July 1, 2020

What I Read Today:

Colossians 1; Luke 18; Ezekiel 48; Psalm 1; 2 Kings 2; Genesis 1-2

How does the church get through times like these?  We are struggling with keeping our traditions vs. keeping people safe.  We are facing a time when a disease is scaring people, racism is rearing its head and lawlessness is replacing civility.

How does the church respond?

Do we fight efforts to keep people safe, proclaiming our religious freedoms, or do we go along with the government in an effort to keep people safe?

Do we decry the actions of a police officer who was clearly out of control and demand reform of police departments or do we say that 99% of police officers are good people doing a tough job and we should not use one officers failings to punish the good ones?

Do we speak out against racism and demand changes or do we demand that lawlessness be met with tough action by our government?

I could go on, but I think you get the point.

So what do we do?  Maybe we should look at Paul’s prayer in Colossians 1 vs. 9-14 for answers.  The NIV says it this way:

“For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you.” 

Some will say that prayer is an empty act.  It is not.  Prayer is our entryway into the throne room of God.  It is where we ask God to help us battle the forces of darkness.  Church, we need to pray. Now more than ever before, we need to pray.

“ We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, so that you may have great endurance and patience, joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light.”

What do we pray for?  We pray that all people may have, knowledge, wisdom, and spiritual understanding.  Why?  Because as we gain knowledge of how God wants us to walk in this world, we will begin looking at one another not as enemies, but as children of a holy God.  When we gain wisdom, we will be able to help others to find that peace.  Once we have, spiritual understanding, we can begin to face the demons of our society and address them in God-pleasing manners.

“He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. In him, we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Finally, when we do the things in Paul’s prayer we are able to reach out with the love of God to a hurting world.  We can see God’s hand in the face of the struggles of our world.  We can live for God and love our fellow man.  

God is with us, no matter how bad things truly look. 

June 30, 2020

June 30, 2020

What I Read Today

Philippians 4; Luke 17; Ezekiel 47; Song of Songs 7-8; 1 Kings 23

In Philippians 4:4-9, Paul wrote these words while sitting in prison:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” NIV

It’s been a crazy 6 months.  We’ve lived through more history in 6 months than some generations will live through in a lifetime.

Let’s recap:

  • The Russia probe found no wrongdoing by the President
  • The President was impeached, in spite of the fact that the democrats new there was no way the Senate would convict.
  • The President was acquitted by the Senate, (That’s me yawning).
  • A thing called COVID-19 hit
  • China and Europe were shut down
  • The US Economy was slowly locked down by the government
  • Churches stood empty around the nation during a quarantine
  • Rioting began in several major cities over George Floyd’s death
  • Mayors and Governors seemed totally inept at handling the rioting and looting
  • Arguments over race ensued on every major news channel. None of the major news channels seemed interested in finding solutions to the problem of race, no, they like the status quo, it keeps ratings higher.
  • The police cleared the area in front of St Georges church so that the President could have the dumbest photo op in the history of photo ops
  • Unemployment hit 20%.
  • States failed to get unemployment relief to the small business owners who needed it, in spite of congress providing money for it.  In Illinois it’s June and many still haven’t received relief promised in April
  • The North Koreans blew up a South Korean Building that was located near the DMZ inside of North Korea
  • The China Trade Deal seams to have fallen apart
  • CHAZ took over the Capital Heights area of Seattle and the Mayor of Seattle called it a block party.  After two murders she decided she might have to take the area back.  Good luck with that.
  • COVID-19 Numbers in the US begin surging as more testing is done and more states loosen restrictions.

Quite a six months.  I’m sure I missed a few things.

The problem is that many people who have been quarantine have spent all there time listening to the news and playing on social media.  After 6 months in lockdown, we have angry people coming out. Their minds have been poisoned by what’s happened this year.

What we put into our minds will come out of our hearts.  God is still in control, no matter how crazy things look outside.  Shut down the noise of the world and focus on what is happening in God’s eyes. 

Our God remains in control.  We may not understand what is happening today.  We may not see the bigger picture.  But God’s plan for our lives remains intact.  Our salvation remains secure.  We can trust that God will help us through these daily struggles.  Focus on God’s goodness.  Focus on his grace and mercy.  Focus on our mission as a church to reach out and seek and save the lost souls around us.

Focus on words like these:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” NIV

June 29, 2020

What I Read Today

Philippians 3; Luke 16; Ezekiel 46; Song of Songs 5-6; 1 Kings 22

In 1 Kings 22, the fourth king of Judah, Jehoshaphat, is killed in battle.  

Jehoshaphat was considered a good king.  He lived his life for God, but he tolerated some things he shouldn’t have.  As king, he should have taken down the high places and shut down the worship of false gods.  In spite of that, the Bible describes him as one who did right in the sight of God.  He was a believer in the God of Israel and had faith in the coming messiah.

But he had one big flaw.  

In an effort to make peace, he associated with the evil King of Israel, Ahab.  This relationship will ultimately cause his death.  

The mistake Jehoshaphat made is not having a relationship with an unbeliever.  In fact, Jesus commands us to have those relationships and reach out to those people with the Gospel.  The mistake the King makes is that he followed the evil King into a place where he had been warned not to go.  We have to be careful about the relationships and the activities we engage in.  While we are to live in the world, living in the world can sometimes make it difficult for us not to become apart of the world.  

The Bible warns us to avoid certain behaviors.  The world thinks those behaviors are entertainment and engages in them with glee.  If our unbelieving friends draw us in, the temptation to participate may be too great.  

Jehoshaphat was warned by Micaiah not to go with Ahab.  He went anyway and it cost him his life.  

The Bible warns us to avoid many behaviors.  It would do us good to listen!

June 28, 2020

What I Read Today:

Philippians 2; Luke 15; Ezekiel 45; Song of Songs 3&4; 1 Kings 21

Jesus had a passion that shined throughout the Gospels.  Everything he did, was to reach out and find those who were lost. Jesus was looking for those who had been excluded from the church, run away from the church, or felt marginalized by the church.  

In our reading today in Luke we hear Jesus confronted by the Pharisees.  They can’t believe that a Holy Man of God would associate with sinners.  Yet Jesus does just that.  Jesus tells three parables to back up his point.  The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, and the Prodigal Son.

Jesus makes clear that the point of his journey to Calvary was to save sinners like you and me.  In Luke 24 he makes these points:

  1. Jesus will never give up on us. He will never stop seeking out the lost sheep.  And he will rejoice when they are found!
  2. We have free will and he will not force anyone to turn to him.
  3. Even when we wander, Jesus will be so happy that he will throw a party when we return!

Jesus seeks out those who are lost.  Why then do we fail to follow his example?  Why do we fail to understand the incredible grace that awaits us if we only would turn to Jesus?  Is it our Stubborn pride?  Maybe.  Whatever the case may be, Jesus is waiting for people to turn back to him.  

What can we do to help them?