It’s Here!

I am happy to let you know that my first Cokesbury Bible Study for adults has been published and is now available at Cokesbury. It is part of the Adult Bible Studies curriculum and is called “Inspired by God.” There is a teacher guide and DVD also available.

This is a 13-week short term study designed for small groups and Sunday school classes. It organized in three units, making it perfect for your small group needs.

In the first unit, we will look at the careful design of Scripture and its art and poetry, which touch our hearts and minds and invites us to dwell within its reality rather than our current reality. Readings will come from the Law, the Prophets, people’s visions, and the Psalms (4 weeks).

The second unit focuses on Wisdom literature. Living with wisdom affects how we think, speak, act/behave, relate to God, and relate to others. What constitutes wisdom according to the Bible is not conventional wisdom about how to stay safe and healthy or how to prosper in life. Conventional wisdom tells us not to give aid or comfort to an enemy, whereas biblical wisdom teaches us the opposite. Conventional wisdom tells us to store up our grain in barns for tomorrow, whereas biblical wisdom encourages us to share what we have with those whose need is for today. Passages from James, First Corinthians, and Ecclesiastes will be studied. (5 weeks).

The third unit is the most challenging as we study Heroes and Anti-Heroes of the Bible. The men and women of the Bible who “save the day” are not the typical heroes of western mythology. They do not have superhuman powers; they are not mighty warriors; they are not descended from the gods.  They are ordinary men and women who use their status and situation to serve God’s purpose or people in need.  The people who tradition prefers to make into heroes of kings and warriors frequently disappoint us by using their power to serve themselves (4 weeks).

Find out more here.

by Elizabeth Park Haas

Accuracy Counts

The movie “Hidden Figures” is a wonderful story about three women who worked for NASA during the space race of the 1960s. They were expert mathematicians and analytical geometry specialists who performed the complex calculations that enabled the United States to accomplish its first successful launches and orbits before computers were in place at Mission Control.

Work of that nature has to be done with great precision. One wrong equation could lead to disaster and the death of the astronauts. It is mind-boggling to me that paper, pencil, chalk boards, and slide rulers could put a man into orbit, and yet that is exactly how the early space program began.

Our reading from Acts today addresses a different type of accuracy which should be a goal of every Christian. We read about Apollos, who was described as well-educated and instructed in the Scriptures, which enabled him to speak and teach accurately about Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the messianic prophecies. Apollos spoke effectively and boldly and was said to have “watered what Paul had planted” in Achaia. Along the way he received further instruction from Priscilla and Aquila and was received into their circle of friends.

Acts 18:24-28 (Common English Bible)

24 Meanwhile, a certain Jew named Apollos arrived in Ephesus. He was a native of Alexandria and was well-educated and effective in his use of the scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord and spoke as one stirred up by the Spirit. He taught accurately the things about Jesus, even though he was aware only of the baptism John proclaimed and practiced. 26 He began speaking with confidence in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they received him into their circle of friends and explained to him God’s way more accurately. 27 When he wanted to travel to Achaia, the brothers and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples so they would open their homes to him. Once he arrived, he was of great help to those who had come to believe through grace. 28 He would vigorously defeat Jewish arguments in public debate, using the scriptures to prove that Jesus was the Christ.

There are so many learning points in this short passage!

First, we learn that Apollos was instructed in the word, which is a reminder to us of our need to be sitting under a teacher’s instruction on a regular basis. Sunday School is not something we ever outgrow! Our need for daily and weekly Bible study is a life-long venture.

Second, we see that Apollos was “stirred up by the Spirit” which enabled him to speak with confidence (verse 25). This indicates that Apollos spent quiet time with the Spirit in prayer and meditation. When is the last time you pulled away from your busy life to seek the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit?

Third, we see that Apollos was open to further instruction by other followers. This is an indication of a humble attitude that led him to further learning. Are you a humble learner? Even those who teach the Scriptures are constantly learning.

Finally, Apollos spoke boldly enough to vigorously defeat Jewish arguments and prove that Jesus was the Christ. Are we vigorous in our witness? Are we bold like Apollos?

 The early church benefited from people like this who followed God’s direction to go and tell the good news. The present church demands the same of us: to boldly speak with well-informed accuracy the truth of the gospel of our Lord to all who will hear. 

Boldly Go by Becca Ziegler

The Cleansing

Do you remember your baptism? Like many people, I was baptized as an infant, so I have no recollection of mine. My baptism took place at the Huntingdon Methodist Church in Huntingdon, PA. My parents met in the choir at that church and were married there, so it was fitting, if not memorable. In my career I have participated in hundreds of baptisms, and the sacrament is one that is joyful and bathed in hope every single time.

Methodists mark the baptism of Jesus with a special service where we invite people to remember their own baptisms. This is an invitation to remember not so much when of your baptism, but the why. Why do Christians baptize? What happens in baptism?

First, it is important to remember who the agent is in a baptism, and here is a hint: it’s not you. Even if you were an adult and took your own vows, you are not the star of the show. God is the focus, and we acknowledge that he is the one who has called you to that moment. This is the reason why United Methodists do not re-baptize. We understand that a baptism is a result of the power of God in a person’s life and thus does not need to be repeated, regardless of whether or not the person stayed on a righteous path. People may falter, but God doesn’t make mistakes. There is no need to re-do what God has already done.

And so the vows renouncing the spiritual forces of wickedness; repenting of sins; accepting God’s freedom and power to resist evil, injustice, and oppression; putting your whole trust in Christ’s saving grace; pledging to serve God and all God’s people, etc. all come together in that holy moment. Water is used symbolically to signify a new beginning…. a cleansing, as it were….and an acknowledgement of God’s mighty acts of salvation through water and the Spirit. We are named and claimed.

When John baptized people in the Jordan River, he spoke of Jesus, who would perform baptisms of the Holy Spirit, not just water.

Mark 1:4-8 (The Message)

4-6 John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey.

7-8 As he preached he said, “The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life. I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out.”

9-11 At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. Along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”

The Spirit, like a dove, descended and God claimed Jesus as his son. I think God says the same thing with every baby, confirmand, squirming teenager, and wide-eyed adult whom we baptize. I think heaven opens up every time and God looks at that person and says, “You are my child, whom I dearly love; you are the pride of my life.”

Ponder your baptism today and remember why you were baptized. As you remember, be thankful. And if you’ve never been baptized and you’re ready, find a preacher with a pitcher! It’s never too late.

Come to the Waters by Jill Selfe

Every Good Gift

If you had all the money and the power in the world and could bestow a gift on everyone you know, what would it be? Would you give them wealth? Prosperity? Fame? Good health? What do your friends need that you would grant if you could? What would you ask for yourself if your friend could give you anything?

Today’s reading from 1 Thessalonians reveals things that were on Paul’s mind as he writes to his young church. The content of this letter includes an explanation of the fundamentals of Christian life, an assurance that their suffering would increase their faith, and a word of encouragement about the example they are setting as those who are sounding forth the word of God.

He asks them to pray for him.

1 Thessalonians 5:25-28

25 Brothers and sisters, pray for us. 26 Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss. 27 By the Lord’s authority, I order all of you to have this letter read aloud to all the brothers and sisters. 

28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you.

He ends his letter with a very strong instruction that the epistle be read to everyone. This is the first of his letters to this community and so public readings weren’t the norm yet. The letter is acting as a substitute for a personal visit from Paul, so he wants to be sure everyone hears from him through the letter. He also may have been concerned about the letter being abridged or mis-stated, so he wanted the people to hear it for themselves. And then he finishes by offering them a word of grace.

A study of Paul’s letters reveals a pattern of his greetings and endings. The phrase “grace and peace” appears in five of his letters. We might assume then, that these things are important to him. It follows that of all the things Paul wanted to give his followers, grace is the most important thing.

Grace is the bestowal of God’s love and acceptance of us as we are invited to come just as we are. Grace is the magnanimous gift of unmerited favor that allows us into the kingdom of God. Grace is gift that can’t be earned but must be received. Grace is the best gift a friend could wish upon another.

Every good gift from heaven came in the form of Christ’s grace on the cross; his gentleness, his tenderness, his patience, and his sacrificial love are poured out from the pitcher of grace onto a hurting world. Can anything beat that? What grace doesn’t have is judgement, arrogance, privilege, bias, oppression, or favoritism. Grace is offered to all through the blood on the cross, and we as the church must do all in our power to ensure that everybody has an opportunity to receive it.

This is why Paul begins and ends his epistles with a wish for peace and grace to be experienced in his churches. He loved them like a parent loves a child and only ever wanted the best for them.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you today!

Fountain of Grace by Kathy Schumacher

A Very Good Friday

We have finally arrived. Today is Good Friday, the last weekday of our journey through Lent. As a child, I used to wonder why we called it “Good.” It seemed to me the day Jesus died on the cross was anything but good. Easter Sunday? Good. Birthdays? Good. Last day of school? Very good. But the crucifixion? Not so good.

Some believe that it is a variation of “God’s Friday.” In Germany, it is called Karfreitag, or “Sorrowful Friday.” Of course what remains good about today is that God’s plan to save humanity could only come through Jesus’ willing sacrifice, which brought eternal life to everyone. Even though it was horrific by any measure God indeed used Jesus’ death for the “good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28)

John 19 (The Message)

28 Jesus, seeing that everything had been completed so that the Scripture record might also be complete, then said, “I’m thirsty.”

29-30 A jug of sour wine was standing by. Someone put a sponge soaked with the wine on a javelin and lifted it to his mouth. After he took the wine, Jesus said, “It’s done . . . complete.” Bowing his head, he offered up his spirit.

Note that the scripture reads that he offered up his spirit. It wasn’t taken or forced from him, but he offered it. Can you imagine? He did that for you.

38 After all this, Joseph of Arimathea (he was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, because he was intimidated by the Jews) petitioned Pilate to take the body of Jesus. Pilate gave permission. So Joseph came and took the body.

Take a look at the detail in the descriptions of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus (below). Joseph was a “secret” disciple because he was intimidated by the Jews. Nicodemus, however, has made the leap from first coming to Jesus in the dark of night to coming to him now in the broad daylight. What are we meant to learn?

Be Nicodemus. Stand in the light and proclaim Christ as Lord. Don’t be intimidated by the secular world or the scorn of non-believers. Share your faith openly and boldly. You have a story to tell …. because it doesn’t end with Good Friday.

39-42 Nicodemus, who had first come to Jesus at night, came now in broad daylight carrying a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. They took Jesus’ body and, following the Jewish burial custom, wrapped it in linen with the spices. There was a garden near the place he was crucified, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been placed. So, because it was Sabbath preparation for the Jews and the tomb was convenient, they placed Jesus in it.

But for today, we leave Jesus in the tomb. You have to go through Good Friday to get to Easter Sunday. 

On this day of sorrows, be mindful of everything it cost our Lord to purchase your salvation. He loves you that much.

It is Finished by Michelle Robertson

The Best Secret

What is the best secret you have ever kept? Was it yours, or someone else’s? Secrets are generally kept for two purposes…either to protect someone or something, or to orchestrate a surprise. Everybody enjoys a good mystery, especially when they can guess the ending.

I think that we have lost our sense of mystery. Nothing surprises us anymore. Movies are so formulaic that we can predict the outcome in the first five minutes. (Only two minutes for a Hallmark movie.) Television is worse. Politics, national affairs, the economy, even pandemics all follow patterns and processes that are predictable to a degree. Think I’m wrong? Study the Spanish Flu of 1918. Even the recent pandemic was predicted.

The secret that Paul refers to in today’s reading is a mystery that shook up the world. It was held in secret by the prophets for a time, and then revealed in due course in order to surprise the world. This announcement gives us strength for our future and becomes the source of our hope. God’s might is delivered with this good news to all who will hear.

Romans 16:25-27 (Common English Bible)

25 May the glory be to God who can strengthen you with my good news and the message that I preach about Jesus Christ. He can strengthen you with the announcement of the secret that was kept quiet for a long time.

26 Now that secret is revealed through what the prophets wrote. It is made known to the Gentiles in order to lead to their faithful obedience based on the command of the eternal God.

27 May the glory be to God, who alone is wise! May the glory be to him through Jesus Christ forever! Amen.

It was always assumed that the Gentiles would never have any part in what the Jews held as their own. A messiah was promised to come and redeem Israel. But there was a secret component to that…he would also redeem the rest of the world. Surprise!

The mystery of Jesus is that he came to lead his people, not in war against their oppressors so that he could establish his own kingdom, but into peace. The surprise of Jesus is that he is God incarnate, God-made-flesh. He was born of a woman, walked among us, and was crucified for the sins of humanity. The secret of his crucifixion is that it had been planned all along in order to save us.

And the mystery of his resurrection caught the world totally off guard.

And here’s the not-so-secret of it all: if you accept Christ as your savior and put your whole trust in his grace, you, too, will share in the resurrection. We get our strength from God’s announcement of this secret plan of inclusion and are empowered to take it to the world. God is our strength and our shield and works through our witness to strengthen others in Jesus’ name. When we feel weak and unsure, we can plug into the mystery of the incarnation and renew our strength like eagles’ wings.

It’s time to let the secret out. Jesus was born in a manger so that he could die on a cross for the forgiveness of sins. May we all shed light on his glorious, absolute truth.

Surprise in Bloom by Michelle Robertson

Bless Our Connection

A few years ago I had the blessing of building a house in my community through Habitat for Humanity. It was a life changing experience to work side-by-side with like-hearted volunteers. Sharing a desire for housing the unhoused with other laborers was a powerful thing.

If you are blessed, you have coworkers, neighbors, or fellow volunteers around you who share a common vision and are willing to roll up their sleeves to get a job done. My church is in the planning stages for this summer’s Vacation Bible School, and it is a wonderful experience of knitting together people’s strengths and abilities as we all focus on bringing Jesus to the kids for a week. The old cliché “Teamwork makes the dream work” really is true.

 Paul was a networker par excellence. He knew how to draw people together to labor for Christ and create a new thing called the church. These folks seem to have had two things in common: first, they loved the Lord so much that they were willing to sacrifice for Christ’s mission. Second, they were ordinary people without rank or distinction, yet their names are immortalized in Scripture. What a wonderful reminder that God can use anyone to build the kingdom. As you read this passage from Paul’s letter to Rome, notice how he greets each person:

Romans 16:3-16

Say hello to Prisca and Aquila, my coworkers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life. I’m not the only one who thanks God for them, but all the churches of the Gentiles do the same. Also say hello to the church that meets in their house. Say hello to Epaenetus, my dear friend, who was the first convert in Asia for Christ. Say hello to Mary, who has worked very hard for you.

 Say hello to Andronicus and Junia, my relatives and my fellow prisoners. They are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. Say hello to Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord. Say hello to Urbanus, our coworker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys. 10 Say hello to Apelles, who is tried and true in Christ. Say hello to the members of the household of Aristobulus. 11 Say hello to my relative Herodion. Say hello to the members of the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. 

12 Say hello to Tryphaena and Tryphosa, who are workers for the Lord. Say hello to my dear friend Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord.13 Say hello to Rufus, who is an outstanding believer, along with his mother and mine. 14 Say hello to Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers and sisters who are with them. 15 Say hello to Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Say hello to each other with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ say hello to you.

Paul is generous and genuine in his compliments to this group. He understood the value of showing appreciation and respect to his fellow laborers. This is an important part of leading others in ministry. When people aren’t acknowledged for their efforts, they burn out easily and fade away. Good leaders always remember to thank their volunteers. Paul sets a beautiful example of this in today’s reading, by not only mentioning each one by name, but by adding a special mention of that person’s contribution.

Seeing the connection of all these early Christians in Rome reminds me of the power of the connectional nature of the United Methodist Church. We are a worldwide network of faithful communities that band together to labor for the kingdom. Think of the work we do through United Methodist Committee on Relief. UMCOR is a powerful resource for global disasters because of our connection of churches who give money, volunteer for mission teams, donate flood buckets and supplies, and pray. My church received 500 flood buckets for our community after a hurricane, and I can attest to the power of our United Methodist network. Our connection is a strong witness to the world.

Do you need to reach out and show appreciation to someone today? Remember Paul’s example. It built a church.

Teamwork by Kathy Schumacher

Be Bold

On Halloween night in 1938, CBS radio listeners tuned in for Orson Wells’ weekly Mercury Theater program. That night’s program was a production of H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds,” a tale of an alien invasion in New Jersey. The show was done in a fake news bulletin style, and it was clearly stated in the beginning that the piece was fiction. But listeners who tuned in later were led to believe that they were actually listening to breaking news, and some called the police, newspapers, and other radio stations in great confusion.

The next day, newspapers across the country spread rumors of mass stampedes, multiple suicides, thousands of people fleeing their homes, and national panic due to the broadcast. Further investigation showed that very few people actually listened to the low-rated show, and the “nation-wide panic” that ensued was greatly exaggerated. To this day, many people still believe that the broadcast resulted in a hysteria, but there is no data to support that thinking. Wells was accused of deliberately deceiving the listeners and his career was tainted by the experience.

 In our reading from Acts today, we see an impressive group of local Jewish leaders who are willing to listen to Paul despite knowing that “people everywhere are talking against” him. Rather than buy into the rumors and then amplify them, they gathered in large numbers to hear him witness from morning to evening about being chained to Christ who was the “hope of Israel” as he described it (verse 20).  Some were convinced, some were not, but all listened and heard the good news proclaimed.

Acts 28:17-24 (Common English Bible)

17 Three days later, Paul called the Jewish leaders together. When they gathered, he said, “Brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors, I’m a prisoner from Jerusalem. They handed me over to the Romans, 18 who intended to release me after they examined me, because they couldn’t find any reason for putting me to death. 19 When the Jews objected, I was forced to appeal to Caesar. Don’t think I appealed to Caesar because I had any reason to bring charges against my nation. 20 This is why I asked to see you and speak with you: it’s because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.”

21 They responded, “We haven’t received any letters about you from Judea, nor have any of our brothers come and reported or said anything bad about you. 22 But we think it’s important to hear what you think, for we know that people everywhere are speaking against this faction.”

23 On the day scheduled for this purpose, many people came to the place where he was staying. From morning until evening, he explained and testified concerning God’s kingdom and tried to convince them about Jesus through appealing to the Law from Moses and the Prophets. 24 Some were persuaded by what he said, but others refused to believe.

I wonder if it was Paul’s description of being chained to Christ that made them open to receive his message. Here was a man who was literally chained to a Roman guard while he was awaiting to appeal his arrest before Caesar, yet he still boldly spoke the truth everywhere he went to whomever would listen.

Boldness is the key when it comes to our testimony. How bold are you? Do you talk to the stranger on the plane about your faith? Does your doctor know you are a Christian? If being a Christian was a punishable offense, would there be enough evidence in your life to arrest you for it?

Paul’s example of bold tenacity is a clear reminder to us today to take advantage of all those opportunities where someone might be ready to hear about Jesus. We, too, are chained to the hope of Israel … and the world.

Bold Sunrise by Michelle Robertson

Say Goodbye


In the typical order of worship, there is one moment we all look forward to: the benediction. Come on, you know you do! It means the service has been completed, the message has been delivered, the songs have been sung, and the prayers faithfully prayed. It signals that the irritation of 1. trying to keep your kids quiet; 2. sitting next to someone who put on WAAAY too much perfume or aftershave; or 3. the loud whisperer behind you catching up on gossip is finally over and you can go home. Even pastors like the benediction. Trust me, we look forward to it, too. It means our week’s work is finished and for better or worse, we have offered our labor to the Lord and now get to catch our breath before starting all over again.

You know that in pastor-time, Sunday comes every 4 1/2 days, right?

Today we are reading Paul’s benediction to the people in Corinth. I love his happy goodbye as he is leaving people whom he loves.

This benediction is a sermon in itself.

2 Corinthians 13:11-13

11-13 And that’s about it, friends. Be cheerful. Keep things in good repair. Keep your spirits up. Think in harmony. Be agreeable. Do all that, and the God of love and peace will be with you for sure. Greet one another with a holy embrace. All the brothers and sisters here say hello.

He encourages us to be cheerful. No matter what our daily trials are, we all have eternity to look forward to at the benediction of our lives. He tells us to keep things in good repair, such as your house, your family, and especially your soul. I hear this as an encouragement to not let the small stuff get us down!

By the way, it’s all small stuff.

Paul’s invitation to harmony could be a whole sermon series. It is a great reinforcement of the fact that God desires unity in the body of Christ. That can only happen when we lay down our individuality, our differences, and we work to think in harmony. If you do these things, you will experience the peace and love of God all week. Sermon done, right there in the benediction!

Greeting one another with a “holy kiss/embrace” was a common salutation that was practiced in eastern countries during Paul’s time, as handshakes are today. Paul was encouraging them to greet one another in an affectionate manner and treat each other with kindness and love. The use of the word “holy” here serves to remind us that Paul intended it as an expression of Christian affection and not as an improper contact.

While we probably won’t adopt a practice of kissing per se, (!) it would serve us well to be holy in our approach to each other and greet each other with the kindness and love befitting a Christian community…and not just at church.

When we do that, it will be easier to be cheerful, stay in harmony with one another, and keep our souls in good repair. And when that happens, the love and the peace of God will be with us for sure.

Harmony by Kathy Schumacher

Inch by Inch

“Step by step, inch by inch…” this phrase from an old Three Stooges movie reminds me of how some people approach faith. There is nothing wrong with a methodical process, says the Methodist minister! Did you know that the term “Methodist” was given to the Wesley brothers at Oxford? The other students used it as a term of derision, noting how methodical the brothers were in their piety. Centuries later, it is still our identifying characteristic. We proudly approach our faith in a methodical way. Pursuing incremental progress toward a goal ensures that you continue to move forward, and that’s a good thing.

We are invited to practice spiritual disciplines as we participate in the serious work of moving step by step, inch by inch toward the goal of growing closer to God. Lent is not quite over yet!

Today’s reading introduces us to a step-by-step approach to prayer.

Philippians 1:1-6 (Common English Bible)

1 From Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus.

To all those in Philippi who are God’s people in Christ Jesus, along with your supervisors and servants.

May the grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

I thank my God every time I mention you in my prayers. I’m thankful for all of you every time I pray, and it’s always a prayer full of joy. I’m glad because of the way you have been my partners in the ministry of the gospel from the time you first believed it until now. 

I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus.

Paul was methodical in his prayers and always started with thanksgiving, as we see here. This is key, as it focuses us on God’s activity in our lives and in the lives of the people for whom we pray. When we concentrate on thanking God first for the blessings that are poured out, it helps us focus on God’s power before we even begin with our list of wants and needs. Giving thanks at the beginning of each prayer puts us in a spirit of praise, joy, gratitude, and humility. We remember how good God is.

The second step is intercession, where we “mention others” and petition God for the needs of others and ourselves. We ask God to intervene in our lives and our situations to bring healing, mercy, comfort, and grace. We are reminded that we exist in fellowship and connection with others. By putting the needs of others before our own, we focus on the mercy of God, and practice the type of humility Jesus taught from the cross.

A natural third step is confession, a necessary part of every prayer. We confess our distance from the righteousness to which we are called. We confess our willfulness. We confess our sins. We confess it all in the sure and certain knowledge that God hears our confessions and cleanses us of our sins. Confession focuses our attention on the forgiveness of God.

And then we finish with a doxology, or a word of praise. God is worthy of our praise every day, and it’s important to let God know that! We praise God, from whom all blessings flow, and that moment reminds us that we are not self-reliant, but indeed we rely on God for everything that we have and need. Praise focuses us on the joyfulness of worshipping God.

Try this pattern in your prayer time this week. Remember that God always answers our prayers, so be persistent. Prayer changes things…mostly it changes us.

Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow by Michelle Robertson