August 8, 2020 – Hope in the midst of the storm

What I Read Today:

Hebrews 13; Acts 11; Amos 9; Psalm 39; 1 Chronicles 20; Genesis 42

Amos 9:1-10 concludes with a foreshadowing of the war, death, starvation, and disease which is coming to the nation soon.  

Sound familiar? Sound like what we are living through right now?  Our lives seem in perpetual chaos.  We’ve been in multiple wars since 2001, several pandemics including COVID-19, which we are living with today.  Civil unrest and crime are rampant in our cities.  It appears that our world is spiraling out of control.

Yet with God, there is always hope.

God reminds Israel that he always keeps his promises.  Once again, he promises that someone from the line of David is coming to change the world.  God promises that he will rebuild what has been destroyed by sin.  

Amid the troubles surrounding our world today, God still gives us hope.  It is the hope that God will end the strife in our cities, bring peace where there is war and bring an end to the violence perpetuating our society.  God brings hope that when he closes one door of our lives, he will open another.  When he takes away a job, a new one will follow.  

The Christians life should be filled with hope because God is our hope.

August 7, 2020 – God Shows No Partiality

What I Read Today:

Hebrews 12; Acts 10; Amos 8; Psalm 38; 1 Chronicles 19; Genesis 41

It’s interesting how something that an incident that occurred over 2000 years ago can be so relevant today.  

The Jewish people had become segregated.  The idea of spiritual purity had led to the requirements of total separation.  Jews didn’t go to the homes of non-jews.  Gentiles had to convert to Judaism, and even after conversion, they were not accorded full rights as natural-born Jews were.  

God was about to give Peter a lesson.  God was about to break down the walls.

God would help Peter realize that all of the people on this earth were equal in God’s eyes.   He would teach Peter that all of humanity needed a savior.  We would see Peter struggle with his internal biases later in the book of Acts.  His prejudices were a product of a lifetime of teachings that wouldn’t just go away in a single lesson.  It would take Peter the rest of his life to change his thinking.  The strength of what we were taught since birth remains with us and is difficult to change.  

Today our society is more divided than ever.   Our nation is divided by race, sex, class, and region.  Those divisions have led to suspicion, fear, and in some cases, violence.  

Today, more than ever, we need to hear the words of Acts chapter 10.  We need to see one another as children of God who have been created in the image of God.

August 6, 2020 – What does it mean to have faith?

What I Read Today:

Hebrews 11; Acts 9; Amos 7; Psalm 37; 1 Chronicles 18; Genesis 40

We talk a lot about faith these days—faith in people, faith in government, or maybe faith in the church.  

But the biblical definition of faith differs from what we think faith to be.

Here’s how the writer to the Hebrews defines the word faith in chapter 11 vs. 1;

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” ESV

So faith is something we can’t see, but despite that, faith gives us hope of a better tomorrow.  Faith is something within in that we put our trust.  We can’t see faith or touch it, but we no that it is there.  

Some people will put their faith in their abilities.  They’ll put their faith in their careers. They might even put their faith in their church.  All of these things are misplaced faith.  God wants us to put our faith in him.  To hope that he will keep his promises.  To trust that we wait for a better place after our lives have ended.

The writer tells us how important faith is in our lives in Chapter 11 vs. 6:

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” ESV

Faith is a requirement in our lives.  We have to trust that Jesus was able to save us from our sins.  We have to trust that God loved us enough to send his son. We have to believe that God keeps his words and can’t ever lie.  If we can’t do that, then we have no faith.  

We can’t be God’s people unless we believe that God exists and trust the promises he’s made each one of us!

What exactly are we trusting God will do?  What is it that the Christian religion is promising to people?

Hebrews 11:!4-16, “For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” ESV

The writer is telling us that after we depart this sin-stained world, we will enter God’s protection.  We will see God’s face.  We will live in a heavenly home, with no more health issues, racism, pain, and suffering. 

We have faith in a living God who cannot lie!  His promises are forever, and his word never fails!

August 5, 2020

What I Read Today:

Hebrews 10; Acts 8; Amos 6; Psalm 36; 1 Chronicles 17; Genesis 39

In Acts 8, we meet Saul of Tarsus.  We will later know him as the Apostle Paul.  Here, before the Holy Spirit entered his life, we see Paul attempting to destroy the church.  Somehow, Paul thought that he could end God’s plan.  He thought he was helping God to eradicate this upstart group of apostates.

What he didn’t understand was that God used times of struggle to build his church.  God still does today.  God uses times of persecution as a time of culling the herd.  He roots out those who are superficial and cleanses the church.

In the example in Acts 8, we see Philip move into Samaria and outside of Judea.  He reaches out to people who wouldn’t have known Christ were it not for persecution forcing people to move to other areas of the world.  The conversion of the Ethiopian would not have been a small affair for the Jewish people.  They would never have reached out to “Gentiles.”  Yet here we see the Holy Spirit lead Philip directly to a gentile.  

In times like we are living today, we have a choice.  The choice is to wallow in self-pity or to find new ways to reach out for Christ.  It’s a simple choice.  

Shutting down are churches in March, and April led to a new season of outreach through Facebook Live, YouTube, Drive-In Church, and other creative ways to reach out for Christ.  

The question I have is this, will we learn lessons from this time, or will we go back to business as usual when this is over?  I pray that we continue learning and find more and more creative ways to reach out!

August 4, 2020

What I Read Today:

Hebrews 9; Acts 7; Amos 5; Psalm 35; 1 Chronicles 16; Genesis 38

David writes A, “Song of Thanks,” to God.  Listen to how he says we should worship our God:

  1. Give thanks and call on his name.
    • Our God is approachable.  He seeks our gratitude for all that he has given us.  God desires our worship.  He welcomes us to come to him!  
  2. Sing praises to him.
    • Our worship is more than a skin-deep function or action.  It is a spirit-filled, deep relationship between God and man.  We don’t have to be a great singer, but in our hearts, we should always singing God’s praises.
  3. Glory in his name.
    • God invites us to revel in his name.  He invites us to take pride in the fact that he calls us his people.  We don’t take pride as the world does.  We take pride in the fact that God loved us and calls us his own.
  4. Seek the Lord and his strength.
    • God offers to give us strength for our journey.  God wants to work in our lives.  More often than not, the problem is we feel the need to do it our way.  But God tells us to seek his strength and not rely on our own.
  5. Remember what he has done for us.
    • It’s easy to forget that God has given us everything.  Our homes, our lives, our jobs, and our abilities.  When we remember what he’s done for us, it’s easy to remain humble.
  6. Tell of his salvation.
    • Telling people of God’s saving grace should be the church’s one priority.  Everything else must take second place.  Leading people to Christ is our job.  The Holy Spirit will do the rest.
  7. Pray to God for saving grace.
    • We should always remember that we are still in need of God’s saving grace.  That never changes until the moment we arrive in our heavenly home!

David could sure preach a sermon!