Tag Archives: Blessings

December 4, 2022 – Newton UMC – Sunday Worship Livestream

JOY Fellowship Worship Service in Holland Hall: 9:00 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 9:00 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Worship Service in Main Sancutary: 10:30 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 10:30 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Welcome to our live-streamed Sunday Worship Services for December 4. Today we learn that Jesus invites us into a change of mindset, to be agents of peace, offering us a new possibility for relating to others, a way of peace.

Please support us by giving online: https://tithe.ly/give?c=1377216 or https://paypal.me/newtonumc Your support is vital, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. You can also write and mail a check to First UMC of Newton, 111 Ryerson Ave., Newton, NJ 07860.

If you are from another church that is not able to host online worship, we would strongly encourage you give to YOUR church and support them. They no doubt need that support as much as we do. God bless you all for your generosity.

November 27, 2022 – Newton UMC – Sunday Worship Livestream

JOY Fellowship Worship Service in Holland Hall: 9:00 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 9:00 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Worship Service in Main Sancutary: 10:30 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 10:30 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Welcome to our live-streamed Sunday Worship Services for November 27. Today we learn that Jesus invites us into a change of mindset, to be agents of peace, offering us a new possibility for relating to others, a way of peace.

Please support us by giving online: https://tithe.ly/give?c=1377216 or https://paypal.me/newtonumc Your support is vital, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. You can also write and mail a check to First UMC of Newton, 111 Ryerson Ave., Newton, NJ 07860.

If you are from another church that is not able to host online worship, we would strongly encourage you give to YOUR church and support them. They no doubt need that support as much as we do. God bless you all for your generosity.

November 20, 2022 – Newton UMC – Sunday Worship Livestream

JOY Fellowship Worship Service in Holland Hall: 9:00 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 9:00 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Worship Service in Main Sancutary: 10:30 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 10:30 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Welcome to our live-streamed Sunday Worship Services for November 20. Today a lowly criminal on a cross shows us that the location of the entrance door in paradise comes through humble faith.

Please support us by giving online: https://tithe.ly/give?c=1377216 or https://paypal.me/newtonumc Your support is vital, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. You can also write and mail a check to First UMC of Newton, 111 Ryerson Ave., Newton, NJ 07860.

If you are from another church that is not able to host online worship, we would strongly encourage you give to YOUR church and support them. They no doubt need that support as much as we do. God bless you all for your generosity.

November 13, 2022 – Newton UMC – Sunday Worship Livestream

JOY Fellowship Worship Service in Holland Hall: 9:00 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 9:00 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Worship Service in Main Sancutary: 10:30 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 10:30 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Welcome to our live-streamed Sunday Worship Services for November 13. Today we learn that despite its pervasive brokenness and iron fist, God promises that this world and its doom and gloom reality will one day cease to be and it will no longer hold sway over us.

Please support us by giving online: https://tithe.ly/give?c=1377216 or https://paypal.me/newtonumc Your support is vital, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. You can also write and mail a check to First UMC of Newton, 111 Ryerson Ave., Newton, NJ 07860.

If you are from another church that is not able to host online worship, we would strongly encourage you give to YOUR church and support them. They no doubt need that support as much as we do. God bless you all for your generosity.

November 6, 2022 – Newton UMC – Sunday Worship Livestream

JOY Fellowship Worship Service in Holland Hall: 9:00 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 9:00 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Worship Service in Main Sancutary: 10:30 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 10:30 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Welcome to our live-streamed Sunday Worship Services for November 6. Today we learn that when you release the blessings you have been given, they will overflow into the world in indescribable ways.

Please support us by giving online: https://tithe.ly/give?c=1377216 or https://paypal.me/newtonumc Your support is vital, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. You can also write and mail a check to First UMC of Newton, 111 Ryerson Ave., Newton, NJ 07860.

If you are from another church that is not able to host online worship, we would strongly encourage you give to YOUR church and support them. They no doubt need that support as much as we do. God bless you all for your generosity.

October 30, 2022 – Newton UMC – Sunday Worship Livestream

JOY Fellowship Worship Service in Holland Hall: 9:00 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 9:00 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Worship Service in Main Sancutary: 10:30 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 10:30 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Welcome to our live-streamed Sunday Worship Services for October 30. Today we learn that we are and all that we have come from God. We are stewards through whom God is blessing the world.

Please support us by giving online: https://tithe.ly/give?c=1377216 or https://paypal.me/newtonumc Your support is vital, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. You can also write and mail a check to First UMC of Newton, 111 Ryerson Ave., Newton, NJ 07860.

If you are from another church that is not able to host online worship, we would strongly encourage you give to YOUR church and support them. They no doubt need that support as much as we do. God bless you all for your generosity.

October 16, 2022 – Newton UMC – Sunday Worship Livestream

JOY Fellowship Worship Service in Holland Hall: 9:00 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 9:00 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Worship Service in Main Sancutary: 10:30 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 10:30 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Welcome to our live-streamed Sunday Worship Services for October 23. Today we learn that through Jesus’ gift of salvation, we are called to live into our legacy of giving generously of the grace we have received.

Please support us by giving online: https://tithe.ly/give?c=1377216 or https://paypal.me/newtonumc Your support is vital, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. You can also write and mail a check to First UMC of Newton, 111 Ryerson Ave., Newton, NJ 07860.

If you are from another church that is not able to host online worship, we would strongly encourage you give to YOUR church and support them. They no doubt need that support as much as we do. God bless you all for your generosity.

REVISITED: THE CHRISTIAN MANIFESTO, Part 11: God’s Favor Realized

Read Luke 4:14-21

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE “And then [Jesus] told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.’” (Mark 16:15 NLT)

 Recently, a fellow colleague and friend of mine got into a conversation about the scripture passage I was preaching on at the church that I serve. The passage is Luke 4:14-21 and is on Jesus’ first recorded visit to the synagogue in Nazareth following his baptism and wilderness experience. In that passage, Jesus is handed the scroll of Isaiah and he opens it up to the following passage: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, for He has anointed Me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.” Inspired by the conversation, I have decided to devote a series of devotions on this particular passage, which has become known as “The Christian Manifesto”.

Part 11: God’s Favor Realized. It’s truly hard to put the Christian story into perspective. By Christian story, I don’t mean the Gospel story of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, the Son of God. What I mean by “the Christian Story” is the story of the rise of Christianity. In the faith-based film, “Risen”, the filmmakers try to tell account of the Resurrection of the Christ, but they do so from the perspective of the Roman Tribune who led the legionnaires responsible for crucifying Jesus. While, I am not about to give away the film for those who may not have seen it, what is great about it is that it really shows the Gospel message coming into contact with Rome.

While the film doesn’t span but 40 days past the Resurrection event, the reality is that, in a relatively short amount of time (only 400 or so years), Christians went from a hunted group of outcasts to being funded by the Roman Empire. How did this happen? How was it possible that a rag-tag group of disciples of a peasant Jewish mystic rabbi would found what ultimately would become the largest of the world religions? How did the one crucified by Roman Empire become the one venerated by that same Empire in less than half of a millennium? Surely, God’s that is evidence of God’s favor realized, right?

Wrong. While that historical tidbit is totally awesome and exciting for historians and theologians such as myself, it is more or less evidence of how politics can often take unexpected turns (just look at our current political climate) and that sometimes the most unlikely group can end up benefiting (sort of) from that. But when we look at the Christian Manifesto, we see that God’s favor was not coming to set up a religion, or to create yet another religious “establishment”; rather, God’s favor was falling on those who were poor, captive, blind, and oppressed, as well as to those who choose to bring that favor to them.

Who are the people to which God’s favor is extending to? The answer is simple, to all of the people of the world! For God created us all, God loves us all, and God (in the form of Jesus Christ) sacrificed it all so that we may be free from sin, death, and the things that hold us down, burden us, possess us, oppress us, blind us, enslave us and destroy us. Whether we are poor or rich, whether we are oppressed or the oppressor, whether we are blind or think we can see, whether we are poor in spirit or rich in self-righteousness (not a good form of wealth, by the way) God’s favor is upon us. We just need to realize it, accept it, turn from the things that keep us from it, and share it with everyone in our lives, in our neighborhoods, in our towns, in our states, countries and world! It takes you, yes YOU, for God’s favor to be realized. Fulfill the words of the Christian Manifesto, “that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.”

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

As Christians, we should witnessing to Christ’s love by standing against oppression and evil in whatever forms they take.

PRAYER

Lord, raise me up into a representative of your love, your grace, your justice and your compassionate mercy. I pledge myselfyou’re your manifesto of hope, healing, and wholeness. Amen.

God’s People, part 215: Woman

Read Luke 11:27-28

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”  (Mark 3:35, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

MaryMotherofGodPart 215: Woman. Here we have another strange encounter between Jesus and someone who was in the crowd. He had actually just got done casting out a demon and had been accused by someone in the crowd of being possessed by the demon Beelzebub, which is a parodic name for Satan meaning, “dung god”. In Matthew, Jesus responded to this accuasation as a “blaspheming of the Holy Spirit”; however, in this instance, he simply  rebuts it by saying that Satan can’t possibly kick out Satan and that a kingdom divided by civil war is doomed.

From there, Jesus obscurely taught about the possibility of demons returning seven-fold, making the possessed person worse off than they were when there was only one demon within them. This seems to have been a warning that, just because one has been made clean from evil spirits, doesn’t mean they are out of the water and those spirits can’t return. I can only imagine that Jesus was intent on warning people of the need to remain close to him and, by virtue of that, close to God; however, whatever Jesus meant, it is here that the anonymous woman shouted out at him, “God bless your mother—the womb from which you came, and the breasts that nursed you” (Luke 11:27, NLT)!

This comment is so off topic that it is hard not reading it as someone awkwardly trying to divert the topic away from demons to something more agreeable; however, whatever the person’s intent was, it was put out there for all to hear. Jesus could have answered in any number of ways that could have been in agreement with this woman; instead, he chose to counter her in a way that did not dismiss her proposition, but rose the bar on it. He said, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” (Luke 11:28, NLT)

On the one hand, he does not dismiss what this woman said. Indeed, his mother was blessed to have given birth to him, nursed him, and raised him up into the man he was. All mothers are viewed as blessed in that regard; still, we also tend to confuse divine blessings with earthly blessings. Thus, Jesus elevated the conversation beyond the things of this earth to the things of God.  “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.”

This is a challenge for us too. So often we view our positive human experiences as blessings. Honestly, we should see those things as blessings. It is a blessing to be a parent. It is a blessing to have a roof over our heads. It is a blessing to watch my children grow up into responsible and kind young adults. With that said, my greatest blessing is to have been saved by Jesus Christ and given the opportunity to put Christ’s teachings into practice.

The challenge is for us to put our blessings in the right order. There is no other blessing that is greater than the Word of God, which is Jesus Christ. In Christ, we learn what it means to be a part of God’s family and we learn that Christ is calling us into faithful service. There is no greater blessing than hearing the Word of God, Jesus, and putting his teachings into practice in our lives. Be challenged by this, and be moved by the Holy Spirit to put Christ’s teachings into action in your life.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
There is no greater blessing than our relationship with Jesus Christ.

PRAYER
Lord, help me be a person who puts your teachings in action in my life. Amen.

God’s People, part 192: Shaking Dust

Read Mark 6:7-13

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“I tell you the truth, the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah will be better off than such a town on the judgment day.”  (Matthew 10:15, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

Shaking-Dust-FeetPart 192: Shaking Dust. The pain that Jesus must have felt when he was rejected by his hometown of Nazareth, is easy enough to imagine. Think about your hometown. More than likely, you have fond memories of growing up there. I am sure you can remember the not so good things about it too; however, most of us look back to our childhood and to our hometowns with a positive nostalgia. It is the place, for better or worse, where we grew up and discovered who we are.

I would not be the person I am today if it weren’t for all of the experiences I had growing up where I did. The good, the bad and the ugly experiences all helped me to become who I’ve become. The same undoubtedly is true for Jesus of Nazareth. So, when his own hometown kicked him out of the synagogue and tried to throw him off a cliff, I can only imagine the pain and sorrow that caused.

It was following that event that Jesus sends his twelve disciples, who in this moment become apostles (meaning “sent”), to go town to town preaching the good news, healing the sick and casting out demons. This was a big undertaking for them. All of the teachings of Christ, all of the things he taught them and they hopefully had learned, were going to be put to the test.

As he was preparing them for their mission, Jesus instructed them to go into towns and rely on the hospitality of a single household in each town. If the place household accepted them and listened to the Gospel message, then they were to bless that house and the people in it; however, if the household rejected them or their message, they were to “shake the dust off their feet” and leave. Jesus then stated that doing such was, “ to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate” (Mark 6:11, NLT).

What’s more, Jesus didn’t just say that for the households either. He was also referring to the towns. In Luke 10:14, he put it this way, “If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave.” He then added in verse 15, “I tell you the truth, the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah will be better off than such a town on the judgment day.”

Ouch. Why did Jesus compare Sodom and Gomorrah to those towns? Because the predominant sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was their lack of hospitality. They refused to listen to the message of the angels God sent, thus refusing to listen to God, and they wanted to rape Lot’s angelic guests rather than treat them with dignity, respect and hospitality.

Just as Jesus did with his own hometown of Nazareth, he was telling his disciples to shake the dust off their feet and to move on from places that reject them. It wasn’t worth arguing or trying to prove one’s point, or lingering around in hopes that they would change. Rather, shake the dust off and move on to those who are receptive and hospitable.

This instruction from Christ should challenge us in two ways. First, we should unashamedly be witnessing our faith in Jesus Christ to others. We should be sharing the Gospel message and we should not worry about being rejected. If that happens, let it be. Move on from those people and focus on the ones who hear the Gospel with eager ears and open hearts. Shaking the dust off our feet should not be done judgmentally, for who know what seed might grow at some point; however, time is short and the message is urgent. Let God deal with the people who will not hear it.

Second, we should be challenged to be a hospitable people. We should never live our lives in a way that reflect Sodom and Gomorrah. Remember, those cities were not destroyed because of homosexuality (as it is often misconstrued); rather, those cities were destroyed because they were so corrupted by evil that they could care less treating strangers/foreigners with respect, dignity and hospitality. They saw people as objects to use for their own pleasure and satisfaction.

Let us not be such a people. Let us instead be a people who are sent into the world representing Christ’s love and hospitality. Let us be a people who love others, who share the Gospel, and who show radical hospitality to all, even those who are rejecting us.

In fact, that is exactly the effect of shaking dust off of our feet in those situations where we are being rejected. In that moment, we are simply showing hospitality and acknowledging that the people rejecting us don’t want us there. Thus, we remove ourselves and go to a place where people have open ears and open hearts. Begin to model this in your life and embody the radical hospitality of our Lord and Savior.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
Radical hospitality does not discriminate. It knows no sexual identity, gender, race, ethnicity, ability, or any other label used to divide us. It is one and the same to all.

PRAYER
Lord, transform me into a radically hospitable person by your sanctifying grace. Amen.