Saturday, Feb. 24

Read Romans 4:13-25

From Jamie Gump

Huntington, WV Madison Avenue Christian Church

His family urged him to go to the doctor.  But the man felt he was too sick, and wanted to get better before he went.  Silly, right?  When ill is when we need the doctor.  Not when we get better.  Yet too many use that silly logic with their faith.  I once asked a group of Christians to raise their hands if they believed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and had faith in God.  Every hand shot up.  Then I asked if they were sure they were going to heaven.  Only about 1/3 raised their hands.  The remaining 2/3 shared that they didn’t raise their hands because they weren’t sure they were good enough (…they thought they were too sick to go to the Doctor.)

Only after we put our trust in and enter into relationship with the Divine Physician will we gain the strength to follow Christ’s teachings and feel the Healer’s touch moving us toward perfection.   This promise of relationship comes from God as a “pure gift.”  “That’s the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it, those who keep the religious traditions and those who have never heard of them. …Abraham believed…, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do” (Rom 4:16,18, The Message).

That same promise, that gift, is ours.  May we live out our faith, not wondering if we’ve done enough to earn God’s love, but instead living in God’s love and looking expectantly toward what, with God, we will do.

 

Your grace is amazing, O God!

Help me to receive it with joy and live in it daily. Amen.

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Thursday: Dec. 14

Read Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

from Jamie Gump, Huntington, WV Madison Avenue Christian Church

“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me” (v1).  Upon whom?  Who has been anointed?  Here it is upon a solitary person speaking in Jerusalem.  In Luke, Jesus quotes vv1-4 and says that it has been fulfilled.  So, is it Jesus, too, who is anointed?  And who else?  Perhaps you and I?

Yes.  We, too, have been anointed by the Lord God through Jesus Christ.  Anointed to…  Preach good news, not bad.  Heal and comfort the heartbroken, not harm them more.  Help set free those who are being held captive (by poverty, addiction, fear, whatever), not judge them or push them deeper.  Be messengers and makers of joy, rather than focusing on the destructive and divisive. Be ones who are energetic in our worship, rather than lazily expecting others to entertain us.

The spirit of the Lord is upon you, upon me, upon all of us who call ourselves believers.    It came upon us in our baptisms.  It comes upon us in our first, and in our unceasing, professions of faith.  Let us make use of the love and strength and compassion that the spirit provides.  Let us be positive forces for God in this world that needs God’s love so very much.  Let us be God’s anointed!

Lord, thank you for trusting us to be your representatives. Help us to make use of what the spirit has to offer, that we may be sharers of your love…always and in all ways.  Amen.

Prayerscapes is presented by the Order of Ministry of the Christian Church in WV and the Christian Church in PA.  It is made possible for your free use because of your faithful support of Disciples Mission Fund,  for which we all give thanks.

Read Matthew 17:1-9

I’m not a fan of secrets, except maybe keeping a gift secret, because I really enjoy seeing someone’s surprise when the gift is opened.  Too often secrets are used as a way to exclude – to say “we’re in and you’re not.” Christianity isn’t like that.  Christianity is about inclusion, community, sharing and inviting – not about exclusion and secrets.  Which makes today’s scripture story seem kind of odd to me.

After the Transfiguration, Jesus says to Peter, James and John, “Don’t tell anybody.”  Too often we act as if Jesus has told us, “Don’t tell anybody.”  How silent we are about our faith?  When’s the last time you shared your faith with someone, or told someone about Jesus, or spoke about God’s unconditional, ever-lasting, completely overwhelming love?  Have you told anyone lately about your faith, about God, about Jesus?

It’s no longer a secret.  The resurrection has taken place.  Jesus lives.  The story is complete.  Well, not quite complete.  When Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, he gave them, and us, this instruction, “Go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them all I have taught you” (Matt 28:19).  No more secrets.  Tell everybody!  Tell everybody!

Lord, open our mouths to share your love story.

Jamie Gump

Madison Avenue Christian Church, Huntington, WV

Thursday, Dec. 1         Read Luke 1:5-25

from Jamie Gump, Madison Avenue Christian Church, Huntington, WV:

Zechariah.  Life-long believer, probably even on the cradle roll of his synagogue.  Forever in service to the Lord, faithfully obedient the Law.  Now a priest.  And he doesn’t believe in answered prayer.  Well, that may be a bit harsh.  An angel (he’s not sure) appears to him and says that his prayer has been heard.  “What prayer?” he wonders.  “You and your wife will have a child.”  And he thought, “As old as I am, I quit praying that prayer long ago.”  The angel talks of their coming child who will be great in the sight of the Lord.  Zechariah isn’t buying it.  So the angel says that he will not be able to speak until it comes true.  It does.  And Zechariah’s first words are words of praise (v64).

So, what does it take to believe in answered prayer?  Why pray if we don’t believe that it could be answered?  What about all our long-unanswered prayers?  Would we be able to handle them being answered now?  How long are we willing to wait for an answer?  How do we respond to answered prayer?  How do we know when an angel is talking to us?  Lots of faith questions from an often quickly-scanned passage on the periphery of the Christmas story.

Lord, we believe.  Help our unbelief.  Amen.

Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

from Jamie Gump, Huntington Madison Avenue Christian Church

Re-created (made new), reconciled (reconnected), forgiven (not judged by our wrongs), trusted (given responsibility), made ambassadors (representatives of Christ) – Wow!  Such an expanded description in such a short passage.  A description of us – of you, me, all of us.  Can we accept this portrayal of who we are?  Who we are called to be? Can we accept the gifts of pure renewal, holy connection, and loving mercy?  I hope and pray we can.  And can we, will we, accept the call from God that we be reliable emissaries of the Good News who bring people together with one another and help connect them with God through Jesus Christ?  It is my hope and prayer that we will.  The gifts and the calling go together.  The gifts necessary to fulfill our calling.  The calling our thanksgiving for the gifts.

Lord, help us to accept both the gifts and the challenge

from the One who has the plan for this world.

Read Galatians 3:23—4:7

from Rev. Jamie Gump, Madison Avenue Christian Church, Huntington

What a joy! We have been adopted! Time for a party.   Wait… You didn’t know that you’ve been adopted or were even in a place to be adopted? Well, it’s true. Through Christ and through faith, you have become a child of God. A rightful member of God’s family. Even better, this family of God has no division or hierarchy among the children. We are all equal. None are better than others. No one is lesser. No slave or free separations. No male or female divisions. No “she doesn’t believe the same as I do” exclusions. No “he isn’t as faithful as I am” rejections. No “cradle-roll” favoritisms. All belonging to Christ through faith are the same. Equal and full heirs to God’s love. Equal and full heirs to God’s grace.   Equal in all ways in God’s eyes. What a joy! So now are you ready to party?

Lord, help us to accept each other as you have accepted us.  Help us to learn more about being in relationship with you by listening to, and learning from the God-relationship stories of all our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Christmas Offering for Regional Ministry
As Advent brings new hope and anticipation to the life of our communities and homes, the annual opportunity for support of regional ministries lies before us.  As you prayerfully consider how to respond to this important appeal in your congregation, you are encouraged to think of the many lives touched through our ministries here.  How many youth have life-building and life-changing experiences at camps and retreats? How many congregations are strengthened by the care we receive in the ministerial search process and other consultations with regional ministers? How many ways do we now have to help grow leaders, both lay and clergy, for more effective ministry?
Your support of Christ’s work here in the West Virginia Region will be gratefully received and carefully used to strengthen all of our life together.  We give thanks for you in this season of newborn faith and deeper hope!

      You can give online, and your congregation will receive credit for your gift in mission giving reporting for the annual Yearbook and Directory.  Just visit our secure site.

Read Titus 2:11-14

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

 

from Rev. Jamie Gump

Madison Avenue Christian Church, Huntington

The grace of God has appeared, Love has appeared, in the form of Jesus the Christ, bringing salvation to all. Salvation to all. To you, to me, to all. Not just to me and those who think like me. Not just to you and those who believe like you believe. To all. Salvation to all!

Why to all? So that by living in this love, in this grace, in this salvation, all may be transformed, changed into people who live with discipline, honor, morals – excited about doing good deeds under Godly guidance. Salvation has come to all so that God’s realm may come – here on earth just as it is in heaven.

In this season, we look forward to celebrating the arrival of the One who brought us the grace of God. We pray earnestly that we might live more fully in the grace that is ours.

Help me, O God, to know that your amazing grace

of which I sing, is grace you have given for all! Amen.