Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Mission Update: Wednesday, December 27, 2006

It is amazing how much doing good for others can make you feel productive. So often we spend out time either working for our boss or company, or doing good for ourselves or our family. Even as a pastor, i spend more time focused on church stuff or care within the church than I do doing good, especially those that are in sincere need.

This mission trip is showing me a couple of things. First, we spend too much time in the church focuses on institutional survival verses actually doing something for Jesus. We spend more time worried about budgets and meeting and numbers and attendance, and for too little time worried about if we are making a difference for the Kingdom of God. The church does not exist merely to keep the doors open. We exist to do good for Jesus Christ and proclaim His salvation.

Second, salvation is not just about spiritual healing, but about physical. I know many folks that say they are saved, but there salvation exists only inward. If our inward salvation doesn't call us to outward action, then is there really anything inside? In doing such mission work, you actually feel, and know, you are doing something for Jesus.

Third, and last for today, but not for the week, mission work is no just on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Its everywhere. Its at work. Its in our families. Its in our neighborhoods. Its in our church. It's everywhere. Everywhere there are folks in need.

As Christians, and as the church, are we meeting those needs? Are we at least trying to? If not, then what are we doing?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Mission Update!

Be in prayer for us here on the Gulf Coast this week. We have 8 folks from church here doing mission work, me, Sandy Nicholas, and 6 youth. We will be working out of the Vancleave, MS area, and staying at Vancleave UMC. I'll try each night to send updates letting you know how and what we are doing.

Friday, December 22, 2006

No bloggging next week!

There will be no blogging next week. I will be out of town next week on a mission trip to the Gulf Coast with the youth from church. The blogging will start again on New Years Day. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Advent: Friday, December 22, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 10:5-19

We see here that God was going to use Assyria to punish His people, and Assyria began to think much of their own might. They began to think of themselves more highly than they ought. And the Lord says he will bring punishment upon them.

God uses whom He will and He punishes who He will. Because you have been used by God in some powerful way does not mean that you are beyond the reach of His arm for punishment. And, because He has punished you in a way does not mean that He cannot use you. If fact, His punishment often is a mean of preparation for being used. Today, looking within your life and see the areas where the Lord is working on you, and know that in those areas, the Lord is getting you ready for a mighty act.

New Testament Lesson

2 Peter 2:17-22

We see in this powerful passage it would actually be better for us not to know the ways of God than to know them and turn from them. If we see anything in the Bible, from the Old to the New Testaments, we see that the one that will be judged the harshest is the one that knows truth and does not obey. The one that will be judged will be the one that knows what God want them to do, that knows how God wants them to live, that knows who God wants them to be, and turns away.

Today, those of us that know truth, let us spend less time counting the sins of others, and spend more time looking at our own faithfulness. Let us spend less time making sure they are following the law of the Lord and more time making sure we are. Let us spend less time fussing about others lack of faithfulness and more time making sure we are faithful. For, it is better for us not to know God's will than to know it and ignore it.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 11:2-15

John wanted to make sure that Jesus was the Messiah. How did the Jesus respond? Do you see the good that is being done? Tell him what you see, folks are healed, the poor are helped, God's will is being done. Today, if someone comes to to you and wants to know if you are a Christian, how would you respond? Would you say, look, see my name on the roll book at church? Look, see the committees I've served on? See the checks I've written?

Or would you say, see the good I do each day in my life? Friends, our faith is lived out in a day to day way. Today, if folks want to see that we are Christians may they see it in our lives. As the old hymn goes:
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah they'll know we are Christians by our love

We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we'll guard each man's dignity and save each man's pride
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah, they'll know we are Christians by our love.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Advent: Thursday, December 21, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 9:18-10:4

We see here that the people have turned away from God and have turned on each other. That is part of what we see in life. In the times in life when we are in discord with family and friends, the times in life when we are fighting against one another, these are problem the times when we are not at peace with God.

Jesus tells us if we have ought with our brother, take our offering from the alter and go make it right with them. Sometimes, though, we have to make things right with God before we can make it right with them. The people of Israel were at war with one another because they were not at peace with God. They would go through the motions of faithfulness to God, but they were not truly faithful. It was not until they were at peace with God they could be at peace with one another.

Today, is there someone you not at peace with? Today, are you at peace with God. Prayerfully consider in your life how these two are connected.

New Testament Lesson

2 Peter 2:10b-16

We see in this passage the danger of giving into the flesh. We will become like depraved animals, never having enough. The flesh cannot be satisfied. It cannot be satisfied with food, with sex, with money, with power. The flesh always wants more and more and more. The flesh only wants to see its desires fulfilled, and yet at the end of the day, the flesh is always empty for it can never be satisfied.

But, when we live by God's grace and God's law, we see that why we might not get what we "want," we will be satisfied. We will have the things we need most for life, love, grace, mercy, and peace. Today, will you choose to live by the ways of the flesh and be eternally hungry? Or will you live by the ways of God and be eternally satisfied?

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 3:1-12

We see John tell the ones coming today that they should come not just for baptism, but they should come with repentance and a desire to live a holy life for God. In John Wesley's day, people would mistake their infant baptism for salvation, and they would tell him they were baptized as an infant, to which Wesley would reply, do not tell me of your baptism, tell me of your conversion.

Most, if not all of us have been baptized. Some, like my children, were baptized as infants. Others as adults. However, do not mistake baptism for salvation. Baptism is about God marking us as His very own, a child of the New Covenant, someone He died to save. We still must accept that baptism as our own, we must accept that offer of salvation as our own.

Today, you can tell me of your baptism, but also, tell me of your conversion.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Advent: Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 9:8-17

We see in this passage the Lord longed to give mercy to those that were in sin, to those that had turned away, if they would just return and come back to Him. They would not, and because of that, there was no mercy. The only think limiting God's ability to give mercy is our ability to receive mercy.

If, though, we do turn turn from our sin, we cannot receive His mercy. For, as long as we remain in sin, we love sin more than mercy. We love sin, more than doing right. We love sin more that God. John 3 gives us that famous passage of John 3:16, which we all know. Do you know the verses that follow it?

John 3: 19-21

And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.'

They loved darkness more than light; they loved sin more than God. Let us not make that same mistake.

New Testament Lesson

2 Pet 2:1-10a

This is one of those passages that we can have a long drawn out discussion about who exactly where the angels that were punished and all that; but, lets think about what is most important. If God would punish these, if God would punish His people Israel, why do we think He would not punish us as well. Just like a parent does not take great joy in punishing their children, neither does God take great joy in punishing us.

But, just as a parent will punish their child, so will our God. Today, as we draw close to Christmas, may we also draw close to our God.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 1:1-8

We see that Mark didn't have time for the manger, didn't have time for the shepherds, didn't have time for the wise men. He launches right into John the Baptist and his message of repentance and salvation. Mark gets right to the point, Jesus came to save the people from their sin.

Mark maybe a good think for us to remember in the coming days. Let us remember that the ministry and work of Jesus didn't end in a manger, and He was not born simply so that we could sing Silent Night and give presents. He was born to save the people from their sin; He was born to teach us how to live and serve; He was born to show us God's great love and to give His live as an atonementfor the world.

Let us remember who is He is, and why He came. And, let us live out the mission He gave us to live.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Advent: Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 9:1-7

In this passage, we see that He has given us a Son whose name is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace. And, I love the image that He shall break the yoke that has been placed upon our backs. He will break the yoke of sin, the yoke of hatred, the yoke of brokenness, all of these yokes by the grace of God, and through the power of Jesus can be broken.

Through Jesus, there is a light that shines in the darkness. It shines in the darkness of this world, bringing forth light and and a call to repentance, but it also shines in our hearts, calling us out of darkness. It calls us out of the darkness of unbelief, of unfaithfulness, of sin. The light shines, and the Son frees. Today, through Jesus, we can know light, and freedom, and grace. Today, through His grace, we can live!

New Testament Lesson

2 Peter 1:12-21

We see in this passage another mention of that light, shining in darkness. Today, Peter is talking about the Word of God, the prophesies of God. We all believe that in receiving Holy Communion, we can receive God's grace in a powerful way. Wesley taught that searching the scriptures (a daily Bible discipline) was also a means of Grace. And through this, we can receive God's grace to live the holy life He calls us to.

Today, in this moment, you can receive God's grace through His Word. Today, you can receive His light, through the Word. Today, you can receive the power you need to live the life He has called you to, through the Word. Today, His light shines, today, may we receive it.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 22:54-69

Here we see the symbolism of Peter, standing beside a light, and following The Light, but still choosing the darkness of denial. He had three chances to stand with Jesus, to claim Him as his own, to glorify Him. And, three times he denied.

Why? Maybe fear. Maybe he was worried. Maybe he just panicked. We don't know. We simply know that three times he denied Jesus. And, we know this. In John Gospel, three times, after the Resurrection, Jesus came to Peter and asked Him if He loved Him. And, for each of the three denials, Jesus gave him forgiveness, and a way to make it right.

You sin can be and will be forgiven, if you will receive it. The only think keeping us from God is not our sin, but our pride and unwillingness to receive His forgiveness. Today, if you will take it, you can be forgiven, through His amazing grace.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Advent: Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sorry for no blogging yesterday. I had a touch of a stomach bug and it knocked me down most of yesterday morning.

Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 7:1-9

King Ahaz sees all these troubles coming, he sees all these nations conspiring against his country, and he is rightly worried. When we are charged to take care of someone or called to lead something, and we see things beyond our control going wrong, it worries us, it scares us, it greatly troubles us.

Isaiah comes to him today with a message from God. Stand firm. If you do not stand upon your faith, you have nothing to stand on. God is at work, God has a plan, God is always doing something. Stand upon. Do not stand upon what you think you can do or what your plans are. Stand firm upon God, stand firm upon your faith. He is working. Trust in Him. As the Word says, we walk by faith, not by sight. Today, may faith open your eyes so that you can see what God is doing.

New Testament Lesson

2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

We see in this text that Satan uses all powers of deception to fool and trick those that do not believe. That is why we must always be aware, always looking, always examining, always testing. Satan is the father of lies, and we must make sure as well that we are not buying his lies. We must make that we are listening to God's voice, not to his.

There are always voices coming at us from every side, and they are not all from God. That is why we must spend time with God, listening to His voice, so that we will know it when we need to hear. Unless we spend time with Him, we will not be able to hear Him. Today, listen to His voice, and know that He is calling you to something great today.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 22:1-13

Two things jumped out at me when I was reading this. First it was the day when the Passover lamb was the to be sacrificed. Now, we then to think of this as talking about the Passover and the meal that Jesus and His disciples where getting ready to eat. But, there is something deeper going on. What was Jesus, but the lamb that was slayed for before the foundations of the world (Revelation 13:8). This was the day that was set aside for our salvation.

And this ties into the second thought. God's plan was at work, and the disciples found everything prepared as they needed it. Friends, God's plan is beyond you and me. It is great than us. It is working in ways that we can never fully understand. But, it is at work for our salvation, and the salvation of the world. Today, let us look around for what God is doing. And let us join in His great plan of salvation.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Advent: Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 5:13-25

We see the Lord's judgement come against His people. We see that it was tough, that it was harsh, and that it was painful. Why did it come? Because they departed from His will and His way. They were not who He called them to be. And, because of their sin, they faced judgement.

How much pain do we bring upon ourselves because we are not faithful? How much pain do we cause ourselves and those that we love because we do not live in the way God calls us to. Thought obedience to Him, we find freedom. To obedience to ourselves we find pain an loss. Today, may we find the grace to obey God and follow where He leads.

New Testament Lesson

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

We see that we are admonish the weak and those that are idle, those that are not doing what they should be. But, Paul tells us that we should be patient with them. We should be loving, not vengeful or wrathful. We should speak to those that are in sin in love. Why? Because has not our God been patient with us while we were in sin, and even now, when such sin exists in our lives.

How can we be patient? How can we be loving and caring in such a might way? The Word tell us, pray without ceasing. Without prayer, we cannot do these things.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 21:29-38a

Be on guard, be in prayer, look up, so that your heart is not weighed down by the stuff of life: drunkenness, sin, and yes, worry. This is an issue, like most, where I am speaking to myself above all else. Do not worry about this life, do not worry about what shall be, do not worry about these concerns. Place your faith in God, place your obedience in God, place your hope in God. And, He will not put that hope away.

Do not allow your soul to be weighted down, but allow it to be free and sour as God would have it to. Allow it to be free and mount up on wings like eagles. Today, may we not be weighted down, today, may we live.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Advent: Friday, December 8, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 3:8-15

We see here the Lord reminding us that He will judge the wicked for their sin. And look at what of the judgements He states against the people today:

It is you who have devoured the vineyard;
the spoil of the poor is in your houses.
What do you mean by crushing my people,
by grinding the face of the poor? says the Lord
God of hosts.

How we treat others matters. How we treat the least among us matters. How we treat those that have less than we do matters. It is not just enough for us to pray, it is not just enough for us to read the word. It must impact ours, it must change the way that we live, it must change the way that treat those that are less fortunate than we are.

As we draw close to Christmas, are your eyes focused only upon yourself, and your wants? Or do you take time think about, and act on behalf of the poor, the needy, the distressed? Today, God stands in judgement against His people because they did not. Today, may we not receive the same judgement.

New Testament Lesson

1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

We are to live lives of self control and discipline. We are not to live according the desires of the flesh, but rather the will of God. We are not live only the way that we want, but rather, the way that God wants. We are not to do only what we want, but rather what God wants. For our will and and our way leads to death. God's will and God's way leads to life. Today, which way will you choose?

Gospel Lesson

Luke 20:41-21:4

We see Jesus remind us today that we must be careful that our religion is not just for other people to see. What is important is how close we are to God, not how close others think that we are to God. If our religious acts are done only so that other people can be impressed by how holy we are, that is not good.

We do not need to be concerned about how much other people think we are holy, we need to be concerned about how much God thinks we are holy. If your religion is done only for others to see, then in that you have your reward. Be very careful to make yourself appear more holy than you really are. We are all just sinners saved by grace, and it is God that deserves any praise from the good in our lives, not us.

And this echoes the Old Testament passage. He attacks their outward only religion, and He attacks how they mistreat the poor and those that are in need, particularly the widow. And then, He shows them that this mistreated widow is actually more holy than they are, for she gave from all that she had.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Advent: Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 2:1-11

We see here a contrast between what God wants to do and what the people. He wants to teach the people His way. He wants to instruct them. He wants to help them to live in peace and love and righteousness. He wants good things for them.

The people want to consult idols and diviners. They want to do it their way. They want to walk by their own wisdom, not by Gods. They want their truth to be truth. Instead of coming humbly to God, they stand proudly on their own.

And, because of that choice, they fall into sin, and they will be judged. Today, will follow the wisdom of God's teaching, or the folly of our own?

New Testament Lesson

1 Thessalonians 2: 13-20

We see here that Paul commends the people for being imitators of other churches. There's an old saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and while I don't know if that is true, there is something to be said for doing what others are doing. If someone is Godly, watch what they do, and do as they do. If someone is mature in the faith, what what they do and do what they do. If someone is doing great things for the Lord, what they do and do what they do.

We, through must be aware, that others are watching us. Let us live in such a way where they can say, now that is a Christian, let me do as they do!

Gospel Lesson

Luke 20:19-26

We see here that they tried to trick Jesus, but He was able to see what they were doing. Friends, do we try to trick Him at times ourselves? Do we try to pretend that we are better than we really are? Do we try to portray ourselves as much righteous than we really are? He could see through them, and He can see through us. Let us not play games with Jesus, but come to Him as we truly are. And in that, He will give us the grace that we truly need for this hour.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Advent: Monday, December 4, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 1:10-20

We see here that the Lord condemns just going through the motions. He condemns, just "playing church." God doesn't want false sacrifices. He wants us to wash and really be made clean. He wants us to really change. He wants us to be obey. He doesn't want us to act Christian, He wants us to be Christian.

And how did He make this possible. He gave us His only son in the form on a new born baby, to grow into a man that would show us what life was supposed to be. Jesus Christ showed us how to love, how to serve, how to obey, how to live. And then, He died upon the cross for our sins and rose from the dead for our victory. Today, don't go through the motions of faith, really live faith. Don't just do what you've always done, do something great for Jesus. He gave us life and wants us to truly live it!

New Testament Lesson

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

We see in this passage that when the people of this church were saved, it came with power. What does this mean? Could they fly? Did they have x-ray vision? What does it mean to talk about this power?

It means that they were able to do more than they thought. They were able to do things that they didn't think were possible. They were able be more for God than they ever thought they could be. they could do more for God than they could ever imagine. Through God and His power, we can do great things. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God can use us in great ways. Through Him, we can know these things.

But first we must know Him and His salvation. Today, have you taken that first step?

Gospel Lesson

Luke 20:1-8

We see here that Jesus was preaching the good news, and the teachers of the law came, trying to set a trap for Him. Here He was, teaching, sharing, preaching, and loving. And the religious leaders could have joined in and helped Him. Instead, they tried to stop Him. They could have been part of what God was doing, or they could work against what God was doing. They chose to work against it.

Today, you will see things God is doing or things that God wants to do. Will you choose to join into what God is doing? Or will you work against it? Only in following God and following His spirit and plan will we know new life. Today, will you join into God's work, or will you choose to stand there on the sidelines?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Zechariah 12:1-10

The prophets remind of us two things. First, God will bring judgment. That is one reality we see there. In our current cultural context, lots of folks like to make the statement that only God can judge them. That is true. But, when we make those statements, we must remember that God will judge us. That judgment is coming. It cannot be denied or pushed back. One day, we will each stand in judgment by God. In the prophets, God gives His people warning after warning. If they did not repent, judgment would come. That same fact holds true for us today.

The second thing we see is that God will always have a remnant that love and serve Him. While judgment was coming against many; we see in this passage that God would save. That those that truly love and serve Him will be saved. God will have a people that are His, based not upon their name or their birth, but upon their obedience to Him.

The question for us then becomes, which group are we a part of? The group that will be condemned in judgement, or the remnant that will be saved. To those that overcome goeth the crown.

New Testament Lesson

Ephesians 1:3-14

We see in this passage that we have much to rejoice. I was just thinking as a I was reflecting upon today's Old Testament passage, man I sound harsh. Those of you that don't know me and only read these daily reflections may think that I'm a cranky fellow. I'm not, except until I have my coffee. This passage is a counter balance to the harshness of the prophet today.

We see that to the ones that are saved, we have a glorious reward, a joyous hope, a divine love, a great salvation. We have much to be thankful for, because God gave His only son to save us. He gave His only son so that we could have life, so that we could live, so that we could be forgiven. Friends, we have much to be thankful for. Today, rejoice. You are His! He loves you! He longs to save you! You can have life!

Gospel Lesson

Luke 19:1-10

We see here the love of God. Zacchaeus, who was a wee little man, was not a good fellow. He was a tax collector, which meant that to his people, he was a traitor, since he worked for Rome. And, not only was he a hated tax collector, but he robbed. He wasn't a nice fellow.

But, then Jesus came into the scene and simply loved Him. He called Him, and he responded. How many other people looked at Zacchaeus and turned up their nose. But, not Jesus. Jesus loved Him. Jesus called Him. And Zacchaeus followed.

How many people have we not lead to the Lord because instead of loving them, we turned up our nose? Friends, God has forgive you and me of lot. Should we not do likewise?

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Zechariah 11:4-17

We see here in this passage the Lord saying that His judgment would soon be coming upon His people, that He would no longer be their shepherd, that He would no longer protect them. And that is what happened. The people of Israel were judged and and sent into captivity. They received the punishment that their sins deserved.

But, the hand of the Lord was still able to save, as He returned them to the land. Yes, they were taken into captivity, but they were returned home. God's grace was there, even then. We should not trifle with the Lord's judgement. Turn to the Lord while you still can, for there will come a time when you cannot. But, know that that Lord longs to save, longs to redeem, longs to return His people home.

Today, will you turn and return? Today, will you seek the God Shepherd while He may be found?

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 3:10-23

Our foundation must be laid upon Jesus Christ, not upon any other person. We see much feuding and fighting in the Corinth church because the people are taking more allegiance in humans than in God. They are saying, I'm of Apollos, or I'm of Paul. Friend, all humans are imperfect. You must not build your faith upon any person.

You should not go to church because you like the preacher. Likewise you should not not go to church because you don't like the preacher. No preacher died for you sins. Jesus Christ did. You should go to church to worship Him. He is the foundation of our lives, of what we are being built to, of who we are.

Is He your foundation today? All others will pass. He will not.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 18:31-43

We see the image of salvation in this passage. This man received his sight, then he followed Jesus and gloried God. That is what our lives should be like. When we receive our sight from God, we should be praising Him, and following Jesus. You were not saved to sit on the sideline. You were not saved to just take up space. You were not saved to do nothing. If you are saved, you are saved to do something.

Are you doing anything for God today? This man was healed and followed Jesus. How about you?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Podcasts are up

My sermons for the past two weeks have been posted to our church website. You can click here to listen to my last few sermons.

Ordinary Time: Monday, November 27, 1006

All should be back to normal this week! I hope you each had a blessed Thanksgiving.

Old Testament Lesson

Joel 3:1-2, 9-17

Sometimes in the Old Testament (and in the New) there are passages that we just don't know what to think of at first glance. This is one such passage. Here, we have God telling His people to take their plows and beat them into swords, to take their pruning hooks and make them into spears. The weak one should say that they are a warrior. This doesn't make sense, right, since God is a god of peace and love and teddy bears and puppies, right?

Yes, God is a god of love. But, He is also a god of might and strength and power. Just because God had been patient with us, do not assume that this is His final verdict. We will all stand before Him one day and He will judge us. And, these images of the Old Testament remind us that we should not take His grace for granted, we should not take His mercy for granted, we should never forget that He is all powerful, He is mighty, and He will fight for His people and for His way. And woe to those that stand against God.

New Testament Lesson

1 Peter 1:1-12

There is a neat statement at the end of this passage that I've always liked. This salvation given to us by God and through the power of the Holy Spirit, this is something that even the angels long to look at. That is a neat thought to me that this salvation is something given to us, and the angels of God, who have been His messengers for all eternity long to look at this great gift.

They got to announce salvation, they got to announce the birth of Jesus, the Resurrection of Jesus, and all these things, but they were never able to experience it like you and have. How great is this salvation! Even the angels long to look and experience it. Today, no matter what you are going through, you have that joy in your life. If you are saved, you have something that even the angels long to look at! Don't take that for granted.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 19:1-12

Jesus here tells us that when two marry, they become one. That is a powerful notion of what the married life should be. They are to be one. One heartbeat, one dream, one flesh. Now, that doesn't mean they always agree, but they should but that "one" ahead of their own wants and desires.

The surest way to have trouble in marriage, or in any relationship, is to think only of yourself. And, the surest way to make yourself miserable, is to think only of yourself. Today, do you turn attention to others? Do you turn your prayers to others? Do you turn your focus upon others? Or, do you focus only on yourself? Today, may you know the joy that comes from focusing on others above yourself.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Ordinary Time: Friday, November 17, 2006

Happy Birthday to my wife, who for some insane reason still puts up with me. Also, continue to remember Sarah in your prayers; she's feeling better, but still sick. Thomas tested negative yesterday for RSV again, so he'll be fine.

Old Testament Lesson

Joel 2:28-3:8

This is the passage the Peter quotes on Pentecost. Here the Lord tells us that He will pour out His Spirit upon all people, and they will testify to Him. That is what the Holy Spirit does, it glorifies and confesses Jesus Christ. Paul talks about testing the spirits, and that is the test of the spirit, does the spirit confess Jesus Christ and glorify Him?

That is the Holy Spirit does in our lives as well, it causes us to praise God. Today, the Spirit is calling you to obedience to Jesus Christ, and to glorify Him in your life. Today, will you respond to God's call? Will you listen to the work the Spirit in your life? Today, God longs to pour out His Spirit on all us.

New Testament Lesson

James 1:16-27

I believe James may one of, if not the, most important books in scripture for our modern age. James tells us over and over again that faith is not merely in what we believe, but in what we do. It is not just enough for us to talk about about having faith, for us to confess true and correct (orthodox) faith, it is not just enough for us to believe the Bible.

We have to live it. We have to obey it. We have to do it. The problem today is that we have a lot of folks that claim to love Jesus, but very, very few that actually obey Jesus. Our claims to love Jesus are worthless unless accompanied by a life that obeys Jesus.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 16:1-9

This is one of those passages in scripture that has always been a mystery, and will always be a mystery to me. I've read different commentaries, heard different opinions, but never found an interpretation that makes sense to me.

And that is not always bad. A friend told me once that once of the failings of our modern church is that we have tried to explain everything and have taken the mystery out of God. There are some things that we will never understand. There are some things about God that are just "other" and we will never fully know.

That is why it takes faith. That is why it takes trust. That is why it takes belief. Today, even if you don't understand everything, do you trust? For it is that trust and faith that is the mark of our faith.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ordinary Time: Thursday, November 26, 2006

The blogging for the next few days will be a little spotty. My daughter has RSV, which is just a sickness for her, but could be very harmful for our two week old son. So, my wife and son have gone to stay with family for a few days, and Sarah and I get to hang out. That is to say that the devotional for the next few days instead of coming early in the morning will come when she is taking nap.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 15:1-2, 11-32

I heard a preacher say once if you can't preach on Easter, then you just can't preach. I think there's something to that. This is one of those parables that if you can't hear God speaking, then you just aren't listening.

We could talk about the fact that younger brother instead of helping his family takes from it. He basically tells his dad he wishes he was dead so that he could go ahead and have his part of the inheritance

We could talk about how the prodigal has to hit rock bottom before he comes to his senses and comes back home. Sometimes we have to go as low as we can before we realize that we need to come back home.

Or, we could talk about that fact that the older brother resents his father's grace in allowing this prodigal son to come home. After all, he had done all the work, he had been faithful, didn't he deserve more than this? Sometimes those of us that have been faithful to God for many years need to be careful not to resent God's grace to those that are new int eh faith.

But, I want to point out one thing that never caught my attention until I read What's So Amazing About Grace by Phillip Yancey. He read this story to folks that know the culture of Jesus day, and asks what stands out in this passages. They all, to man, replay, the fact the the father would run to the son. The said that in that culture, men did not run, it was seen as beneath them and embarrassing.

We serve a God that runs to us when we repent. He doesn't have to. He could justly make us crawl, groveling on our knees to Him. But, He does not. When we repent, He runs to embrace us. He is a God that humbled Himself, through Jesus Christ, to death, even death on a cross.

The irony is that God would be the one that has reason to be prideful, not us. Yet, it is God that humbles himself. Today, the only think keeping you from God is you. Your sins can be forgiven, you can be redeemed. If you will come. God longs to run towards you. The only thing stopping Him is you.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Ordinary Time: Monday, November 13, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Joel 1:1-13

One of the notions you see a lot in the Bible in terms of judgment is that people need to wake up. Here it tells folks to wake up and see. We see that same notion all throughout the prophets and into the New Testament. People fall deep asleep, and judgment comes.

And, this judgment comes while they are still sleeping, but they do not even wake up to realize that they are being judged. That is, to me, a metaphor for sin. When we are in sin, it is like we asleep; we cannot see. And, when we cannot see, we do not see, not do we care, about the coming judgment. We are too busy within our sin, and that sin has blinded us.

Today, we too should awake. Look around. Take a fresh perspective. See what sin is doing in your life, in the life of your family, in the life of your church. Wake, before the judgement comes. For, once the judgment come, there it is too late to wake.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 18:15-24

We see this notion of judgment continue in the passage from Revelation. God will judge Babylon the great, and punish her for sins, specifically her persecution of God's people. God will intervene in the course of history for His people. Sometimes, we think that things will only get worse, sometimes, we think that thing will continue in the way that they are and they have been. But, we have hope. We know that in the end, evil will not win, but God will. We know that God will step in on the side of right and will protect His people.

To me, that is the message of hope of Revelation. God will win. Good will win. Evil and the devil will be defeated and destroyed. Judgment will come to those that have opposed God and His plan. God will save His people. Today, because of this great knowledge, we have a great hope.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 14:12-24

We see two images in this passage. We first see those that are invited to the dinner, and they refuse to come. Then, we see the poor, the crippled, and the lame, and they are invited in; and they come.

First, those that hear the invitation. We have folks that sit in the pews every Sunday and hear the Word preached, know they are need, know they need to change; but they remain unmoved. They have been given an invitation, and they refuse to enter. There will come a day, when they will be unable to enter; based either upon the hardness of their heart, or that there time has run out.

Second, there are those that know they are undeserving of God's grace, and they run at the first chance to take part of in His grace. The invitation is offered, and they come immediately, and they enter in.

Today, which group are you a part of. Have you heard the invitation so many times that you no longer care? Are, do you hunger and thirst for that invitation of grace that you cannot wait to enter in. Today, which group are you a part of?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sermon Podcast

My sermon podcast for today is up. You can click here to listen to my sermon from this morning.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Great Quote

If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.


Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Ezekiel 24:1-14

The Lord says in this passage that judgement will be given according to our actions. That is a heavy thought. While Paul tells us that there is no condemnation for those of us in Christ Jesus, we must do two things

1. Make sure we are in Christ Jesus. If we are not, then this is mute. Make sure He is our Lord and we are following His commandments.

2. Do not allow His grace to be an excuse to sin. Do not think that merely because He is a loving and forgiving God, that we can and should sin as much as we want. If today, you sinning, thinking that the Lord will forgive, are you really in Him? For, if we are in Him, He will be driving out the sin from our lives. Today, do not take His grace for granted.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 14:14-15:8

One of the things that Revelation shows us is that eternity will be all about praising God. It is interesting, I hear some folks say they don't like church and can worship God without coming to church. That is all nice and good, but what will these people do in heaven? The word of God shows us that heaven will be an eternity of worship of God.

If that is so, shouldn't we start now? Shouldn't we be about praising God now? We will do it for all eternity, if we are in Christ Jesus. Today, does your heart long to praise God? Do you long to spend time with God? If not, why not? If not, is your heart where it needs to be? Today, do you desire to worship Him?

Gospel Lesson

Luke 13:1-9

Today Jesus tell us not to be worried about the things we don't' understand, instead focus on what we do. I can't explain all mysteries. Last night in a small group we aer doing at church we talked about suffering and why bad things happen to good people, and I shared with the group, there is a mystery we just simply do not understand this side of glory will never understand. We have to, some how by God's grace, trust in our God that has suffered as we suffered

Today, Jesus tells the people that they shouldn't focus as much on the suffering they do not understand but instead focus on what they can do, repent. Today, do not focus as much on all the mysteries of life that you do not understand. Focus on what you do. And are you doing those things that you do know? That is what we must be doing.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Podcast is Up

My sermon from yesterday morning is up. I forgot to record last nights, so you missed my brilliant sermon on Psalm 111. But, I think you will survive someone how. You can click here to listen to my sermon.

Ordinary Time: Monday, Novemember 6, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Ezekiel 20:27-44

We see some many times in the Old Testament God give grace to His undeserving people. We see it a lot in the New Testament, and in our own lives as well. But, in this passage, God says, go ahead, worship your idols. If you are going to do these things, do them. Judgement will come, punishment will come. And, I will raise up a people that will be faithful, but if you refused to go and indulge in your sin and receive your judgment, go for it.

There comes a time in our lives when sin and darkness become so great they can overcome us. That is why God despises sin so much, it destroys His children. Today, do not play with sin. Do not allow temptation to abide in your life. Do not allow darkness to make its home within you. Today, avoid evil. Because if you do not, there will come a time when your heart will harden, and you will not hear God's voice. God will still be speaking, but you will be unable to hear. Today, turn from your sin and turn to God.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 14:1-13

We see here in the end of this passage that call for endurance. Revelation teaches us much, but one of the most abiding messages of this book is that of endurance, of perseverance. That we must hold fast and not let go. We must cling to God. No matter how dark the situation may look, hold onto Jesus. You cannot overcome on your own. You cannot slay the dragons that lay ahead on your own. But, through Jesus, all things are possible.

Today, do not let go of Him. Today, do not quit struggling. Today, do not give up hope. Our redeemer lives and will stand with us on the day of trouble. Rejoice, those of you in the Lord, for He is out help in the time of trouble.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 12:49-59

This is one of those passages that does not feed into the sweet little Jesus that is just about making folks feel better and raising their self esteem. Today, He says, I came bring a sword. I came to divide. I came and people have to make a choice. Are you with me, or against me. Are you standing with the kingdom of God, or are choosing your way. He came and He demands we make a choice.

Today, you can be for Him, or against Him, but you cannot have it both ways. If He is not Lord of your life, if He is not the one calling the shots, if He is not the one that makes the decisions, then friend, you need to reexamine your life. He came to bring a sword. He came, and He demands we choose. Today, what will you choose? Will you serve Him? Or will you serve yourself. Today, you must choose.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

The Stoddards

Click here or on the picture below to see more pictures of Sarah and her new baby brother Thomas. Thomas was born Thursday, August 26 at 12:08 PM. He was 7 lbs 7 oz and thankfully is good looking like him mama.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

All Saints Day: Wednesday, November 1, 2006

This is another day in the life of the church, All Saints Day. It has been celebrated since the 4th century. It is a day where we remember those that have gone on to be with the Lord and celebrate their life and their impact upon our lives. Today, take a moment to remember those that have gone onto to be with the Lord, and remember what they have done for you and for your faith. And, above all, thank God for those persons and those memories. And, then, try to make that same impact yourself on the life of another. You can read more about All Saints Day by clicking here.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 21:1-6

This passage is the great hope of eternity. In eternity, in heaven, God will be our God and will walk among us, wiping every tear from our eyes. There will be no more sickness pain and death. There will be no more loss, no more hurt, no more of these things. In eternity, God will walk among us and will be be in our midst. And, we will be in His.

In this eternity, things will be as they should. The former ways are gone, and the way God intended it will be there. And, today, on this day, we think of those that have attained that perfect rest Jesus Christ, and we long for that ourselves. One, day we will cross the Jordan, and will stand on the shore of God. Just as sure as heaven is a reality, so is the reality that one day we will pass from this life into true life. One day, we will stand before the judgement throne of God. One, day, we will come face to face with our savior. One day, we will attain that rest and victory that is intended for the saints of God.

Oh when the saints go marching in, Lord I want to be in that number. That is a song many of us have sang in our lives. But, the truth of it rings true. One day, the saints will go marching in. Will you be in that number?

Gospel Lesson

John 11:32-44

We think that death has the final word. Our world thinks that death has the final word. But, we see in this passage that Jesus is Lord, even of death, and that the grave cannot and will contain His power. He is Lord of all, and for those of us that believe, though we shall die, yet shall we live. We will pass from this earth. We will pass from this life. But, one day, the same Jesus that called Lazarus from the grave will be the same Jesus that will call us forth from the grave as well.

For those of us that believe, the grave is not end. For those of us that believe, this life is not the end, but it just the beginning. Today, rejoice, for we have nothing to fear. Our Lord is Lord, and our God is God. Rejoice, He has conquer sin, death, and the grave, and to those of us that believe, goes this victory. Rejoice, for He is worthy to be praised!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Podcast is up

My sermon from Sunday is posted on our church website. You can click here to listen to it.

All Hallow's Eve, 1517

It was on this day in the year 1517 Martin Luther posted his 95 thesis upon the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. You can read more about this world changing moment in history by clicking here. Why am I blogging about this instead of my usual posts on the Daily Lectionary? It was on this day that the Protestant Reformation began, and those of us that are Protestant (i.e., Methodist, Baptist, any other non Roman Catholic denomination) trace our beginnings to this. Luther felt like the Church had drifted too far and needed to be reformed. He had the courage to begin this process, and through it, the Protestant movement was born, and the Catholic church was reformed.

But, for this to happen, he had to have the courage of his convictions, and do what he felt was right. Quite often, we feel called by God to something, but the challenge seems to be too great for us, so we beg off. Much like Moses with God, I can't speak, send someone else. But, if God is calling you, He will give you what you need.

In spite of great opposition, Luther stood for what he believed. In spite of great opposition, he would not back down. In spite of great opposition, he stood with the power of his convictions. Today, he is an inspiration for each that knows we have seen wrong and can abide by it no more. And, we must stand.

And, one of the 95 thesis (or statements) that he posted was the notion that each of us can go to God, and each of us can interpret the scriptures. I always here folks talk about how tragic it is that on election day, so few folks vote, after all that has been given to give folks the right to vote, all the blood that was shed. I feel the same way about the Word. Do you realize how many folks died and were persecuted to ensure that you and I can read the word each day? Do we take for granted what has been given us in this holy gift?

Luther suffered so that we can stand on the truth of God's Word and go to Him. He stood for what was right, despite the jeers from the crowd. Today, will we do the same?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Sermon Podcast

You can click here to listen last week's sermon, yesterday's should be up in the next day or so.

Ordinary Time: Monday, October 30, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Esther 4:1-17

Sometimes this faith calls for great, great courage, more courage than we may think is possible. We see Esther have to summon that courage today. She knows that if she were to go to the king without being called, she could be put to death. But, Mordecai has one of the greatest statements in all the Word, perhaps you are queen for a time such as this.

God has a better notion of time than we do. We think we have it all figured out at times, be we can't see beyond our next footstep. God has a view of time that is far beyond ours. And, perhaps, He has you where He has you for a time such as this. Maybe you are at your job for a time such as this. Maybe your family is where it is for a time such as this. Maybe the changes in your life are for a time such as this.

Today, seize the day. Seize the moment. Whatever God has for you today, claim it, and do it! Maybe it for a time such as this.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 11:1-14

One of the things we see repeatedly in the book of Revelation is that time after time, God gives people the chance to repent. After every great judgement, we see statements such as this, the people gloated over the deaths, for they were a torment to them. The Word says that God desires that all be saved, and He is patient and merciful, but there is a time of judgment.

Today, God may be giving you mercy. Today, God may be giving you a chance to repent, a chance to turn, a chance to come back to Him. Today, do not let this chance pass.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 11:14-26

When we empty ourselves, we must allow God to fill us. It does no good to strive against sin, if we are not allowing God to fill us. It does no good to desire to improve as a person, if we are not allowing God to do the work. This passages tells us that if evil is driven out from our lives, but the space remains empty, evil will come back, but only worse.

Today, I do not know what you desire to be, but if you not allowing God to shape that vision, you are setting yourself up for a fall. If the Lord fills you, you will be full. If you do not allow God to fill you, the devil and his forces will see that and you do not want him to fill you.

Today, are you allowing God to fill you?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I wanted to let you no there will be no blogging for a couple of days. My wife is going to be admitted to the hospital and have labor induced. This time tomorrow our new son Thomas should be here. Please keep us in your prayers

Ordinary Time: October 24, 2006

Please remember my wife Holly. Still no baby! We have a doctor's appointment in Meridian today and hopefully will know more then.

Old Testament Lesson

Song of Songs 8:5-14

I have read that certain groups of Orthodox Jews would not allow their children to read Song of Songs until they were a certain age because they felt like it was too "mature' for them to read and understand. And, there are times when I think that might not be a such a bad idea! But, in reality, this book paints for us an image of what the love should be like between husband and wife. The love that we should feel for each other should be that great and overwhelming.

But, the reason why it is not for so many is because they go into marriage the wrong way. Instead of thinking, what can I for my spouse, how can I help and love my spouse, they think, what can I get out of it. Marriage, and every relationship in life, is most fulfilling when we aer seeking to serve. When you are seeking the best interest of your spouse, you will find your own needs met. There is no I enjoy in life more than seeing my wife happy, and she feels the same way towards me. And, in that, we find that joy.

Today, are you at peace in your life with relationships? If not, look and see if you are more concerned with getting what you want out of it, or if you are more concerned with serving the other person. Until you learn to serve, you will never find that peace and joy God longs for you to have.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 8:1-13

One thing we see in Revelation is that as God's judgement comes against those who have stood against Him and against His church is that there are moments they are given to repent. Within this passage, we see two such moments. At the beginning, when there is that great silence in heaven, and again as the eagle soars and gives warning. God longs to see people repent and turn to Him.

Today, He longs to see us return. He longs to see us turn back to Him. Leave behind the sinful ways of the past, and come home to Him. Not matter what has been done in the past, we can come home. We can return to the Father. Today, if you are far away, won't you come home?

Gospel Lesson

Luke 10:17-24

They came back to Jesus rejoicing at what they had done, and He said, be happy most of all that your name is in the book of life. Today, take the most joy out of that. Be happy over victories, be happy over abilities, be happy over gifts. But, be most thankful that your name is in the book of life, for that is the greatest thing that we can all attain. Be most thankful that you are God's child.

That is the greatest blessing, greatest gift, greatest name, greatest anything we have in life. Not what we accomplish but whose child we are. Today, if you know and follow Him, you are His. Rejoice over that!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Ordinary Time: Friday, October 20, 2006

Just a Gospel reading today. My wife is clsoe to going into labor. Bags are packed and we are just waiting. Please keep Holly and the baby (Thomas) in your prayers, as well as me and our daughter Sarah.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 9:28-36

We see in this scene who Jesus really is. One of the great things about our Lord is that He desires to know us in a deeply personal way. He longs to have each of us walk with him in a deeply individual and personal way.

But, He is also Lord of the universe. He is the creator all that is, both seen and unseen. He is the supreme force in all the world. Don't forget that. Don't forget who you pray to. Don't forget who you serve. Don't forget who you worship. Don't forget who He is. He is Jesus Christ, Lord. Head of the church, head of our lives, head of the world.

Today, do not forget who you pray to and who you serve.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ordinary Time: Thursday, October 19, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Jonah 3:1-4:11

A couple of things here. This is what hatred does to you. Jonah so hated this people that he was actually angry when they repented and turned to the Lord. He was angry when the Lord forgave, he said that's why he didn't want to go there, he knew the Lord would forgive. That's what hatred can do; it can make you angry when good things happen to others. You can have your heart so turned against someone, you want to see them he hurt. That's where Jonah was at that point, he did not want to see them forgiven, he wanted to see them destroyed.

And we see God's mercy. Not just towards Jonah's enemies, but towards Jonah. Jonah was imperfect, he still had this great hate in his heart; yet God still used him. God doesn't only use the perfect, He will use each of us. His use of us is not dependent upon our perfection, but upon His grace. Today, He was even able to use Jonah to help save the people he hated.

If He can use Jonah, don't you know that He can use you too?

New Testament Lesson

Acts 27:27-44

One thing we learn from Paul's life is that God's plan isn't always easy. We see that it was God's plan for Paul to testify for Him in Rome; but he keeps having troubles, different kings, ship wrecks, etc. Sometimes this road can be challenging.

But, in each hardship, God is glorified. In each trouble, God is glorified. In each tough walk, God is glorified. Today, know that even in your troubles, you can glorify God today. In all that you do, you can give glory to God. Today, His light can shine through you.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 9:18-27

What good does it do us to chase after the riches of the world, if we loose our soul? What good does it do us to have all the worldly possessions, if we loose that walk with God. CS Lewis liked to speak about those things that are eternal being the priorities in our lives. So often, we let things that are passing be the priorities. We let earthy things shape our actions, we let earthly things determine our emotions, we let earthly things determine who we are.

What good does it to have all the riches of the world, if we lose our soul. Today, is you hope, is your identity found in Jesus Christ, or in the world. If it is int eh world, friends, you will be in trouble in this end, for this this world is passing away. Only God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, this God that is three yet one, only this is eternal.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Gospel Lesson

Luke 9:1-17

We see that part of the mission that the Apostles has was simply that of doing good. Wherever they went, they did good. There is something to that. Part of the Christian life is simply the notion of doing good. Wesley put it like this, that we should do all the good we can, where ever we can, as long as we can.

Today, do we do good? In our lives, in our work, in our family, in our actions, in our words, in all that we are, do we do good? Do we try to help? Do we love? Do we forgive? Do we encourage? Do we shine forth the light of Jesus Christ?

If we are not doing these things, then, what are we doing? If we are not making a difference for Jesus, then what is our purpose? We were not put here to just breathe God's air. We were put here for something? Today, are you doing all the good you can?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Jonah 1:1-17

I love what the online bible I use for these devotionals titled this section "Jonah tries to run away from God." How true is that? God sends Jonah to do something he did not want to do. God sends Jonah to minister to people he hated, and that he wished the Lord would destroy. So, God tries to run away from God.

How many of us have done that? God may have wanted us to do something, and we didn't want to; so we ran. I know a lot of folks that God called to the ministry in their teens, but they didn't' surrender until their forties, because they ran. I know folks that stayed away from church for years because God wanted them to do something and they ran. We see in Jonah, a guy that God wants to do something, and he didn't want to do it, so he ran.

But, God caught him. God always catches us. You can't out run God. Today, if He wants you to do something, do it! If He has called you to something, do it! For, He has a purpose and a plan for your life. It's better to be in His plan, even if its in Nineveh, than be out of it, no matter where it is.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 26:24-27:8

Paul today says that he doesn't care if the king is converted quickly or not; as long as he is saved. Some folks come to salvation very quickly. Some folks here one sermon, are witnessed to once, are prayed for once, and then are saved.

Others are not. Others it takes time. Others it takes many sermons, many prayers, many visits. To those of us that are sharing the faith; don't give us. Whether it comes quickly, or slowly, all that matters is that conversion. Whether it comes in a flash or over a long period of time, all that matters is that we do our part. Today, if there is someone in your life, in your family, in your work that you've prayed for for years and seen no change, don't give up. It is not the speed of the conversion that matters; it is the conversion itself. Don't give up.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 8:40-56

We see in both of these healings, things looked hopeless. The woman that was healed had been sick for years and had just about given up that hope; and Jesus healed her. Jairus' daughter had died, and the crowd said, don't bring Jesus, she is already dead. But, death couldn't stop Jesus plan, He raised her from the dead. Both situations looked hopeless. And in both of them, Jesus brought healing and hope.

I don't know what you are going through today. Maybe life is great, maybe it is terrible. But, whatever it is, Jesus can bring hope. Jesus can bring healing. No matter how bad it looks, He can. Today, in Christ, there is hope. Today, do you have that hope?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sermons up!

I was able to post the podcasts of my sermons from yesterday a few minutes ago. You can click here to listen to them.

Podcasting Delayed

The network for our church website seems to be down, and I can't post the sermons from yesterday yet. I'll have them up as soon as I can log on!

Ordinary Time: Monday, October 16, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Micah 7:1-7

We see a couple things of interest here. First, we see in this passage that all the people have turned from God. You may remember form last week that Micah is hardest upon the leaders (political folks, religious leaders). Now, we see why. The people have turned, and now no one is righteous. Now, the people must take responsibility for their actions, but their actions have been partly formed by the terrible leadership from the leaders. Today, if you are a leader (and, you are), your actions affect more than yourself. They affect your children and grandchildren, you entire family, they affect all that look to you in any way. Yesterday, by your church attendance or absence, what did that say to those that look to you? Your actions matter.

And, we see at the end of this passage Micah saying that everyone is rotten. But, he will serve the Lord. Today, it doesn't matter what everyone else does. What will you do? Today, you can be faithful, in spite of everyone else. Today, you can serve God, in spite of others. Today, regardless of how bad you may feel like the world has become, you can be faithful.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 26:1-23

We see here in this passage the beginning of God's plan for Paul to testify for Him in many grand places. In Paul, God had a willing servant. And, because Paul was willing to testify, God used Him. Today, it is not always about how great we are; how well spoken we are; how smart we are. It is about how willing we are. Today, are you willing to be used by God. If so, God will use you.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 8:26-39

This passage is one of the more amazing in all scripture. Not because of Jesus casting out the demons, but rather for the response of the people in this town. They ask Jesus to leave. How strange is that. They ask Jesus to leave. Normally folks asked Jesus to come, or to stay. They ask Him to leave? Why? They are seized with fear. Jesus comes, and He brings change, He brings new life, but He asks us to be changed and transformed And, some folks, instead of changing for new life, would rather remain the same and die.

Today, do you ask Jesus to stay? Or, do you ask Him to leave? They were afraid of this new life, so they asked Him to leave, and they remained dead. Today, do you want life? Today, do you ask Him to stay, or do you ask Him to leave?

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Dark Night

Today's Gospel Lesson is from Luke 8:1-15, and that got me to thinking about the frustration that some folks may have felt when Jesus spoke in parables. Today, He quotes from Isiah, saying that He did this so that some might not understand. That doesn't jive with what we expect Jesus to say and do.

Sometimes with God, it really isn't easy to understand. Sometimes, we are confused. Sometimes we don't know what to do or go. Sometimes it feel like God is not listening, like our prayers are bouncing off the floor of heaven. St. John of the Cross called this the dark night of the soul. Sometimes, we feel like we are all alone in the midst of the night. And all we can have to hold onto is our faith.

It is at that point that we need our faith, for that is what the dark night teaches us; our faith is all that we have to hold onto. In the end, all else falls, breaks, or is destroyed. But, our faith, our faith is eternal. Our faith is everlasting, and our faith will grow only in that darkness.

Today, Jesus tells the disciples that He speaks in parables so that all will not understand. That seems different than what we expect Jesus to say and do. We don't expect Him to speak like that. But, he knows that the road of faith will be hard, and only those that are willing and determined to walk that hard road will find the life that is at the end. To those that overcome, goeth the crown.

Today, don't give up! Maybe the Lord is speaking to you in parables. Maybe you are in that dark nigh of the soul. Maybe your road of faith is hard and rocky. Maye you don't understand. Maybe you are at a loss. If so, hold on. Hold onto you faith, for it will see you through. Hold on through the dark night, for the sun will rise in the morning.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ordinary Time: Thursday, October 12, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Micah 3:1-8

This is one of the weird quirks in the devotional guide I use, according to the list of scriptures I used each morning (which you can find by clicking here), we once again read Micah 3. This time, only verses 1-8. And this is the passage that warns the prophets that had better not lead the people astray; they had better preach what the Lord has commanded them to preach and do as the Lord had commanded them to do.

And, we see at the end of the passage, Micah condemn the false prophets, and then say that he himself knows the Lord is with him and he feels free, he feels confident, he knows that he can do what what the Lord has for him to do. If you are walking with the Lord, if you are in the middle of His will; you too can have that same confidence. Now, notice, Micah did not say the road would be easy, but he knew he was called to this, and he knew the Lord would give him strength for the days to come. Friends, the Lord has called each of us to something, and if He has called, He will give the strength to complete the task Today, do not cast you eyes to the height of the mountain, rather lift up your eyes to one from whence your help comes (Psalm 121).

New Testament Lesson

Acts 24:1-23

We see that Paul is before Felix at this point and the Word says that Felix is familiar with "the way," which is the faith. And, he decides to wait until later to decide this case. This continues the situation where God is working all things out to give glory to Himself. In everything that happens in life; good or bad, we can find a way to give glory to God. We can even give thanks to God during times of trial and suffering, for if we all; these things can draw us closer to God. Today, God is trying to pull you closer to Himself. Will you let Him?

Gospel Lesson

Luke 7:36-50

If we have been forgiven much, we have much to be thankful for. One of the things that we should always remember is that we were not always Christian. There was a time in our lives when we were apart from God. It was at that time we needed God that most. And it was at that time He came to us with love, mercy, and forgiveness. Today, you do not deserve to be saved. I do not deserve to be saved. None of us deserve the goodness and mercy of God. That is why it is grace, that is why it is mercy. It is poured out freely, for you and for me. Today, are we more like the Pharisee wondering why Jesus would let all these dirty sinners in, or are we more like the woman, falling thankful at His feet that he allows us, a dirty sinner, in.

Today, we are nothing more than sinners saved by grace. Do we realize that?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Micah 3:1-13

We see that judgement comes harshest against the leaders; against the political leaders ad the religious leaders, for they have lead the people astray. One of the most dangerous things in life is to know truth, but not obey truth, to know truth, but not teach truth. Those of us that know truth must, must, must, must live it out. It does no go to go do church every Sunday, to know every verse in the Bible, to know all these things, if you don't live it.

And the Word tells us that judgement will be worse for those that know, and do not obey. Today, do you know truth? Do you know how God wants you to live? Do you live like it?

New Testament Lesson

Acts 23:23-35

We see Paul's journey continue towards Rome. We know from reading his letter to the Romans, Paul was anxious to go to Rome and preach. It must have seemed like it was taking forever for this to happen, and Paul may have been growing impatient. But, he kept that patience, kept waiting. Sometimes, the things we want, and the things that God wants for us take time. Sometimes, the hardest answer to prayer is not yet, not no, but wait.

Today, is the Lord teaching you to wait? Are you having to learn the hard lesson on patience? If so, if is for you benefit. It may not be fun, but it is needful. Today, wait upon the Lord, trust in His name. Know that He is at work in all things.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 7:18-35

We see John's disciples coming, saying, are you the one? And how does Jesus respond? Look around, do you see good being done? Do you see the sick being healing, the truth being taught, the poor being helped. Look around, it is obvious, He is the Messiah.

If someone comes to you today and says, are you a Christian, could you be like Jesus and say, look around. Look around my life. Look at my language. Look at my actions. Look at my prayer life. Look at my life, and you will see I am a Christian. Today, I pray that is something that we can all say.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Micah 1:1-9

Micah begins God's judgement against Israel. This was the northern kingdom that began not long after the death of Solomon. Judgement will come against Israel and Samaria will be destroyed. Most of us know the town of Samaria because that is where the Samaritans lived in the New Testament. At this point in the Old Testament, Samaria was just the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel.

And, this city would be destroyed because of the sins of the people. They thought they had build a strong kingdom, but in reality, it was weak and dieing because they had turned from the Lord. When they turned from God, regardless of what the outside appearances were, they doom was sealed.

So is it for us. Regardless of how things look on the outside, if inwardly we have turned from God, we aer setting our lives up to fail. God brought judgement against His chosen people. Why do we not believe that He would bring judgement against us. The old hymn reminds us to "turn your eyes upon Jesus." Today, may we turn towards Him, and in that, find our salvation.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 23:12-24

We see the journey of Paul continue in this passage. God was working all of this out to get him to Rome, where he would preach in the most powerful town, most important city of Paul's day. The Lord was bringing him to that point to be where He needed Paul to be.

Sometimes in our lives, we may be unsure why things are happening as they are; what God's great plan in all of this may be. In those times, hold on. Remember, all things work to the good of those that love Jesus and are called according to His name (Romans 8: 28). Know that God is working in your life, bringing you to the point you need to be for His glory and His plan.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 7:1-17

We see that for many, they did not believe until after they had seen the miracles that Jesus performed. But, Jesus told Thomas after the Resurrection, blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe (John 20: 29). Today, we often want to see things before we believe. Sometimes, that happens. But, other times, we have to believe first, and then we see. The Word reminds us that we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Today, spend more time believing, and you will see. If you must see first, you might not see what you want. But, if you first have faith, first believe, first know in you heart, you will see miracles every day. Today, blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Sermon Podcasts

I've just posted the sermons for yesterday to our church website. You can click here to listen to yesterday's sermons at Coy UMC.

Ordinary Time: Monday, October 9, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Hosea 14:1-9

Here in this passage, the Lord is pleading with the people to repent of their sins; and promising that if they do, they will be forgiven. The Lord wants to forgive us. In fact, sometimes it is harder for us to forgive ourselves for than it is for God forgive us. He willingly gave us His son so that we can be forgiven. The only thing stopping us from being forgiven is us. If we will repent, if we will turn from ourselves, we will be forgiven.

In spite of our many sins, His grace is great. In spite of our rebellion, His grace is greater. God longs to forgive. Will you accept?

New Testament Lesson

Acts 22:30-23:11

Paul was able to stand boldly before all of these religious leaders and give testimony to God. But, he did not stand alone; God stood with him. There will be times in our lives when the mountain ahead of us looks bigger than our ability to climb. The task may seem great than out ability to to do. But, God is with us. He has promised us that when we do not know the words to speak, He will speak for us. When we are unable to climb, He will climb for us. When we are unable to stand, He will stand for us. Today, God had a great task for you. Today, will you allow Him to work through you in a powerful way?

Gospel Lesson

Luke 6:39-49

I was in a Sunday School class one day, and the teacher said something that has stuck with me to this day. You cannot say "No, Lord." For, if you say no, then He is not your Lord. You do not disobey you Lord, or if you do, He had no real authority over you.

Today, the Lord says "Why do you call me “Lord, Lord”, and do not do what I tell you?" Friends, that is the test of our faith. It is easy for us to stand in church on Sunday and say that He is our Lord. It s easy for us to speak with our lips that He is Lord. Do we obey? That is the true test of faith. Do we obey. Why do we call Him Lord, and not obey. If we do that, if we call Him Lord and disobey, He is not our our Lord. IF we do this, then who is our Lord? We are. And, we cannot serve two masters. WE must either serve God, orserve ourselves.

Today, who will you serve?

Friday, October 6, 2006

Ordinary Time: Friday, October 6, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Hosea 10:1-15

Chapter 10 and 11 paint one of the great pictures in all the Bible. Its hard to view one without the other. Without 11, Chapter 10 is pure 100% judgement. Israel has departed from God. They have left Him and have done their own ways; and they deserve every ounce of punishment the Lord gives them.

So do we; we have left His will, we have done it our way, not His. Even the most faithful among us has fallen into sin in their life. And, just like Israel, we deserve God's judgement and God's punishment. That is Chapter 10.

In Chapter 11, God relents. He says, yes, I should and could destroy them, but I love them. I taught them to walk, I have been their faithful God through ages. In 11, He shows us that while their will come a time when His wrath is unfurled; at this moment, He gives mercy. And He longs to give mercy.

Today, no matter where you are in your faith and in your life; won't you take His mercy?

New Testament Lesson

Acts 21:37-22:16

One thing Paul always did was that He used every circumstance in His life as a way to give testimony to Jesus Christ. Everything he did, every way He could, he glorified the One that had saved him. Today, he is brought before all this people, and he knew he had a captive audience. So, he gives his testimony! He knew that every moment of his life could be a moment to point people to Jesus Christ.

So is it for us. Every moment of our lives can be one that can point others to Jesus. Every moment. May we take advantage of each of those moments, may we point others to Jesus with all that we do.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 6:12-26

We see that for God has a different understanding of what it means to be blessed than the world. The world says it is the famous, the rich, the power, these are blessed. Jesus says, no, the poor in spirit, the righteous, the needful. The world says that those that can get anything they want are blessed. Jesus says, no, it isthose that understand that they are dependent upon God that are blessed.

Today, do you understand your need for God? Do you understand that you can do nothing without Him? If so, then you are blessed.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Ordinary Time: Thursday, October 5, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Hosea 5:8-6:6

We see that God is giving the people a warning about what He will do if they do not return to Him. He will bring destruction. He will bring judgement. That is a notion that we must all remember this morning. As much as God is a god of love and mercy, He is also a God, that if we believe the bible, we will stand before in one day and He will judge us. We will give an account to Him for our lives and the way that that we have served Him. He will demand an account of how we have used the gifts He has given us; of how we have been faithful to Him and His church.

And we see in the end what He wants. Not burn offerings, not going through the motions. He wants from us steadfast love. He wants from us the knowledge of God. Today, don't go through the motions and think that is enough. Today, offer God your steadfast, totally committed love.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 21:27-36

We see here once again that Paul's preaching of the gospel is not well received, and he is nearly beaten to death. Quite often, the gospel is not well received. To those of us that are Christians, it is the good news of our salvation. To others, it is something they do not want to hear. That is all the more reason for us to preach it, for they need it. Last night in Bible Study, I shared the words of St. Francis of Assisi, "Preach the Gospel at all times, use words if necessary." Today, in a world that doesn't want to hear, may we preach in all that we do.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 6:1-11

I mentioned earlier that our faith is more than going through the motions; this passage is an example of that. Jesus is healing, doing good, helping others. But, the Religious Leaders say that is not what they are supposed to be doing on the Sabbath. Jesus says, I am the Lord of Sabbath, and He shows us that bringing life is what He is about. Jesus comes to bring life, bring hope, bring healing. He call us to do the same, life for Him, love and serve, not just go through motions. Today, may be live an obedient life, a "life giving" life, a life of service and grace, and may in all that we do, Jesus Christ be glorified.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Hosea 4:11-19

We see here God condemning Israel for its idolatry, and notice how the Lord frames it for them. He compares their idolatry to adultery in marriage. Just like in marriage you make vows to each other, you make promises to each other, so in our walk with God, we make vows and we make covenant.

And just as it is adultery when one breaks those vows to their spouse, so it is it "adultery" when we break that relationship with God. He wants to be inmate with us; He wants to walk with us daily. But, we turn away. We seek wisdom from other places. We seek joy from other places. We seek pleasure from other places. And, we always wind up empty. Only in God, will we find these things. Today, don't search for meaning in the arms of sin; find in the loving arms of your savior.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 21:15-26

We see Paul going into the temple today, not because he had to, but for the unity of the church. Sometimes in our lives, we need to do things we don't really want to do. Not for ourselves, but for others. Paul knew he was saved by Jesus Christ; there was no reason for anything else. But, for the sake of others, he went to the temple. Why? He did not want to be a stumbling block for others.

Today, you can have your way. You can do it the way you want. But, if you are stumbling block, is it worth it? And, if we believe the Bible, then if we are stumbling block to others, God will hold us accountable.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 5:27-39

It is the sick that need a doctor. We are all in need of Jesus' healing. We are all in need of Jesus' mercy. While only the sick need Jesus, we are all sick. Today, do you think you are more righteous than you really are? It is better to understand how sinful you are and find mercy in the arms of Jesus than it is to think you are righteous and in the end find out that you are not.

Only the sick need a doctor. Today, friends, we are all in need of a doctor.