Saturday, July 31, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Romans 8:37-39

Romans 8:37-39 English Standard Version

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 105:16-22

Psalm 105:16-22 English Standard Version

16 When he summoned a famine on the land

    and broke all supply of bread,

17 he had sent a man ahead of them,

    Joseph, who was sold as a slave.

18 His feet were hurt with fetters;

    his neck was put in a collar of iron;

19 until what he had said came to pass,

    the word of the Lord tested him.

20 The king sent and released him;

    the ruler of the peoples set him free;

21 he made him lord of his house

    and ruler of all his possessions,

22 to bind his princes at his pleasure

    and to teach his elders wisdom.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 10:13

Proverbs 10:13 English Standard Version

13 On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found,

    but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense.

Morning Scripture Reading - Jeremiah 17:7-8

Jeremiah 17:7-8 English Standard Version

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.”

Friday, July 30, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - 2 Samuel 22:31-37

2 Samuel 22:31-37 English Standard Version

31 This God—his way is perfect;

    the word of the Lord proves true;

    he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

32 “For who is God, but the Lord?

    And who is a rock, except our God?

33 This God is my strong refuge

    and has made my way blameless.

34 He made my feet like the feet of a deer

    and set me secure on the heights.

35 He trains my hands for war,

    so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

36 You have given me the shield of your salvation,

    and your gentleness made me great.

37 You gave a wide place for my steps under me,

    and my feet did not slip;

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 105:12-15

Psalm 105:12-15 English Standard Version

12 When they were few in number,

    of little account, and sojourners in it,

13 wandering from nation to nation,

    from one kingdom to another people,

14 he allowed no one to oppress them;

    he rebuked kings on their account,

15 saying, “Touch not my anointed ones,

    do my prophets no harm!”

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 10:12

Proverbs 10:12 English Standard Version

12 Hatred stirs up strife,

    but love covers all offenses.

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 Samuel 19:4-5

1 Samuel 19:4-5 English Standard Version

4 And Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you. 5 For he took his life in his hand and he struck down the Philistine, and the Lord worked a great salvation for all Israel. You saw it, and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood by killing David without cause?”

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - 2 Chronicles 6:1-11

2 Chronicles 6:1-11 English Standard Version

Solomon Blesses the People

6 Then Solomon said, “The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness. 2 But I have built you an exalted house, a place for you to dwell in forever.” 3 Then the king turned around and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel stood. 4 And he said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who with his hand has fulfilled what he promised with his mouth to David my father, saying, 5 ‘Since the day that I brought my people out of the land of Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel in which to build a house, that my name might be there, and I chose no man as prince over my people Israel; 6 but I have chosen Jerusalem that my name may be there, and I have chosen David to be over my people Israel.’ 7 Now it was in the heart of David my father to build a house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 8 But the Lord said to David my father, ‘Whereas it was in your heart to build a house for my name, you did well that it was in your heart. 9 Nevertheless, it is not you who shall build the house, but your son who shall be born to you shall build the house for my name.’ 10 Now the Lord has fulfilled his promise that he made. For I have risen in the place of David my father and sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and I have built the house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 11 And there I have set the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord that he made with the people of Israel.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 105:7-11

Psalm 105:7-11 English Standard Version

7 He is the Lord our God;

    his judgments are in all the earth.

8 He remembers his covenant forever,

    the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,

9 the covenant that he made with Abraham,

    his sworn promise to Isaac,

10 which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,

    to Israel as an everlasting covenant,

11 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan

    as your portion for an inheritance.”

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 10:11

Proverbs 10:11 English Standard Version

11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,

    but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

Morning Scripture Reading - Job 19:23-27

Job 19:23-27 English Standard Version

23 “Oh that my words were written!

    Oh that they were inscribed in a book!

24 Oh that with an iron pen and lead

    they were engraved in the rock forever!

25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,

    and at the last he will stand upon the earth.

26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed,

    yet in my flesh I shall see God,

27 whom I shall see for myself,

    and my eyes shall behold, and not another.

    My heart faints within me!

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Acts 16:25-34

Acts 16:25-34 English Standard Version

The Philippian Jailer Converted

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 105:1-6

Psalm 105:1-6 English Standard Version

Tell of All His Wondrous Works

1 Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;

    make known his deeds among the peoples!

2 Sing to him, sing praises to him;

    tell of all his wondrous works!

3 Glory in his holy name;

    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!

4 Seek the Lord and his strength;

    seek his presence continually!

5 Remember the wondrous works that he has done,

    his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,

6 O offspring of Abraham, his servant,

    children of Jacob, his chosen ones!

Mid-Week Message - Making a Difference

 "Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad."  Proverbs 12:25  (ESV)

When I was very young, maybe four or five years old, we lived next door to an elderly couple.  Mr. Haynes was outdoors a lot and my father would talk with him whenever he would see him.   When Mr. Haynes would see me and/or my brother, he would give us permission to go in his house to see Mrs. Haynes.  

This lovely lady would be sitting in her favorite chair and seemed thrilled to see us.  There was always a bowl of candy next to her and she would offer some to us.  I can't exactly remember her face or her voice, but I remember her pink, fluffy bath robe and, more importantly, how she made me feel which was warm and welcome. 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 40 million American adults are affected by anxiety disorders.  This comprises 36.9 percent of the population.  And, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 4.4 million children between the ages of 3-17 have diagnosed anxiety and 1.9 million children of the same age have diagnosed depression.  

 These are overwhelming figures.  So many are weighed down by all that is going on their personal lives as well as in this nation.  While many find some relief through medicinal means, some do not.  Is there anything that we can do to help? 

The verse for today tells us that a good word brings gladness to an anxious heart.  We can start by being aware of, and truly caring about, the people around us.  The love of Jesus is something to be shared.  The comfort and direction that we have found in Him should bubble over, thus drawing others in.  

People need kindness.  They need genuine concern and caring.  Each encounter we make is a chance to offer encouragement. The Bible tells us that we are the salt and light in a flavorless and dark world.  We are supposed to make a difference.  In order to do that, we, as Christians, need to make sure we have a right relationship with the Lord so that we will be equipped to to minister to the needs of those around us.

I remember how Mrs. Haynes made me feel.  I also remember how my bullies made me feel.  Guess which memory I treasure most.  That is the kind of lasting impression we should be making in the lives that cross our paths.  We should take advantage of each opportunity we are given to leave an impression of God's love.  It only takes a moment and it just may change a person's day or life.  You just never know.  God bless.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 10:10

Proverbs 10:10 English Standard Version

10 Whoever winks the eye causes trouble,

    and a babbling fool will come to ruin.

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 Samuel 17:45-47

1 Samuel 17:45-47 English Standard Version

45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hand.”

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Acts 2:38-39

Acts 2:38-39 English Standard Version

38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 104:31-35

Psalm 104:31-35 English Standard Version

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;

    may the Lord rejoice in his works,

32 who looks on the earth and it trembles,

    who touches the mountains and they smoke!

33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;

    I will sing praise to my God while I have being.

34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,

    for I rejoice in the Lord.

35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth,

    and let the wicked be no more!

Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Praise the Lord!

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 10:9

Proverbs 10:9 English Standard Version

9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,

    but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.

Morning Scripture Reading - Isaiah 59:21

Isaiah 59:21 English Standard Version

21 “And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children's offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore.”

Monday, July 26, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Jeremiah 35:17

Jeremiah 35:17 English Standard Version

17 Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing upon Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the disaster that I have pronounced against them, because I have spoken to them and they have not listened, I have called to them and they have not answered.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 104:27-30

Psalm 104:27-30 English Standard Version

27 These all look to you,

    to give them their food in due season.

28 When you give it to them, they gather it up;

    when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.

29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;

    when you take away their breath, they die

    and return to their dust.

30 When you send forth your Spirit, they are created,

    and you renew the face of the ground.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 10:8

Proverbs 10:8 English Standard Version

8 The wise of heart will receive commandments,

    but a babbling fool will come to ruin.

Morning Scripture Reading - Hebrews 13:15-16

Hebrews 13:15-16 English Standard Version

15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Matthew 8:5-13

Matthew 8:5-13 English Standard Version

The Faith of a Centurion

5 When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 6 “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” 7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 104:24-26

Psalm 104:24-26 English Standard Version

24 O Lord, how manifold are your works!

    In wisdom have you made them all;

    the earth is full of your creatures.

25 Here is the sea, great and wide,

    which teems with creatures innumerable,

    living things both small and great.

26 There go the ships,

    and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Salvation is More Than Obedience

As an undergraduate in college, I had to take electives to fulfill my degree. There were times when I just took a course just to do that and didn’t really spend a lot of time trying to learn something. In short, I just wanted to complete the course to get credit for it. However, there were some courses that really caught my attention and forced me to think. Those courses were in the philosophy department. I actually enjoyed my philosophy courses and felt that I not only learned a thing or two but also thought about things that I would have just taken for granted. 

One of the courses that really got me thinking was “Philosophy of Law”. In that course, I began to think about the reasons why we accept and obey laws. Some obey the law to avoid punishment while others just obey because it is the thing to do. I would argue that a smaller group obeys the law because it is the right thing to do. Since I am a Christian, I believe that the original set of laws were given to us by God when He gave Moses the tablets with the Ten Commandments written by God’s own hand.

From that moment on, Christians lived by laws given to us by God. Later, we will see that laws were added by Moses. These laws are referred to as the “Laws of Moses” and are written in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, and then reiterated and added to in Deuteronomy. The content of the Law covers a wide range of areas that include moral law, social law as well as dietary laws. These are only a few of the areas. There are, in total, 613 laws given to the children of Israel to obey.

If you obeyed the laws that were written without failure, you would find favor with God and be blessed. If you became disobedient, God would punish you. It is a very simple system and it worked. Obey and things were good. Disobey and things weren’t as good or, worse yet, bad. Over time, people just followed the laws and that was that. As long as they didn’t violate a law, life was good. But, if that is all we need to do as Christians, our faith proves to be meaningless.

Think about it. If all we have to do is obey a set of laws and really don't have faith, we are good in God’s eyes. But, that isn’t all we have to do. We have to believe that Jesus Christ came to earth and died for our sins. It is only by believing in that act of sacrifice that we can truly have salvation.

When we put our “faith” in the law, we are saying to God that we are the ones who can create salvation for ourselves. It is only through our actions that salvation becomes ours. That is taking away from God and moving ourselves into His place.

Paul, in chapter ten of his epistle to the Romans, writes, “For Moses writes that the law’s way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands. But faith’s way of getting right with God says, ‘Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will go up to heaven?’ (to bring Christ down to earth). And don’t say, ‘Who will go down to the place of the dead?’ (to bring Christ back to life again).” In fact, it says, ‘The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.’ And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.

Salvation comes from the open profession of faith that “Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead”. It is only through that act that we are able to receive God’s free gift of salvation and the ability to walk in the newness of life as a follower of Jesus and as a child of God.

Does that mean we don’t have to follow the laws given to us by God? No. It doesn’t mean that at all. We still must be obedient to Him by following the laws. Obedience is still required. We cannot just simply mouth a few words and expect salvation. We must truly believe and act by faith each day. This means that we live our lives in accordance with God’s will and His laws. 

When we do that, the world will see us as His children and it is through our actions that the world will receive our testimonies. By having faith and living our lives in accordance with His will, we make a very powerful statement to the world. We tell the world that our joy and sense of purpose comes from God. By believing that Jesus is the Lord of our lives and acting each day in that faith and in accordance to God’s will and laws, we are able to say that we are God’s children.

Our salvation is more than just following laws in order to avoid punishment. Salvation starts with a profession of faith and by believing in Jesus Christ. If you haven’t reached that point in your life, I ask you to think about what God has done for you. He gave up His son for you and allowed him to die on a cross for your sins. He raised him up from the dead to tell us that we too can have everlasting life. The first step is believing and making that profession of faith. The second is dedicating your life to living a righteous life by being obedient. Once you begin your daily walk with Him, rest assured that you can stand each and every day firm in His grace.

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

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 10:7

Proverbs 10:7 English Standard Version

7 The memory of the righteous is a blessing,

    but the name of the wicked will rot.

Morning Scripture Reading - Ecclesiastes 7:7

Ecclesiastes 7:7 English Standard Version

7 Surely oppression drives the wise into madness,

    and a bribe corrupts the heart.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Kings 4:29-34

1 Kings 4:29-34 English Standard Version

29 And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, 30 so that Solomon's wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. 32 He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. 33 He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. 34 And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 104:19-23

Psalm 104:19-23 English Standard Version

19 He made the moon to mark the seasons;

    the sun knows its time for setting.

20 You make darkness, and it is night,

    when all the beasts of the forest creep about.

21 The young lions roar for their prey,

    seeking their food from God.

22 When the sun rises, they steal away

    and lie down in their dens.

23 Man goes out to his work

    and to his labor until the evening.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 10:6

Proverbs 10:6 English Standard Version

6 Blessings are on the head of the righteous,

    but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

Morning Scripture Reading - Ephesians 3:14-19

Ephesians 3:14-19 English Standard Version

Prayer for Spiritual Strength

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Acts 18:9-11

Acts 18:9-11 English Standard Version

9 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” 11 And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 104:16-18

Psalm 104:16-18 English Standard Version

16 The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly,

    the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.

17 In them the birds build their nests;

    the stork has her home in the fir trees.

18 The high mountains are for the wild goats;

    the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 10:5

Proverbs 10:5 English Standard Version

5 He who gathers in summer is a prudent son,

    but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.

Morning Scripture Reading - 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

2 Corinthians 5:16-21 English Standard Version

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Peter 5:6-7

1 Peter 5:6-7 English Standard Version

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 104:14-15

Psalm 104:14-15 English Standard Version

14 You cause the grass to grow for the livestock

    and plants for man to cultivate,

that he may bring forth food from the earth

15     and wine to gladden the heart of man,

oil to make his face shine

    and bread to strengthen man's heart.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 10:4

Proverbs 10:4 English Standard Version

4 A slack hand causes poverty,

    but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

Morning Scripture Reading - Genesis 12:1-3

Genesis 12:1-3 English Standard Version

The Call of Abram

12 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Nehemiah 9:7-8

Nehemiah 9:7-8 English Standard Version

7 You are the Lord, the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name Abraham. 8 You found his heart faithful before you, and made with him the covenant to give to his offspring the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite. And you have kept your promise, for you are righteous.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 104:10-13

Psalm 104:10-13 English Standard Version

10 You make springs gush forth in the valleys;

    they flow between the hills;

11 they give drink to every beast of the field;

    the wild donkeys quench their thirst.

12 Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;

    they sing among the branches.

13 From your lofty abode you water the mountains;

    the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

Mid-Week Message - Confusion in an Uncertain World

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you what path to take."  Proverbs 3:5-6  (NLT)   

When I was a college student outside of Dallas, Texas in the late 1970's, one of the fun nearby activities was Six Flags.  I forget how many times friends and I went there but it was something we always looked forward to.  That was back when I would get on a roller coaster, which I wouldn't even think of doing today!  

I don't know if it is still there, but one of the attractions was an anti-gravity house.  If you have ever been through it, you know firsthand how confusing it was.  The floor slanted.  Chairs hung from the ceiling at odd angles.  Balls rolled uphill.  If it weren't for the wall and a railing, I'm not sure I would have been able to stand!  It was designed to confuse the mind and it was successful.  

There are days now when I see all that is going on in this world and I almost feel as disoriented as I did in that house.  There seems to be an attempt to change everyday life into something that is off-kilter, creating confusion.  The "norms" that we are familiar with are being questioned and challenged which creates a sense of being off-balance and needing something to hold onto.  

What are we to do when life seems to be spinning out of control?  How do we remain standing upright and secure when it feels as if the very ground under our feet is collapsing?  

If you are a parent, think back to when your child was learning to walk.  After having to be supported, there comes the day when the first independent steps are taken.  As we encouraged them to walk from parent to parent, they kept their eyes on our faces.  There they found encouragement, approval and excitement about what they were accomplishing.  If they looked away, they fell.  

Likewise, we have a Father to keep our eyes on as we navigate this world.  Although we may be unsure about our next steps, He guides us.  In Him we find encouragement.  He is our source of direction and support.  And it is important to remember that just as Peter was able to walk on the water as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, so we need to keep our focus on our Lord.

Change is happening around us at an overwhelming pace, even as we attempt to continue to deal with all the issues in our own lives.  Quite frankly, it can seem like too much to take in.  Proverbs tells us to seek God's will in all we do and He will show us what path to take.  In Him we find peace in the turmoil and direction in the darkness.  Our own understanding is limited, but He knows and sees all of our days in one glance.  Fear not, beloved.  Place your confusion and worries in His hands and follow where He leads.  The only sure way is His way.  God bless.  

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 10:3

Proverbs 10:3 English Standard Version

3 The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry,

    but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.

Morning Scripture Reading - Isaiah 46:8-11

Isaiah 46:8-11 English Standard Version

8 “Remember this and stand firm,

    recall it to mind, you transgressors,

9     remember the former things of old;

for I am God, and there is no other;

    I am God, and there is none like me,

10 declaring the end from the beginning

    and from ancient times things not yet done,

saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,

    and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

11 calling a bird of prey from the east,

    the man of my counsel from a far country.

I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;

    I have purposed, and I will do it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Mark 12:32-34

Mark 12:32-34 English Standard Version

32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 104:5-9

Psalm 104:5-9 English Standard Version

5 He set the earth on its foundations,

    so that it should never be moved.

6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment;

    the waters stood above the mountains.

7 At your rebuke they fled;

    at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.

8 The mountains rose, the valleys sank down

    to the place that you appointed for them.

9 You set a boundary that they may not pass,

    so that they might not again cover the earth.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 10:2

Proverbs 10:2 English Standard Version

2 Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit,

    but righteousness delivers from death.

Morning Scripture Reading - Deuteronomy 4:32-40

Deuteronomy 4:32-40 English Standard Version

The Lord Alone Is God

32 “For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of. 33 Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live? 34 Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? 35 To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him. 36 Out of heaven he let you hear his voice, that he might discipline you. And on earth he let you see his great fire, and you heard his words out of the midst of the fire. 37 And because he loved your fathers and chose their offspring after them and brought you out of Egypt with his own presence, by his great power, 38 driving out before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in, to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is this day, 39 know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. 40 Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for all time.”

Monday, July 19, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Kings 18:20-21

1 Kings 18:20-21 English Standard Version

The Prophets of Baal Defeated

20 So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. 21 And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 104:1-4

Psalm 104:1-4 English Standard Version

O Lord My God, You Are Very Great

1 Bless the Lord, O my soul!

    O Lord my God, you are very great!

You are clothed with splendor and majesty,

2     covering yourself with light as with a garment,

    stretching out the heavens like a tent.

3 He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters;

he makes the clouds his chariot;

    he rides on the wings of the wind;

4 he makes his messengers winds,

    his ministers a flaming fire.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 10:1

Proverbs 10:1 English Standard Version

The Proverbs of Solomon

1 The proverbs of Solomon.

A wise son makes a glad father,

    but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.

Morning Scripture Reading - Hosea 10:1-4

Hosea 10:1-4 English Standard Version

1 Israel is a luxuriant vine

    that yields its fruit.

The more his fruit increased,

    the more altars he built;

as his country improved,

    he improved his pillars.

2 Their heart is false;

    now they must bear their guilt.

The Lord will break down their altars

    and destroy their pillars.

3 For now they will say:

    “We have no king,

for we do not fear the Lord;

    and a king—what could he do for us?”

4 They utter mere words;

    with empty oaths they make covenants;

so judgment springs up like poisonous weeds

    in the furrows of the field.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - 2 Kings 12:13-16

2 Kings 12:13-16 English Standard Version

13 But there were not made for the house of the Lord basins of silver, snuffers, bowls, trumpets, or any vessels of gold, or of silver, from the money that was brought into the house of the Lord, 14 for that was given to the workmen who were repairing the house of the Lord with it. 15 And they did not ask for an accounting from the men into whose hand they delivered the money to pay out to the workmen, for they dealt honestly. 16 The money from the guilt offerings and the money from the sin offerings was not brought into the house of the Lord; it belonged to the priests.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 103:20-22

Psalm 103:20-22 English Standard Version

20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,

    you mighty ones who do his word,

    obeying the voice of his word!

21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,

    his ministers, who do his will!

22 Bless the Lord, all his works,

    in all places of his dominion.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Finding Your Joy

I have heard so many children, during the Christmas season, utter the same words over and over. I, like them, have said them myself. Every child goes through it. They see something they absolutely have to have and they say, “If I only had that, I would never, ever ask for anything else.”

That one sentence is used not only to express their desire but it also is a selling point. Children use it all the time with their parents. They would tell them that they won’t want or ask for anything ever again. Parents know that’s not the case. Next Christmas, their children will be saying the same thing about something else.

In one of my favorite plays and film adaptations, “Inherit the Wind”, Henry Drummond tells his client, Bertram Cates, a little story about those things we see as being everything that we ever wanted only to find out that all shine was just that. All shine and no substance.

Mr. Drummond relates a story of his first love, Golden Dancer, a rocking horse that he saw in a general story window.

Drummonds, with fondness, tells Cates, “That was the name of my first long shot. Golden Dancer. She was in the big side window of the general store in Wakeman, Ohio. I used to stay out in the street and say to myself, ‘If I had Golden Dancer, I’d have everything in the world that I wanted.’ I was seven years old, and a very fine judge of rocking horses. Golden Dancer had a bright red mane, blue eyes, and she was gold all over, with purple spots. When the sun hit her stirrups, she was a dazzling sight to see. But she was a week’s wages for my father. So Golden Dancer and I always had a plate glass window between us. But – let’s see, it wasn’t Christmas; must’ve been my birthday – I woke up one morning and there was a Golden Dancer at the foot of my bed! Ma had skimped on the groceries, and my father had worked nights for a month. I jumped into the saddle and started to rock – and it broke! It split in two! The wood was rotten, the whole thing was put together with spit and sealing wax! All shine, and no substance! Bert, whenever you see something bright, shining, perfect – seeming – all gold, with purple spots – look behind the paint! And if it’s a lie – show it up for what it really is!”

In the movie adaption, Drummond shares his “Golden Dancer” story with his opposing counsel, Matthew Harrison Brady. In either case, this story sums up the things we desire most. We believe that if we just had whatever it is, we would be happy and filled with joy. Nothing could or would ever matter in our lives. But, once we get it, we often find that it wasn’t exactly as it appeared. As Drummond points out about his “Golden Dancer”, it was made of cheap material and “put together with spit and sealing wax”. There was no substance to it.

I share this dialog to illustrate my point. We often find ourselves acting like children and desiring the things of this world. We say the exact same thing that we all said as children except our desires have larger price tags. We say that if I only had that car, house or boat, then I would have everything. We even say the same thing about our jobs. Even our personal lives are not immune from our preoccupation with “all shine, and no substance”. We say that if we only had that person as a spouse or companion, we would be so happy and complete.

Just like Drummond, we all soon find that the thing we desire most and think will bring us joy just doesn’t. Soon, we find ourselves saying the exact same thing about yet another thing. So, most of us go through life just wanting one thing after another and never feeling fulfilled or experiencing that joy we thought we would realize from having the object of our desire.

Our joy should not come from the things of this world. The things of this world disappoint every single time. During the pandemic, divorces climbed to new all-time highs. Online purchases skyrocketed. We just kept wanting more and more and finding less and less. Disappointment after disappointment came our way.

But, if you look to God the Father, I can assure you that you will find that joy, peace and true fulfillment. The things of this world are fleeting. All are subject to rust, rot and insects.

Jesus, in chapter six of the Gospel of Matthew, tells those listening to his Sermon on the Mount, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

The real treasure that we should be storing up for and will give us the greatest joy and fulfillment can only be stored in heaven. Our desires should be there and not with the things of this world. Everything here will one day dissolve and go away. Those things we store in heaven will never fade away. They are truly forever. We should take great joy in knowing that and that our joy truly comes directly from the Lord.

In Psalm fifty-nine, a psalm devoted to David, the psalmist writes, “But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress. O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.

The joy we feel when we have that special relationship with God the Father is real and has substance. In all situations, we feel His love all around us and His hand upon us. Our real joy comes from the Father’s unfailing love for us each day. He is always there and is our refuge, fortress and everlasting arms.

When we lean against His everlasting arms and seek Him only and not the things of this world, we can experience true joy and know that He is all we ever need in our lives. Once we have that sort of relationship with Him, we can stand firm in His grace.

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

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 9:13-18

Proverbs 9:13-18 English Standard Version

The Way of Folly

13 The woman Folly is loud;

    she is seductive and knows nothing.

14 She sits at the door of her house;

    she takes a seat on the highest places of the town,

15 calling to those who pass by,

    who are going straight on their way,

16 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”

    And to him who lacks sense she says,

17 “Stolen water is sweet,

    and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”

18 But he does not know that the dead are there,

    that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.

Morning Scripture Reading - John 14:15-18

John 14:15-18 English Standard Version

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - James 1:26-27

James 1:26-27 English Standard Version

26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 103:15-19

Psalm 103:15-19 English Standard Version

15 As for man, his days are like grass;

    he flourishes like a flower of the field;

16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,

    and its place knows it no more.

17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,

    and his righteousness to children's children,

18 to those who keep his covenant

    and remember to do his commandments.

19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,

    and his kingdom rules over all.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 9:7-12

Proverbs 9:7-12 English Standard Version

7 Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse,

    and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.

8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;

    reprove a wise man, and he will love you.

9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;

    teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,

    and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

11 For by me your days will be multiplied,

    and years will be added to your life.

12 If you are wise, you are wise for yourself;

    if you scoff, you alone will bear it.

Morning Scripture Reading - Mark 6:53-56

Mark 6:53-56 English Standard Version

Jesus Heals the Sick in Gennesaret

53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. 54 And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him 55 and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Thessalonians 2:4-6

1 Thessalonians 2:4-6 English Standard Version

4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 103:6-14

Psalm 103:6-14 English Standard Version

6 The Lord works righteousness

    and justice for all who are oppressed.

7 He made known his ways to Moses,

    his acts to the people of Israel.

8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,

    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

9 He will not always chide,

    nor will he keep his anger forever.

10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,

    nor repay us according to our iniquities.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

12 as far as the east is from the west,

    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

13 As a father shows compassion to his children,

    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

14 For he knows our frame;

    he remembers that we are dust.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 9:1-6

Proverbs 9:1-6 English Standard Version

The Way of Wisdom

9 Wisdom has built her house;

    she has hewn her seven pillars.

2 She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine;

    she has also set her table.

3 She has sent out her young women to call

    from the highest places in the town,

4 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”

    To him who lacks sense she says,

5 “Come, eat of my bread

    and drink of the wine I have mixed.

6 Leave your simple ways, and live,

    and walk in the way of insight.”

Morning Scripture Reading - James 1:19-20

James 1:19-20 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.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Hebrews 4:12-13

Hebrews 4:12-13 English Standard Version

12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 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 103:1-5

Psalm 103:1-5 English Standard Version

Bless the Lord, O My Soul

Of David.

103 Bless the Lord, O my soul,

    and all that is within me,

    bless his holy name!

2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,

    and forget not all his benefits,

3 who forgives all your iniquity,

    who heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit,

    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,

5 who satisfies you with good

    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 8:32-36

Proverbs 8:32-36 English Standard Version

32 “And now, O sons, listen to me:

    blessed are those who keep my ways.

33 Hear instruction and be wise,

    and do not neglect it.

34 Blessed is the one who listens to me,

    watching daily at my gates,

    waiting beside my doors.

35 For whoever finds me finds life

    and obtains favor from the Lord,

36 but he who fails to find me injures himself;

    all who hate me love death.”

Morning Scripture Reading - Jeremiah 23:21-24

Jeremiah 23:21-24 English Standard Version

21 “I did not send the prophets,

    yet they ran;

I did not speak to them,

    yet they prophesied.

22 But if they had stood in my council,

    then they would have proclaimed my words to my people,

and they would have turned them from their evil way,

    and from the evil of their deeds.

23 “Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? 24 Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Romans 8:5-8

Romans 8:5-8 English Standard Version

5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 102:25-28

Psalm 102:25-28 English Standard Version

25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,

    and the heavens are the work of your hands.

26 They will perish, but you will remain;

    they will all wear out like a garment.

You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,

27     but you are the same, and your years have no end.

28 The children of your servants shall dwell secure;

    their offspring shall be established before you.

Mid-Week Message - Life is Unpredictable

 "I remember the days of old.  I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done.  I lift my hands to you in prayer.  I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain."  Psalm 143:5-6  (NLT)

Life is unpredictable.  I could stop with just today's verse and my first sentence and have a full message that we would all understand.  

How many times have you faced twists and turns as you go through your day?  We make plans for the evening but the babysitter calls and says she is ill.  We have a mountain of laundry but the washing machine malfunctions.  We are in the middle of a road trip and the car breaks down.  An outside wedding is planned but a coming storm forces a change in plans.  We never know what is going to happen next, but somehow, we keep going. 

Years ago, my husband was contacted by a company in California about a promising job.  The interviews were going so well that we were sure they were going to hire him.  But there was an issue that would make a move very difficult for us.  At that time, my mother was in a nursing home and I was the only family member nearby to oversee her care and visit her.  It wasn't going to be feasible to move her with us so I began praying.  I will never forget my words to the Lord that day.  I said, "Lord, I don't know how you are going to make a way, but I know for sure that you will."  

I meant those words wholeheartedly.  In my walk with Him over the years, I have witnessed Him working in miraculous ways so I had no doubt that He would clear the pathway if this move was His will for our family.  When my mother passed away a few days later, my heart was broken.  Though I had trusted Him to make a way, I did not think it would be through her death.  Then, we got the call from California.  They had decided on another candidate.  

I can remember falling over my bed and sobbing in confusion.  I couldn't understand why He had allowed my mom to pass away when He knew that the job was not going to work out.  

Life is unpredictable.  

God supplied another job for my beloved.  A better one.  But, for awhile, we felt lost as though we were wandering in a desert without signs that pointed the way we should go.  Although we knew God was with us, we couldn't see Him working.  We cried out for direction.  We begged Him to give us some inkling of what our future held.  After a bit of time we felt like the man in the old movies that crawled through the desert seeking water.  We needed the refreshing that only the Lord can give.

When we find ourselves in these moments, it helps to look back and see how God has worked in our previous life quandaries.  Remembering our history with Him provides reassurance for where we are and where we are going.  Pondering His works can calm our uneasy hearts and minds and help us to see that His timing is always right, even when it doesn't coincide with our own.  

Wherever you stand today, no matter what you are facing, take the time to remember how He has provided in the past and how He has shown Himself faithful.  It will help to spend time reading the Bible where you will see how He has worked in lives since the beginning and be reminded of His promises for our future.  None of us faces a life without difficulty but we can always trust that we are not alone and that He will make a way even when there seems to be no way.  

May His holy arms surround you.  God bless.  

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 8:22-31

Proverbs 8:22-31 English Standard Version

22 “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work,

    the first of his acts of old.

23 Ages ago I was set up,

    at the first, before the beginning of the earth.

24 When there were no depths I was brought forth,

    when there were no springs abounding with water.

25 Before the mountains had been shaped,

    before the hills, I was brought forth,

26 before he had made the earth with its fields,

    or the first of the dust of the world.

27 When he established the heavens, I was there;

    when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,

28 when he made firm the skies above,

    when he established the fountains of the deep,

29 when he assigned to the sea its limit,

    so that the waters might not transgress his command,

when he marked out the foundations of the earth,

30     then I was beside him, like a master workman,

and I was daily his delight,

    rejoicing before him always,

31 rejoicing in his inhabited world

    and delighting in the children of man.

Morning Scripture Reading - Galatians 5:16-18

Galatians 5:16-18 English Standard Version

Keep in Step with the Spirit

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Isaiah 12

Isaiah 12 English Standard Version

The Lord Is My Strength and My Song

12 You will say in that day:

“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,

    for though you were angry with me,

your anger turned away,

    that you might comfort me.

2 “Behold, God is my salvation;

    I will trust, and will not be afraid;

for the Lord God is my strength and my song,

    and he has become my salvation.”

3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4 And you will say in that day:

“Give thanks to the Lord,

    call upon his name,

make known his deeds among the peoples,

    proclaim that his name is exalted.

5 “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;

    let this be made known in all the earth.

6 Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,

    for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 102:23-24

Psalm 102:23-24 English Standard Version

23 He has broken my strength in midcourse;

    he has shortened my days.

24 “O my God,” I say, “take me not away

    in the midst of my days—

you whose years endure

    throughout all generations!”

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 8:12-21

Proverbs 8:12-21 English Standard Version

12 “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,

    and I find knowledge and discretion.

13 The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.

Pride and arrogance and the way of evil

    and perverted speech I hate.

14 I have counsel and sound wisdom;

    I have insight; I have strength.

15 By me kings reign,

    and rulers decree what is just;

16 by me princes rule,

    and nobles, all who govern justly.

17 I love those who love me,

    and those who seek me diligently find me.

18 Riches and honor are with me,

    enduring wealth and righteousness.

19 My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold,

    and my yield than choice silver.

20 I walk in the way of righteousness,

    in the paths of justice,

21 granting an inheritance to those who love me,

    and filling their treasuries.

Morning Scripture Reading - Ecclesiastes 6:9

Ecclesiastes 6:9 English Standard Version

9 Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the appetite: this also is vanity and a striving after wind.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Chronicles 22:17-19

1 Chronicles 22:17-19 English Standard Version

17 David also commanded all the leaders of Israel to help Solomon his son, saying, 18 “Is not the Lord your God with you? And has he not given you peace on every side? For he has delivered the inhabitants of the land into my hand, and the land is subdued before the Lord and his people. 19 Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God. Arise and build the sanctuary of the Lord God, so that the ark of the covenant of the Lord and the holy vessels of God may be brought into a house built for the name of the Lord.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 102:18-22

Psalm 102:18-22 English Standard Version

18 Let this be recorded for a generation to come,

    so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord:

19 that he looked down from his holy height;

    from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,

20 to hear the groans of the prisoners,

    to set free those who were doomed to die,

21 that they may declare in Zion the name of the Lord,

    and in Jerusalem his praise,

22 when peoples gather together,

    and kingdoms, to worship the Lord.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 8:1-11

Proverbs 8:1-11 English Standard Version

The Blessings of Wisdom

8 Does not wisdom call?

    Does not understanding raise her voice?

2 On the heights beside the way,

    at the crossroads she takes her stand;

3 beside the gates in front of the town,

    at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud:

4 “To you, O men, I call,

    and my cry is to the children of man.

5 O simple ones, learn prudence;

    O fools, learn sense.

6 Hear, for I will speak noble things,

    and from my lips will come what is right,

7 for my mouth will utter truth;

    wickedness is an abomination to my lips.

8 All the words of my mouth are righteous;

    there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.

9 They are all straight to him who understands,

    and right to those who find knowledge.

10 Take my instruction instead of silver,

    and knowledge rather than choice gold,

11 for wisdom is better than jewels,

    and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.

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.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Isaiah 35:8-10

Isaiah 35:8-10 English Standard Version

8 And a highway shall be there,

    and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;

the unclean shall not pass over it.

    It shall belong to those who walk on the way;

    even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.

9 No lion shall be there,

    nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;

they shall not be found there,

    but the redeemed shall walk there.

10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return

    and come to Zion with singing;

everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;

    they shall obtain gladness and joy,

    and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 102:12-17

Psalm 102:12-17 English Standard Version

12 But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever;

    you are remembered throughout all generations.

13 You will arise and have pity on Zion;

    it is the time to favor her;

    the appointed time has come.

14 For your servants hold her stones dear

    and have pity on her dust.

15 Nations will fear the name of the Lord,

    and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory.

16 For the Lord builds up Zion;

    he appears in his glory;

17 he regards the prayer of the destitute

    and does not despise their prayer.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Judging Others

When you think about it, we are all called to make some sort of judgement of another person. If you are hiring an individual, you are judging whether or not a person has a set of skills and experiences that fit the position. Some contests require you to judge a contest where certain human attributes are compared and you must determine which individuals are able to exemplify those attributes better. 

But, there are times when we carry things a bit too far. We sometimes judge others by their speech or their education. We see them as a color or look at them under a microscope. Some will do it to feel superior over others because they do things that they believe are right. Is this really the right thing to do?

I have been reading Paul’s letter to the Romans and happened to run across a passage that made me think more about this topic and delve into it a bit more. I have read this passage a number of times and have glossed over it, but considering the times, I believe it is appropriate for all of us to listen to the words of Paul and really think about them.

In chapter fourteen of his letter to the church at Rome, Paul writes to the believers, “Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval.

There are a couple of things that stand out to me regarding the passage. The first is our judgement or criticism of those who are weak in their faith. We all have been weak in our faith from time to time. Think about the times in your life when your faith weakened. Temptation can easily cause each of us to slip back into our old selves and begin to sin again. We are not to judge them, but are to help them grow their faith. It is so easy for us to argue with them about right and wrong. But, in the end, we will all be judged by the one master we all have, God the Father.

The real faith that we should have is that God will provide us the help to act in accordance to His will. If we truly seek Him out and ask for His guidance, He will provide it to us. But, ultimately, it all comes down to whether or not we listen to Him. If we have truly accepted Christ Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord and have repented of our sins, part of our daily walk with the Lord is listening to the Holy Spirit and following his lead in our lives. We must always seek God’s approval and not the approval of others. Other human beings are fallible and they will bring their understanding into play in the discussion.

Paul provides for a great example in eating certain foods. The Gentiles did not eat in accordance with the Mosaic law while Jews did. Some judged others for that very difference. Paul tells us that we are not to look down at the other for doing certain things like eating. There will come a time when “their own master will judge whether they stand or fall.”.

The main takeaway from that particular passage is that we are to seek God’s will and approval in our lives. We must always do that and we must do it with sincerity and with the desire to change our lives when God directs us. By studying His word daily, God helps us to understand those things that are important and how we should live. But, it all comes down to whether or not we truly will listen to God. 

God gave us free will to act. That makes us very different from all of His creations. We have the ability to make our own decisions and, because of that, we must live with the consequences of those decisions. We cannot plead ignorance of the law when we stand before His judgement seat. God directs our steps; it is up to us to either follow His lead or to go our own way.

Later in the chapter, Paul gives us yet another example regarding criticizing another. The example of what day of the week is more holy than the others. As Paul points out, our desire as Christians is to honor God in all that we do. It doesn’t matter what day of the week we call holy over the others. The main point is that we honor God.

Going back to the example of food that Paul provided. Paul expands on his thought by saying no matter what we eat, we should give thanks to Him who provided the nourishment. As long as we honor the Lord in all that we do which includes even the simplest of things like eating, we are giving Him all that He is due.

Paul later writes, “For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Christ died and rose again for this very purpose—to be Lord both of the living and of the dead.

So, no matter what we do as long as we are honoring the Lord, that’s all that really matters. But, it begins with a strong faith and the sincere desire to seek God’s will in our lives. God doesn’t let us “go it alone” or without guidance. He is always there for us. If we ask for His wisdom in all that we do and follow it, then we are definitely on the righteous path.

James, in chapter one of the book that bears his name, writes, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

If we ask God for wisdom, He will never withhold it from us and will give it to us. Once we receive it, we are now responsible for acting on it and doing what God has laid out before us. That is the key to having a strong faith. If you aren’t willing to follow His direction or decide that you know better, then your faith is weak. 

So, in the end, we should not judge or criticize one another. As Christians, we should follow God’s will in our life by studying His word and seeking His wisdom daily. It is only by doing those things that we are able to stand firm in His grace.     

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