.  In his Christmas Eve sermon Pastor Paul looked at the Christmas story through the eyes of the Magi.

Even though most think that there were three magi, the story never tells us. The magi were from the east—they were known as wise people who interpreted dreams and were led by the stars.

When the magi found Jesus they bowed down in homage to him. This was an act of worship. These people who had traveled many miles had found what they were looking for. This was a gift for which the magi were most likely not prepared.

Be open to receiving the most important gift of the season—that is the birth of Jesus. It is a sign of spiritual maturity to always have in front of us that the message of the season is about receiving this gift.

 

Wednesday, December 30

Read John 4:7-15

In verse 10 Jesus identified that his message was a gift, and that he was a gift from God. 

“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

His message and his presence is a gift.  We do nothing to earn it. The gift is presented to us because we have entered the world.

This gift doesn’t make a difference for us unless we open it. As the world prepares to celebrate Jesus’ birth pray that the world can be receptive to opening this gift from Jesus. Imagine a whole Christmas tree of gifts that never are opened. If we don’t receive this message and the presence of Jesus (his Spirit) the gift won’t make a difference.  It will be like a Christmas gift that is never opened.

 

Thursday, December 31

Read Acts 8:14-25

Peter became offended because Simon wanted to purchase God’s gift.

“May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money!”  Acts 8:20

One piece of the power of God’s gift is the reality that it is free.   No one can purchase grace with money. By definition it is a gift.

We humans sometimes try to put conditions on this gift.  We say a person has to go through a program to become a follower of Jesus, or a person has to memorize the Ten Commandments, or a person has to join a church. Programs, memorization or joining a church are important, but they are not prerequisites for being a follower of Jesus. The prerequisite is receiving the gift that God has given to us.

Think about the gifts you received this Christmas. How were you at receiving them? Were you grateful, did your heart burn with appreciation? Did you share thanks?

Simon saw this gift and wanted to purchase it with money. We might see a gift and take it for granted. In a similar way both acts are disrespectful to God.

 

Friday, January 1

Read Ephesians 3:7-13

Happy New Year!

Paul identified in these verses that grace is a gift. He identified himself as the least of all the saints, but even so he was given a charge to bring this gift to the Gentiles. Paul was asked by God to communicate the message of this gift to people who were outside of the religious community of the time.

This gift of grace is not something that we are called to keep to ourselves.

This doesn’t mean that we have to be shouting with a bullhorn that God has given the gift of grace to everyone. We’re not called to be obnoxious.

A vision that Pastor Paul has shared in the past is that Chain of Lakes will become a people of extraordinary blessing. We will go out of our way to bless people in an extraordinary way. 

If we are people who go out of our way to share blessings in an extraordinary way, then we are communicating this gift of grace. Our actions are consistent with the calling that God has given to us.

You have been given a gift of grace.  Consider blessing someone today in an extraordinary way!

 

Saturday, January 2

Read Romans 5:15-21

In these verses the Apostle Paul compared the gift of grace to sin or what he called trespasses. Earlier in chapter five of Romans Paul shared a central teaching about the death of Jesus and how Jesus’ death connected us to God. This chapter might seem confusing at first, but it’s worth reading slowly and carefully. An important message is in these words.

Paul wrote that the gift brought justification.  That word means we were brought into relationship with God. 

The message of Christmas is that God loved the world so much that he sent this gift of grace into the world as a baby. It’s an astounding story and one that is worth giving thanks for to God every day.

The Magnificat shared by Mary is magnificent. As Pastor Paul shared this past Sunday, this magnificent Magnificat is easily one of the ten most important Scriptures in the Bible.

This week we have the opportunity to go deep in studying this magnificent Magnificat. Each day we will have the opportunity to read one or two verses and then read a short devotion.

May this Bible Study help you celebrate Christmas in a much deeper spiritual way!

Comments and thoughts about the devotion can be emailed to Pastor Paul at pastor@colpres.org.  Enjoy!!

Monday, December 21

Read Luke 1:46-47

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

These words from Mary capture the essence of her magnificent Magnificat. Her soul was full of praise for God.

Praise can lead to connecting to joy. In praise a person acknowledges a quality of God. In this verse Mary rejoiced that God was her Savior. It was as if her prayer was, “I praise you God for being my Savior.”

At Christmas the world celebrates that God sent a baby into the world who ultimately saves the world. We celebrate the birth of a Savior.

Today as you pray, spend some time praising God for being our Savior. Pray over and over again the following, “Lord, I praise you for being my Savior.”

Saying this prayer of praise will most likely lift our spirits. We might even have an experience of joy. Try this prayer. See if your own spirit is lifted up!

 

Tuesday, December 22

Read Luke 1:48

“For he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed.”

In this verse Mary acknowledges how God can often turn the tables on the world.

People would have never predicted that a peasant girl like Mary would carry the Savior of the world. Mary was a lowly servant. This is what makes God’s actions so powerful. God didn’t choose a wealthy or externally powerful woman to carry Jesus. God chose a lowly servant

This choice of Mary is a choice that God continues to make today. Being rich by the standards of the world is not a prerequisite for doing the work of God. God is willing to choose anyone—especially those who are lowly.

Today as you pray, open yourself up to God in service. Ask God how you can use the gifts that God has given you to serve.

 

Wednesday, December 23

Read Luke 1:49

“for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is [God’s] name.”

The dynatos or Mighty One will accomplish great things through Mary. Mary was given a promise by God that something great would happen to her.  She understood that her calling to be the mother of Jesus was certainly great. It would never again happen that a woman would be asked to birth the Savior of the world.

It’s important to acknowledge that the greatness that God did through Mary is something that God offers us. We can do great things for the Lord. Perhaps this Christmas season we can reflect on what God wants to do through each of us. Some greatness exists through us that God wants to accomplish.

What could that be? Today ask God in your own prayers.

 

Thursday, December 24

Read Luke 1:50-51

“[God’s] mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. God has shown strength with his arm; God has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.”

Mercy is something that Zechariah, the husband of Elizabeth, mentioned at the end of his Benedictus. The motivation of God in sending Jesus into the world was mercy. God so loved or had mercy for the world that Jesus was born.

Mary went on to say that this mercy is for those who fear God. Fear in this context doesn’t mean that a person is afraid of God. Instead it means that a person has a deep sense of respect or reverence for God.

On this Christmas Eve take some time to reflect on God’s mercy. Where have you seen mercy during this season? How can you imagine mercy being shared during 2021? How can you be an agent of mercy?

 

Friday, December 25

Read Luke 1:52-53

Merry Christmas!

“[God] has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; [God] has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.”

Once again we read about the reversal that God causes in the world. Hungry people are filled and the rich go away empty. The powerful are brought down from their thrones of power, but the lowly are lifted up.

The turning of the world is something that God ultimately does. This turning might not happen right away, but it ultimately will happen.

On Christmas we celebrate the tender story that a baby came into the world who changed the world. Give praise to God today for this beautiful turning!

 

Saturday, December 26

Read Luke 1:54-55

“God has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of [God’s] mercy, according to the promise [God] made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

The birth of Jesus was the fulfillment of a promise that God had made centuries ago. The waiting for a Savior was over. As a Savior Jesus ultimately was much different than what people were expecting. People wanted their Messiah to overthrow the hated Roman government. Jesus wasn’t willing to do that. His revolution was one of love.

The fulfillment of this promise is something that each of us can carry with us today. We know that God is faithful because God fulfilled this promise that we read about in these two verses.

As you pray today, praise God for fulfilling this promise. Consider praying the following prayer over and over, “God I praise you for fulfilling your promise.”

As you pray this prayer of praise, your spirit will connect to God in a special way.

Many have probably read or heard the story of the birth of Jesus or the Christmas story hundreds, maybe even thousands of times.  But despite how many times this story is told, the details do not get old. The Christmas story is so rich that all of us can learn more by whenever we encounter the story – the details never get old.  We can continue to learn more by reading the story.

This week we have the opportunity to read each Christmas story three different times. The story can be found in Matthew’s and Luke’s gospels.  Mark’s gospel begins with Jesus as an adult.  John’s gospel starts out with a prologue of eighteen verses and then begins with Jesus as an adult.

Each day this week a different part of the birth story will be lifted up. May your heart burn even brighter this week because you’ve encountered something new in the Christmas story.

Comments and thoughts about the devotion can be emailed to Pastor Paul at pastor@colpres.org.  Enjoy!

 

Monday, December 14

Read Luke 2:1-20

The contrast between Jesus’ birth and what was happening in the world could not be more stark in the first seven verses of the story.  The most powerful Emperor Caesar Augustus called for everyone to be registered.  He had the ability to cause thousands of people to travel to their home town.

Jesus was born in the small town of Bethlehem, to a teenage girl, without doctors or nurses surrounding him.  The manger was a feed trough. 

Here is God—vulnerable, lying in a feed trough, probably only attended to by his teenage mother and Joseph, who at one moment was thinking of dismissing Mary from their engagement.

Despite this contrast, this week the world is preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus; Emperor Caesar Augustus is still known, but his power is small in comparison.

Today as you pray, thank God for taking a risk in having Jesus enter the world in this risky way.

 

Tuesday, December 15

Read Matthew 1:18-25

According to the customs of the time, Joseph and Mary would have been part of a two-stage process of marriage.  The first stage was betrothal or engagement.  When a woman was engaged to a man she was bound to him through her words of consent.  This usually took place when the woman was twelve or thirteen.  At this point the woman was viewed by society as the man’s wife.

After a year the woman would move out of her own home and into the man’s home.  When Jesus was born Joseph and Mary were between the two stages.

The above information was taken from “Matthew” by Thomas Long, page 12.

 Imagine the shock that Joseph felt when he discovered that Mary was pregnant!

Today as you pray, share a prayer of thanksgiving for Joseph.

 

Wednesday, December 16

Read Luke 2:1-20

The phrase, “Do not Be Afraid” (here found Luke 2:10) is found frequently in the Scriptures.  If you have some extra time look at some examples in the Old Testament:  Genesis 35:17, Genesis 43:23, Joshua 10:25, 1 Samuel 4:20, 1 Samuel 12:20, 2 Samuel 9:7.

In Luke the phrase had already been used twice.  In each situation an angel said the phrase to someone who was very scared.  The first was Luke 1:13—an angel speaking to Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, in the Temple.  The second was Luke 1:30—when Gabriel appeared to Mary.

The shepherds had every reason to be afraid when they saw the angel of the Lord.  Instead the angel reassured them.

What a source of comfort that a messenger of God would not want people to be afraid.

What fears are you struggling with right now?  Imagine an angel coming to you and saying, “Be not be afraid!”

 

Thursday, December 17

Read Matthew 1:18-25

We don’t know much about Joseph from the Scriptures.  He disappears from the Bible after the story of Jesus being presented in the Temple—Luke 2:41-52. 

One tradition has Joseph dying shortly after Jesus was 12 years old.  The Protevangelium of James, an apocryphal gospel written most likely in the 2nd century presented Joseph as an old man with children from a previous marriage when he took Mary as his wife.

Joseph was hardly mentioned in Luke’s version of the birth story. 

Though we don’t know much about Joseph, we can assume that  he was an important part of the development of Jesus as Jesus grew up. Today as you pray, again give thanks for Joseph.

 

Friday, December 18

Read Luke 2:1-20

It must have been quite remarkable for Mary to be visited by the shepherds shortly after Jesus was born.  The shepherds confirmed the message that Mary had received earlier from the angel, Gabriel.  The message was that this little baby was going to be the Messiah. The shepherds confirmed this message that Mary had earlier received.

Often we might wonder how do we know if God is speaking to us.  One way is through confirmation.  This means that we receive confirmation on the idea from another source.  When the shepherds visited Mary and shared that Jesus was going to be the Messiah they were confirming what Mary had been told by the angel, Gabriel.

One way to know, then, if something is from God is to see if the idea is confirmed by another source.

 

Saturday, December 19

Read Matthew 1:18-25

The name Jesus comes from the Greek form of a common Hebrew name (Joshua) which transliterated is yasha’, which means “he saves.” 

The birth of Jesus saves us from our sins. All of us are works in progress. We have sins with which we struggle. When we acknowledge our sins we are not saying we are bad people. Instead we are saying that we are a work in progress.

We are grateful that we have a person who does save us. We don’t have to save ourselves. This has already been done for us. What a gift!

Today as you pray, give thanks to God for this eternal gift of forgiveness.

This past Sunday Pastor Paul continued an Advent sermon series called, “The wonder of Christmas.” He talked about our own openness to surprises. Being open to surprises can increase the wonder of our heart.

In the devotion this week we have the opportunity to read stories of when people were open and not open to being surprised. Each day we will be given the chance to do some self-reflection. This self-reflection can open our own hearts to being surprised.

 

Monday, December 7

Read Luke 1:26-38

There are many surprises in this story.

That God would send Gabriel to Nazareth is a surprise. Nazareth was a backwater town that wasn’t even on maps in the 1st century.

That God would send Gabriel to Mary is a surprise. Mary was a very young girl—probably 12 or 13.

That Mary would have a child was a surprise. She was a virgin.

Mary didn’t understand what was happening at first.  “How can this be, since I am a virgin,” she asked. (Luke 1:34) But at the end of the story Mary had accepted the surprise and was willing to live with it. “Here am I,” she said, “the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

Where would you rate yourself on the “surprise scale?” On a scale of 1-10 with ten being the highest, how would you rate yourself at being open to being surprised? Pastor Paul has shared often that Advent is a season of possibility. The possibilities of growing in Advent are so high.

One way to grow is to be open to surprises. What can you do to increase your number on the “surprise scale”?

 

Tuesday, December 8

Read Luke 1:8-20

Zechariah was chosen to share an offering in the Temple. This was a once-in-a-lifetime possibility for him. He was chosen by lot to enter this very holy place.

During his time of sharing an offering he was surprised. The angel Gabriel showed up and shared that Zechariah and his wife would have a child. This announcement of a child is the same announcement that Gabriel shared with Mary.

Zechariah had a hard time understanding the surprise. “I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.”

Sometimes we can get in the way of being surprised. Pastor Paul shared on Sunday that we can miss the power of a surprise for our need to be in control. The nature of a surprise is that something happened we weren’t expecting.

On a scale of 1-10 with ten being the highest, how much does your need to be in control prevent you from being surprised?

Pray that during this season you can have an experience of surprise. Also pray that you can let down your need to have control.

 

Wednesday, December 9

Read Genesis 18:9-15

The two men who had come to visit Abraham shared that when the two came back in the next season Sarah, Abraham’s wife, would be pregnant.

Sarah was listening to the conversation. Later when she was talking to Abraham, she shared that she had a hard time believing what the men had said. The writer of Genesis noted that both Abraham and Sarah were old, implying that the two couldn’t become pregnant without something special happening. This conversation is similar to the conversation Zechariah had with himself in the story we read on Monday.

Sarah had a hard time accepting that this surprise would happen.

The first part of verse 14 is similar to what the angel Gabriel said to Mary when Gabriel left Mary. (Luke 1:37)

Do you see surprises as wonderful? On a scale of 1-10 with ten being the highest, what number would you give yourself for seeing surprises as wonderful?

 

Thursday, December 10

Read Acts 9:1-18

Sometimes surprises happen to other people that we find hard to believe.

In the first part of the story Saul had a conversion experience. Before the story he murdered followers of Jesus; after the experience he wanted people to follow Jesus.

God told Ananias to go minister to Saul. Ananias was initially reluctant to do this because he knew all the evil that Saul had done to the followers of Jesus. (Acts 9:13-14)

Even though God had told Ananias to go to Saul, Ananias was at first reluctant.

Sometimes we give up on the possibility that another person might change. Our hearts are closed off to another person’s transformation. Even if God told us that someone could change, we might not believe it.

On a scale of 1-10 with ten being the highest, what number would you give yourself for believing that others can change?

This story can encourage us to increase that number!

 

Friday, December 11

Read 1 Samuel 16:1-13

God wanted to choose the next king of Israel and asked Samuel to participate. Samuel went to visit Jesse to see which son of Jesse’s would be chosen.

When Samuel saw Jesse’s sons he had expectations for which one would be chosen. Samuel thought that Eliab, Jesse’s oldest son, would be the one.

But as often happens to people, Samuel’s expectations were wrong. Even though Samuel was a famous prophet, he couldn’t see what God wanted. Samuel’s expectations got in the way of his own understanding of what God wanted.

Our own expectations can limit us to experiencing the power of a surprise.

On a scale of 1-10 with ten being the highest, what number would you give yourself for having expectations that can limit the power of a surprise.

On Sunday Pastor Paul encouraged people to being open to God during this Advent season. Don’t let your past Advent experiences influence how your Advent will go. Instead let go of your expectations and be open to what God wants done during this season.

 

Saturday, December 12

Read Luke 5:1-11

This story happened early in the adult ministry of Jesus. Simon later changed his name to Peter. In this story he was still Simon. Jesus was in a boat with his followers and asked them to go to a different region of the lake to throw out their nets to catch fish. Simon wasn’t sure that the encouragement of Jesus was the way to go, but he reluctantly did. When they went to the new area of the lake their nets were full of fish.

Simon was surprised. He bowed down at the feet of Jesus and confessed that he was a sinful man. Later we learn that it was Simon’s fear that compelled him to make his confession to God.

On a scale of 1-10 with ten being the highest, what number would you give yourself for being afraid of surprises?

Jesus told Simon, “do not be afraid.” If Jesus came into our room right now, he undoubtedly would communicate the same message to us.

This past Sunday Pastor Paul started a new sermon series called, “The Wonder of Christmas.” He shared three powerful stories that can lead us to have a sense of wonder. 

One way to think of preparing for Christmas is to think of it as an adventure.  Instead of being bogged down by COVID, or  a to-do list, look at this season as an opportunity to be touched by God and to help bring the Kingdom into the world.

What an adventure! It can fill us with wonder.

This week we have the opportunity to read stories of people in the Bible who went on an adventure.  The people living these stories didn’t always think of their own stories as an adventure; however, looking at their stories through the lens of an adventure can help us prepare for Christmas.

Comments about the devotion can be emailed to pastor@colpres.org.

 

Monday, November 30

Read Mark 1:1-8

John would have never thought of sharing his message in terms of an adventure.  His entire life was hard and challenging.  John lived in the wilderness; he wore clothes that came from a camel; he ate locus and wild honey for food.  It’s not clear if he slept under a roof as he lived in the wilderness.  His life was hard.

However, as we look at John’s life from a 21st century perspective, we can see John’s ministry as an adventure.  From the wilderness, God called a man to prepare people for Jesus.  John didn’t come from a palace of power—he shared his message in a desolate and barren place.

To think that God would call the final prophet before Jesus to share his message in the wilderness is quite a statement about God.  The quality of God’s character is certainly adventurous.

John lived out an adventure as he served an adventurous God.  His story is an example for those in the 21st century who are looking for an adventure.

Tuesday, December 1

Read Isaiah 40:1-5

Some of these verses from Isaiah were quoted by Mark as Mark described John the Baptist.  This story is an important pivot in the storyline of the Bible, and the story describes quite an adventure.

When Isaiah shared these words the nation of Judah was in shambles.  The nation was destroyed; the people were in exile; Jerusalem was no longer the capital city. 

Into this situation God shared words of comfort.  The words shared that the present was going to be okay for the people who had been in exile.

And into this situation God shared that the future would be glorious—even an adventure.  A voice was going to come in the future that would prepare the way of the Lord.

When Mark saw these words from Isaiah and knowing the story of John the Baptist, he brought them together.  Mark knew that this adventurous God had helped the nation of Judah and had forecast the ministry of John. 

Wednesday, December 2

Read Exodus 4:1-17

Not everyone wants to go on an adventure.  Moses didn’t.

In the third and fourth chapter of Exodus, we read the story of God asking Moses to go on a grand adventure.  God asked Moses to go to Egypt so that the Israelites would be liberated from Pharaoh.  This call by God was important and significant and would help the Israelites.

When Moses realized what God was calling him to do, Moses became hesitant.  Moses had all sorts of objections.

God might be calling you to an adventure right now.  And you certainly might be hesitant.  It wouldn’t be surprising if you were hesitant—one of the greatest people in the Old Testament was hesitant to go on an adventure.

Even though the adventure for Moses was extraordinarily difficult, God promised that God would lead and help Moses.  This same offer extends to us.

Keep praying about the possibility that God is calling you on an adventure.  Even if the adventure seems improbable, pray that God will lead and help you.   

Thursday, December 3

Read Jeremiah 1:4-10

Jeremiah was like Moses.  He received a call from God that was an incredible adventure.  Jeremiah wouldn’t have used the word, “adventure” to describe this “ask” by God.  But you and I can see this story through the lens of an adventure.

And just like Moses, Jeremiah was afraid.  Like Moses, Jeremiah shared that he did not know how to speak. 

And just like God did with Moses, God shared that God would help Jeremiah.  God told Jeremiah that God would be present to Jeremiah.  Jeremiah did not need to be afraid. 

God did something remarkable with Jeremiah.  God put out the divine hand and touched Jeremiah’s mouth.  God literally put words into Jeremiah’s vocabulary.

What is important for us is that God can do the same thing for us.  Whatever adventure God is calling us, God is willing to help and be present.   

 Friday, December 4

Read Luke 7:24-30

Jesus chided the crowd a bit for their motivation for going to see John in the wilderness.  A large number of people went to see John and be baptized by him.  As they listened to Jesus speak in this story, the crowd had this common experience.

And Jesus asked them why they went to listen to John and be baptized by him.

At the end of this story, Jesus answered his own question.  People went into the wilderness to see a prophet.  John was a prophet—perhaps the greatest prophet who ever lived.  Jesus went on to share that John’s ministry had been predicted by Isaiah hundreds of years earlier.

Yet even though John was a great prophet, “the least in the kingdom of God [was] greater than he.” Luke 7:28

At the end of this story, Luke—as a narrator—couldn’t help but share that all of the people who heard this teaching from Jesus acknowledged the justice of God.  What God was doing was right.  This is quite a story of adventure!

Saturday, December 5

Read Matthew 11:2-6

In this story Jesus proclaimed a central part of his message.  “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.”

If we think of these words through the lens of an adventure we can see that an adventure is more than just something that happens to us.  Helping and serving others is an adventure.  It’s more than just “doing good;” helping and serving can be the adventure of a lifetime.

All of us have been taught at an early age the importance of giving thanks.  Giving thanks is not a new idea or a new concept.  We know of its importance for our own lives.  We even formally celebrate thanks each year on the holiday of Thanksgiving.

However, we can turn thanks into a duty and not an attitude of our heart.  When this happens, we lose the power of giving thanks.  Being thankful is meant to be an expression of our own hearts.  When we turn thanks into a rote exercise we lose the spiritual significance of giving thanks.

In the readings this week we’ll explore the basis for our thanks, and do some exercises that can cultivate our own “attitude of gratitude.”  Enjoy!

Comments about the devotion can be emailed to pastor@colpres.org.

Monday, November 23

Read Romans 5:1-11

We have many reasons to be thankful.  We can feel the blessings of family, a good job, financial security, a place to live, hobbies and activities that give us meaning, our health.  Unfortunately, all of these can be taken away from us.  When our own thanks is dependent on an external circumstance we can find ourselves in misery.

The basis of our thanks is our faith.  In this passage to the Romans Paul wrote about the love of God that is poured out to us.  At the right time Christ died for us.  Because of this we have peace with God—access to grace.

May our own hearts burn with love and thanks to God.  Think of your own love for God as the temperature of the oven that is baking food.  What temperature is your love for God today?  The more we appreciate and give thanks for grace, the hotter is our own love.

Today as you pray, meditate on the gift of grace that we have been given.  Open yourself up to the understanding that because of Christ we have a relationship with a God who will always love us and care for us deeply.  Our only response to this gift is our thanks. 

Tuesday, November 24

Read Luke 17:11-19

Imagine that you were one of the lepers who was healed.  As a leper you were ostracized by the community.  You most likely lived in a leper colony on the outskirts of the town.  People thought you were unclean.  Some regulations called for you to say the words “unclean, unclean” when someone approached you.  You were also a Samaritan, so you were different religiously compared to many others.

Jesus changed all of that for you.  He told you to go to a priest and when you encountered a priest you were not afflicted with leprosy anymore.  You were healed.

The only appropriate response is thanks.  As Jesus noted it’s puzzling that the other nine lepers didn’t come back to share their thanks with Jesus. 

We know that giving thanks is the right thing to do.  The place to start is to appreciate all that God has given to us.  The leper who returned understood the gift he had been given.

Today as you pray, give thanks to God for all that you have received from God.  Give thanks for the healing that God offers to us.

Wednesday, November 25

Read Psalm 92:1-4

The superscription for this Psalm says it is a song for the Sabbath Day.  We can imagine people singing this song to God in worship on the Sabbath.  This is the only Psalm of the 150 Psalms where a superscription of “A Song for the Sabbath Day” is written.

Our worship of God is a way to express thanks.  When we gather with others we offer the community’s thanks to God for all that we have received. 

Take some time to write out all that you are thankful for in 2020. Even though this has been a very hard year, make a list of five to ten events that have happened in 2020 for which you’ve given thanks. When you’ve completed the list read these four verses from Psalm 92 again. 

Thursday, November 26

Read Luke 9:10-17

Happy Thanksgiving!  May your day be filled with joy!  May your feast and festivities be similar to what the 5,000 must have experienced when they were fed with a loaf and two fish.

When the Pilgrims started the tradition of Thanksgiving in 1621 they were filled with joy at a good harvest.  Initially they did not have enough food to feed the 102 people of their colony.  The Wampanoag Native Americans had helped the Pilgrims by providing them seeds and teaching them to fish.

The festival of Thanksgiving has come a long way from that celebration in 1621. 

Today give thanks for all that you have.  May your day be filled with a sense of gratitude for the gifts that surround you.

Friday, November 27

Read Galatians 5:16-26

In this passage Paul contrasted the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit.  The different parts of the Fruit of the Spirit  that he shared in verses 22-23 come from our heart.  The seeds of these fruits are our own thanks and gratitude.

Look at the difference between the person described in the first six verses and the person described in the last four verses.  We have a choice about which person we will be.  The choice starts with an orientation that we take towards thanks.  When we are filled with thanks for all we have it’s easier to be full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  When we focus on what we lack, it’s easier to commit what Paul calls works of the flesh.

Today as you pray, pray that you will be the person described in the last four verses.  Pray that we at Chain of Lakes can design ministries that encourage the people of our new congregation to be these people.  Pray that the people of the church worldwide will be people filled with the seeds of thanks and gratitude and people living out the fruits of the Spirit.

Saturday, November 28

Read Psalm 105:1-6

At the start of this Psalm Israel shared their thanks to God.  For the rest of the Psalm the writer of the Psalm recited the history of Israel.  We can imagine these words being shared in a worship service.  The history of the people prompted them to give thanks.

We can do the same for our own lives.  Take some time to reflect or even write down the five events of your life for which you give thanks.  What would they be?  Take some time to thoughtfully come up with this list.

Then when you have your list, shower God with thanks.  Let God know how deeply you appreciate each of the events. 

In doing this exercise you are connecting with the writer of this Psalm.  You are joining hands across history with someone who gave thanks for their history.

On Friday, Chain of Lakes Church celebrated its third anniversary as a congregation. One bedrock Scripture for Chain of Lakes is Acts 2:37-47. This story shares the power of a local congregation.

This week we have the opportunity to go deeper into each of the verses of this story. In addition to the devotional reading, consider reading all ten verses of the story each day this week. The experience can lead you deeper into the heart and spirit of God.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 16

Read Acts 2:37

“What should we do?” This question that the crowd asked is one that humans ask all the time. The question is one that many people have asked during the COVID-19 crisis. People are uncertain about what is happening and are unsure about the direction to take, “What should we do?”

The people asked the question because their hearts had been touched by the sermon that Peter had just preached. Peter had told the crowd that Jesus had been killed and had been raised from the dead. The reality of his death and resurrection touched the crowd in a deep place. They were “cut to the heart.”

It is quite possible that some in the crowd had been present at the crucifixion of Jesus. They might have heard the cries of “crucify him,” or they might have even
shared those words themselves.
In hearing Peter preach, the people might have had a sense of guilt about what had happened.

Each of us have asked this question when we are unsure about the direction to take. We have found ourselves in a situation where we literally do not know what to do.

The question is a universal question; it’s a human question. Even though Peter shared a response to this question later in the story, it’s important to sit and reflect with the question. Don’t look too quickly for an answer. 

What is your “what should we do?” question. Share it with God today in your prayer time.

 Tuesday, November 17

Read Acts 2:38-39

Peter provided a response to the “What should we do?” question that was shared in verse 37. His response centered around three basic ideas—repent, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and promise.

Repentance is as simple as turning deeper into our own relationship with God.  Repentance is not a one-time activity in our own lives.  God calls us to go deeper each day.  In this story being baptized was a reflection of repentance.

Receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit is offered to everyone.  The Holy Spirit is active in each of our lives today. The Holy Spirit is always inviting us to go deeper into our relationship with God.  As you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit imagine someone whispering to you, “go deeper, go deeper, go deeper.” 

The promise is something that had happened many, many years before this story took place.  This is the promise of the Holy Spirit and the promise of salvation.  This is a gift that God gives to people.

Repentance, receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, and salvation are also offered to us. 
As you pray today give thanks for these three beautiful gifts.

Wednesday, November 18

Read Acts 2:40

Peter made the point that a large contrast existed between the current generation and people who followed Jesus Christ as disciples.  When Peter said, “save yourself” he was encouraging them to be different than others.  This difference is because of a person’s faith.

How does your faith help you be different?  How do your values help you live differently from others in your generation?  People who aren’t living a life of faith, of course are not by definition corrupt.  But a vibrant faith should lead followers of Jesus Christ to be different than the culture.

In 50 words or less, how would you response to the question, “How does your faith help you be different?

Take some time today to write out your response. When you have your response share it with another person.

Thursday, November 19

Read Acts 2:41-42

Luke—the writer of Acts—shared the power of what happened to people who were responding to Peter’s sermon.  Three thousand people were baptized. 

After they were baptized the people devoted themselves to four ministries.

1) Teaching

2) Fellowship

3) Breaking of bread—interpreted either as celebrating the Lord’s Supper or sharing meals together

4) Prayers.

How is your faith community doing at these four ministries? On a scale of 1 to 10 with ten being the highest where would you rank your congregation?

If you are a part of Chain of Lakes Church, where would you rank our church on these four ministries?

These four ministries are central to a strong faith community.

Friday, November 20

Read Acts 2:43-45

“Awe” came upon everyone.  Pastor Paul has preached many times that a three-letter synonym for “awe” is “wow.”  When the word, “wow” is said, we know that God is very near and present.

“Wow” is not a word that people just manufacture.  It’s an expression of something deep and powerful. 

Can you think of some moments that you have said, the word, “wow?”  Spend some time reflecting on these moments.

And if you haven’t said the word for a while, perhaps now is the time to lift this in a request to God. 

Consider sharing the following prayer, “Lord, lead me to a place where I can say the word “Wow” often and with authenticity.

Saturday, November 21

Read Acts 2:46-47

The people were so spiritually touched by what was happening that they couldn’t help but spend time together. 

These two verses have inspired the Core Value at Chain of Lakes called “Joyful Love.”  The people of Chain of Lakes understand this to mean:

“We are released to love each other with joy because of what God has done for us. We are a community who enjoys spending time together and supporting each others’ journey.”

The connection between these two verses and the meaning of the Core Value of “Joyful Love” is strong.  Pray that all faith communities can express these two verses.

Events

Tap image to go to information about the small groups

Chain of Lakes has stayed grounded in love amidst the storm called 2020. Everyone is encouraged to hand in their Estimate of Giving card in worship or mail it to the church office. Sunday, November 15, marks the 3rd birthday of Chain of Lakes becoming an official Presbyterian Church. Turning in the Estimate of Giving cards is a good way to celebrate!

Church Calendar

Community Gardens

Chain of Lakes Church is excited to share the future home of Chain of Lakes, the church property, with the community in a Community Garden Ministry. The church property is just east of  Malmborg’s Garden Center on 125th Ave NE in Blaine or .8 miles east of Radisson Rd on 125th Ave NE, Blaine.
Contact the office for information at 763.208.8049 or info@colpres.org
If you are interested in a garden plot complete this form: Community Garden Plot Application 2020 – Chain of Lakes
Please print and complete application and mail to: Chain of Lakes Church,
10130 Davenport Street NE #160
Blaine, MN 55449

Event Photos

Some highlights from recent events in the community!