Thursday, May 28, 2020

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 15:3

Proverbs 15:3 New King James Version (NKJV)

The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
Keeping watch on the evil and the good.

Morning Scripture Reading - Ruth 2:11-12

Ruth 2:11-12 New King James Version (NKJV)

11 And Boaz answered and said to her, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. 12 The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Peter 3:8-12

1 Peter 3:8-12 New King James Version (NKJV)

Called to Blessing

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be [a]courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For

“He who would love life
And see good days,
Let him [b]refrain his tongue from evil,
And his lips from speaking deceit.
11 Let him turn away from evil and do good;
Let him seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their prayers;
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Peter 3:8 NU humble
  2. 1 Peter 3:10 restrain

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 28:8-9

Psalm 28:8-9 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Lord is [a]their strength,
And He is the saving refuge of His [b]anointed.
Save Your people,
And bless Your inheritance;
Shepherd them also,
And bear them up forever.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 28:8 So with MT, Tg.; LXX, Syr., Vg. the strength of His people
  2. Psalm 28:8 Commissioned one, Heb. messiah

Mid-Week Message - Brick Upon Brick

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now  you have received mercy."  1 Peter 2:9-10  (NIV)  

As the school secretary for a new Christian school, it was important to me that the students there had their memories to look back upon just as they would in a public school via a school yearbook.  I enlisted the help of parents and teachers to take pictures throughout the school year, then, in the spring, I took those pictures in all the formats that I received them, and compiled them into yearbooks.  It was a lot of work as I had never handled such a large scale production before and I did it all alone.  It was also fun doing it alone because everyone, students and staff alike, were able to have fun discovering what was in them when we had our signing party.  The theme and title of the book for the first year was "Brick Upon Brick."  

Just as with building blocks or Legos, our lives come together one step, or brick, at a time.  I am not an artist, but those who are have told me that they follow the ideas that are in their heads.  If something doesn't work, they make changes, but before any work of art takes shape, the initial mark or stroke or lump of clay has to come first.  

If you are familiar with 1 Peter 2, then you know the verses that precede the ones I have chosen today speak of the cornerstone.  I did some reading about why a cornerstone is important in a masonry building.  That stone orients the entire creation.  It is the first stone laid and sets the direction.  Before it is laid, a lot of very careful planning is done so that there is no mistake made.  After that, one brick is laid upon another until the facade is complete.  

Just like in a building, our lives need a cornerstone.  We need a strong foundation that supports and directs us.  In scripture, Jesus is that Cornerstone.  When we receive Him as our Savior and Lord, align ourselves with Him and follow His teachings, then the spiritual "bricks" come together.  Our Father knows which "bricks" to allow into our lives to form us into the people that He has created us to be.  Just as an exquisite work of art begins with one stroke of a paintbrush, so He begins with one cell and continues building physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually until we become His masterpiece.  We may not be able to see what is happening, but the Master Artist is sure and confident in what He is creating.

I have been following several things that are happening in the lives of friends and family that would at first cause me to question why.  Sometimes it seems that some of those who live their lives most sincerely for the Lord experience hardships that are dumbfounding.  Perhaps you or your family are encountering times of difficulty or suffering as well.  My encouragement to you would be the assurance that there is One in charge who is fully aware of the burden you have been given to carry.  He doesn't ask you to carry it alone rather He desires that you turn to Him and ask for His help.  I cannot tell you why you are encountering this trying time, but I do believe that He will use it for His glory and to strengthen you.  Stay close to the Creator.  He knows what He is doing.  God bless. 

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 15:1-2

Proverbs 15:1-2 New King James Version (NKJV)

A Soft Answer Turns Away Wrath

 soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly,
But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.

Morning Scripture Reading - Hebrews 6:10

Hebrews 6:10 New King James Version (NKJV)

10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and [a]labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Footnotes:

  1. Hebrews 6:10 NU omits labor of

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Samuel 15:20-23

1 Samuel 15:20-23 New King James Version (NKJV)

20 And Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21 But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”

22 So Samuel said:

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is as the sin of [a]witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He also has rejected you from being king.”

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Samuel 15:23 divination

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 28:6-7

Psalm 28:6-7 New King James Version (NKJV)

Blessed be the Lord,
Because He has heard the voice of my supplications!
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
And with my song I will praise Him.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 14:35

Proverbs 14:35 New King James Version (NKJV)

35 The king’s favor is toward a wise servant,
But his wrath is against him who causes shame.

Morning Scripture Reading - Joel 2:21-24

Joel 2:21-24 New King James Version (NKJV)

21 Fear not, O land;
Be glad and rejoice,
For the Lord has done [a]marvelous things!
22 Do not be afraid, you beasts of the field;
For the open pastures are springing up,
And the tree bears its fruit;
The fig tree and the vine yield their strength.
23 Be glad then, you children of Zion,
And rejoice in the Lord your God;
For He has given you the [b]former rain faithfully,
And He will cause the rain to come down for you—
The former rain,
And the latter rain in the first month.
24 The threshing floors shall be full of wheat,
And the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.

Footnotes:

  1. Joel 2:21 Lit. great
  2. Joel 2:23 Or teacher of righteousness

Monday, May 25, 2020

Evening Scripture Reading - Luke 9:57-62

Luke 9:57-62 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Cost of Discipleship

57 Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.”

58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.”

But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”

61 And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.”

62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 28:3-5

Psalm 28:3-5 New King James Version (NKJV)

Do not [a]take me away with the wicked
And with the workers of iniquity,
Who speak peace to their neighbors,
But evil is in their hearts.
Give them according to their deeds,
And according to the wickedness of their endeavors;
Give them according to the work of their hands;
Render to them what they deserve.
Because they do not regard the works of the Lord,
Nor the operation of His hands,
He shall destroy them
And not build them up.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 28:3 drag

Memorial Day - We Shall Never Forget


On this special day, please take a moment to remember those who "laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom" and their families. It is only through their devotion to this great nation that we are able to live free and enjoy the liberties protected and defended by the brave.

A grateful nation remembers and honors the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.


John 15:13 New Living Translation (NLT)

13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 14:34

Proverbs 14:34 New King James Version (NKJV)

34 Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a [a]reproach to any people.

Footnotes:

  1. Proverbs 14:34 shame or disgrace

Morning Scripture Reading - Isaiah 26:3

Isaiah 26:3 New King James Version (NKJV)

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Evening Scripture Reading - John 20:24-29

John 20:24-29 New King James Version (NKJV)

Seeing and Believing

24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Jesus said to him, [a]“Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Footnotes:

  1. John 20:29 NU, M omit Thomas

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 28:1-2

Psalm 28:1-2 New King James Version (NKJV)

Rejoicing in Answered Prayer

A Psalm of David.

 To You I will cry, O Lord my Rock:
Do not be silent to me,
Lest, if You are silent to me,
I become like those who go down to the pit.
Hear the voice of my supplications
When I cry to You,
When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.

Sunday Praise and Worship Message - All That Matters Most

During this pandemic, we have been given the opportunity to spend some time in reflection and thought. With the death toll and the number of people infected continuing to climb daily, we all have a chance to think about our lives and what are the most important things to us. Some have focused on their families while others are focusing on the end of civilization as we know it. It seems that what we see as important runs across a spectrum from giving and sharing with others to selfishness with varying shades of both in the middle. We all have something that seems to preoccupy our thoughts while we shelter in place and hope and pray that this nightmare will end.

I, like some, have spent my time thinking about my own life and how it is being affected by the pandemic. As I thought about the situation, I realized a couple of things. The first is that there are a lot of things outside of my control. As a person who likes being in control of his world, I often find it frustrating to stand idly by as I watch things happen to me. Because of decisions by other people, I am stuck in my home and have to work from it. Although I don’t miss the rush hour traffic, I do, however, miss that separation of home and work. I get up in the morning and get ready to work. Instead of driving, I walk about twenty feet and sit down at a desk in my home to start work. All of my interactions with my colleagues are through chat applications and phone calls.

The second thing I realized is that there are others who are far worse off than me. It doesn’t take a genius or a rocket scientist to figure out that there are others who are suffering more. Each evening I watch the news and hear the stories of families facing eviction or not being able to feed themselves. I see hundreds of people standing in line waiting to receive food from food banks. For some, it is the very first time that they have had to do that.

The third and probably the most important thing is that each of us must remain grounded in our faith. It is so easy to allow this situation to get the better of us. Each day is a struggle just to keep from thinking about the worst. The stock markets are bouncing up and down. Financial analysts predict that a depression is inevitable. With millions of Americans out of work, many are just barely scraping by to feed their families. Each day is another day of just surviving and making it through the day. As things continue to change, we feel completely and utterly powerless and we don’t know what to do or where to turn. 

But, that is where our faith comes in. We cannot see or even pretend to know what the future has to offer or what we can do to make it from one minute to the next. A cardiologist told me a long time ago that the average human heart has about one billion beats in it. Some last longer while some give out earlier due to disease or injury. But, on average, that muscle in your chest that pumps blood throughout your body every moment of every day has one billion beats in it. We don’t know when the beat we now feel will be the last or beginning of the next. We have no assurances or guarantees of the next beat or breath. 

Man is the only species that has an understanding of his mortality. We know that one day we will stop breathing, turn cold and die. It is just something that happens. Like the things that we make, we, too, have expiration dates. For the most part, we don’t concentrate on that moment. However, when we face something like a natural disaster or a pandemic that threatens to end life for most around the world, that’s when we realize that we don’t have a lot of control and that our lives are as fleeting as the morning fog. 
      
When we start to lose control over our lives and are subject to the situation, we begin to turn to other things. Some use drugs or alcohol to numb their minds to the reality that they face. Others use food to medicate their feelings. Each person turns to something that provides a little peace and eases their minds.

But, those things are only a temporary solution. Drugs, alcohol or whatever we use to numb our feelings only provides a short-lived escape. As their effects wear off, we are once again faced with the stark reality of our problems. 

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul, in chapter three when talking to them about living a new life, writes, “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

The things that Paul talks about are the things that should matter the most for each of us. We are God’s children and chosen by Him to be His holy people that He loves. As His children, we know that God watches over us and guides our every step. We have nothing to fear or dread. 

As we do His work, we are to do it in the spirit of love and to always be thankful. By living a life that is filled with joy, mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, our lives are full and we lack nothing.

Each morning as I wake up, I thank God for the gift of life and for the day ahead. When I close my eyes in sleep, I thank Him for the blessings of that day and ask Him to watch over and protect my family as we slumber. In each prayer, I pray that His will be done in my life and that I follow wherever He leads me.

In 1872, Annie Hawks and Robert Lowry wrote a beautiful hymn that should always be in our hearts. That hymn, “I Need Thee Every Hour”, has been on my heart during the last week. There is a particular part of the first verse that gives me comfort. The words, “no tender voice like thine can peace afford”, are very simple, but carry a deep meaning.

It is only His voice that brings me peace and unimaginable joy. He calms me when I am afraid and lends me His strength when mine is failing. In all times, good or bad, our Heavenly Father is there. It is our faith that binds ourselves to Him and keeps us from concentrating on the things of lesser importance.

As you go through this week, concentrate on the most important thing in your life, that faith that binds you closely to the Father. Don’t let the things of his world pull you away from Him. Let the words of that wonderful hymn, “I Need Thee Every Hour”, be your guide to peace, joy, love, service and humility. When you forget about the things of the world and focus on the most important things like your faith, you can definitely stand firm in His grace. 
 
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.