Sunday, June 30, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Psalm 61

Psalm 61 New International Version (NIV)

Psalm 61[a]

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David.

Hear my cry, O God;
    listen to my prayer.
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.
I long to dwell in your tent forever
    and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.[b]
For you, God, have heard my vows;
    you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
Increase the days of the king’s life,
    his years for many generations.
May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever;
    appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.
Then I will ever sing in praise of your name
    and fulfill my vows day after day.


  1. Psalm 61:1 In Hebrew texts 61:1-8 is numbered 61:2-9.
  2. Psalm 61:4 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Freedom from Sin

In just a couple of days, Americans will be celebrating 243 years of freedom. On the 4th of July in 1776, the people of thirteen colonies declared in one voice their freedom from England and the oppression that they were under. Each year, since that moment, we as Americans continue to remember and celebrate our independence. We enjoy backyard cookouts, fireworks and watching parades. However, there is another freedom that we as Christians celebrate daily. It is our freedom from sin. It is that freedom that not only sets us free from sin but also the wages of sin which is death.

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are free and can enjoy a life that is devoted to serving the Father and not the horrible task master of sin. Jesus, in John 8, tells us, “34 I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

As long as we are slaves to sin, we can never be a part of a family. The only way for us to be truly free from sin is to accept Jesus as our new master. It is only through him that we can truly be free. But, you are thinking, “If I accept Jesus as my master and savior, aren’t I just exchanging one master for another?”

Remember what Jesus says in Matthew 11. He tells us, “28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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 yoke and burden that we take upon ourselves from Jesus is light. It is not there to add weight. The yoke of Jesus is there to guide us along the path of righteousness that has been set before us. The burden that we carry is something that we joyfully bear because it is truly light. What we carry is not a heavy, burdensome load. Rather, it is the joy of salvation and love in our hearts. 

Just as our nation is based on laws in order to preserve our freedom and to keep things moving smoothly, we, as Christians, have laws that are used to guide us along and keep us from falling prey to sin. Freedom does not mean that we can just go anywhere we want. There is a shepherd who guides us to green pastures and streams that restore our souls.

Later in the Gospel of John, Jesus says in chapter 10, “11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.

The good shepherd not only guides his sheep to the best pastures and watering spots but he also defends and protects his sheep even if it means laying down his life for them. Jesus tells us that a hired hand who has no vested interest in the flock and is only interested in money will easily run when there is danger. He will not sacrifice his life for the sheep and will just leave. Jesus is the good shepherd. He is ever present and remains with the sheep and defends them even if it means laying down his life. Jesus died on a cross as a sacrifice for us so that we are not doomed to hellfire and damnation. He laid his life down for his sheep.

Later in John 10, Jesus says, “14 I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.

When Jesus calls us, we know his voice. We respond to his gentleness and tenderness. We know that he sacrificed his life for us so that the wages of sin could be paid and our debt wiped away. We were freed that very moment when we accepted Christ Jesus as our Savior and Lord over our life. Sin no longer owned us. We were freed from that heavy burden.

When I think of how heavy a burden sin is in our lives, I think about the scene in Charles Dickens’ story, “A Christmas Carol,” when Jacob Marley, Scrooge’s old business partner who passed away comes to visit Scrooge. During the visit, Scrooge sees the chain that Marley’s spirit carries and asks him about it.

Marley replies, “I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it."

Like Marley, we, too, have a choice. We can continue to build our heavy burden and allow sin to weigh us down like chains that we continue to forge by our disobedience to God’s will and law. We can continue to add links and be burdened with each ounce and pound of weight that is heaped upon our shoulders. We can continue to remain a slave and not part of a family.

Or, we can break the chains by crying out to Jesus and asking him to lift the burden of sin from our shoulders and free us from the horrible task master of sin once and for all. We then can take on the yoke that guides us daily and accept the burden that is a whole lot lighter than those links of sin that drag us down and that we carry daily.

As you celebrate the 4th of July, think about your spiritual freedom and celebrate it daily. When you realize that you received your independence from the sins of this world and are truly free because of the love of the “Good Shepherd”, you can definitely stand firm in His grace.   

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

Morning Scripture Reading - Romans 6:20-23

Romans 6:20-23 New International Version (NIV)

20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord.


  1. Romans 6:23 Or through

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Proverbs 3:9-10

Proverbs 3:9-10 New International Version (NIV)

Honor the Lord with your wealth,
    with the firstfruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
    and your vats will brim over with new wine.

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 John 2:15-17

1 John 2:15-17 New International Version (NIV)

On Not Loving the World

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[a] is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.


  1. 1 John 2:15 Or world, the Father’s love

Friday, June 28, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Proverbs 11:25

Proverbs 11:25 New International Version (NIV)

25 A generous person will prosper;
    whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

Morning Scripture Reading - 2 Corinthians 13:11

2 Corinthians 13:11 New International Version (NIV)

Final Greetings

11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Romans 3:27-31

Romans 3:27-31 New International Version (NIV)

27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

Morning Scripture Reading - Proverbs 24:17-18

Proverbs 24:17-18 New International Version (NIV)

Saying 28

17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls;
    when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,
18 or the Lord will see and disapprove
    and turn his wrath away from them.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Philippians 4:4-7

Philippians 4:4-7 New International Version (NIV)

Final Exhortations

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Mid-Week Message - Reacting to Unkindness

"Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t snap back at those who say unkind things about you. Instead, pray for God’s help for them, for we are to be kind to others, and God will bless us for it."  1 Peter 3:9 (TLB)

The teenage years are hard.  So many changes are occurring physically and mentally that young people have a difficult time knowing how to handle life day to day.  This is a time when they are trying to fit in, to be accepted by those around them.  They find approval this way and base their self-esteem upon it.  When my daughter was this age she was attending a private Christian school and unfortunately found herself on the receiving end of unkind comments and actions from many of the other girls.  She was bullied.  As her mother, I found it incredibly disturbing because I was bullied at that age as well so I knew the feelings she was experiencing.  

When we know that our children are being mistreated by their peers, we want to remedy the situation as quickly as possible.  We often tell them to ignore the mistreatment, however, there just isn't any way for them to close their ears to the ridicule they are hearing or their eyes to looks they receive. What they need to know is that there is always a place where they can find absolute love and will be openly welcomed and accepted for who they are.  They need to know of the all-encompassing love of the Lord Jesus and have a relationship with Him so that they always have someone nearby to turn to.  

It is natural for us to want to return meanness for meanness.  To come up with a biting retort when someone speaks ugly words to us.  Our human side desires to inflict pain on those who have inflicted pain on us.  However, scripture clearly teaches that we need to pray for our enemies and to be kind to those around us.   Jesus experienced ridicule.  He experienced physical, mental and emotional violence.  He could have slain his abusers with just a thought, after all He was God in the flesh.  But He returned His attacks with forgiveness, kindness and love.  I can only imagine that the human side of Him must have made every attempt to argue back, yet He did not give in to human impulses.  

We are bombarded daily with opportunities to either show love or disdain.  Disgruntled people will often take their frustrations out on the first person they see.  Sometimes that is you or me.  Life is stressful and the choices made to handle that stress aren't always positive.  Road rage is rampant here in the Atlanta area, as I am sure it is wherever you are as well.  Sometimes we forget that the person on the receiving end of our outbursts also has feelings and is going through difficulties of their own.  We can't control other people, but we can control ourselves.  By following Christ's example we can react in kindness rather than anger.  In this way we honor Him and bless others.  Just think what would happen if, one by one, people decided to react with love rather than rage.  

Our children learn to handle life by observing how those around them handle life.  Parents can have a tremendous influence for good if the example they set for their offspring is one of godly reactions.  If we can have them in the habit of forgiving and being kind before they hit the turbulent teens, then maybe it will not be quite as traumatic for them.  In that way, they can pass on the example and touch the hearts of others their age.  Great change happens one person at a time.  This week, let's determine to be that one person.  God bless you.

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 Chronicles 29:10-12

1 Chronicles 29:10-12 New International Version (NIV)

David’s Prayer

10 David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,
“Praise be to you, Lord,
    the God of our father Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting.
11 Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
    and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
    for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
    you are exalted as head over all.
12 Wealth and honor come from you;
    you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
    to exalt and give strength to all.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Psalm 37:39-40

Psalm 37:39-40 New International Version (NIV)

39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;
    he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them and delivers them;
    he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
    because they take refuge in him.

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 John 3:4-6

1 John 3:4-6 New International Version (NIV)

Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Romans 2:1-4

Romans 2:1-4 New International Version (NIV)

God’s Righteous Judgment

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearanceand patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

Morning Scripture Reading - Psalm 69:13-15

Psalm 69:13-15 New International Version (NIV)

13 But I pray to you, Lord,
    in the time of your favor;
in your great love, O God,
    answer me with your sure salvation.
14 Rescue me from the mire,
    do not let me sink;
deliver me from those who hate me,
    from the deep waters.
15 Do not let the floodwaters engulf me
    or the depths swallow me up
    or the pit close its mouth over me.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:22-28

Psalm 118:22-28 New International Version (NIV)

22 The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
23 the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 The Lord has done it this very day;
    let us rejoice today and be glad.
25 Lord, save us!
    Lord, grant us success!
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
    From the house of the Lord we bless you.[a]
27 The Lord is God,
    and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
    up[b] to the horns of the altar.
28 You are my God, and I will praise you;
    you are my God, and I will exalt you.


  1. Psalm 118:26 The Hebrew is plural.
  2. Psalm 118:27 Or Bind the festal sacrifice with ropes / and take it