Friday, August 31, 2018

Daily Word of God - 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 New Living Translation (NLT)

13 Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous.[a] Be strong. 14 And do everything with love.

16:13 Greek Be men.

Daily Word of God - Matthew 19:16-24

Matthew 19:16-24 New Living Translation (NLT)

The Rich Man
16 Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher,[a] what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”

17 “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep[b] the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” the man asked.

And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. 19 Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c]”

20 “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”

21 Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 24 I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

19:16 Some manuscripts read Good Teacher.
19:17 Some manuscripts read continue to keep.
19:18-19 Exod 20:12-16; Deut 5:16-20; Lev 19:18.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Daily Word of God - Hosea 1:10-11

Hosea 1:10-11 New Living Translation (NLT)

10 [a]“Yet the time will come when Israel’s people will be like the sands of the seashore—too many to count! Then, at the place where they were told, ‘You are not my people,’ it will be said, ‘You are children of the living God.’ 11 Then the people of Judah and Israel will unite together. They will choose one leader for themselves, and they will return from exile together. What a day that will be—the day of Jezreel[b]—when God will again plant his people in his land.

1:10 Verses 1:10-11 are numbered 2:1-2 in Hebrew text.
1:11 Jezreel means “God plants.”

Daily Word of God - John 2:13-22

John 2:13-22 New Living Translation (NLT)

Jesus Clears the Temple
13 It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. 14 In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. 15 Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. 16 Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”

17 Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”[a]

18 But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.”

19 “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

20 “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” 21 But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said.

2:17 Or “Concern for God’s house will be my undoing.” Ps 69:9.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Daily Word of God - 2 Samuel 12:13-14

2 Samuel 12:13-14 New Living Translation (NLT)

David Confesses His Guilt
13 Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

Nathan replied, “Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin. 14 Nevertheless, because you have shown utter contempt for the word of the Lord[a] by doing this, your child will die.”

12:14 As in Dead Sea Scrolls; Masoretic Text reads the enemies of the Lord.

Mid-Week Message - Finding Peace on a Hard Day

"Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.  And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 (AMPC)

God said "no" today.  It has happened many times before, but today hit me rather hard.  This "no" followed what I had interpreted as a "yes" and because of that I was disillusioned.  My words to my husband were, "I can't trust anything anymore."  Now that a few hours have passed and I have had some time to think, I realize that I heard the "yes" because it was what I was wanting to hear and not anything that the Holy Spirit had conveyed to me. 
See, I took my attention off of the Lord.  I transferred my trust onto what I thought I heard in my heart rather than leaving it where it needed to be.  Only the Lord knows what tomorrow holds.  By His side is where I need to keep myself.  Had I done that, I would not have experienced the distress because I would have known that although this was not His provision, His perfect provision is coming.  
It is not His will that we be anxious about our lives.  He wants us to lean on Him and to trust Him for everything we need in life.  Today should have been a time of thanksgiving and acknowledgement and of seeking peace over the future.  Just as He provided manna for the children of Israel, so He will take care of our needs.  I love the verse for today, and specifically in the Classic Amplified version because it conveys a mighty picture of our hearts and minds being guarded.  We can all have that protection.  It is readily available.  All we have to do is ask God for that peace then we don't have to worry about what is yet to come.
I know I am not the only one that has found themselves in this predicament.  We all go through periods in which we wonder about tomorrow.  What will the medical report say?  How did the interview go?  When will that check come in?  And we find ourselves asking if God truly knows what we are going through.  Does He know how worried we are?  Does He care?  
As I have had to assure myself today, I will now assure you.  Indeed He does care.  He loves us more than we will ever be able to understand.  That is why He reminds us not to fret or worry.  All good things come from the Father above.  Everything belongs to Him.  Whatever situation we find ourselves in He is mighty and loving enough to guide us through.  He has answers that we cannot even dream of and at the correct time, His time, He will reveal them.  Until then, He asks that we rest and allow Him to be in charge.  
I pray that each of us is able to find that peace that transcends all understanding as we go through this week.  With great love and thanksgiving, God bless you.

Daily Word of God - Proverbs 28:13

Proverbs 28:13 New Living Translation (NLT)

13 People who conceal their sins will not prosper,
    but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Daily Word of God - Psalm 119:153-160

Psalm 119:153-160 New Living Translation (NLT)

153 Look upon my suffering and rescue me,
    for I have not forgotten your instructions.
154 Argue my case; take my side!
    Protect my life as you promised.
155 The wicked are far from rescue,
    for they do not bother with your decrees.
156 Lord, how great is your mercy;
    let me be revived by following your regulations.
157 Many persecute and trouble me,
    yet I have not swerved from your laws.
158 Seeing these traitors makes me sick at heart,
    because they care nothing for your word.
159 See how I love your commandments, Lord.
    Give back my life because of your unfailing love.
160 The very essence of your words is truth;
    all your just regulations will stand forever.

Daily Word of God - John 20:19-23

John 20:19-23 New Living Translation (NLT)

Jesus Appears to His Disciples
19 That Sunday evening[a] the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

20:19 Greek In the evening of that day, the first day of the week.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Daily Word of God - John 10:25-30

John 10:25-30 New Living Translation (NLT)

25 Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. 26 But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, 29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else.[a] No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.”

10:29 Other manuscripts read for what my Father has given me is more powerful than anything; still others read for regarding that which my Father has given me, he is greater than all.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Daily Word of God - Psalm 103:20-22

Psalm 103:20-22 New Living Translation (NLT)

20 Praise the Lord, you angels,
    you mighty ones who carry out his plans,
    listening for each of his commands.
21 Yes, praise the Lord, you armies of angels
    who serve him and do his will!
22 Praise the Lord, everything he has created,
    everything in all his kingdom.

Let all that I am praise the Lord.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - The Secret to Great Wealth

If you go to any book store or watch late night infomercials, you will always find a slew of books on how to achieve great wealth. Each book or program has its own scheme on how to make it big. Some will tell you that you can do it through real estate. Others will provide you with secrets about investment so that you can enjoy the “high life” and have all that you want and even more. Others will show you the way to wealth by using small, classified ads in newspapers to sell informational booklets to others. In all cases, each book or program showcases the outcome if you follow their steps to success. Books will describe a life of luxury. Infomercials will show you pictures of expensive homes, cars and yachts. All promise a life of wealth and happiness.

But, what happens if the schemes do not work? Will you be poor and unhappy? If you didn’t invest your entire savings into the program or book, you are just out that money. You still have your current life where your needs for food, shelter and clothing are being met. In short, you are no worse than before you started the scheme outlined by the books or programs. The real question that you should be asking yourself is, “Am I happy?”

If your basic needs are being met and you have your health, you should be content with that. You may think that having a lot of money to do whatever you want and buy whatever you want is the key to happiness. If you think that, you cannot be further from the truth. Having more of anything including money does not bring happiness. It just brings more and different problems. 

For example, if you have more money, you will soon discover that you will pay more and more in taxes. Buying more things only leads to a desire to buy more things. It almost seems an addiction. When that occurs, you then need to make more money so that you can afford more things. In some cases, it does become an addiction and a vicious cycle. You begin to sacrifice more and more to make more and more. In the end, you may find yourself bankrupt not only financially but also morally and physically. You have given up everything to achieve what you thought would bring you ultimate happiness only to find that you were truly happy long before you even began this journey of self-destruction and sacrifice.

So, what is the secret to great wealth? Paul, in his first letter to Timothy, explains it quite clearly in chapter 6, “6 Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. 7 After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. 8 So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. 9 But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.

Even back then, people did the same things that we do today. They craved and desired more than they needed. They all wanted the “high life” and wanted to live on “easy street”. But, as they soon discovered, this desire to be rich only leads to ruin and destruction. This desire only for money leads people to temptation and all kinds of evil. They crave nothing but money and begin to wander away from their faith, their family and soon find themselves deeper in debt and with even more sorrows than before.

Many years ago, I saw a movie called “The Boost” with James Woods and Sean Young. Woods played a salesman who wanted to give his wife, played by Sean Young, the “high life”. After only finding disappointment in other sales jobs, he got involved in a real estate scheme that was guaranteed to provide them with more wealth and happiness without any chance of risk or failure. At first, he was making more money than he had ever made in his entire life. He began to buy expensive toys for both himself and his wife. Cars, homes, airplanes and more were all toys for them to enjoy and buy. They adorned themselves with expensive clothing and jewelry. The both of them had it all and more. Soon, they discovered cocaine and began to spend money on that expensive habit. In time, the real estate scheme ran out of steam and the source of their wealth dried up. They could no longer afford all of their expensive toys, clothes or jewelry. They were bankrupt, but they now had something that they could not shake or walk away from even through bankruptcy. They were both addicted to cocaine and that master needed to be fed hourly. 

They lost everything including each other. At the end of the movie, you see both of them now separated and unhappy. The movie came out during the 1980s. That decade has been called by some historians as the “Decade of Excess”. The economy was on fire and everyone was enjoying the fruits of their labor. There seemed to be no end in sight. The stock market was booming and everyone was getting rich. Many soon found themselves in the same position as the couple from the movie. Buying more only to find that they wanted more. The “Decade of Excess” soon turned into the decade of disappointment, sadness and sorrow. There was an uptick in the number of cases of bankruptcies, depression, alcoholism, drug addiction and suicides.

During each period of financial boom, this story repeats itself. People make more and spend more only to find themselves destitute and unhappy. They all realize, in the end, that they were truly happy when they did not have all of the expensive toys, clothing and jewelry. Excess did not mean happiness for most. It became a curse that soon took its toll on their lives.

Several Sundays ago I presented the message entitled “Two Masters”. In that message, I discussed the insidiousness of having two masters in your life, God and money. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6, “24 No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

True wealth comes from being godly and content with what you have. God provides for your daily needs of food, clothing and shelter. Having more of any one of those items does not make you happier. Having a bigger, more expensive house does not shelter you more. It does the same as a smaller one. It provides a roof over your head and protection from the elements. That is all a shelter does.

In Exodus 16, we see God providing food for the Israelites with one very important provision, “gather enough for that day”. God provided them with manna, heavenly bread, to eat, but some decided to gather more than they needed. They became disobedient and soon discovered that the manna spoiled and was full of maggots. Their greed to have more than they needed separated them from God.

When you allow greed and the craving for money to take over your life, you will soon find yourself on the path to ruin and destruction. By the time many find that they are on that path, it is too late. Some lose everything including themselves. Their relationship with the Lord is shattered and they wander aimlessly through life wondering what happened. Although it may be too late to salvage their financial lives, it is never too late to realize the error of their ways and return to the Father. Like the prodigal son realizing that he made a big mistake in taking his inheritance early from his father, you can always return to the Father and He will welcome you back with open arms and celebrate your return.

If you find yourself on this path to ruin and destruction or just starting down that path, there is still time to change and live a life filled with contentment with what you have and build a strong relationship with God through His son, Christ Jesus. Once you turn your life around, I can assure you that you will enjoy a wealth greater than anything this world can offer and be able to stand firm in His grace.

May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.
~ Numbers 6:24-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

Daily Word of God - James 4:11-12

James 4:11-12 New Living Translation (NLT)

Warning against Judging Others
11 Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters.[a] If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. 12 God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?

4:11 Greek brothers.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Daily Word of God - Hebrews 6:13-20

Hebrews 6:13-20 New Living Translation (NLT)

God’s Promises Bring Hope
13 For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in his own name, saying:

14 “I will certainly bless you,
    and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.”[a]

15 Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised.

16 Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding. 17 God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. 18 So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. 19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. 20 Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.

6:14 Gen 22:17.

Daily Word of God - 2 Peter 1:3-11

2 Peter 1:3-11 New Living Translation (NLT)

Growing in Faith
3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

10 So, dear brothers and sisters,[a] work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. 11 Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

1:10 Greek brothers.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Daily Word of God - 1 Samuel 2:1-11

1 Samuel 2:1-11 New Living Translation (NLT)

Hannah’s Prayer of Praise
2 Then Hannah prayed:

“My heart rejoices in the Lord!
    The Lord has made me strong.[a]
Now I have an answer for my enemies;
    I rejoice because you rescued me.
2 No one is holy like the Lord!
    There is no one besides you;
    there is no Rock like our God.

3 “Stop acting so proud and haughty!
    Don’t speak with such arrogance!
For the Lord is a God who knows what you have done;
    he will judge your actions.
4 The bow of the mighty is now broken,
    and those who stumbled are now strong.
5 Those who were well fed are now starving,
    and those who were starving are now full.
The childless woman now has seven children,
    and the woman with many children wastes away.
6 The Lord gives both death and life;
    he brings some down to the grave[b] but raises others up.
7 The Lord makes some poor and others rich;
    he brings some down and lifts others up.
8 He lifts the poor from the dust
    and the needy from the garbage dump.
He sets them among princes,
    placing them in seats of honor.
For all the earth is the Lord’s,
    and he has set the world in order.

9 “He will protect his faithful ones,
    but the wicked will disappear in darkness.
No one will succeed by strength alone.
10     Those who fight against the Lord will be shattered.
He thunders against them from heaven;
    the Lord judges throughout the earth.
He gives power to his king;
    he increases the strength[c] of his anointed one.”

11 Then Elkanah returned home to Ramah without Samuel. And the boy served the Lord by assisting Eli the priest.

2:1 Hebrew has exalted my horn.
2:6 Hebrew to Sheol.
2:10 Hebrew he exalts the horn.

Daily Word of God - Hebrews 13:8-9

Hebrews 13:8-9 New Living Translation (NLT)

8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God’s grace, not from rules about food, which don’t help those who follow them.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Daily Word of God - John 4:19-26

John 4:19-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. 20 So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim,[a] where our ancestors worshiped?”

21 Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

25 The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus told her, “I am the Messiah!”[b]

4:20 Greek on this mountain.
4:26 Or “The ‘I am’ is here”; or “I am the Lord”; Greek reads “I am, the one speaking to you.” See Exod 3:14.

Daily Word of God - Romans 4:13-17

Romans 4:13-17 New Living Translation (NLT)

13 Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. 14 If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless. 15 For the law always brings punishment on those who try to obey it. (The only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break!)

16 So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. 17 That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.”[a] This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.

4:17 Gen 17:5.

Daily Word of God - Romans 5:6-11

Romans 5:6-11 New Living Translation (NLT)

6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. 7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Daily Word of God - Acts 15:4-11

Acts 15:4-11 New Living Translation (NLT)

4 When they arrived in Jerusalem, Barnabas and Paul were welcomed by the whole church, including the apostles and elders. They reported everything God had done through them. 5 But then some of the believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and insisted, “The Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses.”

6 So the apostles and elders met together to resolve this issue. 7 At the meeting, after a long discussion, Peter stood and addressed them as follows: “Brothers, you all know that God chose me from among you some time ago to preach to the Gentiles so that they could hear the Good News and believe. 8 God knows people’s hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith. 10 So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers[a] with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear? 11 We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”

15:10 Greek disciples.

Mid-Week Message - Attitude of Altitude

"Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude."  1 Peter 3:8 (NLT)

It was a horrible dream.  In it, I was standing beside a broken down car on a dirt road.  I was waiting and hoping for someone to come by to help.  From a distance I saw a young man in overalls walking toward me.  Over his shoulder he carried a pole with a heavy bucket hanging from the end.  As he approached I was feeling more hopeful of having my car issue resolved and being able to continue my journey.  He was smiling as he neared however the smile disappeared when he drew closer and he swung the pole suddenly and hit me in the face with the heavy bucket. 

I have had the opportunity to work in several Christian organizations.  One of the things that I have noticed there (and in churches) is that Christians can be very unkind to each other.  Now, I realize we are all human beings with faults.  None of us are perfect and those imperfections will creep into our professional and personal relationships occasionally.  What I am referring to though is a general attitude of altitude.  You know what that is.  Because one position is technically higher than another, those in the higher positions begin to see themselves as more important.  They view their "calling" as more valuable than those with lesser titles and forget that a functioning body needs gifts of all kinds in order to be cohesive.  

1 Corinthians reminds us that a body has many parts.  The hand is not more important than the foot nor the eye more important than the ear.  Each of us has skills, abilities and talents given to us by our Creator that are unique to us.  When we all come together and combine those gifts we are able to accomplish great things. How then do the divisions occur?  Simply, we get caught up in ourselves.  We begin to align ourselves with others that have the same function and in so doing shut out all others.  To them this feels like they are being looked down upon, or counted as less valuable.  

No matter where we find ourselves in life, we as believers are to be loving and compassionate.  Jesus said that loving God and loving others were the two greatest commandments.  When we fail to do that we cease being ambassadors of Christ and appear the same as unbelievers.  Everyone we come in contact with should be able to see the reflection of our Lord in our words and deeds.  It needs to remain uppermost in our minds in each and every activity we engage in.  At work, at play, with family or with strangers.  Because if someone knows we are a Christian and we fail to treat them kindly, then it can be like being hit in the face by a heavy bucket.  Those wounds leave scars that may never heal.  

As we go about our week, let's watch our actions and reactions toward others.  Kindness and compassion, in the world or in our Christian circles, leave behind a sweet aroma and touch hearts in ways that we may never know.  God bless you.

Daily Word of God - Ephesians 4:11-13

Ephesians 4:11-13 New Living Translation (NLT)

11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Daily Word of God - 1 Timothy 2:1-8

1 Timothy 2:1-8 New Living Translation (NLT)

Instructions about Worship
2 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 5 For,

There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. 6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.

This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time. 7 And I have been chosen as a preacher and apostle to teach the Gentiles this message about faith and truth. I’m not exaggerating—just telling the truth.

8 In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.

Daily Word of God - John 1:6-18

John 1:6-18 New Living Translation (NLT)

6 God sent a man, John the Baptist,[a] 7 to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. 8 John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. 9 The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

14 So the Word became human[b] and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.[c] And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

15 John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’”

16 From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.[d] 17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God,[e] is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

1:6 Greek a man named John.
1:14a Greek became flesh.
1:14b Or grace and truth; also in 1:17.
1:16 Or received the grace of Christ rather than the grace of the law; Greek reads received grace upon grace.
1:18 Some manuscripts read But the one and only Son.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Daily Word of God - Psalm 148:1-6

Psalm 148:1-6 New Living Translation (NLT)

Psalm 148
1 Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord from the heavens!
    Praise him from the skies!
2 Praise him, all his angels!
    Praise him, all the armies of heaven!
3 Praise him, sun and moon!
    Praise him, all you twinkling stars!
4 Praise him, skies above!
    Praise him, vapors high above the clouds!
5 Let every created thing give praise to the Lord,
    for he issued his command, and they came into being.
6 He set them in place forever and ever.
    His decree will never be revoked.

Daily Word of God - Romans 3:21-31

Romans 3:21-31 New Living Translation (NLT)

Christ Took Our Punishment
21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses[a] and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.

29 After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn’t he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course he is. 30 There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles.[b] 31 Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.

3:21 Greek in the law.
3:30 Greek whether they are circumcised or uncircumcised.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Daily Word of God - Romans 8:15-17

Romans 8:15-17 New Living Translation (NLT)

15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.[a] Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”[b] 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

8:15a Greek you received a spirit of sonship.
8:15b Abba is an Aramaic term for “father.”

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Being God’s Obedient Servant

Over the years, I have pondered the question of what it means to be God’s obedient servant. During my reflection, I discovered a couple of key traits that are shared by God’s servants and what it takes to be His servant. Being His obedient servant is not an easy task or something that is taken on lightly. It requires the utmost in dedication, a heightened relationship with the Lord, a willingness to go wherever He leads and trusting Him without question. 

When you look at the men and women of the Bible, you see the best examples of what it means to be an obedient servant. When you examine their lives, you see that they faced internal and external struggles, persecution and, in some cases, physical harm or death. It is part of being God’s servant. Each faced temptation. Each, I am sure, may have had his or her moments of doubt, but those thoughts were quickly dismissed. Each refocused by keeping the prize in sight and continued to run the good race and fight the good fight.

As I was reading Isaiah 50, I began to see, with clarity, the required characteristics of an obedient servant who is willing to humble himself or herself before the Lord and do as He commands. Let us begin to look at those characteristics and examine them with some detail to see how we measure up in our lives.

The first thing I noticed is that the obedient servant receives his or her wisdom directly from the Lord. They do not seek the worldly wisdom of those around them but look to the Lord for guidance. That wisdom that they receive is not just to be used for personal advancement or kept quietly in their hearts. It is to be shared with others in order to bring them comfort or help them with problems that they are facing. Isaiah states this point very clearly, “4 The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will.

Each day, we should wake up and ask God to provide us with the words of wisdom to share with others and provide comfort to those in need of it. When we ask for those words, we are also able to see His will in our lives. He provides to us a purpose and a desire to fulfill it. When we begin to see God’s will working in our lives, we have a profound sense of responsibility not only to Him but also to His children. His will directs our every step and provides us with the right words to share with those around us. 

Moses, in Exodus 4, is called by God to deliver His children out of bondage in Egypt. Moses questions the Lord and offers up excuses. He tells the Lord that the people may ask who sent him. They will demand an answer. God tells Moses, “14 I am who I am. You must tell them: ‘The one who is called I Am has sent me to you.’” God provided the answer to Moses so that there would be no question or doubt in the minds of the Israelites that God had sent him to lead them out of bondage.

Isaiah, in verse 5, tells us of another characteristic of an obedient servant, “The Sovereign Lord has spoken to me, and I have listened. I have not rebelled or turned away.” An obedient servant of God listens intently to the words and wisdom of the Father and does not shirk their responsibilities or turn away from the Lord. Sometimes, we may try to avoid our responsibilities out of fear of persecution or even death, but, in turn, God brings conviction to our heart and we realize that what we need to refocus and concentrate on doing God’s will here on earth no matter what the consequences are.

Elijah, for example, fled to Horeb, the mountain of God, in order to escape the wrath of Ahad and Jezebel. Elijah feared for his life and felt that he was all alone. He took refuge in a cave and there the Lord spoke to him. God did not appear in a great wind, fire or earthquake. God spoke to Elijah in a gentle whisper. Let us look at 1 Kings 19. “11 The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” Elijah had to listen to God carefully as anyone would do if someone were whispering to him or her. God gave him specific instructions and provided him with the plan of action.

Listening and acting in accordance to God’s will and direction is different from hearing Him. It is all well and good to say that you have heard the Lord speaking to you, but as His obedient servant, you must listen carefully to His word and act as directed by Him. Elijah, after listening to God, followed His explicit instructions and continued down the righteous path God had for him. 

But, what does it mean to listen to the Lord? Let us look to Samuel and how God called to him. Samuel was given to Eli, the High Priest of Shiloh, by his mother, Hannah. She prayed to God and asked Him for a son. As part of her prayer, she promised she would give her son back to God so that he could serve Him. God heard her prayer and she was with child. As she had promised, she gave her son, Samuel, to Eli so that he could be trained to serve the Lord. As he slumbers, God calls to Samuel. Samuel instead thinks it was Eli calling him. After Eli tells him that it was not he who called out to him, Eli realizes that God was calling Samuel. Eli gave Samuel explicit instructions on how to respond to the voice. In 1 Samuel 3, Eli tells Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” Samuel did as he was told to do.

As His obedient servants, we must actively listen to the Lord. We must open our hearts and minds to Him and His words. We cannot allow distractions to get in the way as He speaks to our hearts and provides us with the wisdom and direction we need. God speaks to us every day either through His Word or directly. I can safely say that I have heard the voice of the Lord as He directed me to preach His word and to start a ministry to serve in His kingdom. For nonbelievers, this is difficult to comprehend or even find credible. Some will scoff at the very thought of God speaking to individuals. 

As we grow in our faith, there are certain things we can expect to occur in our lives. There will be those in the world that will mock or persecute us for our faith. They will call us, “crazy people who worship some bearded being in the clouds.” Others may even seek to imprison us for our beliefs. But, as obedient servants of God, we are to put those things aside and remain focused on the prize that lies ahead. 

Jesus, when he came to live among us, left his exalted place on high with the Father to become human. He did not come into this world to judge us. He came to save us by providing a gift of salvation directly from the Father. Paul writes, in Philippians 2, about Jesus, “6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Part of being God’s obedient servants is to be humble even if means subjecting ourselves to ridicule, mockery, physical torture or even death as part of our service to the Lord. Paul writes in his second letter to Timothy, “12 Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Jesus, in Matthew 10, reminds his disciples, “22 And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.” 

As we endure the mockery, ridicule and, in some case, much worse, we demonstrate our unwavering faith in the Lord and continue to be His obedient servants. As with Jesus, Paul and others in the Bible, it is part and parcel of being a servant to the Most High. We will find ourselves the punchline to jokes or standing alone in the midst of a mob who ask the question, “Where is your God now?” But, we should gain comfort in Jesus’s words in Matthew 11, “29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

The other characteristic that I find striking is that an obedient servant of God knows that God is always near and is on his or her side. Isaiah writes, “8 He who gives me justice is near. Who will dare to bring charges against me now? Where are my accusers? Let them appear! 9 See, the Sovereign Lord is on my side! Who will declare me guilty? All my enemies will be destroyed like old clothes that have been eaten by moths!

God is always there for His obedient servants and will provide whatever is necessary to overcome the overwhelming. At times, we may face problems that are so overwhelming and feel that there is no way to overcome them. God will always provide a way. There is nothing that will stand in your way when God is right there with you. God promises this in Isaiah 54, “17 But in that coming day no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the Lord; their vindication will come from me. I, the Lord, have spoken!

Nothing will ultimately stand in our way as long as we remain His obedient servants. There are times when we question His direction and will in our lives, but we must not dwell on those thoughts. Those fears, uncertainties and doubts play directly into the hands of Satan. He will whisper into our ears and cause us to question or doubt God’s wisdom, will and direction in our lives. We must not listen to him. When those thoughts come into our mind, we must seek out God and ask Him for a hedge of protection. God is our refuge, fortress and shield. If God be for us, who can be against us? Satan has no power over us when we seek shelter in the everlasting arms of the Lord.

As we approach the end of our lives and we stand before the Lord, the words that we long to hear from Him will be our reward for our service, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let's celebrate together!

As you go through the rest of this week, I ask you to take inventory of these characteristics and to be honest with yourselves. I find myself lacking in some of them from time to time, but I quickly realize my shortcomings and ask God to forgive me and direct my steps. When we do that, we will soon find it easier to be an obedient servant that can stand firm in His grace.

May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.
~ Numbers 6:24-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

Daily Word of God - 2 Corinthians 13:3-4

2 Corinthians 13:3-4 New Living Translation (NLT)

3 I will give you all the proof you want that Christ speaks through me. Christ is not weak when he deals with you; he is powerful among you. 4 Although he was crucified in weakness, he now lives by the power of God. We, too, are weak, just as Christ was, but when we deal with you we will be alive with him and will have God’s power.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Daily Word of God - Philippians 1:3-6

Philippians 1:3-6 New Living Translation (NLT)

Paul’s Thanksgiving and Prayer
3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. 4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. 6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Daily Word of God - Acts 2:42-47

Acts 2:42-47 New Living Translation (NLT)

The Believers Form a Community
42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper[a]), and to prayer.

43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity[b]— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

2:42 Greek the breaking of bread; also in 2:46.
2:46 Or and sincere hearts.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Daily Word of God - Psalm 119:9-16

Psalm 119:9-16 New Living Translation (NLT)

9 How can a young person stay pure?
    By obeying your word.
10 I have tried hard to find you—
    don’t let me wander from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart,
    that I might not sin against you.
12 I praise you, O Lord;
    teach me your decrees.
13 I have recited aloud
    all the regulations you have given us.
14 I have rejoiced in your laws
    as much as in riches.
15 I will study your commandments
    and reflect on your ways.
16 I will delight in your decrees
    and not forget your word.

Daily Word of God - John 10:6-10

John 10:6-10 New Living Translation (NLT)

6 Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, 7 so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me[a] were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. 9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved.[b] They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

10:8 Some manuscripts do not include before me.

10:9 Or will find safety.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Daily Word of God - Psalm 119:113-120

Psalm 119:113-120 New Living Translation (NLT)

113 I hate those with divided loyalties,
    but I love your instructions.
114 You are my refuge and my shield;
    your word is my source of hope.
115 Get out of my life, you evil-minded people,
    for I intend to obey the commands of my God.
116 Lord, sustain me as you promised, that I may live!
    Do not let my hope be crushed.
117 Sustain me, and I will be rescued;
    then I will meditate continually on your decrees.
118 But you have rejected all who stray from your decrees.
    They are only fooling themselves.
119 You skim off the wicked of the earth like scum;
    no wonder I love to obey your laws!
120 I tremble in fear of you;
    I stand in awe of your regulations.

Daily Word of God - 2 Peter 3:8-10

2 Peter 3:8-10 New Living Translation (NLT)

8 But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. 9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.[a]

3:10 Other manuscripts read will be burned up; one early manuscript reads will be found destroyed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Daily Word of God - Job 42:1-6

Job 42:1-6 New Living Translation (NLT)

Job Responds to the Lord
42 Then Job replied to the Lord:

2 “I know that you can do anything,
    and no one can stop you.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’
    It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about,
    things far too wonderful for me.
4 You said, ‘Listen and I will speak!
    I have some questions for you,
    and you must answer them.’
5 I had only heard about you before,
    but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
6 I take back everything I said,
    and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”

Mid-Week Message - Blessed to Be Someone

"Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, 'Lord, the one you love is sick.'"  John 11:1-3 (NIV)

Stop and think.  How many times do you tell another person that you will pray for them?  I would imagine it is fairly often because that is what we do out of compassion for our friends and family.  Now, how often do you actually follow through?  I'm not trying to be nosy or cast any doubt on anyone.  It's just that I know from experience that we say it, then get busy and forget.  What I have had to train myself to do is to pray immediately otherwise my mind will wander and before I know it, the next day has come and I will realize that I have missed crucial hours when I could have been lifting needs up to the Father.

This hit home with me this week as I was having my quiet time and reading my daily devotionals.  The act of prayer is a gift and a vitally important one.  I can't count how many times I have encountered a friend with a need and said these words, "I wish I could do more but all I can do is pray."  All I can do?  We have the privilege of being able to go straight to the Master Himself!  We don't have to be priests, rabbis or preachers.  We don't have to have any special degree or have any special skills.  We are children of the Most High God, co-heirs with Christ.  We simply have to be willing to go before them and talk to them about what the problem is.  That's it.  No fanfare.  No waiting for an appointment.  They are available at all times to each of us.  It is a right that we have that Jesus died for.  

Look carefully at the verse above.  What do you notice?  Look specifically at the last sentence.  "So the sisters sent word to Jesus, 'Lord, the one you love is sick.'"  Read it again.  Do you see it now?  I can't even count how many times I have read this and didn't notice.  In order to "send word", someone had to go to Jesus.  Who was it?  We have no idea.  What we do know is that it was someone that was willing to carry the news that Lazarus was sick and needed His help.  That someone performed the most important task, that of delivering the need to the Master. If you read more of the story you will see that Jesus stopped and listened, exactly what He does when we go to Him.

I would love to have the resources to physically meet the needs I encounter.  Unlimited funds would go a long way with being able to help a lot of hurting people in one way or the other.  However, unless He blesses me with them in the future, that is simply not possible.  I am always available to listen and will do my best to exercise my personal spiritual gift, which is encouragement.  I will lend my shoulder to cry on and I will share whatever I have that might be needed.  But the most important thing I, or anyone else, can do for another is talk to Jesus on their behalf.  "Lord, there is a problem that needs your help."  Someone did that for Lazarus.  We can all be someone too.  God bless you!

Daily Word of God - John 14:1-4

John 14:1-4 New Living Translation (NLT)

Jesus, the Way to the Father
14 “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home.[a] If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?[b] 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”

14:2a Or There are many rooms in my Father’s house.
14:2b Or If this were not so, I would have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you. Some manuscripts read If this were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Daily Word of God - 1 Chronicles 12:18

1 Chronicles 12:18 New Living Translation (NLT)

18 Then the Spirit came upon Amasai, the leader of the Thirty, and he said,

“We are yours, David!
    We are on your side, son of Jesse.
Peace and prosperity be with you,
    and success to all who help you,
    for your God is the one who helps you.”

So David let them join him, and he made them officers over his troops.

Daily Word of God - 2 Corinthians 1:3-11

2 Corinthians 1:3-11 New Living Translation (NLT)

God Offers Comfort to All
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 6 Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 7 We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.

8 We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters,[a] about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. 9 In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. 11 And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.

1:8 Greek brothers.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Daily Word of God - Deuteronomy 11:1-7

Deuteronomy 11:1-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

11 “You must love the Lord your God and always obey his requirements, decrees, regulations, and commands. 2 Keep in mind that I am not talking now to your children, who have never experienced the discipline of the Lord your God or seen his greatness and his strong hand and powerful arm. 3 They didn’t see the miraculous signs and wonders he performed in Egypt against Pharaoh and all his land. 4 They didn’t see what the Lord did to the armies of Egypt and to their horses and chariots—how he drowned them in the Red Sea[a] as they were chasing you. He destroyed them, and they have not recovered to this very day!

5 “Your children didn’t see how the Lord cared for you in the wilderness until you arrived here. 6 They didn’t see what he did to Dathan and Abiram (the sons of Eliab, a descendant of Reuben) when the earth opened its mouth in the Israelite camp and swallowed them, along with their households and tents and every living thing that belonged to them. 7 But you have seen the Lord perform all these mighty deeds with your own eyes!

11:4 Hebrew sea of reeds.

Lessons on Faith - Don't Be Afraid

Last week, I received some very disappointing news and now face more issues with my recovery and more unknowns. More questions and possibilities continued to arise from the discussion with the specialists and surgeons. What was supposed to be a simple consultation turned into another fearful discussion of unknowns. What was supposed to be the light at the end of the tunnel turned into yet another flashing warning sign. Another specialist was added to the growing list of individuals on my healthcare team.

In midst of all of this, I rested on the assurance of God the Father. As He promised the Israelites, He has made that same promise to each of us.

Isaiah 35:4 New Living Translation (NLT)

4 Say to those with fearful hearts,
    “Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
    He is coming to save you.”

Later in Isaiah 35, God promises that their sorrow and mourning will disappear and they will be filled with joy and gladness.

Isaiah 35:10 New Living Translation (NLT)
10 Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return.
    They will enter Jerusalem singing,
    crowned with everlasting joy.
Sorrow and mourning will disappear,
    and they will be filled with joy and gladness.

So, when I am filled with fear, uncertainty and doubt, I will remember the promises of the Lord and dwell on His word. We have nothing to fear.  If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 

Daily Word of God - Isaiah 53:4-6

Isaiah 53:4-6 New Living Translation (NLT)

4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
    it was our sorrows[a] that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
    a punishment for his own sins!
5 But he was pierced for our rebellion,
    crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
    He was whipped so we could be healed.
6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
    We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
    the sins of us all.

53:4 Or Yet it was our sicknesses he carried; / it was our diseases.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Daily Word of God - Psalm 122:6-9

Psalm 122:6-9 New Living Translation (NLT)

6 Pray for peace in Jerusalem.
    May all who love this city prosper.
7 O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls
    and prosperity in your palaces.
8 For the sake of my family and friends, I will say,
    “May you have peace.”
9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Two Masters

In the last couple of months, I have seen some major changes in consumer confidence in the economy, slight increases in wages and more jobs for all. The stock market is roaring and everyone seems to be enjoying the ride of plenty. Most economic indicators are pointing to happy days and people are spending more. Consumer credit card debt is soaring again. Student loan debt is now over $1 trillion. Everyone seems to be giddy to make and, with that, spend more money.

There are a few economists who are predicting that this growth cannot be sustained and there will be a day of reckoning. Another recession, according to them, is just around the corner. Most say the same thing, “It is not a case of if; it is a case of when.” In every season of plenty, there are those who will warn of impending doom and remind us that we, as individuals, need to prepare for that moment when the economy implodes and unemployment occurs again.

When you look at what is going on in the economy, you will also see that people are spending beyond their capacity to repay their debt. In a recent article in the New York Times, people age 65 and older are declaring bankruptcy three times more than those in 1991. Everyone is being told to go to college and spend more and more money on degrees in order to hold their jobs. Colleges and universities are pushing students to take out more and more loans to fund that education in areas where the return on investment is very low. Many do not even have enough in their savings account to cover an emergency of less than $1000. Most do not even have retirement accounts.

On the flipside of that coin, there are those who are enjoying the “high life” and are able to pay whatever they want. Mansions, luxury cars and expensive toys are the order for the day. There is no limit to the money and, for most of them, they are on easy street. Life is a walk in the park on a sunny day and there are no clouds on the horizon for them. But, there is a nagging feeling that something is stalking them. Most of those enjoying the “high life” also spend well beyond their means. They continue to buy and buy more and more. Think of it this way. Suppose you were to put a child in a candy store with a credit card. What do you think they will do? Will they just stop at one candy bar or lollipop? 99.9% of the time, they will buy and buy and buy. As long as there is money or credit available, they will continue to buy.

There is an interesting and common trait between all of the financial classes of individuals. All want and desire the “high life” and will work until they die to achieve it. They will work to make more so they can pay for what they purchased on credit or buy more and more things to fill their lives. Some have mortgages they cannot possibly ever hope to repay. Others will just refinance their debt and hope that they can make the minimum monthly payments. Still more will buy cars that they really do not need.

Do not get me wrong. I am not against capitalism and the free market system. I believe that capitalism is a good system and allows individuals to build businesses and enjoy the fruits of their labor. However, when the fruits of that labor become the center of our lives and we end up working not for ourselves but for our lifestyles, then there is a problem. 

Jesus, in his famous Sermon on the Mount, provided us with some very valuable guidance for our lives. Even if you are not a Christian, his words are sound advice to all those who just desire to have more toys and things in their lives. In Matthew 6, Jesus says, “24 No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

He is absolutely correct. I want you to really think about his choice of words as well. Jesus uses the word, “serve”. That word sums up our relationship to money and the things in our lives. When we make money the center of our life, we serve money as our god and worship it. We believe it will provide everything and more. As we make more money, we desire more things in our lives. We buy more things. Ownership begins to change. We no longer own them; they own us. They require us to spend even more and more money to maintain them. Think about it. If you buy a boat, does the expense end at purchase? No. It does not. There is maintenance and upkeep that costs even more money. Repairs, upgrades and other things add to the purchase. In time, the boat begins to own us and demand more and more from us. Mansions, expensive cars, jets, yachts and so many other things begin to own us. We are slaves to our lifestyle.

In time, we have to make a decision in our lives. We have to decide which will be the one we serve. Do we serve God or do we serve money as our god? Elijah, when he addressed the people assembled near Mount Carmel, made his point very clear in 1 Kings 18, “21 'How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!' But the people were completely silent.

We have a choice to make in our lives. Do we remain silent and continue to serve money? Or, do we declare before the Lord that we serve Him and Him alone? We cannot remain silent and just continue to go down that path, because that path will only lead to emptiness. That profound emptiness only drives hunger. It is a hunger that cannot be satisfied.

My father often reminded me of one of Aesop’s most famous quotes, “Much wants more and loses all.” That one quote has stayed with me. Yes, there have been occasions when I have, from time to time, forgotten the lesson and soon discovered that I had replaced God with money as the center of my life. I allowed materialism to become my religion and I worshiped at its alter only to be sadly disappointed and unfulfilled. I had received much and only desired more. I wanted bigger, better and more expensive only to count all as lost.

When I had everything almost stripped away from me including my own health, I stopped and remembered the lessons of Jesus and the words of my father ringing true in my heart and mind. I had allowed my lifestyle to be my god and worshiped it. I sacrificed everything for what? I got a few moments of pleasure only to discover that those feelings faded just as quickly as I had experienced them. 

When I was growing up, my family and I did not have much, but what we had was priceless. We had our faith and the love of Jesus in our hearts. We helped those in need and served God. We realized that our real treasure was not here on earth where rust and bugs could devour them. Our treasure rested up in Heaven and a crown of gold and mansion waited there for us.

I had several jobs when I was college. The one that made me think about the lessons of Jesus was working as a night attendant for a funeral home. One evening, I realized something that made me stop and think about my life and life in general. When you are born, the first piece of clothing you realize is a borrowed sheet at the hospital. When you die, the last piece is a borrowed sheet before you are placed on a gurney and carried away. You come into the world with nothing and you leave with nothing. 

In Job 1, Job says, “21 I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” Everything we receive in life belongs to the Lord. He can give and He can take it away. It is His and His alone, All blessings come from Him and He can choose to withhold those blessings when we become disobedient or when we begin to stay from Him. 

It is our choice to make. Will you serve God with all your heart, mind and spirit or will you choose the other master, money, and worship at the altar of greed and gluttony? Just remember if you serve the latter, you will despise the former. During the course of this week, I want you to think about your life and consider whom you serve. Do you serve God or do you serve money? If you serve God, then I can assure you that you will stand firm in His grace. 

May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.
~ Numbers 6:24-26 New Living Translation (NLT)