Sunday, March 29, 2020

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Matthew 9:1-8

Matthew 9:1-8 New King James Version (NKJV)

Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralytic

So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”
And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!”
But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” And he arose and departed to his house.
Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled[a] and glorified God, who had given such power to men.

Footnotes:

  1. Matthew 9:8 NU were afraid

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Love and Care for Each Other

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have witnessed instances of selfishness punctuated with even more instances of self-centeredness. It seems for every twenty or thirty of those stories, there is one that demonstrates love and compassion for others. Needless to say, the stories of self-sacrifice and charity are often buried under a sea of stories that just make people shake their heads in disbelief.

As I watch the world trying to cope with this “undiscovered country” of global pandemic, I realize that the only way for us to get through this and remain dedicated to the ideal of love for one another is to truly remember that we should be servants to one another. When we put the health and needs of others above our own, we are no longer just animals, but, rather, human beings who love one another.

Several people have asked me a question similar to the one that the Pharisees asked Jesus, “What is the most important thing for us to do as Christians during this time of crises?”

My answer is the same as Jesus’. We are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind and soul and, equally as important, love one another.

In chapter twenty-two of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus replied to the Pharisees, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.

You notice what Jesus says about these two important laws. If you just follow those, the others, as well as the demands of the prophets, rest on these. When you examine the laws in the Old Testament, most of them easily follow into two simple buckets. The first governs our relationship with God the Father. The second governs our relationship with each other. 

If we just followed these two laws that Jesus calls important, we would be living in a far, far better world. By loving God and loving each other, our entire world would change overnight and be something of a paradise. There would be no need for other laws. We would do everything out of love for God and for each other. Nothing would please me more than to see a world where hate, bigotry, greed, lust and other sins would be a thing of the past.

Jesus, in chapter thirteen of the Gospel of John, says to his disciples, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.

When we love one another, we reflect God’s love not only for us but also the entire world. This is how the simple message of the Good News spread like wildfire. It does not require a degree from a seminary to preach this message. It starts by demonstrating God’s love to everyone around us.

As people witness that love in action, they will, in turn, ask why. It is through that simple question that we are able to preach the Word to the lost and those in need of salvation. Many have found God not through a paper tract handed out but through the deeds and actions of those who are followers of the Christ.

Soon enough, we will see the end of this pandemic and each of us will have an opportunity to reflect on it. What will we say about it and ourselves? Will we look at ourselves and just shake our heads in disbelief as we think about our actions?

I have seen too many stories of selfishness and not enough of self-sacrifice. There are times when I just do not listen to the news or care to do so. Each day brings us to the brink of collapse. I am not preaching about doomsday or Judgement Day. I speak of the day when we, as human beings, give into the desires of this world and we spiral downwards into the pit of despair. 

Before we all take that last step, let us pause and think of what Jesus told the Pharisees.  Then let us live to love not only God the Father but also to love everyone. 

In his first epistle, John, in chapter four, writes, “Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

God lives in us when we love those around us and by doing so, His love is visible to the world and becomes real to all those who are looking for something that will fill that void in their hearts and souls.

As we begin another week, let us truly love one another and show the world that things can be better. We can make a big difference in other people’s lives and do so much to ease the pain and suffering of so many. We just have to start by loving God and then applying that love He had for us to the rest of the world by loving just one person at a time. When we learn to do these things, we can definitely stand firm in His grace.

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

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 Peter 2:9-10

1 Peter 2:9-10 New King James Version (NKJV)

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 12:12

Proverbs 12:12 New King James Version (NKJV)

12 The wicked covet the catch of evil men,
But the root of the righteous yields fruit.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 18:31-34

Psalm 18:31-34 New King James Version (NKJV)

31 For who is God, except the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?
32 It is God who arms me with strength,
And makes my way perfect.
33 He makes my feet like the feet of deer,
And sets me on my high places.
34 He teaches my hands to make war,
So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Revelation 21:4

Revelation 21:4 New King James Version (NKJV)

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Morning Scripture Reading - Exodus 34:10

Exodus 34:10 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Covenant Renewed

10 And He said: “Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do [a]marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord. For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.

Footnotes:

  1. Exodus 34:10 wonderful acts

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 12:11

Proverbs 12:11 New King James Version (NKJV)

11 He who [a]tills his land will be satisfied with bread,
But he who follows [b]frivolity is devoid of [c]understanding.

Footnotes:

  1. Proverbs 12:11 works or cultivates
  2. Proverbs 12:11 Lit. vain things
  3. Proverbs 12:11 Lit. heart

Friday, March 27, 2020

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 18:28-30

Psalm 18:28-30 New King James Version (NKJV)

28 For You will light my lamp;
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
29 For by You I can [a]run against a troop,
By my God I can leap over a wall.
30 As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is [b]proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 18:29 Or run through
  2. Psalm 18:30 Lit. refined

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Philippians 1:15-18

Philippians 1:15-18 New King James Version (NKJV)

15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16 [a]The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.

Footnotes:

  1. Philippians 1:16 NU reverses vv. 16 and 17.

Morning Scripture Reading - Hebrews 12:1-2

Hebrews 12:1-2 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Race of Faith

12 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the [a]author and [b]finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Footnotes:

  1. Hebrews 12:2 originator
  2. Hebrews 12:2 perfecter

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 12:10

Proverbs 12:10 New King James Version (NKJV)

10 A righteous man regards the life of his animal,
But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 18:25-27

Psalm 18:25-27 New King James Version (NKJV)

25 With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful;
With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless;
26 With the pure You will show Yourself pure;
And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd.
27 For You will save the humble people,
But will bring down haughty looks.

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Matthew 23:8-12

Matthew 23:8-12 New King James Version (NKJV)

But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your [a]Teacher, [b]the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be [c]humbled, and he who humbles himself will be [d]exalted.

Footnotes:

  1. Matthew 23:8 Leader
  2. Matthew 23:8 NU omits the Christ
  3. Matthew 23:12 put down
  4. Matthew 23:12 lifted up

Morning Scripture Reading - Revelation 3:21-22

Revelation 3:21-22 New King James Version (NKJV)

21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’ ”

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 12:9

Proverbs 12:9 New King James Version (NKJV)

Better is the one who is [a]slighted but has a servant,
Than he who honors himself but lacks bread.

Footnotes:

  1. Proverbs 12:9 lightly esteemed

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 18:20-24

Psalm 18:20-24 New King James Version (NKJV)

20 The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness;
According to the cleanness of my hands
He has recompensed me.
21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
And have not wickedly departed from my God.
22 For all His judgments were before me,
And I did not put away His statutes from me.
23 I was also blameless [a]before Him,
And I kept myself from my iniquity.
24 Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness,
According to the cleanness of my hands in His sight.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 18:23 with

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Matthew 8:18-22

Matthew 8:18-22 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Cost of Discipleship

18 And when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side. 19 Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.”
20 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.”
21 Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”
22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Mid-Week Message - God's Song

"For the Lord your God is living among you.  He is a mighty savior.  He will take delight in you with gladness.  With his love, he will calm all your fears.  He will rejoice over you with joyful songs."  Zephaniah 3:17  (NLT)

They were born in New York City, the sons of Jewish immigrant parents.  In all, there were six of them.  One died when he was only a few months old.  You may have heard of this family.  The Marx Brothers got their start in Vaudeville and four of them went on to make some of the funniest classic movies you will ever see.  Though Chico, Harpo and Groucho were the most famous due to making the most movies, all of the brothers were extremely talented and also played at least one instrument.  

My favorite part of any Marx Brothers movie is the instrumental scene which features Harpo.    Though he was proficient in playing six instruments, he earned his nickname when he chose to specialize in playing the harp.  I am always fascinated by the look on his face as his hands work to form the right notes and the beautiful piece comes together.  I've seen that when I have observed other musicians, and even some artists as they create.  It is a look that I imagine the Lord has as He looks at His creation while He lovingly guides His children.  

We don't often think about God creating music.  I have heard many sermons likening Him to an artist.  Even I have used examples of our lives being tenderly and expertly woven together by His hands. But today's verse, this one verse in Zephaniah, brings us something new to consider.  Can you perceive of Him singing over you?  

When my daughter was born, I made up a lullaby for her.  I wanted her to have a song that was hers and hers alone.  I wanted it to be something that no one else would ever sing over their own little one.  I have no idea how many times that tune lilted through our home.  Sometimes, as she grew, she would ask me to sing it to her and I hope that meant that she considered it special because it was meant to be.  I do know that she remembers it still and she is twenty-six years old now.  

Possibly, our Heavenly Father has a special song for each of us.  Though created in His image, we are all individuals with our own likes and dislikes, abilities and personalities.  I think each blessing from Him is a type of song written especially for the one receiving the blessing.  

This I know for sure, no greater love exists than His love for us.  No matter where we find ourselves, no matter what we are struggling with, no matter what we are going through at any given moment, that love is real and accessible.  We are seeing things in our country that most of us have never seen before and will hopefully never see again.  We don't know what will happen tomorrow, next month or next year.  But...we do know the One that is never caught by surprise.  He already knows how we make it through and all that He is asking from us is that we love Him and love one another. 

What song is He singing to you today?  Listen, maybe you will hear Him.  God bless.   

Morning Scripture Reading - Ecclesiastes 9:17

Ecclesiastes 9:17 New King James Version (NKJV)

17 Words of the wise, spoken quietly, should be heard
Rather than the shout of a ruler of fools.