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Sunday Worship Videos

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

Sunday, May 9, 2021
Messy Families – Celebrating Mothers
Current video shown above

Sunday, May 2, 2021
Messy Families – Parenting Our Parents
Sunday, April 25, 2021
Messy Families – Connecting Family Systems

Sunday, April 18, 2021
Messy Families – Love & Logic Parenting

Sunday, April 11, 2021
Messy Families – Communicating

Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021

Holy Thursday, April 1, 2021

Sunday, March 28, 2021
The Sermon on the Mount – The Golden Rule
Palm Sunday

Sunday, March 21, 2021
The Sermon on the MountYou are Enough

Sunday, March 14, 2021
The Sermon on the Mount –  Don’t Judge Me

Sunday, March 7, 2021 
The Sermon on the Mount – Motivation for our faith

Sunday, February 28, 2021
The Sermon on the Mount – the Extensions

Sunday, February 21, 2021
The Sermon on the Mount – the Beatitudes

Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Sunday, February 7, 2021
Making an Impact – Hunger

Sunday, January 31, 2021
Making an Impact – Homelessness

Sunday, January 24, 2021
Everyday Joy – Grace

Sunday, January 17, 2021
Everyday Joy – Power of Praise

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

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


Local Impact


Chain of Lakes has partnered with Anoka-Hennepin Schools for many years, stocking food shelves at Anoka Regional, Anoka Technical and Blaine High Schools. Currently River Trail Learning Center in Coon Rapids could use some donated items. RTLC is a full day, Special Education Setting, Level IV Program, for students K-12, administered and staffed by Anoka-Hennepin School District. The Chain of Lakes Impact Team is asking you to help this school by donating items from the list below. These items can be dropped off at Chain of Lakes, 10130 Davenport St NE #160, Blaine, Monday – Friday 10am to 4pm from April 26 – May 9, 2021

Socks:  All boys and men’s sizes -Black & white – ankle length,  crew length

Socks:  All girls and women’s sizes – all colors – ankle length

Underwear: All boys sizes & small/medium men sizes

Tooth Brushes and Tooth Paste


Shampoo & Conditioner

Body Wash: men’s and women’s

Body Lotion



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


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
The Local Impact Team has organized many events to help serve at:
  • HOPE 4 Youth
  • Stepping Stone Emergency Housing
  • Feed My Starving Children

Daily Devotions

Daily devotions, organized by week. Comments about the devotion can be emailed to

The Bible has all sorts of stories about mothers.  This week we have the opportunity to read some of them.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 10

Read Exodus 1:22-2:10

Moses, one of the greatest people in the Old Testament, almost didn’t survive beyond the first year of his life.  It was only because of the courage of three women that he lived.

It was a dangerous time. The Pharaoh of the time was extremely upset and threatened by the growing number of Israelite boys. He ordered that all the male Israelite children under two be killed.

Amidst this chilling and frightening decree three women displayed courage to save Moses. Jochebed, the biological mother of Moses, hid Moses in a basket so that Pharaoh and his minions wouldn’t see him. Moses’ sister, Miriam, stood watch to protect Moses from anyone who would threaten him.  And the daughter of Pharaoh—the man who pronounced a death sentence on the children—was willing to have Moses nursed by a Hebrew woman. How ironic that Miriam, one of her attendants, was able to maneuver the situation so Jochebed, the mother of Moses, nursed Moses!

Today as you pray give thanks to God for these three women—Jochebed, Miriam, and the daughter of Pharaoh. Their display of courage allowed baby Moses to live.

All of our mothers have displayed courage. Think of a time when your mom was especially courageous

Tuesday, May 11

Read Mark 3:20-35, Luke 2:41-52

It might be easy to think that Jesus had a perfect family life, but this was not so. His family experienced many messes. Once Mary and Joseph lost track of Jesus for three days. Another time Mary and the brothers of Jesus came to take control of Jesus because they were worried that Jesus had lost his balance.

Jesus went on to say at the end of the third chapter of Mark that “whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”  Mark 3:35. It had to be painful for the family of Jesus, especially for Mary, to hear these words. Jesus had a higher calling than his own family.  He wasn’t as available to his family as his family would have liked. The level of public involvement by Jesus must have caused sadness in his family. 

The myth of the perfect family is just that—a myth.  All of our families are messy. No matter how we view our family, may we know that the messes in our own family are similar to the messes that Jesus experienced in his family.  


Wednesday, May 12

Read 1 Samuel 1:10-11, 19-20, 24-28, 2:18-19

Hannah was an incredibly courageous woman who is a role model for being a parent.  She stayed devoted to her husband, Elkanah, even though another of his wives (Peninnah) teased Hannah about Hannah’s inability to have children.

When Hannah was accused by Eli the priest of being drunk, Hannah stood up for herself.  She explained that she wasn’t drunk, but instead had been praying in a very deep way. Hannah wasn’t willing to let the false accusation of a religious person define her. She also didn’t let the teasing of Peninnah maker her bitter.

Hannah eventually was able to conceive a child. But even then she was willing to give her child to the Lord. Hannah’s son was Samuel—one of the most famous prophets in the Old Testament. After Samuel stopped breast feeding, Hannah gave Samuel away. He was trained to be a priest. 

Ultimately Hannah wouldn’t let other people define her. Her identity was firmly set in God. As you pray today, pray that your own sense of identity can be like Hannah’s—firmly set in God.


Thursday, May 13

Read Proverbs 31:15-30

The writer of Proverbs shared a vision of life as a woman and as a mother. This beautiful vision was written in a culture that did not value women. The main purposes of women at that time were to be a good wife and to be a good mother to children.

Nonetheless, these verses transcend the time.

Enjoy some parts of this vision.

“She rises while it is still night and provides food for her household and tasks for her servant-girls. (verse 15)

She girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong (verse 17)

She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. (verse 20)”

If you have some extra time today, you might write a similar Proverb about your own mother. What are the qualities about her which you most respect?  If you wrote a proverb for her, what would you write? 


Friday, May 14

Read Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:1-4

The passages in Ephesians pointed back to the 4th Commandment.  In that Commandment all of us are told to honor our father and our mother.

This commandment has been misused at times to demand that children obey their parents. However, the Commandment wasn’t issued to be used in such an authoritarian way.

One of the tasks of a parent is to earn the honor of their children. If you are a parent, think about what can do to continue to earn the honor of your children. Your children should honor you—most definitely!  But they have a choice about whether they will honor you.  Their choice will depend on how we love them. 

Today as we pray, talk to God about how you can love the children in your life even more. What can you do to earn their honor? If you don’t have children, talk to God about children you know, who you love.


Saturday, May 15

Read Isaiah 49:8-15, Psalm 131

Many images of God are used in the Bible and some of the images are feminine.

Isaiah made the case that God would not forget the people of Israel when Isaiah said this about God:

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb?”  Isaiah 49:15

The Psalmist wrote about the feminine characteristics of God:

“But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.”  Psalm 131:2

Gender does not contain God. But we can understand God through the characteristics of our parents—and certainly through our mother.  

Reflect today about how your own mother displayed characteristics of God. 

This week we have the opportunity to read about aging and caring for those who are older than us. Enjoy!

Monday, May 3

Read Genesis 5:25-27

Methuselah was the oldest person mentioned in the Bible. According to Genesis 5:26 he lived to be 969 years, the longest life of anyone mentioned in the Bible.

According to the New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible Methuselah means “man of shelakh.” Shelakh represents either the name of a weapon or the name of a Canaanite God. 

If you look add up the dates of when Methuselah’s son, Lamech and grandson Noah lived, Methuselah died in the year of the flood. It’s worth wondering if Noah had regrets about Methuselah’s death from the flood.

Who is the oldest person that you have ever known? How old did that person live—certainly not 969 years old. What contributed to that person living such a long life?

As you pray today, give thanks for this person who is the oldest that you know or have known. Reflect on the person’s qualities and what contributed to such a long life.

Tuesday, May 4

Read Genesis 25:7-11

Abraham didn’t live as long as Methuselah; Abraham only made it to 175. 

Verse eight shared some significant information about Abraham.

“Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people.”

Most people would choose to die like this—surrounded by family and well-respected in his community.

In his sermon this past Sunday Pastor Paul talked about “tov sebah,” which literally means “a good old age.” This is a description of the length of years that someone, in this case Abraham, lived. And it’s a description of the life that the person lived. Abraham lived a beautiful life and was blessed to live to a good old age. He lived a good life.

“Tov sebah” is what we want for our parents. We hope that they can live until a point where they are surrounded by family and friends, and their life made an impact on many people.

If your parents have passed, did they live to a “good old age?”

If your parents are still alive, would you say that they are living to a “good old age?” 

Remember, the term is more than a description of the length of their life. It describes the quality of their time on earth.

Wednesday, May 5

Read 1 Chronicles 29:26-30

King David was like Abraham—he enjoyed “tov sebah.” He lived to a good old age.  His life was described as one “full of days, riches, and honor.”

David was the greatest king of Judah. He not only led the nation to unprecedented accomplishments, he was also part of the ancestry of Jesus.  One title of Jesus is “Son of David.” We know, of course, that David wasn’t the father of Jesus. This phrase means that Jesus was in the ancestry or line of Jesus.

Jesus knew the story of David and knew that David was related to him. He surely spent time reflecting on David and the qualities of David that were significant.

For whom in your ancestry do you have high regard? This would be a person who you would be proud to say you are the person’s son or daughter. You are son or daughter of name of this person.

 Take some time to identify this person. What qualities were especially significant and important to you? As you pray today, give thanks for this person.


Thursday, May 6

Read 1 Timothy 5:1-2

In the letter to 1 Timothy, Timothy received a lot of advice. These two verses are part of this advice. These verses can help all of us as we care for our parents.

As we care for our parents, we will have times where our buttons are pushed. Something is going to be done that is hard for us to accept.  At this point the words of these verses are helpful:

“do not speak harshly to an older man, but speak to him as a father, to younger men as brothers, to older women as mothers, to younger women as sisters—with absolute purity.” 1 Timothy 5:1-2

Holding our tongue when every part of us wants to scream is a gift. For a few it is not hard to do, but for many of us we need practice to hold our tongue. As you pray today, talk to God about how you do at not speaking harshly to the people who are closest to you.


Friday, May 7

Read Genesis 5:18-20

Jared is the second oldest person in the bible.  He lived to be 962 years, only three shy of Methuselah. Jared was the grandfather of Methuselah.

Did Jared really live to be 962? Probably not. The oldest person who ever lived was Jeanne Louise Calment, who lived to be 122.

Knowing that Jared didn’t live to be 962 doesn’t take away from the authority or the importance of the story. This story is still worth knowing and reflecting on how it shapes our own life.

The truth of the Bible does not always come from the historical truth.

Jared is mentioned in the ancestry of Jesus—see Luke 3:37. So it’s worth knowing who he is and some of his story.


Saturday, May 8

Read Luke 7:1-10

In terms of being a role model for care, the centurion would receive high marks. He valued his slave highly and intentionally set out to find Jesus and ask Jesus to heal the slave. The centurion did not have to do this, but he cared so deeply that he wanted to help.

Even Jesus recognized the care and faith of the centurion. When describing the centurion he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” Luke 7:9

Perhaps the centurion could be a role model for each of us as we share the ministry of caring for others. Read this story closely and see the qualities and actions of the centurion that stand out to you. Do some research on the centurion. Learn what prompted him to go find Jesus and ask for healing for the slave.

This week we have the opportunity to read the story of Jacob and Esau. It is a powerful story of what can happen when people in families hurt each other, and then offers the possibility of reconciliation at the end.

 Comments about the devotion can be emailed to


 Monday, April 26

Read Genesis 25:19-28

Jacob and Esau came into a family that had unhealthy characteristics. Isaac loved Esau and Rebekah loved Jacob. The tension between Jacob and Esau was foreshadowed in their birth when Jacob was holding the heel of Esau.

Some of us might have grown up in families where our parents played favorites. This characteristic was probably one that our parents experienced when they grew up. Quite possibly they experienced the joys and problems of favoritism in their own family.

Esau and Jacob were almost set up to be in tension with each other. When Esau was born his body was hairy and red. This foreshadowed his being a hunter, a man of the field; Jacob was foreshadowed to be smart and a man who was more domestic. With such different qualities it is not surprising that they found themselves in conflict.

Did you grow up in a family where you were significantly different than a sibling? If so, how did those differences play out? Were they accepted or acknowledged, or did they cause favoritism or conflict? As you pray today, talk to God about any possible differences you experienced in your own family.


Tuesday, April 27

Read Genesis 25:29-34

The birthright was the rights and advantages that Esau would have as the first-born son. Jacob obviously wanted the birthright. His question of Esau in the last part of story did not happen in a vacuum. Jacob must have thought about getting the birthright.

Esau made a rash decision in giving up his birthright for food. Jacob used the situation to manipulate Esau. The story is not only about Esau’s mistake, it’s also about Jacob’s manipulation.

Have you ever made a rash decision that had significant implications for your own life? The point is not whether the decision turned out well or not. The point is whether you’ve had to make an on-the-spot decision like the one that Esau made. Has this happened to you?

Esau is easy to criticize in this story as he seems to only care about filling his stomach. However, the immediacy of his feelings overwhelmed him. As you pray today, pray that you don’t find yourself in these types of situations.


Wednesday, April 28

Read Genesis 27:1-29

Jacob and his mother, Rebekah, decided to deceive Isaac about the blessing that Isaac would give. Jacob dressed up like his brother Esau, so Isaac would think that he was giving his blessing to Esau. Isaac was practically blind.

The level of deception by Jacob is stunning.

The division in the family that started early in their life now came to bring this deception.

Verse 28 is one verse of the blessing. It is beautiful and worth committing to memory. As you pray today, ask that you would be blessed in this way.

“May God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine.”

Simple and beautiful!


Thursday, April 29

Read Genesis 27:30-46

Isaac and Esau learned of Jacob’s deceit in this story. It is a painful story of two people who realized they have been fooled by someone they love.

Perhaps you have had an experience like this in your own family. Have you been deceived or treated in a very poor way?

This story is one for anyone who has had such an experience. The story doesn’t make what was done right and doesn’t absolve the person who deceived us. But we can have an understanding of the pain that deception causes.

The Bible doesn’t hide from the worst of human behavior. The story of Jacob deceiving his father and the pain of Isaac and Esau is an example of what can happen.


Friday, April 30

Read Genesis 32:3-12

The story fast forwards another year to the point where Jacob is ready for reconciliation with Esau. But Jacob didn’t trust that Esau would treat him well.

When Jacob heard that Esau had over four hundred men, Jacob divided his entourage into two groups thinking that one group could escape if Esau attacked him.

Imagine the pain that Jacob felt.

Jacob turned to God in prayer. His prayer is one made by someone whose back is against the wall. Part of his prayer is shared below. If you’ve ever had your own back against the wall, this prayer could be your prayer. For space reasons, not all of the prayer is included.

“O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, … I am not worthy of the least of all the steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, … Deliver me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I am afraid of him; he may come and kill us all, the mothers with the children. Yet you have said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted because of their number.’” (Genesis 32: 9-12)


Saturday, May 1

Read Genesis 33:1-17

This is a powerful story of reconciliation. Esau had no desire to exact pain onto Jacob. Instead he hugged him and cried with him.

This story of reconciliation is one reason that we should never give up on our relationships with our family. On Sunday Pastor Paul talked about choosing to be cut off from your family or experiencing being cut off by another person. Even when cut-offs happen continue to pray that God can bring you back together.

If Jacob and Esau could be reconciled, then anyone can be reconciled.

This past week Pastor Paul continued a sermon series called, “Messy Families.” He preached about parenting, specifically about “Love and Logic” parenting.

The Bible is not a handbook for parenting; however, the Bible does share stories that illustrate examples of high-quality parenting.

This week we have the opportunity to learn more about Mary, the mother of Jesus, as a parent. Enjoy!


Monday, April 19

Read Luke 1:26-38

Many parents—moms and dads—have been surprised to discover that they are going to be parents. Most likely an angel hasn’t come to share this news, but many have responded like Mary when learning that they would soon be a parent.

“How can this be?” (Luke 1:34a)

The full verse is “How can this be since I am a virgin?”

If you are a parent, take a moment to remember the story of when you learned that you would be a mother or father.  What was your response?

No matter whether we were happy or sad, excited or worried, the response of God is always the same. God promises that God will be with us.  Mary captured this idea a bit when she trusted God that the result would work. Despite her confusion about what was happening, she turned it over to God. “Here am I the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

That might be the gutsiest prayer in the Bible. Would you consider sharing this prayer with God? Whatever you are experiencing turn it over to God. It is a gutsy task, but one that can bring us peace.


Tuesday, April 20

Read Luke 1:46-56

Shortly after Mary learned she was pregnant she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth greeted Mary, Elizabeth shared a blessing with Mary. Elizabeth’s greeting gave Mary tremendous comfort and strength. If we are parents, we might remember receiving a similar level of comfort and strength when we started sharing the news about being a parent.

Mary’s song of praise is one of the most beautiful in the bible. In this song of praise Mary shared a vision for the world. She gave praise to God for what God wanted to accomplish through her Son’s life, and she shared a vision of what God continues to want to accomplish in the present day.

Read this song of praise more than once today. Consider reading it at least five times. Each time you read it, consider how God is working towards developing this vision in the world. Ask God how you can contribute to this vision. Consider how your family can be representatives of this song of praise.


Wednesday, April 21

Read Luke 2:41-52

Pastor Paul shared an important teaching from this Scripture in the sermon on Sunday. Watch it again at

Mary shared a range of emotions in this story about being a parent of Jesus. She was exasperated with him because Jesus was willing to go off on his own and seemingly not share any concern that his parents would be worried about him. She was thrilled at the level of knowledge about faith her son exhibited with the Jewish rabbis.

As parents we frequently experience these range of emotions about our children. At one moment we might be crying because we’re so angry with our kids; the next moment we might be crying because we’re so full of joy about our kids. This range is what Mary experienced in this story.


Thursday, April 22

Read John 2:1-11

Mary wasn’t sure what would happen in this story because the wine ran out. But she was sure that her Son would have a plan to respond to the issue.  At first Jesus was reluctant to take action. “Woman, what concern is that to you and me?” (John 2:4) Eventually Jesus did take action.

This purpose of this story is certainly not to communicate a method of parenting. And even though she did not know about Love and Logic parenting, she was exhibiting one of its principles.  She was not taking on the problem of her Son. This problem and challenge were for Jesus to handle; they were not for her to figure out.

Think about respecting that our kids’ problems are our kids’ problems. Our task is not to take them away. Our task is to be helpful, to communicate well, not to judge, and to let the problem play out. We can trust our kids to make decisions and that they have the resilience to live with the consequences of their decisions. Is this easy? Of course not. But it is a very healthy way to proceed.


Friday, April 23

Read Mark 3:31-35

Mary had more than one person to parent. Some have disputed whether Jesus really did have brothers and sisters. But it is not hard to make the case that he did. Just read this story.

Jesus expanded the idea of family by responding that whoever does the will of God is his brother sister and mother. But this statement doesn’t take away the reality of who was in his biological family.

The issue of whether Jesus had brothers and sisters has been one that people have disagreed about. And whatever a person’s view, our view of whether Jesus had brothers and sisters doesn’t need to distract anyone from the importance of loving God and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.

However, thinking that Mary had more than one child can increase the respect that we have for Mary.


Saturday, April 24

Read John 19:25-27

Mary had to experience something that no parent should have to experience. She had to watch as her son died a slow and painful death. It’s not surprising that Mary would keep watch while Jesus died. Her example as a parent is one that many would follow.

Knowing that Mary was present with her son while he died says quite a lot about Mary’s character. Mary was not willing to let any possible danger to her or to the other women who were with her get in the way of being with Jesus.

Even in the midst of terrible pain, we can get a sense of the devotion that Mary had as a mother to her son. 

May all of us see Mary as a role model of deep love and devotion as a parent. May all of us have that same love and devotion!

This past Sunday Pastor Paul began a new sermon series called, “Messy Families.” Each Sunday he is sharing tools that will help families live with their messes.

The Bible shares different readings that can help us understand families better. The Bible is not a handbook for healthy families. It is more like a guide that helps us understand.

 Comments about the devotion can be emailed to


Monday, April 12

 Read 1 Timothy 5:3-8

One way that the New Testament describes families is a group of people living in the same house. The group might not be biologically related to each other, but they are still a family.

In this passage the apostle Paul shared principles for treating people who live in the same household. Some of the principles are, “Do not speak harshly to an older or younger man or to an older or younger woman. Honor widows”.  Paul went on to share teachings about how widows could stay spiritually connected to God.

You might have people who are living in your household who do not have a biological relationship to you. These people are still like your family. People who live in your household still present all the relationship challenges that family members present.

Today go out of your way to bless the people who are living with you. If you are single, pray about someone who is close to you whom you can bless. Honor these people just as the apostle Paul encouraged people in these verses to honor widows.


Tuesday, April 13

Read Luke 2:4

In this familiar verse we read that Joseph went to his hometown of Bethlehem to be counted in the mandatory census “because he was descended from the house and family of David.”

This extended lineage is another way that people are described as family. Matthew’s gospel begins with the genealogy of Jesus. This genealogy of Jesus can be thought of as his family.

Many of us are familiar with our ancestors. And with online web sites it’s easier than ever to learn who our ancestors are. These people obviously are family.

Who in your ancestry as important to you? What qualities of someone in your family’s past do you especially appreciate. In what specific ways would you like to share the meaning of your own family by communicating these qualities?

In your prayer time today, spend time giving thanks for particular people in your past. And pray that you can pass on qualities of people in your past that are especially important to you.


Wednesday, April 14

Read 1 Corinthians 8:8-13

A third way to think of family is those who are connected to you through faith. Sometimes a congregation is called a “church family.” And though a congregation is not precisely a family since connection to a congregation is voluntary, and connection to a family is not, there certainly are qualities of congregations that are consistent with qualities of families.

In this passage the Apostle Paul teaches about the spiritual example that people have to others in a faith community. He discouraged people from eating food that was sacrificed to an idol. The principle that he was teaching was not to avoid the specific food that was being eaten; instead it was the example of eating that food. By eating food that was sacrificed to idols, followers of Jesus were sharing a poor example of faith.

All of us are role models in faith to others. As you pray today, ask God to give you a clear understanding of how you can be a role model to your spiritual family.


Thursday, April 15

Read Genesis 4:1-8

We might think that families described in the Bible are not messy. This thought could not be farther from the truth. The very first family suffered a murder. Cain killed his brother, Abel.

Most of us will not have to suffer something as horrible as a murder in our own family. But all of us can acknowledge that our families are messy.

In his sermon on Sunday Pastor Paul encouraged people to identify their own families as messy. Don’t try to portray an image of the perfect family to others. Instead be authentic and be open to communicate the challenges you encounter in your family. This doesn’t mean, of course, that everyone has to know everything in your family. What it does mean is that you are not defensive about the messiness in your own family. Instead, you freely acknowledge the challenges your family encounters.


Friday, April 16

Read Ruth 1:15-18

These verses illustrate the passion that Ruth had for her mother-in-law, Naomi.

Ruth had experienced terrible loss. Her husband, brother-in-law, and father-in law had died.  Naomi—her mother-in-law—encouraged Ruth to leave Naomi and find another husband.  A husband was essential for a woman’s welfare and well-being.

Orpah, Ruth’s sister-in-law, did leave Naomi to find another husband. But Ruth wanted to stay with Naomi.

Her words are significant. They reveal the passion that can keep a family together.

“Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die—there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you.” (Ruth 1:15b-17)


Saturday, April 17

Read Psalm 133

This Psalm illustrates a vision of what can happen when families live together in unity. The Psalm shares metaphors of blessings.


One metaphor is of oil running down someone’s beard. The oil represents blessings. When families love and care for each other these blessings overflow.


Another metaphor is the abundant dew on Mount Hermon. It represents the overwhelming number of blessings that happen when families live together in unity.


Think of a metaphor that you would use to describe the blessings of a family living in unity. What would it be?

This week we have the opportunity to have our own Bible Study on the resurrection.  In this devotion you’ll read the resurrection story in each of the Gospels along with two other passages that describe the resurrection.

Learning and growing in our understanding of the resurrection is a
life-long task.  We probably have read the Scriptures in this devotion before.  As you read them and reflect on them, take time to be open to the presence and nudging of the Spirit.

Monday, April 5

Read Matthew 28:1-10

As Pastor Paul shared yesterday in the Easter sermon, the first words out of the mouth of the angels and of Jesus were the same.  Both said, “Do not be afraid.”  This is quite a statement considering that the worst event in human history had just happened—the willful murder of Jesus.

The words by the angels and by Jesus can transform our own fears.  If the crucifixion can be transformed, then our own fears can be transformed.

What fears do you have right now?  Imagine the angels and Jesus coming to you and saying, “do not fear.” 

As you pray today give thanks that our fears can be transformed.  Pray that Chain of Lakes Church can be a place where people release their fears.  Praise God for the power of the resurrection.

Tuesday, April 6

Read Mark 16:1-8

The resurrection story in Mark has three endings.  The first ending ends in verse 8, the shorter ending ends in verse eight, and the longer ending ends in verse 20.  Most Bibles include all three endings.

Imagine the story ending in verse 8.  The story said that the women said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.  If that had happened no one would know about the resurrection.

What if you were responsible for sharing the story of the resurrection with the world?  Would you be quiet and afraid or would you share the story? 

God depends on us humans to communicate the resurrection story with others.  Today as you pray, ask God for an opportunity to share the resurrection story with someone today.

Wednesday, April 7

Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

This passage written by the apostle Paul is like a statement of faith.  Paul shared the story of the resurrection.

Look at verses nine and the first part of ten—“For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain.”

Paul identified himself as a person of the resurrection.  He could not have become the person God wanted him to be without the resurrection.

How does the resurrection make a difference in your life?  Would you ever introduce yourself as “Hi, my name is ___, and I am a person of the resurrection!” 

As you pray today, talk to God about how the resurrection forms you as a person.

Thursday, April 8

Read Luke 24:1-12

The seventeen words of the angel in verse five are worth committing to memory today, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen.” 

The question that the angel asked is one that can be asked of us.  Where do we discover life?  Where do we discover renewal?  Hopefully we discover life in God and through the church. 

As you pray today, talk to God about where in your life you are discovering life.  If you are not discovering life, ask for help from God.  If you are discovering life, give thanks to God. 

Discovering life is one way that the resurrection still plays out in our lives.


Friday, April 9

Read John 20:1-18

The resurrection story in John is not often heard on Easter Sunday because it’s not part of the regular lectionary readings.  The story is quite different than the resurrection stories in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

One of the most poignant scenes in the Bible is the conversation between Jesus and Mary Magdalene.  Mary Magdalene is so overcome with grief that she mistook Jesus to be the gardener.  When she realized that Jesus was alive she exclaimed to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.”  These words started the sharing of the resurrection story.

Can you see yourself sharing frequently the words, “I have seen the Lord.” Being able to say this is a sign that we are in tune with what God is doing in the world and in our lives. 

Where have you seen the Lord lately?  When are some times in the past two weeks that you have seen the Lord?  This isn’t the physical seeing of the Lord, but the experience of God.

As you pray today, talk to God about the times you’ve seen the spiritual presence of God.  Ask God for help so that you can see God even more clearly.


Saturday, April 10

Read Romans 8:31-39

This passage from Romans is often read at funerals as a source of comfort.  It’s also an excellent primer on the resurrection. 

Paul was convinced that the love of God is the most powerful force in the universe.  This love demonstrates that God is always on our side.  We know that God is on our side because of the resurrection. 

Paul closed this reading with a powerful recital that nothing can separate us from the love of God.  Take some time to slowly read these verses—read them more than once if you like.  Ponder how our reality on earth is different because of the gift of the resurrection displayed through God’s love. 

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

Our faith is not complete without having a basic understanding of the last week of the life of Jesus.  Jesus was an amazing moral teacher whose teachings for life would have transcended his life.  But through his actions in the Upper Room, on the cross, and from the empty tomb the message of Jesus became everlasting.  We wouldn’t worship Jesus this week without these stories. 

Take some time this week to read, reflect and pray on these stories.  They are some of the most important stories in the world.  Enjoy them this week.

 Monday, March 29

Read Matthew 24   

These stories are about the coming of the kingdom in its fullness.  Many people have looked at these and other Scriptures to try to determine when Jesus was going to come again to create his Kingdom.  People look at this story and passages in Daniel and Revelation to try to prove the “when” of Jesus’ return.

It wasn’t an accident that Jesus never told us when he was going to return.  He does teach us how to live in this “in-between time.”  We are always called to be ready for Jesus’ return, but we aren’t called to be obsessed with it.

The same idea applies to our own death.  We all know that we are going to die.  We can try to predict the time of our own death, but this isn’t ultimately healthy for us.  Our task is to live in a way that shows we are ready.

On this most holy of weeks we can give thanks to God that we don’t need to fear death.  Jesus has prepared a place for us.  Death has been overcome.  As you pray today, give thanks to God for this gift of resurrection.


Tuesday, March 30

Read Matthew 25

This chapter is one of the most important in Matthew, and it doesn’t need a lot of explanation.  Jesus shared the priority of reaching out to those on the margins.  Jesus wanted his followers to reach out and help the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, and those who are in prison.

And even more than helping, Jesus taught that when we reach out to those on the margins we are reaching out to him.  We see the face of Jesus in the person who is hungry or thirsty or naked or in prison.  Helping is more than helping.  Helping is recognizing the face of Jesus in those who need help.

Another part of this phrase is the first part of verse 37.  “Then the righteous will answer him …” Jesus defined righteousness about reaching out to people who needed this help.  This is a non-negotiable part of faith.

We can live out this righteousness in a lot of ways.  But living out this righteousness is an essential part of being a disciple or follower of Jesus.


Wednesday, March 31

Read Matthew 26:1-16

The anointing of Jesus by the woman with the alabaster jar of ointment is a beautiful story of ministering to Jesus.  Whether she knew it or not she was preparing his body for what was going to happen the next day. 

This story appears in all four gospels.  Matthew didn’t choose to name the woman; John called her Mary. 

Her action was misunderstood.  Some couldn’t understand why this ointment was not sold and the proceeds given to the poor.  This would make logical sense and would have helped people.

But we wouldn’t be talking about this story if the story was about money being given to the poor. We are still talking about the story because of the extravagant actions of the woman.   She was willing to do whatever she could to bring comfort to Jesus—even if it meant stepping outside of the comfort zone of those who were watching her. 

We don’t have the actual body of Jesus to anoint, of course.  But we can do extravagant ministries to help people.  Pray that the Spirit will prompt you to love and serve in an extravagant way.   


Thursday, April 1

Read Matthew 26:17-75

Jesus started a revolution on this day of Holy Week.  He gathered with his closest of friends to celebrate the Passover.  During the celebration he shared with his friends that one of them would betray him. 

Then he started this revolution that we call Communion.  It’s worth reading the words again:

“While they were eating, 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

As you pray today, reflect on the place of Communion in your own life.  Do you remember the first time you took it?  Do you remember some very special times that you participated in Communion?  Do you remember the last time you took it?  What is special to you about Communion?  Share with God your response to these questions.


Friday, April 2

Read Matthew 27:1-56

This chapter is one of the most solemn in the entire Bible.  It really needs no explanation.  Jesus’ death on the cross distinguishes him from any other person who has ever lived.  To think that the Messiah would willingly go to the cross to suffer and die is hard to grasp.

Think about what the cross means to you and your own life.  Do something today that illustrates what the cross means to you.  Perhaps you could write something, or do some art, or share with another person your own understanding of the cross.  May this day deepen your own relationship with God and  with others.


Saturday, April 3

Read Matthew 27:57-28

The resurrection of Jesus is the most important event that has ever happened in the world.  We are like the disciples in that we are ready to worship while also doubting.

Tomorrow we are gathering in person at 9am and 11am to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, with the 9am service being livestreamed.  Please pray that people who will worship at Chain of Lakes will understand a new reality about their own life because of the Resurrection.  Please pray that the Spirit will touch everyone who is present in worship.  Please pray that a large number of guests will participate in both services. 

And reflect today about your own understanding of the resurrection.  What does the resurrection mean to you?  How are you a different person because of the resurrection?  How is our faith community different because of the resurrection?

He is risen!  He is risen indeed!

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus shared the Lord’s Prayer. This week we have the opportunity to learn more about the Lord’s Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer is the most important prayer in the universe. Many people know the prayer, but how many of us know where we can find the prayer in the Bible? And how part of the prayer is connected to the Old Testament? And how the prayer is relevant for our own lives today?  This week we have this opportunity.

Monday, March 22

Read Matthew 6:5-15

Adult Israelite males were expected to pray morning and evening in the direction of Jerusalem.  They would recite long prayers by memory.  Jesus changed the direction of prayer in his time by sharing a short, easy prayer to remember that was meaningful to the people who prayed it.  We know the prayer, of course, as the Lord’s Prayer.

The phrases of this prayer are not empty like the prayers the Israelite males said.  The Lord’s Prayer has two sets of three petitions.  The first set of petitions starts with God. We hallow God’s name; we pray for God’s Kingdom; we pray that God’s will be done on earth as in heaven.  The second set of petitions has to do with human requests.  We pray for daily bread; we pray to be forgiven and to forgive others; we pray that we do not experience temptation and are delivered from evil.

These two sets of petitions are clear and memorable.

The audience of this prayer, of course, is God.  We’re not trying to impress others by praying piously or by sharing long, flowery prayers.  The Lord’s Prayer is an honest prayer that gets to the core of what is important.

Tuesday, March 23

Read Luke 11:1-3

The disciples became interested in prayer when they saw that Jesus was praying.  The disciple who requested, “Lord teach us to pray,” probably would not have asked the question if he hadn’t seen Jesus praying.

Jesus modeled the importance of abiding with Abba, Father.  His prayer life became an example to his followers.

We can become examples of prayer with others.  Too often we think of prayer as personal and private—but Jesus didn’t view prayer this way.  He talked about prayer and taught about prayer and encouraged his followers to pray.

In past sermons Pastor Paul has preached about the importance of talking about our prayer lives.  Look for ways to talk about your prayer life with others.  If you have a prayer partner, perhaps today is a day to contact that person.  If you don’t have a prayer partner, share what is happening in your prayer life with a friend or family member. 

Sharing our prayer lives with others might seem a bit odd at first, but when we do it over time, we will become more comfortable.  Sharing our prayer lives with others can help us grow in our own relationship with God.

With whom can you talk about your prayer life today?

Wednesday, March 24

Read 1 Chronicles 29:10-13

The Lord’s Prayer that is used in worship by churches is a bit longer than the two versions of the Lord’s Prayer in the gospels.  The part of the Lord’s Prayer that is added is called the doxology.  That part of the prayer is:

“For thine is the Kingdom, and the power and the glory forever.”

This doxology is based on a prayer that David offered to God. This prayer can be found in 1 Chronicles 29:11. 

“Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.” 1 Chronicles 29:11

Pastor Paul has often described this part of the prayer with three words, “It’s all yours.”  Everything that we have is God’s.  Every part of our life belongs to God. 

Use this verse as your prayer today.  Consider memorizing it.  Pray this verse over and over until it becomes part of you. 

Thursday, March 25

Read Romans 8:12-17

The Apostle Paul wrote that when we cry, “Abba, Father” we receive confirmation that we are children of God.  The term, “Abba” is a term of intimacy.  It’s the way that Jesus addressed God in Jesus’ prayers.  It’s as if Jesus was saying, “Papa.” 

Unfortunately, some in the church have turned the term, “Father” into a litmus test of faith.  They won’t use the term because it reflects gender exclusivity; some others will only use the term, “Father” because they want to claim the term.

“Father” is not a gender phrase.  Instead it’s a phrase of intimacy.  We are addressing God in an adoring and familiar way.  It’s similar to the way a spouse may say “honey” or when a child says, “Daddy.”  This is an intimate phrase that reflects love.

We can come up with our own intimate terms for God.  Certainly “Father” can be one.  What are some intimate terms for God that you use?  Make a list of three phrases that reflect your own view of God.  Use these phrases today as you address God in prayer. 

 Friday, March 26

Read Psalm 89:1-11

To start out the Lord’s Prayer by praying, “Hallowed be thy name” is to praise God.  We are praising God that God’s name is holy. 

Praising God is a wonderful way to start out our prayers.  In praise we praise God for certain qualities of God.  In Psalm 89 David praised God for many divine attributes.  Look at verse 1, “I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever.”  We can almost imagine David singing out with the full sound of his lungs praising God.

Try praising God with this decibel level!  If you feel comfortable shout out praise to God.  Shout out with such passion that other people in your residence will hear you.  Why not!  You want others to know of your praise for God!

Saturday, March 27

Read Matthew 4:12-17

In the Lord’s Prayer we pray, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Praying for God’s kingdom connects us to Jesus’ message.  Jesus taught his followers that the kingdom had come through him.  Look at verse 17. 

“From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’”

One way to live out the kingdom is to pray for people who have different views on life than each of us do.

Consider praying today for someone who voted differently than you in the Presidential election. To take it to the next level, consider contacting that person and sharing with the person that you prayed for them. Don’t pray that the person will change their view.  Instead pray for the person’s welfare and goodness.  Pray that the person will continue to become the person God desires for him or her to be.

The Bible has many stories and verses that discourage us from sharing judgment about other people. This week we have the opportunity to read six stories where judgment is discouraged. Hopefully by the end of the week, we can take a pledge against criticizing others!

Monday, March 15

Read Luke 6:37-42

This reading from Luke comes from the Sermon on the Plain. The Sermon on the Plain is similar to part of the Sermon on the Mount. This passage we’re reading today is similar to the passage that was read yesterday in worship.

The lens through which to read this passage is “hypocrisy”.

Jesus is not against judgment or making a criticism of something our neighbor does. Jesus himself judged people and criticized people.

But before we point our fingers at another person, Jesus would want us to look at ourselves. “Look at the log in your own eye before noticing the speck in another person’s eye,” he would say.

Jesus was very critical of people who criticized others while performing the same action themselves.

Remember the old saying that when you point your finger you have three pointed at yourself.

Tuesday, March 16

Read Romans 2:1-4

This is a powerful response to the idea that Christians can judge other people when these other people’s attitudes or actions are not consistent with the Gospel.

The Apostle Paul noted that judgment ultimately belongs with God.  And when we judge others, we are taking on the role of God. And God will not tolerate any person acting out the role of God.

When we judge others, we are misinterpreting how God would respond. God would want us to respond in kindness, forbearance, and patience.

These three qualities might not come naturally to many of us. This doesn’t mean we can’t share these qualities with others. We can develop them through our own intentions—and through our own prayers.

Today as you pray, pray that your spirit will be filled with kindness, forbearance, and patience. This is the attitude of the heart that God wants from us.


Wednesday, March 17

Read Luke 7:36-50

This story of Jesus forgiving the woman is a powerful story of forgiveness.

The Pharisee—who Jesus identified as Simon—wanted Jesus to condemn or judge the woman. And the woman probably had done something to deserve judgment. Luke identified her as a sinner. We aren’t told what she did to bring on that label; however the story assumes that she is a sinner

Jesus didn’t judge her. Instead he forgave her. And when the woman received forgiveness, she lavishly anointed the feet of Jesus.

How do you think the woman would have responded if Jesus had judged her—if Jesus had said something like, “You are a sinner and you need to leave this house immediately.”

It’s highly doubtful that the woman would have responded with love.

By definition, grace is a gift given that someone does not deserve. How can you share love today with people who do not deserve it from you?


Thursday, March 18

Read John 9:1-7

In this story Jesus confronted the idea that people who suffered had deserved it because of their sins. When they saw a blind man at the beginning of the story his own disciples asked Jesus the question of who had sinned—the man or his parents. The disciples assumed that someone’s sin had caused this blindness.

Jesus wasn’t interested in placing blame for someone’s condition. He wanted others to do and communicate the acts of graciousness that he had done. He didn’t care all that much about what had led to a person’s suffering; he did care about how he could help someone who was suffering.

As the great healer, Jesus spat into some mud, rubbed it on the man’s eyes, and he could see again!

What a fabulous gift Jesus gave to the man.

If Jesus had been focused on judgment and sin, this man most likely would never have been healed.


Friday, March 19

Read 1 Corinthians 4:1-5

The last part of verse four and the first part of verse 5 are worth memorizing.

“It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God.” (1 Corinthians 4:4b-5.)

We don’t have to be concerned about judging another person. God will take care of this!

These verses can give us tremendous freedom. We are not responsible for the behavior or emotions of others. As Pastor Paul often says, “everyone is responsible for their own emotions.”

If we can live this out, we can live with a great burden lifted from our own spirits. Today pray that you can live out these verses.


Saturday, March 20

Read James 4:11-12

These two verses from James crystalize the ideas about judgment that have been shared in the devotion this week.

Essentially James was saying, “do not speak evil against anyone for evil is an expression of judgment, and we are not called to judge.”

Perhaps you don’t speak evil about another person, but instead speak of the person in a negative way. How often does this happen to you? For most of us it happens quite a lot.

Can you take a fast from criticism this week? See if you can go an entire week without criticizing another person. This would be quite an impressive feat to accomplish.

Try it! What do you have to lose!

In the first part of chapter 6 in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught about faith practices. Even more than that he drilled down to encourage people to be clear about their own motivations for their faith practices. This week we have the opportunity to reflect on our own motivations.


Monday, March 8

Read Matthew 6:1

Another way to translate this verse is “Beware of practicing righteousness before others in order to be seen by them.” Piety and practicing that which is right are similar. 

The message of Jesus is not to avoid practicing piety or that which is right; his message is about a person’s motivation. Jesus said that his followers need not practice piety in order to be seen by others.

The idea of practice is important for our faith. To practice faith is to develop patterns in our own life where we practice faith.

In the past, Pastor Paul has shared five patterns or practices of faith that are helpful for our own spiritual well-being. They are daily prayer; weekly worship, participating in a small group, service, first-fruits financial giving. 

If Jesus came to talk about these five patterns or practices of faith, he would encourage each of us to be clear about our own motivation for them.

Which of these five practices do you do well? With which of these five practices do you struggle? Take some time today to talk to God about these two questions.


Tuesday, March 9

Read Matthew 6:2-4

Almsgiving, by definition, is money that is given to the poor. This was a very important practice for Jews when Jesus lived. Jesus would have certainly supported people who were giving generously to the poor.

Jesus had shared in Matthew 5:42 that people are to give to someone who approaches with a request of a beggar.

Again, Jesus is concerned about the motivation of someone who gives to a beggar. Jesus used a hyperbole to share that people should not sound a trumpet to bring attention to themselves when they give alms at the synagogue or to a beggar in the streets. Most likely people weren’t actually blowing into a trumpet to announce their giving of alms. But we can understand the point of Jesus.

Take some time to think about the way that you give money to the poor. Do you do so to receive praise from others? What’s your own motivation?

Take some time to reflect on these questions and then talk about them with God in your own prayer time.


Wednesday, March 10

Read Matthew 6:5-6

When talking about the second practice of faith in this section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus again taught about motivation.

A hypocrite was like a person in a play who wore a mask. In a production it would be understandable for an actor to take on a role. However in our own faith, we are not called to wear a mask in front of others. We don’t pray so that others can develop a favorable opinion of us. We pray because prayer deepens our own relationship with God.

We needn’t take the teaching of Jesus literally to believe that Jesus was against public prayer. Jesus didn’t intend for people to only pray in their own room, so that God would see them. Prayers can appropriately be an expression of a community. Prayer can be done by individuals in public. In fact, at the Temple Wall in Jerusalem people prayed in public.

Jesus wouldn’t have been critical of doing these prayers in public. He would have been critical of an unhealthy motivation of the person who was praying in public.


Thursday, March 11

Read Matthew 6:7-8

Prayer is a conversation with God.

Think about our own conversations with the people who are closest to us. We wouldn’t use fancy words or long phrases to impress the person. They know us so well that they would be turned off by such language.

The same idea describes our conversations with God. We don’t need to impress God with fancy words or long phrases. God knows us very well. God even knows what we need before we express our needs in a prayer.

Try a prayer practice today. Write our prayers that only make up four words. A four-word prayer would be an expression of what Jesus was teaching in this section of the Sermon on the Mount! See if you can write out five or even ten “four word” prayers.

This exercise can focus our own thoughts about what is most important to us.


Friday, March 12

Read Matthew 6:9-15

These verses were taken and turned into the Lord’s Prayer by the church. Another place to read the Lord’s Prayer is Luke 11:2-4.

Most of us have memorized the Lord’s Prayer. We have said it every week in worship for most of our life.

Today see if you can incorporate the Lord’s Prayer into your daily routine. See if you can pray the prayer at the start of every hour. Don’t just say it in a rote way, but say it with your hands open and lifted up.

Or if every hour seems too much, see if you can prayer the prayer three or four times during your day.

Creating this pattern or routine of saying the Lord’s Prayer gives us a connection to God.


Saturday, March 11

Read Matthew 6:16-18

Like giving alms and prayer, fasting was a regular practice of faith by Jews when Jesus was alive. It’s a practice that many of us can follow during Lent.

Many different types of fasts are available.

We could fast from food entirely.

We could fast from everything except juices.

We could fast from certain types of foods—like our Catholic friends who give up meat.

We could fast from practices that we find don’t always give life. Some people have fasted from the Internet or Social Media during Lent.

Jesus encouraged his followers to fast. He fasted himself at times. What he would have discouraged is to fast so that others would give affirmation and applause.

Take some time to decide about your own fasting during Lent. Choose a type of fast that makes sense for you.

Monday, March 1

Read Matthew 5:17-20

Jesus changed the direction of the Sermon on the Mount to share that he came to fulfill the Law, not to abolish it. The Law that Jesus was referring to was the Law from Moses. It was the ten Commandments and the many regulations that had developed by the Jews between the time of Moses and the time of Jesus. Jesus was a Jew himself, so he grew up understanding the Law and being taught the Law.

On Sunday Pastor Paul shared the example of a magnifying glass. Think of Jesus as a magnifying glass when we read the Old Testament laws and regulations. We understand these laws and regulations through the life, the example, the teaching, the death and resurrection of Jesus.

So when we read Scriptures from the Old Testament we naturally ask ourselves how Jesus would teach us to live by them? How did the life and example of Jesus illustrate these Scriptures? Did Jesus teach about these Old Testament Scriptures? How did the death and resurrection help us understand these Scriptures?

Seeing the Law and other regulations through this lens is a way to understand what Jesus meant when he said he came to fulfill Scripture


Tuesday, March 2

Read Matthew 5:21-26

Jesus started out this teaching by saying that the Law says not to murder, and then Jesus extends the teaching by discouraging anger. The extension is helpful for if a person knows how to live with anger, that person will not murder someone.

It’s fair to ask about the attitude of Jesus towards anger.

Jesus was angry himself (John 2:13-22)

Anger is a human emotion meaning that in many instances people do not have control of an experience of anger. Anger happens to people whether they want it to happen or not.

In some cases, anger is appropriate. It certainly would make sense for a person to be angry that youth are homeless or that many people experience hunger.

Jesus would teach that it is important for people to come to terms with their own anger. When do we experience anger? How do we respond when we are angry? Are our actions in response to anger a reflection of loving our neighbor or is it a reflection of hurting our neighbor?

Jesus wouldn’t condemn people for experiencing anger, but he would encourage people to come to understand their anger and to use their anger to help create the Kingdom that God desires.


Wednesday, March 3

Read Matthew 5:27-30

When we read the Scriptures it’s important to understand the form of what we are reading. Jesus was using hyperbole in these verses. He was exaggerating a situation to make a point.

Of course, Jesus would not want a person to rip out their right eye if that eye was looking at someone with lust or covets any person.

Similarly Jesus would not want us to cut our right hand off if that hand had caused us to sin.

Jesus would want us to take his message seriously, not literally. If he were teaching us today, he quite possibly would encourage us to think about how we view other people. Do we view them for our own interests? Do we look at them in terms of how they can serve us? If that is the case, then we are “coveting” the person for our own interest.

In a contrary way, are we thinking how we can bless a person? Are we thinking about how we can help a person and love a person? When we are doing this, we are coming closer to living out what Jesus intended in these four verses.


Thursday, March 4

Read Matthew 5:31-32

These verses have caused great consternation among many people who are divorced and have been misused by some in the church to encourage people to stay in loveless marriages.

It’s important to remember the context of the world in which Jesus lived. It was a polygamous society, meaning some of the men to which Jesus spoke to in the Sermon on the Mount were married to more than one person. Women were also seen as property of men. They did not have legal standing when Jesus lived.

So if a man was going to divorce a woman, he was going to cause great pain to that woman. He was sharing these words to protect women from the callous treatment that could happen by a man who was divorcing her.

Certainly Jesus would want every person to take marriage seriously and to get a divorce only as a last resort. But to take this teaching by Jesus as a prohibition against all divorce would be a great misinterpretation of what Jesus intended.


Friday, March 5

Read Matthew 5:33-37

Once again knowing the context of this passage is important. Jesus wouldn’t want a person not to take an oath. He wouldn’t prohibit someone putting his or her hand on a Bible in a court and promising to tell the truth.

Instead, Jesus was speaking against people who were casually taking God’s name to justify their actions. Jesus would only want others to take action in the name of God after great thought and reflection. God was powerful and holy. In the Old Testament God was very reluctant to even share God’s name with Moses when Moses asked God for God’s name.

For people to invoke God’s name to justify a simple action would be inconsistent with how God wanted to be identified.

There would be times that invoking God’s name would be appropriate. To say “in God’s name do not murder this person,” or “in God’s name do not go to war” or “in God’s name love this person as you would love yourself” would be appropriate.

Take some time to reflect on how you would use God’s name in the way you talk.


Saturday, March 6

Read Matthew 5:38-48

Many of the Jewish men in the crowd who were listening to the Sermon on the Mount had enemies. Some hated the Romans.

How did Jesus want these people to treat the Romans? He wanted them to love them, to pray for them.  He wanted them to understand that God loved them—just as much as God loved the Jews.

When we are in a serious disagreement with someone it’s helpful to get out of our own emotions and reflect on how God views the person. God loves that person deeply. Trying to see this person through the eyes of God can help us see the humanity in the person.


Let’s face it—families are messy. Though all of us would like to project an image of a perfect family, the reality is different. We all have our messes. How do we live in a healthy way in the midst of a messy family?

Sunday, April 11  Communicating well—even in a mess.  Being assertive and not aggressive or passive aggressive

Sunday, April 18  Parenting well—even in a mess. Love and Logic Parenting

Sunday, April 25 Staying connected to those who are cut off

Sunday, May 2      Parenting our parents

Sunday, May 9     Celebrating our mothers!

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
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!