Friday, April 28, 2006

No Bloging Today

Sorry no bloging today. My little girl is sick and we are just hanging out. We'll talk again Monday!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Welcome Fesser!

Take a moment and go check out a new blog, Into the Wild, Blue Yonder. This blog is by a good friend Ron Fesser a United Methodist pastor and Reserve Air Force Chaplain.

Where do Methodists live?

Check out this map showing the population of Methodists across the US. In Mississippi, the lowest one of darkest counties on the East part of the state, that is Kemper county, home of Coy UMC where I pastor.

Our county is one of few counties in Mississippi where a large number of the population is Methodist. But at Coy, a good many people (probalby at least 40-50%) come from Neshoba county, with a few others from Winston, Lauderdale, and Noxubee. Our location has a lot to with that, as we are right on the edge of four counties.

In the reguad, calling us a Kemper County church is correct, but also a little misleading.

Any way, here's the map.

Hat tip John

Easter: Thursday, April 27, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Exodus 16:10-22

We see in this text that the people are to gather only enough manna for that one day. Why just enough for that one day? Wouldn’t gathering enough for two days be prudent? Aren’t we to plan ahead? Yes, we are to plan ahead, the Word says we must first count the cost before we do anything, but this is different.

It is different because this is a matter of trust and of faith. God wants the people to learn that they must trust Him for their everything and that should learn to depend upon Him for their provisions every day. Each day, God will provide. He doesn’t want to them to doubt. He knows that the road they face ahead will be long and hard, and they must learn to trust Him to take care of them.

Jesus told us to do the same thing. “Give us this day our daily bread.” Many of us pray that prayer on Sundays and each day of our lives. We have to ask God each day for our daily bread, trusting in Him to provide. And of course we are talking about more than bread, but every part of our lives.

Today, do you trust Him for the daily things of life? To you trust that He will give you what you need? Has He failed us before? Why would He start now? May He give us our daily bread today.

New Testament Lesson

1 Peter 2:11-25

We see in this passage the Christian must have a proper view of themselves. Because we are free in Christ, we are sometimes tempted to think that we are free to do whatever we like. That is not Christian freedom. Christian freedom means that we are free to do what is right. Part of what is right is a proper understanding of authority.

We all have authority over us. We all have a boss; we all have someone we report to. And, even if we didn’t, we all have God’s authority over us. We must learn to submit ourselves in a Christian way. Christ humbled Himself, even to death on a cross. In the same way we are not to think too highly of ourselves, rather we are to live lives of respect for each other, and for those that have authority over us.

But, who is our ultimate authority? God. He is the one that has the power of live and death, He is the one that is over all. So, let us as Christians live lives of respect and honor for all, submitting ourselves to God and His will.

Gospel Lesson

John 15:12-27

We see Jesus speak to the previous point of submission in this passage, where He says those famous words, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” We are to lay down our lives for those that we love. As a pastor, I am to lay down my life for my church. As husbands we are to lay down our lives for our wives, and as wives we are to lay down our lives for our husbands.

Love does not exalt its self, but rather submits itself. Love serves. Today, is there someone in your life that you love?

When was the last time you told them you loved them?

When was the last time you did something nice for them?

When was the last time you willing “let them have their way”?

When was the last time you laid down your life for them?

Jesus says that there is no great love than this. Today, let us not just talk about love, let us live love. And in the same time, when was the last time we laid down our lives for God and His will? Friends, it is not just enough to talk about it, let us live it.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Easter: Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Exodus 15:22-16:10

We see in this text the Lord perform miracle after miracle for the people, but yet they still doubted, they still grumbled. They desired the certainty of captivity instead of the uncertainty of faith. This new journey into the Promised Land would require that the people trust God. And He would provide for them, but they had to first trust.

The Lord gave them water to drink and food to eat, yet they still doubted. They had seen Him rain plagues upon the people of Egypt, yet they still doubted. They had seen Him part the Red Sea and bring them across, yet they still doubted. And now, they had seen Him give them water and bread, would they still doubt?

We know the answer, yes they would. The Lord had done so much for them, yet they still doubted. How about you and me? What has our God done for us? Do we still doubt? Have we seen and felt Him work in our lives? Do we still doubt? We need to trust in Him today, for the same God that did all of these great things in the Bible is the same God that leads you and me today.

New Testament Lesson

1 Peter 2:1-10

This passage ends with that great statement, once you were no people, know you are the people of God. What a great statement. To those that are God's children, there is no great example of grace than that. We once were not much, but now we are the people of God. We once were lost, but now we are found. We once were separated from God, now we are at peace with God.

And it is God that has has made it this way. He has longed to make us His people. Not because we are perfect, not because we are blameless, but because He loves us. It is His that is the motivating force behind all of this. Today, know that you are loved by God and called by God. Today, won't you follow His lead?

Gospel Lesson

John 15:1-11

Jesus Christ is the vine and for us to produce any fruit, we must stay rooted in Him. When we depart from Him, we fail. When we depart from Him, we wither and die. When we seek to produce good fruit apart from Him, it will not work.

So often we think that we can just "will" a good Christian life. That we can just work hard enough to be who we should be. That we can do it, and then we are plagued with guilt when we find that our best intentions are not good enough. We can never be who we are supposed to be apart from Jesus. Apart from the vine, the branches will die.

But, when we are grounded to Jesus, when we are plugged in, when we remain in Him; He can do great things through us. Today, are you living by your own strength, or by His? Or you living by your power, or by His power? Apart from Him, we can do nothing, but by Jesus Christ working through us, great things can happen.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Easter: Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Exodus 15:1-21

The battle had just been won, and the people celebrated. Their celebration was not focused on themselves, but rather on what God had done. He was the one that was victorious. He was the one that had won the battle. He would go before the people as they went into the Promised Land.

Quite often, we come to God in the bad times, asking for mercy, or strength, or hope, or peace. What about in good times? Do we take credit for the good that happens and lay the blame for the bad upon others? It should be the other way. And good that happens in our lives, God deserves the credit. He is the one that is strong and mighty, He is the one that is to be praised.

New Testament Lesson

1 Peter 1:13-25

We are to be holy. There are too many biblical statements about holiness for us to believe that God doesn’t care about our sin. There are too many warnings about sin for us to think that it is alright if we allow a little sin into our lives. The text today tells us to Be Holy as our Father is Holy.

We cannot make excuses. Today, are you chasing after God’s holiness? Now, we are not yet what we shall be, but we must be striving toward what God wants to make us. We must not be content in our sin, content in our disobedience, content in our lack of faithlessness. How do we do this? Guard your minds (v 13), stay away from the old sins (v 14), and stay bound to Jesus Christ.

The moment we feel temptation coming, we must go in prayer to God. We cannot allow temptations to lie upon our minds and our hearts, and we must stay away from the old sins. Is there something in life that continually causes you to enter into sin? Then stay away from it. We must be holy, as God is. And that holiness is true life. Our sins lead to death, now and eternal, but holiness, God’s life, it leads to life right now, and in the life to come.

Gospel Lesson

John 14:18-31

Peace is what He has left with us. He had promised to give us peace and strength through the power of the Holy Spirit. Today, in what areas of your life is there no peace. . .

No hope. . . .

No joy. . . .

He came that we may have life. Today, what area of your heart, or your life, is there no peace? Today, give that to Him, and receive His peace.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Blogger Troubles

Blogger was having some problems with their servers today, that is why my thoughts were delayed. But, all seems well now.

Easter: Monday, April 24, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Exodus 14:21-31

We see in this passage the people of God won the victory and they were now finally free. Two things come to mind out of this passage. First, it was God that won this victory. All the Israelites had to do was walk where God led. God did all the heavy lifting in this battle.

The same is true for out battles in life. If we try to do it on our own, we will fail. We can't push back the waters. We can't make it where we walk in dry ground. We can't defeat the enemy in our own strength. But, God can. Through the power of the empty grave, the battle has already been won. Through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can share in this victory. We can't do it alone, but by the power of God, we can win those battles in our lives.

Second, they were free at this time, but anyone that knows the Old Testament knows that they would not be free for long. They would be oppressed by other others peoples, and more importantly, they would be oppressed by sin. They had seen God win this battle, yet they would choose to enter into sin again and again. Paul tells the Galatians, it is for freedom you have been set free (Galatians 5:1); do not enter back into slavery. If the Son had set you free, you are free, indeed (John 8:36). Today, live in your freedom; do not enter into the slavery of sin.

New Testament Lesson

1 Peter 1:1-12
Just as gold is purified through fire, so is our faith. Just as gold is tested to find the truth of its worth, so is our faith. It is easy to praise God in the good times; it is much harder in the times of trial. But in those times, our faith grows. It is interesting to read the mystics, through Christians who have had great visions from God, they say that the spiritual life is not about those moments of ecstasy, but rather the spiritual life is about the day to day living. In the day to day, we find God, and in being faithful, we find those moments of great joy.

The same is true for trials. If we are faithful in the good times, when the storms come, we can weather them better. Today, are you being faithful, whatever you condition may be? In times of trial, we can find the grace that we need to grow. In times of trial, we learn to hold onto Jesus. And that is really all that we need to know, good times or bad. Hold onto Jesus.

Gospel Lesson

John 14:1-17

Our Lord promises us that where He goes, we will go also. He promises that He will come back and bring us to Himself. He promises that He will send the Holy Spirit to be with us. He has promised us many great things that will comfort and console us. But, he also reminds us that we must do our part. First, we do not receive any of this but through Him, for no one comes to the Father but by the Son. His promises do us no good unless we are in Him.

How do we know we are in Him? That we keep His commands. Jesus always taught that His children would not just believe, but obey. Today, do you keep His commands? It is not enough just to say that you love the Lord, you must actually love Him, and that love in seen in our obedience. His peace He leaves to His children. Today, are you His child? Do you love and obey?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Easter: Friday, April 21, 2006

Just a Gospel Lesson today, be back full strength on Monday. Have a good weekend.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 24:1-12

This passage has one of my favorite verses in all the Bible. Why do you seek the living among the dead. Sometimes we do that. We seek life in places where life cannot be found. Instead of seeking life in our relationship with God, we seek life in our work. We seek life in our hobbies. We seek like in our bank account. We seek life in our power. We seek life in in our sin. And with all these things we come up empty. We search for life there, and do not find.

Today, why do you seek life among the dead?

Today, why do you seek false life instead of true life?

CS Lewis said that the only thing that God offers us is life. But, what else is there. Why do you seek the living among the dead? Why do you seek life in places where life does not exist. Only in God are we truly alive. Only through being taken into communion and fellowship with Jesus can we find life. But, we only find that life when we give Him our life. We can't hold onto our life and expect to get His life. Only by letting go of our live and doing it our way can we find that true life, that eternal life, that life that comes from God.

Today, why do you seek the living among the dead?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Easter: Thursday, April 20, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Exodus 13:3-10

So much of what the Law teaches the Israelites is to do things that will then teach their children. The knowledge of God that they had was supposed to be passed down from generation to generation.

The same is true for us today as Christians. Some people, such as the great apologist Josh McDowell, are saying that unless we do more to reach the young people, this generation may be the last Christian generation. I don’t know that to be true, but it does give us pause to think. Are we doing all that we can to reach the young? Are we doing all that we can to teach the children? Are we doing all that we can do to pass on this faith on to others?

Think about it. When you were young did someone pass the knowledge of the faith down to you? We should do likewise. A preacher once told John Wesley that he was called to be a Methodist preacher but did not fill called to spend time with children. Wesley replied, then you are not called to be a Methodist preacher. It is vital for the church, it is vital for us, and it is vital for the children that we must pass this faith down to them.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 15:41-50

In the miracle of Christmas, God became flesh, Emmanuel, God is with us! One of the Early Church Fathers wrote “The divine became human so that humans could become divine.” That is what Paul is talking about in this text.

Through one man, (Adam) sin entered the world. Through one man, (Jesus) life entered back into the world. Through Adam, we are each condemned in our sin, through Jesus Christ; we can be freed from our sins and live in the newness of life. Through Jesus, God was drawing us back to Himself. Through Jesus, we will the victory of sin, death and the grave, and through Him our bodies will be resurrected, not in this sinful, broken state; but instead raised to complete and prefect life. All is this it through Jesus, who became human so that you and I could come back to God.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 28:16-20

A couple of things can speak to us today through this passage. First, He is with us. Take comfort in that fact. He is with us. He has called us to great things, but He did not leave us along. He is with us, even to the end of the age.

Second, He has called us to go, make disciples, and to teach them to obey every thing I have commanded you. That is what it means to be a disciple, to obey Jesus. It is not about having warm fuzzys, it is not about having the hairs on the back of our necks raised, it is about obeying Jesus Christ. Now, if we obey Him, will get all the other good stuff and warm fuzzys. But, we must first start with obedience, and we must teach others that while God is love and God does forgive, once you have met Him, He expects you to follow and obey.

We must do likewise. We must follow and obey. Or as the old hymn puts it

Trust and obey
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Easter: Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Exodus 12:40-51

The Lord set for regulations for the keeping of Passover. He wanted it done a certain way. He wanted done in a way that gives glory to Him and shows His holiness. The word Holy means set apart. Notice in this text several times it mentions those that were alien to Israel. If they are just there working for a few days, then they cannot take the Passover. If they want to celebrate the Passover, they must become like the Israelites, they must be circumcised and live as they live.

They could not receive the blessing of the Passover until they became set apart and lived like the Israelites. It is not enough for you and me to say that we want God’s blessings. It is not enough for us to come to church on occasion. Just as those foreigners that wanted to celebrate the Passover must truly live like the Israelites, for us to truly know God’s blessings, we must live like God wants us to. We must live a dedicated live. We must live a Holy, set apart life. Is does no good to say that we want to live for God, and then live like world. We will never know the fullness of God’s grace until we live fully devoted to Him.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 15:29-41

Paul here tells us about certainty of the resurrection, and while we know it will be glorious, we do not fully know what it will look like in all its stripes. We do know that it will be the complete revelation of God’s glory.

There is so much in life that we don’t know, so much in faith that we don’t know. But, think of how much we do know. What do we do that? While we can sit and ponder the mysteries of resurrection for eternity, we do know that Jesus was resurrected, and we do know that we will be as well. How does that affect our lives today? The fact that this life is not the end, how does that affect how we live today? For it must. Our beliefs must impact our lives, or else we are not truly living what we believe.

Our Lord was resurrected. We will be also. How will that shape how you life today?

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 28:1-16

The text says that as the women left the tomb, they were afraid, yet filled with joy. That can describe much of our lives. We have joy because we know what God has done in our lives, but so often there is fear. There is fear over family. There is fear over work. There is fear over security. While we can have joy, we can also have much fear.

In the Bible, when folks encounter an angel, more every time the first response of the angel is “Do not fear.” The Bible also says that perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). Friends, we have nothing to fear today. They were fearful because they did not fully know what God had done. You and I know what God has done; how He has conquered sin, death and the grave. What reason do we have to fear? We have none.

But, we have every reason to have joy. Do you have joy in your life today?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Easter: Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Exodus 12:28-39

They left on the Exodus in great haste. They left quickly. God had told them to be ready, and they were, for when His time comes, you have to be ready to move. God’s time is different than our time, God works in ways that are sometimes different that the way we’d work. But, when we buy into God’s plan and say that we will do things the way that God does, we have to be ready to go when God wants us to.

If the people would have not been ready, Pharaoh may have changed his mind, as he did in the past. If they had waited, the Egyptian army may have caught them. If they were not ready to go, it could have greatly changed things.

So, today, are you ready to go where God sends? Are you ready to go when God tells you to go? He is at work in a mighty way in the world, in the church, and in your life, if you well let him. The Israelites where ready to God when God said go. Are you?

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 15:12-28

Jesus Christ was not merely a good man. He was not merely an ethical teacher. He was the Son of God, the one, as the Nicene Creed says, that is the very substance of God, God from God, light from light. He is God.

And if what we celebrate on Easter is not true, then we are, as Paul said, to be pitied among people. We believe that Jesus was resurrected. That is what we Christians believe. Today, do you believe that? Sometimes we believe things in our minds, but they don’t come through into our lives. Christ was raised from the dead. Do you believe?

Does your life show that belief? It is not just enough to have a belief of something in our minds, but it must show its’ self in our lives. Does the fact that Christ rose from the dead have any affect on the way you live your life? Does it have any affect on the day to day living of your life? He won that victory over sin, death and the grave. Today, does your life show signs of victory? He was resurrected. That should change our lives.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 16:9-20

In this text, we see Jesus appear to several people, and they would go and tell others, but those others did not believe. It wasn’t until many of them actually saw Jesus for themselves that they believe. Now, that is bad, for we believe by faith and not by sight. And, when Jesus came to the 11, He rebuked them.

But, think about this in this way. For you to fully know and enjoy Jesus, you have to know Him. It is not merely enough for me to tell you about Him. You have to have experience His grace for yourself.

For those of us that believe, we must preach that Gospel with our lives and with our word, and we must help others to encounter Jesus. For, that for many will be the means of ultimate belief. We have to do all that we can to allow others to experience His grace. But in that, have we experience it ourselves. We can’t give witness to something that we don’t know. We can’t communicate God’s amazing grace until we know it ourselves. Today, let us believe and encounter God. And let’s help others to do the same.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Easter: Monday, April 17, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Exodus 12:14-27

To me, some of the most beautiful things about the Old Testament are the rituals that God gives to the people. He says, do this in remembrance. Your may also remember that when our Lord instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion, He told us to do this in remembrance as well. And the way God works, the meal He was eating when He instituted the Lords Supper was. . . . Passover. You will see some great miracle happen in the Old Testament and God will say, build an alter or place a stone. And when your children ask, why is that stone in the road, you will tell them of the great things God has done.

He does this because we tend to forget. It is easy to focus on our problems and forget about what God has done. It is easy to focus on our trials and forget how God has delivered us. It is easy to focus on the here and now and forget eternity. We see in this text, God tells the people do this ritual of Passover to remember.

He also says that when the children ask, tell them it is because the Lord delivered you. We are to remember. We must not forget what our God has done for us. We must not forget how He has delivered us in times past. And we must past it down to our children, so that they can remember. And here, these rituals are helpful. We worship God, not ritual. But, remember what these things from the past can teach, remember what these traditions from of old can share. Remember what our God has done in the past. Rm ember.

New Testament Lesson

1 Cor inthians15:1-11

We see Paul write today that because of what He had done in the past when he persecuted the church, he felt like he must work harder. But then, he said that it was not him that worked, but God's grace. That is the mystery of God. God is the one at work, He saves us, He cleans us, He calls us, He does all these things. He is the one at work through grace by the Holy Spirit. He is the author and giver of salvation

But, we have our role to play as well. We don't save ourselves, but we do have choices. We are responsible for our decisions. We are accountable. And we have to be faithful. We must each day put ourselves in a position where God can work through us. Yes, it is God at work, but must make ourselves available. We must do our part. For, we have a part to play. As Paul says later in Philippians 2: 12-13

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

It is God that is at work through His grace, but we must do our part as well. One of the Early Church fathers said that we are "co-laborers" with God on our salvation. It it God that saves, but we are at work with Him. Today, God is faithful, are you?

Gospel Lesson

Mark 16:1-8

The text says today that they left the empty tomb trembling. What better way is there to describe our reaction when we encounter God. Trembling because of His might power and amazing Grace. While we know that He is out best friend, we must never take Jesus lightly. We can boldly approach the throne of grace, but we should always, always remember that He is God, that He is mighty, that He is the Lion of Judah. While we must know Him personally, we must also know that as CS Lewis says of Aslan in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, "He is not a tame lion." He is our God and we must always remember how Holy He is.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday, April 14, 2006

I hope Good Friday makes your Easter that much more wonderful

Old Testament Lesson

Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-33

This is the darkest day of the Christian year, for on this day, our Lord was put to death on a cross for our sins. You know as a child when you are told to go in your room and think about what you've done when you did something wrong? Today is that type of day for us a Christians. We are to think about what our Lord did for us, and reflect upon how even in spite of that, we still choose darkness over light, sin over goodness.

But, even in this dark day, we reminded in verse 23, Jeremiah reminds us that great is God's faithfulness. The cross is about our sin, but it is also about the length that our Lord would go to see us come back home. While we repent of our sin, we also ponder how great the love of our God is for us that He would give us His son so that we could come back home. Today, remember not just the what our Lord endured, but remember why He endured it, because He loves you.

New Testament Lesson

1 Peter 1:10-20

Because of all that our Lord endured, we should want to live differently. We must not be controlled by or conform to this world. We must not believe in what has been called "cheap grace." This is where we take God's grace for granted, where we can sin, and in the back of our mind think, surely God will forgive me, for He loves me!

Yes, our God does love us, and laid down His life for us. But, He did do lay His life down so that we could live like we want. He laid down His life so that we could live like He wants. We are free, but we are free to serve. No one can have to masters, they will love one and hate the other (Matthew 6:24). Today, you cannot have two masters. You cannot serve God and the world. Our Lord did not suffer for us to be divided between God and the world. Our Lord did not go to the cross so that we could play church. Our Lord went to the cross so that we could be truly converted, living for Him.

Today, are we living converted lives? Or are we living with cheap grace? Today, do you take for granted the shed blood of our Lord, and the grace that flows?

Gospel Lesson

John 13:36-38

We see today, that Judas wasn't the only one to betray our Lord today. While Peter may not have turned him over to authorities as Judas did, Peter denied Him not once, not twice, but three times. Peter talked a good game about being faithful and following to the end. But, in this moment, he denied Jesus because He was afraid.

Today, do we talk about how faithful we are? Do we talk about how much we detest sin? Do we talk about being Christian? And then deny, like Peter did? Every time we choose sin over righteousness, we do. Every time we given into sinful talk, we do. Every time we do not stand for truth at work, with friends, with family, we do.

"The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today... is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable."

- Brennan Manning

I shared this quote in my sermon last week, and I share it with you now. Many of us like to say that we are like Peter. Today, is that case? Today, do we deny, as he did. Today, will we repent of those times when we did not stand, and will we vow to stand for Him. Today.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Maundy Thursday: April 13, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Lamentations 2:10-18

We see in this passage, we see in this Holy Week that sin has consequences. Jerusalem was destroyed because of their breaking of the covenant. Jesus Christ suffered and was crucified not because of his own sin, but because of our sin. We suffer loss and pain in our own lives because of our sin.

Sin will destroy you. It will be our undoing. It will take from us everything, and will would eventually kill us in this life, and send us to hell in the next life. The question is, if we know that sin is so bad, why do we keep doing it? Why do we choose wrong? Why do we do the things that we should not? Why do we choose darkness over light?

Because without Jesus Christ, we can do nothing but sin. Apart from Him, we cannot stand against evil, we cannot stand against sin, we cannot stand against temptation. Today, on this Maundy Thursday, the day we remember the betrayal of our Lord, how do we betray Him? Today, do we use His power to stand against sin, or do we ignore Him, and choose our sin?

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 10:14-17, 11:27-32

One of the greatest gifts that our Lord gave to us on Holy Thursday was the gift of Holy Communion. He took the bread and the wine and broke it, saying this is my body, this is my blood. Through the receiving of this sacrament, we receive grace. When you receive the bread and the juice, through these things God will give you grace. Through these things, He will speak to you. Through these things, our Lord brings you to His table, which is a foretaste of what the heavenly table will be like.

This is all grace, the gift of our Lord. We should, though, make sure we have looked within our own hearts before we come to the table, and repent of our sin. None of us are worthy to come. No one is worthy to come to God. You don't have to be perfect to come to communion, you don't have to be sinless to come to communion. If that were the case, no one could come. God makes us worthy to come to the table.

The bread and the juice; through these things our Lord will speak to us and give us grace. He has given us many gifts, but this is one we should never take for granted.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 14:12-25

We see how important Communion is in that it was the very last thing all the disciples did together. It was the last act our Lord shared with them before the betrayal. All the teaching, all the lessons, all these things were done throughout His ministry with them. But, what was the last thing He left them with? His supper, the Lord's Supper. Tonight, at Coy, we will remember His betrayal and celebrate the Lord's Supper. This goes out through email and the web to lots of folks. Where ever you receive this, tonight, if you are not able to be in God's house to celebrate communion, I pray that where ever you are, you can remember what our Lord did for the forgiveness of our sins, and you can remember what He had given us through communion as a means of grace. Today, may we never forget.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Holy Week: Monday, April 10, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Lamentations 1:1-12

This book of the Bible maybe the hardest one to read. This book records the weeping and bitterness that comes from the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon. For the Jewish people, Jerusalem was the very home of God, it was the temple. And for this to be destroyed meant, to them, that God had abandoned them.

And why had God done this? Why did this destruction come? Because of there sin. All the pain and loss they were experiencing was because of their sin.

That is what we remember this week. We remember and we live the pain that our sin has caused. How much pain has your sin caused for others? How much pain has your sin caused for yourself? How much pain has our sin caused for God? We have much to repent over, much to sorrow over, much to seek forgiveness us. In this Holy Week, let us remember that our forgiveness was bought with a price. Let us remember the pain we have caused all that we love and ourselves through our sin.

New Testament Lesson

2 Corinthians 1:1-7

Until we feel sorrow for our sins, we can't receive the comfort that comes from God. Until we realize how much we need forgiveness, we can't truly know what it is like to be forgiven. We take for granted God's grace, and we forget just how amazing it it. The reason why God's grace is amazing is because He forgives us. For this sentence to produce joy in you, you must first know how much need that forgiveness. Sometime we forget. The Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman has a song "Remember Your Chains" where he writes these words:
There's no one more thankful to sit at the table
Than the one who best remembers hunger's pain
And no heart loves greater than the one that is able
To recall the time when all it knew was the shame
The wings of forgiveness can take us to heights never seen
But the wisest ones, they will never lose sight of where they were set free
Love set them free
This week, thank God for your salvation and forgiveness, but do not forget what He has saved you from.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 11:12-25

On Monday of Holy Week, we see Jesus clear the Temple. The Temple was supposed to be a place to worship God; a place to offer prayers. Instead people turned it into a place to make money, a place to get what they wanted out of it.

Church is supposed to be a place to worship God; a place to offer prayers. What have we turned it into? Is church more about God, or more about us? Is church more about what we want or what God wants? In our church, aer we more focused on the mission of God, or our we more focused on our preference. In our church are we more focused on the call of the Gospel, or are we more focused on doing things the way we want. In our church, are we more focused on obedience to God, or doing it our way. If Jesus came to our church today, would He come with arms wide open, or would He come with a whip?

Friday, April 7, 2006

Lent: Friday, April 7, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Exodus 9:13-35

Sometimes in life we make decisions that are bad. Sometimes we are heading down the wrong street. Sometimes we can even see how it might end. But, if we are trapped in our sin, we don't care. Pharaoh had seen enough by this time to know that God wasn't kidding, He would do what He said He would do. And, for a moment, he had conviction and knew he was wrong. But, he had no real desire to change.

Repentance is not just conviction of sin, repentance is doing something about it. Today, is there sin in your life that you feel conviction of? Maybe you have been unfaithful to God, or to church. Maybe there is a sin in your life that you are convicted of. Maybe there is something that you need to give to the Lord. Friends, feeling bad about it does not amount to anything, unless it produces action. It is not enough of feel bad about you sin, you must do something. Today, do not mistake conviction of sin for repentance of sin. The Lord demands that we repent, that we change. And that change must come in the form of a changed life, which is possible only through the power of the Holy Spirit.

New Testament Lesson

2 Corinthians 4:1-12

We are merely jars of clay, objects that God chooses to use. But, what an honor to know that we can be used by God! What a privilege to know that today, the God of heaven desires to use you in a powerful way. Sure, we are not perfect, sure, we are not yet what we should be. In spite of all of that, God will use you today. In fact, our imperfections are used as well, for they show the power of God's grace to use even you and me. Today, open yourself to God and allow Him to use you in some new and might way. While we may just be jars of clay, we are jars that our God can use.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 10:32-45

We see in the text today that once again the disciples just don't get it. They are arguing amongst themselves over who would be the greatest; and Jesus replies, that he who is the greatest must serve.

In the world, you become great by power, by doing whatever you have to do get ahead. You lie, steal, and cheat, whatever you can to get what you want. Greatness in the world comes from titles, or from rank, or from fear, or from power, or from authority.

The church doesn't work that way. Christians don't work that way. The way to greatness in God's eyes is not through power, but through service. The way to power is not through bullying, but through washing some one's feet. The way to lead is to be servant of all. As Christians we should not live like the world, we should not think like the world, we should lead like the world. To be greatest, you must serve.

Today, how to you chase after greatness? Is it through political games at work? Is through being a bully? Is it through anything like this? As Christians, the only greatness we should seeks comes from serving others and serving our Lord. If we do that, God will take care of the rest.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Lent: Thursday, April 5, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Exodus 7:25-8:19

In the plague of frogs, Pharaoh's magicians were able to replicate what God did through Moses. And, once again, Pharaoh didn't act. But, this time he told Moses that if he would get rid of the frogs, then he would let the people God. So, Moses prayed, and the frogs left. And then Pharaoh changed his mind. Once he got the relief that he wanted, he went back on his word.

How many of us have promised to God, oh, if you just get me out of the situation, then I'll. . . . How many of us have kept our word to God? How many of us have went back on what we promised to do. There are many, many dangers in this, but the primary one my be what happened during the plague of gnats.

In this plague, even Pharaoh's magicians said this was the work of God. But, he didn't believe because his heart was hard. If we go back on what we promised, if we don't believe and follow, if we take God for granted, we run the risk of hardening our heart to the point that it will be terribly difficult to soften. Now God's grace can soften even the hardest heart, but we must want it to be softened. Going back on our promise to God so many times places us in a place were we might be so scared with sin we might not even recognize that our heart is hard. Today, what have you promises.

Today, why are you doing, or not doing what you promised when you were in a tight spot?

New Testament Lesson

2 Corinthians 3:7-18

For those of us that believe, the veil of separation has been removed and we can come to God. We each have access to God; we don't have to go through anyone to receive that access. For all the believe have the freedom to go before God. Today, are you taking advantage of that freedom? Today, are you going before God, seeking His face? Today, are you boldly approaching the throne of grace? Because, you can. Today, take advantage of the freedom and grace God has given you. Today, go to Him.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 10:17-31

I just noticed something in this passage today that I never noticed. In verse 21 it says that Jesus looked at the rich young man and loved him. Jesus' action today in telling him to sell all that he had and give to the poor was based out of love. He knew that this young man needed to be freed from all that he had. Most of the time, the more stuff we have, the more in chains we are. That is why He said it is harder for camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven, for the rich may be more bound to their stuff (money, possessions, whatever) more than they are bound to Jesus.

And we think, yeah, those rich get what they deserve because we don't see ourselves as rich. Compared to the rest of the world, you and I are very, very rich. The question then becomes, not do the rich love the stuff more than they love God, but do you and I love our stuff more than we love God. Today, if our Lord told you to sale all you had and give to the poor, what would response be? Today, is our love for worldly possessions greater than our love for our Lord?

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Heavy is the head that wears the crown

In life, there are things that happen, things that you recieve that you really are not just worhty of. This is one of them. Finishing first in the Methobloggers Bracket Challenge is a honor that I am proud to recieve. It is also nice to beat Bro. Greg, but is really just icing on the cake. Just think, next year Ole Miss will make the Big Dance, and then I pick them, as well as hopefully repeat!

Lent: Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Exodus 7:8-24

We see a couple of interesting things in this passage. First notice that Pharaoh's officials could do signs as well. They were able to do the exact same thing that Moses and Aaron did. Many of us at time want signs from God. But, we should always seek to listen for His voice, for there are times when we can misunderstand signs, and as in the text today, the may be times when there are false signs. But, God's voice is never false, God's voice is never misleading. Listen to voice, above all things, and you will know the way to go.

Second notice that Pharaoh's heart is hard. And at this point, God isn't doing it. Now, the text says it became hard as God had said; but God had not hardened Pharaoh's heart. First, Pharaoh' made the decision to harden his own heart. God in His foreknowledge knew this would happen. Then, later God harden his heart. What does this mean for us? Our choices have consequence. Today, Pharaoh' chose to harden his heart, and that decision had consequences for later God hardened it for him. Today, remember each of your decisions will have consequences, and pray for wisdom to choose wisely.

New Testament Lesson

2 Corinthians 2:14-3:6

There is a different between humility and low self worth. We often mistake them. To think that we must be humble, we sometimes think that meas we must think that we are nothing. That is not humility. Humility is "self forgetfulness." It is about forgetting about yourself and focusing on others.

We are to be humble. But, we are also to remember that we are made in God's image (Genesis 1:26), that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), and that we can boldly approach the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). We must not think too highly of ourselves, but we must also remember that we are God's children, created for a purpose.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 10:1-16

We see in Jesus what matters the most is what is upon our heart. In divorce, he was saying that it is not an "easy out," as it was at times under the law. Jesus says that he came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. And, the standards He sets for Christians is actually harder than the "old law," for it deals with the heart. Our inner heart determines our outer appearance. We must make our heart right, and then our lives will conform to what God wants.

And after this He picks up a child and says that heaven belongs to such as these. We are to have that childlike faith, that childlike trust, that childlike love. And that friends, comes from the heart. Today, how his your heart? As important as your actions are, they must flow forth from what is on your heart.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Lent: Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Exodus 5:1-6:1

God's plan isn't always painless. To get to where God needs us to be sometimes there will be hardship involved. There may be tears and hurt involved in God's plan. That's because God's plan is not ultimately about making us happy, it is about giving us life. When we come to God, He may requite that we get rid of certain things; we may go through certain trials. There may be a hard road ahead.

But, even in this, we can be joyful. The Hebrew slaves, in the short term, had a tougher timer. But, God's plan wasn't in the short term, it was in the long term. He had their best interests in mind, and their best hopes in mind. He had there good in mind. Today, I don't know what you may be going thorough; but I know this. All things work to the good of those that love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Today, keep the big picture in mind, and know that God is at work in a big way in your life, and if you will allow, will do more than you could ever imagine.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 14:20-40

God is a god of order. Everything has a purpose and a plan with God. This passage continues Paul's talk about worship and he says that worship should be ordered. I believe the greater point he is making is not all of worship should be "scripted" if you will, but that we should remember that in worship, we are not the only ones there. There are other folks in worship, and we are to worship with each other. There is time for individual praise and response and there is time for the community to lift it's voice as one. That's one reason why I like our songs and there responsive parts of worship; in those moments are individual voices are blended together as one in worship of God.

And that is what worship is ultimately about. Worshiping God. That is what we are there for, and that is God's plan for the church; to worship Him.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 9:42-50

It this passage we see the practical application of the concept of living together. It is not just that we worship together, but that our lives are intertwined. How I live affects you. The decisions I make affects everyone in my life. If I live in such a way that causes others to sin, then I really need to examine my life and to repent of that. How we live will affect each other. Today, are you living in such a way that drives people to God or away from God. That is what our lives can do. Today, what statement is your life making? We need to make sure that through our lives we are drawing others to God.

Monday, April 3, 2006

Lent: Monday, April 3, 2006

Old Testament Lesson

Exodus 4:10-31

There is a saying that I know to be very true. God doesn't always call the equipped, He equips the called. Today, Moses is called by God for this great task, and he says that there is no way that he can do it. He says that he is slow of speech. I love God's response. First he says, don't know you know that it is I that gives you the very ability to talk. Think about that. If He calls you to speak, and you think that you can't do it, remember, He is the one that gave you the very power to speak. He is the one that gave you the very breath in you lungs. If He has called you to something, He will give you the power to do it. He will equip you for the mission.

And then, He gives Moses someone to speak for him. Aaron, Moses' brother comes back on the scene. If God calls you to something, He will not send you out alone. He will provide brothers or sisters to go with you. Our task as a Christian requires that that we walk this road together. We need each other, and God knows that. Be mindful of those that He will send to you to help you with your calling.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 14:1-19

Today, Paul talks about the gift of tongues. If you read this passage, you see that while he is talking about the gift of tongues, he is also talking about the greater purpose of that gift, which is to edify and build up other believers. We are to use our gifts, whatever they may be, it give glory to God and to build up His body. The emphasis in this passage is on tongues, but this is true for all of the gifts that we have. We were not given our gifts and talents to merely look good on the shelf; we were given them to use for God's glory and for the good and purpose of the church. Today, are you using your gifts for that purpose? Remember, they were given to you for a reason.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 9:30-41

We see today in text, that Jesus does not value the great and the glorious. He says that if you want to become the greatest, you must serve. He says that we must become like a child. He says that even a cup of cold water in His name is of great importance. We all want greatest. We all want glory. What we should strive for is to be faithful. If we are faithful that is the true sign of greatness. If we are faithful, then we are doing what He has called us for. Even a cup of cold water in His name.

Today, are you faithful? You may say, I don't have much. I'm not Billy Graham. No, but you are you, and God is gifted and blessed you in amazing ways. Are you faithful with what He has given you? Are you faithful to Him in all that you are? Because, that is all that He really asks of us. If we are faithful, He will take care of the rest.