Sunday, October 31, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Romans 10:16-18

Romans 10:16-18 English Standard Version

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for

“Their voice has gone out to all the earth,

    and their words to the ends of the world.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:26-27

Psalm 118:26-27 English Standard Version

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

    We bless you from the house of the Lord.

27 The Lord is God,

    and he has made his light to shine upon us.

Bind the festal sacrifice with cords,

    up to the horns of the altar!

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - First Kernel of Corn - God’s Love

While I was a pastor for a retirement community in Cedar Park, Texas, my wife and I started a tradition, not only for those we served in our care, but also for ourselves. This tradition gave us the opportunity for all of us to stop and think about all of the blessings that our Heavenly Father has so graciously given us. In times of trouble, we sometimes forget those blessings and only concentrate on the things we’re dealing with. It doesn’t matter whether or not our troubles are big or small. They are troubles and are often very difficult for us to get through.

As we approach the day we have set aside in our great nation, Thanksgiving Day, let us come together as Americans and Christians to reflect on the blessings that have been showered upon us and thank God for each of them. Considering all that we have endured, we must stop and, in the words of that wonderful, old hymn, “Count Your Blessings,” we should count our  many blessings and name them one by one. 

Even when we are facing tragedy, we can still find a blessing in all of it. For example, when my mother was going through chemotherapy and radiation treatments, I thanked God daily for the time we had together. We spent many hours in the infusion center just talking. I can honestly say that our relationship grew stronger. I could choose to focus on her daily struggles and allow them to dominate my thoughts, but God gave us a wonderful gift of just being able to share things with one another.

It is so easy for us to see only the bad and not look for the good in any situation. When we look back at the early days of our nation, we see people who traveled a great distance by ship to find a place where they could worship God in their own way. Those people, the Pilgrims, didn’t travel by cruise ship and play shuffleboard while they pleasantly spent their time heading from one buffet to the next. Each day aboard the ship was hard. With rough seas and being packed on a tiny ship, their days were filled with struggles.

Once they got here, things seemed to go from bad to worse. It was difficult for them to grow their own food. They had to live through a harsh winter with very little to eat. Food had to be rationed and even then, people starved to death. Many became sick. 

According to legend, it got to a point that they had to survive on only five kernels of corn a day. That was the sum and total of their daily rations. Can you imagine having to live on five kernels of corn a day? But, they survived and it wasn’t because of those meager rations. They survived because of their faith in God. They knew that God loved them and that He would provide for their needs.

After surviving that hard winter, the Pilgrims learned from their new friends, Native Americans, how to grow their own food in this new world. Those new friends gave them so much and each worked together to help one another. As they enjoyed the harvest of food, they all came together to share a meal and to give thanks to God for their blessings of new friends and the bounty they were able to harvest and enjoy.

When I heard of this story, I had decided that I would write messages about those five kernels of corn and dedicate each one to the Lord and use them as a reminder for all of the blessings we have reached from His bountiful hand.

The first kernel reminds us of God’s love for us. God showed us His love in a very special way. He sent His son, Jesus, to live among us, teach us and, ultimately, to die for us as our sacrifice for our sins. Jesus became our last atonement sacrifice. He was our perfect sacrifice and, through his blood, we have received God’s gift of salvation.

In chapter three of his Gospel, John eloquently writes, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

John, in just two simple sentences, crystalizes the entire plan of salvation for each of us. There is no way for us to save ourselves from the wages of sin, death. No matter what anyone says, the simple truth is that we are all sinners and have fallen short of God’s glory. As sinners, it is impossible for us to simply wave our hands and make our sins disappear.

It is only through God’s love for us that we are able to receive salvation and eternal life with the Father and there is only one way to do that. We must first accept Christ Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord of our life and live a Christ-like life by following his example daily. 

Paul, in chapter three of his epistle to the believers in Rome, writes, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

God provided us with a once and only atonement sacrifice that covered our sins completely. All we have to do is realize that God loves us and has given us His son to pay our debt of sin. God’s love for us is beyond our comprehension. We cannot measure the breadth and depth of His love for us. He sent His one and only son to save us and not judge or condemn us. He came out of love for each of us.

As you sit down with your friends and family around the Thanksgiving table, I encourage each of you to think about the first kernel of corn and thank God for His love. He loves us and shows that love to us daily by showering us with blessings. Each heartbeat and breath we experience is a blessing. Each time we see the sun rise and set is a blessing. Each time we have an opportunity to share not only the Good News with others but also provide for the needs of others is a blessing.

When you really think about it, we have a lot to be thankful for. Don’t squander the moment of reflection. Take the time to hold up a single kernel of corn and thank God for His love for each and every one of us. Share that special moment with others. When you do those things, we truly are followers of Christ Jesus and can stand firm in His grace.  

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

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 12:20

Proverbs 12:20 English Standard Version

20 Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil,

    but those who plan peace have joy.

Morning Scripture Reading - Colossians 4:5-6

Colossians 4:5-6 English Standard Version

5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - 2 John 1:7-9

2 John 7-9 English Standard Version

7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. 9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:25

Psalm 118:25 English Standard Version

25 Save us, we pray, O Lord!

    O Lord, we pray, give us success!

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 12:19

Proverbs 12:19 English Standard Version

19 Truthful lips endure forever,

    but a lying tongue is but for a moment.

Morning Scripture Reading - Luke 10:22

Luke 10:22 English Standard Version

22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Friday, October 29, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Isaiah 12:1-2

Isaiah 12:1-2 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.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:19-24

Psalm 118:19-24 English Standard Version

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,

    that I may enter through them

    and give thanks to the Lord.

20 This is the gate of the Lord;

    the righteous shall enter through it.

21 I thank you that you have answered me

    and have become my salvation.

22 The stone that the builders rejected

    has become the cornerstone.

23 This is the Lord's doing;

    it is marvelous in our eyes.

24 This is the day that the Lord has made;

    let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 12:18

Proverbs 12:18 English Standard Version

18 There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,

    but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Morning Scripture Reading - Colossians 4:2-4

Colossians 4:2-4 English Standard Version

Further Instructions

2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Colossians 3:12

Colossians 3:12-17 English Standard Version

12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:14-16

Psalm 118:14-16 English Standard Version

14 The Lord is my strength and my song;

    he has become my salvation.

15 Glad songs of salvation

    are in the tents of the righteous:

“The right hand of the Lord does valiantly,

16     the right hand of the Lord exalts,

    the right hand of the Lord does valiantly!”

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 12:17

Proverbs 12:17 English Standard Version

17 Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence,

    but a false witness utters deceit.

Morning Scripture Reading - Micah 4:1-5

Micah 4:1-5 English Standard Version

The Mountain of the Lord

4 It shall come to pass in the latter days

    that the mountain of the house of the Lord

shall be established as the highest of the mountains,

    and it shall be lifted up above the hills;

and peoples shall flow to it,

2     and many nations shall come, and say:

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,

    to the house of the God of Jacob,

that he may teach us his ways

    and that we may walk in his paths.”

For out of Zion shall go forth the law,

    and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

3 He shall judge between many peoples,

    and shall decide disputes for strong nations far away;

and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,

    and their spears into pruning hooks;

nation shall not lift up sword against nation,

    neither shall they learn war anymore;

4 but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,

    and no one shall make them afraid,

    for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

5 For all the peoples walk

    each in the name of its god,

but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God

    forever and ever.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Joshua 24:16-18

Joshua 24:16-18 English Standard Version

16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, 17 for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. 18 And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:10-13

Psalm 118:10-13 English Standard Version

10 All nations surrounded me;

    in the name of the Lord I cut them off!

11 They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side;

    in the name of the Lord I cut them off!

12 They surrounded me like bees;

    they went out like a fire among thorns;

    in the name of the Lord I cut them off!

13 I was pushed hard, so that I was falling,

    but the Lord helped me.

Mid-Week Message - More or Less

"He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less."  John 3:30  (NLT)

Social media is everywhere.  It seems that almost everyone has an account on a site where they can share what's going on in their lives.  Selfies, pictures of the food that is being served, families posing together, babies, home decor and the list goes on.  But there is one thing that is most notable about these sites.  They provide a place for us to indulge our egos.  

I will admit that there have been times when I have posted something and then checked again and again to see who is "liking" or "loving" what I have posted.  I had to get over that because if it was something really dear to me, like a picture of my child, then I was upset if I either didn't get a lot of response or if more people only "liked" rather than "loved."  My ego was hurt.  Why?  Because my purpose in sharing was all about me. 

If we stay within ourselves, if we keep our focus inward, then how can we reach out to anyone else?  If we are more concerned with all things personal rather than spending our time in concern for what those around us need, then not only will we miss a lot of joy, but we will also be sinning.  

Philippians 2:3-4 says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."

Our goal, as Christians, is to be like Christ.  If we study His life, how often to do we see Him more worried about Himself than He is those around Him or those in the crowds that came to hear Him?  Granted, He was fully God and fully human and we are only fully human.  We aren't perfect as He was perfect, however, through His grace and mercy, if we spend more time learning about Him and walking with Him, then He will begin to change our hearts and teach us how be more like Him.

Simply put, it needs to be more and more about Jesus and less and less about ourselves.  Rather than posting attention getting selfies, we can use our social media time to honor our Savior.  It is far greater to have His approval than that of man. 

There are so many opportunities to show His love.  Many people need prayers and encouragement.  It costs nothing more than a little bit of time to reach out and be supportive. 

This week, my challenge is that we all take inventory of how we represent ourselves and the Lord in any of our interactions with others.  What is our focus?   Are we seeking personal approval or are we pointing the way to the One who loves us more than any person on earth ever will?  God bless.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 12:16

Proverbs 12:16 English Standard Version

16 The vexation of a fool is known at once,

    but the prudent ignores an insult.

Morning Scripture Reading - Deuteronomy 33:26-29

Deuteronomy 33:26-29 English Standard Version

26 “There is none like God, O Jeshurun,

    who rides through the heavens to your help,

    through the skies in his majesty.

27 The eternal God is your dwelling place,

    and underneath are the everlasting arms.

And he thrust out the enemy before you

    and said, ‘Destroy.’

28 So Israel lived in safety,

    Jacob lived alone,

in a land of grain and wine,

    whose heavens drop down dew.

29 Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you,

    a people saved by the Lord,

the shield of your help,

    and the sword of your triumph!

Your enemies shall come fawning to you,

    and you shall tread upon their backs.”

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Genesis 21:1-6

Genesis 21:1-6 English Standard Version

The Birth of Isaac

21 The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. 2 And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. 3 Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac. 4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. 6 And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:8-9

Psalm 118:8-9 English Standard Version

8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord

    than to trust in man.

9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord

    than to trust in princes.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 12:15

Proverbs 12:15 English Standard Version

15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,

    but a wise man listens to advice.

Morning Scripture Reading - Isaiah 40:27-31

Isaiah 40:27-31 English Standard Version

27 Why do you say, O Jacob,

    and speak, O Israel,

“My way is hidden from the Lord,

    and my right is disregarded by my God”?

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

    the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

    his understanding is unsearchable.

29 He gives power to the faint,

    and to him who has no might he increases strength.

30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,

    and young men shall fall exhausted;

31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;

    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

they shall run and not be weary;

    they shall walk and not faint.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - James 3:17-18

James 3:17-18 English Standard Version

17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:5-7

Psalm 118:5-7 English Standard Version

5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord;

    the Lord answered me and set me free.

6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.

    What can man do to me?

7 The Lord is on my side as my helper;

    I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 12:14

Proverbs 12:14 English Standard Version

14 From the fruit of his mouth a man is satisfied with good,

    and the work of a man's hand comes back to him.

Morning Scripture Reading - John 14:23-26

John 14:23-26 English Standard Version

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

25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:1-4

Psalm 118:1-4 English Standard Version

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

118 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;

    for his steadfast love endures forever!

2 Let Israel say,

    “His steadfast love endures forever.”

3 Let the house of Aaron say,

    “His steadfast love endures forever.”

4 Let those who fear the Lord say,

    “His steadfast love endures forever.”

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 English Standard Version

13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Just Looking Good

We all do things for a reason. Whether it is for good or bad, we all have a reason for our actions. Criminal investigators and profilers spend their entire lives researching and studying criminals in order to gain insight into their minds and why they did what they did. Profilers look at their childhood experiences and adult lives to determine what could have caused criminals to commit their crimes. By gaining insight into their thought processes, investigators and profilers hope to use that knowledge to prevent another crime from happening.

But, studying a criminal mind isn’t the only way we can gain insight into the inner workings of people. We can study each other. Have you gone to a mall or public venue and just sat and watched people? If you haven’t I encourage you to do so. It is very fascinating to study people and watch them. You will see people do things that seem just out of the ordinary. You will sometimes wonder why they did certain things.

As you watch people, you will see people doing things for good reasons. Some will open or hold open a door for another person. If someone has his or her hands full and drops something, someone will quickly run over and pick up the dropped item and, in some rare cases, will offer to help carry the load. I have been in both positions. I have helped others and have received help from others.

For example, a couple of years ago when I was in the hospital fighting for my life, I would leave my room and help the nurses with things like decorating or organizing bulletin boards. It wasn’t a major effort on my part, but the nurse who I was helping greatly appreciated the extra hand to hold up a border while she stapled it into place. What I discovered is that even the smallest gesture of kindness done for the right reason can make the biggest difference in another person’s life. 

You noticed that I had added a phrase to my statement, “for the right reason”. It is truly about doing things for the right reason. If you do something wonderful only for the good of the person receiving it, then you have given a special gift to that person. If you, however, do a nice thing for the selfish reason of recognition or hoping to receive something in return, you are doing things for selfish or evil reasons. 

It is all about our motives. If we do things for others for the sake of doing good, then we are doing those things for the right reason. Our rewards don't come from the world, but our action is recognized by our Heavenly Father. It is that recognition that we should strive for in our lives.

In chapter six of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Jesus talks about our motives for doing things. In the case of giving, if we give only for the sake of earthly recognition, then that is all that we are going to receive. We are recognized by others and that is our reward and that is all we receive. It is often said that all glory is fleeting. When it comes to earthly glory and recognition, that saying is completely true. In time the words of praise will fade and become only a memory.

However, if we do what is good for the right reason, our reward comes from our Heavenly Father. He sees all that we do. If we do things in private and to bless another person, then the Lord will bless us. If we truly are children of God, then we should only be seeking His approval and not the approval of people.

In the past I have seen many try to curry the favor of the few. They go out of their way to be kind to those who have money, fame or power. Their goal is to seek their praise and recognition. They strive only to be seen in the eyes of the rich as being virtuous. In the past couple of years, a new phrase has entered the lexicon of humans, “virtue signaling”.

As I was preparing for this message, I did some research on that phrase. In Wikipedia, virtue signaling is defined as “a form of moral grandstanding, in which a viewpoint or answer is calculated to ‘look good’, thereby making the object or speaker appear virtuous to others, rather than being chosen because it is strictly honest.”

It is often said that people who are virtue signaling are empty and have no morals. Their moral systems are corrupted by the world and they only want one thing, to be seen as morally superior to others and seen as being good and virtuous. Our actions should not be in accordance with the ways of this world. Our actions should only be one with the Lord’s will. We should only do things that are righteous and for the right reason.  

In chapter two of his book, James writes, “For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, ‘You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor’—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?

If you are finding yourself doing things for the sake of earthly recognition or for evil, selfish reasons, then I ask you to reflect on your actions and seek God’s guidance and wisdom. If you seek His approval, I can guarantee you that your Heavenly Father will see your actions and bless you beyond measure. So, give in secret and don’t seek the approval of others. If you do as the Lord directs, you will definitely stand firm in His grace.

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

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 12:13

Proverbs 12:13 English Standard Version

13 An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips,

    but the righteous escapes from trouble.

Morning Scripture Reading - Isaiah 46:3-4

Isaiah 46:3-4 English Standard Version

3 “Listen to me, O house of Jacob,

    all the remnant of the house of Israel,

who have been borne by me from before your birth,

    carried from the womb;

4 even to your old age I am he,

    and to gray hairs I will carry you.

I have made, and I will bear;

    I will carry and will save.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Romans 12:14-16

Romans 12:14-16 English Standard Version

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 117

Psalm 117 English Standard Version

The Lord's Faithfulness Endures Forever

1 Praise the Lord, all nations!

    Extol him, all peoples!

2 For great is his steadfast love toward us,

    and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.

Praise the Lord!

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 12:12

Proverbs 12:12 English Standard Version

12 Whoever is wicked covets the spoil of evildoers,

    but the root of the righteous bears fruit.

Morning Scripture Reading - Titus 2:11-14

Titus 2:11-14 English Standard Version

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Ephesians 5:15-20

Ephesians 5:15-21 English Standard Version

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 51:13-17

Psalm 51:13-17 English Standard Version

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,

    and sinners will return to you.

14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,

    O God of my salvation,

    and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.

15 O Lord, open my lips,

    and my mouth will declare your praise.

16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;

    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 20:21

Proverbs 20:21 English Standard Version

21 An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning

    will not be blessed in the end.

Morning Scripture Reading - Colossians 3:12-17

Colossians 3:12-17 English Standard Version

12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Jeremiah 31:31-34

Jeremiah 31:31-34 English Standard Version

The New Covenant

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 51:10-11

Psalm 51:10-11 English Standard Version

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,

    and renew a right spirit within me.

11 Cast me not away from your presence,

    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 20:20

Proverbs 20:20 English Standard Version

20 If one curses his father or his mother,

    his lamp will be put out in utter darkness.

Morning Scripture Reading - Romans 8:28

Romans 8:28 English Standard Version

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Acts 20:33-35

Acts 20:33-35 English Standard Version

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

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 51:7-9

Psalm 51:7-9 English Standard Version

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8 Let me hear joy and gladness;

    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.

9 Hide your face from my sins,

    and blot out all my iniquities.

Mid-Week Message - The Bigger Mystery

 "If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing."  1 Corinthians 13:2  (MSG)

I enjoy a good mystery.  In fact, I almost titled this message, "Who Killed Hank Pittleman" because that is the question in the book I am now reading.  But the eternal mysteries, those that we don't have the ability to understand completely, are not of this world but of God, and I don't want to cast any earthly shadow over any of them.  

How can the human mind grasp fully that the Lord has no beginning and no end?  Everything in our world has a beginning and an end.  Even though we say the right words when asked about His existence, we can't really understand it.  

And how can three be one?  The Trinity consists of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  God in three persons, as the song says.  If Jesus is God, then how was God still in heaven while Jesus was on earth?  If Jesus is God, then why does Jesus pray to God the Father?  

How is He able to be everywhere at once?  With the billions of people on the earth, how can He hear us all at the same time?  

Mysteries.  And there are Bible scholars who can explain it all, up to a point.  

According to today's verse, all that knowledge is worthless if we don't have love.  And there are many who proclaim to be "Christians" who refuse to reach out to those who are hurting or lonely or hungry.  

There are some behind the pulpit who are terrific orators.  They can deliver a biblical message that will knock your socks off.  And some of those churches grow to unbelievable numbers.  However, one on one with some of these preachers will reveal that they actually take no interest in anything except the messages they preach.  They rely on assistant pastors to do all the "people" work because they take no interest in what their flock is going through.  

And that is the bigger mystery to me.  I don't worry about how God created the universes, or how He does any of what He does.  It is enough for me that He knows and I have placed my faith in Him and trust Him completely.  But I cannot figure out how someone could be filled with the Holy Spirit and not love their fellow human beings.  Which makes me wonder if they are truly Christians or not.  

This world is in pain.  A quick look at the news will reveal that no matter where we go, there are those who are crying out for someone to care.  If we are to be like our Savior, if we are to make any difference at all, then we must be willing to reach out with the love He has demonstrated and placed within us.  That is our purpose.  We bring glory to our Creator when we minister to those who are in need of His touch.  

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.  Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'  The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine you did for me."  Matthew 25:35-40  (NIV)

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 20:19

Proverbs 20:19 English Standard Version

19 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets;

    therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.

Morning Scripture Reading - Romans 8:1-4

Romans 8:1-4 English Standard Version

Life in the Spirit

8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Isaiah 29:22-24

Isaiah 29:22-24 English Standard Version

22 Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob:

“Jacob shall no more be ashamed,

    no more shall his face grow pale.

23 For when he sees his children,

    the work of my hands, in his midst,

    they will sanctify my name;

they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob

    and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.

24 And those who go astray in spirit will come to understanding,

    and those who murmur will accept instruction.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 51:5-6

Psalm 51:5-6 English Standard Version

5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,

    and in sin did my mother conceive me.

6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,

    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 20:18

Proverbs 20:18 English Standard Version

18 Plans are established by counsel;

    by wise guidance wage war.

Morning Scripture Reading - Matthew 6:3-4

Matthew 6:3-4 English Standard Version

3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Evening 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.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 51:3-4

Psalm 51:3-4 English Standard Version

3 For I know my transgressions,

    and my sin is ever before me.

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned

    and done what is evil in your sight,

so that you may be justified in your words

    and blameless in your judgment.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 20:17

Proverbs 20:17 English Standard Version

17 Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man,

    but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 English Standard Version

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Matthew 23:11

Matthew 23:11 English Standard Version

11 The greatest among you shall be your servant.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 51:1-2

Psalm 51:1-2 English Standard Version

Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

51 Have mercy on me, O God,

    according to your steadfast love;

according to your abundant mercy

    blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

    and cleanse me from my sin!

Sunday Praise and Worship Message - Living a Meaningful Life

As I get older, and hopefully wiser, I have a lot of time to reflect on things. As a project manager, one of the things I do, as all good project managers do, is conduct a “lessons learned” event. At the end of a project, the team comes together and they reflect on the positive and negative elements of a project. I often refer to the event as “the good, the bad and the ugly”. Since I enjoy westerns, I like to use that phrase a lot with my own teams.

When conducting a lessons learned event or, if you are more into agile, a retrospective, the big thing is to find out how the project went. By looking at each element of the project like processes, resources, materials and other things, the team is able to provide their assessment of the project and give insights to the next team that will be taking on a similar project. In short, we learn from our mistakes and improve on those things that went well.

We do the same thing in our own personal lives. We reflect on the events of our lives and how we can improve on them. There are a couple of times during the course of a year when we really concentrate on having a more meaningful life by learning from our mistakes and improving on the good. The first event is New Year’s Eve or Day and the second is during a funeral that we attend.

When we start a new year, most of us make resolutions to improve ourselves. We promise to lose weight, eat better and exercise more. These three are the most popular resolutions. We all want to do those things so that we can live longer and have a better life. 

We all start out with good intentions of living up to our resolutions and seeing them to the end of the year. However, things change and soon we find ourselves with broken resolutions and we have gone back to our old habits.

The second event, a funeral, really drives home our mortality and how we have spent our lives. When you read the obituaries of some individuals, you find that they may have done a lot of great things. Their list of accomplishments can fill the entire newspaper or a webpage.

After we read their obituaries or attend their funeral or memorial, thoughts about our own lives begin to fill our heads. Have we led a fulfilling life? When we die, will our lives have meaning? These questions are very natural for all of us. They give us time to pause, reflect and learn. We have a chance to make changes in our lives.

In chapter seven of the Book of Ecclesiastes, the author writes, “A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time.

There is a reason why a wise person thinks about death a lot. It allows that person to think about all of the events of his or her life to that moment and reflect. Like the lessons learned event, each of us has an opportunity to think about our life experiences and, if necessary, make some changes. Some of those changes can be more physical in nature. We may decide to change our daily habits and exercise more and eat less. Other changes aren’t as visible. These tend to be more spiritual and tend to try to answer the question about the meaning of our lives and what we have done.

If we devote ourselves to just the physical aspect of our reflections, we may live longer, but will it address the bigger question? Instead of just asking the question about the meaning of life, the real question is about the meaning of our own lives. Are you leading a meaningful life?

As you read this message, you have an opportunity to reflect on your life and what you have done to this point. If you have devoted your life to the pursuit of wealth and fame and nothing else, you may have concentrated on those things and forgotten about other things like taking care of those around you. It doesn’t take much to make a difference in a person’s life, but if you haven’t even done the simplest of things, like offer others food, shelter or something to drink, your life may have no meaning to others. 

While you see yourself as living a meaningful life, others may not see it that way. They may think of you as being self-absorbed and selfish. To them, your life may not have any meaning at all. I hate to be that brutal, but it may be true. Looking through the eyes of others and considering what they see is important when you reflect on your life. Instead of seeing a successful individual, others may see only a self-centered person interested in his or her own comfort and not the needs of others.

The author of the Book of Hebrews, in chapter thirteen, writes, “Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’ So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?’

I’m not saying that you should not work and make money, but money is only a means to an end, a nobler end. If you are just concentrating on making money and spending it all on yourself rather than helping others, can you honestly say that you’re leading a meaningful life?

When you spend all of your time and effort in pursuing money or whatever earthly desires you have, you aren’t spending time with the Lord and you aren’t living a Christ-like life. Once again, I’m being brutally honest with you. 

James, in chapter four of the book that bears his name, writes, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.”

Our lives are truly like the morning fog. In time, we will all stop breathing, die and turn cold. It is just part of life. We weren’t made to live forever in a fallen world. The Book of Ecclesiastes tells us that there are seasons of everything. There is a season for every event in our lives including a season for us to die.

When we are born, we are already beginning our journey to our final destination, death. Each day we live is another step closer to the end of that journey. I ask that you look back at each step that you have made to this moment and think about each of them. Have the steps you have taken made an impression in the lives of others? 

Living a meaningful life is more than fame, wealth and prestige. It is living a life dedicated to being Christ-like each day. We should devote ourselves to doing only those things that are righteous in the eyes of the Lord.

Paul, in chapter four of his letter to the Ephesians, tells us exactly how we should live a Christ-like life, “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.

If you live your life by following the example of Christ Jesus in everything that you do and say, you can rest assured on that day when you take your final step that you can look back at all the steps and say that you have lived a meaningful life. At that very moment, you will take the first step to the Father and stand firm in His grace for all eternity. 

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

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 20:16

Proverbs 20:16 English Standard Version

16 Take a man's garment when he has put up security for a stranger,

    and hold it in pledge when he puts up security for foreigners.

Morning Scripture Reading - Job 2:3-4

Job 2:3-4 English Standard Version

3 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” 4 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Titus 1:7-9

Titus 1:7-9 English Standard Version

7 For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 50:22-23

Psalm 50:22-23 English Standard Version

22 “Mark this, then, you who forget God,

    lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!

23 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;

    to one who orders his way rightly

    I will show the salvation of God!”

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 20:15

Proverbs 20:15 English Standard Version

15 There is gold and abundance of costly stones,

    but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.

Morning Scripture Reading - Romans 6:15-18

Romans 6:15-18 English Standard Version

Slaves to Righteousness

15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - 2 Timothy 1:13-14

2 Timothy 1:13-14 English Standard Version

13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 50:16-21

Psalm 50:16-21 English Standard Version

16 But to the wicked God says:

    “What right have you to recite my statutes

    or take my covenant on your lips?

17 For you hate discipline,

    and you cast my words behind you.

18 If you see a thief, you are pleased with him,

    and you keep company with adulterers.

19 “You give your mouth free rein for evil,

    and your tongue frames deceit.

20 You sit and speak against your brother;

    you slander your own mother's son.

21 These things you have done, and I have been silent;

    you thought that I was one like yourself.

But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 20:14

Proverbs 20:14 English Standard Version

14 “Bad, bad,” says the buyer,

    but when he goes away, then he boasts.

Morning Scripture Reading - Lamentations 3:22-23

Lamentations 3:22-23 English Standard Version

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

    his mercies never come to an end;

23 they are new every morning;

    great is your faithfulness.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Isaiah 49:5-6

Isaiah 49:5-6 English Standard Version

5 And now the Lord says,

    he who formed me from the womb to be his servant,

to bring Jacob back to him;

    and that Israel might be gathered to him—

for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord,

    and my God has become my strength—

6 he says:

“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant

    to raise up the tribes of Jacob

    and to bring back the preserved of Israel;

I will make you as a light for the nations,

    that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 50:12-15

Psalm 50:12-15 English Standard Version

12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you,

    for the world and its fullness are mine.

13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls

    or drink the blood of goats?

14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,

    and perform your vows to the Most High,

15 and call upon me in the day of trouble;

    I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 20:13

Proverbs 20:13 English Standard Version

13 Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty;

    open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread.

Morning Scripture Reading - Ephesians 6:10-12

Ephesians 6:10-12 English Standard Version

The Whole Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 John 4:4-6

1 John 4:4-6 English Standard Version

4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 50:7-11

Psalm 50:7-11 English Standard Version

7 “Hear, O my people, and I will speak;

    O Israel, I will testify against you.

    I am God, your God.

8 Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;

    your burnt offerings are continually before me.

9 I will not accept a bull from your house

    or goats from your folds.

10 For every beast of the forest is mine,

    the cattle on a thousand hills.

11 I know all the birds of the hills,

    and all that moves in the field is mine.

Mid-Week Message - A Story of Tragedy

 "I lift up my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth."  Psalm 121:1-2  (NIV)

I recently saw the story of a fifteen year old girl who ran away from home.  She had crossed the state line and had been gone a couple of days when she realized she hated being alone and decided to return.  She had been hitchhiking and at one point had met up with two others who were also thumbing for a ride.  At this point a van with an older man pulled up.  Although the vehicle appeared to be empty, he said he only had room for one and offered a ride to the teenager.  Those with her warned her not to accept his offer, but she was so ready to get back home that she ignored their advice thinking that the man looked like a kindly grandfather.  

After falling asleep for short time, the girl woke and noticed that the signage was wrong.  The man was not going in the direction he promised.  When she asked him about it, he told her he had taken an alternate route.  She became leery and decided she needed to get away.  When the van pulled over for a short stop, she got out and bent over to tie her shoe so she could run away.  However, the "kindly grandfather" hit her in the head with a sledge hammer.  When she came to she found that she was tied up.  I won't go into all that happened in the van except to say that she was begging to be set free.  Finally, he pulled over, and said to her, "Okay, I'll set you free."  Then he took an axe, chopped off both of her arms and threw her over a cliff.

 Thankfully, this isn't the end of the story.  Somehow this young lady was smart enough to stick what was left of her arms down in the dirt to help stop the bleeding.  She then found the strength to climb back up the thirty foot cliff to the highway where she could get help.  A newlywed couple found her, called for help, and a helicopter took her to the hospital.  

Why would I choose this story?  Because she knew that she could not have survived alone.  Although she encountered evil and endured the unthinkable, she credited the Lord for giving her aid.  As in today's verse, she lifted her eyes to the top of the hill before her and knew that without arms, the only way she could get to the highway was if she had His help.  And He was there to cheer her on, to give her the boost she needed to get where she could be rescued.  

We have an ever-present enemy that works hard to dissuade us from believing that our Savior truly cares what happens to us.  He will lie.  He will whisper in our ears that if God truly cared then bad things wouldn't happen to us.  But that isn't true.  Horrible things still happen because of sin and because He gave us free will.  That doesn't mean the He doesn't love us.  That means we all need the saving blood of Jesus.  

I know that I am writing what will be read by many who have encountered tragedy.  I am so sorry for what you have had to overcome.  I pray that you did, you do and you will turn to the Lord for strength and comfort.  His hands are mighty and His promises are true.  

The young lady is now grown, married and has children.  Though she wears prosthetics on both arms, she was not defeated.  She now shares her story with young people to encourage them to find another way through their problems other than running away.  God took the tragedy of  her life and allowed it to bloom into a ministry.  And she is thankful.  God bless.  

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 20:12

Proverbs 20:12 English Standard Version

12 The hearing ear and the seeing eye,

    the Lord has made them both.

Morning Scripture Reading - John 14:27

John 14:27 English Standard Version

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Deuteronomy 32:1-4

Deuteronomy 32:1-4 English Standard Version

32 “Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak,

    and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.

2 May my teaching drop as the rain,

    my speech distill as the dew,

like gentle rain upon the tender grass,

    and like showers upon the herb.

3 For I will proclaim the name of the Lord;

    ascribe greatness to our God!

4 “The Rock, his work is perfect,

    for all his ways are justice.

A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,

    just and upright is he.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 50:4-6

Psalm 50:4-6 English Standard Version

4 He calls to the heavens above

    and to the earth, that he may judge his people:

5 “Gather to me my faithful ones,

    who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”

6 The heavens declare his righteousness,

    for God himself is judge! Selah

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 20:11

Proverbs 20:11 English Standard Version

11 Even a child makes himself known by his acts,

    by whether his conduct is pure and upright.

Morning Scripture Reading - 2 Corinthians 1:8-11

2 Corinthians 1:8-11 English Standard Version

8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - John 17:9-12

John 17:9-12 English Standard Version

9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 50:1-3

Psalm 50:1-3 English Standard Version

God Himself Is Judge

A Psalm of Asaph.

1 The Mighty One, God the Lord,

    speaks and summons the earth

    from the rising of the sun to its setting.

2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,

    God shines forth.

3 Our God comes; he does not keep silence;

    before him is a devouring fire,

    around him a mighty tempest.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 20:10

Proverbs 20:10 English Standard Version

10 Unequal weights and unequal measures

    are both alike an abomination to the Lord.

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 John 3:18-20

1 John 3:18-20 English Standard Version

18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Timothy 6:6-10

1 Timothy 6:6-10 English Standard Version

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 49:16-20

Psalm 49:16-20 English Standard Version

16 Be not afraid when a man becomes rich,

    when the glory of his house increases.

17 For when he dies he will carry nothing away;

    his glory will not go down after him.

18 For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed

    —and though you get praise when you do well for yourself—

19 his soul will go to the generation of his fathers,

    who will never again see light.

20 Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Live a Quiet Life

Over the past couple of months, I have read news articles discussing the effects of social media on young people, specifically girls and how it is affecting their perception of themselves. As if growing up wasn’t difficult enough, our children are bombarded daily with images being pushed upon them to act or dress in a certain way. If they don’t, they are social outcasts. The same holds true for adults. If you don’t own the right car or dress in a particular way, you won’t be popular and people will no longer like you.

Since the 1950s, we have been subjected to a steady stream of nonsense from advertising firms. Back then, there was no social media. Newspapers, magazines, radio and television were filled with images of things we needed to have to be popular. The advertising firms fed us a steady, unrelenting diet of tripe about what we should be doing in our spare time, what we should be eating and how we should be dressing. Imagine how things would have been if social media had existed back then. I would probably guess that things would be a lot worse than they are now.

It is so very easy to complicate our lives by adding to our daily headaches by following silly trends. What is popular today soon becomes a fading fad tomorrow. It is a never ending cycle. Something new will pop up and we start the whole thing over again.

The best example I can give is the toy industry. About six months before Christmas, there will be a toy that all children have to have. It will sweep the world in its popularity. If a child doesn’t have that particular toy, they literally will be ostracized by their peers. So, children run to their parents with their wish lists in their hands and demand that particular toy be delivered on Christmas. This cycle happens every year and continues to repeat itself in almost every household around the world.

As parents, we will literally do anything to get that item for our children. We have all seen the news reports on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, where people rush to do their early Christmas shopping and look for deals. In those reports, we see people literally beating one another for the last item on the shelf. They fight over every single thing in the store and delight in the fact that they were able to get the last one. 

Is this how life is supposed to be? Life is hard enough for each of us and when you add this stress to what we face daily, life becomes even more complicated.

There have been so many times in my own life when I have longed for the simpler times when we had very little, but we had so much spiritually. It seems that the more we have; the less we have spiritually. Instead of following the Lord daily, we follow trends and fads. 

In chapter four of his first epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul writes, “Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.”

We should all strive to live simple lives and make a point to mind our own business. If we worked on just doing those two things, life would be a lot easier. 

Minding our own business doesn’t mean that we should not care for one another. Far from it. What it means is that we should adopt a policy of “live and let live”. Our responsibilities to one another are very simple. We are to help those in need and provide for them as we can.

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

If our needs are being met, then why should we look for more or for other things? As long as we have a roof over our heads, food on the table and clothing, we have been blessed. If God chooses to bless us with more, we should share that bounty with others. All that we have received comes from His hand and we should, with humbleness, accept those blessings and share them with all.

In chapter six of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Jesus gives us a simple way of life and how we should live it. By concentrating on the most important part, worshiping God above all else and living righteously, God will provide for our needs. He already knows exactly what we need to live and provides those things daily. Instead of looking at the things of this world, we should be seeking Him and spending time with Him daily.

So, my words of advice to you are don’t complicate your life with frivolous things and pursue popularity. Concentrate on those things that will truly make a difference in your life. The things of this world will only add more headaches and make you crave more. Just like the example of the latest toy for children, there will always be something else next year. If you have a child, I ask that you go to his or her toy box and look at its contents. You will see all of the toys that were popular at one time and then quickly fell out of popularity. Thrift and consignment stores are full of those discarded toys. Seek only those things that are, as Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians, “true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable”.

By living a quiet, simple life devoted to those things that truly matter, you can rest assured that you can easily stand firm in His grace. 

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

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 20:9

Proverbs 20:9 English Standard Version

9 Who can say, “I have made my heart pure;

    I am clean from my sin”?

Morning Scripture Reading - Acts 2:38-40

Acts 2:38-40 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.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Jeremiah 17:11

Jeremiah 17:11 English Standard Version

11 Like the partridge that gathers a brood that she did not hatch,

    so is he who gets riches but not by justice;

in the midst of his days they will leave him,

    and at his end he will be a fool.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 49:13-15

Psalm 49:13-15 English Standard Version

13 This is the path of those who have foolish confidence;

    yet after them people approve of their boasts. Selah

14 Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;

    death shall be their shepherd,

and the upright shall rule over them in the morning.

    Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell.

15 But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,

    for he will receive me. Selah

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 20:8

Proverbs 20:8 English Standard Version

8 A king who sits on the throne of judgment

    winnows all evil with his eyes.

Morning Scripture Reading - Ecclesiastes 9:17-18

Ecclesiastes 9:17-18 English Standard Version

17 The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. 18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Evening Scripture Reading - Ecclesiastes 2:12-14

Ecclesiastes 2:12-14 English Standard Version

The Vanity of Living Wisely

12 So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done. 13 Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness. 14 The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them.