Skip to content

Sunday Worship Videos

Play Video

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

Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021
Current video shown above

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
Healing

Sunday, February 14, 2021
Love

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

BOX CITY

For the eighth consecutive year Chain of Lakes is partnering with Blaine High School to present Box City. This is an event that simulates an experience of homelessness for youth at Blaine High School. The youth will sleep in boxes on the tennis courts of the High School and then go to school the next day.

Everyone is encouraged  to attend the program for Box City which will be in the Auditorium of the High School this Wednesday, April 14 at 6:30pm. Kayla Flanagan and TJay Harris will be speaking at the program. Both have been homeless and have connected to Chain of Lakes Church. By attending the program you will be supporting Kayla and TJay and will be expressing support for homeless youth. 

Richard Bahr, author of Those People – The True Character of the Homeless, is a speaker, and Mica Whitley will talk about Hope Place.

ARE YOU AVAILABLE TO VOLUNTEER AT FOOD PICK-UP LOCATIONS?
 

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

Volunteer any time you are available Thursday between 9am –  5pm, or choose one of the suggested shifts: 10am – noon; noon – 2pm; 2pm – 5pm. Once you are there, ask for Jeff – he will give you instructions and get you started

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

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

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

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


ARE YOU ABLE TO DONATE MEALS?

Stepping Stone Emergency Housing

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

Provide food for 66 people

For details ~ call 763.208.8049

Sharon Pederson will return your call

This is a great service project for an entire family

___________

 
 

 ARE YOU IN NEED OF FOOD?                   

Drive Through Food Pick up Locations

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

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

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

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

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

ANOKA COUNTY TRANSIT LINK IS COORDINATING WITH FOOD SHELVES TO DELIVER FOOD FOR FREE

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

GET A FREE FACEMASK

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

Daily Devotions

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

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 pastor@colpres.org

 

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.

This week we are reading some of the most important Scriptures in the entire Bible – the beatitudes. Nine beatitudes exist, but we are looking at six in this devotion. Pastor Paul preached on three beatitudes in his sermon this past Sunday.

Living out and understanding these beatitudes is a life-long process. It’s a wonderful journey where the best parts of ourselves come out.

 

Monday, February 22

Read Matthew 5:4

Another way to paraphrase these beatitudes is “if you have ____, then you will have experienced blessing. Blessing is happiness or experiencing favor or good fortune. To use this form, we would say, “if you have mourned, then you will have experienced blessing.”

A natural reaction is, “I don’t want to mourn. To mourn means I’m sad, not blessed.”

Jesus would probably respond by saying a person can be sad and experience blessing. To mourn means a person loved someone deeply. We don’t grieve or experience loss when we don’t have an attachment to something. So to mourn means we’ve had an attachment. And that attachment is a blessing.

Winnie the Pooh paraphrased blessed are those who mourn by saying, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Today give thanks for the possibility of mourning!

 

Tuesday, February 23

Read Matthew 5:5

Someone who heard this beatitude, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” might have thought of Psalm 37:11, “But the meek shall inherit the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.”

Moses was known as very meek. Read Numbers 12:3

A meek person is devoid of pride. And in reading the Sermon on the Mount one quality that is not mentioned is pride. Actually the entire Sermon on the Mount can be seen as the antithesis to pride.

Meek people are humble and gentle. They are strong people who will not give up on their beliefs. But they don’t come across as strong. The strength of a meek person is an inner strength that becomes apparent through a long-lasting relationship.

It’s hard to know exactly what Jesus meant when he said that the meek would inherit the earth. Perhaps he was talking about the final consummation of the earth when Jesus returned.

What we do know is that a meek person experiences blessing. A meek person doesn’t need to impress others, or to take pride in an accomplishment. A meek person is authentically human—and that is a blessing.

 

Wednesday, February 24

Read Matthew 5:7

In the gospel of Matthew we find many examples where mercy was lifted up. Read Matthew 9:13 and 12:7 where Jesus prioritized mercy over sacrifice. Sharing mercy with others is just as important as our prayer life or our worship life.

When we share mercy we are sharing a quality of God. God describes God’s self as “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Exodus 34:6

The beatitude is not suggesting that God only extends mercy when we humans share mercy. But we can see that we will often receive mercy when we extend mercy. We receive back from people what we share with people.

Do you want to experience mercy from others? Then share mercy with others. And in the sharing of mercy a person will be blessed.

 

Thursday, February 25

Read Matthew 5:8

Nobody has a pure heart as everyone is corrupted to some degree. Jesus was talking about those who have a clean heart—for a short moment a person is free of that which weighs a person down. This beatitude brings to mind Psalm 51:10-12 which explains the beatitude.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and sustain in me a willing spirit.”

A person with a pure heart is not defined by purity. Instead the person is defined by their devotion to God. When the Spirit comes into our heart and fills our heart, then our hearts are clean (pure.)

This could be a powerful prayer to share during Lent. Try praying this prayer every day during Lent. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.”

 

Friday, February 26

Read Matthew 5:10-11

A person who is reviled or persecuted will probably not feel blessed. Instead the person might feel endangered or afraid.

Jesus was saying that there is a special place in God’s heart for a person who is persecuted for their faith. In the previous verse Jesus talked about the blessings for a peacemaker. A person who is committed to peace will often experience persecution. A peacemaker is committed to a set of values that is often in contrast to the values of a ruling power.

Think of people you know who are committed to peacemaking. They most likely have experienced some sort of “persecution” from agents of the world.

It’s important not to have a persecution mindset. Just because a person disagrees with you or says something untrue about you is not the same as what Jesus was teaching about in these verses. Persecution is when a person’s life is in danger for our beliefs. It’s more than being maligned. It’s when our existence is at stake.

 

Saturday, February 27

Read Matthew 5:13-16

These verses are well known, and the metaphors are important for people of faith.

“You are the salt of the earth.” Our faith gives us a saltiness that sustains us. When we lose our faith or become lukewarm in faith it’s as if salt has lost its taste.

“You are the light of the world.” A person who has a faith cannot keep this faith to themselves. They are willing to share this light with others. A bushel basket cannot keep this light in darkness.

Today pray that your faith can be described as salt and pray that it can be described as a light that cannot be hid. And pray that this is the type of faith that people at Chain of Lakes have.

This week we have a wonderful opportunity to learn what the Scriptures teach us about responding in love.  Though our world is full of violence, you and I can step out of the pattern.  We can be part of the breaking out of heaven on earth. 

These Scriptures are powerful examples of what God desires.  

 

Monday, February 15

Read Genesis 4:1-8

This is the first story of life outside of Paradise.  Adam and Eve had two sons Cain and Abel.  Cain became jealous that Abel’s offering was accepted by God and Cain’s was not.  God pleaded with Cain not to be angry and told him that sin was always lurking at his door.

Cain could not overcome his anger, and killed Abel.

It’s not an accident that in this first story of life outside of Paradise an act of terrible violence took place.  Though we humans are programmed for wonderful good, we are also capable of terrible evil.  This is the world we live in.

God’s counsel to Cain is helpful to us.  We know that sin is always lurking at the door of our own heart.  By staying connected to God and receiving the gift of grace from God we can resist the lures of sin.  Violence in the world originates from this sin.  God doesn’t want to see violence in the world, but through free will it does happen.  One of the consequences of free will is the possibility of violence.

 

Tuesday, February 16

Read Isaiah 58:6-9

God was upset with the people of Israel because they were ignoring the needs of their neighbor.  They were fasting and doing the religious rituals of their day, but their hearts were not connected to people who needed help.

God was upset because the religious rituals of the people were not consistent with the service that God desired.

God wants us to worship, and God wants us to serve the poor.  Our worship is empty without a willingness to help people who are suffering.  Verses six and seven remind us of this:

“Is not this the fast that I choose;
To loose the bonds of injustice,
To undo the thongs of the yoke,
To let the oppressed go free,
And to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And bring the homeless poor into your house;
When you see the naked, to cover them,
And not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Isaiah 58:6-7

 

Wednesday, February 17

Read Matthew 5:38-48

The Jews were waiting for a liberator who would lead the charge against Rome.  In their history many leaders had fought the Romans in an attempt to overthrow the government.  None had been successful.

Jesus knew this history—and he challenged his followers to a different way.  He wanted his followers to respond in love to their oppressors.  If the Romans forced them to walk a mile—go another mile; if someone slapped them on the right cheek, offer the other.

These teachings inspired Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.  They can inspire us too.  When we are hurt by an oppressor the oppressor wins when we respond in a violent way.  If we step out of the pattern that the oppressor establishes by responding in love, care, and compassion, we are powerfully setting a new pattern.  At a minimum we are de-escalating a pattern of violence.

Today think about someone who has hurt you lately.  Instead of feeding resentment, pray that the Spirit can treat the person with love, care, and compassion.  In doing so you are responding in a powerful way.

  

Thursday, February 18

Read Proverbs 25:21-22

Proverbs are short snippets of wisdom.  They are like folk sayings that are passed down—like “a stitch in time saves nine.” 

These two Proverbs are similar to the reading from yesterday.  Heaping coals of fire on our enemies sounds like a violent act.  The Proverb writer—and Paul in Romans—meant it as an act of victory.  We win over our opponents, our enemies, when we love them.  We step out of a pattern of violence.

Our love and kindness is a declaration of victory.  We declare that we are not giving in to violence, but are choosing to live our lives by another way.  We resist conflict and choose peace. 

This vision is one that disciples are called to follow.  Jesus could have responded with violence.  In chastising Peter for cutting off the ear of his slave, (Matthew 26:51-53) he acknowledged that he could call upon legions of angels to do his work.  Instead, Jesus chose another path—one that we still talk about today.

If we want to be remembered in the future, we will choose to feed our enemies and give them something to drink.  Not only will we heap coals of fire on their heads, we will be a lasting model of God’s love

 

Friday, February 19

Read Romans 12:9-21

This passage from Paul is consistent with the passage from Matthew and Proverbs that we read this week. 

When we love our enemies we are not saying that their actions are right or should not be punished.  We are saying that we are letting God be the judge or as Paul wrote we are “[leaving] room for the wrath of God.” Romans 12:18

The last verse in this passage is worth committing to memory:

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Romans 12:21 

Take some time today to memorize this teaching.  Put it on a card, carry it with you, put it on your refrigerator.  It is a teaching worthy of dedicating our lives!

Saturday, February 20

Read Revelation 21:9-27

This vision of the New Jerusalem is a promise that God gives to us in the future.  It’s a vision where everyone knows God and one where the glory of God is our light. 

We don’t have to wait for heaven for this vision.  God wants to break into our world so we can experience a taste of heaven.  This taste happens when we love our enemies and act with love, care, and compassion.  In responding with such strength we are winning and experiencing the final victory that God will have for our world.

Imagine what would happen if disciples of Jesus from around the world committed themselves to loving like Jesus!  Heaven would break out on earth!  Alleluia!

 

This past Sunday Pastor Paul shared a sermon on helping those who are hungry.

The Bible is very clear about how people of faith are called to treat those who are hungry. This week we have the opportunity to read some of these stories.

 

Monday, February 8

Read Matthew 15:29-31

This story on a mountain is a remarkable example of how the people who followed Jesus were not privileged or beautiful or powerful.  The people who came for help were the lame, the maimed, the blind, and the mute. They were people who had serious problems and people who needed help.

Jesus never asked the people if they deserved help. He never put a litmus test on whether the lame, the maimed, the blind, or the mute should receive healing. He healed them without asking a question.

Surely Jesus would have done the same for a person who was hungry. (Read more in tomorrow’s devotion.) He wouldn’t have put a litmus test on whether the person deserved to receive food. He would have fed him.

The next time we think that hungry people should have to earn the food that they receive, go back to this story of Jesus. Jesus freely and without hesitation healed those who needed help. He would do the same for those who are hungry.

 

Tuesday, February 9

Read Matthew 15:32-39

The feeding of the 4,000 is almost the same as the feeding of the 5,000. Some people think it’s the same story.

The important part of the story is how Jesus viewed the crowd who was with him. Jesus had compassion for them.

The English word, “compassion” comes from the Greek word, “splanchizomai.” It literally means guts. The guts or the innards or the heart of Jesus went out to all of those who were hungry. The action of Jesus in feeding people came from his own compassion.

We are called to have this compassion for those who are hungry.

We are not called to ask whether a person deserves to be fed; we are not called to put litmus tests on whether a person receives food; we are called to treat the hungry with compassion.

This compassion is a profoundly spiritual act. It is not necessarily natural, but it can be developed. In fact praying daily that each of us can grow in compassion for those who are hungry can be a profoundly spiritual act.

On a scale of 1 to 10 with ten being the highest, how would you rate your own compassion for those who are hungry? Pray today that your number can increase.

 

Wednesday, February 10

Read Exodus 16:31-36

When God saw that the Israelites were hungry in the wilderness, God responded quickly. God gave them manna.

For forty years while the Israelites were walking to Egypt they were fed by manna from God. God would not let them be hungry.

Eventually the Israelites protested what they were receiving. They got tired of the same old manna every day. God was not happy with this, but kept feeding them manna. Even when the Israelites were not worthy of being fed, they still were fed.

We are not God when we help people who are hungry, but we can take the lessons from this story to inform how we treat them. We are called to share food in extravagant ways. God provided an example when the Israelites were in the wilderness.

Thursday, February 11

Read Exodus 3:16-17

When God called Moses to go to Egypt to help release the Israelites, God gave Moses a vision. The Israelites were going to go to a land flowing with “milk and honey.” (Exodus 3:17)

The land, of course, was not flowing with milk and honey. The “slogan” that God gave to Moses was a vision for what God wanted people to experience. God wanted people to experience the best of food that was available. He wanted the experience of this new land to be rich with sustenance. God was giving the people a vision of the overwhelming richness of the land.

This is what God wants for everyone. God does not want people to be hungry. Instead, God wants every person to have an experience of milk and honey—really to understand the richness that God has to offer people.

Perhaps you can share “milk and honey” with someone who needs to experience the richness of God today. How can you be an agent of “milk and honey?”

 

Friday, February 12

Read Matthew 4:1-4

Jesus understood what it was like to be hungry. At the beginning of his ministry he didn’t eat for forty days and forty nights. He was not only hungry; he was famished.

Jesus understands what it is like to be hungry.

We have no reason to think that Jesus enjoyed experiencing this level of hunger. He chose not to eat for forty days and forty nights, but he didn’t enjoy being famished.

Jesus has no desire for any person to be hungry or to be famished. He understood the pain of the experience. He would want others to help those who are hungry.

 

Saturday, February 13

Read Matthew 25:31-46

Just as we read this passage this past Saturday, we read it again to reflect on how Jesus wants his followers to treat people who are hungry.

Right away Jesus expressed what was important to him. “I was hungry and you gave me food.”

Our attitude towards those who are hungry is essential as a follower of Jesus Christ. 

Too often we can fall into the trap of thinking that people don’t deserve to receive food. That people who go to Food Shelves haven’t “earned” that gift. 

Jesus was never concerned about whether the poor “earned” the food they received from others.  He was most concerned that those who were hungry were fed.

When we judge those who are poor, we are really judging Jesus—which none of us would think of doing. The next time we find ourselves judging someone who is hungry, instead look at the person and discover the face of Jesus.

This past Sunday Pastor Paul began a new sermon series called, “Making an Impact.” For two weeks Chain of Lakes is going to look at how the faith community can make an impact with people who are homeless and people who are hungry.

The Bible is very clear about how people of faith are called to treat the poor. This week we have the opportunity to read some of these stories.

 

Monday, February 1

Read Acts 4:32-37

This is the second time in the book of Acts that Luke, the writer of Acts, wrote about the connection of the community. The other place is Acts 2:42-47. If you have an opportunity read that story along with this story in Acts.

In both places that connection of the community to each other is very strong. We can feel the love that people had for each other. Luke wrote that the whole group was of one heart and one soul. This level of unity is a reflection of the command of Jesus to love your neighbor as you love yourself. This love that people had for each other was able to unite them together. We’re not told much more about their unity, but it’s fair to think that this unity wasn’t in their beliefs. It’s very possible that the believers disagreed about parts of God or how to conduct their lives or other issues.

This unity helped the community care for people who were poor. People were not going to tolerate poverty.  Their care for each other compelled them to help each other.

Helping the poor is an action, and it starts in our hearts. Imagine a faith community that had this type of unity. The people would not tolerate poverty in their own community. They would do whatever it takes to help others. This is a vision of what it means to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

 

Tuesday, February 2

Read Exodus 22:25-27

This reading from Exodus need not be taken literally. It was shared in a specific situation. This passage was not making a statement on interest on a loan to those who are poor.

However we can learn about the heart of God for those who were poor. And that principal is long lasting.

God didn’t want the people to suffer from unscrupulous lenders. God cared so much for the people that God commanded the Israelites not to charge interest on loans to people.

The reading went on to share that if a person was experiencing poverty that person could cry out to God. God would listen to the fervent prayer because God was compassionate.

It’s this compassion of God that God wants each of us to share with those who are poor. God does not want us to judge people or to look for mistakes or reasons that someone is poor. Quite the contrary! God wants us to share compassion. This compassion is a reflection of grace.

Think of someone you know who has made some mistakes or who might be poor. Today pray that instead of judging that person that you can share compassion.

 

Wednesday, February 3

Read Amos 4:1-5

It’s risky to write about God’s anger because it’s easy to fall into stereotypes that have been created about God and God’s anger. That somehow God is an angry God or that the God of the Old Testament is angry and the God of the New Testament is full of love. Neither of these is true.

To be honest we have to acknowledge that God is capable of anger—in both the Old Testament and New Testament. Anyone who doesn’t think that God wasn’t angry in the New Testament has never read the story of Jesus overturning the tables in the Temple. (Mark 11:15-18)

It’s important to remember that God is slow to anger, gracious and abounding in steadfast love. (Psalm 103:8)

What makes God angry? God is angry when people exploit the poor. This is what was happening in this section of Amos. The rich were exploiting the poor. Look at how God responds!

The lesson for all of us is very clear.

 

Thursday, February 4

Read Proverbs 14:21, 19:17, 21:15, 22:22

These four readings are a litany of how people are called to treat the poor. These readings are similar to what Jesus taught in Matthew 25:31-46.

“Happy are those who are kind to the poor.” Proverbs 14:21

Sometimes it’s easy to take out anger on people who are poor. They are easy targets where people project their own insecurities or anger.

These readings turn around these worst of how humans can act. Happy are the people who treat others, especially the poor, with kindness or mercy or compassion.

Today focus on treating others with kindness. Treat others with kindness not only in how you treat them, but with how you view them with your mind or heart.

 

Friday, February 5

Read Luke 4:16-21

These words from Jesus are the first words that he shared in public. We can think about it as his first sermon. If he was running for office this was his opening announcement.

Look at what Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because God has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.”

Right away we read about how loving the poor and sharing kindness with the poor was a priority for Jesus.

This declaration by Jesus does not mean he didn’t love all people. But we can see that he had a special emphasis for those who were poor.

To be the hands and feet of Jesus, the body of Christ must treat the poor the same. One of the ways to measure the congregation is by asking the question how the congregation is making an impact with the poor. Is the poverty rate lower because of the church; is the number of people who are homeless or hungry going down. These criteria are measuring sticks for the effectiveness of congregations and consistent with the very first public words of Jesus.

 

Saturday, February 6

Read Matthew 25:31-46

This passage from Matthew is a magnificent summary of how followers of Jesus are called to treat the poor.

“Whatever you do to the least of these my brethren, you do it to me.”

None of us would every think of treating Jesus with judgment or scorn or ridicule. If Jesus walked into the room we would most likely get on our knees in a spirit of reverence and worship.

And though we are not called to worship someone who is in poverty, we are called to treat them with deep reverence. And certainly we are not called to treat them with criticism.

The next time you feel yourself judging the poor, think about whether you would say or think the same words regarding Jesus.

Events

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 info@colpres.org
 
If you are interested in a garden plot complete this form:
Community Garden Plot Application 2021 – Chain of Lakes
 
Please print and complete application and mail to:
Chain of Lakes Church,
10130 Davenport Street NE #160
Blaine, MN 55449

Event Photos

Some highlights from recent events in the community!