October 18, 2019

What I Read Today;

Revelation 17; Matthew 6; Lamentations 3; Psalm 84-85; 2 Kings 1-2; Leviticus 23

Matthew 6 vs. 25-34, ““Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?  And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”” NRSV

The last few weeks of my life have been filled with worry.

It started off with a bad test result during my quarterly doctor visit.  Then we had the stress of getting ready for a trip to Colorado to see our daughter get married.  We arranged to get my wife’s Mom to fly with us from our home to Denver.  My wife went up the week before and got her.  While she was here, she suffered a stroke.  The family came together to make sure we could get to Denver.  When we got to Denver, the issues with my mother in law cast a shadow every day.  But the wedding went well, and I was able to walk the beautiful bride down the aisle.  Once we got home, we had multiple family members in and out of the house until my wife was able to take her Mom home last week.  Now I worry as she gets ready to come home that she’ll travel safely and that her Mom’s other kids will be able to help her as she recovers.

Then, of course, there is the worry about work, the union negotiations that are coming, the paperwork needed for the USEPA at the end of the month, dealing with a second site that needs a new manager.

Now there is the worry about an ultrasound on my thyroid that is currently taking a toll.

The last two months have been all about worry.

I wouldn’t have made it if it weren’t for the love of a savior.  I don’t think that we realize how much Jesus does for us until we have times like this.  Knowing that Jesus walks with me through these events gives me hope and strength in every time of trial.

When we struggle through these days, it’s easy to say things like, “It’s all in God’s Plan.”  That doesn’t really offer any comfort to those who don’t know who Jesus is.  But for me, the fact that he’s helping me and strengthening me is all that really matters.

Without Jesus, this life can become unbearable. With Jesus, we have hope that he will see us through to the end.

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October 17, 2019

What I Read Today;

Revelation 16; Matthew 5; Lamentations 2; Psalm 82-83; 1 Kings 21-22; Leviticus 22

Matthew 5 vs. 16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” NRSV

How does your light shine?

Do people know Jesus because of your actions?

How is your life a living testimony to the grace of God?

I see so many people claiming Christ as their king, yet doing things that do not represent Christ in a good light.  The difficulty, of course, is that we don’t know the heart of those people, but we can judge what we see.

I hear statements like, “hate the sin love the sinner” or my personnel favorite, “speak the truth in love.”  In both cases, the people uttering these statements generally use them to build themselves up at the expense of tearing someone else down.

Before we speak, we should ask ourselves this question, “Is what I’m about to say, showing the light of Christ or not?”

I guess that a lot of what’s said today would not get said.

October 16, 2019

What I Read Today;

Revelation 15; Matthew 4; Lamentations 1; Psalm 80-81; 1 Kings 19-20; Leviticus 21

Matthew begins the story of Jesus’ ministry with the temptation of Jesus.

After that, Jesus begins by calling people to repentance and offered forgiveness and peace.  In Miriam-Webster dictionary’s definition of Repent is as follows:

“to change one’s mind. transitive verb. 1: to cause to feel regret or contrition. 2: to feel sorrow, regret, or contrition for.” 

Jesus’ first mission was to call people back to God.  He followed John’s simple message and walked through the people offering a new life if they would just turn to him.  He offered the ordinary person peace with God.

The next thing Matthew writes about is the calling of the first disciples.  Jesus wanted to build a team.  He wanted to empower people to take his message to the ends of the world.  Jesus began with two simple fishermen.  Normal working men who he would teach and empower with the ability to change the world.   Not the highly educated.  Not the religious establishment. Ordinary everyday people from all walks of life were chosen by Jesus.

Finally, Jesus knew it wasn’t enough to tell people to repent.  Jesus walked the streets performing acts of mercy.  He healed people and helped them in their day to day lives.  There is a saying in public speaking that goes like this, “they won’t remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.”

We can proclaim God’s love with passion and commitment, but if we don’t show God’s love, then no one will remember a thing.  In Matthew 4, we see Jesus model this to perfection.  We would be wise to do the same.

October 15, 2019

What I Read Today;

Revelation 14; Matthew 3; Jeremiah 52; Psalm 78-79; 1 Kings 17-18; Leviticus 20

In Matthew 3, we are introduced to John the Baptist.  John has one job.  He is to proclaim the coming of the Messiah.  John is to set the way for the one who would bring salvation to the people of the world.  He is to help people get ready for the coming of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

John’s not interested in building a following.  He doesn’t have a vast building to work out of.  His message is simple.  Repent and Believe.  He points to the salvation that Jesus will bring.

For John, it’s all about Jesus.

He preaches nothing else.  He calls out those who are using religion to put on a show and raise themselves up like the Pharisees.  John demands that those claiming Christ understand that they are sinners.  He preaches scripture.

But his primary mission is to preach Jesus.

When we see ministries intent on making it about the preacher, we should get nervous.  A preacher’s job is to take the spotlight off of himself and put it on Jesus where it belongs.  It’s not about the size of the congregation or the number of people who come up during an alter call.  It’s about pointing people to the one who can save them from their sin.

It’s all about Jesus.

October 14, 2019

What I Read Today;

Revelation 13; Matthew 2; Jeremiah 51; Psalm 76-77; 1 Kings 15-16; Leviticus 19

I know that a lot of folks don’t like the book of Leviticus.  This may sound crazy, but it’s one of my favorite books of the Old Testament.  The imagery of the ceremonial law and some of the laws covering civil matters are interesting.

However, I find the lessons of Chapter 19 to be a message that we should spend a lot of time talking about in our society today.

After removing the ceremonial and farming discussions, I think you can break this chapter down into two parts.

The first part is how we worship God and where we put him in our lives.  In verses 2-4, 26-28, and 31, God gives examples of worship that he simply doesn’t approve of.  Idolatry, witchcraft, mediums, and other forms of idol worship come between God and mankind.  Today we have so many types of religions vying for our time that we fail to realize the afront to God almighty.  When we participate in these types of activities, we fail to recognize that God is a jealous God.  He won’t share his time, and he won’t take second place.

Secondly, we hear about how we are supposed to treat one another.  If we followed the direction in vs. 9-10 and 35-36, how different would our business practices look?  Would we see insulin at over $350 a bottle?  Would we see college costing more than 20k per year?  Would price gouging after a hurricane disappear?

If we lived out verses 11-18, would we see Twitter wars going on?  Would are politicians behave more civilly to each other?  Would we treat our neighbors as ourselves?  Would our attitude towards each other change?

What would our nation look like if we acted out vs. 33-34?  Would our current fight over immigration look differently?

There are incredible nuggets throughout the book of Leviticus.  You should reread it sometime.  You might find something you don’t expect.

October 13, 2019

What I Read Today;

Revelation 12; Matthew 1; Jeremiah 50; Psalm 74-75; 1 Kings 13-14; Leviticus 18

We live in an era of anything goes.  People have decided that they can say or do whatever they want, and there are no consequences whatsoever.

Our culture has become so degraded that our consciences no longer even whisper to us anymore when we see something that is morally wrong.

In much of the first five books of the Bible, God lays out what he expects of his people Israel.  Now we have come to understand that there are three parts to the Law of Moses.  There are the laws that governed the land, or political law.  There were the laws that governed the religious life, or ceremonial law.  Finally, there are moral laws that were to govern people internally as well as externally.

Of these laws, only moral laws remain.

Leviticus 18 is a section of scripture that discusses how we are to behave sexually towards one another.  These laws have come to be quite controversial in our day and age of free love, free divorce, and anything goes.

Sadly, we see the terrible consequences of not following these laws.  We witness the broken families and the destruction that has come when people simply throw away their families.

In verses 6 to 18, we see how God intends us to behave with our family members.  In fact, Moses dedicates 40% of this chapter to dealing with family.  When we think about it, that makes perfect sense.  How many families have been destroyed because of rape, incest or affairs with family members?  The destruction that is done to young victims of incest is so horrible that it never really heals.  Affairs between a brother-in-law and a sister-in-law wreck, not one family but two.  Yet we have TV shows that seemingly celebrate the idea of precisely this type of an affair.

While some may wish to focus on verse 22, which deals with Homosexuality, many forget that the majority of the chapter focuses on other forms of sexual behavior, including Bestiality.

Many will also miss the discussion of child sacrifice.  While we no longer sacrifice children on an altar, I wonder if the parallel to abortion might apply here.  Many of our politicians seem hell-bent on ensuring that we can abort children up until the moment of birth and possibly right after birth.

Our society is decaying.  It’s incredible how quickly it’s happening.  It would be wise of all of us to understand that God is patient and loving but that he also does not wait for us forever.

Christians must be in prayer for our nation and our world.

October 12, 2019

What I Read Today;

Revelation 11; Acts 28; Jeremiah 49; Psalm 72-73; 1 Kings 11-12; Leviticus 17

Psalm 73 vs. 21-26, “When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was stupid and ignorant; I was like a brute beast toward you.  Nevertheless I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me with honor.  

Whom have I in heaven but you?  And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Too often we focus on our mistakes and our failures.  We fall into Satan’s trap and afterward, we wallow in our guilt and shame.

But God’s mercy is infinite and his grace is supreme.  He knows our failings and our failures yet he loves us just the same.  He focuses on today, not yesterday.  He stands with us and carries us through those times in which we fail.

That is the God we serve.  The God of second chances and the God of infinite mercy.