Bible Study

The Connectional Table – Conversation on Human Sexuality, Our Mission and United Methodist Church Law (Video)

umc.org/connectional-table-web…
The Connectional Table hosted an online conversation on human sexuality, our mission and United Methodist church law, Tuesday, April 29th. The event begins with Bible study led by Bishop James Dorff, followed by a panel of United Methodist leaders and theologians who will discuss how we witness Christ’s love to the world in relationship to our doctrine.

The event is the first in a series of three the Connectional Table will host to foster ongoing dialogue — both to provide an opportunity for Connectional Table members to listen and consider varying theological perspectives, as well as to create an ongoing conversation in the wider church. Webcasts will be archived for future viewing.

The Connectional Table invites anyone who is interested in the topic to participate online. Listeners can submit questions via Twitter by using the hashtag #CTtalks.

Daily Devotional – God’s Gentle Whisper 1 Kings 19:9-18

God’s Gentle Whisper

Read 1 Kings 19:9-18

The Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
(1 Kings 19:9-13)

Reflect

When Elijah fled to Mount Sinai—a journey of over two hundred miles—he was returning to the sacred place where God had met Moses and had given his laws to the people. Elijah thought he was the only person left who was still true to God. He had seen the king’s court and the priesthood become corrupt. Lonely and discouraged, he forgot that others had remained faithful during the nation’s wickedness.

But more than just a reminder of others who served God, Elijah needed to hear from God himself. Elijah knew that the sound of a gentle whisper was God’s voice. He realized that God doesn’t reveal himself only in powerful, miraculous ways like the fire on Mount Carmel. Yet at that point Elijah needed a gentle reassurance of God’s comforting presence. Hearing from God gave him new strength to pursue his mission.

Respond

To look for God only in something big (rallies, churches, conferences, highly visible leaders) may be to miss him because he is often found gently whispering in the quietness of a humbled heart. Are you listening for God? Step back from the noise and activity of your busy life and listen humbly and quietly for his guidance. It may come when you least expect it.

“Disregard for the Servants!” — By Phil Ware

“Listen to this story: There was a man that owned a vineyard. He put a wall around the field and dug a hole for a wine press. Then the man built a tower. He leased the land to some farmers. Then he left for a trip. Later, it was time for the grapes to be picked. So the man sent his servants to the farmers to get his share of the grapes. “But the farmers grabbed the servants and beat one. They killed another one and then killed a third servant with rocks. So the man sent some other servants to the farmers. The man sent more servants than he sent the first time. But the farmers did the same thing to the servants that they did the first time.” — Matthew 21:33-36 (ERV)
Key Thought:

One of the primary designations of God’s prophets in the Old Testament was the phrase “my servants the prophets.” For the most part, God’s prophets were feared, mistreated, cast out, and even murdered. Respect and honor were not usually reserved for them or given to them. But God loved them. God has a special place for them. Like we learned from John the Baptist, integrity and faithfulness do not insure that our discipleship will be easy. They do insure that God will reward us, but there is no guarantee that we will experience this reward in this life. If Jesus, the Son, was murdered by a hateful mob, can his servants expect anything else? The goal is faithfulness. We’ll leave it to God to take care of everything and everyone else!

Today’s Prayer:

Holy and righteous God, I entrust my life and my future to you. I confess to you that I struggle with my own weaknesses. Please strengthen me so I may serve you as a faithful servant no matter how others may treat me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

The Thoughts and Prayers for What Jesus Did! are written by Phil Ware.

What Jesus Did by Phil Ware – Faith or Frustration

“Faith or Frustration?” — WJD! for 08/14/2013

Jesus and the followers went back to the people. A man came to Jesus and bowed before him. The man said, “Lord, be kind to my son. He has epilepsy and is suffering very much. My son often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought my son to your followers, but they could not heal him.” Jesus answered, “You people have no faith. Your lives are all wrong. How long must I stay with you? How long must I continue to be patient with you? Bring the boy here.” Jesus gave a strong command to the demon inside the boy. Then the demon came out of the boy, and the boy was healed. — Matthew 17:14-18 (ERV)

Key Thought:

Why had Jesus’ closest followers not been able to heal the boy? Matthew 17:19 says that it was because they did not have enough faith, but why was that? Was it because of Jesus’ absence? Was it because of the leaders’ among the apostles being with Jesus? Was it because they simply lost faith in what Jesus had equipped them and empowered them to do?
Jesus is surely frustrated with our vain attempts to live for him and bless others with his grace. Just as Moses came down from his mountain of experience with God and found frustration and faithlessness, Jesus does, too. The message for us? Surely we must understand that we must have faith and when we do, Jesus can do great things through us. But … Jesus can and will do things without us if we choose not to follow and obey him. The issue is one of honoring and blessing him by having faith.

Today’s Prayer:

Holy God, I want you to be pleased by my choices and my actions as I seek to live by faith, trusting Jesus will use me to make a serious impact on others. Father, I believe, but help my faith to grow stronger each day. May all I do bring you glory and bless my brothers and sisters in Christ. Amen.