Monday, May 31, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - John 14:23-24

John 14:23-24 English Standard Version

23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 91:9-10

Psalm 91:9-10 English Standard Version

9 Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—

    the Most High, who is my refuge—

10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,

    no plague come near your tent.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 30:15-16

Proverbs 30:15-16 English Standard Version

15 The leech has two daughters:

    Give and Give.

Three things are never satisfied;

    four never say, “Enough”:

16 Sheol, the barren womb,

    the land never satisfied with water,

    and the fire that never says, “Enough.”

Morning Scripture Reading - Hebrews 7:18-19

Hebrews 7:18-19 English Standard Version

18 For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Jude 22-23

Jude 22-23 English Standard Version

22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 91:7-8

Psalm 91:7-8 English Standard Version

7 A thousand may fall at your side,

    ten thousand at your right hand,

    but it will not come near you.

8 You will only look with your eyes

    and see the recompense of the wicked.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Earning Our Keep

For so many of us, life has been very hard when you think about all of the things that people go through. In 2007, millions lost their jobs due to the failures experienced in the financial industries. Many not only lost their jobs but also lost their homes. Over time, the economy slowly recovered. People who were out of work found work, but they earned a lot less. Many took jobs out of financial necessity to feed, shelter and clothe their families. It was so very hard on the millions that didn’t have a safety net.

In time, we shook off the nightmare of 2007 and looked forward to better times. As we moved into another decade, we became more optimistic and felt that things were slowly getting back to normal. Once again, we were wrong. 

In 2020, the world was brought to a screeching stop by a virus. Within a short period of time, that virus not only caused disease and death but it also brought financial ruin to millions. Businesses were forced to close and tens of millions of people lost their jobs. Once again, people struggled to make ends meet. Food banks saw more and more people needing assistance and millions more just didn’t know what to do. Each day for most was a struggle and there didn’t seem to be an end in sight. 

It is very easy to see the worst things, but I tell you there were bright spots during all of the doom and gloom we were experiencing. People in small communities pulled together. Many, even when they themselves struggled, managed to lend a helping hand to others. Local restaurants soon found their customers ordering take-out or to-go meals. Even when things got worse and cities experienced social unrest, the people of smaller communities resolved to help one another and not be a burden to others. People, like those of the old west, became more self-reliant. This is the true spirit of not only Americans but also of all the people around the world. People work hard for a fair day’s wages and that is what they want to do.

When Paul traveled and visited with the churches, he made sure that he wasn’t a burden to any of them. He worked hard to support himself and didn’t expect handouts or aid. You could say that Paul knew what it meant to work hard and earn his keep. When you look at Paul’s early life, you discover that he was a tentmaker by trade. He came from a devout Jewish family in Taurus.

In chapter two of Paul’s first letter to the church at Thessalonica, he writes, “Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day we toiled to earn a living so that we would not be a burden to any of you as we preached God’s Good News to you.

Even while preaching the Good News, Paul, Silas and Timothy worked hard to earn their keep and wanted to make absolutely sure that they weren't a burden to the believers there. You could easily say that the believers in Thessalonica should have provided for them and allowed them to just preach. I am sure that they provided some level of help, but Paul, Silas and Timothy, being men of God, weren’t just going to sit around. They modeled to others that hard work and faith go hand in hand and that they weren’t going to be a burden on anyone.

In the great history of our own country, we see that type of self reliance in the old west. The people of the small frontier communities worked hard for a living and helped their neighbors when they needed help. Because of that strong sense of self reliance, it was very difficult to accept charity. 

My own father was the same way. He would give a person his last dollar, but, when it came to receiving charity, Dad wasn’t about to take a handout from anyone. It was very difficult for him to admit that he needed help. It is that belief that he instilled in each of his sons.

Paul, in his second epistle to the Corinthians, writes, “And when I was with you and didn’t have enough to live on, I did not become a financial burden to anyone. For the brothers who came from Macedonia brought me all that I needed. I have never been a burden to you, and I never will be.

Paul makes it a point to tell us a couple of very interesting points. The first is that he doesn’t want to be a financial burden to anyone and will never be one ever. The second point is that God always provides a way for his needs to be met. In this case, the brothers from Macedonia provided for him.

The lesson for each of us is simple. We should always work to earn our keep and be a burden to no one. The other part of this lesson is that we should always remember that God will provide for us during the tough times. If God provided for Paul, I can guarantee that He will provide for you as well.

Hard work teaches us all very valuable lessons about life. It is through hard work that we are able to take care of ourselves but also have the ability to share our profit with others who may need some help during the tough times. 

In chapter four of that first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul writes, “Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.

Our hard work, when seen through the eyes of others, speaks volumes about a life devoted to Christian service. By living a life of piety, courage and industry, we model for the world a life based on Christian values for all to see. We must, using the modern vernacular, not only “talk the talk” but also “walk the walk”. 

When we talk and walk daily as Christians, we can most assuredly stand firm in His grace.     

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

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 30:11-14

Proverbs 30:11-14 English Standard Version

11 There are those who curse their fathers

    and do not bless their mothers.

12 There are those who are clean in their own eyes

    but are not washed of their filth.

13 There are those—how lofty are their eyes,

    how high their eyelids lift!

14 There are those whose teeth are swords,

    whose fangs are knives,

to devour the poor from off the earth,

    the needy from among mankind.

Morning Scripture Reading - Acts 20:32-35

Acts 20:32-35 English Standard Version

32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Joel 2:28-32

Joel 2:28-32 English Standard Version

The Lord Will Pour Out His Spirit

28 “And it shall come to pass afterward,

    that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;

your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

    your old men shall dream dreams,

    and your young men shall see visions.

29 Even on the male and female servants

    in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 91:3-6

Psalm 91:3-6 English Standard Version

3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler

    and from the deadly pestilence.

4 He will cover you with his pinions,

    and under his wings you will find refuge;

    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

5 You will not fear the terror of the night,

    nor the arrow that flies by day,

6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,

    nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 30:10

Proverbs 30:10 English Standard Version

10 Do not slander a servant to his master,

    lest he curse you, and you be held guilty.

Morning Scripture Reading - Romans 10:1-4

Romans 10:1-4 English Standard Version

10 Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - John 16:12-15

John 16:12-15 English Standard Version

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 91:1-2

Psalm 91:1-2 English Standard Version

My Refuge and My Fortress

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High

    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,

    my God, in whom I trust.”

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 30:7-9

Proverbs 30:7-9 English Standard Version

7 Two things I ask of you;

    deny them not to me before I die:

8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying;

    give me neither poverty nor riches;

    feed me with the food that is needful for me,

9 lest I be full and deny you

    and say, “Who is the Lord?”

or lest I be poor and steal

    and profane the name of my God.

Morning Scripture Reading - Ruth 2:11-12

Ruth 2:11-12 English Standard Version

11 But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 12 The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Peter 3:8-12

1 Peter 3:8-12 English Standard Version

Suffering for Righteousness' Sake

8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For

“Whoever desires to love life

    and see good days,

let him keep his tongue from evil

    and his lips from speaking deceit;

11 let him turn away from evil and do good;

    let him seek peace and pursue it.

12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,

    and his ears are open to their prayer.

But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 90:12-17

Psalm 90:12-17 English Standard Version

12 So teach us to number our days

    that we may get a heart of wisdom.

13 Return, O Lord! How long?

    Have pity on your servants!

14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,

    that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,

    and for as many years as we have seen evil.

16 Let your work be shown to your servants,

    and your glorious power to their children.

17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,

    and establish the work of our hands upon us;

    yes, establish the work of our hands!

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 30:5-6

Proverbs 30:5-6 English Standard Version

5 Every word of God proves true;

    he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

6 Do not add to his words,

    lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

Morning Scripture Reading - Hebrews 6:10

Hebrews 6:10 English Standard Version

10 For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Samuel 15:20-23

1 Samuel 15:20-23 English Standard Version

20 And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. 21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” 22 And Samuel said,

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,

    as in obeying the voice of the Lord?

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,

    and to listen than the fat of rams.

23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination,

    and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.

Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,

    he has also rejected you from being king.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 90:9-11

Psalm 90:9-11 English Standard Version

9 For all our days pass away under your wrath;

    we bring our years to an end like a sigh.

10 The years of our life are seventy,

    or even by reason of strength eighty;

yet their span is but toil and trouble;

    they are soon gone, and we fly away.

11 Who considers the power of your anger,

    and your wrath according to the fear of you?

Mid-Week Message - Cherish the Day

"When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy."  Psalm 94:19  (NIV) 

How are your days going?  Are you accomplishing what you wish to?  Are you feeling so rushed that you don't have time to appreciate the smaller things?  Are you thankful for what you are experiencing or do you wish you could either rewind or speed up the clock to get to a time that is more pleasant?  

I have a good reason for asking these questions.  According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control in 2019, approximately 2,854,838 people die per year in the United States.  That works out to over 7,800 deaths per day.  This represents hugs that were never given, birthdays that were never celebrated, holidays that weren't observed, graduates that never received a diploma, "I love you's" that were never spoken and last visits that were never made.  

Overwhelming thoughts?  Truly.  As we approach Memorial Day, my mind is on those service men and women who never returned home to their families.  They all had people they loved and that loved them.  They all had plans for when their times of service were over.  Many carried pictures of loved ones in their pockets and would pull them out to remind them of how much there was to live for.  Yet, sadly, in any military conflict or war, there are those who make the ultimate sacrifice.  

Perhaps someone in your family lost his or her life in battle.  I know I am just one person, but I would like to let you know how much I appreciate what your loved one gave to enable this country to maintain its freedom.  To say that I am grateful is far beyond an understatement.  I know that those who are left behind suffer great grief and I pray for God's consolation to be with you.  

Life is fleeting and, sadly, there are reminders of that around us everyday.  Just by turning on the evening news we are reminded of that fact.  This is why it is so important that we remember that each day we open our eyes is a new gift from the Lord.  Each breath we take should be a reminder that He has a plan for each of us.  

Psalm 118:24 tells us, "This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."  On this day, as on every other day that we are gifted with, let us rejoice and find reasons to praise.  As other people enter our lives, whether for a moment or a lifetime, let's love them with hearts that have been touched by His perfect love.  In order to make the most of the time we have on earth, we need to keep our focus on things above, even though we may be experiencing pain, heartache or troubles in this earthly realm.  

I pray that you will be enveloped in God's holy arms and that your eyes will be opened to the wonders that He has created for our enjoyment.  No matter what you are going through, please remember that He loved you enough to send His Son for you.  Life, as we know it now, is not forever.  So, while we still have time, let's focus on that which is most important and allow Him to walk us through whatever difficulties we may have.  God bless.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 30:1-4

Proverbs 30:1-4 English Standard Version

The Words of Agur

1 The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle.

The man declares, I am weary, O God;

    I am weary, O God, and worn out.

2 Surely I am too stupid to be a man.

    I have not the understanding of a man.

3 I have not learned wisdom,

    nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.

4 Who has ascended to heaven and come down?

    Who has gathered the wind in his fists?

Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?

    Who has established all the ends of the earth?

What is his name, and what is his son's name?

    Surely you know!

Morning Scripture Reading - Joel 2:21-24

Joel 2:21-24 English Standard Version

21 “Fear not, O land;

    be glad and rejoice,

    for the Lord has done great things!

22 Fear not, you beasts of the field,

    for the pastures of the wilderness are green;

the tree bears its fruit;

    the fig tree and vine give their full yield.

23 “Be glad, O children of Zion,

    and rejoice in the Lord your God,

for he has given the early rain for your vindication;

    he has poured down for you abundant rain,

    the early and the latter rain, as before.

24 “The threshing floors shall be full of grain;

    the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Luke 9:57-62

Luke 9:57-62 English Standard Version

The Cost of Following Jesus

57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 90:5-6

Psalm 90:5-6 English Standard Version

5 You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,

    like grass that is renewed in the morning:

6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;

    in the evening it fades and withers.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:27

Proverbs 29:27 English Standard Version

27 An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous,

    but one whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked.

Morning Scripture Reading - Isaiah 26:3

Isaiah 26:3 English Standard Version

3 You keep him in perfect peace

    whose mind is stayed on you,

    because he trusts in you.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - John 20:24-29

John 20:24-29 English Standard Version

Jesus and Thomas

24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 90:3-4

Psalm 90:3-4 English Standard Version

3 You return man to dust

    and say, “Return, O children of man!”

4 For a thousand years in your sight

    are but as yesterday when it is past,

    or as a watch in the night.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:26

Proverbs 29:26 English Standard Version

26 Many seek the face of a ruler,

    but it is from the Lord that a man gets justice.

Morning Scripture Reading - Isaiah 40:9-11

Isaiah 40:9-11 English Standard Version

The Greatness of God

9 Go on up to a high mountain,

    O Zion, herald of good news;

lift up your voice with strength,

    O Jerusalem, herald of good news;

    lift it up, fear not;

say to the cities of Judah,

    “Behold your God!”

10 Behold, the Lord God comes with might,

    and his arm rules for him;

behold, his reward is with him,

    and his recompense before him.

11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd;

    he will gather the lambs in his arms;

he will carry them in his bosom,

    and gently lead those that are with young.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Matthew 24:4-14

Matthew 24:4-14 English Standard Version

4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 90:1-2

Psalm 90:1-2 English Standard Version

Book Four

From Everlasting to Everlasting

A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place

    in all generations.

2 Before the mountains were brought forth,

    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,

    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - What Are We Doing to Each Other

Earlier this week, I was reading some of the statistics regarding violence. Shootings, beatings, assaults, robberies and other crimes are up in many of the metropolitan areas. It seems like society has just become completely unhinged. Instead of having civil debates, we scream at one another. Instead of coming together to resolve issues, we distance ourselves from one another. Horrible words are hurled back and forth at each other. In time, words turn into bricks and bottles. It seems that we have become fractions that are content with separation rather than coming together for the good of all.

Commenters and news reporters, as well as social scientists and experts, push forward ideas. Each idea is different from the others. Some say that we should separate ourselves into tribes while others are content with allowing things to play out. When asked for solutions, each pushes a book that he or she has written. When you read the book, they really don’t have a solution for all of the violence and hateful rhetoric that is spewed, or better put, vomited out.

What has happened to the world I once knew as a boy growing up in a small Texas town? I remember when you didn’t have to lock your doors and neighbors were always there to help. The men of the community met at a local drug store for coffee to talk about what was going on around the town. It was a simpler time. The big event of every week was when the town newspaper went on sale. People would sit patiently around the county courthouse and wait for the newspaper to go on sale. I remember running up and getting a copy for my Dad. The newspapers were put on the counter and there was a simple cardboard box there for people to drop their money into. There were no cash registers or a clerk to take the money. It was just a simple cardboard box and the honor system.

After picking up the newspaper, I would run back to my Dad and he would put on his reading glasses with the others and start skimming through the paper. When there was something that caught the eye of someone, that person would read the article out loud to the others. I guess you could say it was a “Norman Rockwell” moment. 

There was hardly any crime in my town. It could be said that it resembled “Mayberry”. Do you remember the old television show, “The Andy Griffith Show”? Andy was a sheriff of a sleepy little town that was no more than a bump in the road, but it was special to all those who lived there. The great thing about small towns like Mayberry were the people. In times of crisis or celebration, they all came together to lend a shoulder or a hand when needed.

We are all told that things change over time, but I hope that my little hometown hasn’t changed that much and that the neighbors there still take care of one another and come to the aid of each other. In short, they still love one another.

John, in chapter four of his first epistle, writes, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

We should love one another no matter what our reason is. For Christians, loving one another without condition is how we demonstrate God’s love for the world to see. If we are children of God, we must love one another. John ends this thought with one very important item, “God is love”. 

God sent His one and only son to die for our sins and show us in the most profound way possible how much He truly loves us. He gave His son as our once and final sacrifice for our sins. Tell me that isn’t love. Could any parent offer up his or her child as a sacrifice for each individual’s sins? I seriously doubt that any parent would do that.

For those who aren’t Christians, I say that loving one another is the best way possible to embrace each other and start working towards resolving issues. It doesn’t matter what race you are, gender or anything else. We can love one another and work together for the betterment of our species. Why is it so hard for us to do that? We allow our differences to cloud our rational thoughts. Our differences make us unique and special and should not be the basis for hatred or suspicion.

I guess it is so much easier to hate than it is to love. I guess it takes a lot more energy to love than it does to hate. When you think about it, it is certainly true. If I hate a person or a group of people, it means that I don’t want to do anything for them or show any level of concern for their welfare. Hate is cheaper and easier. We don’t have to invest any time or effort in helping another. All we have to do is point to a difference and our involvement ends right there. 

But, when we do take the effort to reach out to someone and get to learn about them as neighbors and friends, then things change for the better. We can live in harmony and work together for the good of all. Is Mayberry or my small Texas town even a possibility anymore? Are we too far gone?

In chapter three of his first epistle, John writes, “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?

If we truly love one another, we must demonstrate it daily. We cannot simply say that we care or love others and then pass them by as if they don't exist. Turning a blind eye to anyone in need is completely unacceptable whether you are a Christian or a human being. As a race, we have the greatest capacity to love one another and also the same capacity to hate one another.

I implore everyone to put aside hate and embrace love. Take the first steps in showing compassion and understanding by seeing one another as fellow human beings. When we start loving and understanding one another, we will see things change for the good. But, it takes the first step. We must stop using violent rhetoric to spark riots and more hatred. We must work to understand the needs of others and work together to live in peace and tranquility.

If you ask any individual if they want hatred or love, he or she will always say the same thing, love. We don’t have to live in a world of hate and loathing. It starts by refusing to listen and follow the words of violence and hatred. It starts with us living lives dedicated to one another in love.

Paul, in chapter three of his letter to the Galatians, writes, “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Let us, as Christians, live and love as one in Christ Jesus and not follow the ways of the world. Let us live as lights that beam the love of the Father into a world of darkness. Show the world that love really does and can exist by showing that love for one another daily. When we do those things, we can and will stand firm in His grace.

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

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:25

Proverbs 29:25 English Standard Version

25 The fear of man lays a snare,

    but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.

Morning Scripture Reading - Jeremiah 29:10-14

Jeremiah 29:10-14 English Standard Version

10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Chronicles 28:20-21

1 Chronicles 28:20-21 English Standard Version

20 Then David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished. 21 And behold the divisions of the priests and the Levites for all the service of the house of God; and with you in all the work will be every willing man who has skill for any kind of service; also the officers and all the people will be wholly at your command.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 89:52

Psalm 89:52 English Standard Version

52 Blessed be the Lord forever!

Amen and Amen.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:24

Proverbs 29:24 English Standard Version

24 The partner of a thief hates his own life;

    he hears the curse, but discloses nothing.

Morning Scripture Reading - Romans 1:16

Romans 1:16 English Standard Version

The Righteous Shall Live by Faith

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Corinthians 15:10-11

1 Corinthians 15:10-11 English Standard Version

10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 89:49-51

Psalm 89:49-51 English Standard Version

49 Lord, where is your steadfast love of old,

    which by your faithfulness you swore to David?

50 Remember, O Lord, how your servants are mocked,

    and how I bear in my heart the insults of all the many nations,

51 with which your enemies mock, O Lord,

    with which they mock the footsteps of your anointed.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:23

Proverbs 29:23 English Standard Version

23 One's pride will bring him low,

    but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.

Morning Scripture Reading - Deuteronomy 30:9-10

Deuteronomy 30:9-10 English Standard Version

9 The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, 10 when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Colossians 3:16

Colossians 3:16 English Standard Version

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 89:46-48

Psalm 89:46-48 English Standard Version

46 How long, O Lord? Will you hide yourself forever?

    How long will your wrath burn like fire?

47 Remember how short my time is!

    For what vanity you have created all the children of man!

48 What man can live and never see death?

    Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:22

Proverbs 29:22 English Standard Version

22 A man of wrath stirs up strife,

    and one given to anger causes much transgression.

Morning Scripture Reading - 2 Timothy 1:8-11

2 Timothy 1:8-14 English Standard Version

8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. 13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Matthew 19:26

Matthew 19:26 English Standard Version

26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 89:38-45

Psalm 89:38-45 English Standard Version

38 But now you have cast off and rejected;

    you are full of wrath against your anointed.

39 You have renounced the covenant with your servant;

    you have defiled his crown in the dust.

40 You have breached all his walls;

    you have laid his strongholds in ruins.

41 All who pass by plunder him;

    he has become the scorn of his neighbors.

42 You have exalted the right hand of his foes;

    you have made all his enemies rejoice.

43 You have also turned back the edge of his sword,

    and you have not made him stand in battle.

44 You have made his splendor to cease

    and cast his throne to the ground.

45 You have cut short the days of his youth;

    you have covered him with shame. Selah

Mid-Week Message - From Dirty to Clean

 "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."  Isaiah 1:18  (KJV)

There are some things that just make me happy.  Though others may find it odd, one of those things is a new toothbrush.  When it is time to replace an old one, I get a sense of excitement at the cleanliness that I will feel in my mouth after I brush.  I'm sure it is just a perception tied to the fact that the brush is new, but, for whatever reason, I relish it.  

It is the same with a good shower or bath.  After the soap and water have done their job, I feel better physically, but also emotionally and mentally.  I'm sure you feel that way too.  When we are nice and clean we feel more acceptable.  More secure.  

I have always been entranced by the picture of the blood of Jesus washing away the sin from our lives.  I recently was listening to a street preacher who was asking a young man if he believed that people needed God in their lives.  When the answer unsure, the preacher asked the young man if he had ever done wrong things.  Had he ever told a lie?  Had he ever lusted after women?  Had he ever stolen anything?  The listener said yes. The preacher confessed that he himself had done some of these things as well.  Because of the sins each of them committed they would be found dirty and unacceptable to God.  

But then the good news.  Because of His great love, God sent His Son Jesus to take the punishment for the sins each of us commit.  When Jesus died on the cross, the blood that was shed had the power to wash all the sin from our lives and to make us clean and pure.  

He didn't ask the young man if he had ever read the Bible, he simply shared the Gospel with him.  When the young man left, he took with him a Bible and, with tears in his eyes, he said he wanted to know more.  

We don't have to know everything there is about Jesus to accept what He did for us.  We will spend all of eternity learning at His feet.  Likewise, we don't have to know everything in the Bible to share the Gospel.  While we need to be spending time in the Word, we know the Gospel story.  We know why Jesus came, what He did, where He is now and why we need Him.  And we know that those around us may never hear about Him unless we tell them.  

I have no idea how much longer it will be before Jesus returns.  No one does.  But we need to live as if His return is imminent.  There are people in our lives who have not experienced His saving grace.  Maybe some in our own families.  If He were to return tonight or tomorrow, would any of us regret not taking the opportunity to summon up the courage to share Him with those folks?  

For all who are struggling or hurting right now, I want you to know that I love you, but more importantly that our Father in Heaven loves you and sees what you are going through and hears your cries.  My prayer is that He will enfold you in His holy arms and hold you so close that you will physically feel Him.  May His mercy and grace be with us all.  

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:21

Proverbs 29:21 English Standard Version

21 Whoever pampers his servant from childhood

    will in the end find him his heir.

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 Corinthians 15:9-11

1 Corinthians 15:9-11 English Standard Version

9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - James 5:13-16

James 5:13-16 English Standard Version

The Prayer of Faith

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 89:19-37

Psalm 89:19-37 English Standard Version

19 Of old you spoke in a vision to your godly one, and said:

    “I have granted help to one who is mighty;

    I have exalted one chosen from the people.

20 I have found David, my servant;

    with my holy oil I have anointed him,

21 so that my hand shall be established with him;

    my arm also shall strengthen him.

22 The enemy shall not outwit him;

    the wicked shall not humble him.

23 I will crush his foes before him

    and strike down those who hate him.

24 My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him,

    and in my name shall his horn be exalted.

25 I will set his hand on the sea

    and his right hand on the rivers.

26 He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father,

    my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’

27 And I will make him the firstborn,

    the highest of the kings of the earth.

28 My steadfast love I will keep for him forever,

    and my covenant will stand firm for him.

29 I will establish his offspring forever

    and his throne as the days of the heavens.

30 If his children forsake my law

    and do not walk according to my rules,

31 if they violate my statutes

    and do not keep my commandments,

32 then I will punish their transgression with the rod

    and their iniquity with stripes,

33 but I will not remove from him my steadfast love

    or be false to my faithfulness.

34 I will not violate my covenant

    or alter the word that went forth from my lips.

35 Once for all I have sworn by my holiness;

    I will not lie to David.

36 His offspring shall endure forever,

    his throne as long as the sun before me.

37 Like the moon it shall be established forever,

    a faithful witness in the skies.” Selah

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:20

Proverbs 29:20 English Standard Version

20 Do you see a man who is hasty in his words?

    There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Morning Scripture Reading - John 17:1-5

John 17:1-5 English Standard Version

The High Priestly Prayer

17 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Colossians 3:15-17

Colossians 3:15-17 English Standard Version

15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 89:5-18

Psalm 89:5-18 English Standard Version

5 Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord,

    your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones!

6 For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord?

    Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord,

7 a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones,

    and awesome above all who are around him?

8 O Lord God of hosts,

    who is mighty as you are, O Lord,

    with your faithfulness all around you?

9 You rule the raging of the sea;

    when its waves rise, you still them.

10 You crushed Rahab like a carcass;

    you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.

11 The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours;

    the world and all that is in it, you have founded them.

12 The north and the south, you have created them;

    Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name.

13 You have a mighty arm;

    strong is your hand, high your right hand.

14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;

    steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.

15 Blessed are the people who know the festal shout,

    who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face,

16 who exult in your name all the day

    and in your righteousness are exalted.

17 For you are the glory of their strength;

    by your favor our horn is exalted.

18 For our shield belongs to the Lord,

    our king to the Holy One of Israel.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:19

Proverbs 29:19 English Standard Version

19 By mere words a servant is not disciplined,

    for though he understands, he will not respond.

Morning Scripture Reading - Deuteronomy 26:16-19

Deuteronomy 26:16-19 English Standard Version

16 “This day the Lord your God commands you to do these statutes and rules. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul. 17 You have declared today that the Lord is your God, and that you will walk in his ways, and keep his statutes and his commandments and his rules, and will obey his voice. 18 And the Lord has declared today that you are a people for his treasured possession, as he has promised you, and that you are to keep all his commandments, 19 and that he will set you in praise and in fame and in honor high above all nations that he has made, and that you shall be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised.”

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - James 1:19-21

James 1:19-21 English Standard Version

Hearing and Doing the Word

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 89:1-4

Psalm 89:1-4 English Standard Version

I Will Sing of the Steadfast Love of the Lord

A Maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.

1  I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever;

    with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.

2 For I said, “Steadfast love will be built up forever;

    in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness.”

3 You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one;

    I have sworn to David my servant:

4 ‘I will establish your offspring forever,

    and build your throne for all generations.’” Selah

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Every Rose and Every Thorn

There have been so many songs that have shared the same theme. In 1969, Country singer-songwriter Joe South wrote “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” which debuted on his album, Introspect. It was covered by male artists like Freddy Weller, Billy Joe Royal, and Dobie Gray before Lynn Anderson made it an international crossover hit in 1971. Aside from peaking on the US Hot 100 at number 3, it also topped the Country chart for five weeks. Later, Billy Ocean co-wrote and performed a song, “When the Going Gets Tough” in 1985. A little later, the rock group, Poison, had a hit with their song, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”, in 1988.

I am sure that there are more songs with a very similar theme and each represents a different aspect of that central theme. We all must accept the bitter with the better. It is just part of life. Life is full of great moments and also moments that are sometimes too painful and we wish we could forget them. Our lives are full of those good moments and some that are just plain bad.

When I was growing up, I remember the old ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” commercial. Jim McKay dramatically reminded us of the nature of sports, “Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sports... the thrill of victory... and the agony of defeat... the human drama of athletic competition... This is ‘ABC's Wide World of Sports!’”

Life is truly a human drama. Sometimes, we have moments of celebration and then experience moments of sadness where we weep. When you reflect on your life and take stock of it for whatever reason, you get to see the rich tapestry of your life. Each panel in that tapestry is dedicated to a particular moment of your life. As I look at my own life, I see moments of great triumph and moments of great tragedy. I have tasted sweet victory and have also tasted the bitterness of defeat. I keep telling myself the same thing over and over that it is just part of life. It is just a bad season.

A farmer or rancher knows exactly what a good season is and what a bad season is. Some years are filled with abundance while other years the little ones are eating the big ones. Think of Pharaoh's dream in chapter forty-one of the Book of Genesis. There will always be great years of abundance and there will always be years of famine.

Nowhere in the Bible is this point better made than in chapter three of the Book of Ecclesiastes. The author writes, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A  time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.

When you look closely at these verses, you can easily see how life can fall into those seasons. Our lives can be easily divided up into seasons, but the real issue is how we deal with the seasons where we experience hardship and those tough times.

We have a choice. We can either just get bitter or we can turn to Father God and look to Him for help, wisdom and guidance. We can decide to blame God for our misfortune or praise Him for all that He has done in our lives. The choice is yours to make. You can get bitter or you can get better. 

The author later writes in chapter three of the Book of Ecclesiastes, “What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

The author tells us that everything will be beautiful in its own time and that we cannot see the whole scope of God’s work. We can only see what is before us. What we need to do is to be patient and remain faithful to God. Things are often darkest before dawn, but that is why we have faith in God’s will. As His children, we must accept His will in all situations in our lives. I know that it is very hard to do when you face more defeats rather than victories. It would be easier to walk away from God. But, He never promised you that life would get easier as His child. The one thing we have from Him is the promise of eternal life and that is what we strive for in our lives. We worship and praise Him even when the times are bad. We humble ourselves and rejoice no matter what we are facing.

In chapter three of his book, the prophet, Habakkuk prays, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

Habakkuk’s prayer should be the model in our lives. No matter what happens we are to be joyful and rejoice in the Lord. When you look back at last year, it seemed like there was nothing stopping us from having a great year. The economy was booming. A great sense of optimism filled the hearts of people. Everything seemed good. By the end of the year, something was looming on the horizon. It was a global pandemic. Within just a few months of starting the new year of 2020 and a new decade, we found ourselves facing food and medical supply shortages. We had to be quarantined and unemployment skyrocketed. Many thought that this would be a momentary inconvenience and things would quickly return to normal. Weeks stretched into months and it became increasingly clear that we were now living the winter of our discontent.

When we experience those bitter seasons, we should not give up on our faith or on God. That is when we should rejoice in Him and be joyful in the God of our salvation. I know that it isn’t easy to do. You can only see the darkness and it seems like the light of hope has been snuffed out. Rest assured that it hasn’t. It is always there. It is up to us and us alone to seek that light of salvation and hope given to us by Father God through His son, Christ Jesus.

Paul, in his epistle to the church at Philippi, wrote, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!

I could not have put it any better. No matter what happens in your life, always be full of joy. Rejoice in the Lord and remain faithful to Him. He will definitely see you through the good and bad times. He is, and will always be, your refuge and your shield. There is truly no one like Him. His power sustains the whole universe and you are so very precious to Him. Never, ever forget that. So when you are facing feast or famine, rejoice in the Lord and always stand firm in His grace.

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

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:18

Proverbs 29:18 English Standard Version

18 Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint,

    but blessed is he who keeps the law.

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 Corinthians 4:6-7

1 Corinthians 4:6-7 English Standard Version

6 I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. 7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

1 Corinthians 15:20-28 English Standard Version

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 88:13-18

Psalm 88:13-18 English Standard Version

13 But I, O Lord, cry to you;

    in the morning my prayer comes before you.

14 O Lord, why do you cast my soul away?

    Why do you hide your face from me?

15 Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,

    I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.

16 Your wrath has swept over me;

    your dreadful assaults destroy me.

17 They surround me like a flood all day long;

    they close in on me together.

18 You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;

    my companions have become darkness.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:17

Proverbs 29:17 English Standard Version

17 Discipline your son, and he will give you rest;

    he will give delight to your heart.

Morning Scripture Reading - Acts 2:14-21

Acts 2:14-21 English Standard Version

Peter's Sermon at Pentecost

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,

that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,

and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

    and your young men shall see visions,

    and your old men shall dream dreams;

18 even on my male servants and female servants

    in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above

    and signs on the earth below,

    blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;

20 the sun shall be turned to darkness

    and the moon to blood,

    before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.

21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Friday, May 14, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - John 11:25-26

John 11:25-26 English Standard Version

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 88:8-12

Psalm 88:8-12 English Standard Version

8 You have caused my companions to shun me;

    you have made me a horror to them.

I am shut in so that I cannot escape;

9     my eye grows dim through sorrow.

Every day I call upon you, O Lord;

    I spread out my hands to you.

10 Do you work wonders for the dead?

    Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah

11 Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,

    or your faithfulness in Abaddon?

12 Are your wonders known in the darkness,

    or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:16

Proverbs 29:16 English Standard Version

16 When the wicked increase, transgression increases,

    but the righteous will look upon their downfall.

Morning Scripture Reading - Ephesians 1:11-14

Ephesians 1:11-14 English Standard Version

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Romans 13:6-7

Romans 13:6-7 English Standard Version

6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 88:3-7

Psalm 88:3-7 English Standard Version

3 For my soul is full of troubles,

    and my life draws near to Sheol.

4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit;

    I am a man who has no strength,

5 like one set loose among the dead,

    like the slain that lie in the grave,

like those whom you remember no more,

    for they are cut off from your hand.

6 You have put me in the depths of the pit,

    in the regions dark and deep.

7 Your wrath lies heavy upon me,

    and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:15

Proverbs 29:15 English Standard Version

15 The rod and reproof give wisdom,

    but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

Morning Scripture Reading - Jeremiah 17:5-10

Jeremiah 17:5-10 English Standard Version

5 Thus says the Lord:

“Cursed is the man who trusts in man

    and makes flesh his strength,

    whose heart turns away from the Lord.

6 He is like a shrub in the desert,

    and shall not see any good come.

He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,

    in an uninhabited salt land.

7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,

    whose trust is the Lord.

8 He is like a tree planted by water,

    that sends out its roots by the stream,

and does not fear when heat comes,

    for its leaves remain green,

and is not anxious in the year of drought,

    for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

9 The heart is deceitful above all things,

    and desperately sick;

    who can understand it?

10 “I the Lord search the heart

    and test the mind,

to give every man according to his ways,

    according to the fruit of his deeds.”

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - 2 Samuel 7:18-29

2 Samuel 7:18-29 English Standard Version

David's Prayer of Gratitude

18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? 19 And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of your servant's house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God! 20 And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! 21 Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it. 22 Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods? 24 And you established for yourself your people Israel to be your people forever. And you, O Lord, became their God. 25 And now, O Lord God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, and do as you have spoken. 26 And your name will be magnified forever, saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is God over Israel,’ and the house of your servant David will be established before you. 27 For you, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. 29 Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 88:1-2

Psalm 88:1-2 English Standard Version

I Cry Out Day and Night Before You

A Song. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. To the choirmaster: according to Mahalath Leannoth. A Maskil of Heman the Ezrahite.

1 O Lord, God of my salvation,

    I cry out day and night before you.

2 Let my prayer come before you;

    incline your ear to my cry!

Mid-Week Message - Sharing Kindness

 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."   2 Corinthians 1:3-4  (NIV)

I heard the story of a mother who was growing weary of her children asking for things when she took them shopping with her.  She wanted to teach them to be grateful for what they already had and to realize that there were many people who were truly needy.  So she came up with the idea to allow them to choose one item each time they were with her.  The item was one can of food.  Any can of food they wanted to choose that day.  Then, after they were purchased, they would place their cans in the food bank barrel by the door.  The children loved this activity and ceased asking for things for themselves when they were in the store. 

Everyone we meet has a story and everyone we meet has a need.  Just like this mother was teaching her children, so we need to be mindful of those around us.  We may never know what is happening in the lives we encounter, but we can make sure that whatever impact we have is positive.  

When I was in college, I had the opportunity to travel with both a drama group and the concert choir.  When we spent the night with church members in whatever city we were in, we were told to make sure we left our accommodations as nice as, or nicer than, they were when we arrived.  This was basic gratitude and respect.   In the same way, we need to share the love of our Father in Heaven by sharing the same kindness and compassion with which He graces our lives with those we come into contact with.  

How does it make you feel if the person in front of you in line to buy coffee pays for your order?  I hope you have experienced that.  I have and I can tell you it truly blesses me.  That random act of kindness lifts my heart and makes me smile.  Have you ever had someone walk up to you and ask your name then say, "I just want to say a prayer for you today"?  That has happened to me on a couple of occasions.  It makes me feel like God has reached out with a special "I love you" message.  

When we take the time to notice those around us, we are telling them that they are important.  The love of the Lord is to be shared, not just stored up for our own personal good.  Whether in person or on social media, our encounters with others need to count.  Kindness is free and it only takes a moment to share.  We may never know what impact it makes, but we all need it.  

I pray that your life will be full of moments of blessing this week and that each of us will remember to reach out to those around us and be blessings to them.  Small seeds of kindness can produce unbelievable results.  God bless.  

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:14

Proverbs 29:14 English Standard Version

14 If a king faithfully judges the poor,

    his throne will be established forever.

Morning Scripture Reading - Joshua 3:7-17

 Joshua 3:7-17 English Standard Version

7 The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. 8 And as for you, command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” 9 And Joshua said to the people of Israel, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” 10 And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. 11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. 12 Now therefore take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, from each tribe a man. 13 And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.”

14 So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, 15 and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), 16 the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. 17 Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Hebrews 9:15

Hebrews 9:15 English Standard Version

15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 87:7

Psalm 87:7 English Standard Version

7 Singers and dancers alike say,

    “All my springs are in you.”

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:13

Proverbs 29:13 English Standard Version

13 The poor man and the oppressor meet together;

    the Lord gives light to the eyes of both.