Monthly Archives: February 2014

2.28.14 Insight from Jane Fowler

Jane Fowler serves as Group Life Program Director at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. In that capacity, she encourages our congregation to be a part of the Journey of Knowing, Loving and Serving God and others by being in authentic community and growing in your love and knowledge of Christ.

Read and Reflect:
(Head)

If someone were to describe you, would they say you were generous, a giving person? Are you generous with your words toward others? Maybe you give to others in your daily actions and deeds. Or maybe you are generous in your financial giving. Most everyone wants to be generous. Often, we have every intention of being generous, but we don’t follow through with our good intentions.

In our scripture passage today, Paul is writing to the church at Corinth to see that their good intentions are translated into action. They pledged to financially help the struggling churches in Jerusalem, but a year later they had not acted on their pledge. The Corinthian believers excelled in everything—they had faith, good preaching, knowledge, earnestness and much love. Giving is a natural response of love. If you love someone, you give them your time and attention and provide for their needs. Paul wanted the Corinthians to prove their love was sincere by giving.

Unlike the prosperity found in Corinth, the Christians in Macedonia were not well off. But when they heard of the need of their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem, they gave freely. They did not have to be pressured or coaxed. The particular way in which they showed they had received the grace of God was by their generosity.“

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (verse 9). God gave everything, including a son, so that we might have eternal life. What does God expect in return?
We love God and love others and we give with a willing heart and out of gratitude for what God has done for us. The point of giving is not so much the amount we give, but why and how we give.

When my daughter was in grade school, a classmates’ house burned to the ground. Thankfully, no one was injured; they were all at school or work. The school counselor sent a note home asking for donations for the family. They were covered by insurance, but it could be days or weeks before they saw any type of reimbursement. My daughter filled a bag with clothes that would fit her classmate and emptied her piggy bank into a zip lock bag. I counted the money in the baggie and told Maddy how proud of her I was for her giving heart. But, I asked, was she sure she wanted to give all her money? Maybe she should put a couple of the $20 bills back in her bank? Her response should have been mine: “Mom, I don’t need my money right now and they have lost everything.”

Prayer and Meditation
(Heart)

Dear God, help us to be generous people. Help us to be generous with our words—let us use words to build each other up and not tear down. Help us to be generous with our gifts and serve our families, our community and our world according to your plan. Help us to be generous with our money—to give first instead of out of what is left over. Help us to be grateful in all we do, by remembering it was you who first gave to us.
Amen.

Be, Do & Go
(Hands)

The kingdom of God spreads through believers’ concern and willingness to help others. Put your faith into action today—serve in your community. If you don’t know where to start, Resurrection has opportunities listed at www.cor.org/missions.

For Discussion:
Use this section to help prompt discussion with your spouse, children, small group, etc.

Giving is personal. God does not compare the amount we give to what others give. It is a topic that is rarely discussed, even among family members, yet it shapes how we live our lives. It might be helpful as a family to discuss your expectation or motivation behind giving. Be honest.

1. When you give, do you have an expectation of getting something in return?
2. Have you ever considered giving out of gratitude? How might this change how you give?
3. Do you plan your financial giving and make it a priority in your budget? Or do you
hope there is something left over to give at the end of the month?
4. Do you believe giving is a purely financial matter, or a matter of the heart?

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

2.27.14 Insight from Jeanna Repass

Jeanna Repass serves as the Kansas City Missions Program Director at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

Read and Reflect:
(Head)

In 2008, millions of Americans lost their jobs in an economic crisis that resulted in long-term unemployment for many. I was one of them. With the exception of a six-month stint with a company that was not a good fit, I remained out of work for a total of 18 months. This threw my family into financial crisis.

We were forced to make drastic lifestyle changes. We were not buying new clothes, eating out or going to movies. We conserved everything from gas to milk. It just wasn’t enough. So we made the decision to change our buying habits for even the basic necessities. We started buying generic whenever possible, with one notable exception. I refused to buy any type of bathroom tissue that was not name brand.

One day, my husband did the shopping and came home with the store brand of tissues. I was devastated. I sat on the floor in front of the linen closet crying as I was putting away generic tissue. I cried out in despair as to how God could let us get so desperate. Didn’t God care for us anymore? Then God spoke to me through the voice of my husband, who asked me if I believed that God was bigger than bathroom tissue. He challenged me to trust God, even with this.

He was right, and that moment I recommitted myself to trusting God with the smallest details of my life. “ Whoever is faithful in little is faithful in much…” Luke 16:10(a). When I trusted God with the minutia, I regained my sense of being God’s beloved child full of worth, and my heart opened to receive the fullness of God’s riches. “If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous (material goods), who will entrust to you the true riches?” (verse 11).

God not only restored me to employment, but blessed me with fulfillment and joy in my work. God also relieved me of my name brand insecurities. It doesn’t matter to God what brands we buy, but as an act of faith, we buy what is most affordable. We trust God with the littlest details knowing with confidence that God is faithful with all that is important in our lives, little or much!

Prayer and Meditation
(Heart)

God of all details, I give myself to you this day.
Today I offer you every part of myself: mind, body and spirit.
Please receive all that I have for it is all from you. Help me to make the most out of today trusting it all to you.
When I forget to focus on you and I begin to focus on what I want or want to control,
please forgive me and work in my heart to turn it all over to you.
You are in every fiber of every piece of creation and knowing that you are there makes me
secure and able to focus on doing your will for your glory.
Thank you for being a God of the small and big. Create in me a big faith born out of faith in
the littlest details.
Amen.

Be, Do & Go
(Hands)

Do an inventory of the things in your home that you replace on a regular basis whether it is clothing, household goods or food.
Make a commitment to exchange one brand-name item for its generic equivalent.
Take the difference in price, however big or small, and commit to use it generously to help someone in need.
When you make that donation, reflect on how God will multiply your giving both in material ways for the recipient, but also in your own life.
Every time you use the item you’ve purchased, take a moment to thank God for being a God of all provision, small and big.

For Discussion:
Use this section to help prompt discussion with your spouse, children, small group, etc.

1. The Pharisees resented Jesus for calling them out on their love of money and material
things. Do you ever try to justify your own attachment to material goods?
2. We can all get caught trying to “keep up with the Joneses.” Can you think of a time
when you’ve put more energy into what others think of you versus what God thinks
of you?
3.  What are some small things that you can trust to God today? What are some big
struggles that you need to turn over to God in faith? Do you trust God with both?
4. What dreams and visions for the church do you have? How can your trusting God
with the little things in your life make an impact on your hopes and dreams for
the church?

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

2.26.14 Insight from Darrell Holtz

Darrell Holtz serves as Program Director for Group Life Curriculum and Writing at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

Read and Reflect:
(Head)

As the end of his life drew near, King David of Israel wanted passionately to build a permanent Temple in God’s honor to replace the sanctuary that had been the center of Israel’s worship since their days wandering in the wilderness. He was convinced God did not want him to build it himself (cf. 1 Chronicles 28:1-3), so he worked to gather materials his son Solomon could use in building the Temple. In today’s reading, David committed much of his personal fortune to this project, and challenged other Israelites to join him.

Now let’s clear one thing up: what on earth is a “kikkar” of gold? (Some translations use “talent” instead—that still doesn’t tell us much.) The online edition of The Jewish Encyclopedia (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/9316-kikkar) says this was a unit of weight that might have meant as little as 54 pounds of gold, or as much as 103 pounds. The
mention of “darics” is also intriguing. The “daric” was a Persian gold coin, which didn’t exist until roughly 500 years after David. But the writer(s) of Chronicles probably wrote during the Persian period. The text used a measure familiar to readers of their time to indicate that Israel in David’s day gave smaller amounts of gold in the form of coins. Altogether, David collected a lot of gold, silver, bronze, iron and other material!

Yet the rejoicing in this passage is not first and foremost financial, but spiritual. The people rejoiced, verse 9 said, not because they’d hit some set amount, but “because they had presented their offerings to the Lord so willingly and wholeheartedly.” It was their attitude, their inner spirit, that inspired joy. When King David prayed over the offering, he said to God “ everything in heaven and on earth belongs to you” (verse 11) and “ You are the source of wealth and honor” (verse 12). The king and his people did not approach the building of the Temple with an attitude of, “We’ve got to give a whole bunch of OUR money for this building.” Instead, they saw this collection as an act of worship, of praise and recognition, a process of giving back to God what was already God’s!

Not just in this capital campaign, but in all of my life dealings that involve finances, I want to learn from their joyous spirit. Giving isn’t first and foremost about our checking accounts—it’s about our hearts.

Prayer and Meditation
(Heart)

O Lord, King David said, “Since everything comes from you, we have given you that which comes from your own hand.” I forget that so often. I so easily believe that the work I do is MINE. I forget all the people who work with me, all the people who taught me, the people who raised me and supported me and encouraged me. I forget that my strength comes from food someone else cooperated with you to grow, and from the workings of a body and brain of such complexity that our best medical science is still just scratching the surface of understanding how it all works.
Lord, I don’t do any of this on my own. Remind me that I am your steward. Keep me grateful for what you entrust to my care, and generous in the ways I use it to advance your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

Be, Do & Go
(Hands)

Mentally review all of the financial records you keep—checkbook, computer files, bank or broker’s statements or handwritten sticky notes on your refrigerator. Then spend some time answering honestly:
If you were accused of being a deeply committed Christian, would you be convicted or acquitted based on the information in those financial records?

For Discussion:
Use this section to help prompt discussion with your spouse, children, small group, etc.

1.
How do the words “willingly and wholeheartedly” apply to:
a) your grocery shopping?
b) your trips to the mall or to online shopping sites?
c) paying for car repairs?
d) your giving to God?

2.
What do your answers tell you about the meaning of “willingly and wholeheartedly”?
About your priorities and values?

3.
No one, not even God, can force you to do something willingly and wholeheartedly.
How does that attitude come about in your heart?
Giving to God “Willingly and Wholeheartedly”

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

2.25.14 Insight from Julie Peters

Julie Peters is the Associate Director of Student Ministries at The Church of the Resurrection.

Read and Reflect:
(Head)In this passage from Exodus, there are many rich lessons. We begin our reading with Bezalel & Oholiab and the skilled laborers who were called to build the sanctuary (Exodus 36:1-2). If we look into the preceding chapter, we gain more insight into why Bezalel and Oholiab were in charge of the skilled laborers. Moses told the Israelites that the Lord had chosen Bezalel and filled him with the Spirit of God, wisdom and all kinds of skills. He also said that Oholiab and Bezalel had both been given not only many artistic skills, but also the ability to teach others (Exodus 35: 30-34). Each of the many skilled workers had gifts which they gave whole-heartedly to the work set before them by God.

In verses 3-5, the Israelite community is engaged in the process of building the sanctuary. The skilled workers receive the freewill offerings that were brought by the people; every morning more freewill offerings were brought. In Exodus 35:20-29, we learn that Moses assembled the Israelite community to hear what God was asking of them. They then withdrew, and as they were willing and their hearts were moved, they began to bring freewill offerings. They brought whatever they had, whether it was olive oil, gold or fine linens they had woven, each one giving back the gifts that God had given them, spontaneously, morning after morning. Each one who was willing gave whole-heartedly to the work God set before them.

This whole-hearted giving eventually overwhelmed the skilled laborers and they asked Moses to put a stop to it, as they had collected all that was needed for the work at hand. And Moses followed up by making clear that the giving should stop. Two things seem to warrant consideration here. First, the observation that the workers had so much integrity they discouraged the people from bringing more, when the provision was already there. They were led by God’s spirit and were above reproach in their stewardship of what the people brought. And second, they gave whole-heartedly to what has captured their hearts. These same Israelites whole-heartedly had given their freewill offerings to form a golden calf earlier in Exodus. Now they were bringing their freewill offerings to their Lord, who had captured their hearts and attention. Each one who was willing gave whole-heartedly to the work set before them by God.

Prayer and Meditation
(Heart)

God, I pray to have a heart willing to hear your call, willing to see all you have given me, and willing to do wholeheartedly whatever you set before me.
Fill me with your Spirit, lead me by your Spirit, teach me to follow faithfully.
Thank you for all you have given. Help me remember that all I have belongs to you. Help
me to listen and respond faithfully to you.

As I ponder what I have been wholehearted about in my life, I recall the golden calves,
things that have captured my heart and taken my gaze off of you. I am sorry. Forgive me. Turn my heart back to you. Capture my heart again. May I not be captured by things that are
perishing, but moved more towards you and the priorities you call me to have.
I pray to follow you faithfully and wholeheartedly day by day.
In Jesus name, Amen.Be, Do & Go
(Hands)

Take time today to think and pray about what you have to give and how God can use
it as a freewill offering to others.
Do three simple things today that meet the needs of those around you. It can be
anything from paying for the drink of the person behind you in line at Starbucks to
taking a minute from your busy day to call a sick or lonely friend to doing the dishes
when it isn’t your turn, or maybe even sharing a meal with a homeless person.
After you give freely to others today, remember to say a prayer thanking God for
inviting you into God’s work in the world.

For Discussion:
Use this section to help prompt discussion with your spouse, children, small group, etc.

1. Have you ever wholeheartedly given time, money or energy to building a “golden
calf”? Explain.
2. Think of a time when you were willing and listened and followed God’s promptings in
your life. Share.
3. In what ways can you be more open to using your gifts for God’s work?
4. As you hear leaders in the church talk about the future, what excites you the most
about what God might do? How will you be a part of this?

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

2.24.14 Insight from Dave MaGee

Dave Magee is the Director of Student Ministries at Resurrection.

Read and Reflect:
(Head)

In Genesis 12 we see God tells Abram (Abraham) to go “ to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you. ”
Ultimately the ancestral line of Abraham will follow God’s call, live out God’s promise and arrive in the promised land, Israel. Modern Israel is not a large piece of land compared to many countries. It is around 8000 square miles, about the size of the state of Massachusetts; some 260 miles at its longest and 60 miles at its widest. To many peoples or empires Israel might not have seemed like the most desirable piece of land.

But the people who were settling into Israel were no ordinary group of people. The Aramean referred to in Deut. 26:5 is thought to be Jacob, who would be called Israel. The descendants of Jacob (who would become the 12 tribes of Israel) suffered oppression in Egypt until God delivered them, and God ultimately led them to a promised land that they could call their own. So the land of Israel was more than just a plot of land—it was a promise delivered, a
place where the people of God could live out their lives and their faith.

Thus, we see in Deuteronomy 26 that when the people enter the land they are to take the first fruits of the first harvest from the land, put them in a basket and deliver the basket to the priest, and the priest will place those first fruits at the Lord’s altar.

A piece of land can be more than just a piece of land when God has a plan for that land and it is dedicated to the Lord. Sometimes human nature is to pray to God for something, and then when (or if) God answers, to give thanks for that answer to our prayer. But here we see that scripture says to recognize that everything we have ultimately comes from God and is a gift from God. May we each be challenged to offer God thanksgiving, not just when prayers are answered or projects are completed, but first and always, recognizing that it is God who has invited us into the journey from the first.

Prayer and Meditation
(Heart)

God, we see your scripture tells us that you have blessed us and now we are called to “bring the first fruits of the soil that you, Lord, have given me. Place the basket before the Lord your God and bow down before him.” Deut. 26:10

We thank you for the blessings we receive, for the gifts and talents each of us has been given, for the fruit we see produced in our lives and in our world.

May we each bow down before you as today’s verse says and point to you as the source of all Godly fruit in our lives. May we give thanks and be challenged to give, not merely from our leftovers or abundance. Guide us to first be givers to you, your people and your world.
Amen.

Be, Do & Go
(Hands)

For many it may be common to pray before our daily meals, to offer thanks first for what we are to receive, and that is a great thing! Today be challenged to pray and give thanks to God first before some of your other daily routines where praying first might not be so commo —perhaps before you interact with a family member or friend, before you go into a meeting at work or as you begin to do a routine task on behalf of your family.

Recognize that every moment of the day is a gift from God filled with potential to produce Godly fruit. Strive to take several “ordinary” moments today and dedicate them to the Lord. Don’t worry about getting the exact words of the prayer right. Rather dedicate the action or interaction to God, and perhaps you will recognize Godly fruit where you might have missed it, or share Godly fruit where you might have held onto it.

For Discussion:
Use this section to help prompt discussion with your spouse, children, small group, etc.

1. Why do you think God called on the Israelites to return their first fruits as an offering
to God?
2. Why does it sometimes seem easier to say thank you to God after an event rather
than before?
3. Where are some places in your daily life that you could seek to offer prayer first as
you undertake those daily routines?
4. Are there places in your life where you can be challenged to not give God your leftovers,
but to give God your first fruits?

2.22.14 Insight from Rev. Lisa Holliday

Rev. Lisa Holliday serves as the Minister of Children and their Families at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

Read and Reflect:
(Head)

The cornerstone of any building is critical, due to the fact that all other stones will be set in reference to it, therefore determining the position of the entire structure. In churches, the cornerstone often includes the date it was set, the name of the building’s architect and an inspirational or Scriptural inscription. Though the cornerstone of the building is made
of stone, the cornerstone of the church itself, its people, is Jesus Christ, whose very life expresses the message of love and hope to the world.

Pastor Paul Cedar wrote, “A spiritual temple requires a very specific kind of building material. It is to be built of living stones—the very lives of those who have become spiritually alive through faith in Jesus Christ. And such building must begin with Jesus Christ.” This is the message of
1 Peter 2:1-10.

1 Peter 2 begins with clear instructions for believers in Christ to get rid of sin, specifically those sins which have the capability to destroy love between one another including envy, slander and malice. Christ’s followers are then given the image that physical buildings are not the actual church. They are tools God can use to help build us, God’s people, into living stones and a living temple where God’s spirit lives and moves, carrying Christ’s message of love and peace to the world.

Readers and hearers of 1 Peter are reminded of the good news they have heard—that Christ is the chosen, precious and living cornerstone. Christ is not static or cold. Christ is alive and life-giving, and because we are joined to him, we are chosen, precious and alive as well. With that affirmation, we are then called to live faithfully in the light of that good news.

Prayer and Meditation
(Heart)

Dear God, thank you for a place and space where I can come to worship you. Thank you for warm, safe, beautiful buildings that offer comfort, security and room to learn and fellowship. Forgive me when I forget that these are simply buildings, and help me remember that as I live beyond them, I am called to share your light and love with the world. Forgive me when I display qualities that do not represent your grace and mercy, and remind me that you and your spirit live within me. Though the walls of these building structures are hard, please keep my heart soft to you and to the needs of your people. Mold and shape me into a faithful follower of your way, and guide me as I seek to live as one of your people who has received mercy, grace and forgiveness. Help me live among all people in a spirit of love and peace. I pray this in the name of Christ, the cornerstone on whom my faith is built,
Amen.

Be, Do & Go
(Hands)

Spend some time walking through the church buildings. Discover KiDS COR, rezlife, Congregational Care, Wesley Chapel, Firestone Chapel, the Sanctuary, the Connection Point and the parking lots. Think about what happens in each area and how each part of the buildings and surroundings express Christ as the cornerstone of our lives and faith. As you prepare to leave the buildings, imagine how you can carry those expressions of the Christian faith into the world. If you were reminded about God’s love and joy on your walk, how will you carry those into your life outside of the church walls? If the comfort, care and hospitality of Christ were areas of focus, what will you do to share those with others? How will you be a living temple for Christ as you leave the physical temple? Pray and ask God to guide you.

For Discussion:
Use this section to help prompt discussion with your spouse, children, small group, etc.

1. What sins do you need to rid yourself of so you can be a holy, living temple for God?

2. How do you keep Christ as the cornerstone of your life?

3. How does it feel to be called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light?

4. As one of God’s people, how will you live so that others may know the love and
mercy of God?

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

2.21.14 Insight from Lori Trupp

Lori Trupp is the Director of Children’s Ministries at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

Read and Reflect:
(Head)

In our scripture reading today, we follow Jesus to the Temple. I can picture Jesus as he enters the temple courts. I can hear the animal sounds, see the people milling about and the merchants and money changers conducting their business. I imagine it must have been very loud and chaotic.

I often think about the expression on Jesus’ face as he came upon this scene. I can imagine anger flashing in his eyes, enraged by the activity occurring around him. I can see him fashioning a whip and hear him as he cracks it in the Temple courts, driving them all away and saying, “ Take these things out of here! Stop making my father’s house a marketplace! ” (v.16)

This statement revealed both Jesus’ authority and his identity. By calling the Temple “my father’s house,” he is stating that he is indeed God’s son. As such, he had the divine authority to do what he did.

After witnessing Jesus’ action, his disciples remember that it is written, “ Passion for your house will consume me. ” (Psalm 69:9) They know something important has happened, yet they still do not fully understand.

When the temple priests confront Jesus about his actions, they ask, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” (v.18). They must have sensed this was a sign of some sort or they wouldn’t have asked the question that way.

Even in their confusion, they all understood that something radical was at work. The disciples, temple priests and even those in the marketplace knew that the passion with which Jesus responded was different.

It was a demonstration of supernatural passion, the kind of passion that inspires people to drop everything and follow a man they hardly know. The kind of passion that radically transforms those who choose to accept the gift of salvation. The kind of passion that inspires a church in Kansas to dream, explore, plan and imagine 10,000 reasons to invest in the future.

Merriam-Webster defines passion as a “strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.” At The Church of the Resurrection, we have a passion to represent Christ in the world, to change lives, transform communities and renew the church. We have a passion to build a Christian community where non-religious and nominally
religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians. We have a passion to know, love and serve God. I am grateful to be a part of a faith community that has this passion!

Prayer and Meditation
(Heart)

God, renew your supernatural passion in me.
Renew in me a passion to represent Christ in the world.
Renew in me a passion to know, love and serve you.
Renew in me a passion to help young adults know you.
Renew in me a passion to reach inner-city children in your name.
Renew in me a passion to make your church a vital part of communities everywhere.
Amen.

Be, Do & Go
(Hands)

Take a minute to write down three things you could do to fan the spark of passion God placed on your heart during your journal time. Make a plan to act on at least one of your ideas in the next week. If you aren’t sure what to do, contact www.cor.org/connections, and we will help you find a way to connect your passion with a way to serve others!

For Discussion:
Use this section to help prompt discussion with your spouse, children, small group, etc.

1. Picture yourself in the temple court when Jesus arrives. What would you feel when
Jesus begins clearing the temple with his whip?

2. Women and gentiles used the Temple courts for worship (they were not allowed in
the Sanctuary). The buying and selling interfered with their ability to worship. What
things interfere with your opportunity to worship?

3. Jesus was not upset about the marketplace, but about its location. How and where
do you spend your money? Are you a good steward of your resources? Is stewardship
important to you? If you run a business, do you run a fair marketplace?
4.
Share what you feel a renewed passion about after this lesson and how you plan to
fan the spark God has placed in your heart.

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

2.20.14 Insight from Erin Bryan

Read today’s Insight from Erin Bryan.
Read and Reflect:
(Head)
Our scripture opens on Jesus’ family and friends’ long walk home as they return from celebrating the Feast of Passover in Jerusalem. This was an annual tradition for Joseph, Mary, their children and all of the Jewish people. As the caravan of Israelites journeyed to and from Judah, women and children would lead the procession. Men, serving as protectors from roadside robberies, would bring up the rear. Jesus, now 12 years old, could have walked in either party—which is perhaps why neither of his parents noticed his absence.
The company traveled for a a day before Mary and Joseph began to ask where their son was. Once they realized that Jesus was nowhere to be found, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking their child. I would imagine they hightailed it in reverse—this was the Son of God, after all!
Mary and Joseph knew their boy was no ordinary 12-year-old. They were blessed to bring a miracle into this world! Before his birth, Jesus had been proclaimed Emmanuel by angels. God‘s messengers brought Mary and Joseph the good news that God was sending this baby to be God with us—Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace!
However, his parents clearly had not considered the reality that their child was becoming a young man—growing in his own relationship with his Heavenly Father—and choosing to do so in the best place he knew: the temple courts at Jerusalem. As Mary and Joseph set out for Nazareth, Jesus remained with those who were most concerned about their eternal home with their Heavenly Father.
I imagine Joseph—and especially Mary—felt a lot of strong emotions during the three-day journey back to Jerusalem. Perhaps they were concerned initially with Jesus’ safety and welfare. Jesus’ parents may have been frustrated or forlorn over his absence as they frantically searched for him amongst their kin and began the long journey back to Jerusalem. When they were reunited at the temple courts and Mary saw her child was sitting among the teachers, talking with them and asking them questions, she pleaded with him to explain why he would treat her and her husband in this way.
Neither parent fully understood Jesus’ response, nor did the wise ones who engaged him in discussion at the very temple courts where scholars like Gamaliel and Paul later received their educations. Jesus plainly said that he was about his Father’s business. What could be more important than the business of God?

 

Prayer and Meditation
(Heart)
Gracious God,
We are so thankful that throughout time you are our eternal parent. You love, protect and provide for us daily. You sent us Jesus, as a helpless babe in a manger, who grew into a child
who amazed the teachers of the law and scriptures, whose relationship with you developed even more strongly as he became the young man you anointed him to be, who is our Savior and whose Holy Spirit remains with us to this day. We are grateful for the teachings and
example of Jesus, who teaches us today that your business is the best business to be about.
In Christ we are strengthened to study your word and do your will. I pray that you would move me to accomplish your purpose for me this day. May I be as eager as the young man, Jesus, to honor my parents, teachers and counselors, as we grow together in faith. May I be more focused on living a life that is pleasing to you, O God, than I am in pleasing those around me. May you find your people about your business, Bless us to be a blessing to those whose lives you wish us to touch in our church and community.
Amen.

Be, Do & Go
(Hands)
Consider your parents and others who have provided care for you during your
journey with Christ. Remember those who have been your pastors, counselors and
teachers within the faith community.
Write a letter, send an email, post on a Facebook page, or call those who have
helped you be about the business of your Heavenly Father. Visit with one another
about where God is leading you today, and encourage one another to remain strengthened and be faithful to God’scalling.
Discuss ways in which you can pray for and hold one another accountable to
remaining attuned to God’s business in your busy lives. Is there a way that you can
spread Christ’s love and joy to those in your community and become a mentor in faith
for someone who may be non-religious or nominally religious?

For Discussion:
Use this section to help prompt discussion with your spouse, children, small group, etc.
1. We have all been lost at one time or another—literally or spiritually. Recall those experiences and discuss your feelings before and after being ‘found.’
2. When we are about the world’s business, we often are unsatisfied. When we are tuned in to God’s business, we are usually more content. Where do you feel you are now? How can you move toward the peace Christ offers you?
3. Jesus was a young boy who astounded the temple teachers. Are your children excited to learn about Jesus? Engage your family in re-telling the story of Jesus! Perhaps check out a book from the library, draw the Bible scenes, sing your favorite hymns or praise songs, or talk about how you can share the story with someone new this year!

2.19.14 Insights from Pastor Wendy Lyons Chrostek

Wendy Chrostek is a Congregational Care Pastor at Resurrection.

Read and Reflect:
(Head)

Louisiana is no stranger to flooding, and last year was no exception. My hometown of Lake Arthur faced such a threat. The levee was just about three inches from flooding over, and there was no way they could hold off the water without everyone’s help. So the efforts began—in this small town, person after person stepped up to help fill and lay sandbags. It’s easy to invest time and energy when it’s your home about to get flooded, but when your home isn’t in danger, it’s a whole lot easier to stay inside. But that didn’t stop them. It wasn’t about helping themselves as much as it was about helping their neighbors, about helping those they saw at the grocery store, and who they saw in line picking their kids up from school, and those that they sat next to at the high school football game. It wasn’t their home, but that didn’t matter.

During the reign of King Darius, the prophet Haggai had brought a word from the Lord that it was time to rebuild the temple. The people were reluctant—in fact, they were more worried about taking care of their own homes, which led the prophet to say, “ Is it a time for you yourselves to live in paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? ” (Haggai 1:4) It took someone from the outside to make them realize that something needed to be done. And so the efforts began. “ Everyone whose spirit God had stirred—got ready to go up and rebuild the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. All their neighbours aided them with silver vessels, with gold, with goods, with animals, and with valuable gifts, besides all that was freely offered .” (Ezra 1:5-7) Did you catch that? It wasn’t just those whose hearts had been stirred by God, but also neighbors. They weren’t Jewish, they wouldn’t be worshipping in the temple, they didn’t have any stake in this, and yet they freely offered their gifts.

The waters held off, and Lake Arthur repelled this threat of a flood. Like those
seeking to rebuild the temple, they were compelled by the vision of something
greater than themselves. When the entire community stands behind a vision,
something profound happens. And you get to be a part of that.

Prayer and Meditation
(Heart)

Gracious God, we know that it is more blessed to give than to receive, and so we pray that you might show us places where we can give, places where we can offer our gifts and service to impact our community. Help us to see the opportunities to bring change and hope all around us.

It is true that every little bit helps, but there are times when we feel that our little bit can’t quite possibly make a difference. Instill within us the assurance that indeed our gifts are worth sharing.

Finally, open our eyes to see the beauty that can be attained when we all pitch in,
open our hands that we might give freely, and open our hearts to feel the joy that
comes from growing together.
Amen.

Be, Do & Go
(Hands)

Sometime today offer to help a neighbor, whether by shoveling their snow-covered
sidewalk, by helping to carry their groceries from their car, or even sending them an
encouraging card in the mail. By doing something selflessly for someone in the community,
you’ll be contributing to their joy and in turn, you will feel joy as well.

For Discussion:

Use this section to help prompt discussion with your spouse, children, small group, etc.

1. Have you ever started a project with great enthusiasm, only to find yourself “bogged
down” when things got tough? Haggai the prophet challenged the Israelites when
they began to say, of rebuilding the Temple, “maybe later.” How can his sense of
urgency speak to us at Resurrection as we confront the challenges of the 10,000
Reasons campaign?

2. Resurrection’s Leawood, West and Downtown campuses have all seen attendance
jump when they completed past building projects. Ezra wrote that Israel “joyfully
celebrated the dedication of this house of God” when the Temple was rebuilt. What
do you most anticipate celebrating when our new sanctuary is completed?

3. In what ways will our new sanctuary honor God, as the Temple did?

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

2.18.14 Insight from Brent Messick

Brent Messick is Resurrection’s Managing Executive Director of Operations.

Read and Reflect:
(Head)
It took seven years to build the great Temple and to decorate it with allof its gold and elaborate furnishings. But the Temple, with its magnificent structure and all of its beautiful furnishings and decorations, is just an empty shell without God’s presence and without the people.In today’s reading, King Solomon and the people of Israel prepare to dedicate the Temple to God. In order to consider the Temple complete, they must bring in the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant to its resting place in the Temple. The Ark holds only the two stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments that Moses had placed there at Mount Horeb. It has been traveling with the Israelites in the Tent of Meeting since their exodus from Egypt to the Holy Land.King Solomon and the leaders of Israel conduct a formal service where they bring the Ark out of the tent and into the Temple. The Ark represents God’s presence and the place where God may dwell among the people. The people honor God and give thanks by offering sacrifices of sheep and oxen too numerous to count marking the joy and solemnity of this occasion. Many people in Solomon’s time were very wealthy and were eager to share their wealth to consecrate the Temple and to honor God.God graciously accepts what is done and testifies acceptance of it when a cloud fills the Temple. This visible emanation of divine glory puts an honor upon the Ark as a representation of God’s presence; it testifies acceptance that the Temple and its furnishings were completed for God; and it shows that God is pleased with the great assembly of the people.

Finally, we read Solomon’s prayer that the glory of God had lived in a cloud of darkness, but now we can experience God’s divine presence in the sanctuary forever.

Prayer and Meditation
(Heart)

Psalm 30:
A psalm of David. A song for the dedication of the Temple.
I will praise you, LORD!
You saved me from teh grave and kept my enemies from celebrating my death.
I prayed to you, LORD God, and you healed me, saving me from death and the grave.
Your faithful people, LORD, will praise you with songs and honor your holy name.
Your anger lasts a little while, but your kindness lasts for a lifetime.
At night we may cry, but when morning comes we will celebrate.
I was carefree and thought, “I’ll never be shaken!”
You, LORD, were my friend, and you made me strong as a mighty mountain.
But when you hid your face, I was crushed.
I prayed to you, LORD, and in my prayer I said,
“What good will it do you if I am in the grave?
Once I have turned to dust, how can I praise you or tell how loyal you are?
Have pity, LORD! Help!”
You have turned my sorrow into joyful dancing.
No longer am I sad and wearing sackcloth.
I thank you from my heart, and I will never stop singing your praises, my LORD
and my God.

Be, Do & Go
(Hands)

Sometime today, take 5 minutes and be still. Take a moment to make a list of all of
the areas in your life where you find sin. After making this list, say this prayer:

Gracious God, please forgive me for my sins and my transgressions. Please fill me with your Holy Spirit and use the power of your Holy Spirit to wash away my sins. Please wash my soul clean, wash my heart clean and wash my mind clean. After you cleanse me with your Holy Spirit, then please fill me with your strength. For I am broken and I am weak, and I need your strength to help me resist the temptation to sin. And, finally, dear God, please fill me with your love. And I pray that I may love you back with all of my heart, with all of my soul and with all of my strength. Amen.

After you have said this prayer, crunch up your list of sins and throw them in the
nearest garbage receptacle.

For Discussion:

Use this section to help prompt discussion with your spouse, children, small group, etc.

1. King Solomon built the Temple for God’s Kingdom. Are church buildings important? Why
or why not?

2. The Israelites dedicated the Temple by offering sacrifices. Why is it important to
give our offerings to God?

3. Jesus referred to his body as a temple. How can God’s glory fill our earthly temples
and shine through us?

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.