Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ordinary Time: Thursday, June 26, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

We see the staff of the Levites bloom today, so it becomes known to everyone that God has called them for this specific purpose. That's how God's calling works.  Today, He has called you to something.  He has called you to some thing that only you can do. I can't do it.  Your friends can't do it.  You family can't do it. 

God has created you with for a purpose and a plan. God has called you to something amazing, something just for you. You are not just floating through this life, you are here for something.  Today, as we walk with the Lord, and listen to His voice, may we find and understand and do that specific thing He has called each one of us to.  

New Testament Lesson

To me, this passage shows the love of God more clearly than most any passage in the Bible.  While we were weak, while we were far from God, while we were lost, Christ died for us. Christ died for use before we even understood that we needed it. Christ died for us before we even knew God's love was out there. 

God's love is not dependent upon us. We can't earn it. We can't make Him not love us.  He simply loves us. Christ died for us while we were in our sin. God's love for us is amazing, and that love will come to us before we even know that we need it. 

Gospel Lesson

It is not so upon us. As Christians, we don't operate the way that the world does.  To be great, you must serve.  Worth comes not from the things of this world, worth comes because you are a child of God. To be the greatest in the kingdom, you must be the servant of all. To find you life, you must lose it.  To gain life, you must give it away. 

To know freedom, you must surrender.  To live, you must die to yourself.  

Today, let us be great for God.  Let us serve all that we meet, and in doing that, we show the power and the love of God. Just as He served us, let us serve on another

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ordinary Time: June 25, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

We see Moses and Aaron stand between those that had done wrong and God.  Sometimes our job as a Christian is be a mediator. Sometimes God has called us to intercede on His behalf for those that are in trouble, that are hurt, that are needful. 

And sometimes, like Aaron today, we are called to stand in the midst of the need and intercede to God on their behalf.  Maybe we'll never be in a situation as extreme at this in the text today (let's hope not), but we can do the exactly same thing in our life every day.  We can intercede for those in need.  We can pray for them. We can pray for those that are sick, that are hurting, that are in trouble of any kind. 

Just as Moses and Aaron stood between the living and dead and make intercessions to God for them, so to can we intercede through prayer for those that are in need today.  

New Testament Lesson

In spite of all contrary evidence, Abraham believed God, believed His word, believed His promise. And in doing this, he become righteous and justified.  It was not through anything he did; rather it was through His belief

Remember, today, we are not saved or justified in God's eye through anything that we can do.  We are not made right with God by anything that we can do. We are brought back home, we are saved, we are made right by God by simply believing in faith, by simply accepting His amazing love, grace, and mercy. 

It is that belief that changes everything. Belief comes first, everything else follows. Today, let us remember how much God loves us.  And let us remember that we can't earn that love.  We just have to simply believe.  

Gospel Lesson

Remember, it is not up to us to whom God gives mercy, even those that we may feel like are undeserving. Remember, aren't we also undeserving. God gives grace and mercy to all, for all are underselling, but God loves every one spite of that. 

Today, just as God freely gives His love, mercy, and grace, may we freely give forgiveness, grace, and love to all that we meet.  But, not in our name.  In Jesus'

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Today, let us remember the United Methodist Churches in Mississippi that will be receiving a new pastor on this this day.  Let us remember as well pastors as they move to new appointments. 

Old Testament Lesson

There are certain passages in the Old Testament that make us scratch our head and say, huh?  This is one of them, as we see the earth open up and swallow those who through their pride had sinned. What are we to do with this passage?  What can it teach us today?  

Perhaps the great lesson we can learn from this passage is the power of sin, and the destruction it brings. These folks weren't randomly punished, this all happened because of their actions and sin.  Their sins had consequences on their lives. 

It's a quote I've used a million times, but I love it so much, but the reason why God hates sin so much is because of what it does to His children. Today, let us be careful with temptation and sin. And let us remember than in the end, as promising as temptation looks, it will destroy us.  

New Testament Lesson

We see today that Abraham was not justified by works, but by faith.  If anyone could probably have their works justify them, it may have been Abraham.  After all, he left all that he had to go to a land that God would show him.  He did what God commanded. But, this is not what made him righteous.  It was the fact that he had faith.  It was his faith that made him righteous.  That is what mattered.

Today, remember that we saved by grace through faith, lest no one can boast.  It is faith in Christ that saves, not the things that we do. Our faith then motivates us to live for Him, but  it is the faith; it must come first. 

Gospel Lesson

We see Jesus telling us that the problem with stuff is that we can be tempted to place it ahead of Him. He must come first.  He must have first place in our lives, in our actions, in all that we do.  He must be the primary, He must be the lead, He must be the Lord. 

Today, in all that we do, may it be done to the glory of God, and for His sake.  

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Church and Forgiveness

I've been preaching a sermon series here at Ripley FUMC entitled, "I've Got a Friend. . ." where I preach about some of the things that our friends (and maybe even each of us) deal with. I preached on I've got a friend that's confused about Baptism, I've got a friend mad at God, and other subjects. 

Yesterday I preached on "I've got a friend mad at the church."  I've been blown away by the response to it, and I thought I'd post a link to my podcasts here on my blog.  

Click here to hear it.

If you do listen, I hope you'll be blessed by it.  

Ordinary Time: Monday, June 23, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

One of the unexpected things we see a lot of in Numbers is jealous and pride. It seems to come up over and over again. Numbers is an interesting book.  It starts off so hopefully. The people are getting ready to go into the land and possess it. But, by the end of the book, they have have been punished for their sin, and the Lord tells them that they must wander for 40 years, and the original generation will not make it to the Promised Land; it will be their children. 

Perhaps all their problems started with pride. Perhaps that was the sin that all the sins were built upon. Perhaps their pride caused everything else to eventually tumble down. Proverbs tells us that it is the pride that goes before the fall. Today, may we keep watch on pride, and live in confidence of God's love, but live in a true sense of humility.

New Testament Lesson

We see Paul resound this theme as well. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. All of us have sinned, all of us have made mistakes, none of us are perfect.  That is the reality of lives.  None of are sinless. But, if God's grace comes to us, then all of us are precious in His slight, all of us are loved, all of us have a hope and a future and a present. All of us can do amazing things for God, and experience life more than we ever imagined. 

Not because we are perfect, but because He is perfect.  Let us remember that God's love came first. May that knowledge give us humble hearts, but also thankful hearts.

Gospel Lesson

And in this, we see the price of pride. Jesus tells the young man the things he must do to inherit life and he says, oh, I've done all those since I was a boy.  He was trying to stand before Jesus, chest puffed out, saying, look at me.  

Jesus says, well, you still don't love me first. Sell it all, give it to the poor and follow me. And that last part was the most important. Follow me.  Everything else pales in comparison to following Jesus. 

Today, may we be people that follow Jesus, above everything else.  May we see Him, may we love Him, and may we follow Him. For it is in the following Him that we find life. May we follow, and may we find the life that we need.  

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ordinary Time: Thursday, June 19, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Yesterday's passage Moses welcomed that others would be prophets like he was.  He was hoping that all God's people would have gifts and powers and callings.  He didn't want it to just be about him.  We see his brother and sister, in spite of Moses humility, want more attention thrust on themselves.  They said, don't we also have this gift?  Aren't we also prophets?  Moses is not the only one.  

The danger with the gifts of God are this. We can think that the gifts we have are ours because of us. Remember, our gifts are called gifts for a reason. They are given to us by God.  Let us remember with all the talents that we have that we are to praise the giver of the gift, and give credit and praise to our God.  

New Testament Lesson

Paul does something interesting in Romans. He shows how the folks in their world have sinned and done all these awful things. But then he says, so have each of us. He says why do you condemn others, if you do it yourself?  Why to take the speck out of your brother's eye, with the plank in your own. 

In this age we live in, we must be careful.  Let us not get so consumed with speaking against evil, with standing against sin, with condemning what is wrong, that we forget that we are also sinful. Let us not be so consumed with speaking against the sins of others that we forget, that we are also sinful.

Christians are not sinless. We need to remember that this morning.  We have simply received grace. And, if we have received grace for our sins, shouldn't we give grace to others?  As God has forgiven us, so should we forgive each other, and offer this grace to all those in need of it  

Gospel Lesson

Today, remember that we serve a God that would leave the 99 sheep to go our in search of the one lost one. Today, remember we serve a God that seeks the least, the last, and the lost. Today, may we remember the lengths that our God will go to see us come home. Today, may we remember just how much God loves us, and loves all that He has created.  Today, may we remember that Good Shepherd will always come for His sheep.  Today, may we rest in that.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

We see Moses give one of the great responses in scripture in this passage.  Others are doing things that he has been doing and when someone says, make them stop, he says, don't be jealous for my sake, I wish all God's people had these gifts. 

Moses knew that in the end, he was not the important one, it was God.  In the end, it was not about him, it was about God.  If God has placed us in a position of leadership within the church, or within our job, we must always remember, it's not about us.  It's about the greater good.  In the church, it's about God's will, it's about building the kingdom.  In your work, it's about the greater purpose that your company is about.  But, in all these, the lesson remains the same.  It's not about me. It's about God.  

New Testament Lesson

Romans 2:4 really may be my favorite passage in Scripture.  I know I say that a lot, but I really mean it this time!  It says that God's kindness leads us to repentance.  How many of us turn to God out of fear of what may happen if we don't?  That can be a good motivation at times, but that wears off.  If we serve God only out of fear, we will eventually grow tired and sick of what we are doing. 

But, if we serve God out of a thankful heart, out of an understanding of God's kindness and grace, then we will never grow tired of serving, and our joy will only increase. Today, turn back to God, not out of fear, but out of joy!  For, it is His kindness that calls us home!

Gospel Lesson

Yesterday I took the kids to McDonald's. As we walked up to the counter my oldest (four years old) was walking a little ahead of me, but just by a foot or so.  My youngest (19 months) was holding my hand.  And where ever I went, he walked along with me.  It didn't matter where I was going to go, he was holding my hand, and he was going to follow.  He will follow my anywhere, and he trusts at this young age that I'll protect him no matter what. 

Maybe that's what childlike faith looks like.  

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

One of the lessons we can learn from the Israelites is the power of counting your blessings.  During the Exodus, they never did that. They had manna from heaven, they wanted meat. They had their freedom, they missed the old days of slavery. Whatever they had been given by God, it was not enough. They didn't stop to look around and see all they had been given, and all they had to be thankful for. 

Let us not make the same mistake. Today, let us stop and count our blessings.  Instead of focusing on what we don't have, instead of focusing on our problems, instead of focusing on how things aren't as we'd always like them to be, let's stop.  Let's look around.  And let's see all the things that we have to be thankful for.  

New Testament Lesson

Today, let us remember the true lesson of this passage.  Wisdom comes not from this world, but it comes through faith. Today, let us seek after God. Let us seek after faith. Let us seek after His things. And in doing that, we will become wise.  Let us be more concerned with being wise in God's eyes than being wise in the eyes of the world. 

Gospel Lesson

Here we see Jesus say something strange.  To not cause offense, He divinely paid the temple tax.  Now, if you read the life of Jesus as shown to us in the Gospel, He was never afraid of causing offense, particularly to the religious leaders and teachers of the law. So, why here did He choose the route?  

Dr. Barry Bryant, a professor of mine in seminary used to always tell us, that there were 3 crosses at Calvary, and only 1 was worth dying upon. Everything is not a big deal, everything is not forth fighting over.  If everything is a big deal, then when a truly big deal comes along, we may miss it. 

Today, let us focus on what is truly important, and focus on the big things.  And in that, let the small things pass by. Everything is not a big deal.  Let us focus on what is.  

Monday, June 16, 2008

Ordinary Time: Monday, June 16, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

One of the great Old Testament images is the Lord literally leading the people as a cloud by day and a fire by night.  The Lord guided their steps and showed them where to go.  But notice, He didn't tell them where they were going.  He simply said, "Follow me."  

The Lord won't always show us the destination.  He will show us the next step.  He doesn't always say, follow me to here.  He most often says, follow me.  Today, even if we don't know where the road will take us, if the Lord has told us to follow Him, let us follow Him.  

New Testament Lesson

We see Paul say in this passage that he is willing to share the gospel with anyone that will listen. He is willing to do good to anyone in need. That is a great command for us as well. Today, who in our life may need a good dead done for them?  

Today, let us look towards the needs all around, and do good in whatever way that we may. For, there are needs, physical, emotional, spiritual, around us each day.  Like Paul, let us show our love to anyone in need.  

Gospel Lesson

Jesus said the faith of a mustard seed could do great things.  He doesn't need great faith.  He just needs a little.  If will have just a little faith today, He will do great things. For in the end, it's not up to us.  Its up to Him. Today, let us have faith, no matter how big.  And He will take that faith and do amazing things in ours, our families, and our communities.  

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

We see here in this passage a couple of truths for our lives. First, no one will be forever safe from tragedy.  And not amount of wisdom, or experience, or money, or even salvation will keep these things from happening.  Part of life is now that there will come times of sadness and crying.  That is part of the human experience. But, even in that, as Christians, we know that even in the times of sadness, God will not leave or forsake us. 

Second, in the story of wisdom, we see that the wisdom from the poor man was not listened to. Today, be aware that God can speak to you in many, many ways. Always be listening for God's voice, always be aware from the many ways God can speak.  Today, keeps your ears open. God will speak, and may through an unexpected way!

New Testament Lesson

We see Paul remind us of two very important truths. First, we are saved by faith. We are not saved by our works, for if we could be saved by what we can do, then there was no reason for Christ to die on the Christ. It is grace through faith by which we are saved, lest no man can boast. 

But, Paul also warns us, don't take advantage of that grace. Just because our works don't save us, does not mean that our lives don't matter. Let us never take God's grace for granted, let us never take God's forgiveness for granted. Let us never use the mercy and grace of God as a means to sin, thinking, it's ok, God will forgive.  Yes, God's grace is deep and amazing. But, let us never take advantage of the hard won grace of Jesus.  

Gospel Lesson

Jesus warned his disciples in this passage to be aware of the teachings of those that were not truly teaching what God would have. Lots of folks get up in pulpits, have websites, or tv shows that claim to speak for God.  If what they say does match Jesus' teaching and life, does it really?  

Lot's of people claim to speak for God. May we examine what folks say and may we match it up against God's grace.  May we today, as well, be aware of the yeast of the Phariesses.  

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ordinary Time: Thursday, June 5, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

One of the things I've always liked about the Bible is that every emotion we could ever feel is found within the pages of it. Today, we read the author of Ecclesiastes sounding like he was really depressed.  He looks at humans and says that we are really no better than animals. Both work, both die, that's the way that it is.  He sees the ones that are oppressed and says that there is no one to help them or provided comfort.  He sees folks struggling with life and feels no hope for them. 

If there is anything in life that we need to guard against losing, it is our hope. When we lose hope, we lose so much, so much belief in the future, belief in the good, belief in what can be, belief in what God can do. We see him today lose his hope. Now, he is able to regain it someone later one. 

But today. let us not be so focused on circumstance that we forget that there is a God that can change circumstance. Let us not be so focused on the bad in life that we forget that there is a God that change our lives.  Let us not be so focused on how things are wrong, that we forget that there is a God that can, and will make all things right.  

New Testament Lesson

We see Paul correct the Galatians because they had made the mistake that we are all tempted to make. They had begun to believe that they were saved, that they were righteous, based off their works. It is the good that they had done that had brought them to God. 

Paul says, NO!  We are saved through faith.  It is not through works, not through the law, no thought anything that we can possibly do.  We are saved through the goodness of God, the grace of God, given to us. And then that grace motives and empowers us to do the good things in life that God calls us to do.

But, before any of that can happen (except grace, of course!) faith must com first.  It is faith that saves, not anything else.  

Gospel Lesson

This passage shows the heart of Jesus, and that in turn shows us the heart of God.  He looked upon the people, and He had compassion for them.  He saw them, and saw their need.  He saw their weakness, He saw that they needed Him and His grace. And He had compassion for them. 

We serve a compassionate, loving God.  A God that gave His Son for us that we could come home. Remember today, when He looks at you, He sees you though love, through mercy, through grace, through compassion.  He simply loves you today more than you can ever imagine.  

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Here is that great passage of Scripture, there is a time for everything.  A time to be born, a time to die.  Everything in life has its time, and all things happen in their due time. And you can't rush time.  We live in an age of time and schedules and rushing around. But, you can't hurry time.  You can't hurry God. We have to wait.

Why?  Waiting teaches patience.  Waiting teaches trust.  Waiting teaches faith. Waiting on God teaches us that we are not in control, we are not the boss, it is not about us.  It is about God. We must wait upon Him. For all things in due time.  Let us wait upon the Lord today, and let us find the faith that allows that to happen.  

New Testament Lesson

Sometimes the hardest thing in life is telling someone you love that they are not doing what is right.  It is hard to do that with friends and family. But, if someone is harming themselves, or hurting what God is trying to do, they may need to be told in love, hey this isn't right. 

Because what is most important is what God is trying to do.  As a pastor, I've tried to always welcome correction. If someone tells me that God has lead them to say something to me, I always take the time to listen to that.  For, God can speak to anyone through anyone.  Today, if the Lord has led you to speak a word to someone, do it. 

But, remember, do it in love. Do it for the good of the Gospel.  And do it, always do it, always say it, always live it, through grace. We must be the most graceful of all people, for has not the Lord shown us grace upon grace upon grace. So must we show grace to one another.  

Gospel Lesson

Why did Herrod do this thing that he knew he should not?  Pride.  He didn't want to look bad in front of his guests.  Pride did it to him. Today, may be very careful not be led around by our pride.  May we remember that our Lord humbled Himself even to the point of death on a cross.  If our Lord Jesus was not ashamed to humble Himself, may we not be ashamed either.  

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Ecclesiastes 2:16-26

We see the Teacher, as the writer of Ecclesiastes is often called, continue down the list of things that are just vanity. We see that toiling and work becomes vanity. We see that the enjoyment of the things in life become vanity.

Why are these things vanity? Because on their own, they have no eternal value. But, here is the thing that God does. Through God, instead of everything becoming vanity, everything becomes amazing. God breaths grace into everything of life. So, on its own, the things of life are simply that, the day to day, things of life. But, through Grace, we can see God's hand in the mundane things of life. Through grace, a simple meal can become a time of fellowship. Work can become a prayer of thanksgiving for health, and if not for health, then for endurance. Through God's grace, instead of everything becoming vanity, everything becomes amazing!

Today, may we see God's grace in our lives.

New Testament Lesson

Galatians 1:19-2:10

We see how Paul went to the early believers and said that God is called me to go to the Gentiles and preach the Gospel. After hearing Paul's words, the rest of the leaders of the church agreed and they sent Paul out to do the work God called him to do. Part of what we are called to do is to help one another out. We are supposed to encourage one another. We are supposed to pray for one another. We are supposed to strengthen one another. We are supposed to help each other find the thing that God has called us to do.

Today, God has called you to something. Something unique, something powerful, something only you can do. Today, know that He has place a calling upon you. And know that the church, the body of believers, the body of Christ, it is hear to help you find that calling, or to implement that calling. Today, be about what God has called you to! And know that your church will be there to strengthen, help, and pray for you.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 13:53-58

This passage has one of the most powerful text in the Bible. It says that He did not do many miracles because of their lack of faith. Today, let us believe that God will work.

Do you believe that?

Do you believe in the core of your being, with all that you are, that God will work?

In your life?

In the life of your family?

In the life of your church?

Today, Jesus Christ wants to do an amazing thing in our lives, in our families, in our churches. May we have the faith to cling to whatever it is that He is going to do!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Ordinary Time, Monday, June 2, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

We see the writer of Ecclesiates tell us that he chased after everything he could think of to gain joy.  He chased after everything that his heart could imagine to find that happiness and peace. But, as it says over and over throughout the book, it was all vanity.  

The prophet Isaiah asks in chapter 55, why do you spend money on that which is not bread, your wages on that which does not satisfy.  We spend a lot life chasing after things which in the end will not leave us fulfilled or satisfied. We can spend time going after that which is not ultimately going to give us life. 

That life, that joy, that contentment, it comes only through God.  May we spend out time chasing not vanity, but chasing after the life that comes from God,

New Testament Lesson

Paul tells that Galatians that he lives to please only one: God. We can spend out lives trying to please everyone, but as someone once said, you can't make all the people happy all the time.  Paul says he focus was on doing what God had called him to do, and in doing that, he found the approval that his, and ever life, desires. 

Today, let's focus on doing what we know God has called us to do; let's focus on pleasing Him, and as well do that, all else will fall into place. 

Gospel Lesson

We see in this parable two great truths. First, the kingdom of heaven is the greatest treasure one could ever have. It is greater than anything else that one could ever desire. We see in this passage that folks will go to any lengths to possess this treasure. 

How amazing is it, then, that God simply wants to give it us?  He simply wants us to live in His grace and mercy and find the joy of that kingdom today, and every day.  Today, as Jesus tells us, the kingdom is within is, the kingdom is our midst.  May we live in the joy of that kingdom.

And we see in the last parable, that the angels will come and they will separated the fish, the good from the bad. Let's leave that job to them.  God will be the one that will judge, let's do all that we can to preach grace, to live grace, and to love with the love of God. And from their, let's leave the rest of up to God.