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Chain of Lakes Videos

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

Sunday, October 17, 2021
Learning about Mental Health
Video featured above

Sunday, October 10, 2021
Psalm 8

Sunday, October 3, 2021
World Communion Sunday

Sunday, September 26, 2021
“What is a Church?” – Guest Preacher Chaplain Richard Bahr

Sunday, September 19, 2021
“Coming Up Short” – Guest Preacher Rev. Denise Dunbar-Perkins

Sunday, September 12, 2021
1 Corinthians Series – Spiritual Gifts

Sunday, September 5. 2021
1 Corinthians Series – Life – Death – Resurrection

(Sunday, August 29, 2021 video not available)

Sunday, August 22, 2021
1 Corinthians Series
Sound on the video (also shown above) starts at 15:31

Sunday, August 15, 2021

(The Sunday, August 8 video is not available)

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Sunday, July 25, 2021
Trust God, Travel Light – Guest preacher Rev. Gene Orr

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


Local Impact


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


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


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 (


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.
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

Monday, October 18

Read Matthew 8:1-13

The two people that Jesus healed in these stories were quite different.  The first was a leper.  Lepers were seen as morally unclean.  Their skin disease was seen as a sin.  People were not supposed to touch lepers or they would become unclean.

Jesus was not afraid to cross this boundary.  He was more interested in healing people than following a boundary that separated people.  It was quite surprising and even radical that Jesus would be willing to touch someone who suffered from leprosy.    

In one sense the Roman centurion was a powerful man.  He was a military officer and a Gentile.  He had people under his command.  He was an outsider to the Jewish people.

In the second story Jesus healed the servant of a centurion.  The centurion was an outsider.  He wasn’t a Jew.  He was part of an occupying power—the Romans. 

It didn’t matter to Jesus what label a person carried.  Just as in the first story, Jesus was willing to cross a boundary to heal this girl, the servant of the centurion.  Jesus didn’t even touch the girl.  He healed her.  Just as important as the healing was Jesus’ willingness to go outside the “respected” circle of people to be a healer.

What does it mean to you that Jesus was willing to go outside of “respected” circles to help people? Please share.


Tuesday, October 19

Read Matthew 8:14-22

This story happened in Capernaum, the fishing village on the northwest side of the Sea of Galilee.  In other gospels the story takes place at the beginning of the gospel. 

We can sense that Jesus wanted to heal people. Jesus carried an orientation inside of him that prompted him to reach out.  When Jesus saw Peter’s mother-in-law in bed with a fever his instinct was to help. His compassion made it possible for Peter’s mother to be healed. 

We might not be able to heal people like Jesus, but we can carry this orientation of compassion with us.  When we see someone who is struggling we can immediately try to help.  Our helping comes from our compassionate heart.

Compassion is a characteristic that we often need to keep cultivating in ourselves. What have you found to be helpful to you in keeping a compassionate heart? Please share.

Wednesday, October 20

Read Matthew 8:23-9:1

Jesus showed that he has authority over the winds.  He told the disciples that they need not be afraid.  This message of “do not be afraid” was the same message that angels frequently told the people they encountered.

The second story is Matthew’s version of the story that was shared in worship this past Sunday.  It’s easy to understand the stigma of mental illness that the people in the village carried.  They were probably afraid of the person who suffered from a demon, who was identified as a Gadarene or Gerasene demoniac.  In Mark and Luke’s version of the story there was only one person who suffered from a demon. 

The people were probably confused and bewildered by the man’s behavior.  They probably tried to stay away from him.  They shunned him. 

People who suffer from mental illness acknowledge similar treatment from others.  They are shunned and ignored. 

Have you ever been ignored or even shunned by a group of people? What helped you through that experience?


Thursday, October 21

Read Matthew 9:1-8

When Jesus told the paralytic that his sins were forgiven he was criticized by the scribes.  The scribes were Jewish leaders of the day.  We can see how the focus of the scribes was so off base.  They were more concerned about a particular point of view than about the possible healing of the man who was paralyzed.

It’s possible for all of us to lose focus like this. It’s easy for a point of view or an ideology to be more important than a life-giving healing.

What would it look like if each of us pledged to take on an orientation of healing. We would look for opportunities to help people in a helpful way. We wouldn’t look at the world through the lens of an ideology or a strict point of view. Instead we would want to help someone—no matter what the person believed, thought, or how the person behaved.

This orientation is an example that Jesus taught.

This orientation of healing and helping is similar to the orientation of compassion that we talked about on Tuesday. What helps you keep this orientation of helping? How do you cultivate that desire in yourself? Please share.


Friday, October 22

Read Matthew 9:9-26

The woman who suffered from a hemorrhage was an outsider.  She had tried to get medical treatment, but she had never received any help.  The doctors gave up on her. The fact that she practically snuck up on Jesus from behind to touch his cloak showed how beaten down she was by the world.

When Jesus encountered her, he immediately embraced her!  “Take heart, daughter, your faith has made you well.”  Matthew 9:22

These words from Jesus are a prime reason to call him Lord!  He was willing to help people who the rest of the world ignored or couldn’t help.

Who does the world ignore that you would like to see helped? Please share.


Saturday, October 23

Read Matthew 9:27-38

Jesus continued to heal people by healing two blind men and a man who was mute.  Like in the story we read yesterday, these were people who the world ignored.

Jesus concluded these chapters by saying, “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”  Jesus wanted people to be like him. Even if people didn’t have the power to heal others he wanted his followers to reach out to people on the margins.

Would you be willing to be a laborer for Jesus?  Would you be a person who responds to folks on the margin with compassion?  Jesus might be looking to you to be one of the laborers!

Monday, October 11

Read Psalm 8:1a

“O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”

The writer of this Psalm, probably David, starts out by sharing an expression of praise for God. Pastor Paul has shared that praise is extoling God for a quality of God. In this case David praised God for the majesty of God’s name.

You could turn this expression of praise into a prayer. Try repeating this prayer over and over, “God I praise you for the majesty of your name.”  How many times could you pray this prayer today?

Another way to repeat this prayer of praise is to share it when something happens—like when your phone goes off, or when you turn on Social Media, or when you see a particular item. You could even set the alarm on your phone for a number of times during the day, and then share this prayer of praise when your alarm goes off.

Praise is a powerful expression of prayer. Think of the many qualities of God. Some of these qualities are shared in Psalm 8. Then take these qualities and turn them into a prayer of Praise. “Lord I praise you for (a quality of God’s)

 For which qualities or attributes of God are you quick to give God praise? Please share!


Tuesday, October 12

Read Psalm 8:3-4

The vastness of the night sky gives us an eternal perspective. Many of us have had an experience of going out at night without any light pollution and seeing all the stars.

In doing this we can get a sense of how small humans are in relationship to the universe. Some have estimated that the universe is 93 billion light years in diameter. Such a vast distance is hard for our human minds to comprehend.

The vastness of the universe can cause us to ask the question that David asked in this Psalm, “what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:4)

The vastness of the night sky can give us a new appreciation for God. God knows this vastness and is even bigger than this. This is hard for our minds to comprehend. It takes faith to believe that God can be bigger than the universe.

Have you had an experience recently of seeing the night sky without light pollution? What did that experience do to you? Please share.


Wednesday, October 13

Read Genesis 15:1-6

Abram—later known as Abraham—was troubled. God had told Abram that God would make a great nation of Abram’s descendants. But Abram’s wife, Sarai could not birth children. She was barren. Abram could not understand how this promise of God would come true.

Abram wondered if his descendants would come through his slave’s wife.

God calmed Abram by telling him to go out and view the night sky.

“Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them,” God said. “So shall your descendants be.” Genesis 15:5.

Abram believed God, and understood that God’s words were righteous.

Have you had a moment when your anxieties melted when you saw the night sky? If not, how could you imagine that looking at the night sky could calm you? Please share.


Thursday, October 14

Read Psalm 8:5-6

Even though humans are miniscule in relationship to the universe, humans have been given dominion from God.

This is an important concept to understand.

Dominion is not domination. Having dominion over the earth does not mean that humans can do whatever they want to do from a sense of power and control.

The English word dominion comes from a form of the Hebrew word, “mashal.” It means to rule or have power.

How do you want to have dominion? You could choose to have dominion by exercising control and power without regard for the consequences. You could have dominion and not worry about how your actions affect the future.

Or you could look at dominion as an expression of stewardship. You are a steward of the earth, charged to take care in how you treat it.

This latter understanding of dominion is what is expressed in Palm 8.

What are some specific ways you can express dominion in a healthy way? Please share.



Friday, October 15

Read Genesis 1:26-28

Like the reading yesterday in this story humans are given dominion over the earth. They are asked by God to look over and rule what happens on the earth.

When we read this passage we can see that the language of Psalm 8 is very similar to the language in this Scripture. In both, humans are given dominion over the birds of the air and the fish of the sea.

Yesterday we read that dominion is an expression of stewardship. We are called to take care of how we treat the earth.

Sometimes it’s helpful to see how others treat the earth with care. What are some ways that you express dominion as a steward—with care and nurture.

Please share!


Saturday, October 16

Read Psalm 8:1, 9

Psalm 8 ended in the same way that it began—with the verse, “O Lord our Sovereign how majestic is your name in all the earth.”

Thinking of God as majestic can help us grow closer to God. Some synonyms for majesty are glorious, stately, magnificent, noble.

As on Monday share a prayer of praise with God today. Repeat the following prayers twenty-five times.

Lord, your name is majestic;

Lord, your name is glorious;

Lord your name is stately;

Lord, your name is magnificent;

Lord, your name is noble.

Share your experience of sharing this prayer 25 times. What does this do for your own spirit?

Monday, October 4

Read Isaiah 27:7-9

The ninth verse is especially powerful:

“My soul yearns for you in the night,
My spirit within me earnestly seeks you.
For when your judgments are in the earth,
The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.”

We don’t know if Isaiah woke up during the night and then wrote this verse. However, it wouldn’t be surprising as in verse nine he expressed a deep desire to connect to God.

Each of us probably can relate to waking up during the night and not being able to sleep. If you find yourself awake at night see if you can focus your thoughts on connecting to God.

Remembering what happens in the Lord’s Supper offers us this connection. When we drink from the cup and eat the bread that is offered, we are connected by the Holy Spirit to the living God—Jesus Christ. Whether we feel this connection or not, we still are connected.

The next time you have a hard time sleeping, remember what Communion is like. Close your eyes and picture in your mind the act of taking the bread and the cup. This connection can settle us and help us connect.

Have you had an experience of focusing on God when you wake up during the night? Please share.

Tuesday, October 5

Read Genesis 17:1-14

Communion is a Sacrament. Presbyterians celebrate two Sacraments—Communion and Baptism. We understand a Sacrament to be a sign and seal of grace. God made a covenant through Jesus Christ to offer us this grace.

In this story we read that God made a covenant with Abram. God shared that Abram’s name would be changed to Abraham and that Abraham would be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. This resulting generations of Abraham would be the community of followers.

The sign of the covenant was circumcision. Every male was to be circumcised on the eighth day of their life as a sign of the covenant that God made with the Israelites.

As followers of Jesus we don’t see circumcision as a sign of the covenant. But understanding circumcision can help us have a clearer understanding of Communion. Communion is a sign of the new covenant. We can’t see the resulting mark of Communion, but a person’s spirit is drawn to God through Communion.

Your life is a sign of the Communion covenant. Think how Communion has made an impact in your own life. How has your spirit been marked by this gift of grace from God? Please share.


Wednesday, October 6

Read Exodus 12:1-13

The celebration of Passover was a very special celebration for the people of Israel. In Passover the Israelites were liberated from Egypt. God passed over the Israelites and saved them from death. The first born of the Egyptians were killed. Pharaoh was so enraged that he let the Israelites go from slavery.

This is a hard story if you were an Egyptian. It’s hard to reconcile the level of violence that took place so that the Israelites could be free.

This is a wonderful story if you were an Israelite and eventually a Jew. The people remember the Passover by celebrating the Passover meal. When Jesus gathered with the disciples the night before Jesus was killed, they gathered to celebrate this Passover meal. The Lord’s Supper or Communion became a new sacrament.

People see the relationship between the death and resurrection of Jesus to the Passover. Just as Jesus died, the first-born of the Egyptians died. Just as Jesus was raised and released from death, the Israelites were release from slavery.

When you celebrate Communion you are connecting to this story of Passover.

When you celebrate Communion do you think about Passover? Please share.


Thursday, October 7

Read Luke 7:36-50

Jesus often shared meals with his followers. In fact, seven times Luke wrote about Jesus sharing a meal in this gospel.

These meals give us a “taste” of what it was like to celebrate Communion or the Lord’s Supper with Jesus.

In this meal Jesus was invited by a Pharisee to enjoy a meal. The events of the meal revealed that the Pharisee was more interested in following the law and being holy than loving his neighbor.  His neighbor was a woman—who was identified as a sinner and came to anoint the feet of Jesus.

She literally gave of herself to anoint the feet of Jesus. This was an incredible gesture by the woman who was willing to give everything she had to bless Jesus.

The Pharisee didn’t “see” what was happening. All he could see was that a “sinful” woman was touching Jesus.

When we celebrate Communion we are given the opportunity to see what Jesus sees. When we come into the presence of Jesus through Communion we receive an entirely different outlook on the world. We shed the judgmental eyes that the Pharisee demonstrated in this story.

You probably have had an experience where you saw the world differently because you celebrated Communion. Please share.


Friday, October 8

Read Matthew 26:17-30

This is Matthew’s version of the Passover meal.  This extraordinary celebration happened in ordinary circumstances. The room was not special. It was in a house of an unnamed man whom Jesus knew about. The disciples were to find this man and share that the time is near for Jesus. 

While they were gathered to celebrate the Passover Jesus acknowledged that one of the twelve would betray him.

Then he shared some of the most well-known words in history.

“Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” Matthew 26:26-28

Share some ways that your own spirit is refreshed in Communion.


Saturday, October 9

Read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Last month we had the opportunity to read through 1 Corinthians. The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to a community that was very divided. He believed and hoped that the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist could bring people together.

Pastor Paul shared in his sermon on Sunday that different beliefs about Communion have divided the church. This is a tragedy and was never the intent of what Jesus wanted when he instituted the Last Supper.

Today as you pray, pray that the Lord’s Supper can bring people together. Pray that in this era of division and partisanship, we can look forward to celebrating Communion with all people—particularly people with whom we have large differences.

Take a moment to pray, and then share how Communion can bring us together as people.

Monday, September 27

Read Psalm 139

We are continuing a focus on significant chapters in the Bible by looking again at important chapters in the Old Testament. This week we will read from six important chapters in the Old Testament.

Take some extra time to write down the chapters in the Old Testament that are significant for you. The exercise is worth your time.

This Psalm starts out, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me.” (Psalm 139:1) The writer of the Psalm then went deep into describing how God knew him (most likely the writer was male) and what impact this knowledge made for his life. Make sure you read all twenty-four verses. This is one of the richest chapters in the Bible. Read these verses slowly, attentively, and carefully.

Pastor Paul has a story of a seminary professor saying that if a person read this Psalm every day for thirty days that person’s life would change.

When each of us understands that God knows us completely then we will be encouraged to go deeper in our relationship with God. God knows every part of us. And God loves us. We can’t escape or hide from God.

What difference does it make to you that God knows you so completely? Please share.


Tuesday, September 28

Read Isaiah 6:1-8

When Isaiah had this encounter with God in the Temple his life was changed. Isaiah received a vision of God. The vision was awesome and touched Isaiah at the core of his being.

Isaiah encountered holiness at the deepest level. In experiencing this holiness, he realized that he did not compare at all to God. He saw his many flaws.  “Woe is me!” he said. “for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 40:5)

Even though Isaiah knew he was fallen in comparison to God, Isaiah knew that God accepted him. God commissioned or called Isaiah to be God’s representative.

At the end of this story the seraph or angel reached out and touched Isaiah’s lips with a piece of hot coal. The seraph asked the question of who would be God’s representative.  Isaiah responded immediately. Isaiah would go!

God does not send perfect people to do God’s work. God sends all of us—even those of us who know how deep our faults and problems are.

ave you had a time in your life that you knew you were supposed to do something? Everything about the task seemed so right. The task might not have been easy, but you knew you had to do it. 

Please share your experience.


Wednesday, September 29

Read Isaiah 40:1-8

Many believe that this chapter starts a new section of Isaiah. Some have called this section Second Isaiah. This section goes from chapter 40 to 55.

The people of the nation of Judah had been exiled from their home. They were forced to travel to the nation of Babylon where they would be in slavery.

And the words from God through Isaiah to the people were “Comfort, comfort my people.” (Isaiah 40:1)

God knew what was happening with the people and reached the people at their greatest need. God was willing to comfort the people.

Some people see the writings of the prophets as God comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. We see this in this chapter.

Have you had an experience of the comfort of God? Please share.


Thursday, September 30

Read Jeremiah 1:4-10

These words are similar to Psalm 139. God told Jeremiah that God formed Jeremiah and knew him. Jeremiah was consecrated a prophet before he was even born. Jeremiah was created to follow the call of God.

Jeremiah was afraid because he was a young boy—probably a teenager. And as a teenager he had difficulty accepting the significant responsibility that God was giving to him.

Of course, this did not deter God. Do not claim your young age as a disqualification, God essentially told Jeremiah. You will go to where I send you.

Just like in the Isaiah story we read on Tuesday, Jeremiah was touched by God. God touched Jeremiah’s mouth. God told Jeremiah that God would give Jeremiah the words that Jeremiah needed to follow this calling.

Take some time to ponder the six verbs in verse ten. They are quite different and even vast.  What do you find significant about them? Please share


Friday, October 1

Read Micah 6:6-8

“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

This verse is worth committing to memory. It is so significant that it’s worth writing down and then carrying the piece of paper in our pocket.

Micah wanted to know what God wanted from him. This is a question that most people eventually ask. “God, what do you want from me?”

Micah proposed offering a gigantic offering to God.  A thousand rams, ten thousands of rivers of oil.

God was not interested in the quantity of Micah’s offering. God wanted Micah to live out the 8th verse.

How does this story touch you? Please share.


Saturday, October 2

Read Amos 5:18-24

“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24)

This verse is very similar to the verse we memorized yesterday. And this verse from Amos is worth committing to memory.

God wasn’t interested in the worship or the gatherings or the offerings that the people were sharing with God. What God wanted was a quality of the people’s heart. God wanted the people to do acts of justice and righteousness. This was most important to God.

At the start of these verses God questioned why the people wanted, “the day of the Lord.” “The day of the Lord” was a dark day of judgment—think of it like some conceptions of the second coming.

God didn’t want people to expect “the day of the Lord.” Instead God wanted people to do acts of justice and righteousness.

What do these verses tell you about God? Please share.

Monday, September 20

Read Genesis 12:1-3

What are your favorite chapters in the Bible? Consider taking some time to off the top of your head write down Scripture chapters that have significant meaning to you. This week we’re looking at six chapters from the Old Testament that have been identified by meaning as significant.

This story is the first “call” story in the Old Testament. At certain moments God “called” people to particular tasks. In this story God called Abram to go to a distant land to start a new nation. Some people think that this story starts the narrative story of the Old Testament.

Abram was going to be blessed by God, so that Abram could be a blessing to others. Five words describe some of this call, “Blessed to be a blessing.” Perhaps you could take these five words and be especially attentive to living them out today. No matter what is happening in your life, you have been blessed. Are there ways that you can share those blessings with others?

Please share some ways that you can identify the blessings you have received from God in your own life.


Tuesday, September 21

Read Exodus 15:1-21

In these verses Moses and then Miriam shared a passionate song of praise to God. They both sang this song right after the Israelites had escaped from the Pharaoh’s armies. Right before their escape the Israelites faced the Nile River on one side and the advancing army of Pharaoh on the other side. It appeared that the Israelites were doomed.

But God made a way for them. God opened up the Nile, so the Israelites had a path through it. Then when the Egyptian armies went into the path, the water closed on them. The Israelites were rescued.

No matter how strong their faith, Moses, Miriam and the Israelites must have believed they were going to die. Then they were rescued. They had lived. And they knew that God had rescued them from disaster.

Take some time to read slowly these twenty-one verses. They describe the praise of God that Moses and Miriam had experienced. In reading them we can feel the passion and love that both had for God.

Have you had a time in your own life when you had a sense of rescue? A time that you were facing potential doom, and you thought that the doom was going to happen. But then you were released—even saved.

Please share.


Wednesday, September 22

Read Exodus 20:1-21

We know of these verses as the 10 Commandments. We can find them in Deuteronomy 5. 

Take some time to read all twenty-one verses. They are informative. If you have some extra time read Exodus 19. You can get a sense of the holiness of the moment. This was a time when the people received the majesty and power and completeness of God.

As people who follow Jesus we are people of grace and not people of the law. But these Commandments are still authoritative. In following them we live a life that God intends for us.

Some of us might have memorized these 10 Commandments when we were young.

How do you look at the 10 Commandments? Are they an archaic list of rules that don’t bring life to you? Are they guard rails that protect you from wrongdoing? Are they something different? Please share.


Thursday, September 23

Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9

This Scripture is known as the “Shema.” Shema is a Hebrew word that is translated as hear. This reading starts out, “Shema” or “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is One. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and all your might.”

This prayer was recited in morning and evening prayers by our Jewish friends.

Jesus combined this prayer with Leviticus 19:8 to form the Great Commandment. Followers of Jesus are to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind and to love their neighbor as they love themselves.

In reading these verses, we see the importance of communicating the message. People were to bind them on their hand, fix them as an emblem on their head, and put them on their door post.

How do you communicate your own love for God? If someone did not know you and came to your home, would they know of your love for God. By watching your life, would another see that you love God? Please share how you communicate your own love for God.


Friday, September 24

Read Psalm 1

A person who is rooted in God and God’s law is like a tree, rooted in streams of water that yield their fruit in its season. In all that they do they prosper.

This sense of rootedness is important for our faith. When we root ourselves in Scripture, prayer, and worship we are grounded in something much deeper than ourselves.

Without being rooted, we run the risk of being like chaff that the wind drives away. When life does not go our way, or we encounter suffering, or we see the pain in the world it’s easy to turn away from God. We might wonder why God would let something like this happen.

But when we are rooted, it’s easier to be like a tree that can withstand the seasons of life.

How do you keep rooted? Please share


Saturday, September 25

Read Psalm 23

These six verses are the most famous verses in Scripture. We heard them frequently at funerals, but they are intended for more than a funeral service. They describe the relationship of God to us.

God is our shepherd—guiding us, helping us, leading us in the right direction.

And even though we go through hard times, God is leading us forward as a good shepherd. We do not need to fear evil for God is always with us.

God is preparing something special for us. When we hang onto God, we can celebrate goodness and mercy all the days of our life. And we can dwell with God forever!

Monday, September 13

Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Many know of this chapter from hearing it read at weddings. In a way this is unfortunate as the love that the Apostle Paul mentioned is agape love and not romantic love or eros. Agape is the Greek word that is translated as love in this passage.

This agape love is the most important characteristic that followers of Jesus Christ can cultivate and share.

In the start of the reading, we get a sense of its importance. Even if a person could speak in tongues or speak like an angel, that wouldn’t mean anything without love. Even if a person had prophetic powers or understanding and knowledge, that wouldn’t mean anything without love. Even if we gave away all of our money and sacrificially gave our life away, that wouldn’t mean anything without love.

Exhibiting and sharing agape love is something that followers of Jesus (and all humans) have to cultivate. When we worship and read the Bible and pray and serve, we are deepening the agape love that we have.

What are some practices that we have found that help us exhibit and share agape love? Please share.

Tuesday, September 14

Read 1 Corinthians 14:1-25

In these verses the Apostle Paul shared a teaching on the gifts of speaking in tongues and the gift of prophecy.

In verse 22 Paul taught that speaking in tongues is a sign for unbelievers, “while prophecy is not for unbelievers but for believers.”

What is significant is to notice the care Paul wants people to have when using these spiritual gifts. When a person uses a spiritual gift, the person is called to think deeply about how it is used and the effects of using that spiritual gift.

The first verse of this chapter is an excellent teaching on this point. “Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts, …” 1 Corinthians 14:1a.  Paul wanted people to use their gifts with love. Using a gift without love is a waste of that spiritual gift.

We probably can think of times when we’ve used our own gifts to puff up our pride or ego or sense of importance. Paul would teach us that these motivations are not the reason God gave each person spiritual gifts. We are given these spiritual gifts to pursue love.

Take some time today to identify your own spiritual gifts. And then pray that you can use them to exhibit and share love.


Wednesday, September 15

Read 1 Corinthians 14:26-40

In these verses Paul shared ways that people can use their spiritual gifts in worship. Look at what he wrote at the end of verse 26, “Let all things be done for building up.” 1 Corinthians 14:26b.

When people gathered for worship Paul gave instructions for using spiritual gifts. Notice how carefully Paul gave these instructions for spiritual gifts.

These ideas for worship might seem very foreign to us. Worship in the 21st century does not resemble what Paul wrote. Paul wasn’t sharing a universal teaching about how worship should be. He was writing for a specific community and giving instructions that were dated in time.

We can take this idea of being dated in time and apply them to the next six verses. These verses are disturbing.  Why should women be silent in churches and not be allowed to speak? Some have even used these verses to mistakenly say that women should not be ordained as pastors.

Some people believe that these words were not even written by Paul but were added later to the final letter.

Context is important. One way to apply the Bible is to apply them through the teachings and example of Jesus. Would Jesus ask women to be silent in church? The answer to this question is certainly no. In fact, if Mary Magdalene had followed this passage, she would have never shared that Jesus was raised from the dead. She was really the first preacher of the gospel.

Context is important.


Thursday, September 16

Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-28

In this chapter Paul wrote about the resurrection. This is one place in the Bible where someone explained the resurrection and why it is important to our own faith.

In the first eleven verses Paul shared the story of faith. Read it through a few times.

Have you ever had a time where you were asked to share the story of faith? If you felt uncomfortable about the story, you could share this story.

Paul went on to share the importance of the resurrection of the dead or the resurrection of people. Paul believed that if Jesus was raised, then everyone else can be raised. If we don’t believe that people can be raised from the dead, then our belief in the resurrection of Jesus might be diminished.

Have you had moments in your life when you had trouble believing in the resurrection? It wouldn’t be surprising. Believing that a dead body can come back to life is not easy. Please share some of your own thoughts about the resurrection.


Friday, September 17

Read 1 Corinthians 15:29-58

Paul continued to write about the resurrection of people or the resurrection of the dead. He believed that people would have heavenly bodies.

Again, this might be hard to comprehend as who can completely comprehend what is going to happen in heaven?

At the end of these verses Paul wrote this – “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:56-57

Thanks be to God that you and I have been given victory over death. How comforting! Share what it means to you that you have victory over death.


Saturday, September 18

Read 1 Corinthians 16:1-21

Paul concluded his letter with sharing details about what was going to happen with him. He was going to stay in Ephesus for a while; he wanted the community to accept Timothy; Apollos might come in the future.

Look at verses 13 & 14. They summarize the letter.

“Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13 & 14. Consider memorizing these verses.

This concludes our reading of 1 Corinthians. What have you learned about this letter from Paul that is helpful to your faith? Please share!

Monday, September 6

Read 1 Corinthians 9:1-18

The Apostle Paul shared in these verses a defense of himself as an apostle. He started out the chapter by writing the following:

“Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 9:1-2)

He closed this passage by writing, “What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:18)

Paul was communicating his own motivation for what he did.

What is your motivation for following Jesus?

All of us at some point have made a decision to follow Jesus and be part of a congregation. For some this decision was made a long time ago; this decision was a natural next step. For others this decision involved a significant change in lifestyle.

When did you decide to make a commitment to Jesus and a local congregation?  Please share.


Tuesday, September 7

Read 1 Corinthians 9:19-27

Paul was willing to do whatever it took to win people over to Christ. We get a sense of his passion in these verses when Paul wrote, “To the Jew he became a Jew; to those under the law he became under the law; to those outside the law, he became outside of the law; to the weak, he became weak.” (1 Corinthians 9:20-21a)

Perhaps some would accuse Paul of tailoring his own desires to the people around him. Others might see his motivation as trying to do whatever he could to be relevant to the people he was serving.

In reading these verses we can sense the passion he had for bringing people to Christ and having them be part of a faith community.        

For some today, this passion might be a bit overwhelming. Some of us might have experiences of people whose passion was too much over the top. Some of us might respect and admire such passion.

What are our thoughts about people who are very passionate about faith? Is this intimidating? Is it beautiful? Is it necessary? Is it something else? Please share.


Wednesday, September 8

Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-11:1

Amidst this fairly long chapter, Paul wrote, “flee from the worship of idols.” (1 Corinthians 10:14) And though he actually didn’t talk too much about following an idol, he did in other places in 1 Corinthians.

A week ago Sunday Pastor Paul talked about the temptation that every person has in placing something ahead of God. It could be our family, or our work, or a hobby, or entertainment. It’s no accident that the first two Commandments of the Ten Commandments have to do with other gods and idols. God knows how hard this issue is for us!

What strategies do you have to help you place God first in your life? What have you seen other people do that helps them place God first in their life?  Having some examples can be helpful to all of us. 

Please share!


Thursday, September 9

Read 1 Corinthians 11:2-33

In the last section of this chapter Paul wrote about abuses that were happening at the Lord’s Supper. Paul felt that people were not prepared to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

However, it’s important to note that Paul was not intending to make a universal rule about taking Communion. When he wrote these words, he wasn’t thinking that people in the year 2021 would be bound by them.

Instead, he was trying to communicate the importance of being ready to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

Some have taken these words and developed somewhat elaborate rituals to help people celebrate the Lord’s Supper. But this was not what Paul was trying to communicate. He was communicating the importance of what was happening, and he wanted people to take this seriously. He wasn’t trying to etch in stone a procedure for taking the Lord’s Supper.

When we see the words of the Bible as prescriptive and not descriptive, we can get in trouble. Paul was not prescribing how to take Communion; instead, he was describing the importance of what was happening and encouraging people to take this seriously.


Friday, September 10

Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

The 12th chapter of Corinthians is a marvelous explanation of the power of a local congregation. We can take these words and apply them to our own congregation.

Paul was celebrating the varieties of gifts that happened in a local congregation. But despite this diversity there was one Lord.  And all of these diverse gifts were shared for the common good. Verse seven is powerful. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7)

The gifts that Paul wrote about are descriptions of gifts that each of us can have. The nine spiritual gifts that Paul shared were wisdom, knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discernment, various kinds of tongues, and interpretation of tongues. These gifts are given for the common good.

Which of these nine spiritual gifts do you identify in yourself?


Saturday, September 11

Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

Paul went on to write about how spiritual gifts can work in a congregation. Having a spiritual gift does not make someone better than another person. Instead, Paul wanted people in a congregation to share their gifts.  Just as a body has different parts, a local congregation has different parts.

One way to define a congregation is a collection of spiritual gifts working together for the common good.

The term “the body of Christ,” which sometimes is a way to describe congregations, comes from these verses in 1 Corinthians.

The success of congregations can depend on how well people’s spiritual gifts work are aligned together. When people work well together using their spiritual gifts amazing ministry can happen!

Monday, August 30

Read 1 Corinthians 4:14-20

Paul saw himself as a guardian of the faith for the people in Corinth. He saw himself as an example of the faith and asked the people in Corinth to imitate him.

When Paul wrote this letter he was living in Ephesus, a village that was over 300 miles from Corinth. He sent Timothy to travel to Corinth to be a representative of him to the people.

Most of us don’t come to faith or grow in faith by ourselves.  We have other people who have helped us on our own journey. These people could be a family member or a pastor or a Sunday School teacher or a friend. This person was able to help us grow in faith at a time that we needed to grow.

Paul and Timothy had this type of mentor relationship with the people in Corinth.

Who has been a mentor for you in the faith—a person who helped you at an important time? Please share.


Tuesday, August 31

Read 1 Corinthians 5:1-13

We now hear about a specific case of sexual immorality that was happening in the Corinth community. A man was living with his father’s wife. Most likely a man was living with his stepmother.

If we knew of someone living with his stepmother, we would find it to be strange.

Paul also found it strange.

He encouraged people in the community to confront the man on his behavior. The man was bringing the church down in the eyes of people of the wider community because of his behavior. The faith of people in Corinth was being diminished because of this man’s behavior.

In our own time we’ve unfortunately seen examples of clergy sexual abuse. The issues are painful and leave a scar that lasts for a long time. We can agree that the leader committing the abuse should not be in a position of power within the community.

At the least the person committing the sexual misconduct should be removed from the position.

Just as we would confront a leader because of our knowledge, Paul was encouraging people to confront this person in the church of Corinth who was living with his stepmother. This behavior was not appropriate and was harming the gathered faith community, the church.


Wednesday, September 1

Read 1 Corinthians 6:1-20

Paul was asked by people in the Corinthian church whether they should pursue a lawsuit against another person in the community. He discouraged them from doing it. Instead if a person had a grievance he encouraged the person to take it to the people in the church to get their opinion.

Does this mean that Paul was declaring a universal law about church people never pursuing a lawsuit against another church person?


Paul was responding to a specific condition in the Corinth community. It is doubtful that when he wrote this chapter he was thinking that from now on anyone in the church should never sue someone else in the church. It is doubtful he was trying to make a religious law or principle that people in the church would follow over two thousand years later—in the year 2021.

However, we can learn about the church, the gathered community in this chapter. If someone’s behavior is causing a moral failure it would be appropriate for the church leaders to discuss it. If someone’s moral failure was hurting the gathered community, then the leaders of the church would have to address it. And it would be appropriate to remove that person from leadership.


Thursday, September 2

Read 1 Corinthians 7:1-24

In these verses Paul took up the issue of having sex within marriage and the importance of circumcision.

If Paul had his way people within marriage would not have sex. He believed that a sexual relationship took people away from focusing on God. However, since he knew this was not possible, he came to the conclusion that sex would happen.

We can see the passion that Paul had for a relationship with God. If something could potentially get in the way of that relationship, then Paul might say that this behavior should not happen.

We also see the pragmatism of Paul in these verses. Paul had visions and ideals, but he also understood that many humans could not live up to these visions and ideals. So though he preferred that people not have sex in marriage he knew that this was not practical.

Paul also shared that circumcision was not necessary for a relationship with God. He strongly believed that circumcision wasn’t an issue of faith anymore. This was a significant teaching for the people in Corinth because circumcision to them was like baptism to us. It was something that followers of God had to have.

Friday, September 3

Read 1 Corinthians 7:25-40

In these verses once again we read of the high calling that Paul placed on faith. Paul wanted people to be free from anxieties so they could focus on their own relationship with God. He believed that marriage would bring anxieties that a person did not need. He also knew that asking people not to marry was not practical. So he came to the conclusion that marriage was necessary.

This chapter has been used to make a case that Catholic priests should not be married. Check out this link:


Saturday, September 4

Read 1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Pastor Paul preached on passages from this chapter this past Sunday. At first glance eating food sacrificed to an idol might not seem relevant for us in 2021. For how does eating meat sacrificed to an idol relate to us?

This was very significant to the community in Corinth. Regulations regarding what food was appropriate went all the way back to Leviticus 11.

We can see Paul’s care for the entire community in his response to this question. People in Corinth were very aware of food laws. They knew that eating food sacrificed to an idol might not be appropriate. If a person followed this law, then eating that food with that person would not be appropriate. This would just set that person back in faith.

People were free to eat whatever they wanted. But as Paul wrote, “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”

We can take this short phrase and apply it to our own life. If our action is advancing God’s love, then it is celebrated. If our actions are hurting God’s love, then we should not be doing them.

Monday, August 23

Read 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

The Apostle Paul had spent approximately 18 months in Corinth and had developed a strong feeling of affirmation for the people who followed him to start a local congregation. Read more of the story of what happened in Corinth in Acts 18:1-17.

In his letters Paul typically gave thanks for the people in the community and started out by sharing his own call to be an apostle of Christ.

We can feel the love that Paul had for the congregation in Corinth. God had enriched the people and this gave Paul great satisfaction.

We might have had times in our own life when we were with a group of people for whom we developed a strong sense of care and affection. Perhaps it was during the summer when we were young, or maybe it was a sports team, or a group of people who were working together on an important work project.

Take some time to remember that experience.

And then share with others what happened. Your experience with this group can give us a sense of what Paul must have experienced with the people in Corinth.


Tuesday, August 24

Read 1 Corinthians 1:10-17

After sharing the greeting and thanks section of the letter that we read yesterday, Paul got right into the purpose of his writing this letter. Look at verse 10:

“Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you are united in the same mind and the same purpose.”

Paul was upset by the divisions that had formed in the church. To him the purpose of him coming to Corinth was for him to preach about the cross. To see people divide themselves by identifying themselves with a certain leader was very upsetting.

We could take verse 12 and apply it to today’s culture. Many people identify themselves as Republicans or Democrats or pro-vaccination or anti-vaccination. It’s easy for us to divide ourselves into group and then let our identity be known by that group. 

Certainly there is nothing wrong in being identified by a group or by a thought. However that identity cannot be more important than our relationship to God. Even when we separate ourselves into groups, our group affiliation cannot be more important than our relationship to God.

Paul wanted to lead the people in Corinth to a deeper understanding of what Christ had done for him. He wasn’t interested in creating factions.

Can you think of a time when people identified themselves with a group or a belief system and that became more important than their relationship to Christ? Please share.


Wednesday, August 25

Read 1 Corinthians 1: 18-31

These verses share an important message that Paul was sharing in this letter. The wisdom of God is best known through the crucifixion of Jesus. “We proclaim Christ crucified,” Paul wrote at the start of verse 23.

Paul shared that the best way to know God is to proclaim what happened on the cross. He would say that Jesus loved people so much that he would sacrifice his life for others, so that others would live.

For a divine being to do this was inconceivable to the people of Paul’s age. Gods were known to be strong and powerful and mighty. A God was not expected to die in a way that some would say was weak.

This weakness could give strength to people who identified themselves as weak. Verses 27-29 are especially powerful, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.” Verses 27-29

What does the cross mean to you? Please share


Thursday, August 26

Read 1 Corinthians 2:1-16

Paul went on in this chapter to share again the power of the cross. It was so incredible that a God would die on the cross that Paul acknowledged it took a spiritual person to recognize what had happened.

“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.” 1 Corinthians 2:12-13

Do you have a story of a spiritual person having a deeper understanding of the cross because of their faith? Please share.


Friday, August 27

Read 1 Corinthians 3: 1-23

Again Paul returned to the issue of unity and encouraged people not to be divided against each other.

He shared that when people claim ultimate allegiance to a human that they were putting them ahead of their relationship to God.

Instead what Paul hoped was that people could see these different leaders as working together to promote the Kingdom.

He wrote, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, god’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:6-10

Can you think of a time when people’s gifts worked well together as a team? The strength of people’s gifts was not a source of division, but instead was powerful. Please share!


Saturday, August 28

Read 1 Corinthians 4:1-13

In the last part of this chapter Paul acknowledged that he didn’t care all that much about what happened to him. He had a relationship with God and that was what mattered the most.  This relationship prompted him to bless others.

He acknowledged that he had all that he wanted.

Take some time to read verses 8-13. What are your thoughts about Paul’s acknowledgement of his situation and recognition of what his faith meant to him.

Could you see yourself as having that level of faith? Why or why not? Please share.

Monday, August 16

Read Genesis 12:1-3

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 shared in his sermon yesterday that there is one church. He talked about how his family celebrates one church in two congregations. 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.

Take some time today to talk to someone who attends a different congregation. Celebrate with that person that the two of you are part of one church.


Tuesday, August 17

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 the word “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 the nations that existed in his day. He also meant future nations.

The word, ethne 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.

In the past Pastor Paul has defined a church as “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.


Wednesday, August 18

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 of something. They are called out of the values of the world.  Values like power and abuse and hate. The church is called out to live by different values. These values are personal—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.

What are some examples that you’ve seen of congregations  being called out? Please share.


Thursday, August 19

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 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 nineteen 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.

Do you know of someone who you feel close to because you are both spiritual and part of a congregation, that you talk to about your experience in a congregation? Please share.


Friday, August 20

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 the people from the Church of Christ—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 the 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, Church of Christ, nondenominational people.

All of these denominations are made to enjoy or drink of one Spirit.

What are the different denominations of congregations in which you’ve participated? Please share.


Saturday, August 21

Read Acts 2:37-47

Pastor Paul preaches on this story from Acts on special occasions at Chain of Lakes and did so at the Groundbreaking this past Sunday.

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. Have you had an experience of “wow” in a congregation? Please share.

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?




The focus of worship October 17  and October 24 will be Mental Health. Everyone who comes to worship will learn more about mental illness, learn how to lessen the stigmas around mental illness, and learn how to help those who live with mental illness.

Sunday, October 17, Richard Garcia will share his faith story about his experiences, and the insight he has about Mental Health. Pastor Paul will be speaking about how people of faith can respond to those living with Mental Illness. Worship this Sunday promises to be a service that people will remember for a long time.

Sunday, October 24, the focus will be helping those who suffer from Mental Illness. Cathy Smith will share her experiences of living with mental illness during worship. Kay King, a speaker from the National Alliance on Mental Alliance will speak at a forum after worship. 

Church Calendar

Community Gardens

Very big pumpkin grown in the Chain of Lakes Community Garden by Jeremy Feuks. 10/7/2021


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
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!