Skip to content

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, July 25, 2021
Trust God, Travel Light – Guest preacher Rev. Gene Orr
Current video shown above

Sunday, July 18, 2021
The Best Advice Ever – What would Jesus say about money?

Sunday, July 11, 2021
The Best Advice Ever – Coping with Anxiety

Sunday, July 4, 2021, Part 1
The Best Advice Ever – Loving Jesus and Our Country

Sunday, July 4, 2021, Part 2
The Best Advice Ever – Loving Jesus and Our Country

Sunday, July 4, 2021, Part 3
The Best Advice Ever – Loving Jesus and Our Country

Sunday, June 27, 2021
The Best Advice Ever – The Gift of Anger
Guest Preacher Pastor Bill Chadwick

Sunday, June 20, 2021
The Best Advice Ever – The Wisdom of Jesus – How to Forgive
Current video shown above

Sunday, June 13, 2021
The Best Advice Ever – The Wisdom of Jesus – How to Be Great

Sunday, June 6, 2021
Breathing Deep – The Future of Worship

Sunday, May 30, 2021
Breathing Deep – Ways of Worshiping

Sunday, May 23, 2021
Breathing Deep – Why do we worship, and Pentecost

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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. 

Volunteer any time you are available Thursday between 9am –  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)

GET A FREE FACEMASK

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
  • River Trail Learning Center at L.O. Jacob
The Local Impact Team has organized many events to help serve at:
 

Daily Devotions

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

Monday, August 2

Read Ephesians 1:3-14

This week we have the opportunity to read selections from Ephesians. Even though the Apostle Paul is identified as the author of Ephesians, many scholars think that Paul didn’t write it. Pastor Paul talked a bit about this in his sermon. This week we are going to identify the author of Ephesians as AE.

We can see in this passage how AE saw all that God does for us. God is the active part of our faith life. “God destined us for adoption” (v. 5), God gave us redemption and forgiveness (v. 7), with wisdom God gave us wisdom and insight according to God’s pleasure (v. 9), God gave us an inheritance through faith (vv. 11-13)

It’s easy to think that faith is what we as humans do for God. AE is saying that faith starts by recognizing what God has done for us. This is the starting point of faith.

If someone came up to you and asked you to share what God has done for you, what would you say? How has the workings of God made an impact in your own life? Please share!

 

Tuesday, August 3

Read Ephesians 2:1-10

As in yesterday’s reading, AE emphasizes all that God has done. In these verses AE talked about grace and what grace does for us.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:9-10)

All of us have been given this grace. And it’s a gift. We don’t work for it, we don’t do acts of faith to earn it, we receive it.

How easy is it for you to receive a gift? When someone gives something to you or shares a compliment, are you quick to minimize what we have done? Do we share with the person who gave us the gift, “I don’t deserve what you have done?”

One of the best responses to a gift is to say, “Thank you.”

Spend some time today thanking God for this gift of grace. Your thanks is not going to help you receive more grace—you’ve already received it! But by saying thanks we can learn to appreciate even more this gift that we have.

Thank you!

 

Wednesday, August 4

Read Ephesians 2:11-22

We had the opportunity to read this Scripture last week, but it’s worth reading again because the message is so important.

In these verses notice how Christ can bring different groups together. AE mentioned this.

“For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups [Jews and Gentiles] into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.” (Ephesians 2:14)

This message of Christ’s ability to break down the walls of hostility is still relevant today. Think about groups who have hostility towards each other. People who are vaccinated and those who aren’t; people who voted for President Trump and those who didn’t;
people who believe in wearing masks and those who don’t.

Even though we see hostility between groups, we can have hope that Christ can lessen the hostility between them.

This is one of the purposes of the church. The church exists to live out this call in these verses to reconciliation. We never need to lose hope that people can’t get along or that even individuals can’t get along because Christ breaks down the walls.

How does this “breaking down of the walls” give you hope as you look at the world? Please share!

 

Thursday, August 5

Read Ephesians 3:7-13

AE saw his mission as bringing this message of grace to Gentiles, so that the church can be built up. In fact AE shared a beautiful definition of the church and what happens through the workings of the church. Through the church “the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”

The church exists to share the wisdom of God.

This is a powerful calling and a powerful message. It might seem impossible for a congregation to share the wisdom of God.

But through prayer and study and relationships with others based on agape love the wisdom of God can become known.

Have you had an experience at Chain of Lakes or another congregation that seemed almost perfect? Your experience was an example of the wisdom of God. Please share!

 

Friday, August 6

Read Ephesians 3:14-21

Pastor Paul shared in his sermon on Sunday that whenever we read the words, “I pray” in the Bible it’s time to pay attention. We read them twice in this passage. The words are so powerful that they are worth memorizing.

I pray that, according to the riches of [God’s] glory, God may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through [God’s] Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. Ephesians 3:16-17

I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:18-19

Both of these prayers are worth memorizing.

What speaks to your own heart about these two readings? Please share!

Saturday, August 7

Read Ephesians 4:1-16

In this passage AE shares what happens in a local congregation. People are given gifts and are equipped for ministry for building up the body, “until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.”

We participate in a local congregation to develop maturity in the faith.

What does maturity in faith look like for you? On a scale of 1-10 with ten being the highest, what number would you give yourself for being mature in faith? Who is a person who you would identify as being mature in faith?

 

 

Monday, July 26

Read Genesis 12:1-3

This week we will have the opportunity to read and discuss biblical readings about the church.  These readings will help prepare people spiritually for the groundbreaking for the first-phase building on the church property on Sunday, August 15.

Some people look at this reading as the start of the Old Testament. The reading begins the story of God’s relationship with a group of people. In verse two we read that God told Abram to go to a different land because God would make a great nation. In this reading, nation doesn’t mean a nation like the “United States” or “France” or another current nation. It means a group of people who are connected to each other. In this case it means a group of people who are connected by faith to each other.

It is not far-fetched to paraphrase this reading to say that God would make a great church.

Pastor Paul has shared often that there is one church. The church is made up of followers of Jesus Christ. A spiritual connection happens between followers of Jesus. So even if people worship in different congregations, people who are disciples are part of one church. The origins of being the church comes from this story in Genesis.

What does it mean to you to know that there is one church? How important is it to you to know that despite the existence of millions of congregations in the world that there is only one church in the world?

 

Tuesday, July 27

Read Matthew 28:16-20

Yesterday we read in Genesis 12:2 that the word “nation” was in a command by God. In today’s reading “nation” is found in this command from Jesus. We read in verse 19,

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, …”  In this case the word “nations” comes from the Greek word, ethne. When Jesus shared this verse, he didn’t only mean to make disciples of the nations that existed in his day. He also meant that people in the future would make disciples of nations.  

The word, ethne (translated as nation) is more than a description of a political state. Ethne means a group of people who are connected to each other. If we push into this command we can see where Jesus was encouraging the apostles to develop the church.

One definition of a church that Pastor Paul has shared is “a dynamic network of friends leading and experiencing personal and social transformation as they follow God.” This definition of a church is what Jesus encouraged his followers to create and develop.

Share a story about personal transformation that you’ve experienced as you’ve been connected to the church.

 

Wednesday, July 28

Read Matthew 16:13-20

In this story Jesus told Peter, “you are Peter, and on this rock [on you] I will build my church.” This is one of two places in the gospels that Jesus used the word “church”. The other place is Matthew 18:17.

The English word “church” comes from the Greek word, “ekklesia”. Ekklesia is made up of two parts—ek and kaleo. Ek means “out” and kaleo means “call.” Ekklesia is a group of people who are called out to something. The church is called out to live different values than some that exist in the world—values like power and abuse and hate. The church is called out to live by different values. These values are personal, such as the Fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These values are also social – justice, righteousness and peace.

The church should look vastly different than an organization in the world. Share a story of a time when you’ve seen these values lived out by the congregation in which you are connected.

 

Thursday, July 29

Read Acts 2:37-47

Pastor Paul preaches on this story from Acts on special occasions at Chain of Lakes. He will be preaching from this story on the day of the groundbreaking—Sunday, August 15.

Read the story closely. The Holy Spirit moved among the people. People were speaking in different languages (some believe that the people were speaking in tongues). But despite the cacophony of noise everyone could understand what everyone was saying.

Awe came upon everyone. Awe is a three-letter synonym for wow. It’s as if “wow” came upon everyone. The church exists for people to have these experiences of “wow.” For an individual congregation to have power, the people must have these experiences of “wow.”

Reflect today on your experiences of “wow” in a church. They will define the power that the church is having in your own life. Can you think of a time that you’ve had this experience of “wow”? Please share.

 

Friday, July 30

Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-26

The Apostle Paul shared in this reading that the body of Christ—the church—is one. One church exists. Verse 13 explains this well, “For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”

Chain of Lakes is a PC(USA) church—Presbyterian. But the people who are part of the church are part of one body. We could paraphrase these verses from the Apostle Paul to say, “Presbyterians can’t say to Lutherans—you are not part of the body. Presbyterians can’t say to Baptists—you are not part of the body. Presbyterians can’t say to those who don’t have a denomination—you are not part of the body. Everyone who follows Jesus is part of one body.”

This isn’t an easy reading to follow because throughout history people have thought of their brand of church as the only brand or a superior brand.  But the Apostle Paul was clear that this way of thinking is wrong. We are all baptized into one body—Presbyterians, Lutherans, Baptists, nondenominational.

All are made to enjoy or drink of one Spirit.

What are some ways that you believe congregations can lower their walls and participate in ministry with people from other congregations?

 

Saturday, July 31

Read Ephesians 2:11-22

Verses 19-20 share another definition of the church:

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens [friends] with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.”

One can see how these verses form the biblical foundation for the Purpose Statement of Chain of Lakes Church.

Even though eighteen congregations exist in Blaine, one church exists. All of those congregations are part of the one church.

Being a disciple or follower of Jesus means you will have an instant connection with other disciples who participate in other congregations. As we read in Ephesians you are citizens with them and members of the household of God.

You might think of a family member or close friend who participates in another congregation. The two of you are part of the one church. How exciting to be part of a movement that is intended to change the values of the world!

Monday, July 19

Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-13

This week we have the opportunity to learn more about spiritual gifts and to identify the spiritual gifts that God has given each one of us. Pastor Paul has taught a concept called the “Inspirational Intersection.” This is a process of discovery where we identify and re-identify the intersection between what God wants us to do and what we want to do. Part of this discovery is identifying our own gifts.

This passage from Corinthians identifies a partial list of spiritual gifts that people are given by God: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirits, various kinds of tongues, interpretation of tongues.  Each gift is a manifestation of the Spirit.

Of these nine gifts, which do you identify in yourself? When we identify and claim our spiritual gifts we are not acting with pride. We aren’t claiming that we are better than others because we have been given these gifts. On the contrary we are recognizing what God has done in us. These gifts are from God.

Each of us has at least one of these nine spiritual gifts. Which one(s) are yours? Please share.

 

 Tuesday, July 20

Read Romans 12:1-8

Like the passage we read yesterday, this passage shares a listing of spiritual gifts. And it shares the idea of a body or community. A healthy faith community is made up of different gifts that are being used for the common good. One way to think of a faith community or a congregation is to look at is as a collection of gifts.   The gifts that are listed here are prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhorting, giver, leader, compassionate.

One important step for each of us is being able to identify the gifts in other people and then share with that person the gifts we see. When we share with another person that we see a particular spiritual gift in that person we are affirming that gift in the person’s mind. The person might never have thought that he or she has that gift. Sharing with another person the gifts you see in that person can be a terrific benefit to the person.

Take a moment to reflect on a friend of yours.  Which of the above seven gifts do you see in that person? The person doesn’t have all seven gifts, but the person has at least one. Take some time to pray over the person and reflect on the person’s gifts. Share the gifts you see in that person.

To take the next step, consider writing or emailing a note to the person. In the note share what gifts you see in the person. Your note or email could be the highlight of the person’s day!

 

Wednesday, July 21

Read Ephesians 4:1-16

Like the passage in 1 Corinthians 12, this passage shares foundational teachings about gifts and the ultimate result of sharing gifts in a faith community.  The gifts that are listed in this passage are more like positions. The positions listed are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.

Look at the purpose of the positions.

  • “to equip the saints for the work of ministry,
  • for building up the body of Christ
  • until all of us come to the unity of the faith
  • and of the knowledge of the Son of God
  • to maturity
  • to the measure of the full stature of God”

Ephesians 4:13

When we live out our spiritual gifts we are not sharing them for ourselves or for our own benefit. These gifts—given to us by God—are shared so others can benefit.

Imagine that local congregations would look like if everyone was using their gifts in way that lived out the six purposes shared in the above bullet points!

Today pray that all faith communities—including Chain of Lakes Church—can be places where people’s gifts are used to accomplish these six purposes.

 

Thursday, July 22

Read 1 Peter 4:8-11

“Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” I Peter 4:10

When a person serves in a powerful way, we often acknowledge the service that the person is doing. But underneath that service is something just as significant. The person is using a gift. When using that gift the person was probably happy, driven, inspired—operating at his or her highest potential.

Getting in the practice of recognizing not only a person’s service, but the gift behind the service is very helpful.

Think of a time in our life when we were using our gifts in a powerful way. Think of the joy we experienced during this time. Most likely we were working hard and perhaps even experiencing stress about the outcome. But during this time we were most likely operating at our highest potential of our humanity. 

Share a time when you were sharing a gift so that you were living at your highest potential.

If you are in a season in your life where you are struggling, ask God to help you share your own gifts in a meaningful way.

 

Friday, July 23

Read Jonah 1:1-3

Most of us have had times in our life when we weren’t doing what God wants us to do. The prophet Jonah is one such person.  God asked Jonah to go to Ninevah. Instead, Jonah went the opposite direction.  Can you imagine doing the exact opposite of what God asks?

If you have some extra time, read the book of Jonah today. It’s only four chapters. As you do this, you might identify how unhappy Jonah was in the story.

This is what happens if we don’t use our gifts in a way that God wants us to use them. We become unhappy and dissatisfied. Life doesn’t work out in ways that we want it to work out.

Resisting God is a decision that can lead to great unhappiness.

It’s a tribute to God that God does not give up on us when we resist God’s desires. God didn’t give up on Jonah. God is persistent with us—always asking us to choose God’s ways. As you pray today, pray that you can always choose God’s ways.

Can you think of a time when you were resisting God?

 

Saturday, July 24

Read Genesis 2:4-7

“then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

We literally become a living being when we use our spiritual gifts.

In these short verses from Genesis we read about God creating humanity. God took dust, blew the Spirit into the dust; the result was a human. Every part of the human is from God.

Each person is different than the other—but the source of our creation is the same.

As you pray today, give thanks for the spiritual gifts that you have. God gave these gifts to you to use for building up the world. Spend some time praising and thanking God for these gifts. Also ask God how you can use the gifts to help create God’s Kingdom.

Monday, July 12

Read Psalm 103   

These twenty-two verses of Psalm 103 are worth reading and re-reading. They describe the ways that God often works in our life.

God forgives; God heals; God redeems; God crowns us with steadfast love and mercy; God satisfies us with good as long as we live.  These descriptions of God come just from the first five verses. Read all twenty-two verses to receive an even more complete picture of God.

How does this help us with anxiety?

Knowing the many ways that God works in our life and helps us can help us let go of anxiety. Knowing the power and strength of God can convince us to let go of our concerns directly to God. God can handle what is causing us anxiety.

Just knowing that we have a place to go to let go of our anxieties is a source of strength.

It’s worth sharing the qualities of God that gives us comfort. Read through Psalm 103 again and share one quality of God that especially resonates with you. What quality of God gives you comfort?

 

Tuesday, July 13

Read Psalm 23:4-6

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” (Psalm 23:4a)

The two words, “Even though” are very important words for a healthy faith life. Pastor Paul gave a sermon on these two words last September. Send him a Facebook message to receive a copy of it.

The two words communicate that it is inevitable we will go through hard times. In no place in the Bible do we read that we will never go through seasons of pain.

How does this help us with anxiety?

It helps because God is always present with us during these hard times. God is helping us, caring for us, leading us in the right paths. Though we wouldn’t choose these times, we don’t need to be anxious about them because God will help us. Sometimes God will even carry us through these times.

This help is very meaningful.

We needn’t be anxious about these times. God will help us through them.

Have you had your own “Even though” experience when you developed a special understanding of how God was helping you? Please share.

 

Wednesday, July 14

Read Philippians 4:6-7

These two verses are worth committing to memory.

“Do not worry about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

If you haven’t memorized these two verses, take some time today to work on memorizing them. Read them over and over and then then try to say them from memory. Keep at that process as your own repetition of saying them will secure the words in your memory.

These two verses share what happens when we train ourselves to let go of our anxieties. We experience a deep sense of peace—the peace that passes all understanding.

Letting go of anxieties is a matter of training. We can’t control whether we will be anxious for anxiety is a feeling. But we can learn and train ourselves what to do when we are feeling anxious.

To follow these words of Philippians we can let our requests be known to God. Try this prayer today—“Lord help me let go of [whatever is causing you anxiousness] to you. May I experience your deep peace.”

Share how this prayer or any prayer helps you let go of anxiety.

 

Thursday, July 15

Read Matthew 6:25-34 

We heard this story in worship this past Sunday and in it Jesus communicated the value of worrying.

There is no value in worrying! Jesus shared that we cannot add a single day to our life through worry.

Unfortunately knowing that there is no value in worry does not mean we will not experience worry or anxiety.

But we can learn in these verses a message about where to put our focus. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33a)

Jesus was asking us to focus on God and the kingdom that God intends. Focus on God’s love; focus on the Fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

These are the qualities of the Kingdom. Focus on them.

How does this help us with anxiety?

Instead of focusing on what is causing us anxiety, we can focus on these eternal and long-lasting qualities of God. This reorientation of focus will give us a deep sense of strength.

 

Friday, July 16

Read Psalm 145:16-19

More words that can help us with anxiety:

“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 [God]; [God] also hears their cry and saves them. Psalm 145:18-19

Just as we read about on Tuesday, God is very near to us. God is as close as the deepest longings of our spirit.

How does this help us with anxiety?

It helps to know that God is very near to each of us.  Even if we think that we are confronting our problems by ourselves, we really are not. God is present and helping us—even when we can’t discern that God is close to us.

We know that we don’t have to respond to our own anxiety by ourselves. Even if we can’t discern God’s presence, God is helping us at these times.

When have you had a time when you had a sense of God helping you as you experienced anxiety? Please share.

 

Saturday, July 17

Read Matthew 11:28-30

Pastor Paul often shares these words before the people of Chain of Lakes celebrate Communion.

The last seven words in verse 29 are especially powerful. “You will find rest for your souls.”

Finding rest for our souls can help us with anxiety as rest and anxiety are exactly the opposite. This rest is not just physical rest—it is spiritual rest. This rest fills us up; rest gives us comfort; rest gives us a sense of completeness.

What are some ways that you’ve experienced this type of rest for your soul? Please share. Your sharing can help others learn how to find rest for their souls.

Monday, July 5

Read Matthew 25:31-46

This week we will explore the idea of “the common good.” Pursuing and achieving the common good is one way that people can love God and love country together.

Jesus never used the term “common good,” but in his teachings he consistently communicated the common good. In fact, the common good is an important vision of Jesus for the world.

This vision is more than one where every person becomes his disciple. His vision is communicated in this story from Matthew where Jesus taught that whatever we do to the least of the community we do it directly to him. The poor are not objects of scorn; instead the poor are the actual representation of Jesus.

HOPE for the Community is one organization in the community who treats the poor and hungry as if they are Jesus. Every Thursday in Blaine they share high quality and nutritious food with hundreds of people.

Have you had an experience of serving at HOPE for the Community? How has that experience been an expression of this story? Or have you had an experience of serving the poor? Share how this experience helped you feel that you were serving Jesus.

 

Tuesday, July 6

Read Micah 6:6-8

Micah was an Old Testament prophet who spoke out during the last quarter of the eighth century (BC) when Ahaz and Hezekiah were kings of Israel. The name Micah means “who is like the Lord.”

The book of Micah is not long—only seven chapters. If you have twenty minutes, read the entire book.

In the sixth chapter Micah shares a compelling vision of the common good. He asked the question of whether God would be pleased with a sacrifice of thousands of rams, or ten thousands of rivers or special oil, or even the sacrifice of a child.

These would appear to be special sacrifices.

But no—God did not desire this quantity of sacrifice. Instead God desired that followers “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God.” The common good happens because people live out this verse.

HOPE 4 Youth is one organization who gives people the opportunity to live out this verse. HOPE 4 Youth is the only organization in the Twin Cities whose sole purpose is to help homeless youth. HOPE 4 Youth is an organization that is contributing to the common good.

Have you had an experience of serving at HOPE 4 Youth? Please share your experience. How has your service reflected these verses in Micah?

 

Wednesday, July 7

Read Amos 5:18-24

Like Micah, Amos lived in the eighth century (BC). Amos spoke out during the reigns of two kings, Ussiah of Judah and Jeroboam II of Israel. Not many details are known about the life of Amos. The book of Amos shares that the home of Amos was the village of Tekoa in the Judean hills south of Bethlehem.

These words from Amos are another startling example of how God views the common good.

Amos shared that God was tired of the people’s festivals and worship, and offerings. God did not want to hear the people’s worship. Instead, God wanted justice to roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Amos 5:24)

Justice and righteousness are important parts of the common good.

One organization who lives out justice and righteousness is Stepping Stone. Stepping Stone runs the only homeless shelter in the suburban Twin Cities. The only one!

In 2019 almost half of the residents left Stepping Stone to go to stable housing. That is making an impact and contributing to the Common good!

Have you had an experience of serving at Stepping Stone? Please share your experience. How has your service reflected these verses in Amos?

 

Thursday, July 8

Read Isaiah 61:1-11

This chapter shares a picture of the common good. Read this chapter through more than once. It’s worth spending time thinking deeply about the message of this chapter.

When Jesus began his ministry in a synagogue he read these words from Isaiah. After Jesus read the words, he said that they had been fulfilled. Jesus and his values were the fulfillment of Isaiah 61. (Luke 4:16-21).

Does a phrase in Isaiah 61 especially speak to you? Please share.

One organization who lives out the message of Isaiah 61 is Threshold to New Life, led by Richard Bahr. They help bridge the gaps in the life of low-income people. Their web site is threshold2newlife.org. 

They run a soup kitchen at a Salvation Army near Target Field. At that soup kitchen homeless people who actually live outdoors are fed. This soup kitchen is helping the common good become a reality.

Have you an experience of serving at this soup kitchen or perhaps even another soup kitchen? How has the experience been an expression of Isaiah 61? Please share.

 

Friday, July 9

Read Deuteronomy 30:11-20

These words were given by Moses to the Israelites shortly before Moses died. Read all ten verses—taken together they share a powerful vision of the common good. They even give practical ways to live out the common good. In verse 20 we read that people can choose life and live out the common good by loving God, obeying God, and holding fast to God.

One organization that lives out the value of life is River Trail Learning Center. It is a full day Special Education Setting Level IV Program for students K-12. River Trail Learning Center is a new partner with Chain of Lakes Church. This past spring the congregation gave many bags of toiletry items to students at the school.

Did you have an opportunity to share these items with students at River Trail Learning Center? How was your experience of purchasing and sharing these items one of choosing life? Please share.

Saturday, July 10

Read Jeremiah 22:1-5    

The prophet Jeremiah lived in the 7th century. He spoke out for justice and righteousness. He spoke out in an especially dangerous time in Israel and Judah. Eventually Jeremiah was killed for what he said.

These verses share what is at stake in being successful in living out the common good. God was saying that if the leaders of Judah lived out justice and righteousness the nation of Judah would thrive, but if the nation did not live out justice and righteousness the nation would be destroyed.

Take a moment to ponder that message!

This week we’ve read about five organizations who live out justice and righteousness and who have a partnership with Chain of Lakes church. What is another organization who you have particularly admired who lives out justice and righteousness? Please share the name and a bit about your own connection to the organization.

Today as you pray, pray for the organizations that were listed earlier this week in the devotion and pray for the organizations that are listed today. Pray that the organizations literally help the community thrive by living out the common good.

At the end of this week pray that the world is closer to the common good than it was a week ago.

Monday, June 28

Read Matthew 5:21-22

Some people think of this passage when thinking about the relationship of faith and anger. One could possibly make the argument from these verses to believe that followers of Jesus don’t get angry.

However, it’s important to understand a technique that Jesus is using in this section of the sermon on the Mount. The logic is the following.  Do not do x — and to not do x don’t even think of doing y.  In verses 21 & 22 Jesus was saying that people should not murder, and to not murder they should not be angry.

Jesus was using hyperbole about anger to make a point about murder.

He did this in four other cases.  He said—do not commit adultery—and then—don’t even think of lusting after a person. Give your wife a certificate of divorce if you divorce her—and then—if you divorce her you are making her an adulteress. Do not take a false oath—and then—don’t even make an oath. Do not retaliate proportionally—and then—turn the other cheek to someone who wants to hurt you.

Jesus was not saying, “do not be angry.” This would be impossible for a human, and Jesus does not ask his followers to do impossible acts.  He was making a point that our anger should not be used to physically harm another person.

Did you grow up believing that followers of Jesus were not to be angry?

Tuesday, June 29

Read 1 Samuel 11:5-11

In this story Saul responds with anger because of the horrible terms of surrender Nahash was proposing. Nahash said that he would make a treaty with the people on the condition that he would gouge out every person’s right eye.

When Saul heard about this, he became very angry.  The spirit of God actually kindled the anger that Saul shared.

Saul’s anger was based on justice and was righteous.

Righteous anger is a type of anger that refuses to accept a situation of unrighteousness. It’s a response to a situation that is not right or fair or just.

Saul eventually pulled together an army of people, and the Ammonites were defeated.  His anger produced a very positive response for the Israelites.

Have you had a time in your life when you became extremely angry about something you saw in the world? Perhaps your anger inspired you to act in a way that would change the situation.

Wednesday, June 30

Read Exodus 34:6-7a

Some people have grown up with the idea that God is an “angry” God. Or they have thought that the God of the Old Testament is angry and the God of the New Testament is not.

Both of these ideas are wrong.

In this story Moses wanted to know the character of God. He climbed Mount Sinai and asked God to share God’s character or identity.  God passed before Moses and declared that God was “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”  (Exodus 34:6)

God is slow to anger.

We are grateful that God cares enough about the situations in the world to get angry. God is angry when people are treated unjustly, without love, or without righteousness. We want God to respond in this way to actions in the world.

Similarly we might see situations in the world that arouse our own anger. These situations are like the story of Saul that we read yesterday. Something is happening that is so far out of bounds of decency that we cannot help but be angry.

Do you have a story of when you saw a situation of unrighteousness and responded in anger?

 Thursday, July 1

Read Proverbs 15:18

This verse is worth memorizing.

“Those who are hot-tempered stir up strife, but those who are slow to anger calm contention.” Proverbs 15:18

What have you found that helps you be slow to anger? Do you have techniques that have helped you?

Also—do you have a person in your life who exemplified this teaching of being slow to anger? This person is a role model for you in how to respond in anger.

Friday, July 2

Read John 2:13-22

This story of Jesus overturning the tables in the Temple is in all four gospels. In Matthew, Mark and Luke the story took place in the last week of the life of Jesus. In John’s gospel it took place at the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. Jesus saw something that was unjust, and he responded with anger.  Jesus was very upset that people were selling cattle, sheep, and doves in the Temple court.

This image of Jesus is far from the meek and mild image of Jesus that many of us might have learned when we were young. In this story Jesus is quite aggressive, standing up for his own values.

Since we look at Jesus as a person without sin, we can come to the conclusion that acting out of anger is not always inappropriate or wrong or even a sin.

Can you think of a time when someone you know acted out of anger and their response was the right response? In fact, do you hold this person up as a role model for appropriately responding in anger to a situation?

 Saturday, July 3

Read James 1:19-21  

James was not making a universal statement in these verses. He wasn’t saying that all anger does not produce God’s righteousness. If this was the case, then the actions of Jesus in the story we read yesterday would have been unrighteous.

We can be on shaky ground when we are angry, for we can do things that are not appropriate and can hurt others.

However, we have read examples this week of people who appropriately became angry when they saw a situation in the world.

This is why the statement “slow to anger” is so important to us.

Being slow to anger is a characteristic of God. We read about this on Wednesday.

The bottom line is anger is appropriate and even called for in certain situations. However as followers of Jesus we are called to be slow to anger.

Sometimes the emotion of anger gets the best of us. This is why being slow to anger is so important.

What helps you to be “slow to anger?”

Monday, June 21

Read Ephesians 4:25-5:2

We forgive because God first forgave us.  The writer of Ephesians shared that forgiveness originates in God. Our own forgiveness of others originates in God.  God forgives us, and then we pass this on by forgiving others.

Forgiveness is grace.  It is very difficult to share grace unless we’ve experienced grace.   

To forgive it’s imperative that we are in touch with the grace that God has given us.  When we are in touch with this grace, then we can much more easily share that grace with others.

The more we appreciate our own grace the easier it will be to extend that grace to others.

Can you remember a time when you had a powerful experience of forgiveness from God?  Perhaps you did something that you knew was wrong, and you had an experience of forgiveness.    What was that experience like?  How did grace feel?  How was your life different because you experienced grace?

 

Tuesday, June 22

Read Matthew 20:1-16

Sometimes it’s hard to forgive others because we don’t think forgiveness is fair.  We’ve been taught since we were young that people deserve what they earn.  In this story some of the laborers were upset because it didn’t seem fair that others should receive the same wage when they did less work.  Those laborers were correct. By the standards of the world what happened in this story was not fair.  

By the standards of the world, grace or forgiveness is not fair.  It’s not fair that someone should be “let off the hook” for a terrible act that they committed. 

Grace operates according to a different system of math.  We don’t forgive because of its fairness.  We forgive to release the pain that we have experienced; and we forgive because God first forgave us.

Jesus said in the parable not to worry about what others receive.  “Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?” Matthew 20:14-15

As long as we are offered forgiveness, why should we worry if someone else receives grace—even grace that is not deserved?

What a gift that each of us doesn’t have the responsibility of determining who should be forgiven and who shouldn’t.  We are obviously not God.

God has already decided that everyone should be forgiven.  Our task is not to judge others, but to celebrate the gift of grace of forgiveness that we have received.  That gift is more than enough!

Have you experienced a time when you received forgiveness and someone else might have thought this was not fair?

Wednesday, June 23

Read Hebrews 10:11-18

The writer of Hebrews shared that the world changed when Jesus died.  Through his death Jesus perfected forgiveness.  No longer would people have to pay for grace through the purchase of a sacrifice.  Jesus was the sacrifice!  His sacrifice didn’t cost us anything.

God doesn’t hold our past against us? We are released!      

What a terrific gift.  We don’t need to be weighed down by an action of ours from earlier in our life.  God has already seen it and will quickly forgive us!

This gift can release us from our own wrongdoing.  What a wonderful gift!

Do you have something in your past about which you’d like to experience release?

 

Thursday, June 24

Read 2 Corinthians 4:5-11

We do have this extraordinary treasure given to us from God. None of us have done anything to create this treasure or gift.  God wants to share this gift with us in a lavish way.   

One way we can communicate this treasure or gift is when we forgive others.  When we forgive others it’s as if the gospel suddenly breaks out.  Yay, God! 

The Apostle Paul wrote:

“For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh.”  2 Corinthians 4:11

Once someone made the statement, “Preach the gospel; use words if necessary.” 

You can share the gospel with others when you forgive someone. When people see that you are not caught up with what someone else has done to you, they are interested in how this happens. 

Do you have someone whom you need to forgive right now?

 

Friday, June 25

Read Luke 15:11-32

The story of the two sons is a terrific illustration of two ways of life.  Those two ways are the way of forgiveness and the way of merit. 

The younger son received forgiveness.  It was a gift that he didn’t deserve.  The gift didn’t make sense.  But—when it was given almost everyone was glad that it was given.  A great party was thrown.

The older brother lived by the way of merit.  He believed that people should receive what they deserve.  He didn’t believe that his younger brother deserved forgiveness.  The older brother’s heart was hard.  He followed the rules, but wasn’t willing to share grace.

Sometimes our own sense of goodness can get in the way of grace.  Many of us believe that we should be rewarded for our own goodness or merit.   

However, Jesus never said that blessed are the good for they shall receive goodness.  Instead he said, “blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy.”  There is a direct connection between the mercy we know God has given to us and the mercy that we share.

On a scale of 1 – 10 with ten being the highest, how hard is it for you to live the way of grace and not by the way of merit?

 Saturday, June 26

Read Luke 18:9-14  

We heard this story read this past Sunday in worship.  We can view this story as another illustration of the story of two sons that we read yesterday.

The Pharisee lived his life based on merit.  He believed in his own goodness and believed he should be rewarded.  He looked at the toll collector through the lens of merit.  And ultimately he was unfortunately blinded to his own judgment.

The tax or toll collector knew he had messed up.  He was like the younger son in the story of the Prodigal Son.  In Jesus’ day the toll collector would have been a hated enemy.  He was an enemy of the Jews because he represented the Romans—and (like most toll collectors) he had acted unjustly.

It would have been confusing for people listening to this story to see the toll collector in a situation of asking for humility.  But this is what grace does to us.  When grace happens we don’t live by how the world expects people to live.  Strange and wonderful events happen!

Monday, June 14

Read Mark 9:33-37

The followers of Jesus, who we know as apostles, knew that had messed up as they were discussing who was the greatest. When Jesus asked them what they were talking about, they were silent. Busted.

Jesus had a deep desire to teach his followers about what it means to be great. Jesus wouldn’t have been critical of the apostles for talking about being great. He would have wanted to teach them a different understanding of what it means to be great.

We can only guess how the apostles understood greatness as they were arguing with each other. Most likely they understood it to be according to rank or status or intelligence or other qualities that the people in the world often reward.

In this story, Jesus changed the understanding of what it means to be great. “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”

This wisdom saying of Jesus appeared in other places in the gospels. Jesus was communicating that to be first in the Kingdom, one must serve.

Do you have a story of serving that has stayed with you, an example that illustrates this saying of Jesus?

 

Tuesday, June 15

Read Mark 10:43-45

Jesus again shared a wisdom statement that to be great a person must be a servant. 

This time Jesus shared himself as an example. “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

A new philosophy of leadership has developed called “servant leadership.” Robert Greenleaf was the founder of this philosophy of leadership. A servant leader is interested in helping the people being served become healthier, wiser, freer, and more likely to be servants themselves. The servant leader thinks about the interests of the people being served instead of the interest of the leader. 

Jesus is the best example of being a servant leader.

Who is a person who illustrates these qualities of being a servant leader? Who do you know who communicates that he or she is interested in helping others to be the best version of themselves?

 

Wednesday, June 16

Read Luke 22:24-30

One of the metaphors that Jesus used for a leader is the place that a person chooses to sit at a table. Really, Jesus was asking the question, “Who is first in the Kingdom? Is the person who is sitting at the head of the table or the person who serves.”

Jesus answered the question himself by sharing that a true leader is a person who serves and doesn’t automatically believe that he or she must sit at the head of the table.

At this point in Luke the Apostles did not understand this teaching, as they were still disputing with each other who was the greatest.

Jesus was saying yet again that to be great one must not receive from others, but look to serve others.

Yesterday you identified a person who is an excellent servant. Who is a role model that you have for the type of service that Jesus is teaching? A person who you probably don’t know at all, but a person with whom you are familiar. You look up to this person because the person models excellent leadership. Who would this person be for you?

 

Thursday, June 17

Read John 13:12-17

The story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet the night before he died is one of the best examples of leadership ever shared.

Jesus had every reason to be focused on himself at this moment. He knew that he was going to be killed, that the death would be painful, and that many of his followers might fall away from him. 

Yet he was not focused on himself or his own needs. He was focused on setting an example of what it means to be a leader. His model was to wash the disciples’ feet.

The words in verses 16-17 are especially significant. “Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things you are blessed if you do them.”

Jesus found blessing and greatness through serving.

Do you have a story of experiencing blessing through service?

 

Friday, June 18

Read Matthew 23:8-12

“All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

Jesus consistently taught that the quality of humility is another very important characteristic of being great. Unfortunately, humility is not well understood. 

Humility is not downplaying yourself in front of others. In his sermon on Sunday Pastor Paul shared four characteristics of humility.  They are letting go of control; knowing that we don’t have everything figured out; looking to learn from others; acknowledging when we mess up.

Which of these four characteristics are hard for you? Ask God for help today.

 

Saturday, June 19

Read Matthew 20:20-28

Jesus understood the desire that some have to be great. The mother of James and John had a desire for her sons to be great. She came to Jesus with her two sons and asked Jesus if the two could sit at the right hand of Jesus in the Kingdom. Her motivation for asking was so the two would be great.

Jesus responded in a surprising way. He didn’t criticize the mother for making such an audacious request of Jesus. He understood and accepted the desire to be great. Instead, he communicated a different understanding of greatness.  To be great meant people needed to serve.

Jesus wanted people to be great.

What can you do in the next month to be great? Is there a particular way you can serve?

This week we are going to try an experiment. We are going to read the same Scripture verse every day and reflect on a significant word in that verse. See if you can memorize the verse as the verse is very significant for our faith. The verse is this:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2

Each day this week we are going to focus on a word in this verse and then go deeper with that word. 

 

Monday, June 7

Read Romans 12:2

The first word we will explore this week is “conformed.” In this verse the Apostle Paul wrote, “do not be conformed to this world.” The word conformed has the sense of pattern. Do not be patterned after the ways of the world. Paul did not believe that the world was evil or bad, but he did believe and teach that some qualities of the world were not helpful, healthy or whole.

In Galatians 5:19 he wrote that the works of the flesh are fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissension, factions, envy, drunkenness, and carousing. These fifteen words certainly don’t make up the ways of the world. But the Apostle Paul would not want followers of Jesus to conform to these values.

Which of these fifteen words do you struggle with the most? If you have extra courage, share the word in the comment section of Facebook. And then ask for prayers from others. No person is exempt from being susceptible to at least one of these fifteen. At the very least ask for help from God that you don’t conform to that way of the world.

 

Tuesday, June 8

Read Romans 12:2

The second word we will explore is “transform.” Paul wrote that Jesus came into the world so that people could experience transformation. Though it could be, this transformation is not just a one-time “come to Jesus moment.” Transformation happens over time and can happen in thousands of small instances.

The word transformation is like a metamorphosis. Our inner spirit is moving and changing and being transformed towards something special. 

One reason to come to worship is to experience this inward transformation. Our inner spirit is growing towards something beautiful. 

One way to think more specifically about transformation is the Fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:5. The individual parts of the Fruit of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. When we grow in each one of these words we are experiencing transformation.

Which one of these words come naturally for you? Which one is harder?

 

Wednesday, June 9

Read Romans 12:2

Paul wrote that we are transformed by the renewing of our mind. The word “renewing” is an important one to know. Each day we want to experience some sort of renewal. We are connected and re-connected to God. Our mind is renewed.

Our prayer practices can help with the renewing of our mind. Some people have trouble with a racing mind. If this describes how your mind works, learn how to slow down or renew your mind. Take a moment to sit still. Stop focusing on your racing mind. Instead focus on your breath. Close your eyes and focus on your intake and outtake of breath. If a thought comes to you gently push it away. Just focus on breathing. This exercise can help renew your mind.

Try this exercise and share in the Facebook comments section how the experience worked for you.

 

Thursday, June 10

Read Romans 12:2

An important word in this verse is “discern.” Another way to think of the word, “discern” is testing. We are always testing if the way that we are choosing is the will or way of God.

God is always leading us and wanting us to choose the direction of God. We are discerning this direction.

An important question is “how do I test if the way I am choosing is God’s way?” This is where our faith practices are so important. Through our prayer life, through our own worship, through our service and our giving we are put into a situation where we can discern God’s way. The way we practice our faith is significant for discerning the direction of God for us.

Have you had a time in your own life where a faith practice helped you discern the direction of God for you?

 

Friday, June 11

Read Romans 12:2

The “will of God” might seem to be this big idea that is impossible for any of us to discern. But often we make more of the “will of God” than is really there.

The will of God is similar to the desires of God. What does God desire of me in this current moment of my life? As we looked at yesterday, our faith practices can help us discern God’s desires for us.

The will of God is not a pre-ordained condition that was decided a long time ago; the will of God is not necessarily one distinct path and all the other paths are wrong; the will of God could be multiple paths.

What have you found to be helpful to you in discerning the will of God or the way of God? Your stories can help others in this vitally important task.

 

Saturday, June 12

Read Romans 12:2

The will of God is good, acceptable, and perfect or complete.  If you are trying to discern what God desires for you right now in a specific situation, ask the question, what is good, acceptable, and complete?

Sometimes asking a friend for discernment is helpful. Ask your friend that you are trying to discern direction from God and you are trying to figure out what is most good, acceptable and perfect. Your friend can help you do this.

Do you have a friend or even family member who can be a guide for you as you are discerning? If you don’t perhaps spend some time talking to God about who can be a guide for you. Having another person who you trust who can help you figure out what is good, acceptable, and complete is important for us. Who would your person be?

This week we have the opportunity to read stories from the Scriptures about worship. Enjoy!

Monday, May 31

Read Genesis 8:20-22

The first thing that Noah did after he descended from the ark was to worship God. If we look at this story, we don’t see the word “worship” used. Instead, we’ll notice that Noah offered a burnt offering on the altar.  This is how the people of Noah’s day understood worship. In worship people offered an animal sacrifice to God.

To our mind this is a strange way to worship God; no one today kills an animal, puts it on a fire and offers it to God as an act of worship.

However, we can understand the intention of worship in this story. God received the odor of the sacrifice and was pleased. When we worship God, we want to see ourselves as offering ourselves to God. God is the audience of worship. Whether we are leading worship or sitting with others, together the worship is offered to God. We want God to be pleased with what we share.

Pastor Paul encourages everyone to pray for worship that will happen on the upcoming Sunday. Would you pray daily this week the following prayer, “Lord, may you accept our sacrifice of worship this upcoming Sunday. May this worship service be pleasing to you.” Can you do this?

Tuesday, June 1

Read Genesis 22:1-5

This is a difficult story to read. It’s hard to understand why God would ask Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Later in the story we read that it was never God’s intention for Isaac to be killed. Instead, God wanted to test the faith of Abraham.

In verse five we read that Abraham saw the request of God as an act of worship. He said the following to the young men who were with him. “Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.” Genesis 22:5

If we don’t see worship as a sacrifice it might seem very bizarre for the word “worship” to be used in this story. But if we see that Abraham understood a sacrifice as a form of worship, the inclusion of the word, “worship” makes sense.

One way that worship is described is a sacrifice of praise. This phrase comes from the book of Hebrews. When we worship God we are devoting our entire heart to God. Our worship is like a sacrifice of praise.

How easy is it for you to think of your own worship of God as a sacrifice of praise?

Wednesday, June 2

Read Exodus 20:2-4 & Deuteronomy 5:6-8

In these two places we see what is at stake when it comes to worship. In these two readings we read the first of the ten Commandments. The first Commandment is “you shall have no other gods before me.”

This Commandment is very relevant to our own worship of God. When we gather with others in a worship space we are gathering to worship God—the first part of the Trinity. We are acknowledging in worship that God is first in our life.

It’s hard to think that we might worship something else. But think of how easy it is to put other “stuff” before God. This “stuff” can get in the way of our own relationship and in the way of worshiping God.

Do you have stuff that you see yourself putting ahead of God? What gods do you have that you sometimes worship? You might not bow down to these other gods, but they certainly demand our allegiance. And sometimes our allegiance is ahead of our allegiance to God.

To what idols are you susceptible? It might not be easy to come up with an answer to this question, but knowing the answer is very important for our own faith.

Thursday, June 3

Read 2 Kings 17:24-28

When the people were exiled from Israel and Judah their allegiance to God disappeared.  As we read in this story, “when they first settled there, they did not worship the Lord. …” 2 Kings 17:25

We can guess that the people were very upset with God about what had happened. Many who were forced into exile had suffered the loss of their family and friends. They thought that God would protect them from tragedy. When this happened, they stopped worshiping God.

Have you ever gone through a time in your life when you were upset with God and stopped worshiping? Perhaps you’ve had times when you were apathetic about God or mad at your local congregation, and you stopped worship. But have you ever had an experience like what happened in this story, when you were angry with God and stopped worshiping?

Fortunately, God does not leave us to our own devices. It took the king of Assyria to send religious leaders to the people to inspire their worship. The key point is God did not leave the people in their deep sorrow.

Friday, June 4

Read John 4:16-26

This is the lengthiest discussion that Jesus had about worship. Eight times in this story the word “worship” is used. Samaritans and Jews had a significant disagreement about the place of worship. Samaritans thought that God had to be worshiped on a mountain; Jews thought that God had to be worshiped in the Temple.

In this story Jesus changed the location of worship. Essentially, he taught the Samaritan woman that the location of worship is not ultimately important. What is important is that people worship God in spirit and truth.

Jesus was teaching her and teaching us that the location of worship is not most important. What is important is the attitude of our heart—that we worship God in spirit and truth.

In general, how is your attitude when you worship God?  

Saturday, June 5

Read Revelation 4:6b-11

One way to think of heaven is a realm where people are constantly worshiping God. These verses from Revelation share a picture of what this consistent worship might look like.

The creatures in this story are bizarre and the vision might seem to be a bit strange.  What is not strange is what they were doing. They were worshiping the one who lives forever and ever. They were singing. Revelation 4:10

One way that worship is described is a foretaste of heaven. What we do as the gathered community is a glimpse of what heaven will be like.

The next time you worship, think of the experience as a foretaste of heaven.

Monday, May 24

Read Acts 2:37-42

This reading starts out with the people being “cut to the heart.” Their insides were touched deeply about what they had just seen and what they had just heard from Peter.

The people had learned that Jesus was alive. God had taken Jesus from death—a death that many people in the crowd had probably witnessed. The people learned that Jesus was alive—he was at the right hand of God in heaven. Peter declared that God did not view the people in the crowd with enmity.

With this new realization of what happened, the people were touched deeply—they were practically cut to the heart. As a response to being touched deeply, the people engaged in worship. They repented of their sins and were baptized.

Our motivation to come to worship weekly is similar to the experience of this group of people. When we come to realize all that God has done for us, how can we not respond but through worship?

On Sunday, Pastor Paul talked about the power of salvation. Everyone is offered the gift of life after death. We will experience perfection in heaven.

He went on to share that when we are in heaven it’s quite possible that we will think, “I wish I had worshiped God more while I was on earth. If I had known this was coming, I would have responded more deeply.”

Today reflect on the gift of salvation that you are given. How does this gift prompt you to want to worship God?

 Tuesday, May 25

Read Psalm 100

“Know that the Lord is God. It is [God] that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3

Knowing that God is creator prompted the Psalmist to want to worship.

“Enter [God’s] gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to [God], bless his name.” Psalm 100:4

Each of us has many reasons for coming to worship. We might want to see friends, we might be interested in the topic of the sermon, we might have a task that we have to perform. 

The most important reason to come to worship is to give thanks to God for what God has given to us. Yesterday we looked at the gift of salvation; today we read about God making or creating us.

Each of us has 168 hours during the week. By coming to worship we are giving one hour (or so) back to God for the gifts that God has given us. Doesn’t this seem fair?

Wednesday, May 26

Read Exodus 20:2-4

In these verses we read about the first two Commandments of the ten Commandments. They both have to do with worship.

In the first Commandment, we are told “you shall have no other gods before me.” Another way to think about this is we are to worship no other gods except God.

It’s highly unlikely that we would go to a service and actually worship another god. However, the way we live our life might reflect a skewed sense of priorities. What grabs most of our attention? To what do we give our time and our talents, and our treasures? What is first in our life?

God told Moses that God wants to be first in the lives of each person in humanity. We are not to put anything else first.

How are you doing at putting God first?

Thursday, May 27

Read Isaiah 6:1-8

Isaiah received a powerful vision of God in the Temple. He saw God sitting on a throne with seraphs around God and with the seraphs proclaiming the holiness of God.

Isaiah was touched by this vision. So much so that he responded through an act of worship. He acknowledged that he had sinned, he was a man of “unclean lips”. He responded to this vision by sharing an act of worship.

Really Isaiah’s response is the same response as the people in the story of Pentecost—the story we read on Monday. Isaiah was “cut to the heart.” He responded by worship.

When is the last time that you were “cut to the heart?” When have you had an experience that was so marvelous and powerful that you could think of doing nothing else except offering yourself to God in worship?

Friday, May 28

Read John 4:19-26

When Jesus met the Samaritan woman, Jews and Samaritans had a significant difference about the proper place to worship. Samaritans believed that Mount Gerizim, not Jerusalem, was the place designated by God for worship. To learn more about this read Deuteronomy 11:26-30 and 27:1-13.

Jesus changed the importance of the location of worship. “The hour is coming,” he said “when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship. God is spirit and those who worship God must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24)

One idea that Jesus was teaching is it doesn’t matter the location of our worship. People can worship God anywhere. They could worship God on Mount Gerizim or in Jerusalem, or whatever setting they find themselves. What is important is the attitude of our spirits. We share our spirits in truth with God through worship. The location doesn’t matter; the attitude of our heart does matter.

How would you describe the attitude of your own heart when you worship God?

Saturday, May 29

Read Matthew 14:22-33

This past week we’ve read stories where people were touched deeply by something that happened. We read about the people at Pentecost, and David in Psalm 100, and Isaiah who had a deep experience of God. Their response to God was to worship.

The same order happens in this story. The disciples saw Jesus walk on water during a storm. They saw Jesus calm the storm. They felt like their lives had been saved. Something significant had happened.

When Jesus came into the boat the disciples could not help but worship him. They literally bowed down and prostrated themselves in front of Jesus.

It might be too much to think that we could have these types of experiences in every week of our lives. However, the realization of what God has done does prompt us to worship. Tomorrow when you worship, reflect on what motivates you to go. Do your best to reflect and be open to all that God has done for you. May your motivation for worship be the powerful gifts that God gives to each of us.

Events

Exciting news! Chain of Lakes is hosting a one-day Vacation Bible School on Saturday, August 21, 9am – 2:30pm. Kids from preschool through 8th grade will have a day of crafts, singing, story time, science and activities while learning about Jesus in Mission Deep Sea , with no fee to register! It will all happen at the Davenport location, 10130 Davenport St NE, Blaine.
Register online at
VBS Registration Chain of Lakes 2021 (google.com), or pick up a registration form at the church.

Volunteers are needed to make this fun day happen. See what’s needed and sign up at signupgenius.com High school kids are welcome to help and enjoy the fun, too. Parents, please sign them up at signupgenius.com

Have a question? Contact Denton Nissley, the new Director of Youth and Children’s Ministries, at denton.nissley@gmail.com, or call the church office 763.208.8049.

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 2021 – 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!