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May 24, 2020

What I Read Today;

1 Corinthians 8; Matthew 24; Ezekiel 10; Psalm 145; 2 Samuel 10

This morning there were several messages I needed to meditate on from Psalm 145.

The first that stuck out to me was verses 8-9:

The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.” NRSV

If God judged me by my works, I would be in trouble.  My temper, impatience, and lack of faith would be my downfall.  So many times, I’ve gone my own way and not followed God’s way.  Yet, it’s God who leads me back.  God’s compassion, love, and mercy are boundless.

Verse 13b – “The Lord is faithful in all his words and gracious in all his deeds.” NRSV

When God makes a promise, it is forever.  God does not change to suit the world around us.  God’s character will not allow him to abandon the promises he has made.  We can trust implicitly in the grace of God.

Verse 14 – “The Lord upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down.”NRSV 

God has given us his word that even in the moments of our darkest despair, God is still there.  He will never leave us or forsake us.  God won’t turn his back on us no matter how far we’ve fallen.  To prove this, he sent his son, who saved us when we were still sinners.

So how should we respond to this great and glorious God?

Vs. 21 – “My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and all flesh will bless his holy name forever and ever.” NRSV

Amen!

May 23, 2020

What I Read Today;

1 Corinthians 7; Matthew 23; Ezekiel 9; Psalm 144; 2 Samuel 9

In ancient times, it was customary for a conquering king to kill the entire family of his predecessor.  This would be done to ensure that there were not any descendants who could later be used to challenge the King’s right to the throne.

David was not A normal king.

David understood that he had received his kingship by the grace of God.  David had refused to take Saul’s life when he had the chance.  He had promised Jonathan that he would care for his descendants.  Rather than seize the throne by force, David chose to wait for God to give him the throne.

My guess is that when Mephibosheth stood before the King, he was terrified.

That’s why David immediately says to him, “Do not be afraid!”

David offered grace when he could have taken vengeance.

Today, we live in a world where taking vengeance is being raised to an art form.  The President is a prime example of one who will fire back any time someone attacks.  He’s not alone.  In the Christian community, on-line feuds have become a sporting event.  Our society has reached the point where two people can’t just disagree anymore.  The arguments are now personnel.  Each comment is met with a nastier come back.

How many of us could learn from David’s example?  When we have the opportunity to take revenge, what would happen if we simply walked away?

As Christians, we are called to extend grace to all those who are around us.  That includes those who have done us wrong.  Grace and mercy must become the ointment that heals are divisions.  Christ’s example is how we should live our lives.

May 22, 2020

What I Read Today;

1 Corinthians 6; Matthew 22; Ezekiel 8; Psalm 143; 2 Samuel 8

Psalm 143 is one of my favorite Psalms. Let’s take a few minutes and go through it together.

Verses 1-2, “Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my supplications in your faithfulness; answer me in your righteousness.  Do not enter into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.” NRSV

This is a simple statement.  Without the intercession of God himself, we cannot save ourselves.  No one can.  It eliminates all works-righteousness.  It tears down the idea that one person is better than another person.  All of us need God for our salvation.

Verses 3-4, “For the enemy has pursued me, crushing my life to the ground, making me sit in darkness like those long dead.  Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled.” NRSV

It should be more evident today than ever before, that this world and the things in it can tear us apart.  Our enemy has set up potholes along the road of life.  Each day of our lives, human beings are like cars driving down the road, we hit these potholes.  With every tire strike, a small amount of wear occurs in our lives.  This happens until we reach a point where something breaks down.  We find ourselves at the point where we are exhausted and drained.

Verses 5-6, “I remember the days of old, I think about all your deeds, I meditate on the works of your hands.  I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah” NRSV

So how do we keep our spirits from breaking down as we drive through the potholes of life?  It starts right here in verse 5.  We immerse ourselves in the word of God.  We meditate on God’s very thoughts.  We protect ourselves by studying what our  Savior Jesus says.

Verses 7-8, “Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails.  Do not hide your face from me, or I shall be like those who go down to the Pit.  Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning, for in you I put my trust.  Teach me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” NRSV

What else can we do to preserve our spirits?  We can turn to God in prayer. It’s so essential that we pour our hearts out to God. God wants to hear from us.  God wants us to rely on him.  God honors our prayers.  Even in those moments when we feel he’s distant from us, God is listening to us.

When we pray, we need to listen to what God is telling us.  We need to be praying to seek out God’s guidance for our lives.  Prayer shouldn’t be a to-do list that we expect God to do for us.  No, prayer needs to be our way of seeking God’s guidance as we struggle through the road of life.

Verse 9-11, “Save me, O Lord, from my enemies;  I have fled to you for refuge.  Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.  Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.  For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life.  In your righteousness bring me out of trouble.” NRSV

Sometimes, we have to remember to let God drive the car.  We are intent on controlling every aspect of our lives.  Many times things that happen to us are completely out of our control.  In those moments, we need to allow the Spirit of God to direct us.  We need to let God drive the car.  That is really hard for many of us.  When we take our hands off the steering wheel and give God the control, amazing things can happen in our lives.

Verse 12, “In your steadfast love cut off my enemies, and destroy all my adversaries, for I am your servant.” NRSV

Finally, we need to let God deal with those who hurt us.  Living with anger and resentment only hurts us.  The pain we feel from past hurts will eat us up if we’re not careful.  The bitterness will simmer beneath the surface until it boils over.

Our lives will be full of potholes.  Getting through them will require us to change our approach.  Living by the spirit each day, letting God drive the car, seeking out God through his word, throwing ourselves into active prayer, and giving over our bitterness and anger to God, will help us to make it through each and every day.

 

May 21, 2020

What I Read Today;

1 Corinthians 5; Matthew 21; Ezekiel 7; Psalm 142; 2 Samuel 7

David understands the many blessings he has received from God.  God pulled David out of life as a shepherd.  Then God gave him a place in the King’s household.  He gave him many victories as a general.  God protected David when Saul turned on him.  God gave him the kingship of Judah.  Now he was King of the nation of Israel.  David had gone from living in fields and caves to living in a palace.

For many people, this might feed their ego.

David, however, reflected on all these blessings and wrote these words in 2 Samuel, 18, “Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?” NRSV

David got it.  He knew where he would have wound up if God had not intervened.  David would still be tending sheep in an open field.  For some reason, God chose David.  In complete humility, David looks up to God in thanks.

Do we take the time in our daily lives to reflect on all the blessings our God has given us?  Do we take a moment each day to look at our world, our jobs, our children and our spouses and think about how rich we really are?

God is still pouring out his blessing on you and me, even in times of fear and struggle.  God is there in the morning when we wake up.  Jesus promises to never leave us or forsake us.  This promise remains in effect until the day we leave this world to meet him.

It’s easy to feel anxious about the news in the world around us.  When that happens, take a moment to contemplate the blessings that our God has left us. Take a moment and feel the presence of our gracious and loving God!

May 20, 2020

What I Read Today;

1 Corinthians 4; Matthew 20; Ezekiel 6; Psalm 141; 2 Samuel 6

The nation of Israel had been through a lot.  War had cost them dearly.  Saul and Jonathan had been killed.  The Ark of the Covenant capture.  Hundreds of years of history had led up to this monumental failure.  The dream appeared to have been lost.  The nation had been completely humiliated and humbled.

Now things appear to be turning around.

What did David do?

David danced for joy, praising God!  David humbled himself before his God.  It didn’t matter that the king looked like a common man.  David wanted everyone to know that he gave God the glory for everything that was happening!

When Covid-19 ends, what will you do?  Will you run to a restaurant or will you go to a movie?  Will you return to the same job you had before, or will you find a new one?

Or will we pack our churches to the brim and sing like never before?  Will we fall to our knees before our God, as humbled Christians?  Maybe we should follow David’s lead and dance and praise our great and merciful God!

May 19, 2020

What I Read Today;

1 Corinthians 3; Matthew 19; Ezekiel 5; Psalm 140; 2 Samuel 5

Paul has quite a mess on his hands in Corinth.  People have broken down into cliques.  Each one is now aligned with an individual Pastor.  When you read the opening 2 chapters in Chapter 3, you can almost hear Paul’s head hit his hands.

I think these situations happen more than many of us realize.  A popular minister leaves, and attendance crashes.

Why does this happen?  It happens because people focus on the messenger and not the message.

Keeping the focus on Jesus and not themselves is the struggle that Pastors face.

For those in the pews, it’s tempting to focus on the style of the preacher.  Digging into the message can be tough when your fighting with your kids or the problems at work.  It’s easy to slip into a comfortable Sunday morning mode of being entertained.

True discipleship is hard work.  Digging into the message on Sunday’s requires us to actively listen.  We need to participate if we are going to grow in our walk of faith.

That’s what Paul is talking about when he says, “And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.  I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh.” NRSV

However, the more we dig in, the more God comes closer to us.  God rewards our efforts by coming closer to those who wish to be close to him.  Take the time to dig into God’s Word.  You’ll never regret it!

May 18, 2020

What I Read Today;

1 Corinthians 2; Matthew 18; Ezekiel 4; Psalm 139; 2 Samuel 4

What do you feel when you read the words of Psalm 139?

Do you feel fear?  Are you afraid that God really does know who you are?  How does the fact that God knows what you will say before you say it?  I think of some of my thoughts and words that come out of me, and I cringe in embarrassment.

God knows the most secret thoughts that I have.  God sees into my heart and can root out the anger and hate that reside inside me.  He knew who I would be before he wrote me into existence.

Despite that, God still created me.  Even with my flaws and my stubborn sinful nature, God chose to bring me into existence.  He created each of us knowing our imperfections.  Knowing that in our free will we would fail to live up to God’s standards.

Yet, God gave each of us our very existence.

Why?

God made each one of us, so that we would be His.  God created you and me to worship him.  God gave us life so that we might have fellowship with him.  God wants each of us to choose a life with God.

God yearns for everyone of us to stop fighting the Holy Spirit and turn to Jesus.  He seeks us out.  God runs after us.

What a magnificent and wonderful God we serve.