Thursday, December 31, 2020

New Year's Eve Message - Don't Forget

Over the past couple of days, I have heard so many people say the same thing about 2020. Most of them would prefer to simply forget that the year even existed. Their calendars would go from 2019 to 2021 and make no mention of the year that shall forever be nameless. Some lost their jobs due to the shutdowns. Others had loved ones in the hospital from COVID-19. A few lost loved ones and friends to the pandemic. In addition, we saw riots and civil unrest. Many were injured or even killed. We mourn the untimely passing of individuals. Add in all of the other issues we faced and we see a year that is seemingly better forgotten. In short, 2020 is a year that will forever be remembered as the year that should never have been.

But, even in the times of struggle and strife, we should always remember that Father God is always with us and blesses us. Each day we are alive is yet another opportunity to serve Him as well as His children. Instead of concentrating on the good, we prefer to look at the bad. If each of us sat down and began to make a list of everything that went wrong in 2020, we could, within minutes, fill a sheet of paper. If I asked each to write down the good things, it would take longer to even think of one good thing to write down. In short, we tend to concentrate on the bad and often forget the good things.

As 2021 rapidly approaches, we should not look at 2020 as being a year to forget, but, rather, look at it as a year of learning and growing. I can easily say that I have grown spiritually. I, like most, began to concentrate on the bad and almost refused to look for the good in life. Each day seemed like just another day of problems. I turned on the television and there were still more problems facing the world. But, I began to do something else. I stopped watching the news. I just caught the headlines to know what was going on, but I refused to just see the bad. When I began to do that, I felt as if a weight were lifted from my shoulders and I stopped worrying about things that I could not control.

Jesus, in chapter six of the Gospel of Matthew, tells us, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Jesus reminds us that our Heavenly Father provides for all of our needs and that we don’t have to worry about what to eat, drink or wear. We don’t have to worry about shelter. God always provides for all that we need. All we have to do is have faith in that fact and allow God to direct our steps. Faith marries belief and action. We have to take the first step which is believing that God loves us and will provide. The action is moving past the constraints of this world and putting your trust in God.

When we do that, we can see God working the miracles in our lives and providing for our needs when we least expect it. As I faced a lot of uncertainty in my life, I witnessed many miracles and was able to overcome the struggles not by relying on my own strength, but, rather, relying on the everlasting arms of our Father. As we see those wonderful miracles, we must thank Him for His strength and the gift of His miracles. When we see more struggles and fear begins to creep back into our lives, we must stop and reflect on all the other times that God saw us through trials.

Peter, in chapter of five of his first epistle, writes, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

As our Father, God loves and cares for each of us and we, as His children, have the ability to go to Him in prayer. The one word that we should always remember is “all”. We don’t have to worry about anything. We can give all of our worries and cares to Him. God wants us to enjoy our lives and live each day in worship and not live in fear, uncertainty and doubt.

David, in Psalm 103, writes, “Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!” 

This psalm should be our song at the end of the year. We should reflect on all that the Father has done for us and all of the blessings that He has showered upon us. We shouldn’t be concentrating on the bad and simply ignore or forget the good. Our lives are too short to worry and lament about our past struggles. God provides for our needs when things seem their darkest. The joy of the Lord indeed is our strength. 

So, as we come to the close of 2020, don’t allow your heart to be troubled with the struggles we endured, but, rather, praise God for all that He has done for you. Lift up your voice in praise and remember all of the good things He has done for you. When you do that, I can guarantee that you will finish 2020 with a light heart and look forward to 2021 with optimism and the ability to stand firm in His grace.

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

Evening Scripture Reading - Romans 2:1-4

Romans 2:1-4 New King James Version (NKJV)

God’s Righteous Judgment

Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 64:5-6

Psalm 64:5-6 New King James Version (NKJV)

They encourage themselves in an evil matter;
They talk of laying snares secretly;
They say, “Who will see them?”
They devise iniquities:
“We have perfected a shrewd scheme.”
Both the inward thought and the heart of man are deep.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 23:15-16

Proverbs 23:15-16 New King James Version (NKJV)

15 My son, if your heart is wise,
My heart will rejoice—indeed, I myself;
16 Yes, my [a]inmost being will rejoice
When your lips speak right things.


  1. Proverbs 23:16 Lit. kidneys

Morning Scripture Reading - Colossians 3:8-11

Colossians 3:8-11 New King James Version (NKJV)

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Evening Scripture Reading - Numbers 30:1-2

Numbers 30:1-2 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Law Concerning Vows

30 Then Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes concerning the children of Israel, saying, “This is the thing which the Lord has commanded: If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 64:1-4

Psalm 64:1-4 New King James Version (NKJV)

Oppressed by the Wicked but Rejoicing in the Lord

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

664 Hear my voice, O God, in my [a]meditation;
Preserve my life from fear of the enemy.
Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
From the rebellion of the workers of iniquity,
Who sharpen their tongue like a sword,
And bend their bows to shoot their arrows—bitter words,
That they may shoot in secret at the blameless;
Suddenly they shoot at him and do not fear.


  1. Psalm 64:1 complaint

Mid-Week Message - Moving Forward Into 2021

"Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name.  For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning."  Psalm 30:4-5  (NIV) 

So much can be said for this past year.  It has been a time of great challenge for this world.  Faced with a virus that we had not seen before, panic set in and many changes ensued that caught us all by surprise.  Whether appropriate actions were taken will be discussed for a long time to come, but lives were impacted in ways that brought hardship and pain. 

 To those who lost loved ones, my heart goes out to you.  Most of us have either family or friends who were touched by this illness.  So much sorrow has been felt across the nations as the death count has grown.  Though we have now learned ways to treat and prevent it, this ugly disease has left a deep mark in our hearts.  

Along with the sorrow came the anger that business owners and employees encountered as doors were locked and incomes ended.  An article from Fortune in September says that approximately 100,000 businesses in the United States that shut down because of COVID will never again re-open and there have been more since then.  This has devastated dreams and lives.  

In addition, divorces increased as people were forced into staying at home for long stretches.  Depression and suicide rates climbed as fear of the future carried with it a loss of hope for those who were struggling mentally and emotionally. 

As we prepare to usher in 2021, I want to assure you that the Lord has been with us through all that has taken place.  He has heard every prayer and seen every tear.  I cannot explain the whys of what has happened, but I can promise that He has a perfect plan.  This has been a time when His children have drawn near to Him and have learned that, indeed, His grace is sufficient and His mercies are new every morning.  I have often heard the saying that, "Faith isn't faith until it is all you are holding onto."  

I will share with you what I have learned as I have encountered times of grief, tragedy and uncertainty.  First, pour out your heart to the Father.  Lay your head in His holy lap and cry your tears over your pain and loss.  Express your fears and your need for Him.  The Psalms show us that David was not hesitant to be honest about His feelings with God and we shouldn't be either.  Second, praise Him for who He is and thank Him for all He does.  Third, take hold of His hand and never let go! Spend much time in His Word and in prayer.  It is His strength that will allow us to tackle whatever is before us and His compassion that will mend our hearts and allow us to reach out to others that are hurting.  

May we all find peace and truly feel His joy in this coming year.  God bless.


Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 23:13-14

Proverbs 23:13-14 New King James Version (NKJV)

13 Do not withhold correction from a child,
For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.
14 You shall beat him with a rod,
And deliver his soul from [a]hell.


  1. Proverbs 23:14 Or Sheol

Morning Scripture Reading - Isaiah 33:5-6

Isaiah 33:5-6 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high;
He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness.
Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times,
And the strength of salvation;
The fear of the Lord is His treasure.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 New King James Version (NKJV)

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 63:11

Psalm 63:11 New King James Version (NKJV)

11 But the king shall rejoice in God;
Everyone who swears by Him shall glory;
But the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 23:12

Proverbs 23:12 New King James Version (NKJV)

12 Apply your heart to instruction,
And your ears to words of knowledge.

Morning Scripture Reading - Jeremiah 10:23-25

Jeremiah 10:23-25 New King James Version (NKJV)

23 Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself;
It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.
24 Lordcorrect me, but with justice;
Not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing.
25 Pour out Your fury on the Gentiles, who do not know You,
And on the families who do not call on Your name;
For they have eaten up Jacob,
Devoured him and consumed him,
And made his dwelling place desolate.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Evening Scripture Reading - Matthew 2:13-18

Matthew 2:13-18 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Flight into Egypt

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”

14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

Massacre of the Innocents

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 63:9-10

Psalm 63:9-10 New King James Version (NKJV)

But those who seek my life, to destroy it,
Shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
10 They shall [a]fall by the sword;
They shall be [b]a portion for jackals.


  1. Psalm 63:10 Lit. pour him out by the hand of the sword
  2. Psalm 63:10 Prey

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 23:10-11

Proverbs 23:10-11 New King James Version (NKJV)

10 Do not remove the ancient [a]landmark,
Nor enter the fields of the fatherless;
11 For their Redeemer is mighty;
He will plead their cause against you.


  1. Proverbs 23:10 boundary

Morning Scripture Reading - Joel 2:1-2

Joel 2:1-2 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Day of the Lord

Blow the [a]trumpet in Zion,
And sound an alarm in My holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble;
For the day of the Lord is coming,
For it is at hand:
A day of darkness and gloominess,
A day of clouds and thick darkness,
Like the morning clouds spread over the mountains.
A people come, great and strong,
The like of whom has never been;
Nor will there ever be any such after them,
Even for many successive generations.


  1. Joel 2:1 ram’s horn

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Samuel 7:10-12

1 Samuel 7:10-12 New King James Version (NKJV)

10 Now as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the Lord thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel. 11 And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and [a]drove them back as far as below Beth Car. 12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name [b]Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”


  1. 1 Samuel 7:11 struck them down
  2. 1 Samuel 7:12 Lit. Stone of Help

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 63:6-8

Psalm 63:6-8 New King James Version (NKJV)

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Acts of Love and Good Works

As I was slowly driving through the parking lot of a local big-box retailer on Christmas Eve, I began to read some of the more colorful bumper stickers. Some of them were political while others talked about more philosophical ideas. Some were obscene while others stated the obvious. I did, however, run across one that is an “oldie, but a goodie”.

Anne Herbert, an American journalist and author, wrote a few words on a placemat in Sausalito, California in 1982. You may not know the name, but you will definitely recognize the quote because it covered the bumpers of many vehicles over time.

She wrote, “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.”

Later that very thought became the title for her book which was published in February, 1993. In Ms. Herbert’s book, she wrote about people who practiced random kindness and senseless acts of beauty. That book, of course, went on to inspire the bumper sticker and a children’s book.

What seemed so apparent as a life lesson, people thought of as something brand new. Many were amazed by it. Refrigerator magnets with this phrase appeared in gift and souvenir shops all across the nation.

The interesting thing about her quote is that it truly is a very basic principle that we should do daily. It is nothing new or alien to us. We should be kind to one another and marvel at the beauty around us all the time. The simple lesson of her quote should be obvious to each of us.

As I was thinking about that bumper sticker, I began to reflect on another simple lesson similar in nature, but written long ago. This lesson comes from the Bible and tells us to do more than just practice acts of kindness. We should be motivating one another to do the same.

In chapter ten of the Book of Hebrews, the author writes, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.

As we approach the end of the year and look to the new one, we should encourage one another to act out of love and do good works. Looking back at the past year, we saw acts of violence, hatred and fear. The headlines of newspapers, news programs and websites seemed to use one or more of those three words. Everyday we would hear yet another story of someone lashing out at another. Instead of coming together in a time of global crisis, violence, hatred and fear separated us. 

During this pandemic, we should have encouraged one another to act out of love and to do good for one another. Don’t get me wrong. There were many acts of selflessness and kindness from first responders, healthcare workers, police officers, firefighters, truckers and all those who kept our grocery shelves stocked. Each day there were stories of those brave individuals like UPS and Fedex drivers who continued to deliver packages, including packages with medication. Postal workers who continued to deliver our mail. Farmers, ranchers, meat packers, distributors and so many more kept food on our tables. All of them together kept our nation and others going.

But, all the good, heartwarming stories were far outweighed by senseless acts of violence and hatred. Instead of motivating one another to do good out of love, many chose to lash out and destroy. Small businesses were burned and so many people were hurt or killed. The news was filled with more and more stories of violence. For me, it got to a point when I just turned off the television and tried not to concentrate on the evil of the world.

I responded by helping a person return a grocery cart or climb up on a shelf to help someone get a bottle of detergent. If we would just reach out to one another in love and do one single simple act of good, things would be so much different. In time, we would be doing good things all the time and encouraging others to do the same. It is amazing how just doing one thing can snowball into an avalanche of goodness and love.

As you prepare yourself for the new year, I ask each of you to resolve to do good out of love and expect nothing in return. If we just make it a point to do just one good thing, it will become a habit and, over time, habit makes us do it all the time. 

Jesus, in chapter five of the Gospel of Matthew, said, “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

When you practice to be that light and let your good deeds shine for others to see, not for personal glory but for the glory of our Heavenly Father, I can assure you that you can stand firm in His grace.   

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

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 23:9

Proverbs 23:9 New King James Version (NKJV)

Do not speak in the hearing of a fool,
For he will despise the wisdom of your words.