Pastor Tom’s Weekly Devotional based on Sunday’s sermon, “Live it out!” Acts 2:43-47

“And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”

Acts 2:47

 

Several years ago there was a movie whose theme was basically living to fill a “bucket list,” one time dreams to be realized before death.  For a while after its release many conversations surrounded individual bucket lists; one time things to do before one dies.  It is good to want to do things, discover new lands, and experience lifetime dreams.  Life is to be treasured and enjoyed there is no doubt.  Jesus calls us not into a one-time fulfillment of a dream but a lifelong, eternal journey of experiencing the presence of God and the incredible peace of knowing we are not alone no matter where that journey may lead.  In the early church, the numbers of disciples grew “day by day.”  The numbers of people who accepted Jesus Christ grew because people were invited to share the joy of faith day by day; the more folks met, the more they were filled with the Spirit.  They grew in love for God and one another. The people in the community saw in these gatherings something that they couldn’t find anywhere else.  Not a one-time shot at joy but a continual nurturing of their soul that led them to a deeper relationship with God and with each other.  In a world of “bucket lists” and one-time experiences, the church offers something so profound, so incredible, and so amazing that it has the power to transform lives forever.  The church is not a building or a one-time experience but a group of people that share the incredible love of an amazing Savior with one another, their community and the world. The love of God is more than a one shot deal; it is an eternal gift that is meant to be shared.

Pastor Tom

Pastor Tom’s Weekly Devotional based on Sunday’s sermon, “Character.” Exodus 20:14-17

“You Shall not steal.”

Exodus 20:15

God knows our lives are pulled in many directions, with distractions around every corner.  We are ultimately defined by how we react to the world around us and the witness we offer.  Our character is who we are in the very core of our being.  The commandments of God, when lived out, call us to live with Christ at the center of every decision and every action.  When someone is violated, whether through infidelity, material possessions being taken, lied about, or simply knowing someone wants something they have, the victim’s “self” is  “endlessly stolen and their lives diminished.”  When the core of our convictions is the grace offered by Jesus Christ, our relationship with God and with one another strengthens and our character builds others up rather than tearing them down.  The 10 Commandments of God are an incredible gift given by a gracious and merciful God for the purpose of offering all of God’s people a chance to turn their lives around, come to know the joy of being in relationship with God and with one another through placing Jesus at the very core of their being.    With God’s help, may the character we witness be defined by the incredible love of God in Christ Jesus.  When in doubt, offer grace.

Pastor Tom

 

Pastor Tom’s Weekly Devotional based on Sunday’s sermon, “Honor.” Exodus 20:12-13

“You shall not murder”

Exodus 20:13

The word of God is so simple yet offers the very foundation of society.  “Honor your father and your mother” and “you shall not murder” commands respect not only for God but for all human life.  Think of it this way; if we honor God as creator and redeemer, then we necessarily understand all life belongs to God and each of us is called to be a steward of what is God’s.  When the family is engaged and intact, it witnesses a respect for God and for all life; honoring then is about understanding the importance of our family relationships and especially our relationship with God.  Parents are called by God to protect, encourage, love and guide their children so they may grow in faith to honor God through how they live and witness; that is a primary calling of parents and of the church. Our faith calls each of us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might,” (Deuteronomy 6:5) and “ our neighbor as ourselves.” (Mark 12:31)  When the foundation of our life is the Word of God made flesh in Jesus Christ, our relationships deepen and society strengthens.   It all comes down to grace, God’s grace.  God created life to be sacred, cherished, and celebrated.  With God’s help may our relationship with God and with each other allow us to witness a more excellent way to live as if our lives depend on it, which they do….

Rev. Tom Joyce, pastor

Fields United Methodist Church

“Remember God.” Exodus 20:7-11

“Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.”

Exodus 20:8

Have you noticed how fast time goes most days?  It seems as though when we look back, we wonder where the time has gone.  If we are not careful, our lives will become a blur and all of a sudden we will stop and ask, “Why didn’t I appreciate more the time God has given me?”  God knows us well, and offers a remedy in the form of the third commandment, “remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.”  Sabbath is the time God calls us to slow down, consider and celebrate God for everything God has offered to us including the creation God has blessed with, the people who are a part of our lives, and the privilege of serving.   “Sabbath” is all about rest, a break from focusing on our calendars, our challenges and refocusing on the One who created us, redeemed us, and called us by name.  Interestingly, this commandment is the longest commandment because it requires explanation.  We become so raveled up in our lives we need not only be reminded of the importance of rest and worshiping the One true God, but we need to rid ourselves of any excuse not to celebrate the gift of Sabbath.  Worship is a gift from God so we can remember our lives, who gave us our lives, and who redeemed our lives.  It is a time of celebration, of laying our challenges at the feet of Jesus and drawing upon the power of God to overcome whatever comes along the way.  As the old hymn proclaims, “take time to be holy.” Sabbath is a time of refreshment, remembering, and realizing that God loves us more than we will ever know and that those days that have just flown by, each of them, were gifts to celebrate.  “Remember the Sabbath, and keep it holy.”  Do yourself a favor and accept this gift from God; it may not slow the progression of time, but it will offer the joy of knowing even more the eternal presence of God that has been, is, and will continue to be in your life.

Pastor Tom

 

THE 10 COMMANDMENTS

You shall have no other gods before me

You shall not make for yourself an idol

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God

Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy

Honor your father and your mother

You shall not murder

You shall not commit adultery

You shall not steal

You shall not bear false witness

You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor

 

“God and God alone.” Exodus 20:1-6

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

Exodus 20:3

In a world of multi-tasking and information overload, God enters our life and offers an alternative.  The Ten Commandments are God’s gift to the world that offers incredible freedom and singleness of purpose.  Fact is there are many options in our world that seek our unconditional loyalty; some options are certainly better than others but the more we extend our loyalties the more watered down and challenging our lives become.  God knows we are pulled in many directions and God knows there are many important things in our world that need our attention.  The gift that is offered by God is the opportunity to focus primarily on God, who created us, redeemed us, and offers the gifts we need to rise to the challenges of the day.   When we make God and God alone a priority and central focus of our lives, our days become surprisingly fulfilled.  God is a God of grace, of hope, and of peace.  When our focus is on God, our multi-tasking and all of our relationships become interwoven with God’s grace.  Putting God first does not sacrifice the other relationships in our lives, it only make them stronger.

Pastor Tom