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!