September 29, 2020 – Racing to Win

What I Read Today;

1 Corinthians 9; Matthew 25; Isaiah 33; Psalm 84; Ezra 9; Leviticus 4

1 Corinthians 9:24-27, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the price? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” NIV

With my recent health issues my doctor recommended that I might want to get off my fat rear end and start exercising again. Now not that long ago I was in pretty good shape. But over the past five years between stress at work and health issues I fell off the running wagon.

So after I got out of the hospital, I started going out in the morning and exercising. Now it’s really frustrating when you know that you used to finish 10k and 1/2 marathons and now you can barely run 50 yards. But when you get out of shape, you have to start over and it takes time to regain your strength and stamina.

Guess what?

The same thing happens when we get away from God’s Word. We slowly lose that muscle memory our faith needs to fight off Satan. When we come back, we have to build things back up. Sometimes it’s frustrating. Relearning what we should have memorized. But we have to put in the work, if we want the results. We have to commit to training our minds, hearts and souls in the nuances of God’s Word if we want to achieve the prize of maintaining our relationship with Jesus.

September 29, 2020 – God’s Justice

What I Read Today;

1 Corinthians 8; Matthew 24; Isaiah 32; Psalm 83; Ezra 8; Leviticus 3

There has been a lot in the news about Justice lately. We hear about Social Justice for oppressed minorities. People speak of Justice in terms of inequality between men and women. Some talk of Justice in terms of crime and punishment.

In Isaiah 32 we see Isaiah expounding on what God’s definition of Justice is.

Verse 1 and 2 speak pertain to how rulers are to meet out Justice. Simply put Justice is to be impartial. It is to be fairly meted out irregardless of who the ruler is judging. Justice is to be a shelter for those who have been harmed or wronged.

Verse 3 through 6, speak of Justice as knowledge. Justice is the ointment that soothes over our anger and mistrust. True Justice fairly used calms those in fear and rebuilds the trust of people.

Verse 7 and 8 tell us that Justice is aimed to stop the wicked and guide the noble.

Verses 9-15 show us what a world without justice looks like. A horrible place filled with evil and anger. Fear rules the day!

Verses 16-20 tell us that following God’s justice will turn a desert of evil into an oasis of peace.

Our world could use some of God’s justice right about now, don’t you think?

September 29, 2020 – Selfless Leaders

What I Read Today:

1 Corinthians 7; Matthew 23; Isaiah 31; Psalm 82; Ezra 7; Leviticus 2

It’s been an exciting summer.  COVID-19 has really made a mess.

We’ve been in what seems like an eternal lockdown in Illinois since March.  As a kid, every now and then, I’d hear my Dad say something like, do as I say, not as I do.  Usually, he inferred that there was something he was doing as an adult that I was not allowed to do.

During the pandemic, there have been several exciting events.

On April 11, Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot Chicago news media outlets attacked the mayor for getting a haircut while the city had closed the hair salons in Chicago by her orders.  

On May 15, Illinois, Governor JB Pritzker, Illinois news outlets accused the Governor’s family of violating the state’s travel ban to fly to their ranch in Florida.  Later the press discovered the Governor himself violated the travel ban by driving to the families ranch in Wisconsin.

We all know about Nancy Pelosi getting a hair cut during San Fransisco’s ban on stores like Salon’s being opened.

When leaders tell people to do one thing and then violate that request, it damages the trust that people have given them.  

That’s what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 23:12, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” NIV

Effective leadership is servant leadership.  What that means is that leaders put the betterment of their people above themselves.  Leadership in the church requires that Pastors put the lives and souls of their parishioners above themselves.  Most of them do that faithfully every day!  Thank God for the selfless servants that proclaim the Gospel for you and me!

September 30, 2020 – Boy do we need God!

What I Read Today;

1 Corinthians 10; Matthew 26; Isaiah 34; Psalm 85; Ezra 10; Leviticus 5

Psalm 85:

“You, Lord, showed favor to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins. You set aside all your wrath and turned from your fierce anger. Restore us again, God our Savior, and put away your displeasure toward us. Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger through all generations? Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, Lord, and grant us your salvation. I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—but let them not turn to folly. Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.“. NIV

Last night the first Presidential debate of 2020 took place. As I write this we’re about 7 hours from the debate. I haven’t even seen it yet and I’m pretty sure that we’re going to need prayer this morning.

Our nation is in desperate need of Gods healing hand. We need to pray harder now than ever before. Pray for the anger to subside. Pray for the bickering to stop. Pray for the poor. Pray for the end to COVID.

Yep we need God today more than ever before.

September 28, 2020 – Seeking The Quiet

What I Read Today;

1 Corinthians 6; Matthew 22; Isaiah 30; Psalm 81; Ezra 6; Leviticus 1

In the movie 13 Days President Kennedy is confronted with voices all around him. His military and much of the civilian leadership are demanding he go to war to remove the nuclear weapons that have been discovered in Cuba.

Kennedy, however, knows that this would likely trigger a full scale nuclear war which no one would win.

In one particularly tense scene, he his brother Bobby and Kenny O’Donnell leave the military leadership and sit in the Oval Office. It is here that Kennedy says, “there is so much noise.”

President Kennedy would go on to disregard his Military leaders advise and, in what is now scene as a brilliant move, he would use diplomacy to end the crisis.

In Isaiah 30 vs. 15 we read, “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”

And in vs. 18, “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him.” NIV

We worry and we fret, because there is so much noise in our world today. Voices coming at us in so many directions that we can’t comprehend half of what we’re hearing.

Yet, Isaiah is telling us to quiet our minds and trust our God. He’s telling us to find those moments where we can commune with our God. Turn off the phone, the tablet, and the TV, and rest easy in the gracious, and loving God we serve. The God who yearns to show compassion and love to each one of us.