Sunday, October 31, 2010


Today's reading: I Timothy 4-6

...For we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out if it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. I Timothy 6: 7-8 NRSV

Quickly name one thing you purchased in the last two weeks that you didn't really need. Something that you would have been just as well without it. How does it make you feel now that you have that item?

I know that I am not a good example of one who is content with what I have. I have tried to be this past year with a reduced amount of money coming into our household. Certainly, God has provided what we have needed.

Are you content?

Our world is full of people who desire more. Usually, they want money to buy bigger and/or better stuff. Let us remember that we are one of those people.

Do you have what you need? How can you be content?

God, contentment with just the basics is hard for us, especially in our Western culture. Give us contentment, Lord. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, October 30, 2010

In Faith We are Saved

Today's reading: I Timothy 1-3

Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty. I Timothy 2:15 NRSV

The verse is actually part of an interpretation of Genesis and the eating of the fruit tree of knowledge. Adam (or man) is free from any implication here as it pictures Eve (woman) as the only one who actually did the transgressing. Therefore, because God punished the woman with painful childbearing, these instructions for Timothy indicate that the only way for a woman to be saved is through bearing children.

There are two things to point out here:

1) Childbearing was a way that society gave women influence and importance. Society and culture does this in many respects even today. This whole section is giving instruction on how men and women are to behave in church according to the society and their proper codes of household behavior. However, the church is not society. The church is God's community on earth. And this community is different, set apart from the rest of the world. The writer of I Timothy is still a product of the culture and society in which they were a part.

2) Genesis never indicates that childbearing saves anyone. In fact, we can understand that childbearing is painful because the baby's head is big. And why is the baby's head so much larger than other animals? Because the brain is bigger and more capable of knowledge. And the tree they ate from? The tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Knowledge = bigger brain= painful childbirth.  This is a fact of human life not a requirement of salvation.

God, only Jesus can save us. Help us to understand those who wrote your word and the society they lived in. May we learn how to interpret your word so that we are not misled nor is your word used to abuse anyone.  In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, October 29, 2010

Protected from Evil

Today's reading: II Thessalonians

But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. II Thessalonians 3: 3 NRSV

This verse is part of Paul's blessings on the church at Thessalonica. He has just mentioned those outside the church who are wicked and do not have faith. Here he reminds the church that God is faithful and will provide the courage that they need and protection from evil.

In our church we pray the Lord's prayer every Sunday. In that prayer, we ask God to keep us from evil or the evil one. I don't know how many realize what they are asking for when they pray this part of that prayer. Seems like we Christians have needed protection from evil from the very earliest Church.

Perhaps you are in need of strength and protection this very day.

God, you are faithful. Thank you for your faithfulness. You provide the strength we need each day. Thank you. We ask that you guard us from the evil one and from all evil. We give you thanks and praise. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Do not quench the Spirit.

Today's reading: I Thessalonians 4-5

Do not quench the Spirit. I Thessalonians 5:19 NRSV

Recently I was reading a book on giving and stewardship. One of the words of advice that it gave was to never hinder a child or young person from giving to others in any shape or form. That would be quenching their giving impulse, sending them the message that it is wrong to give and/or to share. Although I have tried not to stop my own child when he wants to give, it sure is hard to prevent myself from saying, "No!"

I believe it is the same with the Spirit. As adults, many of us were taught what is wrong or right to do, especially in church. Now if you are part of a Pentecostal worshipping congregation, this may not be the same for you. But I would imagine that, while okay to follow the Spirit in worship, it is not always okay to follow the Spirit in general society. People might think we are crazy. I am sure much of this kind of conditioning came from our upbringing. We were instructed in what was the polite or correct type of behavior. Perhaps it was never taught but others showed us how to behave.

But there is an aspect of the Holy Spirit that is not all about losing control of our behavior. The aspect I am speaking of is simply following the Spirit's promptings. We are taught in this day and age to follow logic rather than intuition. We are conditioned to listen to other people and what is on the web rather than what is in our hearts. We have easily learned how to quench the Spirit.

Lord, help us all to open up to your Holy Spirit in all aspects of our lives. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Is God's Word Alive in You?

Today's Reading: I Thessalonians 1-3

We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God's word, which is also at work in you believers. I Thessalonians 2: 13 NRSV

The message preached to the people at Thessalonica was not a human message. Instead, it was God's message. And the people there heard it as such and accepted God's word. Not only did they accept God's word but they allowed God to work on the hearers in such a way that there belief and faith in God is clearly evident. God's word became active and alive in the hearers.

How active and alive is God's word in you?

You can read scripture and come away thinking it was a good story or disagreeing with what you heard. Or you can allow God's word to soak into your skin, soften your heart and change your point of view. You can hear God's message - in word, song or creation - and keep going about your business. Or you can truly allow God's message to take root in you, forming you, developing your faith, and producing fruit.

How active and alive is God's word in you?

God, we give thanks for your word. May it be active and alive in all of us. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Praying Alertly

Today's reading: Colossians 3-4

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2 NRSV

Have you ever prayed a prayer then finished, wondering what you actually said or where your mind had gone? Have you ever been praying the Lord's Prayer then can't remember saying a single word?

Paul reminds us that 1) we need to be devoted, that is intentional, about praying, and 2) we need to stay alert in our prayers by giving thanks.

How do I read this?

We need to pray more than we do. Turn our worries and concerns into prayers. Talk to God constantly. Everyone else in the store is talking on the cell phones, right? Why put yours to your ear and talk to God? [You think this is funny, perhaps, but it could be the best thing you have done all day. Try it!]

And if we find our minds straying, start thanking God for anything that comes to mind, even if it is the tangent your brain took off on! This is especially applicable during a corporate or written prayer when our minds don't seem to be engaged. You don't have to be paying attention for the prayer to work! Be thanking God for what other things come to mind while others are praying that prayer. God is extremely capable of multi-tasking!

God, we want to devote ourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving! And help us not to feel foolish talking to you while pretending to be on our cell phones. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, October 25, 2010

Prayer for You

Today's reading: Colossians 1-2

For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1: 9-14 NRSV

I prayed this scripture over my congregation when I first arrived at my present church. I would like us (you and me both) to pray this out loud today.

Let us pray:

God, I ask that I may be filled with the knowledge of your will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that I may lead a life worthy of you, fully pleasing to you, as I bear fruit in every good work and as I grow my knowledge of you. May I be made strong with all the strength that comes from your glorious power, and may I be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to you, Heavenly Father, who enables me to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. You have rescued me from the power of darkness and transferred me into the kingdom of your beloved Son, in whom I have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. In his name I pray. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Letting the past go

Today's reading: Philippians 3-4

Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3: 13-14 NRSV

Forget the past. Forget what you did, or what you should have done. Let it go. Stop dragging yourself over the coals for past deeds. Don't look back.

Paul forgot his past. He was persecuting the very people he now supports and works with. He was trying to destroy the very Church he is now building up. Paul would never have gotten far in his ministry if he refused to let go of his past. Why can't you and I do the same?

Strain forward to what lies ahead. If we are anxiously looking to the future, our whole outlook will change. We will be more willing to spread the Gospel. We will be more present with other people. We will have a goal. We will know without a doubt where we are going.

Stop looking back. Start earnestly living forward. Press on to the heavenly prize in Christ Jesus.


Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Today's reading: Philippians 1-2

Do all things without murmuring and arguing. Philippians 2: 14 NRSV

I like to grumble and complain. I admit it. I can fuss and carry on about the smallest thing and then I get worked up over something else, then my brain leaps to another thing that I can pontificate about.

And argue? Very accomplished there as well. Not afraid of confrontation. Rather get it out than hold it in. Don't go behind my back, just confront me. Just don't be surprised if I attack back or get defensive in a loud and impressive manner.


Paul advises the church members at Philippi to stop complaining and fussing at one another. About everything. He wants unity and the true humility of Christ in the lives of everyone in the Philippian church.


Stop murmuring. Stop arguing. Get along!

God, help me to do all things without murmuring and arguing. Then I can stop sighing! In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, October 22, 2010

Do Not Make Room For the Devil

Today's reading: Ephesians 4-6

...And do not make room for the devil. Ephesians 4: 27 NRSV

In the midst of his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul is trying to reaffirm a sense of unity in this community of believers. He gives lots of advice in trying to deal with conflict. It is okay to be angry, Paul says, just don't let your anger last longer than a day. To do so is to make room for the devil.

In other words, if you let your anger fester too long, then the devil is going to use it for his own purposes.

I have heard not to let the sun go down on your anger toward your spouse. But Paul is talking about your church family. Anger that festers is bad in a marriage. It is worse in the church.

Give the devil an inch, and he will take a mile!

But anger is not the only thing that gives the devil some room.

What are some other ways that "Big Red" may take advantage of in your relationships with others in the church?

How can we go about filling in those gaps?

Let's begin today!

God, help us to fill in the gaps where satan may enter in our church communities. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Forgiven with Wisdom and Insight

Today's reading: Ephesians 1-3

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and insight. Ephesians 1: 7-8 NRSV [One period removed by me between us and with.]

What imagery concerning the forgiveness of our sins!

Redemption through his blood: picture Jesus hanging on the cross, the blood freely flowing from this wrists and ankles.

Forgiveness of our trespasses: we have gone into territory that we are not allowed into, yet we are not fined or imprisoned. We are forgiven. Our sins are wiped clean!

According to the riches of his grace: I see piles of gold, platters of food, comfortable chairs and pitchers of good drinks: that is God's grace richly provided for us.

That he lavished on us: The word lavish says to me that this is a gift that is given and more than enough is given. In fact, so much is piled upon me that I am astounded at the gift!

With all wisdom and insight: This was not a last-minute decision not did we just happen to catch God at the right time. God used all of God's wisdom and insight to give us forgiveness of sins! This was a planned thing, not a spontaneous action. Since verses 3-14 of this chapter were originally one long sentence, I just had to take out the period as this makes more sense going with the forgiveness of our sins.

God, thank you for Christ and his redemptive blood. We are grateful for your lavish grace and all your wisdom and insight. We praise you! In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sweets of the Spirit

Today's reading: Galatians 5-6

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is no law against such things. Galatians 5: 22 NRSV

When you hear the word "fruit" you might picture the produce section of your grocery store. Healthy, or on a diet may be the second thoughts that come to mind. We need to change our thinking about fruit!

Fruit must have been a very desirable treat in the lands of the Middle East.   Although we might picture apples, bananas, oranges and pears, Paul and his contemporaries probably were thinking figs, dates, pomegranates and grapes. Most of these would have been served at the end of the meal. The only other form of sugar would have been honey, so I imagine fruit for them was actually a type of desert.

We again might see fruit of the Spirit as a healthy alternative. Wouldn't it be more enticing to have Spiritual sweets? For Paul fruit was desirable and sweet, not just good for you! When we look what happens when we are producing behavior and thoughts in line with the Holy Spirit, we need to be thinking about candy, cookies, cakes, donuts and ice cream! These are good things, desirable and celebratory.

Sweets of the Spirit? Bring 'em on!

God, help us to see how Spiritual sweets can be a desirable way of living in the spirit! In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Growing Up

Today's reading: Galatians 3-4

Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. Galatians 3:24 NRSV

Paul really sees our belief in Jesus as a mark of maturity as God's people. For those under the law, they still needed a "disciplinarian" which in Greek was actually a nanny of sorts. Usually this person was a slave whose only job was to make sure the child did not come into any harm. When the child reached their majority, the slave's job was done. The law kept us out of trouble. But now that we are grown up, we have the Spirit as followers of Christ.

My son's birthday is today. Each year I notice how grown up he is becoming and how he needs me less and less. He still needs discipline but I can tell that soon he will be on his own. He is going to need Jesus more than ever. And so will I!

And so we all need Jesus. The law can keep us out of trouble but now we are mature in Jesus Christ.

God, thank you for discipline, maturity and our life in Christ. May we continue to be grown up in our faith. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, October 18, 2010

Grace and Peace to you

Today's reading: Galatians 1-2

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:3 NRSV

May God's grace flow upon you this day. May this grace fill you and overflow so that it touches everyone you come into contact with.

May you be filled with peace that is beyond understanding. May God's peace rest upon you and cushion your steps, your thoughts and your emotions. May God's peace give you an easy sleep this night.

May Christ's gracious peace be yours today and for all time.

In His name I pray.


Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Little Foolishness

Today's reading: 2 Corinthians 10-13

I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! 2 Corinthians 11:1 NRSV

Please bear with me today in a little foolishness. Just a few thoughts on this daily devotional. Wondering if it is worth it. I read last night that writing on a daily basis actually overwhelms folks who read your blog and you can lose followers. Is this daily posting too much? Certainly, part of the discipline of daily (or on a good week one day of writing) devotionals and thoughts on scripture, God and faith is a good thing. But it is better for me personally than for you, dear reader. Who actually has time to read all that scripture and this devotional anyway? And do they only take one minute as the name implies? As I am a fast reader, I don't think my own reading is a good indication. I know is that these devotionals are not long.

God has urged me to write. And I must leave the results to God.

God, I pray that even if no one reads every day's devotional that one devotional on any one day may make a difference in someone's relationship with You. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Eager to Give

Today's reading: 2 Corinthians 7-9

For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has -- not according to what one does not have. 2 Corinthians 8: 12 NRSV

Are you eager to put your money into the collection plate?

My guess is that you are not.

The most we feel when the check or cash goes into the collection plate is, "Phew! That's over with! I've done my part!" We may even feel a bit virtuous. What will the person counting the money think of our gift? Won't they be impressed with our generosity! I wonder how much more I've given than others.

I get caught up in the later thought. I remember one time my husband, who is also a pastor, mention to me that at his church we were one of the biggest givers. We do our best to give 10% but I don't think we have the largest income. Although this speaks volumes about what other are giving or not giving, we don't need to get stuck on our own virtue. Paul says what counts is the eagerness to give, not the amount. And certainly not in comparison with what others give.

If everyone were eager to give, then everyone would be tithing. If everyone were eager to give, there would not be panic with your church's financial committee. If everyone were eager to give, no one would be trying to compare themselves with others or think more highly of themselves than they ought to think.

How eager will you be when that collection plate comes around on Sunday?

God, give us eagerness to give. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, October 15, 2010


Today's reading: 2 Corinthians 4- 6

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 2 Cor. 4: 7 NRSV

There is a community near where I live called "Clay." Folks around there aren't positive how the town got its name. One story is that someone asked a founder what they were going to call it and they happened to be standing near where some clay had been dug into to set a foundation for a building. The person looked at the clay and said, "Clay."

Clay is really not very impressive. It can be pretty hard when the ground is dry and not much really wants to grow in it. Certainly using it for pottery is probably one of man's highest creative use of a natural product.  I must admit I don't see any pottery for sale in the Clay area. Mostly folks just try to move it aside for more important things: houses, ball fields, interstates.

If you have a jar made of clay, you have something useful but not particularly precious. It does what it needs to do but is easily broken and quickly discarded. The important thing is not the jar but what it holds.

And that is what Paul is saying. He says that he himself is not the important thing but the treasure or message he shares.

Oh that we could all see ourselves as clay jars!

God, you have given each of us a beautiful treasure. And here we are with our clay jars thinking we ourselves are the important treasure. Open us, break us and help us see what is inside. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Winners or Whiners?

Today's reading: II Corinthians 1-3

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in everyplace the fragrance that comes from knowing him. 2 Cor. 2:14 NRSV

Lost your job?

In the midst of a divorce?

Just found out you have cancer?

Someone very close to you passed away recently?

Doesn't feel like you are being led in a triumphal procession, does it?

In fact, difficulties of any kind, whether I mentioned them or not, make us feel pretty much as though we are being led to the executioner.  We don't feel like winners. Whiners maybe. There is no victory in life when bad or tragic things happen in our lives.

Yet, Paul is reminding the church at Corinth and himself that, even though things don't go as planned in our lives, Christ is still in charge. Not only that, but Christ is the ultimate victor. By following Christ, we are on the winning team. And through us others come to know this triumph over death and joy of life in Christ.

You may not feel like it today, but please know that you are in the triumphant procession. You are the fragrance of Christ the Victor to everyone you meet.

God, sometimes it feels like we are real losers. But in Christ we are ultimate winners. Lift us from our depression and help us to see. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Put Aside and Save

Today's reading: I Corinthians 13-16

On the first day of every week, each of you is to put aside and save whatever extra you earn, so that collections need not be taken when I come. I Cor. 16: 2 NRSV

Paul gives very specific advice on how to raise the money to help the poor in Jerusalem.

1) Do this at the beginning of the week (Sunday). If you wait until the end of the week, you know you will have spent it all. If you begin the week and set some aside, then you will not have to scrape something together later. And do this every week. A little each week can really add up.

2) Each person is to make this part of their weekly tasks. This is not a group effort. Individuals decide how much they are going to give each week. Then the money is pool together.

3) Save what extra you earn. Sure you have to pay bills and put food on the table. But what if you have a really good week? Then the following week you have that extra to put aside for the needy.

4) Plan ahead. With each person doing this every week and all the money being put together, you will have the offering ready when it is needed.

Paul never gives an amount. Paul gives guidance in how to be prepared for when he comes. He trusts that God will provide and if everyone does as Paul suggests, the amount will be bigger than anything he could have asked for from the church at Corinth.

God, you have asked us to give. Help us to follow Paul's advice in how to set aside money for the poor and for your kingdom. In Jesus' name. Amen.

 The fountains at Corinth, 2009.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

God's Temple

Oops! I got these two devotionals published on the wrong dates. But you can still enjoy! Amelia 

Today's reading: I Corinthians 5-8

For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

Paul says that, as Christians, we have become one in Christ.

How are you treating your body?

Do you smoke? Drink excessively? Eat processed foods to the exclusion of fresh foods? Refuse to exercise? Sit in front of the computer/television/game boy....etc. most of the day? Never floss?

I could go on and on. You may have different ideas of what treating your body right means. However, I think most folks would agree on most of the above being not good for our bodies.

Yet, even when we know how we should treat our bodies, how often do we do so?

Even as we know we should love and obey Christ, how often do we do so?

God, you have given me this body. And Christ is one in me. Help me to treat my body and therefore Christ as set apart and holy, dedicated to you. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, October 11, 2010

Winning the Race

Today's reading: I Corinthians 9-12

Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. I Cor. 9:24 NRSV

Funny to think that God really does want us to win.

But in order to win, we have to do lots of work. No pain, no gain, as it is said. Paul speaks of punishing or enslaving his body so that after spreading the gospel he himself will not be out of the running. He is rounding out his argument as to why he doesn't eat lavishly, get married or stop working. He does not want to put any kind of barrier in front of anyone who might except the gospel and he also does not want to disqualify himself in the meanwhile. I don't think he is saying this is what every evangelist should do. However, he is encouraging all believers to run to win...even if that means refraining from certain items or behaviors. The prize is the goal, not the race itself.

Are you running to win? Or are you just participating in the race?

Paul challenges you to win the race.

Go for it!

God, thank you for Paul's words of inspiration. Help us to run as though we are going to win. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Today's reading: I Corinthians 1-4

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. I Cor. 1:18 NRSV

Some of us have either been Christians for a long time or at least grew up in the church. We don't realize just how ridiculous our beliefs are to outsiders. We have faith in someone who died for us. Today, folks have faith in people who are powerful and do something for them. Most people look up to heroes -- real or imagined-- that can do super-powered type actions. Heroes don't die for them. Certainly no one looks up to anyone who has been brought to trial and executed. We don't realize how foolish our beliefs seem to others.

Perhaps this is one reason many people, including some archaeologists (although I would not dismiss all archaeologists), have spent their lifetime trying to debunk the belief that Jesus rose from the dead. It is foolish, they think, believing that someone completely recovered after such horrendous torture and death.  And no one is even considering the ascension.

But for us, just as for Paul, what we believe in has the power of life for us. In Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection, we are being saved. It is a foolish message but we know the true power it holds.

God, thank you for Jesus' death on the cross. For the world, it is a foolish message but we know that through his death we are being saved. Thanks be to God! Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Only Owe Love

Today's reading: Romans 13-16

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13: 8 NRSV

Recently, my church looked out getting out of debt. We did this by looking at what it takes to get ourselves out of owing any people or company money. We used scripture as a basis. But we didn't stop there; we also saw how Jesus has paid our debts for us and asked what we needed to do to be debt free.

One thing Paul is trying to argue in this letter to the church in Rome is that getting out of monetary debt isn't enough for God. We should not borrow from other people. Borrowing money affects our relationship with them. How can you relax around someone else if you owe them money? And can we truly be on equal footing with others if they have "floated us a loan?"

I had an aunt that was always trying to borrow money from my parents. In fact, the only time she contacted us was to ask for money. To say that there was no love between my mother and her younger sister is not exactly true. But my mother dreaded being around her as she knew at some point in the conversation asking for money would come up. And my aunt always said she would pay them back. But, of course, she never did.

The only thing we need to owe others is love. We may still owe them that love but that is okay. We can keep trying to pay up and we may never be 100%. What is important is that God does not want us to owe any other person anything but love.

God, help us not to borrow from anyone. Help us to learn to love others so that the only thing we owe them is our love. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, October 8, 2010

Your Heart's Desire

Today's reading: Romans 10-12

Brothers and sisters, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. Romans 10:1 NRSV

What is your heart's desire? What do you find yourself praying again and again to God?

For Paul, he wanted nothing better than the Jewish nation to believe in Jesus Christ. He wanted every one of his people to be saved.

He wasn't asking for wealth or property. He didn't covet power or a particular place to live. He wasn't desiring a soul mate or good friend. He did not even pray for perfect health. What he wanted most of all was for his people to believe in Jesus Christ.

And his actions showed that. Whenever Paul went to a new city, he began by preaching and teaching in the local synagogue. If his message was rejected, he would then go to the Gentiles. But he always began with his own people, in trying to fulfill his heart's desire. He truly believed that some day, somehow, God would include these people. He never discounted his Jewish family nor did he ignore them in favor of the Gentiles. They were his true hearts' desire. Yet, he also never pouted or gave up because they did not believe. He still shared the message of Christ with those who would accept him.

If you don't get your heart's desire, what will you do then?

God, you know our deepest desires and the yearnings of our hearts. We pray earnestly that these desires will be met. In the meantime, Lord, provide ways for us to continue to live as your people. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Who will separate us from the love of Christ?

Today's reading: Romans 7-9

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Romans 8: 35 NRSV

Paul speaks about himself from his own experience.

Paul has suffered hardship, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril and (threat of) sword.

And he knows that nothing and no one has ever divided him from the love of God in Jesus Christ.

What sufferings have you lived through?

Has anything in your life separated you from the love of Christ?

What things in the future could try to separate you from Christ's love?

The good news is that NOTHING can!

God, we praise you and thank you that nothing will ever separate us from your love. Help us to hold on to that knowledge whatever life brings! In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Resurrection like His

Today's reading: Romans 4-6

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. Romans 6:5 NRSV

I don't think anyone wants to die like Jesus.

Yet, Paul suggests here that we must do so in order to participate in the resurrection.

What is he talking about?

Well, Paul is actually referring to sin. He raised the question concerning grace; if grace comes when we sin and are forgiven, should we sin more to receive more grace? Paul says no. In fact, he says we must die to sin just as Jesus died. Then we live to a new self, a resurrected self. If we die to sin, we are free from its power and its propensity to enslave us.

How do we die to sin?

At our baptism. In being baptized, we died to our sin just as Christ died for our sins. Now we are living the new life in Christ Jesus. Now we are alive in Christ. Now we present ourselves to God rather than to sin.

So, let's try to live like resurrected people this day.

God, you have poured out grace upon grace on us. We pray that we will live like those who have died to sin and live in righteousness this day. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Are we any better off?

Today's reading: Romans 1-3

What then? Are we any better off? No, not at all; for we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin. Romans 3:9 NRSV

Have you ever had denominational jealousy? Have you ever admired the work other Christians are doing in their church or their church structure? Have you ever wished your church would do something similar that another church is doing?

Or perhaps you have denominational superiority. Your faith structure is better, kinder, more Christian. You believe correctly. The other church has missed the point of the kingdom entirely.

But are we any better off?

The point that Paul is making is that Jews, although they have the Law, are not better than Gentile Christians. Both Jews and Gentiles are susceptible to sin. Neither has an automatic pass or out. Sinfulness beats on the door of both Gentiles and Jews. Neither circumcision nor the law can save a person from sin.

Just because you are part of a particular Christian community, that does not mean you have a one-way ticket and that other Christian community has a few lay-overs. We are all susceptible to sin. Not one of us has an advantage over the other. All are only justified through faith, not denominational policies.

God, thank you that we are not any better off than other Christians. Help us strengthen our faith each day. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, October 4, 2010

Doing What God Asks of Us

Today's reading: Acts 25-28

"...but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout the countryside of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God and do deeds consistent with repentance." Acts 26 NRSV

Paul has done exactly what Christ commissioned.

As he ascended, Jesus told his disciples what they must do: be witnesses to all that they have seen and heard and to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins. They must begin locally, then move out globally.

Although Paul was not present at the ascension, he has taken Jesus' words quite literally. He began his ministry locally, then moved out into the world, preaching the Jews and Gentiles. He has witnessed to what the power of Jesus did to turn his life around and he calls on others to repent and bear fruit.

I wasn't there at the ascension. I imagine you were not there, either.  Yet, are we doing as Jesus has asked of us?

I am sure we can use the excuse of not being knocked to our knees on the road to Damascus. But can we truly say Jesus has never brought us to our knees? Has Jesus not been trying to get our attention on our own well-traveled roads?

Jesus wants us to begin where we are, with the relationships we have. Preach the good news, people, live the good news. We are given the task to help others turn to God. Once we have begun right where we are, then we can begin to move outward. The main thing is to be spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ!

That is what God asks of us.

God, you ask us to spread the good news of Christ. But we have many good excuses for not doing so. Forgive us, Lord. May we do deeds consistent with our repentance. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Who are you, Lord?

Today's reading: Acts 21-24

I answered, 'Who are you, Lord?' Then he said to me, 'I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.'Acts 22:8 NRSV

I have always wanted to know why Paul calls Jesus "Lord," yet doesn't seem to know who he is. Is this like saying, "Who are you, mister?" Why call this voice Lord if you don't know who this is?

I think this Damascus road experience must have been so inexplicable that it could only be the Lord. But Paul is still unsure. He is, afterall, on his way to arrest Jesus of Nazareth's followers. He isn't really the Son of God, is he? Jesus isn't really Lord, is he? We got the lights, the fall and the voice but surely there is some other explanation.

At least that is what we do today. We get the light, the fall and the voice but still we want to find a completely scientific and measurable explanation of what has happened to us. It isn't God, is it? Who are you.....Lord?

Maybe you don't have a conversion story like Paul's but perhaps you have an experience where you have been knocked on your behind, heard a voice speaking to your heart or been temporarily blinded. You may have guessed it was the Lord but were still unsure. I think Jesus does come to us in such inexplicable, unexplainable ways.

God, thank you for getting our attention. May we pay attention and focus on you. In our Lord's name we pray. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Life Still In Him

Today's reading: Acts 17-20

But Paul went down, and bending over him took him in his arms, and said, "Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him." Acts 20:10 NRSV

I have had a few folks fall asleep in my sermons but I have never had someone fall out of his sleep to his death. The interesting thing is that this does not make Paul stop speaking! He continues until the sun comes up.

Bringing the dead to life is one of those signs of God's power and presence. Usually it meant that the person through whom the healing occurred was God's own prophet. So, Paul was not just another long-winded preacher but a person of God. Paul was someone people should listened to when he spoke.

Interestingly, Paul does not make a big deal out of this miracle. He does not go around saying, "Look what God has done through me!" Instead, it is no big deal - the boy still had life left in him.

Is there someone you know who seems to be dead? Do you want God to send a prophet to that person today so that this someone you know may be risen from the dead? Do you think there is life still in that person?

Let's pray for them now: God, you know who is on our minds, the person we know that seems to be dead. But you are the God of the Resurrection! We pray for a prophet to be sent in their midst. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, October 1, 2010

Are You Worthy?

Okay, I seem to have gotten way off of the readings yesterday. Sorry about that! Amelia

Today's Reading: Acts 13-16

And as John was finishing his work, he said, 'What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but one is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of the sandals on his feet.' Acts 13: 25 NRSV

Do you ever feel worthy? 

Do you ever feel like you are constantly in another person's shadow? That you will never achieve the status of the other person? 

I hate reading the alumni news of any of my alma maters. This is because it seems like other people my age or younger are doing all these wonderful things, winning awards, receiving recognition, saving lives and, well, living better lives to tell you the truth. It makes me feel small. 

But I have to remember that I am supposed to be living and preaching in such a way that I am pointing to another. Like John, it is not about me. I am simply showing the Way. 

You may not be preaching in front of a congregation, but your life actions and reactions do preach to others. To whom are you pointing? Yourself? Or Jesus?

God, we are not worthy to tie the sandals on the feet of Christ. But you can make us pathways for others to follow Him. Honor us in this way, we pray. In His name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims