Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Lent: Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

Deuteronomy 9:13-21

We see here Moses telling the new generation about their sin and the golden cafe. Deuteronomy was written after Exodus and Leviticus, it is the second giving of the law. During the wilderness, the older generation died off and a younger one would be the ones to take possession of the land. Because of this, the law is restated so that it will be fresh on their minds, and it will be theirs as well.

And, part of this is a retelling of their sin. It is good for us to remember not just the good, but to also remember the times when we have messed up. Why? It keeps us humble, and it reminds us how we are here only by the grace of God. Steven Curtis Chapman has a song entitled "Remember Your Chains", and I love the chorus of that song:

Remember your chains
Remember the prison that once held you
Before the love of God broke through
Remember the place you were without grace
When you see where you are now
Remember your chains
And remember your chains are gone

Today, remember who you are, by God's grace.

New Testament Lesson

Hebrews 3:12-19

We see here in Hebrews what had happened to those that hardened their hearts in the wilderness. They never entered into God's rest of paradise. And, we are warned, don't do the same. They knew better, yet they hardened, their hearts. They knew better, yet they choose sin. They knew better, yet they turned away from God. And, they suffered great consequences for it.

We too, know better. We know to choose right over wrong. We know to choose God over sin. We know what is right, we know what to do. Do we do it? Do we choose what God would have us to do? Or do we choose our way? They choose their way, and wandered in the wilderness. What will we choose?

Gospel Lesson

John 2:23-3:15

We see that our life comes not just from flesh and blood, but must come from above. We must be born again in terms of belief. We have a birth in terms of life upon the earth, but there must come a time when we have to have a spiritual birth, where we claim what God has done for us as our very own. Some of the moments can be very dramatic, some can be very laid back. It can happen in church, it can happen at home, but for each of us, there must be a moment where we realize that salvation comes not from ourselves, but from God has done for us through Jesus Christ, and we choose tobelieve in that.

Today, we are all alive, but are we spiritually alive? Have we believed in Him and allowed Jesus to be the leader of our life and our very king. Today, do we have that second birth?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Lent: Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

Deuteronomy 9:4-12

One thing we see over and over again as the people come forth to take the land is that the Lord keeps reminding them, it is not because of your righteousness that you are getting the land. It is because of the sin of those in the land, it is because of the Lord's faithfulness to His Word, it is because He is true to His promises and covenant. It is not because of their righteousness.

Those of us that are faithful sometimes can fall into the trap of thinking that we are better than we really are. Especially when we look around and see such in the world. But, it is that point that we should feel most sorrowful for our sin, for we know better. And yet, we keeping sinning. We must remember that just as it was for the Israelites so is it for us. We are not here based off our own righteousness, we are here based off the mercy and grace of our Lord.

New Testament Lesson

Hebrews 3:1-11

And, just like the Israelites, God is calling to us today. That is what Hebrews tells us this morning. Just as in old times, the Lord called out to the Israelites, so today does He call out to us. And, just like them, we must make a choice. Will we follow, will we respond? Or will we harden our hearts? Will choice our way and our over His? Or will we do what He wants.

They choice their way, and they wandered for 40 years. What will we choose today?

Gospel Lesson

John 2:13-22

One of the concepts we have forgotten is that of righteous anger. Sin should make us angry. Things that are not right should make us angry. We should not be pleased with the way that things are now, and we should have a righteous anger about it. If we can see sin our lives, or sin in the world, and feel nothing, that is not good. We must not, we cannot be apathetic about sin. It must bother us. It must be like that splinter in our finger that irritates us. It must something that we cannot abide with. It must be something that we must feel the need to do something about.

If sin does not bother us, that is not good. What Jesus saw in the Temple drove Him to action. Does the sin that you see cause you to do the same?

Monday, February 26, 2007

Lent: Monday, February 26, 2007

Every saint has a history and every sinner has a future.


Lent: Monday, February 26, 2007

Just a quick quote today, but its one of my favorites.

Every saint has a history and every sinner has a future.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lent: Thursday, February 22, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

Deuteronomy 7:6-11

We see in this passage that God is not the lucky one, but we are. God did not choose us because we are worthy or particularly outstanding. In fact, it is the other way around. God chose us in our weakness. He chose us not because we are perfect, but because we are not. He choose us not because we are outstanding and strong, but He choose us because we are weak and frail. He choose us because we could not do it ourselves.

So, when we have a victory, when we have a triumph, when we do what we are called to, We don't deserve the praise. He does.

New Testament Lesson

Titus 1:1-16

We see here Paul rebuke people because they honor God with works, but their actions are far away from God. That is our challenge during this season of Lent. Do our actions match our words. We are called to make sure that we live what we say that we believe. Do we do that? We must make sure that we do.

Gospel Lesson

John 1:29-34

He is the Lamb. The lamb is offered as a sacrifice for sin. He was God's offering for sin. Do we accept that? Do we honor the Lamb? Do we worship the Lamb, for He is worthy. During Lent, will we focus on that? Will we focus on what God has done for us through Jesus?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first Day of Lent. Lent is the season of the church year where we focus upon Christ's suffering and death, and we focus upon our sin. We are all sinful, we are all in need of forgiveness, we are all in need of salvation. This period lasts from today until Easter. And, I encourage you to in this time reflect upon the areas of your life that are in need of redemption and conversion, the areas that we withhold from God, the areas in life that we need to repent of. For Christ suffered and died for our sins. Will we take that work for granted? Or will we allow the Holy Spirit to be at work in our lives bringing about growth, repentance, and conversion.

Old Testament Lesson

Jonah 3:1-4:11

We see the people of Nineveh repent, and then we see something surprising. Jonah is upset by that. He doesn't want God to have mercy on them. He wants God to bring judgment for their sins. And, of course, God says He will have mercy on who He has mercy.

I think we are often like Jonah. We want mercy for ourselves, and judgment for other. When we sin, we have excuses. When others sin, they deserve punishment. God longs to have mercy on all that are in need. And, if we look in the Word, the only group that does not receive mercy are those that will not ask. We are all in need of mercy and forgiveness. We are all in need of God's grace. We are all in need of repentance. No one can stand before God based on their own worth. We can stand only on the blood and work of Jesus.

Today, will be be like Nineveh and repent, or will we think that we have no need for that.

New Testament Lesson

Hebrews 12:1-14

We see what Jesus endured for our sake. We see the suffering and death and blood. All for us. He took the cross. For us. He suffered the shame. All for us. He was beaten, bruised, spit upon, mocked, insulted and nailed to a cross. All for us. He did this willing. For us.

And, we don't come to church because we are tired. We don't witness because we are ashamed. We don't pray because we don't have time. While Jesus never said a word, we are full of excuses.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 18:9-14

We see that the tax collector was justified not based off his worth, but off the fact that knew he needed mercy. We often think that we are stronger than we really are. Or, we think, I'm bad, but I'm not as bad as "so and so." We cannot compare ourselves to others, we can only know that we are in need. We are like the tax collector, and all we can do is say, Lord have mercy.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Fat Tuesday

Today is Fat Tuesday, or as it is know in some places, Mardi Gras. It was a day to feast before Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent, when it is tradition to fast as remember the suffering of our Lord. You can click here to learn more about Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. Tomorrow is the beginning of Lent, I would strongly encourage each of you to fast from something between tomorrow and Easter as a way of remembering the suffering of our Lord. It can be food, but you can also fast from some activity in your life that you enjoy. This is done as an act of self discipline, but also as a way to remember. Click here to find out more information about Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent.

Epiphany: Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

Deuteronomy 6:16-25

It is important what we do. The rituals of our faith matter. They are teaching moments to our children. Dad, why do we say the Lord's Prayer? Mom, why do we read the Bible each night. When we live out our faith in front of our children, it should cause them to want to know why we do certain things, and it is a chance to teach them and raise them in a Christian manner.

We must take care to live our faith in front of everyone, though, not just children. We must live our faith in a way that is someone doesn't know the Lord, they may ask, why do you do that, why do you do that? What is that about. And that gives us a chance to explain and give witness to our faith.

But, that means our lives must different. There must be something about us that is different from the world. If we are no different, we have nothing to explain. And, if we have nothing to explain, then, we are not living out the faith as we should.

New Testament Lesson

Hebrews 2:1-10

I love the line in this passage, "so great a salvation." Our salvation is a great and glorious thing. It is something that we did not work for, that we do not deserve, that we cannot earn. It is something freely given, something that can be the hope and joy of our lives, something that will change our lives and cause us to truly live.

How can we neglect such a thing? How can we not live thankful obedient lives. For, if you have been saved, you are saved. How can we take such a miracle for granted?

Gospel Lesson

John 1:19-28

John went out pointing the way to Jesus. At the end of the day, that is our job as well. We are to point the way to Jesus. We are to proclaim His salvation and say to a dying world, He is the one that is worthy, He is the one that will save, He is the one that deserves glory, He is the one that deserves praise.

We are simply to be an arrow, pointing to heaven.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Epiphany: Monday, February 19, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

Deuteronomy 6:10-15

One of the greatest dangers we can face is that we can forget about God. We get so busy that we forget. And, we start to think that God doesn't matter. The Word warns us against that today. God says do not forget that it was I that gave you this land and these houses and these vineyards. Do not think you have done it on your own. I did it for you, and you must remember that and serve me.

But, the people did not. They thought they did it through their own strength. They thought they deserved credit for the great things they had done. After all, they had won victories, they had done much. They had forgotten it was God that had do it through them. They had forgotten.

Today, do not forget about God.

New Testament Lesson

Hebrews 1:1-14

In the book of Hebrews, the author goes through, making a list of people and things that Jesus Christ is greater than. There was debate among some people at that time that while Jesus died for our sins, we still had to keep the Law, right? Or, while Jesus died for our sins, we still had to do this, or that. Surely just believing in Him was not all that was required.

We want to work our way in. We mistake religion for relationship. We think that if we just do enough, then that will be what is required for us to enter into God's heaven. But, that is not true. While, there are things that our faith requires of us and that we must be doing, it starts with faith. It starts with belief. It starts with that relationship. That relationship must be the foundation of our lives, and everything else must flow from it.

Gospel Lesson

John 1:1-18

The Word became flesh and lived among us. Maybe the most powerful words in all the Bible. The Word of God, the logos of God, the Son of God, God Himself, became flesh and lived here with us. Lived among us. Suffered as we suffer, cried as we cry, hurt has we hurt. He did this to teach us how to live, how to love, how to serve. He did it do die for our sins, and be raised from the dead. He did it to win the battle over sin, death, and the grave.

The Word became flesh and lived among us. We have much to be thankful for.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Epiphany: Thursday, February 15, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 65:1-12

We see quite often in the prophets there is a mix of judgment and salvation. Judgment will come to those that turn from God's gracious offer of salvation, but salvation and hope will come to those that accept. And, we see here in this passage that God is longing to offer salvation and to have folks accept it. God is not a god looking to punish folks or banish them, in fact, God is a god that desires that none should perish. He longs to see all come to a saving knowledge.

But, all God can do is offer. He cannot accept it for us. We must do that. His offer of salvation does you no good if you will not accept it. But, without, we are hopeless, in this age and in the age to come.

New Testament Lesson

1 Timothy 4:1-16

The Word says to train yourself in godliness. You are not godly just because you want to be. You are not holy just by wanting to be. Too many of us mistake wanting to be a Christian for actually being a a Christian. It is not enough to want it, we must do it. We must train ourselves. I'm sure each of us today that is reading us wants to be a Christan and enter into God's kingdom. Are you training for it? Are you doing the things that God has commanded you to do?

When was the last time you

Read your Bible?
Worshiped God in Church?
Took your family to Church?
Shared your Faith?
Helped Someone?

We all want to think that we are going to be welcomed by God. But, if we are not doing the things that He wants us to do and living as He wants us to live, are we really His children?

Gospel Lesson

Mark 12:13-27

God is the god of the living. I love that passage. All that come to God will have life, now, and in the age to come. Right now, each of us can be alive. We can have life, no matter our context or our problems or our failure or our weaknesses. Right not, at this moment, we can live. How awesome is that? Right now, I hope each of us is a live, and know the joy and peace and grace of our Lord for this moment, and for all our lives.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Epiphany: Tuesday, Febuary 14, 2007, aka St. Valentines' Day

For a useful link that tells about St. Valentines' Day, you can click here

Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 63:15-64:9

Notice even in this passage of confession, Isaiah never believes that God has left him. Now, he may leave God and leave God's presence, but God is always there, always willing to repent, if we will confess. Phillip Yancey once wrote that there is nothing we can do to make God love us any more; there is nothing we can do to make God love us any less. He simply loves us.

Now, we can get ourselves into trouble, we can wander, we can backslide. But, God will allow us to return, if we will confess and repent. The problem with sin is that it will harden the heart, and make us not want to return, not want to confess, not want to repent.

Today, is there sin in your life that you simply don't care about? That simply doesn't bother you at all? Maybe you need to look around, look in your own heart, and make sure you still know where you are. You may have wandered to far. And, today, it may be the day for you to come home.

New Testament Lesson

1 Timothy 3:1-16

We see with this passage about leaders in the church that it is not just enough that they come to church and are faithful to church, but they must be faithful in all their lives. They must be faithful in their actions with others; they must be faithful in their resistance of sin. They must be faithful in the management of their family.

It is not just enough for us to come to church. We must be faithful in our lives. Our faith must not be just a Sunday thing, it must be an everyday thing. We must not allow church to be the only time when our faith shines through; it must shine through and effect every part of our life and every part of who we are.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 11:27-12:12

We see in this parable of the wicked tenants that even after the King sent His Son to them, they still would not respect the King or do His wishes. In fact they killed the Son, mistakenly thinking that would allow them to receive the inheritance. All the King had wanted was what was rightly His, but they refused to give it,and were destroyed.

The Lord has sent us His Spirit, His Word, His Church, His Son, His everything. Have we responded? Have we given Him what is rightfully His? He has sent of example after example and message after message. Will we respond?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

All Methodist Controversy Will Now Be Solved!!!!!!!

John Wesley has a blog

Epiphany: Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Just a quick thought today:

"God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing." CS Lewis

Today, may you remember that ultimate joy comes not from work, or hobbies, or money, or anything else. It comes only from God. And, if you seek peace in anything other than God, you will come up empty. Today, may you seek God, and in seeking God, may you find peace

Monday, February 12, 2007

Epiphany: Monday, Febraruy 12, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 63:1-6

We see here in this passage that God will be and is a God of justice and judgment. There is a concept we see a lot of in our culture of "only God can judge me." What this normally means is that when someone says it, they are saying that no one can judge them, and their actions show that they don't believe that God will actually judge them.

One day, we will stand before a holy God, and one day, we will be judged. This is not fear mongering, this is not meant to scare. But, it is the truth. One day, we will stand before God, and we will have to give and answer as to why we didn't take our children to church. We will have to give an answer to why the only time we turned to God was when we needed something. We will have to give an answer to why we were not more faithful.

One day we will give an account. And, only God can judge us. But, one day, God will.

New Testament Lesson

1 Timothy 1:1-17

We see here Paul give us the good news that is the bookend to the Old Testament reading. Yes, we will be judged, but through God's grace we can be save. Our sins do not define who we are, if we repent of them. We can be saved, we can be made new, we can be restored. We can be more for God than we have been in the past. We do not have to stay as we are.

Paul himself knew what it was like to fail and fall, but he also knew what it was like to be redeemed and restored. Today, you can leave behind the failures of the past and walk in the newness of life that God offers. All you have to do is believe, follow, and obey. And life, life more abundantly, will be yours.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 11:1-11

We see today in this passage that on Palm Sunday many welcomed and worshiped Jesus when He came to Jerusalem. On Good Friday, this same crowd that shouted Hosanna would be the same crowd that would shout crucify Him. They worshiped on Sunday, they denied by Friday.

Will you and I do the same thing? Will we have worshiped yesterday, but deny Him today?

Friday, February 9, 2007

Epiphany: Friday, February 9, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 61:1-9

This is the passage that Jesus quoted from when He preached in His hometown and almost go thrown off a cliff. We see here that God longs to bring salvation and hope, that God longs to deliver His people, that He will come and will bring help to those that are in need.

But, notice, it is only to those that are in need. The rich have their wealth, and they run to it to salvation. The proud have their pride, and their run to it for salvation. The self righteous have their self righteousness, and they run to it for salvation. But, none of these things will bring salvation. Only God will. And, He can only give salvation to those that understand that they need it.

Today, He offers grace and love and hope and peace. And, you (and I) need that grace and love and hope and peace. The question is, do we realize it? Or do we think that we are strong enough to do it on our own.

New Testament Lesson

2 Timothy 3:1-17

There is a frightful image within this passage. Paul tell us that in the last days, that people will hold to the outward form of godliness, but deny its power. Here in the south, we call that "playing church." That means that people my have the little fish on the back of their car, but still be lost. They may listen to Christian music, but not know God. Years ago, they may have worn WWJD bracelets or read Left Behind, but still not known God.

Our faith is not about what folks see on the outside. It is what in real on the inside. Lots of folks would rather just look religious, or talk about church, or complain about church, than they would actually give their heart to Jesus. Is that you and me today? Would we rather have a false form of godliness than give our lives to Jesus?

Well, Andy, of course not, why would we do that. If we have a false form of godliness, we are in control. If we give our lives to Jesus. He is in control. And we would rather be in control than allow Jesus to be in control. Today, are you truly Christian, or are you just going through the motions.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 10:32-45

We see here Jesus teach us that great truth. It is not about us. It is about Him. He came not to be served, but to serve. And, if our Lord and Savior came not be served, but to serve, why do we think that our live is about being served by others.

Jesus came to to serve. Should not you and I do the same thing?

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Epiphany: Thrusday, February 8, 2007

Gospel Lesson

Mark 10:17-31

A couple of things about this passage. First, we in the church like to sometimes think that Jesus merely wanted the Rich young man to be willing to give everything away. The word doesn't say that, Jesus wanted him to actually do it.

The reason why we think this way is because we don't want to give away our stuff either. We don't want to put everything aside for Jesus. It is much easier to say that we are willing to put everything aside for Jesus. Most of us today would probably say that there is nothing in our lives we love more than Jesus or is more valuable than Jesus. But, in really, how many, me included, would actually walk away from everything for the sake of Jesus. That is what He wants, and that is what we must be willing to do, to truly follow Him.

Nothing must be above Jesus on the throne of our hearts. And this is why He says that it is hard for the rich to enter into heaven, for they have many things that they love more than God.

But, while you and I might not be too rich, do we not also have many things that we love more than God? Are there not many places that we are on Sunday, other than God's house? How many of us do not miss a ball game, a hunting trip, a shopping trip, a vacation, yet will willing miss our time with God, be it on Sunday, or each day.

The rich young ruler walked away for there were things in his life he loved more than Jesus. Will you and I make the same choice?

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Epiphany, Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Today, just a Gospel Lesson

Gospel Lesson

Mark 10:1-16

We see in this passage Jesus take the children upon His knee and bless them. We see Him say that the kingdom belongs to those such as this. We see in children simple trust, simple obedience, simple love. Life has a way of making things more complicated for us as adults. We don't worry about the simple things, we don't take joy in the simple pleasures, we don't have that simple trust.

Maybe that's what Jesus means. Heaven belongs not to the smart, or the powerful, or the rich, or the famous. But, it belongs to those that simple come to Him. It belongs to those that simple worship Him. It belongs to those that know that they have nothing to bring to the table but themselves and they know that Jesus simply loves them.

Today, don't' try to impress God (or others) with your holiness. Simply come to Him and love Him. Simply come and allow Him to love you. Know that in simple love, simple obedience,you will find life, now and forever more.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Epiphany: Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Remember me? Sorry it's been so long between blogging. I hope I've got a few things worked out and will be back on my normal Monday-Friday blogging schedule.

Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 59:1-15a

We see a great image in this passage. When we are far from God, it is not God that has moved; we have. It is not God that is far from us, it is our sin that has separated us from God. It is our sin that blinds us, it is our sin that keeps us from fully knowing what God would have us to do. The problem is not God, the problem is our sin.

When we look in the Gospels, one of the main miracles that Jesus performs is that He opens the sight of the blind. We need to have our eyes opened, and not our physical ones. We need the eyes of our hearts to be opened so that we can see God, see what He wants, and obey what He commands. But, until our sin is confessed and repented of, we are separated. It is not that God is not there, we are just blinded by sin.

New Testament Lesson

2 Timothy 1:1-14

This passage reminds us that we are to hold fast to truth, hold fast the the teachings that have been passed down to us by our ancestors, both biological, and spiritual. We should hold fast to the faith of Wesley and Calvin and Augustine and Benedict. We should hold fast to the faith of our mothers and fathers. We should hold onto the truths that they taught and the lives that they have lived.

In this world we live in, we need a rock, a foundation and something to come back to time and time again. For us, may it be the long sacred faith, and if our lives are built upon it, then we will not be ashamed.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 9:42-50

We see in this passage what matters is not this life, but what matters is that we stay true to God, and avoid those things that will cause us to stumble, or cause others to stumble. I don't think we should literally be cutting off hands, but this shows us that nothing should keep us from God. If we are a Christian, and something in our live is tearing us from God, we must get rid of it. If can't pray, because you watch too much TV, you may need to turn it off. If you can't come to church because you are too busy hunting, you may what to give it up.

For nothing in this life is worth being separated form God over. Nothing is worth causing others to stumble. We have to place God first in our lives, and let everything else come under that. And, if anything tares us from God, we must be willing to put that thing down so that we can pick up God.