Next Steps

2021 Bible Studies

  • d365 - DEVOTIONALS 365 DAYS A YEAR

    Free app or online use

    Looking to start off the New Year intentionally? Seeking to put into action new behaviors that will help you grow in Christ? Then, have we got a resource for you!

    d365 devotions are written by ministers, professors, students, teachers, missionaries, denominational leaders, and others who work with and care for students. Typically, an author writes on a single theme for one week. In these devotions, you will read honest struggles and questions, all in the context of real faith. As you read the thoughts of the writers, think about your own response to the scripture for the day. Let the writer’s words serve as background for your own conversation with God.

    Instrumental music is available for your devotional experience. You can start the music by selecting the music notes at the bottom left of the screen and adjust the volume as needed. 

    More info here:
     d365info
    See sample here: sampled365

    Five Steps in Each Daily Devotion:
    Pause
    Each day of the week, we begin our devotions with a powerful statement intended to help you pause and prepare to listen to what God is saying. The “Pause” statement will remain the same throughout the week.
    Listen
    You will find selected scripture verses for each day. Unless otherwise noted, scriptures are from the Common English Bible.
    Think
    The devotional is designed to help you think and interact with the scripture. Let the writer’s words guide your reflection on the scripture.
    Pray
    The prayer is a starting point for you to begin your own personal conversations with God.
    Go
    Each devotion concludes with a blessing intended to send you out, remembering what you have learned, guided by the Spirit. The “Go” statement will also remain the same throughout the week.

  • Bible Study Reflections by Pastor Melany

    pastormelany.blogspot.com

    Wow.
    What a year.
    What a mess.
    What chaos and loss and emotional distress.
    Elections, pandemics, and zoom meetings... oh my!
    Who isn't ready for 2020 to leave this earth?
    Who isn't placing huge expectations on 2021 being a better, kinder, and healthier year?? 

    And so... as Pastor Melany has been experiencing all these in my own life, she has decided if she wants 2021 to be different, then she has to do something different. So she is. 

    For the past several years, she has been Bible Journaling (See link below to join Facebook group or join on Tuesday eves at 6:30pm). Most mornings she starts the day with a scripture reading, an entry in her Gratitude Journal, and some form of artistic expression of the scripture she has just read. Sometimes that is scrapbooking, sometimes a drawing, a design with decorative tape, or using old greeting cards I have received from others. What she has been missing is reflecting on the Word. 

    So she has returned to her blog in 2021. Pastor Melany's hope is to add a personal reflection several days a week. She starts with the actual scripture reading, then an artist's rendering or photograph that reflects that portion of scripture, and then her personal reflection. Feel free to add your reflections in the comments. (See link below. Click "follow" once you are on the blog and you will get notices when she adds another reflection.)

    Pastor Melany's blog: PMBlog

    Pastor Melany's Bible Journaling group: PMBibleStudy

  • FREE REACH GROUPS OFFERED IN 2021

    Join us in 2021 for a year of jubilee...a time of freedom and celebration with EIGHT FREE REACH Network Groups for you to join! This past year has been both challenging and isolating. REACH Network Groups can be the perfect balm. The 2021 groups will meet monthly, for the most part, via Zoom. So, there’s no travel time involved.
     
    REACH Groups get pastors and church leaders plugged in to:
    A deeper dive on a specific subject
    A subject matter expert(s) leading the group
    Peers who want to focus and move forward in that area
    Ideas, information and advice
    Feedback, support and camaraderie
    And, most importantly, accountability
     
    “REACH Network groups provide long-term connections and great resources. You get fed and you get excited. But you have to bring your church with you.” – Rev. Jackie Raineri, Clare UMC

    Questions? Please contact Rev. Gary Step, Associate Director of Congregational Vibrancy or Tom Arthur, Lead Pastor Sycamore Creek Church, South Lansing & Potterville. 

    Find out more:
     ReachJubileeInfo
    Register today here: ReachJubileeRegister

    Course Topics:
    REACH Children
    REACH Youth
    REACH Hospitality
    REACH Leadership
    REACH Medium and Large Churches
    REACH Cultural Vibrancy
    REACH Laity Leadership

the NEXT small STEP: BOOK STUDY

This 6 week study, includes weekly readings from the book “The Way: Walking in The Footsteps of Jesus” by Pastor Adam Hamilton, Bible readings, videos, and discussion questions.  The information for each week is below.  Feel free to go at your own pace or use for your small group. 


Some books are available still available at the church for purchase (cost per book is $13, write 'Book Study' on your check or envelope. Scholarships also available.) 

The Way – Chapter 1

view video here

Baptism and Temptation Reflection Questions

Journey to The Jordan River and The Wilderness


Remember your baptism, the baptism of a loved one, or plan for your future baptism. What do baptism or the reaffirmation of baptism mean to you?


Though sinless, Jesus was baptized to help him  identify and connect with humanity, then invited them into the baptismal waters. How can we connect with and invite others into a relationship with Jesus?


Immediately following his baptism, Jesus retreated to the wilderness for 40 days of fasting and prayer. While there, he was tempted by evil. What is a temptation you struggle with?


Jesus temptations were meant to test his resolve and strengthen his faith. Does your faith impact the decisions you make when you are facing temptations? How so?


Walking with Jesus begins with baptism but inevitably includes temptation. When you yearn for forgiveness and a clean slate, remember your baptism. 

Invite God to purify you again and cover you with His grace.

Not baptized yet? Let’s talk! 269-781-5107



Preparing for The Way

Introduction and Prologue Reflections


Meet John The Baptist – Jesus’ cousin and the one who, literally, helped prepare the way for Jesus’ ministry. Who’s your traveling partner?  For this book experience, and throughout your faith journey? Why do you need them? What role(s) to they fulfill? What role(s) did John fulfill for Christ?


Have you visited a historic site? Imagine the people who have walked there before you. Do you feel connected to the past? What can we learn by re-tracing their steps? Imagine walking the same paths as Jesus in the Holy Land! This book is a firsthand account of just that!


The Greek word for repentance is metanoia – literally to think differently or to change one’s mind. How do you think (or hope) this experience will change you and your faith journey? 

  

THE WAY - CHAPTER 2

View Video here

Jesus' ministry and healings while in Capernaum were astounding! What do you think the people the people there thought of Jesus? 


During Jesus' time a person who was considered "less than whole" could not enter the temple. How might we react today if someone with a physical or mental disability entered our church during worship and caused a commotion? 


Recall the story of Jesus healing by casting out demons. What are the demons that infect us today? How do you think Jesus would react to the demons of today? 


Think about the story of the paralyzed man and how his friends lowered him through the roof to be healed by Christ. What are ways that we can feel paralyzed (socially, emotionally, physically, financially) How can we be "stretcher-bearers" and "lifters" for those in need? 


Let us pray ... Grant that we may not seek

to be understood, as to understand; 

to be loved, as to love; 

For it is in giving that we receive. 

Amen. 


Contact rachel@umcmarshall.org to join a discussion group via Zoom or Facebook Live. 

THE WAY - CHAPTER 3

View video here

PROCLAIMING THE KINGDOM - THE MOUNTAINS


Read the Greatest Commandment (Mark 12:28-31 or Matthew 22:34-40.) Paraphrase the Command in your own words and share it with your discussion buddy or group. 


What might living with the constant awareness of God's presence mean for those who heard Jesus? What might it mean for us today? Refer to luke 10:25-37. Who is our neighbors and how do we 'love like Christ'? 


Read the Beatitudes aloud, as written in Matthew 5:1-11. How do the Beatitudes contrast with the cultural norms of today? What values are

being turned upside down by Jesus in this passage? 


Let us pray ... 

Lord, you never said following you would be easy. But we know you are with us each step of the way. Help us to have the courage to love and live like You! 

Amen. 

the way - Chapter 4

View Video Here

Calming the Storm - The Sea of Galilee


Read Luke 5: 1-11, then consider the following: How do you think Simon, a working fisher man, felt when this wandering rabbi got into his boat? If you encountered Jesus, what would you do? Would you acknowledge you sin like Simon? Recall the miracle of Jesus calming the stormy sea. What storms do you see in today's world and in your own life? What does it mean when we say that Jesus has dominion over them? Read Matthew 14:22-33, which recounts Jesus walking on water. Focus on the Red Letters (what Jesus said.) What effect do you think his words had on the disciples? How would his words impact you? 


The story of Jesus calling the disciples to "Fish For People" is our story, too. What are ways that we can be fishers of people? 

What are some barriers in your own life that get in the way of following Jesus or leading others to Christ? 


Let us pray ... 

As the man said to Jesus, so we say to you: Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief! 

Amen. 


the way - chapter 5

view video here

Sinners, Outcasts, and the Poor


The Hebrew Terms "undesirables" is am ha-aretz. This chapter focuses on those who were undesirable in first-century Judea and Galilee. 


Who are the undesirables in our day and age? Before answering, recall that we live in a global society, but just local communities. 


Who are the undesirables in terms of politics? In terms of socio-economic status? In terms of customs and culture? In terms of religion and faith? In terms of actions and activities? 


Where or how to we get the the Ideas of what is "undesirable"? 

Are prejudices inherent or taught? 


What was Jesus' response to the undesirables of his day? Did he have to deal with some of the undesirables that we experience today? If Jesus were among us today, how would he deal with some of our undesirables? What he expect US to do the same? 


Let us pray ... 

Lord, Make us mindful of our responsibility to those who have less, to those who society has forgotten, and to those we have considered our enemies. Help us you the strength, compassion, and love that you have given us to provide for others. 

Amen. 


the way - chapter 6

View Video here

The Final Week - Jerusalem


Read Mark 11:7-10. How did Palm Sunday set the stage for Jesus' final week? How do you think the Roman and local religious authorities responded to to large crowds Jesus gathered? Recall Jesus overturning the tables of the moneychangers and referring to their temple as a "den of thieves." 


What examples of bad religion do you see in our world? Why did this action seal Jesus' /<rte and what does that say about his ministry and message? 


Consider Jesus' crucifixion. What klnd of king would submit to such torture? Why did he pray for forgiveness of those who executed him? 


Watch the video and reflect on the architecture: especially the Temple Mount and the beautiful churches to commemorate the life of Jesus. What do the structures say about about the building practices of Jesus' time and before? In what ways does this architecture style make Jerusalem an eternal city, one that even the Roman empire could not destroy? 


Thanks for participating in our Community Book Study of "The Way."


Grab a book, invite a friend!

We are learning new ways of seeking community

and sharing experiences. That’s what the

NEXT small STEP initiative is all about! This fall,

you are all invited to read the same book,

ponder the same reflection questions, and

gather – in-person or virtually- to grow closer in

community and closer to Christ.