Devotions

Jesus Died on the Cross for All of Us to Live

For the message of the cross is…to us who are being saved…the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

Recommended reading: 1 Corinthians 1.

Elizabeth Clephane was born in Edinburgh and her father was the Sheriff of Fife. She was a very quiet little child. She was always absorbed in books. Both of her parents died at an early age. She was the cleverest one of her family, first in her class and a favorite at school. Her love of poetry was a passion. Among the sick and suffering, she was known as “My Sunbeam.” She was a diligent Bible student, a sympathetic listening listener and a worker among the
poor in frail later years. She and her sisters once sold their horse and carriage to raise money for a needy family. One of her poems became the hymn “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” with the music composed by Frederick Maker in 1868. Her other hymn is “The Ninety and Nine.”

My prayer for the week:
Dear Lord, Your Grace sustains us every day because Your Love has no boundaries. Your love embraces the lonely, forgives the unworthy and cares for the unthankful. Dear Lord thank you for Your faithfulness every day. Amen



Let the Holy Spirit Come Into Your Heart

Now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. Romans 13:11

Recommended reading: Romans 13

Lelia Naylor grew up in Ohio. As a child, Lelia went forward to the altar several times, seeking salvation. At the age of ten she converted to God. Shortly thereafter she began playing the organ at prayer meetings. Age the age of nineteen Lelia married Charles Morris and they joined the Methodist Episcopal Church. She sang in choir and worked in Sunday school and women’s ministries. Lelia wrote the words and music to over a thousand gospel songs, but shunned the limelight preferring to be a nondescript homemaker for forty eight years. One of her first hymns written in 1898 was “Nearer, Still Nearer.”

My prayer for the week:
Dear Lord, thank you for the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit. Help us to open our hearts and let the Holy Spirit come in to cleanse our souls to better serve You. May our lives be a light to bring others together know You and Your Son Jesus. In Your Holy Name we pray. Amen



God Loves All Equally

For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13

Recommended reading: Romans 10

Stuart Hamblen hosted a popular west coast radio show and was infamous for his gambling and brawling. In 1949 Billy Graham came to Los Angeles for a crusade. The crusade was off to a slow start. Henrietta Mears invited Billy to speak
to a group of Hollywood personalities. Hard-drinking western star, Stuart Hamblen was present. The two men took a liking to each other. Billy wanted to win Stuart to Christ. The three week crusade neared its end with no sign of Stuart’s conviction. At 4:30 the next morning Billy was awaken by a telephone call from Stuart. That night, Stuart gave his heart to the Lord Jesus. Stuart shared his story on his radio show. John Wayne heard the story and asked about it. Stuart answered “Well, Duke, it’s no secret what God can do.” “Sounds like a song,” said John. Stuart went home and wrote the hymn, “It Is No Secret.”

My prayer for the week: Dear Lord, thank you for sharing Your love equally with all of us. Lord, You walk beside us and support us in all we do. We know we are not alone because You are with us at all times. Alleluia! Praise God. Amen



Rescued by a Child

CHRISTMAS EVE

God takes our conventional wisdom and turns it upside down.  What we consider wisdom, God declares as foolishness. Imagine God saying, “Seriously?” to ideas we think are the smartest ever…
 
For instance, we may do everything possible in our capacity to protect our own lives and sense of comfort, while God says the path is discovered as we give our lives away in service to others. Or with pride we emphasize the importance of growth and maturity.  Yet God teaches that to best receive what God offers, our approach should be that of a humble, trusting child.

When will we learn?  You’d think we could have figured all this out by now…

It’s a good thing that God doesn’t give up on us.  Again and again, another chance is offered.  It’s there, or should I say He’s there, as God’s gift for our human predicament.  Entering our world in the lowliest of circumstances, a child has been born for our rescue.  The child has come as the very embodiment of God’s wisdom and ways.  His presence is that of the little child who will lead us—along with all of creation—into the renewal of God’s original design and the fulfillment of God’s astounding purposes.  His name is Jesus.  He’s here for you, for me.

In the next weeks we’ll be exploring the question of “Who is Jesus?”  Along the way, we’ll look at what he said, what he did, what others said about him.  We’ll sort through the matters of what He means right now for you, for me.  Please join us Sunday mornings, hopefully in church (we would love to see you), but you can also watch online at our homepage.  Either way, we invite you to come experience not only the rescue He brings, but the life in which we are abundantly loved, together… a life for which we are being rescued.
 
 
 
Listen to the message from Christmas Eve for more on Rescued by a Child
 
Please join us for a One Church worship service on January 1, beginning at 10 a.m.
January 8, our three Sunday services resume at 8, 9:30 and 11 a.m.
 
See FAQs you may have about attending Sunday services at Rapid City First UMC.


I Put My Whole Trust in Jesus my Savior

For I am persuaded that neither death or life, nor angels or principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

Recommended reading: Romans 8

Samuel Francis was born in a village north of London. His father was an artist. As a child Samuel enjoyed poetry and compiled his own poetry. He had a passion for music and joined the choir at age nine. He struggled spiritually as a teenager and moved to London to work. He knew things were not right and cried to God to have mercy on me. His life’s passion was the Kingdom’s work. He liked specially hymn writing and open air preaching for the Plymouth Brethren. He wrote the hymn, “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus” in 1875. He lived to be 92 years old and served the Lord preaching for 73 years.

My prayer for the week: Dear Lord, thank you for your son, Jesus who provides a resting place for our weary souls. Guide our hearts and hands to reach beyond ourselves to serve You. Amen



Rescue & Obedience

FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT 

Obedience. It’s not exactly a fun word, is it? Whether a dog on a short leash, a teenager sliding in at curfew, or any of us driving slower than what we would like, if we act out of obedience, that means someone else is “the boss” of us. Someone else is in charge.
 
 What does it mean that God asks us for obedience? It means that we’re called to trust God more than ourselves. Again, in looking at our Advent theme of Rescue, we are called to participate in Rescue…and we participate through obedience.
 
Kids walking pathObedience is counter-intuitive to our human nature. It puts self-preservation on the line.  Obedience to God may call us to set ego aside and do something that may have seemed unthinkable the day before, despite what others will think or say. Why? To paraphrase every parent ever: “Because God says so.” God has given a nudge… a nudge for us to act out of love instead of self-interest. Have you ever felt that nudge and ignored it? Most likely, your answer is yes…because most of the time God’s nudge points us to do something inconvenient, scary, annoying or just plain hard. It may even make us want to kick and scream and say, “NO!!” Which of course, as a reaction sounds a lot more like rebellion than obedience, doesn’t it? But because of our love for God, and because of Jesus’ example we are called and encouraged to embrace God’s nudge with a “YES.”
 
 Obedience is sometimes done with grace and peace, and sometimes done in a cold sweat and a lump in the throat…“Why am I doing this???”  Being obedient to God can very definitely mean fighting our own fear, our own thinking, but there’s a reason…

Isaiah 55:8-9  New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
 
You may have heard that God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called…But we still have to say, “Yes.”
 
If you’ve been reading this blog the past few weeks and internalizing it, you’ve been working on being obedient to God. Becoming watchful, preparing your heart, finding joy at its source. Centering on these ideas are acts of obedience to God and King… Keep on. Obedience is OUR part of the Rescue, and the only part that is in question… The rest is a sure thing…
 
For more thoughts on obedience, listen to Jason’s sermon on the topic from December 19.
 
 
Please join us December 24th,  Christmas Eve at 5, 7, 9 or 11 p.m. for worship. We would love to see you here!
 
Christmas Day and New Year’s Day will be “One Church” Sundays. There will be one worship service at 10 a.m., instead of the usual worship schedule of three services.
 
Learn more about us on Facebook
 
 


God is Light

“Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense. And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” Romans 9:33

Recommended reading: Romans 9

Mary Fulkner was born in London and her family immigrated to America when she was young. After marrying John Thompson, they joined the Church of the Annunciation (Episcopalian) in Philadelphia. Mary and her husband, John, served the church for many years. Mary enjoyed writing poetry and penned more than forty hymns. She began writing the rousing missionary hymn “O Zion, Haste” in 1868. At the time she was a worried mother sitting at the bedside of her dangerously ill son, who had typhoid fever. She completed the hymn three years later when she wrote the refrain.

My prayer for the week is one of the original verses she wrote for the hymn which is left out of most hymnals: Dear Lord, “Tis thine to save from peril of perdition the souls for whom the Lord His life laid down; Beware lest, slothful to fulfill thy mission, Thou lose one jewel that should deck His crown. Amen



The Humble Serve God

Nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39

Recommended reading: Romans 8

Charles Tindley was born into slavery in 1851. His father was poor but rich in the grace of God. Charles taught himself to read. He then read the Bible. One day Charles slipped into church and sat in the back. The preacher asked if any child could read the Bible that they should to come forward. Charles went to the front. People looked at him oddly and remarked about his bare feet. Charles resolved that day to gain an education. After emancipation, he moved to Philadelphia. He gave his life to Christ in a Methodist Church. He began his ministry humbly as a church janitor. He entered correspondence schools to gain his education. In 1885 he applied for ordination. He became a world-famous pastor, preacher and hymnist. He wrote words and music for the hymn “Nothing Between” in 1905.

Prayer for the week: Dear Lord, You deliver us so we are able to walk with You to serve You in Your ministry. Help us to be more like Christ so we can be clear to help other know and follow You. Amen



Rescue & Joy

Joy comes from God

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Joy. 
That’s what we’re all supposed to be feeling, right?  “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” so the song goes.  From the schmaltzy melodies filling up the playlist on your favorite streaming source to the abundance of sweet and savory treats suddenly appearing at all the events of the season, isn’t joy being manufactured in abundance?  I hope you’re experiencing some measure of delight in these things.  Truth be told, I hope this will be my experience, at least to some degree.

 
Greater truth be told, I long for something more.  Perhaps, you do too.  Joy is not dependent upon songs, sweets, circumstances or our mood, in as much as joy derives from the actions of a mighty and loving God.  Our God has come and is coming in ways that turn our world upside-down.  The lowly are lifted; the hungry eat their fill, while the proud and powerful receive their comeuppance.  The poor and the poor in spirit receive God’s favor.  That’s a message that either comforts or challenges or leads to sobering self-examination or some combination of all three and more. 
 
We can be certain of this, God’s on a rescue mission. From ancient times prophets declared that our Creator is One who goes to great lengths to ransom the captives, redeem the enslaved, and restore the broken.  Mary, the God-bearer, bore the reality of this mission in flesh and blood.  Her child has come to our rescue.  He is the ultimate reason for our joy.
 
Learn more about that joy from this week’s sermon by Pastor Greg.
 
Today, we had our children’s Christmas program at Rapid City First UMC. Please be sure to check out some photos from the morning posted on Facebook.
 
Next week, we will move on to Rescue & Obedience for this blog and our sermon focus will be on Obedience. Please join us at 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m. or 11 a.m.
 
Christmas Eve, we will be offering worship four times in the evening. We hope you will join us! Please refer to our home page or the Facebook event for those times and types of services provided to best engage with a variety of spiritual walks, needs and schedules.


Jesus Christ Died for Us

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Roman 5:8

Recommended reading: Romans 5

Harriet Buell heard a Christian speaker at the 1876 annual camp meeting held at Thousand Park in upper New York State. The speaker that morning was discussing our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Harriet left the service as if walking on air as she walked to her cottage. The complete set of words had come to her and she entitled the poem, “The Child of the King.” John Summer was a young pastor in Pennsylvania traveling throughout the Susquehanna
Valley, teaching singing schools. In February 1877 while reading the Methodist revival magazine, The Northern Christian Advocate, he found Harriet’s poem and set it to music. It became popular hymn quickly and found its place in the gospel hymn books of the day.

The prayer for the week is the speaker’s work that inspired Harriet’s poem: “Christian friends, we are the children of a King! Our Heavenly Father’s King! Poor ones. take heart, you’ll have a palace someday built for you by Jesus Himself!” Amen