Thoughts and reflections from Liberty’s Pastors

June 23, 2022

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NLT)

“But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

The Liberty family is ready to turn the page, ready for the “New” God has in store. With Pastor Chris coming on board, and with the continued service of Pastor Julie, the rest of Liberty’s dedicated staff, and the caring, loving community of believers (you, the membership), I can only imagine the wonderful things God has in store.

And everyone needs to be a part of this “New”. Find a way to participate in the life of Liberty. Serve on a committee, volunteer for VBS and the Children’s ministry, work with the youth, join a Bible study or small group study, participate in worship by being a Lay Reader or joining the worship team, serve as part of a mission project, give of your time, talent, and treasure, and above all, pray.

Pray for your pastors, pray for your elected Deacons and Elders, pray for the staff, and pray for the unity and love that defines the Liberty family. Janet and I will join our prayers with yours. And it is with confidence in God’s steady hand at the wheel that we say our goodbyes and follow where God leads.

In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kemper

June 16, 2022

What Makes a Dad?

“God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea…
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so, He called it … Dad.”

—Unknown Author

 

Come worship with us Sunday, June 16—Father’s Day!

June 9, 2022

Psalm 96:11-12 (NLT)

Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice!

Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!

Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!

Let the trees of the forest sing for joy!

 

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR KEMPER

I love worship! Especially worship that is filled with joy and thanksgiving. When we gather to worship God in the name of Jesus, we open our hearts to the presence of the Holy Spirit, and we become one with each other and with God.

The Psalmist tells us that worship happens even if we stay silent. The heavens are glad, the sea shouts God’s praise, the fields and crops burst out with joy, and the trees sing! Wow! Have you ever been in a worship like that?

I know I have. When ever Janet and I get the chance to walk in the parks or on one of the many trails in the Columbus area, I am surrounded by the majesty of God’s creation, and I can almost hear the trees singing! Worship takes place every day, not just on Sundays. And worship surrounds us everywhere, not just in the church building.

This coming Sunday (June 12), the Liberty family gathers for worship “under the oaks” and we will sing with the trees and celebrate with the heavens and the earth. Outdoor worship has always been very special to Janet and me. We were married at the Chapel of the Big Horns an outdoor chapel surrounded by pine trees high up in the Big Horn mountains of Wyoming. While I was in a daze for most of the service, I still remember being surrounded by friends, family, and God’s amazing creation!

Join your Liberty family this Sunday as we celebrate God’s love outdoors.

In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kemper

June 2, 2022

1 Peter 3:8-12 (NLT)

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. 10 For the Scriptures say,
“If you want to enjoy life
    and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies.
11 Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
12 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
against those who do evil.”

 

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR KEMPER

Once again evil has reared its ugly head in our world. Everywhere we look we see hate, fear, senseless death, all resulting in pain, sorrow, and suffering.  How are we, as Christ’s disciples, to react? The new catchphrase is, “your thoughts and prayers are not enough!” While I agree that, as Christians, we are called to stand up in the face of evil, I do not agree with any statement that seems to lessen the power of prayer. Our united prayers are a powerful force that can and will make a difference.

“But what can I do?” we ask,  “How can I make a difference?”

Peter wrote to Christians scattered about in Asia Minor who had been and were currently being persecuted and oppressed for their beliefs.  Some were being killed. Evil was prevalent in their world. Peter encouraged them to example the love of Christ in everything they do. His encouragement is for us, today, as well.

“Don’t repay evil with evil, respond to insults with insults. Be a blessing to the people you meet. Turn from evil and do good.”

This is how we respond to the heartache of evil in the world. We live our lives as an illustration of Christ’s sacrificial love. Yes, stand up for justice! Yes, work for peace! Yes, be an advocate for change!  But in everything you do and say, be a disciple of love. And continue to pray!

May God bless those who have been devastated by evil these past weeks. And may God bless us with the fortitude we need to be examples of God’s love. Amen.

In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kemper

 

May 26, 2022

Philippians 2:6-8 (NLT)
Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
8  he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR JULIE

Looking at this scripture, I think of how so many people today cling to their fame and fortune…perhaps show off a bit. It blows my mind then when I think about Jesus…Jesus who was fully human, yet also fully divine. If someone should be showing off, it should have been Jesus. “Look at me! Look what I can do!” Talk about blowing minds! But he never did. Jesus was born to be a man and became like a servant. He chose to humble himself…for us! Jesus chose to endure life, just like us…for us!

Jesus had the attitude of a servant. He was a servant to God and a servant to others. He was obedient to God, and everything he did was something God was proud of. Jesus didn’t show off, even though many a times he could have done so. Being a humble servant is not always easy, but it’s the best way to show our Creator how much we love God and how thankful we are for all our Heavenly Parent does for us. Our Sovereign Lord wants us to be God’s humble servants, too. Like Christ, we are not to show off who we are as God’s children, but rather, like Christ, we are to reflect the love and caring of God’s glory every day. By being obedient to God and being humble and helpful to others, we will reflect God’s glory. We are to shine!

Humbly,
Pastor Julie

May 19, 2022

Ephesians 2:20-21 (NLT)
Together, we are His house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets.
And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.
We are carefully joined together in him,
becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR KEMPER

One aspect of my ministry that I thoroughly enjoy is participating in the new member class. Getting to know people and having them share their faith journey warms my heart! No one’s journey is the same;  every story is unique and shows how God can work in every situation and in every life. The new members’ stories encapsulate every human emotion and give the listeners a glimpse of how God was working in their lives.

One of the questions asked in the Liberty new members class is, “What brought you to Liberty and what was it that made you want to become part of the Liberty family?”

The “what brought them” responses include, the location (close to home), the look of the building, their kids participating in VBS, the outdoor worship, they heard wonderful things about Liberty’s music, or it was just one of many churches they looked at while church shopping.

But almost to a person they said why they wanted to join was because they felt “at home”.  They were welcomed as they were and did not feel that they had to pretend to be someone else. People were friendly and they were surprised at how many people visited with them and welcomed them to worship.

This welcoming attitude and demeaner is an attribute that I believe every Christian church should embrace. We are loved unconditionally and therefore we should love (welcome) unconditionally. My prayer is that Liberty continues to example this “open doors” and “open hearts” mindset in everything you do. This feeling “at home” is a wonderful testament to God’s love and our call to live as disciples of Christ.

In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kemper

May 12, 2022

Psalm 117 (NLT)
Praise the Lord, all you nations.
    Praise him, all you people of the earth.
For his unfailing love for us is powerful;
the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever.

Praise the Lord!

 

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR KEMPER

We hear the Psalmist use the phrase “Praise the Lord” in many Psalms. We are reminded that only God is worthy of our worship and praise. The Psalmist tells us to “praise” God with our whole being; with music, with prayer, with Scripture, with everything we do. We are to lift this praise continually, never ceasing.

But why? Well, we recognize that everything we have, everything we know, all of creation is because God willed it to be. We praise God for our families, our church, our jobs, for everything! We praise God because through God’s infinite wisdom, Jesus came to teach, heal, love, and ultimately save all of creation. Through Jesus we are given life everlasting!

But in this Psalm (117), we hear another reason to praise God. The Lord’s faithfulness endures forever! No matter what happens in our lives, no matter what “change” or “new” we have in store, one thing is unchanging and eternal. God’s love for us and God’s promise to stand with us through any storm or uncertainty is assured. This will never change.

And because of this promise of faithfulness, we can join our voices with all of creation and, “Praise the Lord!”

In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kemper

May 5, 2022

Psalm 118: 24 (NLT)
This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

 

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR JULIE

I remember when I was growing up, my father would make breakfast for me before heading to school, and he would often leave a scripture verse with it. This particular scripture was used often, which always put a smile on my face—and joy in my heart.

Interesting that this past Sunday morning, that was the scripture I rattled off in my opening announcement just after I found out the screen wasn’t working and had to direct the congregation to refer to their bulletin for the song lyrics. That wasn’t too bad, but then some of us wondered what that would mean for my Ordination Service that afternoon as the bulletins were printed without the lyrics. Lo and behold, that was taken care of because Steve was kind enough to quickly make up song sheets to be passed out with the bulletins. (Thanks, Steve!) Rejoicing and gladness, indeed!

The rejoicing and gladness continued into the afternoon for my Ordination Service. As many of you remember from the first sermon I preached here, I have felt the call to the ministry since I was four years old. Needless to say, this was in the making for a long time. The journey it took to get here has been filled with so much faith-building and experiences I can draw upon to help me in my ministry.

Without a doubt, I was full of joy and gladness throughout the service. So many people who have influenced my life along the way either played an integral part in the service or were in attendance physically or digitally. Additionally, there were many Liberty folks who helped make the service a success, and the reception to follow was absolutely stunning! I cannot thank you all enough for all you have done, as well as the support, love, and encouragement you have each given me. I could not have been prouder than to be ordained in my new church home, here at Liberty Presbyterian Church!

To have my also-ordained father play such a big part in the service was fitting for my joyous ordination, since he engrained this verse into my head from the beginning. To have my service at Liberty was also fitting because I rejoice and am glad each day I am here with you!

So, yes, “This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” I encourage you also to think on this scripture each day and find ways to rejoice and be glad, even when it may not be easy. I get it. However, at that moment or sometime throughout the day, you may very well find a moment of joy and gladness that could very well follow you on your journey, too.

With Joy and Gladness,
Pastor Julie

April 28, 2022

John 21:15-19 (NRSV) 

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 
16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 
17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 
19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.” 

 

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR JULIE

This scripture takes place after Jesus’ resurrection. It is the third time he appears to the disciples. In this particular part of the story, Jesus asks Simon Peter three times if he loves Jesus. Although each time he says he loves Jesus, the word for “love” that Peter uses changes. In Greek, the language of the New Testament, there are several words for love, each showing a different aspect of love. The first time Simon Peter says he loves Jesus, he uses the word that means “knowing or loving someone or something simply by observing it.” This is a one-way kind of love. The second and third time Peter says he loves Jesus, he uses a different word. The word he says is used to talk about a “deep love that comes from having a relationship with someone you know well and with whom you spend time.”

Jesus responds each time to Peter by telling Peter to “feed his lambs/sheep” and “tend his sheep.”

Jesus’ words were not just for Simon Peter and the disciples who followed him during his life on earth. Jesus calls on all of his disciples throughout time to care for his sheep, including us. We see here that Jesus was trying to help Peter, and all disciples, understand the connection between love of Jesus and doing acts of service. Each of our individual actions works together to nurture and care for Jesus’ “lambs.”

Just as Jesus commissioned Peter and the disciples, he commissions each of us. As we love Jesus, we are compelled to do good works and to serve those in need. The love of Christ motivates us to continue his ministry with those who are in need. The love of Christ is the foundation of all that we do to honor him and spread his love.

With this, I invite you to join me in two events this weekend. Saturday at 8:00 a.m., we will gather at the church to build walls for Habitat for Humanity. (Additionally, tomorrow evening you can come help cut and stack the lumber to be ready for Saturday’s build.) This build event will be in honor of Jack Gynn, a disciple who worked endlessly with Habitat for Humanity. The family for whose home we will be building the walls will also be present and helping. What a wonderful example for them to see the love of Christ in action!

The other event is my ordination service this Sunday at 4:00 p.m. in the Barn Sanctuary (yes, there will be childcare), with reception to follow in the Barn Lower Level. (The service will also be livestreamed online if you are unable to attend in person.) Not only have I taken seriously the call to serve as I sought ordination, but upon becoming ordained, I will be able to “feed his lambs/sheep” and “tend his sheep” in a different capacity. I am blessed that I will be able to serve, teach, nurture, and care for others in this way, and would be honored by your presence in this celebration!

With Christ’s Love,
Pastor Julie

April 21, 2022

Luke 24: 5-6 (NLT)
“Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?
He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!

Christ is Risen!
Christ is Risen Indeed!

 

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR KEMPER

What a glorious Easter celebration we had last Sunday!  The “SonRise” service in the Pathway, the delicious breakfast prepared and served by the dedicated gentlemen chefs, the flowered cross, the amazing music, the Savior in a rock, and the Good News that Death no longer has the final word!  We are no longer enslaved to sin, and we are free to live the lives God desires for each of us!

The “New Life” promised to each and every one of us was made possible because of the limitless love our Heavenly Father has for us.  And because of the sacrificial love Jesus exampled as he carried our sins to the cross to set us free.  Paul declares in his letter to the church in Rome, “Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” (Romans 6:3-4, NLT)

How will you embrace this “new life” gifted to you through the Easter event?  My prayer is that you will find the opportunity to example this love through service to others, dedicating time to growing in your spiritual life, more fully participate in the life and ministry of Liberty Church, and being the beacon of hope we are all called, as Christ’s disciples, to be.

In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kemper

April 14, 2022

Lenten Spirit Devotion

Week Seven: For Our Good

Scripture Reading

John 16:5-15 (NLT)

5“But now I am going away to the one who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. 6Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you. 7But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. 8And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. 9The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. 10Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. 11Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged.
12“There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. 13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. 14He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. 15All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’

Devotion

When we first hear these words of Jesus, we may wonder how his going away could be for our good. He often taught, in fact, that following him can bring trouble and hardship. How can that be good?

This question may seem especially relevant today. Many Christians around the world face persecution and even death for following Jesus. And in places where persecution is not so obvious, following Jesus still means sacrifice. As Peter once said to Jesus, “We have left everything to follow you!” (Matthew 19:27).

But when Jesus ascended to heaven, he was no longer physically present with his followers. How could that be a good thing? Looking back, his first disciples would remember Jesus’ words on the night before his death, when he addressed this concern. He said that his ascension would open the way for the Holy Spirit to come to them. Jesus’ followers would no longer need him to be physically present on earth, with all the limits that his humanity imposed.

The subtitle of a recent book explains, “The Spirit inside you is better than Jesus beside you.” Because Jesus has returned to the Father, we feel God’s presence even more powerfully as the Spirit comes to live in us.

This is sometimes hard to believe when we face the hardships of life. But it is God’s promise, for our good. Do you believe this?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, fill us with your Spirit and help us to know your presence within us. Guide us to live for the Father’s glory. Amen.

April 7, 2022

Lenten Spirit Devotion

Week Six: Power from on High

Scripture Reading

Luke 24:44-49 (NLT)

44Then he (Jesus) said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. 46And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. 47It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ 48You are witnesses of all these things.
49“And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.

Devotion

Have you ever felt the fear of following Jesus? After all, the story of the resurrection and ascension seems impossibly crazy. How can a first-century Jew be the center of human history?

I appreciate that Jesus’ first followers were honest about their doubts and fears. The resurrection and glory of their Lord was not something they understood at first. They had to be convinced that what they saw had really happened. At first glance, it wouldn’t seem like they would be the best candidates to continue the work Jesus had begun.

But God chooses to use fearful, doubting followers to do great things. “You are witnesses of these things,” Jesus says to them. He commissions them to share the story of the Scriptures and especially the message of repentance and forgiveness. And to assure them that they will be able to carry out this immense task, Jesus says they will be “clothed with power from on high.”

Christ’s church still contains weak, doubting people. Perhaps you know the disappointment of living with failed relationships, a prodigal child, or a criminal background. As the ascended Lord, Jesus does not simply promise to walk alongside us in these trials; he fills us with “power from on high” to share his message of repentance and forgiveness.

What an amazing promise!

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you know our weaknesses, doubts, and failures. Help us grasp the message of repentance and forgiveness. Clothe us with power from on high so that we may serve you faithfully. In your name, Amen.

March 31, 2022

Lenten Spirit Devotion

Week Five: Ascension Power

Scripture Reading

Ephesians 1:19-23 (NLT)

19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

Devotion

Some stories are so good that they simply need to be told again and again. The ascension is one of those stories.

As Jesus’ followers looked back on that day when he ascended into heaven, they began to see how it marked a turning point in their understanding of him as the Son of God. Until that time, they had worked alongside Jesus, recognizing him as a great teacher and miracle worker. But after Ascension Day, they began to realize he is the cosmic Lord of all.

Many of our daily routines feel rather “un-cosmic.” We talk to our neighbors, drive to work, pay our bills, wash our clothes, and so on. In many situations we may also feel limited in our ability to do things: we are disabled, or in prison, or feeling “stuck” in life.

Yet God’s Spirit wants us to see that the same power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him at God’s right hand is at work in us. God can transform our routine chores and conversations into expressions of his love. The same authority that the ascended Christ has as Lord of all extends into our routine actions and interactions.

If you have difficulty believing this, go back and recall the story of the ascended Lord. Remember who it is that you worship and serve as a follower of Jesus, so that you may know him better and hope in him.

Prayer

Lord of all, open the eyes of my heart so that I may know you better. You fill all things; fill me so that your power, love, and authority are clearly visible in all I do. Amen.

March 24, 2022

Lenten Spirit Devotion

Week Four: Catch the Spirit

Scripture Reading

Mark 15:37-39 (NLT)

37 Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
39 When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

Devotion

Inspiration is an important part of the Christian life. The word inspire literally means to have a spirit come into you—and for Christians that means having the Holy Spirit in you. In the ancient biblical languages (Hebrew and Greek) the word meaning “inspire” was also related to breathing, since they used the same word for “spirit” as for “breath.”

In this passage Mark does something interesting with this concept. Mark says that Jesus “breathed his last,” and the Greek word for this (­ekpneo) is different from the usual word used for “spirit” and “breath” (pneuma). Ekpneo literally means “expired,” as in “breathed out” or “let out his Spirit.”

At first this may seem like just another way of saying that Jesus died. But then Mark tells us that a centurion was standing in front of Jesus—right where Jesus’ last breath was aimed. And something interesting happens to this Roman commander, who probably didn’t even believe in the God of the Jews. The centurion exclaims, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

The centurion caught the Spirit—he was inspired. And when he caught the Spirit, he knew clearly who Jesus ­really was. Jesus was more than a great person, a prophet, or even a king. Jesus was God’s own Son—the Savior of the world.

Prayer

Dear Jesus, you are the Son of God. Please put your Holy Spirit into us today so that we can be inspired to live as you lived. Amen.

March 17, 2022

Lenten Spirit Devotion

Week Three: Come, Holy Spirit

Scripture Reading

Acts 1:6-8 (NLT)

6So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”
7He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Devotion

The book of Acts features the Holy Spirit as the main player in bringing the church to life: Jesus gave instructions to his followers through the Spirit, saying that the Spirit will be given as a gift and that they will be “baptized with the Holy Spirit.” That happened at Pentecost.

The Holy Spirit is so prominent in the book of Acts that, as scholars have noted, Luke’s record of the spread of the gospel from Jerusalem to Rome could well be titled “The Acts of the Holy Spirit.”

The sending of the Spirit by the Father and the Son is another breathtaking result and blessing of the risen Jesus (see Luke 24:49). The word for “power” in the original Greek language of our Scripture verse today has come into English in our words “dynamo” and “dynamic.” In other words, the Holy Spirit comes into our lives with the dynamic power of God.

Thinking about the astonishing effects of Good Friday and Easter, we might ask, “How does all this become real to me?” The Spirit is God’s gracious answer. Jesus said, “The Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me” (John 15:26). So, if you know the Lord, it’s because of the Spirit! If you’ve given your heart and life to Jesus, it’s because of the Spirit! If Christian worship and prayer build you up spiritually, if God speaks to you in the Bible, credit the Spirit!

Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly dove, with all your quickening powers. Kindle a flame of sacred love in my cold heart and teach me to live like Jesus. Amen.

March 10, 2022

Lenten Spirit Devotion

Week Two: With God’s Spirit in Us

Scripture Reading

Ezekiel 37:11-14 (NLT)

11Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’ 12Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. 14I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken!’”

Devotion

By the Spirit of the Lord, Ezekiel had an unforgettable vision. The grisly scene of bones scattered across a valley might seem a terrifying nightmare, with the evidence of death all around. But God turned that valley of the shadow of death into a place of life. The dry, scattered bones began rattling and joining together, and soon they were covered by muscles and skin. And when the breath of life entered the people’s remade bodies, they sprang to life again.

God said this was a sign for his people, who thought they were dead, dried up, cut off, and without hope in the world. They were exiled from their land as punishment for generations of sinning against God. But he promised to restore them to himself by putting his Spirit in them and giving them new life.

God accomplished this in surprising ways through his Son, Jesus Christ. He came to pay for human sin by giving up his own life and then rising from the dead. Then God’s Spirit came to breathe new life in us, guiding us to know the Lord and trust in him for forgiveness and salvation. As Paul put it, though we were “without hope and without God in the world,” he “made us alive with Christ even when we were dead” in our “transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1, 4-5, 12). And one day, when Jesus returns, we will also rise from our graves to live with him! (See 1 Thessalonians 4-5; Revelation 21-22.)

Prayer

Lord of life, fill us with your Spirit and guide us in truth to live with your goodness and love for-ever. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

March 3, 2022

Lenten Spirit Devotion

Week One: God’s Mouthpiece

Scripture Reading

Numbers 11:24-30 (NLT)
24 So Moses went out and reported the Lord’s words to the people. He gathered the seventy elders and stationed them around the Tabernacle. 25 And the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses. Then he gave the seventy elders the same Spirit that was upon Moses. And when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But this never happened again.
26 Two men, Eldad and Medad, had stayed behind in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but they had not gone out to the Tabernacle. Yet the Spirit rested upon them as well, so they prophesied there in the camp. 27 A young man ran and reported to Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp!”
28 Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ assistant since his youth, protested, “Moses, my master, make them stop!”
29 But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them all!” 30 Then Moses returned to the camp with the elders of Israel.

Devotion

Everyone knew that Moses was God’s mouthpiece. He spoke God’s words to the people. So, when Moses’ assistant Joshua heard about two men speaking words from the Lord, he thought they should stop. But Moses said, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” Moses wanted more preachers and teachers for Israel. He wanted everyone to have God’s Spirit on them.

Many years later, the prophet Joel spoke the same message as a blessing for the future. God said through him, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people.” And we know this happened around A.D. 30 when the Holy Spirit came during the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2).

It can be hard to be friends with prophets. They say things that people don’t want to hear. Many people today don’t want anything to do with Jesus. But that is exactly why prophets are needed. The world desperately needs prophets to speak God’s truth and mercy.

As God’s ambassadors in this broken, hurting world, we are called to be prophets. We are called to confess the Lord’s name. We are to bring hope, peace, challenges, reminders, and truth to the people around us. Like it or not, you are a prophet, called to bring the good news of Jesus to the world. How will do that today?

Prayer

Lord, may we speak your truth faithfully and gracefully today, knowing that your good news is for all people. In Jesus, Amen.

February 24, 2022

1 John 1:5-7 (NLT)
This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

Fellowship is an important part of belonging to a church or worshiping community. Almost every account of the early church included the members gathering together to sing, hear Scripture, and to fellowship with one another.

As we move towards the season of Lent, we look for ways to develop and energize our walk with Jesus. One of the ways we can do this is by participating in church-wide fellowship offerings. In the next couple of months, Liberty will offer many fellowship opportunities, including:

  • On Sunday, March 6, following worship, the Fellowship Committee will host a “potato bar” fellowship meal. Baked potatoes and all the fixings will be ready for you and your family. Use this meal to sit with someone you don’t know and help the church to grow closer and develop new friendships.
  • Every Wednesday in Lent beginning on March 9 and continuing through April 6, join your church family for a simple soup dinner at 6:15 p.m. that will be followed at 7:00 p.m. by a Lenten service in the Chapel. If you haven’t signed up to make a soup, please use the Sunday bulletin insert or call the Church Office to let us know you are willing to help.
  • I will be hosting a men’s breakfast on Saturday, March 19, and the men of Liberty will gather for food, fellowship, and prayer.
  • On Easter Sunday, April 17, following the “Son-Rise” service at 7:00 a.m., the Fellowship Committee will be hosting an Easter breakfast.
  • And don’t forget our coffee fellowship, hosted by the Deacons, every Sunday following worship in the Barn Lower Level.

Commit yourself to participating more fully in the Life of Liberty by attending some or all of these times of Fellowship.

In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kemper

February 17, 2022

1 John 1:5-7 (NLT)
This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 

 

One comment I have heard over and over again through the COVID pandemic is, “I sure miss the fellowship of my church family.”  I think we can all relate. The pandemic has disrupted our lives, and it disrupted the life of the church. While Liberty has done an excellent job of offering online worship and other special events, gathering for a meal or discussion adds another element to our walk of faith. This past Sunday, the youth hosted a meal following worship and it was a joyful and happy gathering.


Liberty will continue to take necessary precautions as we gather together—but we will gather!


The Season of Lent begins March 2, Ash Wednesday.  We will have a special Ash Wednesday worship service at 7:00 p.m. in the Barn Sanctuary.  And on the following Wednesdays in Lent, we will gather for a simple soup supper in the Lower Level at 6:15 p.m. followed by a time of worship and testimony in the Chapel at 7:00 p.m. I invite everyone to come and spend time with your church family for these Lenten gatherings.

If you would like to participate by providing a soup for one of these Wednesday evening dinners, please sign up using the insert in the Sunday bulletin—or you can call the Church Office and let us know.

On March 6, following Sunday worship, the Fellowship Committee will host another church meal, featuring a baked potato bar! Plan to spend some time in fellowship with your church family as we gather for this special meal in the Barn Lower Level.  And then on Easter Sunday, following the “Son-rise” service, the Fellowship Committee will host a breakfast!


Let’s make fellowship a priority this Lenten season!
Join me as we move forward with faith and hope towards the Celebration of the Resurrection Easter morning!


In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kemper

February 10, 2022

James 2:1-4 (NLT)

“My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?” 

During our recent Tuesday evening Bible study, we focused on “judging others” and how the Bible instructs us. We had a wonderful discussion with many different viewpoints and Scriptural insights. What everyone agreed on was that we have a human propensity to judge; we do it every day.

Many of the judgments we make are common decisions that we make about things, places, or events. But these judgements are not the judging that we focused on.

Most of our Scriptural guidance on judging focuses on judging others. We make judgments based on first impressions; how they dress, what church they attend, their ethnicity or race, their political leanings, the list is extensive!

And as James instructs, these judgements are guided by evil motives (evil motives being making judgements that put others down and lift ourselves up).

Only God can truly know what is in a person’s heart.

Only God has the ability to judge others (especially concerning a person’s relationship with God) and we are called, by Jesus, to love and accept others as God has loved and accepted us.

If you would like to be a part of our Tuesday evening discussions, please join us at 7:00 pm in the Carriage House room 203. Next week we will look at jealousy and see what insight the Bible holds on this human response.

In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kemper