October 21, 2019

What I Read Today;

Revelation 20; Matthew 9; Ezekiel 1; Psalm 90-91; 2 Kings 7-8; Leviticus 26

In Leviticus 26, God offers his people blessings and curses.  But even in the curses, God shows that his love for his people is unlimited.  In verses 40-45 God our English translations don’t really do the promise here justice.

Two words stand out.

The first is the word “confess.”  This is defined as the act of acknowledging what is right about God in praise and thanksgiving.  It also means a right acknowledgment of self before God in confessing sin. 

In other words, it’s an admission of who we are and our need for a savior.  It is an admission of our failings and our faults.  It is a humbling of ourselves in worship to the only God who can truly set us free from our guilt and shame.

The second word is “committed.” This is a verb that means to violate one’s duty.  It is discussing willful violations of God’s commands.

What God is saying is that in spite of our willful defiance of God and his commands, he stands ready to forgive us if we just humble ourselves and admit our failings.  If we put off our pride and humble ourselves, God is standing with open arms, waiting to comfort us.

Think about what God is saying in the chapter of Leviticus.  How can we not fall to our knees in praise and thanks to such a loving father, God?

 

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October 20, 2019

What I Read Today;

Revelation 19; Matthew 8; Lamentations 5; Psalm 88-89; 2 Kings 5-6; Leviticus 25

The Northern Kingdom of Israel had been under siege by numerous rivals.  One of their primary opponents was Aram.  Aram was constantly attacking Israel.

So it might seem highly unusual that the commander or of the armies of Aram, Naaman, would be sent by the King of Aram to Israel for help.  Leprosy was an insidious disease.  In all likelihood, Naaman would have to be completely covered and not able to touch anyone because of the infectious nature of the disease.  So the reaction of the King of Israel to a request for mercy like this is not surprising.

But God had another plan.

When Naaman arrived at Elisha’s house, Elisha didn’t even bother to greet him.  He just sent a messenger out and said go bath in the Jordan three times, and you’ll be healed.  Naaman starts to leave, angry at the ridiculous nature of Elisha’s command until a servant convinces him to give it a try.

Then the miracle happens.

God uses ordinary things to make a miracle.

God doesn’t always do the dramatic.  Many times he takes ordinary things in our lives and turns them upside down and creates a miracle.  More often than not, we miss the point of that very miracle.  We get so wrapped up in looking for a dramatic and earth-shattering God intervention that we miss the fact that God used something as simple as water to fix the problem.

When Naaman was healed, he turned around and went back to Elisha and turned his life over to the one true God.  He asked for forgiveness.  God gave him peace.

So when God works small miracles in our lives, do we turn back and thank God?  Are you waiting for an extreme God moment when all around you, God is working quietly in small ways that you aren’t even noticing?

Think about it!

October 19, 2019

What I Read Today;

Revelation 18; Matthew 7; Lamentations 4; Psalm 86-87; 2 Kings 3-4; Leviticus 24

Psalm 86 vs. 11-13, “Teach me your way, O Lordthat I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name.  I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.  For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.” NRSV

I have problems comprehending how much God has done for me sometimes.  Especially during all the struggles of recent weeks.

The reason I continue studying and reading God’s word is to continually remind myself of what Jesus did and what he is doing.  So today, like the Psalmist, I ask Jesus to continue sending his Holy Spirit to teach me how to love more deeply. I ask Jesus o allow me to reach someone today with a message of God’s grace, and most importantly, to keep in the front of my mind the fact that Jesus has saved me from eternal punishment by living a life I can’t live and dying in my place.

Because of Jesus, I know that my salvation is secure.  Everything else will go away.  But Jesus will remain.

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.

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.