Saturday, September 24, 2022

Evening Scripture Reading - Ecclesiastes 4:6

Ecclesiastes 4:6 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Better one handful with rest

than two handfuls with effort and a pursuit of the wind.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 37:32-33

Psalm 37:32-33 Holman Christian Standard Bible

The wicked one lies in wait for the righteous

and seeks to kill him;

the Lord will not leave him

in the power of the wicked one

or allow him to be condemned when he is judged.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 23:25

Proverbs 23:25 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Let your father and mother have joy,

and let her who gave birth to you rejoice.

Morning Scripture Reading - Matthew 5:3-10

Matthew 5:3-10 Holman Christian Standard Bible

“The poor in spirit are blessed,

for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

Those who mourn are blessed,

for they will be comforted.

The gentle are blessed,

for they will inherit the earth.

Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed,

for they will be filled.

The merciful are blessed,

for they will be shown mercy.

The pure in heart are blessed,

for they will see God.

The peacemakers are blessed,

for they will be called sons of God.

Those who are persecuted for righteousness are blessed,

for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Love is patient, love is kind.

Love does not envy,

is not boastful, is not conceited,

does not act improperly,

is not selfish, is not provoked,

and does not keep a record of wrongs.

Love finds no joy in unrighteousness

but rejoices in the truth.

It bears all things, believes all things,

hopes all things, endures all things.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 37:30-31

Psalm 37:30-31 Holman Christian Standard Bible

The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom;

his tongue speaks what is just.

The instruction of his God is in his heart;

his steps do not falter.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 23:24

Proverbs 23:24 Holman Christian Standard Bible

The father of a righteous son will rejoice greatly,

and one who fathers a wise son will delight in him.

Morning Scripture Reading - John 5:41-44

John 5:41-44 Holman Christian Standard Bible

“I do not accept glory from men, but I know you—that you have no love for God within you. I have come in My Father’s name, yet you don’t accept Me. If someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe? While accepting glory from one another, you don’t seek the glory that comes from the only God.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Corinthians 7:17-19

1 Corinthians 7:17-19 Holman Christian Standard Bible

However, each one must live his life in the situation the Lord assigned when God called him. This is what I command in all the churches. Was anyone already circumcised when he was called? He should not undo his circumcision. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? He should not get circumcised. Circumcision does not matter and uncircumcision does not matter, but keeping God’s commands does.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 37:27-29

Psalm 37:27-29 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Turn away from evil and do what is good,

and dwell there forever.

For the Lord loves justice

and will not abandon His faithful ones.

They are kept safe forever,

but the children of the wicked will be destroyed.

The righteous will inherit the land

and dwell in it permanently.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 23:23

Proverbs 23:23 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Buy—and do not sell—truth,

wisdom, instruction, and understanding.

Morning Scripture Reading - Matthew 13:18-23

Matthew 13:18-23 Holman Christian Standard Bible

“You, then, listen to the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one sown along the path. And the one sown on rocky ground—this is one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. Yet he has no root in himself, but is short-lived. When pressure or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now the one sown among the thorns—this is one who hears the word, but the worries of this age and the seduction of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. But the one sown on the good ground—this is one who hears and understands the word, who does bear fruit and yields: some 100, some 60, some 30 times what was sown.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Evening Scripture Reading - Ephesians 6:14-20

Ephesians 6:14-20 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Stand, therefore,

with truth like a belt around your waist,

righteousness like armor on your chest,

and your feet sandaled with readiness

for the gospel of peace.

In every situation take the shield of faith,

and with it you will be able to extinguish

all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Take the helmet of salvation,

and the sword of the Spirit,

which is God’s word.

Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 37:25-26

Psalm 37:25-26 Holman Christian Standard Bible

I have been young and now I am old,

yet I have not seen the righteous abandoned

or his children begging for bread.

He is always generous, always lending,

and his children are a blessing.

Mid-Week Message - No Shame

 "I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.  He freed me from all my fears.  Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces."  Psalm 34:4-5  (NLT)

Read that verse again.  Now, read it as it is written in The Message Bible.  "God met me more than halfway, he freed me from my anxious fears.  Look at him; give him your warmest smile.  Never hide your feelings from him."  

One of the things I do each week, as I am choosing the verse for the weekly message, is to read it in several different versions, or translations, of God's Word.  Doing so helps me to understand more clearly what I need to share.  This week, this precious verse from Psalm 34 grabbed my heart because I have dealt with shame most of my life.  

It is no secret that I have struggled with obesity throughout my lifetime.  Aside from the physical aspects of carrying extra weight, there are also many emotional, mental and spiritual issues that arise that are, at times, heartbreaking and shame inducing.  I have spent more time than can be imagined before my Heavenly Father begging for His forgiveness for my lack of success over what I consider my "thorn in the flesh."  And I have carried shame over the sin of overeating and sometimes found myself trying to hide from the One who loves me completely.  Now you can see why the verse means so much to me and why I cherish the idea of not having to be ashamed in His presence.  

Shame is one of the worst burdens that we can carry.  It screams at us that we are not worthy of acceptance, friendship or love from anyone, anywhere at any time.  Though those around us cannot hear the cacophony, we often hear nothing else.  It is constantly reminding us that we are less than anyone else and will never be able to escape its clutches.  Moreover, it leaves us with the gnawing assumption that sooner or later everyone will know who and what we truly are.  

This is a lie!  Shame is a weapon used by the enemy who wants to keep us from experiencing the freedom that Jesus bought for us with His blood.  Romans 3:23 tells us that, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  Shame is based on what we have done wrong, which is sin.  So, if all have sinned then none of us is better than anyone else.  Comparing ourselves to others is assuming that somehow their sins are not as bad as ours.  

The word "sin" is an archery term which means, "missing the mark."  Whether your arrow falls inches or yards short of the target doesn't matter.  Both have missed the mark. So it is with sin.  It doesn't matter what our sin has been, we have all missed the mark with God.  That is why He sent His son!  He came to make atonement for our sin and to reconcile us with the Father.  Now Jesus Himself intercedes for us.  When we accept Him as our Savior and Lord, our sins are forgiven so there is no need to stand in shame before our Creator.  

I am grateful for those that the Lord has used in my life to shepherd and teach me.  They showed me that my acceptance and love from Him depended on Jesus, not on myself.  Being obese has made my life more difficult but God does not turn away from me because of it.  Instead, He has walked this road beside me, encouraging and guiding me and reminding me that His love is bigger than I could ever be.  I am His child whom He adores.  

I have no way of knowing why this message was placed on my heart this week.  I never do.  I only hope that He will use it for His glory.  If you are struggling with guilt or shame today, I urge you to go to Him and allow Him to love you through it.  If He did it for me, He can, and will, surely do it for you as well.  God bless. 

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 23:22

Proverbs 23:22 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Listen to your father who gave you life,

and don’t despise your mother when she is old.

Morning Scripture Reading - John 12:23-26

John 12:23-26 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Jesus replied to them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

“I assure you: Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces a large crop. The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me. Where I am, there My servant also will be. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Corinthians 4:5

1 Corinthians 4:5 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Therefore don’t judge anything prematurely, before the Lord comes, who will both bring to light what is hidden in darkness and reveal the intentions of the hearts. And then praise will come to each one from God.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 37:23-24

Psalm 37:23-24 Holman Christian Standard Bible

A man’s steps are established by the Lord,

and He takes pleasure in his way.

Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed,

because the Lord holds his hand.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 23:21

Proverbs 23:21 Holman Christian Standard Bible

For the drunkard and the glutton will become poor,

and grogginess will clothe them in rags.

Morning Scripture Reading - Matthew 7:13-14

Matthew 7:13-14 Holman Christian Standard Bible

“Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Evening Scripture Reading - Isaiah 40:26-31

Isaiah 40:26-31 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Look up and see:

who created these?

He brings out the starry host by number;

He calls all of them by name.

Because of His great power and strength,

not one of them is missing.

Jacob, why do you say,

and Israel, why do you assert:

“My way is hidden from the Lord,

and my claim is ignored by my God”?

Do you not know?

Have you not heard?

Yahweh is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the whole earth.

He never grows faint or weary;

there is no limit to His understanding.

He gives strength to the weary

and strengthens the powerless.

Youths may faint and grow weary,

and young men stumble and fall,

but those who trust in the Lord

will renew their strength;

they will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary;

they will walk and not faint.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 37:21-22

Psalm 37:21-22 Holman Christian Standard Bible

The wicked man borrows and does not repay,

but the righteous one is gracious and giving.

Those who are blessed by Him will inherit the land,

but those cursed by Him will be destroyed.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 23:20

Proverbs 23:20 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Don’t associate with those who drink too much wine

or with those who gorge themselves on meat.

Morning Scripture Reading - John 3:5-8

John 3:5-8 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Evening Scripture Reading - 2 Corinthians 12:14

2 Corinthians 12:14 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Now I am ready to come to you this third time. I will not burden you, for I am not seeking what is yours, but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 37:20

Psalm 37:20 Holman Christian Standard Bible

But the wicked will perish;

the Lord’s enemies, like the glory of the pastures,

will fade away—

they will fade away like smoke.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Working Overtime

Although I try to be optimistic and look for the good in the world, it is getting increasingly harder to find those “bright spots” in life. With the crime rate going up across the United States and also across the world, you have to ask yourself, “What is happening to our society?”

It seems that the value of human life is zero for most of society. I see demonstrations reducing the precious virtues of human life to that of nothing more than something that can be easily discarded or destroyed. I see and read about murders and violence committed against others. In the news segments I watch, I see people going out of their way to hurt or murder others with little regard for them or society as a whole.

Nothing in our world seems to have value other than money or power. We have sold our souls for a few dollars and cheap pleasures that ultimately leave us wanting more. We crave the rush that money and power gives us and we will do literally anything for it. Many will turn to violence to achieve what they want and will do even more for that next “hit” of dopamine. Does it have to be this way?

It doesn’t have to be this way. We should not be slaves to our own desires. We are more than just another species of animal. We are above being an animal acting on its appetites. It has often been said that “manners maketh man”. I would go a step further. Our faith gives us more than just a warm feeling on the inside.

Our faith gives a relationship not only with God the Father but also each other. Jesus calls us not only to love and obey God but to also love one another. Instead we do the exact opposite of what we should be doing. Instead of taking responsibility, those individuals who choose violence and follow their desires blame society or others. Some have gone as far as to say that Satan made them do those things and that society should blame him for the violence committed.

Satan can tempt you, but he can’t make you do anything unless you give into him. He is not the one to blame for your weakness to act upon his lies and deceptions. Each of us has something that is hidden from others. Those things are the sins and vices we keep to ourselves. We feel that it is absolutely fine to do these things, because they don’t hurt others. Drugs, alcohol, pornography and other “harmless” vices lead to other things. 

Satan has convinced people that it’s fine to have something we enjoy. It all starts with it being a victimless vice. It won’t hurt others and brings pleasure. Because Satan has slipped these evil words into your head and your heart, you begin to slip away from what you should be doing to what you enjoy. You keep uttering the same words over and over, “It’s not hurting anyone and it brings me pleasure.”

But, in time, you crave more and more. You need to go further and further into depravity and continue to be disobedient not only to God but also to others. You are addicted to your vice and it doesn’t take a lot of time before you are hurting others to get that rush. 

Did Satan make you do this? No. You can’t blame him. He just spoke to you and you took the first steps. Satan even tempted Jesus. While he was in the desert fasting for forty days and forty nights, Satan came to him and tried to get Jesus to satisfy his hunger by turning stones into loaves of bread. Jesus was hungry and he certainly had the power to do that, but he, instead, reminded Satan that his spiritual food comes from God.

In chapter four of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells Satan, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

Jesus uses his faith and God’s holy word to rebuff Satan. Satan tempts Jesus two more times and fails each time. Jesus didn’t give in and neither should you. Satan is working overtime to lie and deceive everyone. All he desires is for you to give into your victimless vice and become disobedient to God. 

In his first epistle, Peter writes, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

Don’t fall prey to Satan by being weak. Don’t listen to his lies and give into his deceptions. Remember the only things he can offer you will ultimately lead to destruction, death and damnation. Satan, like any predator, goes after you when you are at your weakest. During those times, you need to stand firm with other believers. There is power in numbers. 

If you feel Satan really working hard to get you to leave the path of righteousness, reach out to others and ask for prayers and words of encouragement and faith to bolster your faith and strength. God has provided you with everything you need. He has given you the Gospel Armor and it will not fail you. With that armor, you can stand firm in His grace and defeat Satan. 

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 23:19

Proverbs 23:19 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Listen, my son, and be wise;

keep your mind on the right course.

Morning Scripture Reading - John 15:26-27

John 15:26-27 Holman Christian Standard Bible

“When the Counselor comes, the One I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father—He will testify about Me. You also will testify, because you have been with Me from the beginning.