Sunday, March 31, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Psalm 19:7-9

Psalm 19:7-9 New International Version (NIV)

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
    giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
    giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - No Matter What Happens

In just the past couple of weeks, my wife and I have gone through a major change and another milestone in our lives. As I look back at the past couple of weeks, I realize that it does not matter what we go through. God will always be there to guide our steps and be there even when those steps may sometimes take us through a valley of darkness.

All through our lives, we find ourselves facing situations where things are just too difficult to deal with. It does not matter what the problem or situation is. They all have one thing in common. They all test our faith and push us to the brink of spiritual collapse. We begin to wonder why we are facing, what we think, is the worst possible issue in our lives until the next problem comes along. In short, we face problems all throughout our lives. 

How we get through those moments is most important. We could just give up and let things press us on all sides. I know that there are major problems that can do that to anyone. These are problems that shake us to the core. Those problems could be a diagnosis or a financial issue. For others, it could be losing a job. I have met and talked with individuals who have faced all of those types of problems and even more difficult ones. 

In my career as a deacon, deacon chairperson and pastor, members of my congregation have shared their stories with me. They all have faced insurmountable problems in their lives. Some faced cancer while others faced diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer's or dementia. My wife and I have held their hands and, in some cases, closed their eyes. We were there for the moments of fear, uncertainty and doubt. We reassured each of them and reminded them of their faith in God and the promise of life eternal as provided by God through His son, Christ Jesus.

One of the scriptures that we always read to those in hospitals or in hospice is in Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthians. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4, “8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

We will always be pressed on all sides, perplexed, hunted or knocked down. Life is just full of those moments that test our faith or try our resolve. But, we have the promise that we will not be crushed, driven to despair, abandoned or destroyed. Because of those moments, we suffer so that the life of Jesus is seen not as a backdrop but, rather, the centerpiece of our lives.

Think about it. Those around us see us going through these dark moments and see our faith in action. Our faith and lives show the world that Jesus died and arose from the grave to give us victory over death. Death has no sting and the grave has no victory over us. Through Christ Jesus, we, as Christians, have overcome the world and those dark moments. Our faith gives us the assurance of God’s promise of life everlasting with Him. 

The real challenge for us is to remain faithful and to know that the ultimate victory in our lives is already there in that sacred promise embodied in the life of Jesus. He suffered at the hands of his enemies. He felt the sting of the whip, the pain of the nails driven into his hands and feet and the moment of death. Some thought to themselves that his life was extinguished and that the Gospel message was finally silenced once and for all. How far from the truth! 

Jesus rose from the dead and provided us that glorious victory over our mortal enemy, death. We may be pressed and driven to despair, but nothing can separate us from our relationship with our Father.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, writes in chapter 8, “35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

Look closely at verse 37 and the words used by Paul to describe our victory over death. It is not a “skin of your teeth” victory or a close call win. It is an overwhelming victory that we have received. So, it does not matter what we face or the magnitude of our problem. We have that overwhelming victory over this fallen world. We should not look down in despair, but, rather, look up to Heaven and thank our Heavenly Father for victory given to us by and through His son, Jesus.

In a few more weeks, we will be celebrating Easter. It is one of the most significant days in the life of a Christian. We see the fulfillment of the spiritual prophecies. Jesus comes as the unblemished, perfect atonement sacrifice. He, through his suffering, acts as our sacrifice that is given once and for all time. Our debt of sin is paid in full and we can rest assured in the salvation that we received when we accepted Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord of our life. From that moment of acceptance, there is nothing in this world that can separate us from His love or take the gift of salvation from us.

So, when life has you down or when you feel the pressure of a problem become more than you can handle, look to Jesus for comfort and remember the words of Christ Jesus as recorded by John. Jesus, in chapter 16, told his disciples, “33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

Yes, we face many trials and troubles in our lives, but we have the ultimate victory and have overcome the grip of this sinful world through the precious blood of the Lamb. As you go through your difficulties, rest assured that you have overcome the world and are not alone or abandoned. No matter what happens in your life, you can, with all certainty, rest upon God’s promise and stand firm His grace.

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

Morning Scripture Reading - Jude 20-21

Jude 20-21 New International Version (NIV)

20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Psalm 61:2-3

Psalm 61:2-3 New International Version (NIV)

From the ends of the earth I call to you,
    I call as my heart grows faint;
    lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
    a strong tower against the foe.

Morning Scripture Reading - Galatians 5:22-23

Galatians 5:22-23 New International Version (NIV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Matthew 9:1-8

Matthew 9:1-8 New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man

Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town.Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”
Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 Peter 2:9

1 Peter 2:9 New International Version (NIV)

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.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Revelation 21:4

Revelation 21:4 New International Version (NIV)

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[a]or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”


  1. Revelation 21:4 Isaiah 25:8

Morning Scripture Reading - Exodus 34:10

Exodus 34:10 New International Version (NIV)

10 Then the Lord said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world.The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Proverbs 15:8

Proverbs 15:8 New International Version (NIV)

The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
    but the prayer of the upright pleases him.

Mid-Week Message - Unending Love

"Long ago the Lord said to Israel: 'I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.  With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.'"  Jeremiah 31:3 (NLT)  

I had this habit as a little one of getting in trouble first thing in the morning.  I would get out of my bed, walk into the living room or kitchen and straight into a fight with my brother or sassing my mother.  One way or the other, I found a way to start my day off with these words, "Just wait until  your Daddy gets home."  Those dreaded words set the tone of my days on a fairly regular basis for a span of my young years.  My mother knew that I loved my father beyond measure and the worst punishment I could have was the knowledge that I would disappoint him.  

Fast forward to my teen years.  After church one evening, the youth group was going to the local A&W restaurant.  Since I had driven my mother's car that evening, I offered to be one of the drivers.  As I was making a left hand turn into the parking lot, one of my passengers said, "A motorcycle!" right before I heard it hit the car.  The hardest part of the accident for me was calling my dad and telling him about it.  By the grace of God, no one was hurt.  But I had wrecked my mom's car.  When my parents arrived at the scene I saw that my dad's left cheek was twitching, which was a tell-tale sign that he was angry.  My heart was crushed.  

Because I derived my picture of God from my relationship with my earthly father, I spent much of my adult life worrying that I would disappoint Him just like I worried about disappointing my dad.  When I struggled with sin in my life I wondered how long the Lord would continue to love me.  I was fearful that at some point He would give up on me.  I have heard other people wonder how He could possibly continue to love them when they are unsuccessful at conquering the challenges life presents.  

What I have learned through the years, as my relationship with Him has grown, is that His love has no end.  God is not going to turn His back on us.  Just as the prodigal son's father ran to greet him, so the Lord is waiting for us to return to Him when we stray.  Sin is a fact of our lives.  We have an enemy that is unwilling to cease tempting us with earthly pleasures that seek to pull us out from under the umbrella of God's covering.  However, provision was made over two thousand years ago for the remission of our sins.  It is the blood of Christ that washes us clean and allows us to stand before the Father and receive His acceptance and to be confident in His love for us.  

I know so many people who are dealing with sin in its various forms.  Aren't we all in some way or another?  What I want to reassure everyone of is that we are not at risk of losing the love our heavenly Father, no matter how difficult the road we walk might be.  He is right there with each of us.  Every step.  Every struggle.  Every tear.  His love for us never wavers.  There is nothing we can do to stop our Creator from loving us.  All we have to do is to turn to Him and ask Him for his help and confess that we need Him.  When we ask for His forgiveness, scripture says He will grant it.  May we all walk in His love and peace this week. 

Morning Scripture Reading - Hebrews 12:1-2

Hebrews 12:1-2 New International Version (NIV)

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Matthew 23:8-12

Matthew 23:8-12 New International Version (NIV)

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Morning Scripture Reading - Revelation 3:21-22

Revelation 3:21-22 New International Version (NIV)

21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Matthew 8:18-22

Matthew 8:18-22 New International Version (NIV)

The Cost of Following Jesus

18 When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Morning Scripture Reading - Ecclesiastes 9:17

Ecclesiastes 9:17 New International Version (NIV)

17 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
    than the shouts of a ruler of fools.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - John 4:27-38

John 4:27-38 New International Version (NIV)

The Disciples Rejoin Jesus

27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”
32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Enduring the Unendurable

Over the past couple of months, I have had to endure more issues that have arisen from complications of the medication that I had to take. There have been times when I just felt that the side effects from the medication were worse than the illness. I found myself weeping and praying that this cup be taken away and that it not be pressed to my lips. The contents of that cup have been bitter and full of tears. 

Like Job, I have dealt with more than my fair share of life’s trials and troubles. Even with the problems that I have had to endure, I still know that my Redeemer lives and that one day I will stand before Him and be judged. My prayer is that I have the strength to continue to serve even when I feel that I cannot go on. 

Some days are better than others, but there are times when the side effects become more pronounced and harsher than what I have experienced before. It is during those times that I feel that I cannot live beyond that day. I bow my head and ask God for the strength to endure and make it just a little farther down the path of righteousness. I pray for perseverance and ask Him to guide my steps for that day.

James, in chapter one of the book that bears his name, wrote, “12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

There are times when I cannot even see the next moment. I feel that I cannot even make it through the present moment. I look to God and I behold His love for me. It gives me the boost I need to take the next step and to seek the next and the ones that follow. It is hard at times to do so, but I realize that I am not alone and that He is with me. Because of His son, Jesus, I have that blessed assurance that He loves me more than I can imagine. He loved me so much that He sent His son to be my atonement sacrifice once and for all time. When I accepted Jesus as my savior and the Lord of my life, I became a child of the most high God who demonstrates His love for me daily by blessing me with so much.

Even during the worst of times, I realize that God continues to reign and that He loves and cares for me. As His child, I praise and worship Him daily and continue to have faith in Him. There are times when my faith is shaken, but I have not given up on Him. Yes, my faith is challenged, but I remain His child and I know that He will provide me with whatever I need to get through the moments.

Many think that I am foolish for believing and some have even asked why I have not given up on my faith in God. Many have said, “Where is your God? He has allowed this to happen to you yet you still refuse to stop believing in Him.”

I turn to them and quote the words from Deuteronomy 7, “9 Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.

It is easy to remain faithful when things are good and there are no problems. The term that I remember when referring to those who remain faithful to God when things are going well is “fair weather Christians.” Think about the term. When all is good and going well, it is so easy to remain faithful. The real test of faith comes when you are faced with the unendurable. It is the moment when all may seem lost. That moment is the true test of our faith. Can you persevere and remain faithful? 

James writes in chapter 1, “2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

To endure the unendurable gives you the opportunity to grow your faith and realize that God is working through you. He is working to perfect and complete you so that you are truly lacking in nothing. Your faith is strong and you are strengthened by those trying moments. Your testimony is a story to share in order to build up those around you. 

When I have an opportunity to share my story, I thank God for the trial and how He is perfecting me through the ordeal. There were moments when I felt that I could not go on. I felt that I was stuck in the mud and mire of despair. It was during those moments that I felt closer to Him and I felt His hand upon me. He lifted me up and planted my feet on the solid rock.

In Psalm 40, we read the words of the Psalmist, “1 I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. 2 He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. 3 He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.

As I tell my story to others, many have said the exact same thing, “God was with you every moment and it was His love that healed you.”

I truly believe that He was and continues to be there for me. As I continue to endure the side effects of the medication and face the uncertainty of the future, I realize that I cannot go it alone or endure it on my own. I need God’s victorious right hand to lift me up and give me that victory over this world. The only way for me to overcome this world is to put my faith in His son, Christ Jesus, and realize that God gave me the gift of life and the opportunity to share my story with those around me. I have learned to humble myself before Him and realize that He is Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals. 

There is an old adage about doctors and God. God heals and the doctor takes the fee. God continues to heal me every day of my life. When the side effects attack and ravage my body, I know that He will see me through each moment and give me what I need.

As you go through your own trials and troubles, always remember that your faith is perfected and made complete when you undergo the trials of fire. It is only through the refiner’s fire that we come out pure. The impurities of our old, sinful life are burned away and we are made pure, complete and perfected. Always remember that you can endure the unendurable as long as you remain obedient and faithful to Him. As long as you do that, you can stand firm in His grace and His grace is always sufficient.

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

Morning Scripture Reading - Isaiah 1:18-20

Isaiah 1:18-20 New International Version (NIV)

18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,”
    says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
    they shall be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
    you will eat the good things of the land;
20 but if you resist and rebel,
    you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Isaiah 40:27-31

Isaiah 40:27-31 New International Version (NIV)

27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
    Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
    my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.