“Different people contribute in different ways,” said the senior fraternity brother in a meeting years ago as we discussed whether or not to initiate a certain pledge. So it is with the variety of talents God has given us, and yes, we each have something to give.
We can give our money and our time to the church and charity, be a friend, do volunteer work, or be a peacemaker, teacher, or minister. We may give unselfishly of our time. Paul said it this way:
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
In his Parable of the Talents, Jesus taught that we must use our gifts wisely. Each of us has unique gifts and abilities and each of our contributions are equally important. Luke 6:38 tells us give to others and God will give to you. . . .The measure you use for others God will use for you.
Like the freshman fraternity brother, we can contribute in our own way. Let’s resolve today to take inventory of our gifts and talents and be sure we are using them for the betterment of God’s kingdom.
Written by BB Hosch
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
–Hebrews 10: 24-25 (NIV)
Over my lifetime, many times I have asked myself, “What’s in it for me?” As I’ve continued on my journey, I have realized that it’s not all about me.
This scripture encourages me to spur one another on in love and good deeds. I am reminded to attend church because we need the encouragement and support of others. My presence in worship is to reach out to others to greet, welcome, and help them feel wanted and loved. Without being present, I do not have a chance to do my part. We cannot underestimate the power of words and actions in uplifting others and leaving a positive impression.
I feel an obligation to pass it along if I want continued growth myself. I continue to remind myself, it’s not about me. It is what I do for others by my presence and involvement.
PRAYER: God, please give me the spirit to want to share with my presence in worship and my daily walk with you. Let me never meet a stranger or miss an opportunity to do a good deed in doing your will. Amen.
THOUGHT: Our presence is a priceless gift in the journey of life.
written by: Eddie Warren
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness.
I promise to be loyal to the United Methodist Church by upholding it with my presence… Those words obligate us to be supportive and active in the life of the church.
Ushers in our church live this vow Sunday after Sunday with their faithful presence. Their role is often underestimated at times, but it is vital in the ministry of the church. Psalms 84 states, “I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” The disciples acted as ushers as they directed and served the crowds who came to hear the Messiah.
I recall a man whose presence in church impacted my life. On Sundays Mr. Hershel T., faithfully welcomed all at the top of the stairs in the vestibule. He always asked about family and offered to help you find a seat. He handed us a church bulletin and immediately slipped his hand quietly into his pocket. He pulled out a peppermint for the children, one at a time. Now my children were certainly not deprived of candy, but there was something special about Mr. Hershel’s peppermints. Funny, I do not ever remember his pockets being emptied of his treats, nor do I know where he kept his stash. Maybe he simply had deep pockets!
Every Sunday Mr. Hershel gave us so much. He gave us his friendship, he gave us his concern, and he gave us his love, which was never ending. Just like his pockets!
PRAYER: Help us to encourage each other to give what may be the most valuable gift we may ever give – the gift of our presence – to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let our presence serve as an “encouragement” to those around us and “spur others to love and good deeds.”
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Thought for the day: Our presence is a very powerful thing, no matter who we are. It is a gift of our time… our life. In short, our presence is an expression of love.
Written by Jarie Thompson
Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst.
– Matthew 18:20
Lanny Wolfe, an accomplished Christian songwriter, formerly based in Jackson, MS, was asked by a friend in 1977 to write a song for the dedication service of a new church building. “Surely the Presence of the Lord Is in This Place” is the song that Wolfe wrote for the dedication.
And where might the Presence of the Lord be? The words of Matthew 18:20, plus the familiar words of Wolfe’s song, give us reason to believe that His Presence is anywhere committed Christians are gathered to carry on God’s work. It might be in a lovely sanctuary, a mission site in Honduras, the Helping Hands facility, the Tree of Life Clinic, or small churches in Russia! In ALL of these various places we find PEOPLE working together to spread God’s redemptive love as they help others. Thus God’s Presence is there!
As we prepare for our upcoming Stewardship Campaign, remember that carrying on the work of the Lord requires financial help. Please give your best to help further God’s Kingdom.
PRAYER: Dear Father, Help my actions today to glorify you and be worthy of your presence.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Surely His Presence is here today!
Written by Jane Riley
“In those days he went out into the hills to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles.”
- Luke 6:12-13
The second promise we make when we join the church, (after “our prayers”), is to support it with “our presence”.
First Jesus prayed. Then he chose his disciples because he needed a fellowship. He needed to share; he needed to live with others. We also need both solitude and fellowship.
Jesus needed help to accomplish his ministry.
Just as God accepts us as who we are; but He doesn’t leave us where we are, so we are both accepted – and we accept others – as we become the family of God here at First Methodist Church Tupelo, seeking to do God’s work together in the world.
Jesus had a healthy rhythm to his life; prayer, time with friends to enjoy being together in relationships, to give service to others, time alone, prayer.
Personally, I am always glad when I have to come to church; to be restored, to recharge my batteries, to give thanks to God for all of my blessings, to be reminded of the grace and mercy of God, to try to center myself in a pathway of love and service, and to simply enjoy the many happy hours that church provides me – and us.
To see an old friend, or make welcome a visitor; to be reminded of someone I need to visit in the hospital, or of someone I should write. To celebrate and laugh with others as we share a good time in their life, or console a friend who’s having a tough time.
Our presence is important – to us and to our church family.
PRAYER: Dear God, help me to align my life with our church’s mission: to “Love God, love neighbor, celebrate and serve Christ together”.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: “If we are too busy to come to church, we are too busy.”
Written by Jack Reed, Jr.
Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs; you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy. – Psalm 65:8
I posted a photograph recently on my Instagram account of a gorgeous early morning sunrise.
A friend that saw the photo told me that those views were the reason that he hates to sleep late.
There are many mornings when the sun rises behind a cloudy sky, or is covered by the rain, but then there are days when the colorful lights are so stunning that no camera could capture it. Funny thing is that each of these views - the clouds, the rain, and the colors – all look exactly the same from underneath the covers of our bed. They are a little hard to see from there. The only chance to see a sunrise is to first get to a place with a view.
There are opportunities at church to see beautiful things every day, but we first have to get to a place where we can see. Maybe it is a message that we were meant to hear, a song that moves us to tears, a prayer of comfort, a handshake, or a hug. But without being present, then what would we miss?
Yes, you might say, that there are wonderful things to be seen at the hunting camp, and at the lake, at the football game, the baseball field, or at home. And I agree that God's presence can be found everywhere. But what if we are the beautiful thing that someone else needs to see?
I sure hope that we will be in plain view.
Written by Frank Hodges
Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God
was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming
with things that can be observed.” – Luke 17:20
This scripture underscores the importance of our vow to support the Church with our presence. In Methodist tradition we have a rhythm of an inward and an outward presence.
In Worship we are enriched by the word and celebrate the Sacraments. With these gifts, we go out into the world to promote justice, peace, and love.
We often think of this "presence" as corporate but Jesus's words and the Church's teachings makes this commitment of presence personal.
In celebrating the Eucharist, we seek a presence and connection with Christ individually. That presence feeds our soul and prepares us to be a presence of Christ for others.
At the Baptisms of my Grandsons, the Church promised to always be present in their lives. I know from experience it will.
We are called to be present in the lives of those around us, to celebrate their joys and to help bear their burdens. Sometimes our presence is all we have to give. As a boy my parents took me to be at the side of a friend whose mother died. My father told me to let my presence be my words. Our presence is required to "Bare one another's burdens".
Jesus says the "Kingdom of God is among us". That is truly Great News and a precious gift we should share.
CS Lewis reminded us that we should enjoy this gift of having the Kingdom of God in our midst. He wrote, "Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses."
PRAYER: Give us grateful hearts, our Father, for all thy mercies, and make us mindful and present for the needs of others; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Indeed the Kingdom of God is found within and among us.
Written by Buzzy Mize
But you, my friends, must fortify yourselves in your most sacred faith. Continue to pray in the power of the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God, and look forward to the day when your Lord Jesus Christ in his mercy will give eternal life.
– Jude 1:20-21 (NEB)
There are two sides to this “presence” thing. Probably more than two, but we’ll go with that for now.
Without our presence at the many services and ministries within the church, our campus would become nothing more than empty buildings – a nostalgic and painful reminder of what was and of what could have been. Our very presence is what breathes life into our church while at the same time renewing our spirit and our strength.
In her book Amazing Grace: The Vocabulary of Faith, author and minister Kathleen Norris explained her transition from post-college church lethargy to a participatory faith that eventually led her to the pulpit.
“In retrospect,” Norris writes, “I can say that I joined the church out of basic need: I was becoming a Christian, and as the religion can’t be practiced alone, I needed to try to align myself with a community of faith.”
Then there is the presence of God in our lives. Or, as John Wesley put it, the “omnipresence.”
“We can only say the great God … is as unbounded in his presence as in his duration and power.” Wesley preached. “To our weak understanding He is said to dwell in heaven, but, strictly speaking, the heaven of heavens cannot contain him, but he is in every part of his dominion.”
All too often in our daily lives we fail to remember that, but when we pause and join with our church family we become more attuned to God’s presence in our lives. And to His love.
written by Danny McKenzie
But the Lord still waits for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for him to help them. And you will hear a voice say, “This is the way; turn around and walk here.”
– Isaiah 30:18 & 21
Many years ago, I remember attending a Bible/Prayer Study. This was during a time when I was truly seeking to know more about prayer. I was a Christian. I prayed, but I knew that there must be so much more than what I was experiencing. I had the typical questions in my mind about prayer. I especially was wondering why we needed to pray if God already knew everything?
As a group, we were asked to share about our prayer life and specifically, when do we pray? As people began sharing, I can vividly recall this precious young women saying in her sweet little voice that she “talks with Jesus all day long”! Well, I was ready with my “I sit down in my chair” answer, but it was then that the Holy Spirit let me know that she had the right answer. It was then that I realized that my 10, 15, or even 30 minute prayer time in the morning was not enough to sustain me all day.
So, why do we need to pray if God already knows everything? The above scripture states that God waits for us to talk with Him. He wants to help us in our everyday choices and decisions. This scripture also reminds us that He will tell us which way to go if we ask His guidance and direction. I can’t nor do I want to live life without Jesus. I know now that to stay close to Him I need to talk with Him all day long!
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for the way you use people to open our eyes to see you more clearly. And thank you for waiting so patiently on us to come to you. We desperately need your guidance and direction. Amen.
Written by Dana Foster
"First of all, then,
I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions,
and thanksgivings be made for everyone,"
- 2 Timothy 2:1
I remember holding my son and daughter for the first time. This little life placed in my hands. A new human soul brought into this world. I remember the panic feeling as we left the hospital and were expected to take care of this small being. My mother moved in for 6 days and even though she lives only two doors down, I cried when she left. She knew it was time for her to let me learn on my own.
My mother had been praying for me. She had prayed over me as a baby and as I grew through elementary school. Teenage years brought, I am sure, frustrating prayers and cries to the Lord. I remember groggy mornings waking up looking for my mother to find her in “her chair” having her quiet time before the busy bustle of my working mother’s day began. Still to this day, if I stop by in the mornings, I will find her sitting in the same spot, eating breakfast, and praying for me, my sisters, my dad, and others friends and family.
I love knowing that she prayed for my husband before we met. I love how she prayed for my babies everyday in a journal for nine months as I carried them. I love how she prayed aloud in the car as we went to school or special tryouts for this team or that choir. I felt them. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the prayers of my mother.
Prayer got me through the first stages of motherhood when my mom left to go those long two doors down. And prayer will no doubt get me through these elementary years. As I raise my children, I pray that I can provide the gift of intercessory prayer she provided for me. I strive to know the right words to pray with them as they grow and experience this life.
In the same way our family members need our prayers, so does our church family. Our church would not be where it is today without the prayers of those who came before us. May we can continue this legacy by praying for those we worship side by side with in this community of faith.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, Thank you for giving us our earthly parents to teach us your ways and pray over us as we grow. We pray for our church and all the families who worship you in this place. We ask your blessings on her as she continues to grow for 150 more years.
Thought for the Day: It is important for us to be in intercessory prayer for our immediate and church family.
Written by Mary Stewart Rhea
Let us do life together, growing closer to Jesus, and closer to each other, through stories and experiences from the people of our church. Join us as we begin a new series for the Advent season, beginning Tuesday, November 28.