December 7, 2019

What I Read Today;

2 Corinthians 13; John 12; Amos 2-3; Proverbs 29; Nehemiah 4; Deuteronomy 10

In the Bible, that I am currently reading, the section of Deuteronomy 10 verses 12-22 are entitled “The Essence of the Law.”

Moses was trying to explain to the people that the Law of God was not a list of do’s and do not’s.   The real purpose of the Law of God goes deeper than that.

In verse 12, Moses begins by telling the nation that the first thing God wants is for you and me to fear the Lord Your God.  Not fear in the sense of being afraid.  I suppose that fearing God in that way makes some sense.  I mean God could wipe us out if he wanted to, he could cast us into hell if he wanted to.  But I believe Moses wanted us to fear God as the awesome creator of the universe.  A God who is so incredibly magnificent that he could snap his fingers and create a universe like ours.  The one and only God.  The True God.

The second thing Moses points out is that God wants us to walk in his ways.  Not out of a sense of obligation or duty.  Not as a checklist to balance the scales.  But out of that deep reverence for a Holy and Just God.

Thirdly, Moses tells his people to Love God.  We are to love God because he first loved us.  God made a plan to save fallen humanity in the Garden of Eden.  He kept his plan throughout the ages and sent us Jesus to save us from our sins.  Jesus gave us hope when we deserved none.  He reaches out to you and me out of his great love.  Shouldn’t we love him back for all that he’s done for us?

Finally, we are to serve God with all our heart and soul.  God has given you and me every fiber of his being.  He’s laid it all on the line for you and me.  He stepped out of heaven in the form of Jesus to save each one of us.  Shouldn’t we, out of gratitude, spend the rest of our lives seeking him out?  Shouldn’t we out of reverent awe and wonder seek to serve him?  Shouldn’t we want others to know about the great and awesome God that we serve?  There’s a common phrase you hear in sports.  The phrase states that you should leave everything you have on the field.  Every drop of effort should be used by the end of the game.  God is calling on you and me to do the same for him.  No matter how old or young we are, God wants us to do what we can for him.  We don’t do these things as a means of earning our way into his kingdom. Instead, we do these things out of thanks for Jesus making a way for us into his kingdom.

When you think about it, God isn’t asking all that much of us, is he?

December 6, 2019

What I Read Today;

2 Corinthians 12; John 11; Joel 3 & Amos 1; Proverbs 28; Nehemiah 1; Deuteronomy 9

Have you ever heard the statement, “It’s hard to be humble when…..?”  How about this one, “How the mighty have fallen?”

It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing our own press clippings.  We have success and then start to actually think that we are the ones who are doing the work.  We forget about those who are supporting us in our endeavors and take credit for the work ourselves.

In the kingdom of God, it is no different.

How many times do you hear of a minister talking in glowing terms of the number of altar calls that happened after “he” called people forward?  Does it irritate you sometimes when you hear about the church that loves to tell everyone how many members they have?

It’s as if they honestly believe that the measure of success in the church is based on numbers.  If you pastor a small church, I guess you should just quit now.  God’s obviously not using you.

The truth is that God is using that minister of a small church.  God is using him just as he wants to and exactly where he wants him to be.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul had grown a bit too big for his britches.  So God humbled him. He gave him a “thorn in his side.”  We don’t know much about what God did to Paul, but we do know it was quite an annoyance.

God doesn’t choose us for our incredible powers of persuasion or our dynamic personality or phenomenal speaking skills.  He chooses us to be vessels of the Holy Spirit through who God will perform miraculous miracles in people’s lives.

Humility before God is required of all of us.  From the Pastor of the 26000 member megachurch to the Bible Study leader of the group of 4.  God is working in someone’s heart, no matter how many people are there.

December 5, 2019

What I Read Today;

2 Corinthians 11; John 10; Joel 1-2; Proverbs 27; Nehemiah 1-2; Deuteronomy 8

I was told once by a Pastor whom I knew that God had a strange way of moving his people to where they were needed.  Nehemiah is in just such a place.  He’s been exiled but somehow winds up a cupbearer to the king.  He has access to information that others don’t have.  When he hears that the temple and city of Jerusalem lie in ruins, he drops to his knees in prayer.  God indeed answered his prayers, and Nehemiah would be sent back to Jerusalem to start the restoration.

God also knew that Nehemiah had the courage to stand alone if necessary.  He could blot out everything that would be said.  All the doubters and haters would come out of the woodwork.  They would do anything they could to stop Nehemiah.  But he had God on his side.  Nehemiah would brush aside the ney-sayers and continue the work that God had called him to.

Today the church has work to do.  Our buildings are empty, the attendance is down, churches are closing, and many are struggling. But God is in our corner.  Rather than cry about the doomsday warnings that fly all around us, push forward in prayer.  Instead of listening to all the naysayers, the church should continue to rebuild by going outside the church walls and seeking the lost.

Nehemiah stands out as an example for us in this day and age.  Move forward, push all the negativity out, and, most importantly, rely on God for strength to continue.

December 4, 2019

What I Read Today;

2 Corinthians 10; John 9; Hosea 13-14; Proverbs 26; Ezra 9-10; Deuteronomy 7

When I was ten years old, I caught the baseball fan bug.  I couldn’t get enough baseball.  My brother and I played Wiffle ball from sun up until sundown.  If he were busy or gone, I’d stand outside in the garage, swing a bat, or throwing a ball up in the air.  I watched every Cubs game, didn’t miss Monday night or Saturday afternoon baseball.   In the wintertime, I’d grab the newspaper and listen to Les Grobstein on WGN, just waiting for some news about a trade involving the Cubs.  As  I got older, football became another passion.    I idolized many of the players.  When the Bears won the Superbowl in 1986, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

But as I got older, events began to change how I felt about professional sports and the athletes and owners of the teams.  I wasn’t thrilled with the 1982 and 1987 NFL Strikes.  The 1994-1995 MLB Strike left me bitter.  When Pete Rose was banned for life after being convicted of tax evasion and gambling, I was not happy. I turned to other sports and marveled when I saw a bike rider from Texas have a seemingly miraculous recovery from cancer and then go on to win 7 Tour De France victories.  When he was outed for PED use, all I could do was shake my head.

It’s easy to get cynical.  People can and will let you down.

In Jesus’ day, people were just as cynical.  When Jesus heals a blind beggar, the Pharisees look for every possible angle.  It’s too hard to believe that this is not some sort of trick.  Their cynicism has left them looking for reasons not to believe their eyes.  It becomes easier to see the miracle as some sort of fraud rather than an incredible gift from a mighty God.  The religious leaders had lost the ability to simply glory in the gifts of God.

Our world will try and destroy our ability to just sit back and revel at God’s wondrous works.  It will try and strip us down and make us cold and callous.  That’s why it’s so important to take time each and every day to sit silently and just wonder at the awesome love and power of God. To ponder the grace and mercy that Jesus brings to us.  To give thanks for the Love of God that keeps us safe and holds us tightly.

The world will do everything it can to destroy our childlike faith.  Live your life in the Holy Spirit and let God’s grace renew that awestruck wonder in your life that is missing!

 

December 3, 2019

What I Read Today;

2 Corinthians 9; John 8; Hosea 11-12; Proverbs 25; Ezra 7-8; Deuteronomy 6

When I was a kid, every year, we celebrated V-J day.  The anniversary of the end of World War II.  Towards the end of the ’70s, for some unknown reason, the parade and celebration ended.  Over time the memory of significant events begins to fade.  9-11 happened 18 years ago, but it seems that many have today forgotten what happened.  The Gulf War occurred 27 years ago, that seems a distant memory now.  Vietnam seems all but forgotten.  On the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings, my youngest daughter shocked me when she asked me what happened on D-Day.

In Deuteronomy chapter 6, God puts the emphasis on continuing to talk about our faith with our children and our children’s children so that they won’t forget what he has done.  The less we talk about something, the more it fades into the past.  The incredible things our God has done for us need to be kept at the forefront of our lives.  That’s why it’s so essential for us to continue to stay in the scriptures, spend time in prayer, attend worship, and take advantage of the means of grace.  We need to use these tools that God has given us so that we keep the memory of all that God has done for us alive in our minds and our souls. Then we can tell everyone of his incredible blessings and grace.  Then we can be the ones to shout his message from the rooftops for everyone to hear.

Christians need to step out of the shadows and shout to the world about the glory, love, grace, and mercy of Jesus Christ!  We need to remind our fallen world that God truly loves them and wants a relationship with them.

December 2, 2019

What I Read Today:

2 Corinthians 8; John 7; Hosea 9-10; Proverbs 24; Ezra 5-6; Deuteronomy 5

I have seen a painting of Jesus holding a lamb on his lap and lambs all around him.  We like that image of Jesus.  The loving shepherd just waiting to hold each of us in his lap.  It is an image that brings us peace and joy.

But throughout the Gospels, we see another image of Jesus.

We see a Jesus who has no problem telling it like it is.  He scolds Peter and the other disciples numerous times.  Jesus calls out the Pharisees and Sadducees on several occasions.  We get a picture of Jesus as he tosses out the money changes in the temple.

People don’t like to be told that they are sinful.  Many don’t like the idea that they need a savior.  Even in the church, we struggle with the idea that we need Jesus to get into Heaven.

Jesus broke with the traditions of the elders.  He dared to show mercy and grace by healing people on the Sabbath.  Jesus did not follow the letter of the law because Jesus knew the intent of the law.  He understood that the purpose of the entire Law of God was to point sinners to their need for a savior.

Today Jesus is more controversial than ever before.  Being a Bible Believing Christian is a sure way to draw down the ire of somebody.  People haven’t changed in the two thousand years since the resurrection.  They still do not like being told that they need a savior.  Society still likes to believe that all people are basically good.  That may sound surprising since there is an abundance of evidence around us that would indicate otherwise.

Following Jesus is tough.  Living out the life he wants us to live out is even tougher.

However, it is worth it!

December 1, 2019

What I Read Today;

2 Corinthians 7; John 6; Hosea 7-8; Proverbs 1; Ezra 3-4; Deuteronomy 4

Out of his great love, God created humanity.  His desire was for each of us to have continuous fellowship with God himself!

However, when sin entered the world, that fellowship was broken.

Yet God chose to not give up on us.  Instead, he loved us, like children.  Like every parent, he understands that all of his children will eventually do something disobedient and stupid.  It’s in the very nature of who we are.  Unfortunately, when we do dumb things, there are almost always consequences.

In Deuteronomy 4, God makes a prediction.  God tells the people that they will become complacent, and they will fall away.  The consequences of that will include the nation coming under attack and the end of the country itself.

However, God promises that nothing will separate them from his grace and mercy.  Even in the darkest of places, God will continue to be there for them.  God holds out his hand to all of us.  He tells us to forget about our failures and look forward to a future filled with his blessing and kindness.  Even in those moments we fail, God is still there for you and me.  The same promise that he gave the nation of Israel still stands for you and me today!

As we enter December and prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth, let us remember that Gods’ grace is bountiful.  Gods’ grace is forever!  Gods’ Grace never ends!