Monday, April 30, 2007

Easter: Monday, April 30, 3007

Old Testament Lesson

Joshua 10:16-27

Joshua and Judges, and many other books of the Old Testament are filled with these images of the people of God routing and destroying their enemies. And those of us today oftentimes scratch our head and say, how do we reconcile this with Jesus who said things like bless those that curse you and pray for your enemies. How are we to deal with this?

One of the more interesting explanations I've heard was given by a professor of mine at seminary and he said one way to look at this concept of holy war, as seen in the Old Testament, is to understand it as an act of worship. Just as in the sacrificial system, the offerings were to given in a certain way, and everything was to follow a precise pattern, so in this conquest of the land was the war to be fought in a certain way, and done the way that God told them to do.

So, let's not think of this as war, but rather as an act of obedience to God. And, in this case, the people were completely obedient to God. What about us? Has God told us to do something that might not make sense, or might not be the way that we'd do it? Even then, believe in faith, and trust that He is at work. As the old hymn goes

Trust and Obey
For there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to Trust and Obey

New Testament Lesson

Colossians 1:1-14

I love that simple verse in this passage, may you be made strong with His strength. There are a lot of ways that we can be made strong. We can be made strong with our pride. Or with our will. Or with our knowledge. Or with our experience. Of with our . . . whatever it may be for you. But, this passage says, be made strong in His strength. Our strength should come from God, for His will not fail. Ours will. We are all needful of His grace and mercy and strength. And, until His strength is our strength, we will not have the strength we need for the day. Today, may we grow strong in His strength.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 6:1-11

It is a terrible thing to be angry when something good is done for another person. We see that in the text today, when Jesus heals, but in the manner or time that the religious leaders would have liked, they get angry. They do not celebrate that this man has been healed; they do not celebrate that he will have new life, they do not celebrate at the wonder and Majesty and power of God. They are angry, because it didn't happen the way they wanted it to.

Do we think sometimes that unless it goes the way that we want that we should pick up our ball and go home? The religious leaders missed out on what God was doing through Jesus because it wasn't the way that they would have done it. May we not make the same mistake.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Easter: Friday, April 27, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

Daniel 6:1-15

We see Daniel make the brave stand of doing what he knew to be right, regardless of what the consequences were. It is very easy us to talk about taking brave steps such as this, but is it much harder to actually do. Daniel had the courage to do this. The text says he knew the consequence of praying to God, but he did it anyway?

How? How does someone find strength to do something such as this? I think to places. First, the power of the Holy Spirit within us. Our Lord said that the Spirit would give us the words to say and the way to say them. Only through God's strength can we live and do the things that we know are right. Second, trust. Daniel trusted in God, and he knew that whatever might happen, God was at work. Does that make it easy to do what he did? No, but by the power of the Spirit, and the trust in our Lord, we can do whatever it is He has called us to.

New Testament Lesson

2 John 1-13

We see this new commandment; that we love. We love our Lord by following His commands. We love each other by serving each other. Love is more than just a feeling. Love is something that produces actions. I cannot say I love my family and then not spend time with them. I cannot say I love my church and then not serve them. I cannot say I love my God and then not obey Him. Love should compel us to action. Today, may we love our Lord and love neighbor not merely with words, but with actions. And in doing this, we show our faithfulness to God and each other.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 5:12-26

This is one of my favorite stories in all the Bible. I like it so much because of the effort of the friends. They know their friend needs help, and they know that he cannot do it alone. So, they pick him up and carry him to Jesus. That is what friends do. When we cannot carry ourselves, they carry us. When we cannot stand on our own. They help us stand. When we cannot do the things that we need to do, they help give us strength.

There is an old saying, not found in the Bible, but true none the less. To have a friend, you must be a friend. We have had friends stand in the gap for us at times in our lives. Have we done the same? We have had friends. Are we not being the friend that we need to be to someone else?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Easter: Thursday, April 26, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

Daniel 5:13-21

We see here Daniel retell the story of when the previous became so prideful and full of himself that he literally lost his mind and was driven into the woods. Now, if we become too full of ourselves, that probably won't happen, but something similar could. We could become so full of ourselves that we lose sight of everything but ourselves. We lose sight of our family, our friends, our church, and our God. And, we when we do that, we may not physically be alone, but on every other level, we will be alone.

Life is not lived just for ourselves and for our wants and for our stuff. Life is to be lived for God, what He wants, and to be lived not in service to ourselves, but in service to each other. And, it is doing that, that we find what life is really all about.

New Testament Lesson

1 John 5:13-21

We see John tell us that those of us in Christ should strive against sin and seek to battle it and should not be content with sin our lives. We must always be working, always be trying to do all that we can to keep ourselves from it. And, it is his last statement in this passage that shows us the clear way forward. Keep yourself from idols. The only way to fight against sin in our lives is to make sure that we are walking with God as we should be. If we are given over to idols, then our walk is not as it should be, and we are more likely to fall into sin.

Or course, by idols I don't mean a golden cafe, but everything that pulls us from God. All those things in our lives that vie for our attention. all those things that seek to pull us away from what really matters. Be on guard, stay close to Jesus, and allow His power to give you strength in the midst of temptation.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 5:1-11

Peter knew what he was doing. He was expert fisherman. He had fished for years. And, here comes this preacher that tells him to do it away that he felt like would not work. When he did it, though, he found that it did work. Sometimes Jesus' plan does not make sense to us. It might not be the way that we planed it. It might not be what we had chosen to do ourselves. But, if we trust Him, then we can trust His plan. For, He really does know what He is doing. We might not know the future, we might not know how things will turn our. But, we know Him. And, He has shown us that we can trust Him.

So, if He tells us throw the nets in a way we would not have done ourselves, let's thrown them. For He knows what He is doing.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Easter: Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sorry this is late today, things should be on schedule for tomorrow!

Old Testament Lesson

Daniel 5:1-12

We see in this passage King Belshazzar do something that when the consequences become known, he probably regretted it. He did the arrogant act of drinking from the vessels that were in the Temple, and then gave praise to false gods. When you are on the top of the mountain, you think you can do no wrong. They used to called that feeling 10 foot tall and bulletproof. That is how Belshazzar must have felt. He was king, he was all powerful, he had conquered many lands. He could do what he wanted to. Until, he went to far.

We need to be careful in life not to think too much of ourselves. No matter how great our successes or victories, we are still merely human. We are still in need of His power and strength and it is only through His grace that we can stand.

New Testament Lesson

1 John 5:1-12

We see that we show our love for Jesus in that we obey His commands. It is in obedience that we show who we really are and show our true love for our savior. It is one thing to talk about love of God, it is another to actually show forth that love in our lives. Likewise, it is easier to talk about loving our neighbors than it is to actually love them. But, in our actions, that shows who we really are. One of my professors used to say we show what really believe in how we really live.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 4:38-44

In life we must do what we know to be right, not what others want us to do. We see here Jesus knowing that there are other villages that need to hear what He has to say. The crowds of people that He has healed want Him to stay, but He knows that His mission calls Him to leave. No matter how much He may have wanted to stay, He had to do what He knew was the right thing.

Sometimes in life what we are called to do is very different from what we want to do. In life, may we have the grace to choose what God wants us to do over what we want to do. But, praise God for when those two are the same! And pray for decrement when they are not.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Back to normal. . . . soon

Sorry about the lack of posting in the past few days. Chaos has been thy name. But, knock on wood, everything should be back to normal now. We shall see. I'll return to my normal posting schedule tomorrow, good Lord willing and the creek don't rise.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Easter: Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Please keep the McMahon family in your prayers today and tomorrow, and in the days to come

Old Testament Lesson

Daniel 2:17-30

We see Daniel in this passage give credit where credit it due. It is God makes mysteries knows. It is God that reveals such things. Not you, not me, not anyone, but God. I tell folks in regards to witnessing to others, you (or I) don't save anyone. God does. It is God that deserves the credit for the good that is accomplished in life, and it is God that deserves the credit for the good deeds that take place in our lives.

New Testament Lesson

1 John 2:12-17

We see that John is writing to all, telling them that they should know how great God's love is for them. He is writing to the old, the young, the experienced, the inexperienced. God loves everyone, and God can use everyone. There is not a person out there that cannot be saved from their sin and that cannot know God in a powerful and amazing way. No matter how old, how young, how anything. God can know and can love you.

Gospel Lesson

John 17:20-26

We see here the ultimate offer of our faith. We can be one with the Father and the Son and the Spirit. We can be united with them and drawn into complete union with them. This is where life is found. Not in the things of this world, but it is found in Jesus Christ, in God the Father and in the Holy Spirit. We can know God, we can serve God, we can have peace with God, we can life. And, this life is found only in God, only in knowing Him, only in being drawn up to Him. Only in Him, only there, is their life.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Easter: Friday, April 13, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

Daniel 12:1-4, 13

There will come a time at the end of this age when there will be a resurrection of the day. Just as Jesus was resurrected, so shall all be who believe upon Jesus. This life is not end, but rather a beginning of true life. We see in the Word that after Jesus is resurrected, He is not just a spirit, but a body. This shows us that this new life, this resurrection will be not just of spirit but of Body. Paul tells us that we will have spiritual bodies, that they will be like what we have now, but different.

What then will they look like? Will will this resurrection of the dead be like? I don't know. It is one of those things that I cannot explain, but simply believe. There are some things in our faith that we can explain. Others, we take on faith. This is one that is told to us over and over again in Scripture. It is true. We must simply believe.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 4:1-12

There is no other name by which we can be saved other than Jesus. We are not saved by church membership, we are not saved by church work, we are not saved by liking our preacher, we are not saved because we are a preacher. We are saved only by believe upon Jesus. Not by works, not by name, not by reputation. Only by Jesus.

Only by belief in Him and by allowing the Holy Spirit to change and transform us. That is life, that is where life is found. Only in Jesus.

Gospel Lesson

John 16:1-15

Jesus tells them, and us, that there will be tough times ahead. There will be times of trial and hurt, there will be times of danger and worry. But, He tells us not to worry, for the Holy Spirit it coming. It will come and give us life, teach us, guide us and lead us. We must live our lives by the power of the Holy Spirit. We must open ourselves up to Him and the work of God. We must live in His strength and power. We must allow the Spirit to teach us, guide us, convict us and correct us.

And, in the places we are shown that we must change, then we must change. Only in allowing the Spirit to have free reign in our lives can we know the power of the Spirit. Only in living in the Spirit can we know the power of Jesus.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Easter: Thursday, April 12, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

Ezekiel 37:1-14

This is that great passage about valley of dry bones. God brings that which was dead back to life. That is the truth of Easter, our Lord was raised from the dead, and in that destroyed the power of sin, death, and the grave. And, likewise, we can be brought back to life. The death of sin, the death of evil, the death of the things in this world, they can be ended by the power of Holy Spirit.

Things do not have to stay as they are. That is one of the cores of our faith. Things do not have to stay as they are. We can change, we can be brought to life, we can life. He brought life to the valley of dead bones. He can bring life to us as well .

New Testament Lesson

Acts 3:11-26

We see Peter tell us in this passage the choice we must make. We can chose following Jesus and find life and health and peace. Or we can choose to follow our sin and our will and wind up apart from God.

And when I say "follow Jesus" don't mistake that for just your conversion. I'm talking about all your life. Every day. For far too many of us our testimony ends when we walked the aisle. That should not be end of our testimony, but the beginning. Following Jesus is not something we do in the past, its something we do today.

Gospel Lesson

John 15:12-27

How do we follow Jesus? Love one another as I have loved you. It comes down to loving each other as Jesus loved us. When we love one another we serve one another. When we love another, we forgive one another. When we love one another, we do the things our Lord has commanded of us and we live in a way that gives glory to Him and helps others to know that He is Lord.

If we love, we are obeying. Through Christ, we see how much God loves us. Through our lives may others see how much God loves them.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Good Friday, April 6, 2007

Today, I want to share with you the account of Jesus crucifixion as found in John 19

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, ‘Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.’ So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Here is the man!’ When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.’ The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.’

Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, ‘Where are you from?’ But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, ‘Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?’ Jesus answered him, ‘You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.’ From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, ‘If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.’

When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, ‘Here is your King!’ They cried out, ‘Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!’ Pilate asked them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but the emperor.’ Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.
The Crucifixion of Jesus

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’ Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews”, but, “This man said, I am King of the Jews.” ’ Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written.’ When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.’ This was to fulfil what the scripture says,
‘They divided my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.’
And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Jesus’ Side Is Pierced

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘None of his bones shall be broken.’ And again another passage of scripture says, ‘They will look on the one whom they have pierced.’
The Burial of Jesus

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Maundy Thursday: April 5, 2007

This is Maundy or Holy Thursday. This is the Thursday of Holy Week, the week before Easter, and this is the day where we remember the betrayal of Jesus and remember the institution of the sacrament of Holy Communion. Many churches have services tonight, and if you are in the Preston, MS area, we would invite you to our Maundy Thursday service here at Coy UMC at 7:00 PM.

Old Testament Lesson

Jeremiah 20:7-11

We see here in this passage what looks like defeat can be the path to victory. Tonight, we remember the betrayal of Jesus. We remember the cross. We remember His abandonment, His pain, His tears, His precious blood. It looks to us from the outside as defeat and the end.

But, and the creed reminds us, it was "For us and for our salvation." It was needful and necessary. But, it does not make it nice, it does not make it pretty. Before we rush to church Sunday for the empty grave, let us pause to remember the bloody cross.

New Testament Lesson

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

We remember not just the cross today, we remember the meal of the church. Tonight, He told us, this is my body, this is my blood. Take and eat, take and drink. He told us that He is the bread of Heaven, He is life. Through this meal, we receive grace, through this meal, we are welcomed to His table, through this table we find life. Thought this meal the reality and presence of Jesus is made know and made real to our hearts. Wesley thought that receiving communion was the greatest privilege and command of the Christian. May we know what a great gift we have been given.

Gospel Lesson

John 17

Today, in this passage, before He is betrayed, our Lord prays for us. If you don't think someone is praying for you, read this passage. Jesus prayed for you, and for all that believe today. He prayed that we may be one. He prayed that we may know eternal life, which is knowing God the Father through Jesus the Son. He prayed that we would be protected. Today, Jesus prayed for you. Today, Jesus gave you His body and blood. Today, Jesus was betrayed not because of what He had done, because of what you and I had done. Today, remember these things.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Holy Week: Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

Jeremiah 17:5-10, 14-17

We can trust in the flesh, and we will fail. Or, we can trust in God and know His strength. We can't want it enough, we can't will it enough, we can't desire it enough. We are not good enough, strong enough, wise enough, power enough, or able to defeat sin and temptation on our own. Only through the power of God can we do it. We get ourselves into trouble by thinking and saying that we can handle it. We cannot. Sin will destroy us, and we cannot defeat it.

On our own. Through the power of God, all things are possible. But, left to our own devices, we will fall, and will continue to fall. Only through His grace and and by His power can we stand against sin.

New Testament Lesson

Philippians 4:1-13

We sometimes take verse 13 out of context. What Paul is talking about here is that the Lord has put Him in a variety of situations in his ministry, some nice, some tough, some rich, some poor. But, Paul found out that no matter where the Lord has placed him, through God's strength and power, he can overcome. He has learned to reply upon God, and if he does that, he can conquer whatever comes his way.

When we learn that our strength comes not from ourselves, but from God, we can do great things. But, until we learn that lesson, we will not be who God has called us to be and who we can be.

Gospel Lesson

John 12:27-36

Light shines the way. Light points us in the dark which way to go. Light drives out the dark, and allows everything to see and be seen. Jesus is the light. He will point our way. He will shine on our path. He will lead us where we need to be. We must choose, however, light over dark. We must choose good over evil. We must choose grace over sin. God will give us grace to make these choices, but we must reach for that grace. Today, He longs to give you grace for this day. Will you accept it?

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Florida wasn't the only repeat winner!!!!

That's two years in a row that I have crushed Bro. Greg (and won a bracket challenge). If the whole preaching thing doesn't work out, I may enter brackets professionally! Click here for all the beautiful details

Holy Week: Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

Jeremiah 15:10-21

We see in this passage the Lord reassure Jeremiah that He will be with him. He does not tell Jeremiah that all will be easy. He does not tell him that the people will listen. In fact, they will be like a wall against him. But, they will not overcome him.

We live in a world where we have a false understanding of success. Success is not fame, fortune, celebrity. Success is being faithful. Success is doing what you are called to; what you were created to do. We can have all the money, all the power, all the fame, but if we are not being who God has called us to be; doing what God has called us to do, then the rest really doesn't matter. Jeremiah would have many headaches on his hand during his time. But, he was a success, for he did what the Lord called him to do.

New Testament Lesson

Philippians 3:15-21

There god is the belly. Boy, Paul goes from preaching to meddling here, doesn't he? I think his great point is that whatever keeps our minds on the things of earth instead of the things of God; that is a bad thing. Be it our belly, our desires, our wallet, our sin, whatever. Whatever keeps us from God keeps us from being alive. The things of earth promise life but give death. Jesus says you must lay down your life to find true life; if we die to ourselves, we will live for Him.

CS Lewis put it this way, "Die before you die. There is no chance after."

Gospel Lesson

John 12:20-26

We see in today's reading that the notion of dieing to ourselves continues. Here is that passage I was thinking about in the New Testament Lesson. Unless we die to ourselves, we will not live. We spend so much time in life chasing things that don't matter. No one on their death bed says that they wish they had spent more time in the office. We all want to spend time with family. We all want to go to church on Sunday. We all want to focus on what really matters. But, we choose not to. We choose the stuff of earth over the stuff of heaven. And in doing that, we can waste this precious gift of life.

Today, seize this day! Make it the day the Lord intends for it to be. Start over. You want to spend time with you family, do it! You want to pray, do it! You want to live a healthily live, physically and spiritually, do it! Today is the day. Do not let it pass by.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Holy Week: Monday, April 2, 2207

Old Testament Lesson

Zechariah 9:9-12

Kings rode into town on a white horse to show how strong they were. Conquering heroes rode into town in a powerful way for everyone to see how great they were, how strong they were, to see how much praise they deserved. Jesus, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, rode into Jerusalem on the back of a borrowed donkey. We try to make ourselves look more powerful than we really are. We try to act big and bold. We want to be arrogant at times. Jesus, the one through whom creation its self was put together and is still held together, He rode into town in the most humble way possible.

Holy Week would be His last week before the cross. Instead of pounding His chest, He continued to humble do what He was called to do. Do you and I do the same?

New Testament Lesson

1 Timothy 6:12-16

We are called to confess Him before others, to not be ashamed of Him, just as Jesus was not ashamed. He boldly preached, boldly served, boldly taught. The Word tells over and over again how He ministered as one with authority, not like the teachers of the law of His day. He was never ashamed, for He knew His power came from His Father.

Likewise, we should never be ashamed. We should boldly live for Him, boldly teach for Him, boldly love for Him, boldly serve for Him. We should never be ashamed of Him, for if we do, the Word tells us that He will deny us before His Father. Always, in the power of His Spirit, do what He has called you to.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 21:12-17

We see Jesus drive out the money changers within the Temple in this passage. We get the false impression sometimes that while Jesus was humble; He was also weak. A weak man does not drive out money changers. A weak man does not clear the temple. A weak man does not stand of for what is right, regardless of the consequences.

Jesus lived and was brought back to life by the power of the Spirit. In this passage He has that holy anger over sin being committed within the temple. Friends, do we have a holy anger at sin? Does sin in the world, or sin our lives, make us angry? We should never grow so complacent with sin that we are not angered by it. Sin will destroy us, our families, our walk with God, and our very lives. That should make us angry. Likewise, it hurts others. That gave Jesus a holy angry. So should it do for us.