July 10, 2019

What I Read Today;

Romans 10; Matthew 10; Isaiah 10; Job 10; Joshua 10; Genesis 10

Three things stand out as I read today’s readings.

First, Romans 10 verses 8-13,But what does it say? “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.  The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.”  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him.  For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” NRSV

Salvation is for everyone.  Jesus holds out his hands to each of us and says come to me.  We spend our lives worrying about what will happen to us when we die.  But we don’t need to worry about such things. We have the hope of the Gospel that our Savior has given us rest from this worry.

Simply put, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ WILL BE SAVED.”  It is a promise, and it will not be broken because we can not live up to some standard.  Jesus lived up to the standard in our place.

Second, Romans 10 verses 14 through 16, But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?  And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”  But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” NRSV

We are the hands and feet of God.  God intends to use each and every believer to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.  He wants all of us to reach out to a lost and hurting world with the good news that Jesus has provided them salvation!  Jesus is looking for a fleet of delivery persons to send out the good news to all of humanity.

Finally, Romans 10 verse 17, “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” NRSV

We need to use the Word of God as our tool to proclaim the Gospel message. It is the word of God that will break down the barriers, move us towards our goal of Godliness, and finally keep our spiritual life growing and active all our days on this earth.

Now the question is, will you be God’s delivery driver?

July 9, 2019

What I read today;

Romans 9; Matthew 9; Isaiah 9; Job 9; Joshua 9; Genesis 9

We live in curious times, don’t we?  With the advent of the internet and cable TV, we have more spiritual information than ever before.  Preachers from every denomination, spread their messages across the globe.  Some of them profess that if you love Jesus and tithe to their ministries that you’ll find financial freedom.  Some of them tell you to sell your possessions and go live in camps.  Others profess other, non-christian,  teachings as means to find peace in your life. Sometimes, even the well-wishing Christian ministers on the air will send messages that promote the idea that we have to work our way to God for our salvation.  They promote the idea that to be saved you have to live a certain way, worship in a certain way, dress like the crowd, and behave like the crowd.

The messages are noisy and sometimes hard to discern.

When Jesus was walking through Israel in Matthew 9 vs. 35-38, he saw the crowds, and he knew they were harassed and confused.  Roman religious practices were flooding into the area.  Combine that with eastern religions and the crossroads of the middle east was inundated with a wide variety of religious thought and practice.

Worse than this, however, was the fact that the religious elite had moved into an area of works righteousness.  You had to follow all the rules strictly to be saved.  They made it nearly impossible to be sure of your salvation.  They put rules above the relationship.

That’s what Jesus was talking about when he said;

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”NRSV

Our Christian walk needs to be about our relationship with the Savior.  We need to fall at the feet of the one who will save us from our sins and then guide us through this life as we grow in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.  We need more ministers and individual Christians who are prepared to take this message to our society that has become confused and harassed by religious systems that are more rulebook and ritual than disciple-building.

Will you be the one to bring the good news to someone today?

July 8, 2019

What I read today;

Romans 8; Matthew 8; Isaiah 8; Job 8; Joshua 8; Genesis 8

We all know people who are the bright, radiating sunshine of faith.  Until something goes wrong.  Then they curse God with all their might.  The true faith of a person shows itself when they are going through a severe trial in their life.

I’ve known many people in this lifetime who have suffered a great deal and watched as their faith flourished.

I know one gentleman who had a tumor removed from the base of his brain when he was in his 40’s.  His surgery left him temporarily paralyzed on one side of his face.  The power coffee drinker didn’t let that deter him though, he just drank his coffee with a straw.  Later in life, he suffered through back surgeries and other ailments.  Yet he still tries to golf and still speaks endlessly about his church and his faith.

I know another young man who in his early 30’s suffered through multiple cancer surgeries.  Today 20 years later he is thriving.

My wife deals with Rheumatoid Arthritis every day.  Somedays, she is in extreme pain.  Yet her faith never moves an inch.

The list goes on and on.  People who have survived cancer, heart disease, financial failures, family meltdowns, and much worse.  Yet you see the faith they carry each and every day they walk through this life.  They are the heroes of faith.  They are the true giants of faith.  The ones who walk through life, knowing that Jesus is helping them, carrying them, and loving them every day.

They are the living embodiment of Romans 8 vs. 35-39 – Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” NRSV

July 7, 2019

What I read today;

Romans 7; Matthew 7; Isaiah 7; Job 7; Joshua 7; Genesis 7

Human beings love to play judge, jury, and executioner.  We live for it.  The Christian community is no different.  In fact, some professing Christians have turned it into an art form.

Several years ago, a Pastor, who I’d gotten to know from my work in youth ministry and on a church council, was suspended from the ministry.  He was suspended because he disagreed with a specific church teaching.  The denomination I attended had one particular teaching called the Doctrine of Fellowship.  It specifically said you could not pray, attend church, or in particular, celebrate holy communion with a member outside of the denomination.

To be honest with you, I was completely unaware of this Church teaching at the time of the event.

This particular minister had been a big help to me during a difficult time, so I stopped in to see him one day.  He told me what had happened.  What I heard shocked me.  He had stopped by the home of a dying member.  He had planned to give her communion, knowing that she did not have long to live.  Her son, a member of another church body, was there.  The woman asked him if he would serve the two of them communion so she could celebrate the Lord’s Supper with her son one last time.

The Pastor said yes and gave them both communion.

Soon after the woman died, and while at the wake, the woman’s son came up to the Pastor and thanked him for what he had done.  The conversation was overheard by a member of the church who reported it to the co-pastor.

Shortly after that, all hell broke loose.

In the end, the Pastor was forced out of the denomination.  He thought his career was over.  However, God wasn’t done with this man yet.  God led several members out of the sect and today the church they founded still stands with nearly 200 members.

Jesus faced the doctrinal police every day. They put doctrinal purity above human compassion.  They put the letter of the law over the spirit of the law every time.  Too often, our church bodies are nothing more than legal societies worrying about how we practice everything from communion to baptism.  It was the same in Jesus day.

When Jesus says to “Beware of False Prophets,” he’s warning against those who want to use scripture as a hammer.  Jesus is warning that if our religion doesn’t love God first and Love people second, something is wrong with our faith.  Jesus is saying simply, that the Church should be a place for those seeking God to find grace and mercy not a set of rules.

Our job is not to play the judge.  Our job is to love God and love people.  It is the holy spirits job to use our love to change lives.

July 6, 2019

What I read today;

Romans 6; Matthew 6; Isaiah 6; Job 6; Joshua 6; Genesis 6

In his inaugural address in 1960, John F Kennedy made the following statement, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.”

After watching the Democratic debates last week and then listening to the Presidents response and many of the political pundits, it seems the new speech should go like this, “Grab all that you can from the government.”

Politicians play to people’s fears.  Today people are afraid.  Our society is worried about things that they cannot control.  They are worried about problems that may or may not exist.  Fear is a prevalent issue before all of us.  We fear to lose our jobs, or we worry about our health care, then we pile student loan debt on our young people and instead of thinking about the future with joy they begin their working life worrying about paying back thousands in debt.

These are just a few of the things we worry about today.  Back in Jesus day, it was more fundamental than that.  Often times, people worried about getting enough food to eat.  Clothing could be challenging to come by.   They didn’t have a Walmart sitting down the street.  There were diseases that we don’t have any more due to hygiene issues.  They had soldiers on the roads who could arrest them for any reason.  Yes, they had a lot to worry about.

Into the midst of this, Jesus says, “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.  Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

“Don’t Worry?!”  You’re kidding me?  With all the things going on in the world today, the only thing I do is worry about the things in my life.  In fact, sometimes I make up things to worry about.  That’s the problem, isn’t it?

Jesus doesn’t say we should not plan or work to pay our debts off, but what he does say is to quit worrying about the things you can’t control.  God will handle the hard stuff.  It doesn’t mean that we won’t have problems.  It certainly doesn’t mean that God will give us everything our heart desires.  It absolutely doesn’t mean that we won’t pay for our mistakes.

But it does mean that God has a plan.  God will keep us safe and walk with us every day as we struggle through this life.  More importantly, he already knows our outcome, and he knows our destination.  Have faith in the God of the universe.  He can correct even our bad decisions and lead us safely home.