Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Jeremiah 20:13

Jeremiah 20:13 English Standard Version

13 Sing to the Lord;

    praise the Lord!

For he has delivered the life of the needy

    from the hand of evildoers.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 100:1-2

Psalm 100:1-2 English Standard Version

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

A Psalm for giving thanks.

1  Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!

2     Serve the Lord with gladness!

    Come into his presence with singing!

Mid-Week Message - Is He Sufficient?

"He must become greater; I must become less."  John 3:30  (NIV) 

Those who have children may have one or two who are strong-willed.  They want to do things their way and do it by themselves.  Resisting discipline, they are determined to explore that world on their own terms and parents may wonder how to reign them in without breaking their spirit. 

Often, these are also the high-achievers.  They are willing to step "outside of the box" to investigate life.  They try things that others may not think to try and think through problems in unique ways.  As a result, they may be able to solve long-standing issues, become inventors, write the great American novel, or paint masterpieces.  

However we fall in the family hierarchy, whatever our personalities or talents might be, we have one trait in common and that is that we tend to make life about ourselves.  We concentrate on what WE want, what WE like, what makes US happy.  Especially today, we live in a ME society.  We are seeing that especially right now as the nation is going through the throes of individuals being easily offended and wanting everyday words and actions to be changed to suit them.  

As I grow older, the more and more I realize that life isn't about me, or any of us.  It is about our Lord and Savior.  Our purpose is to bring Him glory.  In order to do that, we have to learn to put Him above all.  That doesn't mean we neglect other people or our duties and responsibilities in life.  It means that we live and relate in such a way that is pleasing to Him.  

There is a song, sung by the Christian artist Steve Green, entitled "Whatever It Takes."  It is one that always leads me to prayer, but also challenges how I live my life.  Here are some of the lyrics:

                Whatever it takes to keep me tender toward you

                Whatever it takes, Lord, I beg you to do

                Whatever you must lead me through

                Whatever it takes, Lord, do   

When I first heard this song, I wondered if I would ever be able to pray those words.  Would I ever be able to turn loose of what is important to me and give it all over to Him?  The first few times I attempted to say this as a prayer, I found myself wanting to put stipulations on what I was asking such as, "Please don't touch my family."  Then I understood that "whatever" was all-encompassing and that the only way I could mean it was to be willing to surrender all I held dear on earth.

As time goes by and as I spend more and more time with the Lord, I am beginning to see that what I have to ask myself is this:  Is He sufficient?   If suddenly everything and everyone was gone from my life, would His presence, His love, His sacrifice, His resurrection, be sufficient for me?  

These are difficult things to think about but it is my desire.  I want to bring Him glory.  I want my life to point to Jesus.  If He uses me in the life of only one person who chooses to repent and believe in Him then my life will have fulfilled a much greater purpose than it would have if I had spent it any other way.  

So, I ask you the question I ask myself.  Is He sufficient?  Could you lay everything down if He asked you to?  Can honoring Him become your greatest desire?  

Lots to think about this week.  God bless.  

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 5:7-14

Proverbs 5:7-14 English Standard Version

7 And now, O sons, listen to me,

    and do not depart from the words of my mouth.

8 Keep your way far from her,

    and do not go near the door of her house,

9 lest you give your honor to others

    and your years to the merciless,

10 lest strangers take their fill of your strength,

    and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,

11 and at the end of your life you groan,

    when your flesh and body are consumed,

12 and you say, “How I hated discipline,

    and my heart despised reproof!

13 I did not listen to the voice of my teachers

    or incline my ear to my instructors.

14 I am at the brink of utter ruin

    in the assembled congregation.”

Morning Scripture Reading - Romans 6:20-23

Romans 6:20-23 English Standard Version

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Luke 1:46-56

Luke 1:46-56 English Standard Version

Mary's Song of Praise: The Magnificat

46 And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,

47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.

    For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,

    and holy is his name.

50 And his mercy is for those who fear him

    from generation to generation.

51 He has shown strength with his arm;

    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;

52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones

    and exalted those of humble estate;

53 he has filled the hungry with good things,

    and the rich he has sent away empty.

54 He has helped his servant Israel,

    in remembrance of his mercy,

55 as he spoke to our fathers,

    to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 99:8-9

Psalm 99:8-9 English Standard Version

8 O Lord our God, you answered them;

    you were a forgiving God to them,

    but an avenger of their wrongdoings.

9 Exalt the Lord our God,

    and worship at his holy mountain;

    for the Lord our God is holy!

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 5:1-6

Proverbs 5:1-6 English Standard Version

Warning Against Adultery

1 My son, be attentive to my wisdom;

    incline your ear to my understanding,

2 that you may keep discretion,

    and your lips may guard knowledge.

3 For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,

    and her speech is smoother than oil,

4 but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,

    sharp as a two-edged sword.

5 Her feet go down to death;

    her steps follow the path to Sheol;

6 she does not ponder the path of life;

    her ways wander, and she does not know it.

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 John 2:15-17

1 John 2:15-17 English Standard Version

Do Not Love the World

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Isaiah 8:17

Isaiah 8:17 English Standard Version

17 I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 99:6-7

Psalm 99:6-7 English Standard Version

6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests,

    Samuel also was among those who called upon his name.

    They called to the Lord, and he answered them.

7 In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them;

    they kept his testimonies

    and the statute that he gave them.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 4:20-27

Proverbs 4:20-27 English Standard Version

20 My son, be attentive to my words;

    incline your ear to my sayings.

21 Let them not escape from your sight;

    keep them within your heart.

22 For they are life to those who find them,

    and healing to all their flesh.

23 Keep your heart with all vigilance,

    for from it flow the springs of life.

24 Put away from you crooked speech,

    and put devious talk far from you.

25 Let your eyes look directly forward,

    and your gaze be straight before you.

26 Ponder the path of your feet;

    then all your ways will be sure.

27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left;

    turn your foot away from evil.

Morning Scripture Reading - 2 Corinthians 13:11

2 Corinthians 13:11 English Standard Version

Final Greetings

11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Romans 3:27-31

Romans 3:27-31 English Standard Version

27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 99:1-5

Psalm 99:1-5 English Standard Version

The Lord Our God Is Holy

1 The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble!

    He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!

2 The Lord is great in Zion;

    he is exalted over all the peoples.

3 Let them praise your great and awesome name!

    Holy is he!

4 The King in his might loves justice.

    You have established equity;

you have executed justice

    and righteousness in Jacob.

5 Exalt the Lord our God;

    worship at his footstool!

    Holy is he!

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Shaped by Faith and Love

When I was in junior high school many years ago, we were encouraged to try different things. Every six weeks we would do something creative and different. One time I was in a drama class and selected to be the lead actor. It was fun and very exciting to act. Later, I learned how to make a leather wallet and learned to tool leather to create intricate designs. One of the most interesting was a class where we shaped clay and painted clay figurines. In that class, I learned how certain paints and glazes react when heated in a kiln. I learned to shape clay and how to make slip castings. It was fun and very relaxing to create actual pieces of art. One of the items I made was a parrot for my mother. She loved the gift, but it didn’t survive the years.

What I learned is that all things, including our own lives, are shaped by some sort of force. For example, I was talking with a dear friend of mine today. She told me that her husband had passed away earlier this month. He had suffered with many medical problems and life was always a struggle for him. 

Tragic events like that one, as well as those of celebration, shape our lives daily. Our lives are literally and figuratively changed forever. Our perspective on life also changes. We are definitely shaped by external forces. Although those events are difficult to deal with and we wish that we didn’t have to go through them, they are a part of life that we have to endure. Whether we want them or not, those events happen and they teach us a lesson about ourselves and how we can react to stress.

In that class I took, I learned that certain glazes turn clear after they are put in the kiln for heating. They may be applied to a cast and it looks milky white, but when extreme heat is applied, they turn as clear as glass. 

All things react to temperature and pressure. We are no different. If you experience stress and then add a tragic event, a number of things could happen. It could make you stronger or it could cause you to crumble. It just depends on the material and how you are shaped by your faith.

Paul, in chapter one of his first letter to Timothy, writes, “Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus.

Some of us, like I did, have grown up with the teachings of Christ Jesus. We have had that “pattern of wholesome teaching” instilled in us. We have heard the Good News and embraced it. We have grown stronger on our daily walks with our Lord. Then, one day, our faith is put to the test. We experience a tragedy in our lives and then we are faced with stress. Like the clay, or slip that is used for casting, we are suddenly placed in the “kiln of life” and have to deal with high temperatures.

We can either choose to keep our shape by relying on our faith and love or crumble and fall apart. When we look to our faith, we can make it through the experience and come out of the crucible just a little bit wiser and stronger. 

In chapter seventeen of the Book of Proverbs, the author tells us, “Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the LORD tests the heart.

Some translations use the word, “crucible”. A crucible is defined as “a ceramic or metal container in which metals or other substances may be melted or subjected to very high temperatures.”

We often find ourselves enduring the extreme temperatures of a situation. Those moments truly test our mettle. Each day we face situations that test us. Some are tragic while some are minor. But, we face them nevertheless. It is part of life.

What are you facing today? Do you feel that you are in the “kiln of life” and experiencing those searing temperatures? Do you feel things crumbling?

If you are dealing with those high temperatures, reach out to your Father. God is always there to help you get through those moments. Depend on that pattern of faith that has been shaped ever so lovingly by Christ Jesus. He will never forsake you or leave you to handle things alone. 

All it takes is a small prayer. God listens to His children and will be there to help you. He will put His loving arms around you and shield you. All you have to do is call out to Him and He will be all that you need in that situation and so much more.

When you open your heart to Him, He will fill you with joy and show you a love and peace that this sinful world cannot give you. Begin your daily walk with Jesus and let him show you the way to your Father. When you face tragedy or feel the world closing in on you, you can always depend on Him and stand firmly in His grace. 

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

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 4:10-19

Proverbs 4:10-19 English Standard Version

10 Hear, my son, and accept my words,

    that the years of your life may be many.

11 I have taught you the way of wisdom;

    I have led you in the paths of uprightness.

12 When you walk, your step will not be hampered,

    and if you run, you will not stumble.

13 Keep hold of instruction; do not let go;

    guard her, for she is your life.

14 Do not enter the path of the wicked,

    and do not walk in the way of the evil.

15 Avoid it; do not go on it;

    turn away from it and pass on.

16 For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong;

    they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.

17 For they eat the bread of wickedness

    and drink the wine of violence.

18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,

    which shines brighter and brighter until full day.

19 The way of the wicked is like deep darkness;

    they do not know over what they stumble.

Morning Scripture Reading - Exodus 9:16

Exodus 9:16 English Standard Version

16 But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Philippians 4:4-7

Philippians 4:4-7 English Standard Version

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 98:7-9

Psalm 98:7-9 English Standard Version

7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;

    the world and those who dwell in it!

8 Let the rivers clap their hands;

    let the hills sing for joy together

9 before the Lord, for he comes

    to judge the earth.

He will judge the world with righteousness,

    and the peoples with equity.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 4:1-9

Proverbs 4:1-9 English Standard Version

A Father's Wise Instruction

1 Hear, O sons, a father's instruction,

    and be attentive, that you may gain insight,

2 for I give you good precepts;

    do not forsake my teaching.

3 When I was a son with my father,

    tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,

4 he taught me and said to me,

“Let your heart hold fast my words;

    keep my commandments, and live.

5 Get wisdom; get insight;

    do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.

6 Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;

    love her, and she will guard you.

7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,

    and whatever you get, get insight.

8 Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;

    she will honor you if you embrace her.

9 She will place on your head a graceful garland;

    she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 Chronicles 29:10-12

1 Chronicles 29:10-12 English Standard Version

David Prays in the Assembly

10 Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. 11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Hebrews 4:13

Hebrews 4:13 English Standard Version

13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 98:4-6

Psalm 98:4-6 English Standard Version

4 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;

    break forth into joyous song and sing praises!

5 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,

    with the lyre and the sound of melody!

6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn

    make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 3:28-35

Proverbs 3:28-35 English Standard Version

28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again,

    tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.

29 Do not plan evil against your neighbor,

    who dwells trustingly beside you.

30 Do not contend with a man for no reason,

    when he has done you no harm.

31 Do not envy a man of violence

    and do not choose any of his ways,

32 for the devious person is an abomination to the Lord,

    but the upright are in his confidence.

33 The Lord's curse is on the house of the wicked,

    but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous.

34 Toward the scorners he is scornful,

    but to the humble he gives favor.

35 The wise will inherit honor,

    but fools get disgrace.

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 John 3:4-6

1 John 3:4-6 English Standard Version

4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Romans 2:1-4

Romans 2:1-4 English Standard Version

God's Righteous Judgment

1 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 98:1-3

Psalm 98:1-3 English Standard Version

Make a Joyful Noise to the Lord

A Psalm.

1 Oh sing to the Lord a new song,

    for he has done marvelous things!

His right hand and his holy arm

    have worked salvation for him.

2 The Lord has made known his salvation;

    he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.

3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness

    to the house of Israel.

All the ends of the earth have seen

    the salvation of our God.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 3:21-27

Proverbs 3:21-27 English Standard Version

21 My son, do not lose sight of these—

    keep sound wisdom and discretion,

22 and they will be life for your soul

    and adornment for your neck.

23 Then you will walk on your way securely,

    and your foot will not stumble.

24 If you lie down, you will not be afraid;

    when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror

    or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes,

26 for the Lord will be your confidence

    and will keep your foot from being caught.

27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,

    when it is in your power to do it.

Morning Scripture Reading - Jeremiah 10:23-24

Jeremiah 10:23-24 English Standard Version

23 I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself,

    that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.

24 Correct me, O Lord, but in justice;

    not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Hebrews 11:3

Hebrews 11:3 English Standard Version

3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 97:10-12

Psalm 97:10-12 English Standard Version

10 O you who love the Lord, hate evil!

    He preserves the lives of his saints;

    he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

11 Light is sown for the righteous,

    and joy for the upright in heart.

12 Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous,

    and give thanks to his holy name!

Mid-Week Message - Always In His Sight

"I can never escape from your Spirit!  I can never get away from your presence!  If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.  If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me."  Psalm 139:7-10  (NLT) 

I ran from my mother one time.  One time.  I don't remember what I had done.  I was only maybe four years old at the time.  She came toward me to discipline me and I ran.  When she caught me, the result was far harsher than it would have been if I had not made the choice to run. 

From Daddy, I hid.  I always seemed to get in trouble soon after he left for work in the mornings.  My mother would say, "Just wait until your father gets home."  So all day I dreaded the hour that his car would drive up in the driveway.  When it did, I would hide in one of two places.  Under the bed, or in the closet.  I can remember thinking to myself that the closet was so dark that not even God could find me in there.  Of course, Daddy always knew where I was so hiding never worked.  I am so glad that he always knew where I was.  Not because I enjoyed the discipline that came after he found me but because of the security of knowing that he loved me and was familiar with where I would be.  

One day before he passed away, he and my mother were discussing his collection of business cards.  She asked him what would happen to them after he was gone and he said, "Karla will get them."  She said that I would probably just throw them away, to which he replied, "She'll keep them.  I know my daughter."  And, yes, I still have them almost fourteen years later.  

There is great comfort in the knowledge that our Lord always knows where we are.  As the scripture says, there is no where that we can go to be out of His presence.  One of my favorite quotes from the movie Buckaroo Banzai is, "No matter where you go, there you are."  That is true about God.  Whether we are in the depths of the ocean, upon the highest mountain, soaring in the sky or just hiding in a dark closet, He is there.  

Some days are dark and stormy.  Life can lead us down paths that we never even knew existed.  Fear, confusion, anger, depression, loneliness, addiction, illness, or catastrophe are just a few of the things we can face.  But we can also experience love, joy, peace or plenty.  No matter what condition we find ourselves in, no matter what is before us, we are not alone.  We are never away from His presence.  

Psalm 139 is my favorite chapter in the Bible.  There is so much reassurance of His intimate involvement in our lives, even from conception.  I encourage you to find a quiet place and spend just a few moments reading it.  Take the words in and hide them in your heart.  

I am grateful that I tried to run and hide from my parents because it taught me that they were always there, even when I tried to get away from them.  It was a precursor to understanding the presence of God, although His presence is far greater.  What a wonderful thing to know that I am never out of His sight, or out of His care.  Nor are you.  Ever.  May we all find great comfort in that knowledge.  God bless.  

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 3:19-20

Proverbs 3:19-20 English Standard Version

19 The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;

    by understanding he established the heavens;

20 by his knowledge the deeps broke open,

    and the clouds drop down the dew.

Morning Scripture Reading - Ecclesiastes 7:5

Ecclesiastes 7:5 English Standard Version

5 It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise

    than to hear the song of fools.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Thessalonians 2:8

1 Thessalonians 2:8 English Standard Version

8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 97:8-9

Psalm 97:8-9 English Standard Version

8 Zion hears and is glad,

    and the daughters of Judah rejoice,

    because of your judgments, O Lord.

9 For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth;

    you are exalted far above all gods.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 3:13-18

Proverbs 3:13-18 English Standard Version

Blessed Is the One Who Finds Wisdom

13 Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,

    and the one who gets understanding,

14 for the gain from her is better than gain from silver

    and her profit better than gold.

15 She is more precious than jewels,

    and nothing you desire can compare with her.

16 Long life is in her right hand;

    in her left hand are riches and honor.

17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,

    and all her paths are peace.

18 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;

    those who hold her fast are called blessed.

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 John 3:16-17

1 John 3:16-17 English Standard Version

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?

Monday, June 21, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - James 1:16-18

James 1:16-18 English Standard Version

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 97:6-7

Psalm 97:6-7 English Standard Version

6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness,

    and all the peoples see his glory.

7 All worshipers of images are put to shame,

    who make their boast in worthless idols;

    worship him, all you gods!

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 3:11-12

Proverbs 3:11-12 English Standard Version

11 My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline

    or be weary of his reproof,

12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,

    as a father the son in whom he delights.

Morning Scripture Reading - Micah 5:1-6

Micah 5:1-6 English Standard Version

The Ruler to Be Born in Bethlehem

1 Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops;

    siege is laid against us;

with a rod they strike the judge of Israel

    on the cheek.

2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,

    who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,

from you shall come forth for me

    one who is to be ruler in Israel,

whose coming forth is from of old,

    from ancient days.

3 Therefore he shall give them up until the time

    when she who is in labor has given birth;

then the rest of his brothers shall return

    to the people of Israel.

4 And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,

    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.

And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great

    to the ends of the earth.

5 And he shall be their peace.

When the Assyrian comes into our land

    and treads in our palaces,

then we will raise against him seven shepherds

    and eight princes of men;

6 they shall shepherd the land of Assyria with the sword,

    and the land of Nimrod at its entrances;

and he shall deliver us from the Assyrian

    when he comes into our land

    and treads within our border.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22

1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 English Standard Version

Final Instructions and Benediction

12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 97:1-5

Psalm 97:1-5 English Standard Version

The Lord Reigns

1 The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice;

    let the many coastlands be glad!

2 Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;

    righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.

3 Fire goes before him

    and burns up his adversaries all around.

4 His lightnings light up the world;

    the earth sees and trembles.

5 The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,

    before the Lord of all the earth.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Don’t Stifle the Spirit

Paul, in chapter five of his first letter to the church at Thessalonica, provides words of advice to the believers there. He tells them how they are to act as Christians and be God’s representatives to the world.

According to Paul and others in the Bible, it is not enough to just say that you believe in Christ Jesus and repent of your sins. It is a lot more. You have to live your life as a true believer. That is why in his letters Paul provides the churches with advice on how to live and conduct their lives as Christians. By living as believers and followers of Christ Jesus in a world filled with sin and evil, we show the world that it doesn’t have to be that way. 

We show those who walk in darkness that the things of this world are only temporary. They rot, rust and return back to the earth from where they came. When people try to find their own way, that path only leads to more emptiness and, ultimately, damnation. All have tried to fill that void in their lives with all sorts of things. Many have tried drugs, sex, alcohol and other vices to make themselves feel good on the inside. They only find that the void never gets filled. No matter how much or what you shovel into the void, it never, ever gets filled.

But, one day, they see us and they become curious and ask about our faith and about the joy we have found in our relationship with Jesus and the Father. So many of my fellow believers have shared the same story of how people they have known for years will all of a sudden ask a question about faith. They share their story with them and then a small prayer occurs. One leads the other to that peace that surpasses all understanding. 

However, it can only happen when we allow the spirit to work in our lives and live in accordance to the will of God. Each day is an opportunity for us to live as God leads us to live. 

Looking back at Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, specifically chapter five of that letter, he writes, “Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other. Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.

I, like many of you, have read this passage repeatedly. It seems almost elementary to Christians, but one particular verse caught my eyes as I read it again. That verse talks about not stifling the Holy Spirit. In some translations, words like “quench” or “extinguish” are used. In any case or translation, the meaning is clear.

We should always be in tune with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is there to teach and guide us and is not to be taken lightly. He does a number of things in our lives. He brings conviction to our hearts when we have strayed away from the path of righteousness. The Holy Spirit fills us and gives us wisdom and understanding as well as power.

For example, John, while recording the words of Jesus in chapter fourteen of his Gospel, writes, “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

If we stifle or quench the Holy Spirit and fail to follow his lead, we will soon find ourselves returning to our old sinful ways very quickly. Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will teach us all that we need to know when it comes to our daily walk with the Lord and provide that gentle reminder of all those wonderful lessons and the words of the Father. Receiving all of this wealth of knowledge is contingent upon us not stifling or extinguishing the Holy Spirit who fills us.

Paul’s advice is very clear and to the point regarding our Christian lives. When you look at all of the things that Paul tells the Thessalonians and, by extension, us, to do, you can easily see that none of that is possible unless you are completely in tune with the Holy Spirit and following his lead. As you continue your daily walk with the Lord, do not dismiss the importance of the Holy Spirit and listen to the Holy Spirit. When you do all those things that Paul advised you to do and follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, you can rest assured that you will stand firm in His grace. 

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

Happy Father's Day!

Luke 15:11-31 New Living Translation

Parable of the Lost Son

11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’

28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’

31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 3:9-10

Proverbs 3:9-10 English Standard Version

9 Honor the Lord with your wealth

    and with the firstfruits of all your produce;

10 then your barns will be filled with plenty,

    and your vats will be bursting with wine.

Morning Scripture Reading - Philippians 3:17-21

Philippians 3:17-21 English Standard Version

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Isaiah 30:18-22

Isaiah 30:18-22 English Standard Version

The Lord Will Be Gracious

18 Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,

    and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.

For the Lord is a God of justice;

    blessed are all those who wait for him.

19 For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. 20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. 22 Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, “Be gone!”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 96:11-13

Psalm 96:11-13 English Standard Version

11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;

    let the sea roar, and all that fills it;

12     let the field exult, and everything in it!

Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy

13     before the Lord, for he comes,

    for he comes to judge the earth.

He will judge the world in righteousness,

    and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 3:5-8

Proverbs 3:5-8 English Standard Version

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

    and do not lean on your own understanding.

6 In all your ways acknowledge him,

    and he will make straight your paths.

7 Be not wise in your own eyes;

    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

8 It will be healing to your flesh

    and refreshment to your bones.

Morning Scripture Reading - Matthew 19:13-15

Matthew 19:13-15 English Standard Version

Let the Children Come to Me

13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Luke 19:9-10

Luke 19:9-10 English Standard Version

9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 96:10

Psalm 96:10 English Standard Version

10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!

    Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved;

    he will judge the peoples with equity.”

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 3:3-4

Proverbs 3:3-4 English Standard Version

3 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;

    bind them around your neck;

    write them on the tablet of your heart.

4 So you will find favor and good success

    in the sight of God and man.

Morning Scripture Reading - Mark 5:35-43

Mark 5:35-43 English Standard Version

35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler's house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Luke 10:17-20

Luke 10:17-20 English Standard Version

The Return of the Seventy-Two

17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 96:7-9

Psalm 96:7-9 English Standard Version

7 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,

    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!

8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;

    bring an offering, and come into his courts!

9 Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;

    tremble before him, all the earth!

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 3:1-2

Proverbs 3:1-2 English Standard Version

Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart

1 My son, do not forget my teaching,

    but let your heart keep my commandments,

2 for length of days and years of life

    and peace they will add to you.

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 Corinthians 14:29-32

1 Corinthians 14:29-32 English Standard Version

29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Deuteronomy 34:10-12

Deuteronomy 34:10-12 English Standard Version

10 And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, 12 and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 96:1-6

Psalm 96:1-6 English Standard Version

Worship in the Splendor of Holiness

1 Oh sing to the Lord a new song;

    sing to the Lord, all the earth!

2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name;

    tell of his salvation from day to day.

3 Declare his glory among the nations,

    his marvelous works among all the peoples!

4 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;

    he is to be feared above all gods.

5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,

    but the Lord made the heavens.

6 Splendor and majesty are before him;

    strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Mid-Week Message - The List

 "If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."  Romans 10:9  (NIV)

The night after I had taken my driver's test as a teenager, I had a dream in which I was driving down the road and all of a sudden the clouds became giant bells that were ringing.  Everyone was getting out of their cars and coming out from wherever they had been.  I realized that this was the second coming of Jesus.  Angels were everywhere in the sky, then Jesus came with a list in His hand.  Everyone's name was on the list and beside each was a numerical value.  Whoever had a number of seventy or above was going to Heaven, and I was so happy that my number was seventy exactly.  

I have never forgotten that dream.  It made an impression on me because it is the only time that I have dreamed of Jesus returning to earth.  I dream in color and it is still all so vivid in my mind.  I can remember, too, the fear I felt as I waited to hear the number by my name.  As I have gone over it once more in my memory, one part has truly caught my attention.  That would be the list.  

Imagine if Jesus were to return with two lists in His hands.  One list would contain the names of those who would go to Heaven and the other those who would be sent to eternal torment.  This is just a "what if" question.  Just something to think about.  

I am sure that there would be unbelievable rejoicing when names from the Heaven list were read.  I can just hear the praises being shouted and the songs of adoration being sung.  The angels would play their mighty trumpets and the celebration would only be beginning.  

But, when the names on the other list were announced, there would be screams of horror, great anguish, hysterical crying and voices begging for another chance.  People would be ripping the hair from their heads, looking for somewhere to hide and denying that this could possibly be true. 

Here is another "what if."  Suppose we had advance knowledge of which list our names were on.  How would that change how we live out the rest of our lives?  Would we grow complacent as Christians if we knew we were on the first list?  Or would we, out of love for our Savior, spend more time in His Word, in prayer and in sharing the Gospel?  

And if our names were not on the coveted list, what would we do?  Would we curse God and fall deeper into sin that we ever thought possible?  

As I have thought of myself in these scenarios, this is what I have decided.  First and foremost, I love Jesus.  The most important thing to me is honoring Him and seeing Him glorified.  No matter which list my name was on, I would like to think that I would continue praising His name and serving Him because life is about Him, not me.  

Thankfully, scripture is very clear on what we must do to be saved.  The verse I chose for today is only one of many that direct us toward salvation.  What I have described above is just to create introspection.  Although His return will not be like my dream, or my "what ifs,"  He will return.  We may not know the day or the hour, but God is faithful and Jesus will come back eventually.  Are we living our lives in preparation?  If He was to return tonight or tomorrow, would you be ready?  

If you have not received Christ as your Savior, please don't delay.  Contact a Bible believing church, or ask a Christian friend if you have any questions.  Today could be the last day.  God bless.  

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 2:20-22

Proverbs 2:20-22 English Standard Version

20 So you will walk in the way of the good

    and keep to the paths of the righteous.

21 For the upright will inhabit the land,

    and those with integrity will remain in it,

22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land,

    and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.

Morning Scripture Reading - Isaiah 60:1-3

Isaiah 60:1-3 English Standard Version

The Future Glory of Israel

60 Arise, shine, for your light has come,

    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,

    and thick darkness the peoples;

but the Lord will arise upon you,

    and his glory will be seen upon you.

3 And nations shall come to your light,

    and kings to the brightness of your rising.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Matthew 26:36-39

Matthew 26:36-39 English Standard Version

Jesus Prays in Gethsemane

36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 95:6-11

Psalm 95:6-11 English Standard Version

6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;

    let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

7 For he is our God,

    and we are the people of his pasture,

    and the sheep of his hand.

Today, if you hear his voice,

8     do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,

    as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,

9 when your fathers put me to the test

    and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.

10 For forty years I loathed that generation

    and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,

    and they have not known my ways.”

11 Therefore I swore in my wrath,

    “They shall not enter my rest.”

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 2:16-19

Proverbs 2:16-19 English Standard Version

16 So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman,

    from the adulteress with her smooth words,

17 who forsakes the companion of her youth

    and forgets the covenant of her God;

18 for her house sinks down to death,

    and her paths to the departed;

19 none who go to her come back,

    nor do they regain the paths of life.

Morning Scripture Reading - James 4:1-3

James 4:1-3 English Standard Version

Warning Against Worldliness

1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Corinthians 1:4-9

1 Corinthians 1:4-9 English Standard Version


4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 95:1-5

Psalm 95:1-5 English Standard Version

Let Us Sing Songs of Praise

1 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;

    let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;

    let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

3 For the Lord is a great God,

    and a great King above all gods.

4 In his hand are the depths of the earth;

    the heights of the mountains are his also.

5 The sea is his, for he made it,

    and his hands formed the dry land.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 2:1-15

Proverbs 2:1-15 English Standard Version

The Value of Wisdom

1 My son, if you receive my words

    and treasure up my commandments with you,

2 making your ear attentive to wisdom

    and inclining your heart to understanding;

3 yes, if you call out for insight

    and raise your voice for understanding,

4 if you seek it like silver

    and search for it as for hidden treasures,

5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord

    and find the knowledge of God.

6 For the Lord gives wisdom;

    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;

7 he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;

    he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,

8 guarding the paths of justice

    and watching over the way of his saints.

9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice

    and equity, every good path;

10 for wisdom will come into your heart,

    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;

11 discretion will watch over you,

    understanding will guard you,

12 delivering you from the way of evil,

    from men of perverted speech,

13 who forsake the paths of uprightness

    to walk in the ways of darkness,

14 who rejoice in doing evil

    and delight in the perverseness of evil,

15 men whose paths are crooked,

    and who are devious in their ways.

Morning Scripture Reading - Hebrews 10:23-25

Hebrews 10:23-25 English Standard Version

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Matthew 5:11-12

Matthew 5:11-12 English Standard Version

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 94:16-23

Psalm 94:16-23 English Standard Version

16 Who rises up for me against the wicked?

    Who stands up for me against evildoers?

17 If the Lord had not been my help,

    my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.

18 When I thought, “My foot slips,”

    your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.

19 When the cares of my heart are many,

    your consolations cheer my soul.

20 Can wicked rulers be allied with you,

    those who frame injustice by statute?

21 They band together against the life of the righteous

    and condemn the innocent to death.

22 But the Lord has become my stronghold,

    and my God the rock of my refuge.

23 He will bring back on them their iniquity

    and wipe them out for their wickedness;

    the Lord our God will wipe them out.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Remain in His Love

Each day we seem to be taking one step at a time toward getting our lives back to normal. Businesses are starting to open up and allow employees to come back to work in their offices. Some of the businesses are relaxing their restrictions. As we slowly start our trek to normality, we have a unique opportunity to reflect on what I call the good, the bad and the ugly parts of the pandemic and the lessons we need to learn and apply.

One of the things that I noticed is that it was fairly easy for some to dump their faith in God or question His will. Some grew stronger in their faith and trusted Him even more. In short, the pandemic truly tested our faith and devotion to Father God.

I am not here to judge anyone regarding the strength of their faith. My faith, like all, gets tested every single day. There are times when I find my own faith waning a bit, but I quickly catch myself and refocus my attention back to the Father. We all suffer from our weak moments. Those moments tempt us from time to time. We get worn down by the things we face. When you consider all the things we had to face and the lack of knowledge in the early days of the pandemic, it was so very hard to think clearly and remain focused on the Father.

Our faith sometimes is a very fragile part of our spiritual life. Some days it is strong while other days, it is as fragile as an egg. It does happen. But, as Christians, we must realize that we are straying away. When we start to look to the world for guidance or for direction, that is the very moment when we need to stop and focus on Him.

The noted evangelist, Billy Sunday, said, “Temptation is the devil looking through the keyhole. Yielding is opening the door and inviting him in.”

When we yield and open the door, we become disobedient. We believe that we know better and the world knows more than God. We aren’t alone in all of this. Each and every day, our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus are tempted as well.

In chapter five of his first epistle, Peter writes, “Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

As a family of faith, we all go through the same things. We are tempted and we all suffer for our faith. No one is exempt from temptation or from suffering. When you look at Jesus’ life, he was tempted as well. Satan himself tempted him. He suffered for our salvation and became our atonement sacrifice. We share that with him daily. Although we don’t worry too much about being crucified in the United States, many of our brothers and sisters face persecution, imprisonment and some even face torture and death for their faith.

In order to keep from giving up, we have to be obedient to God. Being obedient keeps us focused on the Father and keeps us away from the temptations of this sinful world. As we continue to be obedient, it would be so difficult for the temptation to sink its fangs and claws into us. But, always remember. The enemy is crafty and will change his tactics. He is constantly probing for weakness and will pounce like a tiger on its prey. Just when the moment is right, temptation will lunge for us and try to take us down.

Paul, in chapter two of his letters to the church at Philippi, writes this about Jesus, “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave  and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”     

By remaining obedient, Jesus remained in his Father’s love. It is that example that we need to always remember. Even during a pandemic or through the best of days, we need to be obedient and when we do that, we remain in God’s love and in Jesus’ love.

In chapter fifteen of John’s Gospel, Jesus tells us, “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!

So, when you face temptation and feel that the enemy is grappling with you, rely on your faith and be obedient. In that way, we can remain in His love. It is only through His love that we can find security and safety. The enemy doesn’t even dare to try to snatch you away from God’s all-powerful arms. He is your shield, your refugee and your high place.

So, as you go through the rest of this week, remain faithful to Him. Remain obedient to Him. When you do those things you remain not only in His love but you are also able to stand firm in His Grace.

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

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 1:20-33

Proverbs 1:20-33 English Standard Version

The Call of Wisdom

20 Wisdom cries aloud in the street,

    in the markets she raises her voice;

21 at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;

    at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:

22 “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?

How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing

    and fools hate knowledge?

23 If you turn at my reproof,

behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;

    I will make my words known to you.

24 Because I have called and you refused to listen,

    have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,

25 because you have ignored all my counsel

    and would have none of my reproof,

26 I also will laugh at your calamity;

    I will mock when terror strikes you,

27 when terror strikes you like a storm

    and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,

    when distress and anguish come upon you.

28 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;

    they will seek me diligently but will not find me.

29 Because they hated knowledge

    and did not choose the fear of the Lord,

30 would have none of my counsel

    and despised all my reproof,

31 therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,

    and have their fill of their own devices.

32 For the simple are killed by their turning away,

    and the complacency of fools destroys them;

33 but whoever listens to me will dwell secure

    and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”

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[a] 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, June 12, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Peter 5:10-11

1 Peter 5:10-11 English Standard Version

10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 94:12-15

Psalm 94:12-15 English Standard Version

12 Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord,

    and whom you teach out of your law,

13 to give him rest from days of trouble,

    until a pit is dug for the wicked.

14 For the Lord will not forsake his people;

    he will not abandon his heritage;

15 for justice will return to the righteous,

    and all the upright in heart will follow it.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 1:8-19

Proverbs 1:8-19 English Standard Version

The Enticement of Sinners

8 Hear, my son, your father's instruction,

    and forsake not your mother's teaching,

9 for they are a graceful garland for your head

    and pendants for your neck.

10 My son, if sinners entice you,

    do not consent.

11 If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;

    let us ambush the innocent without reason;

12 like Sheol let us swallow them alive,

    and whole, like those who go down to the pit;

13 we shall find all precious goods,

    we shall fill our houses with plunder;

14 throw in your lot among us;

    we will all have one purse”—

15 my son, do not walk in the way with them;

    hold back your foot from their paths,

16 for their feet run to evil,

    and they make haste to shed blood.

17 For in vain is a net spread

    in the sight of any bird,

18 but these men lie in wait for their own blood;

    they set an ambush for their own lives.

19 Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain;

    it takes away the life of its possessors.