Blog

February 9, 2020

Leviticus 5-6; Psalm 40; Isaiah 7; Mark 17; 2 Corinthians 8

If you know me at all, you know that I am a huge sports fan.  I grew up 60 miles west of Chicago, so I love all things Chicago sports, except the White Sox. Not interested in the White Sox, sorry White Sox fans.

I remember a couple of buddies of mine and in 1984 going to see the Cubs play the Padres on a warm June day.  We paid two bucks a piece to sit in the famous left-field bleachers.  We drank and ate and rooted like mad.

Today those same bleacher seats cost over $70.

I watched the super bowl on Sunday.  I was amazed at the people in the stands.  Actors, politicians, the very wealthy.  But not very many ordinary people were there.  Why?  Well, the average ticket costs $2500.  Who has that kind of money lying around?

Stadiums are being built at the cost of billions.  Player salaries are through the roof.  Who pays?  The fan in the seats.  The NFL, NBA, MLB seem to take for granted the average person who roots for his team and focus on those who have the means to help them financially.

I wonder if we are guilty of the same behavior as an NFL owner ing in the church sometimes?

We marvel when a wealthy singer comes to Christ.  We put plaques on the wall when someone donates a large sum to a building project.  Tuition in our schools is so high that poor students can’t attend.

Do we subconsciously focus our efforts on those who can help the church financially at the detriment of those who are poor?  It’s a legitimate question.

The next time you’re involved in a building project, think about how you are perceived by the single mother, struggling to make ends meet in the audience.  When you are looking at offering totals and praise an individual for a large donation, beware of the temptation to look down on someone who’s offering is less.  You do not know the circumstances that a person is in.

In the four Gospels, Jesus only praised one person for the amount of an offering.  In Mark 12:41-44, Jesus is watching the offerings being given.  He sees all the wealthy dropping their money into the collection.  But he only praised one poor widow who gave a penny. She had to rely on God for everything.  She was ignored by the church, but not by Jesus.

God judges our offerings, not by the amount but by the heart!  We would do well to remember that before heaping praise.

February 8, 2020

What I Read Today;

Leviticus 3-4; Psalm 39; Isaiah 6; Mark 11; 2 Corinthians 7

Isaiah is staring at something he can’t comprehend.  He sees the throne room of God.  He is looking at the grandeur and the beauty of the attendants of God flying around God’s throne.  Isaiah sees God’s robe filling the floor around the incredible throne.  Then he realizes that God himself is sitting there.

What does Isaiah do?

Does he dance for joy?

Does Isaiah run to God?

No, at that moment he realizes how unworthy he is to be in the presence of a holy God.  He turns away because he can’t look at God without realizing how utterly sinful he is.

But God has chosen Isaiah.  God reaches out and makes him holy.  God extends his grace to Isaiah.  Isaiah can’t help but respond with a joyous desire to serve God.

Isaiah has just experienced God’s grace and mercy.  No one who has truly experienced God’s grace and mercy can ever be the same!

February 7, 2020

What I Read Today;

Leviticus 1-2; Psalm 38; Isaiah 5; Mark 10; 2 Corinthians 6

The Jewish nation was seeing good times.  At least in the eyes of the upper class. The rich were building houses. They were getting rich and seeking pleasure.  What could be better than that?

God was not impressed.

In the never-ending search for pleasure, the wealthy were taking advantage of their good fortune and allowing the poor and innocent to suffer.  The rich could buy there way out of trouble with a bribe, and deprive the innocent of there rights.

Things looked great on the surface, but scratch a little, and you’d find things were not what they seemed.

In their quest for pleasure, things that God called evil, were now called good.

Does this sound familiar?

Let’s examine:

  • Today in the United States, we see the rich growing richer and the poor becoming poorer.
  • More and more people are living in poverty.
  • Our stock market is growing, but our schools are falling apart.
  • Areas of the country don’t have clean drinking water.
  • Our divorce rate is higher than ever.  Broken homes are leading to troubles in every part of our society.
  • Our government’s treatment of immigrants is simply not right
  • Our congress couldn’t pass a bill protecting children who were born alive during abortions.  The fact that we needed a bill like this in the first place should frighten you.
  • We are locked in an endless cycle of war across the world

Things are not good.  I wonder what God thinks when he’s looking down on us?  Maybe it’s time that the church repents and pray and then act!

February 6, 2020

What I Read Today;

Exodus 39-40; Psalm 37; Isaiah 4; Mark 9; 2 Corinthians 5

What motivates Christians?  How does knowing Christ as Lord and Savior change your view of other people?  What does the Love of Jesus Christ mean for you personally?

These questions haunt most of our churches.  We tend to view our faith as something to be done on Sunday morning.  That thing we do for God.

But Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5 vs. 14-15, For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died.  And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.” NRSV

If we are followers of Jesus Christ, then that must affect how we live.  The idea of being a Christian is to live a life of love for Jesus Christ.

Does Jesus impact your life on a day to day basis?

Do you treat people differently because of Jesus?

Do you pray?

Do you strive to make God happy?

Do you focus your hope on the one who gave his life for you?

 

February 5, 2020

What I Read Today;

Exodus 37-38; Psalm 36; Isaiah 3; Mark 8; 2 Corinthians 4

2 Corinthians 4 could easily describe the state of Christianity today.

We have developed programs, processes, and systems to grow our membership.  Yet, we seem to have forgotten that it’s not about our membership numbers, it’s about how many people are affected by the love of Jesus Christ.

Some will only preach the law.  They lay heavy burdens on new believers, and demand lock-step obedience to the rules, as they prescribe them.

Others have decided that anything goes.  Forget that God gave us the ten commandments.  Don’t worry about that whole, sanctification or holy living thing.  We can do what we want because God will simply forgive us.

The truth is found somewhere in between.

The reality is that both sides seem to forget that it’s about Jesus.  It’s why in verse 5, Paul says, “For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. ” NRSV

Paul focuses every one of his teachings on the singular person of Jesus Christ.  He wants the light of Jesus Christ to shine on all the people he meets.  Jesus is the only thing he wants to teach.

Programs, procedures, and systems are all great. But they only work if we are always talking about Jesus Christ as we perform our tasks!

February 4, 2020

What I Read Today;

Exodus 35-36; Psalm 35; Isaiah 2; Mark 7; 2 Corinthians 3

What an incredible God we serve.  Somehow he has decided to illuminate his word in our hearts.  You wouldn’t be reading a blog like this if he wasn’t working within you.  God sends us his Holy Spirit to help us to be able to struggle and work with the Word of God. The more we spend time in prayer and study, the more the Spirit speaks to us and leads us.

Have you had a moment where you read a specific verse of scripture, and suddenly, you found yourself seeing it in a new way?

The Spirit of God is continuously at work in our hearts, opening our minds to his thoughts and changing us from the inside, to be more like Jesus.

Focus on Jesus as you continue to read the Word of God and seek to know him better!

 

 

February 3, 2020

What I Read Today;

Exodus 33-34; Psalm 34; Mark 6; 2 Corinthians 2

Psalm 34 is a study in contrasts.  It winds back and forth until it’s the conclusion.  It winds its way through 22 verses.

Breaking it down to its basic form is simple if you think about it.

Those who defied God and chose to reject him will vanish from memory and disappear.  God pleads with humanity to turn to him and follow his teachings.  God mourns that many will dismiss that message.

Unfortunately, because we all live in a sinful world, even those who choose to follow God will suffer because of our fallen humanity.

Yet there is hope! God has promised that he will redeem those who love him.  Those of us who choose to take refuge in God.  He will care for those of us who seek to live a life that pleases God.

God holds out the message that he wants all to come to him.  God holds out his outstretched arm to all who will turn to him.  God chases after those who won’t stop running away.

We serve a God of Grace and Mercy.