Friday 24 November 2017

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe – Hebrews 12:28

 

The kingdom that God gives to all who receive Christ’s invitation to love and serve Him is an immovable kingdom. Nations are shaken by economic recessions and depressions. Lands are shaken by floods, droughts, quakes and storms. Countries are shaken by hatred, greed and war. Peoples are shaken by famine and poverty. But the Kingdom of God cannot be shaken. Nothing can harm God’s kingdom. And God’s kingdom is the final home for all of us who place our trust in Jesus. On those days when you are shaken, thank God for the unshakable kingdom that will one day be yours. And remember that until we enter our heavenly home, God’s kingdom reigns in our hearts and minds, bringing us a peace that passes understanding and a hope that endures.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Thanksgiving Day 23 November 2017

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i]

have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

 

In 1789, President George Washington issued a general proclamation naming 26 November a day of national thanksgiving.  226 years ago today our forebears were giving thanks to God for blessings received and enjoyed.  Giving thanks may come easily for you as you enter this Holiday.  But thanksgiving may not be something you feel like doing this year after experiencing times of deep difficulty.  Whatever is happening in your life on this Thanksgiving Day, you may give thanks to God for Jesus our Savior who loves you; our Redeemer who will never let the bad have the final say, and our Friend who is Always with you to work all things for good.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Thanksgiving Eve 22 November 2017

17 Mattaniah son of Mika, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, the director who led in thanksgiving and prayer – Nehemiah 11:17a  

 

After Jerusalem and its protective wall are renovated, Nehemiah lists the leaders who settled in the city. Mattaniah is the great grandson of Asaph. Asaph was Israel’s director of thanksgiving and prayer. What a wonderful job! On this Thanksgiving Eve, please take time to give thanks to God for the people in your life who show you God’s loving care in difficult times, and who help you to celebrate God’s goodness when life is going well. These are your directors of thanksgiving and prayer. Not only do we know some “Asaphs” but Jesus calls us to be “Asaphs”. We are God’s directors of thanksgiving and prayer!

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

P.S. Please start your Thanksgiving celebrations tonight at 7pm at First UMC, Meriden with our Thanksgiving Eve celebration service. After worship we’ll enjoy pie and cider. Feel free to bring a pie to share! – Ric

 

Tuesday 21 November 2017

The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing. – Isaiah 51:3

 

Jerusalem is left in ruins after suffering the invasion of King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. Times of sickness, suffering, loss, sorrow, uncertainty invade our lives leaving parts of us in ruins. Whenever we arrive at Thanksgiving in the midst of trying times, Jesus speaks to us through Isaiah assuring us that He will restore our broken lives. Sometimes the only thing for which we can give thanks is the hope of future restoration. And Jesus assures us that this is enough.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric  

 

Monday 20 November 2017

30 I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. – Psalm 69:30

 

Giving thanks glorifies God who is the giver of every good gift we enjoy. Yesterday our First UMC choir sang “Simple Gifts”. Think of the simple gifts we enjoy each day: Delicious food. A hug from a friend. The kindness of a fellow driver who lets us into the stream of traffic. Good music. What are some of your favorite simple gifts? Please take some time today to give thanks to God for these wonderful gifts that make life so special. Your thanks will give glory to God who shows His infinite love through the simplest but most wonderful gifts.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Saturday 18 November 2017

10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10

 

After a day of feeding their minds and spirits with God’s word, Governor Nehemiah encourages the Israelites to give thanks to God by enjoying delicious food, and by sharing some with those who have none. We experience the joy of the Lord when we eat together. There is something wonderful about sharing a meal with special people. Please join me tomorrow for a meal. After our Thanksgiving Sunday worship, we’ll enjoy a pancake breakfast together to celebrate our commitments to coming alive together in Jesus. It will be wonderful being together tomorrow to enjoy choice food and sweet drinks and to discover in new ways, how the joy of the Lord makes us come alive together in Jesus.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Friday 17 November 2017

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. – Colossians 4:2

 

Safe drivers are watchful drivers, who look ahead, anticipate dangers, and never take for granted that other drivers will do what is right.  Navigating the dangers of everyday life in a world filled with terrors, temptations and tragedies requires us to be watchful.  The best way I know to be watchful is by spending time in prayer.  Taking time to talk to Jesus often is central to watchfulness.  Talk to Jesus about your fears, your flaws, your failures and the things that trip you up time and again.  The more we talk to Jesus the better we will be at hearing Jesus speaking with us.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Thursday 16 November 2017

 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. – Isaiah 9:1

 

Two weeks ago, while preparing for an annual meeting with a new supervisor, I became very nervous. But then I remembered that I have nothing to fear because I had done the necessary work, and the joy of the Lord is my confidence and strength. Is something filling you with gloom or distress today? Please know that you have nothing to fear. The joy of the Lord is your confidence and your strength, and today there will be no more gloom for you because Jesus is your peace.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Wednesday 15 November 2017

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” – Isaiah 6:5

 

Isaiah is one of God’s greatest prophets and pastors. But when God calls Isaiah to service, he is overwhelmed with a sense of unworthiness. Isaiah’s call comes through a vision he has of God filling the temple with all His glory. The brilliance of God enables Isaiah to clearly see his shortcomings. In the light of Jesus’ love, we can clearly see our failings. Like Isaiah we are people of unclean lips. But Jesus never allows our wrongs to keep us from experiencing His love and sharing His goodness. While we live in a world filled with sin, we also live in a world filled with God. God’s presence and God’s love always brings cleansing and healing.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Tuesday 14 November 2017

22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. – Acts 11:22-23

 

When First Church Jerusalem learns of the great things happening in the Antioch church, they send Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement) to work with these new Christians so that they will grow strong in their relationship with Jesus, and stay true to God with all their hearts. God has blessed us with people who encourage us to remain true to Jesus with all our hearts. And God calls us to be people who encourage others to stay strong in the Faith. Just as God sent Barnabas to Antioch to be an encourager, sends us to specific people to be their encouragers. God also brings people into our lives to be our encouragers so that we can continue to remain true to the Lord with all our hearts. Giving and receiving encouragement is key to keeping close to Jesus.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric

 

Monday 13 November 2017

18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. – Isaiah 1:18

 

Forgiveness is the oil of relationships. We do more forgiving during an average day than we realize. We forgive those who are rude or dangerous in traffic. We forgive people who get into the express checkout with more than twelve items. We forgive colleagues who fail to complete their work. We forgive family and friends who hurt us. Often the person we have the toughest time forgiving is our self. But no shortcoming or failure is beyond God’s forgiving love. When Jesus takes the punishment for our wrongdoing upon Himself, God settles the matter. The Cross assures us that we are clean, we are forgiven, we are free. So, forgive yourself – after all, God has forgiven you. The matter is settled.

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric