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.

May 17, 2020

What I Read Today;

1 Corinthians 1; Matthew 17; Ezekiel 3; Psalm 138; 2 Samuel 3

We hear the story of Jesus’ transfiguration as we read Matthew 17.

The disciples had to be stunned as they witnessed Jesus assume a portion of his heavenly body.  Then they glimpse Moses and Elijah.  Peter, not wanting the scene to end, offers to build shelters for all of them, so they could remain on the mountaintop.

Then they heard the voice of God.  With a few spoken words from God, the disciples could feel the holiness of God.  The disciples immediately knew how unworthy they were to be standing on that mountain.

We are born with the understanding that we are unworthy to be in God’s presence. Our consciences tell us we are failures in God’s eyes.  Our consciences are what keep many of us from turning to God.  Deep inside, we know that we don’t measure up to God’s holy standards.

Yet God made us spiritual beings.  He gave us a desire to commune with God himself.  When our guilt and shame cause us to turn away from God, that leaves a hole in our lives.  We make efforts to fill that hole.  But in the end, we’re left empty.

That’s why our society sees so much depression and anger.  We become frustrated when we attempt to fill the hole in our lives with pleasure, career, or other means.

Like Peter, James, and John, we wind up in the fetal position hiding our face from God.  We try and cover our guilt and shame at that moment because it’s all we have left when we find ourselves in God’s Holy presence.

Then the gentle voice of Jesus tells us to not be afraid.  Jesus gives us the hope that we needn’t fear God any longer.  In our guilt and shame, he touches us and tells us, “trust me, I’ve got you.”

Just like the disciples, we are stunned at the grace and mercy that Jesus has given us.  We also are humbled at what he gave up to save us.  We can’t understand or comprehend the lengths of the love that Jesus has shown each one of us.

As we go about our day today, consider the love and grace of our savior.  Pass his love and grace to someone who needs it.  Show grace and mercy to those around you.

Jesus is asking you to help calm the fears of those in need!

May 16, 2020

What I Read Today;

Romans 16; Matthew 16; Ezekiel 2; Psalm 137; 2 Samuel 2

Experts. That’s all we hear about today are experts.  Dr. this and that standing in front of a microphone.  They get the benefit of the doubt when they are wrong.  Climatologists, Epidemiologists, Statisticians, and Modelers.

We have come to the point in our history where those with academic credentials are given complete faith and trust.  No matter how often they are wrong.

In Jesus’ day, it was no different.

The Pharisees were legalists who could change the Law of Moses to fit their own needs.  The Sadducees told people to eat, drink, and party like rock stars, because there was no resurrection.

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, they were telling the masses that this Jesus fellow was nothing more than a friendly country teacher.  Forget the miracles.  Forget the raising of the dead and the healing of the sick.  These are just parlor tricks that were aimed to fool the masses.

The experts knew better.  Just ask them.

Just as the experts of today have had ever-changing views of how to handle the Coronoviris, the religious experts of Jesus day could not come up with a consensus on how to deal with Jesus.

You have to worry when you see experts who like adulation. Experts who love the spotlight.  When they rush for the microphone and the reporters, get concerned.

But there is a question that we will all have to answer.

In John chapter 14, Jesus tells the people that he is the way, the truth, and the light, no man comes to the Father except through Jesus.

Some of the experts today say that Jesus was telling them that he was “one way,” not “the way.”

Then Jesus asks the question that each one of us must face.  He doesn’t ask the expert.  He knows that the experts will hem and haw.  The experts will seek some long-winded dissertation that will ultimately straddle the fence and say nothing.

No Jesus asks the fisherman Peter the question.

Matthew 16:15, “He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” NRSV

It’s the question that has chased experts away for centuries.  The experts have run from the idea that Jesus is who we must rely on for our salvation.

One day we will all stand at the throne of Jesus and have to answer that single question. Our education won’t matter.  Social status won’t be taken into account.  Our Bank Accounts will be gone.  We will be stripped of everything we’ve attained in this world.

What will you say at that moment?

Will he be “The Way?”  Or will he be “A Way?”

May 15, 2020

What I Read Today;

Romans 15; Matthew 15; Ezekiel 1; Psalm 136; 2 Samuel 1

Romans 15:1-6 says this, “We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor.  For Christ did not please Himself; but, as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.  May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” NRSV

Much has been made about what life will look like after the Pandemic ends. Many people claim that things will never be the same. My guess is that it won’t take long for people to move on and forget this time. That’s what happened after 9/11.  We remembered for a few years with massive celebrations.  Today, those remembrances are becoming smaller.

I do think some changes should happen.

For decades our churches have lived within the walls of our buildings.  I hope that we have learned that the church is more than a building.

For centuries we’ve had this idea that it was the Pastor’s job to take care of the spiritual needs of a community.  I hope we’re learning that we play an essential role in our own spiritual growth and the growth of those around us.

I hope that we can re-focus on what truly matters.  I hope that maybe we can put down our theological statements and doctrinal debates and focus on Jesus.  I hope that perhaps we can view each other as children of God who need to hear the message of hope in Jesus Christ!

This virus has affected black and white, Hispanic and Asian, Men and Women, Gay and straight, Republican and Democrat, and young and old.  Perhaps we can come out of this viewing each other a little differently.  Maybe we can realize that we don’t have to eviscerate each other when we don’t agree with each other.  Could we maybe understand that if we disagree on something that doesn’t make us evil?

I hope that we’re coming to the realization that the decision to behave that way isn’t up to the church. In fact, Christ calls us to live our lives in just such a way!

Now it’s up to you and me, to live as Jesus calls us to!

May 14, 2020

What I Read Today;

Romans 14; Matthew 14; Lamentations 5; Psalm 135; 1 Samuel 31

Romans 14 vs. 7-9, “We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.” NRSV

Our lives were never meant to be about us.  We were designed to live our lives for a higher purpose.

Unfortunately, too many people think the world revolves around themselves.

When we believe that there is a God who has created us, then we have to think that we should live our lives for that God.

If we are going to live our lives for God, then how we treat people matters.  What we say about them is essential.  Gossip becomes a problem.  Hoping bad things happen to those we dislike is no longer acceptable.

If we are living for God and striving to treat people with respect and dignity, we then must take care of our responsibilities.  Paying our taxes is now not optional.  Obeying the law is required.  Taking care of our families, in particular, our children must be a priority.

If we are living for God and loving other people, then we can no longer be the center of the universe.  Life can no longer be about us.

A long time ago I saw a t-shirt that said this:

  1. God first
  2. Others second
  3. Me third

If we lived this out, how much better would our world be today?