It’s a season of blooming! Tulips and perennials that were dormant through the winter, trees that come to life with colorful blossoms before the leaves, people thinking about planting impatiens and petunias and begonias…all point to SPRING!!! A bloom on a plant is the target stage of growth – it’s what all of the plant’s energy targets to produce. If we thought of our lives as a plant that God intends to bloom, what would the flower look like? What if we thought of First Church as a plant God intends to bloom – what would the First Church flower look like?
This series will work to answer those questions, pointing to life transformed by Jesus Christ as the target for us as individuals and as a church. We’ll paint the picture of what that flower looks like – life transformed by Jesus.
Week 1: April 27 and 28, 2019
A bloom on a plant is the result of successful growth. Healthy plants result in blooms. A healthy life, a healthy church, will result in “blooms” - life that has been transformed by Jesus Christ – life that is fully alive in and because of connection to Jesus Christ. There is perhaps no clearer picture of the change Jesus brings to life than this story of Saul’s conversion. Jesus meets him in his present and points him to future usefulness despite where he’s been in the past. A resurrected and living Jesus does the same thing for each of us, and for this community of believers called First UMC.
SUNDAY (4/28): Acts 9:1-19a
MONDAY (4/29): Luke 5:1-11
TUESDAY (4/30): Luke 18:18-30
WEDNESDAY (5/1): Philippians 3:1-11
THURSDAY (5/2): Romans 12:1-8
To prepare for our next times in worship, read the following texts, and note what they say about “the past...”
FRIDAY (5/3): Isaiah 43:16-19
SATURDAY (5/4): Colossians 3:1-11
SUNDAY (5/5): 2 Corinthians 5:14-21
Week 2: May 4 and 5, 2019
So many people – so many churches – find themselves prisoners of the past: not being able to live beyond the mistakes that have been made or the way things “used to be.” The effect of this is despair and depression and hopelessness and fatalism in the present that doesn’t see much likelihood of change in the future. Paul the preacher - who used to be Saul the persecutor before he was connected to Jesus – is living proof that when a person connects to Jesus, NEW CREATION is the result: the OLD (the past) has gone and the new has come. Connection to Jesus redeems and frees us from the past and its hopeless fatalism. God in Jesus reconciles our past sinfulness and rebellion against God. What should have been a fatal sentence of judgement and condemnation, in Christ becomes a pronouncement of NOT GUILTY. One part of this blossom that is life transformed by Jesus Christ is the truth that our past – as individuals and as a church – IS NOT FATAL. Read the following scripture passages and pay attention to how God works to help us move beyond the brokenness of the past to joy and wholeness in the present.
MONDAY (5/6): Ezekiel 36:24-27, 33-36
TUESDAY (5/7): Ezekiel 37:1-14
WEDNESDAY (5/8): Luke 4:14-21
THURSDAY (5/9): 2 Corinthians 4:13-18
To prepare for our next times together in worship, read the following passages. Watch for power at work in REAL TIME.
FRIDAY (5/10): Mark 6:45-56
SATURDAY (5/11): Acts 5:12-16
SUNDAY (5/12): Acts 19:1-12
Week 3, May 11 and 12, 2019
It seems sometimes that people – and churches – simply go through the motions of this thing called Christianity. Go to church, pray before meals, read the Bible here and there – living that suggests the only real benefit of the Christian faith is what happens when we die. We call ourselves Christian – even do some Christian things – but not much really changes in our day to day living: the battles in relationships and finances and self-image rage on. But this story of Paul’s time in Ephesus points to something different. While he’s there, God uses him to do miraculous things IN REAL TIME: Jews and Greeks all over Asia hear the story of Jesus and lives change; illnesses are cured and demons flee when contacted by simple things such as handkerchiefs and aprons that just brushed against Paul. Connection to Jesus means power for living in REAL TIME. It’s not just our eternal destiny that changes when we connect to Jesus – it’s the lives we live NOW, the battles we’re fighting NOW, how we measure ourselves NOW. Another part of this blossom that is life transformed by Jesus Christ is the truth that Jesus brings power for change NOW – in REAL TIME. As you read these passages, note how the power of Jesus Christ operates in real time for real needs.
MONDAY (05/13): 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
TUESDAY (05/14): Luke 6:17-19
WEDNESDAY (05/15): Luke 8:40-56
THURSDAY (05/16): Matthew 8:1-17
To prepare for our next times together in worship, read the following scripture passages. Pay attention to what they say about hope for the future.
FRIDAY (05/17): 1 Peter 1:3-9
SATURDAY (05/18): Revelation 21:1-5
SUNDAY (05/19): Jeremiah 29: 1, 4-14
Week 4: May 18 and 19, 2019
Worry about the future is one of the primary stressors for you and me, and for our life together as a church. People are living longer – will the retirement savings last? If my young adults don’t get it together, what will happen to them when they get to be my age? The way the world seems to be heading, what kind of future will it be for my young kids – and their kids? With the growing secularization of society, will the church be irrelevant in the not too distant future? All of these things provide power to anxiousness and angst in our lives. Connection to Jesus plugs us in to the future that Revelation describes as completely new and free from the old patterns of death and despair because in the end, God wins! Connection to Jesus plugs us in to the God whose plan for us NOW is a future of hope and prosperity, as Jeremiah proclaims. The third part of this blossom that is life transformed by Jesus Christ is the truth that Jesus fills the future with HOPE – the future far ahead, and the future that is but a day away.
MONDAY (5/20): Titus 2:11-14
TUESDAY (5/21): John 14:1-7
WEDNESDAY (5/22): Psalms 42-43
THURSDAY (5/23): Isaiah 40:27-31
NEW SERIES: GROW!
A plant that successfully blooms doesn’t just happen. Beautiful blooms are the result of intentional and faithful cultivation – planting at the right time and way, watering consistently, making sure the nutrients a plant needs are present. When all of those things are in place, a healthy plant is the result – a plant that will ultimately bloom. The same is true for our individual lives, and our life together as First Church. If we are to “bloom” – experience life as God intends it to be – we must intentionally cultivate our connection to Jesus so it can provide the energy for the transformation Jesus wants to bring to us. This brief series will connect us to three practices that will help us do that. As we prepare for our next times in worship, read the following texts and listen for words about WORSHIP.
FRIDAY (5/24): Matthew 4:1-11
SATURDAY (5/25): John 4:1-26
SUNDAY (5/26): Psalm 95:1-7