June 3, 2020 – Running Back to God

What I Read Today:

2 Corinthians 2; Mark 6; Ezekiel 20; Proverbs 7-8; 2 Samuel 20

Isn’t it amazing how people come running back to God when things fall apart?  I guess you could say that at least they know enough to go back to God.  Some people bounce in and out of the church when a crisis occurs in their lives.

The nation of Israel had done that for centuries.  God gives them a history lesson in Ezekiel 20.  You can almost hear God’s head shaking.  I wonder if God looks at us and rolls his eyes when we come running back to him during a crisis.  Does he feel like we do when our kids decide to climb a tree that we’ve repeatedly told them not to climb and then the limb they’re on breaks, and they fall to the ground and get hurt?

Despite his disappointment with us, God doesn’t turn his back on us.  When we genuinely turn back to him, God is waiting with open arms. 

In Ezekiel 20:33-44, God promises that those who are indeed returning to God will welcome back.  Those who are using God as a crutch, however, will find that he might not be as welcoming. 

God wants us to be his all the time.  He’s looking for us to follow him because we love him. God doesn’t need followers who come running to him every time they fall out of a tree.  He wants followers who seek him every day.  God is not interested in followers who use him when they are in trouble then return to the very lives they led before coming to him.  God will not be a worry stone that we rub in times of difficulty expecting God to drop what he’s doing and run to our rescue.

God is gracious and merciful.  Stay in love with God every day.  He’ll be there in times of pain and times of joy if we let him. 

June 2, 2020 – Reach Out and Touch Him!

What I Read Today:

2 Corinthians 1; Mark 5; Ezekiel 19; Proverbs 5-6; 2 Samuel 19

Mark 5:25-34, “25And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

30At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

31“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’”

32But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” NIV

The woman had reached the end of her rope, and now she had one last hope.  She followed quietly down the crowded street.  The crowd pressing in on her, made her feel claustrophobic. 

Then she caught a glimpse of Jesus.  She had heard the commotion and seen Jairus crying before Jesus.  The crowd slowed a little, and now she was right behind Jesus.  She was ceremonially unclean so that she couldn’t announce herself to Jesus.  The bleeding had gone on so long that she didn’t even remember when it started.  She had nothing to offer this man.  So here she was, standing amid the crowd, with her head covered.

Then she touched him, and her life changed forever.  Nothing would ever be the same.

Have you touched Jesus lately?  When was the last time you had an encounter with your Savior?  Do you keep him on a shelf neatly tucked away?

Reach out this morning and touch the cloak of Jesus.

June 1, 2020 – How Are The Children?

What I Read Today;

1 Corinthians 16; Mark 4; Ezekiel 18; Proverbs 3-4; 2 Samuel 18

David nearly lost the kingdom.  He was hiding in the wilderness.  He was hiding from his son Absalom. 

Yet he still cared for his son.  He worried about what would happen to him now that his men were moving on Absalom’s forces.  When he finds out that they’ve won the battle, David isn’t concerned about his soldiers or the state of the capital.  No, David is worried about his son. When David finds out his son is dead, it shakes him to his very core.

Our children are in danger. 

As a father, David failed to teach his son.  He indulged his children and paid a steep price for it. His son Amnon raped his daughter.  His son Absalom killed Amnon.  Now Amnon turned on David and nearly destroyed the entire kingdom.  David’s faults as a father are on full display.

Today, our society has failed.   We have decided that it’s more important to have that big house than it is to raise our children.    We have decided it’s more fun to go fishing alone on Sunday mornings than to raise our kids in the church.  Working overtime to pay for those toys in the garage has become our priority.  We’re paying for that today. 

Like David, many can only weep and ask the question, “how are the children.” 

But unlike David, we still have time.  We can reach out to our children and grandchildren!  We can tell them about the savior who loves them!  We can show them what the love of God is all about.  We still have time.

Don’t wait.  Do it today!  There is no greater pain than David’s.  The pain of mourning the loss of a child who didn’t know Christ. 

May 31, 2020

What I Read Today:

1 Corinthians 15; Mark 3; Ezekiel 17; Proverbs 2; 2 Samuel 17

On this last day of May, I think it’s fitting to hear the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 15:3-5:

3For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” NRSV

The past few months have been crazy.  We have dealt with lockdowns, shutdowns, and all manner of doom and gloom.  But our God promises us that we always have hope!  We still have Joy!  Nothing can take away the belief that a Christian has in his heart.

We can lose jobs, homes, and bank accounts, but our God still walked out of the tomb!

Our government can take freedoms, but it cannot take our hope!

Our loved ones may pass away, we may become ill, and illness may cause havoc, but we know that no matter what, our Savior will be waiting for us when we cross into eternity! 

What better way to end this month than to remind ourselves that we worship a risen Lord!  Jesus walked out of the tomb and left it empty.  While others worship those who have died, our God is alive and promises to return! 

As we go through our day this day, remember that Jesus is Alive!  Jesus is our King!  Jesus is Lord!

May 30, 2020

May 30, 2020

What I Read Today;

1 Corinthians 14; Mark 2; Ezekiel 16; Proverbs 1; 2 Samuel 16

In 1 Corinthians, Paul is confronting a problem.  The congregation was suffering from what I like to call spiritual elitism.  Some members of the church had received the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues.  Now speaking in tongues is an incredible gift.  However, as Paul had previously stated, that was not the only spiritual gift that God bestowed on people. 

Making matters worse, these individuals had taken over the worship services.  When a newcomer would come into the worship services, things looked chaotic.  The people speaking in tongues may have understood what they were saying, but no one else did. 

Paul’s response was direct and straightforward.  Worship doesn’t do anyone any good if people can’t understand what you are saying. 

That makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? 

How does that apply to us today?  Let’s think about it for a minute.  Maybe we need to examine our worship services and ask our self the question, “how would someone who doesn’t know Christ, learn about him from our worship service.”  Would that person be put off by things he wouldn’t understand?  Do some of our traditions not make sense to people outside the church?  Does out high church worship bore people?  Is our contemporary music too loud for some people?  Are we trying to force-feed a particular style of religion because that’s what we like when our community may need something else?

Worship has changed over the centuries.  Adapting our style of worship doesn’t mean we are changing our message. 

What it means is that we are attempting to reach a new generation with the message that Jesus Christ Loves them so much that he died for them.  We’re just using better graphics now.

May 29, 2020

What I Read Today;

1 Corinthians 13; Mark 1; Ezekiel 15; Psalm 150; 2 Samuel 15

Over the past year, I think I’ve taken four different spiritual gifts inventories.  I find some of them quite funny.  The results of the first survey barely matched the most recent study.  The way you word, the survey can skew the answers. 

We put too much emphasis on what spiritual gift you have.  Many are seeking to be the great preachers of their day.  Others want to become the great theologians who can answer every doctrinal issue.

No one wants to be the janitor or the secretary. 

The spiritual gift should not be where we focus.  Too often, we revered the preacher and the theologian without realizing that more often than not, it’s the person who is walking his faith daily that leads more people to Christ.    

Raising our children with Love and showing them Christ by our actions will gain a follower for Christ.  Sending a card and making a visit to the elderly or sick will send a message louder than the loudest sermon. 

That’s what Paul is talking about when he says that Love is the greatest gift.  What he is saying is, without Love, it doesn’t matter how great the sermon is.  Without Love, our building can be massive and filled with people, but it will indeed be empty where it counts. 

Love is the glue that holds the church together.  First, and most importantly, we must Love God.  Everything we do has to start there. Then, we must Love our neighbor. 

Today we are in the midst of a struggle thanks to COVID-19.  One side wishes to re-open our country.  They have valid reasons for doing so.  The second group prefers to remain on lockdown until safety is achievable.  They worry that we could see another outbreak if we move too soon.

Rather than have these conversations in a loving, respectful manner, we’re pointing fingers and fighting.  It makes me worry about what is the real motivation. 

No matter what happens, we will need to remember God’s law of Love.  When we are in public, we may need to wear a mask to keep someone else healthy.  We may need to stay home if we don’t feel well to prevent someone else from becoming ill. 

You know what?  That should have been our motivation all along. 

May 28, 2020

What I Read Today:

1 Corinthians 12; Matthew 28; Ezekiel 14; Psalm 149; 2 Samuel 14

On its surface, Ezekiel 14, sounds cruel. People are dying from war, plague, famine, and even crueler ways. Looking at it without discerning eyes, you would think that God was a monster.
The truth is quite different.

God will not force anyone to turn to him. God has given us all free will. We make our own choices as we walk through this life. We all have to live with our choices.

Some people will choose to worship God and to honor him. While our lives won’t be perfect, we’ll seek to live out our lives in Christ each day.

Others, however, will choose not to live for God. They will seek pleasure or fortune. They will ignore the gracious mercy that God has given each one of us. They will deny God’s presence in their lives.

One day, we will all stand before our creator. We will have no choice but to answer for the way we lived our lives. Or, more importantly, who did we turn our lives over to. Did we live for ourselves or God? At that moment, those who chose God will depart and enter life with Jesus. Those who didn’t will find themselves in Hell.

Where we spend eternity is entirely our choice.