Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Year's End - a few thoughts

Today, for New Year's Eve, just a thought.

As we look back on 2009, a year that commentators seem to think was a little maddening for all of us, let us take time to remember the times of joy and happiness. No matter what this past year was like for you, there were moments of joy. Moments Moments of peace, life, and love. There were good moments.

Sometimes, we look only at the bad. We only see our failures. We only see where we messed up. We only look at the mistakes that we have made, we only see the things we have done wrong.

We can focus only on the stuff that has gone wrong, the ways we have failed, the ways that others have failed us. We can, if we are careful, be overwhelmed by the negative.

We only see the trials that have come our way.

We see the problems. It's just not just us. That's a universal thing. I remember when I worked with kids at camp during the summer years ago, they always told us, you have to say 7 positive things to a child to overcome 1 negative thing that is said. We remember the bad stuff more than the good.

So, as we move forward, first, let's make an effort to remember the good. Remember the moments of grace and joy. Remember the good stuff that's happened to you and your family in this past year. Moments of joy, laughter and peace. Remember these things. And mark them on your soul. Let them be part of who you are.

And, second, let us be glad that God doesn't first look to our mistakes. The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 103: 13-14
As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.

For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust

We look at the mistakes first. We know we are not what we ought to be. Sometimes, we don't see ourselves the way that we ought to see. Particularly at the end of a year when we look back.
Thankfully, though, the Lord knows how we were made. He knows we are just dust. He knows that we are weak and frail. He knows we are not what we ought to be. He knows that we aren't perfect. And He loves us anyway.

As we look back, and as we look forward, may we look above. And may we know that we are loved.

Live like the loved child of God that you are!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas with the Stoddards

Here's some of our Christmas Adventures this year!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

No blogging for a few days. I'll resume next Wednesday. Until then Merry Christmas. May God bless you in this Holy Time of year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Advent: Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

2 Samuel 7:1-17

We see the Lord tell David - I will establish your house. It will reign forever. Your kingdom will have no end, the Son of David will sit upon the throne.

Who is Jesus? The Son of God, yes. He often called Himself the Son of Man as well. However, there is another title for Jesus in scripture and in the New Testament. The Son of David. Through Joseph His family is traced back to David. He is the Davidic line, He is the Son of David, He is the king, the ruler, the mighty one promised here. He is the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and He reigns. Today, and always.

New Testament Lesson

Titus 2:11-3:8a

Paul reminds Titus to tell the people, basically, just be good people. Be quiet. Be good citizens. Do what right. Be simple. Love, serve, and care. Be humble. Be kind. Just simply to what is right. Grace has been given to us through the giving of the Son, and that grace calls us to that. God doesn't demand that we be perfect. He just wants us to be faithful. Faithful to Him, faithful to each other. Faithful to the calling He has given us. Today, and always, may we be faithful.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 1:39-56

Mary sings her song of praise to God in this passage - He had brought up the humble and has scattered the proud. He has brought up the weak, the hungry, the poor, and gave them good things. He has brought forth salvation to those that desire salvation. The proud are not aware that they have need for such things. The humble, the weak, the know they are needful, and they find there, waiting for them, a God that knows their needs. Today, God knows your needs. He knows what you need, what you fear, what you worry about. And He is a God that longs to fill you up.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

1 Samuel 2:1b-10

The Lord is the one that brings life. The Lord is the one that makes all right. The Lord protects the weak, the orphans, the widows, those that hunger, those in need. This is a season of Good News. That is what the Lord wants you to hear this morning. Good News. Rejoicing. No matter what is going on in your life today. Good News. God loves you. Gave His son for you. Love you. You are loved today. Live life a loved child. That's what you are.

New Testament Lesson

Titus 2:1-10

Every person in this list of commands is basically given this command - think of others before yourself. Think of their needs. Their lives. Their feelings. Before thinking of yourself and your life, think of them. Here's the miracle of that. If we each do that, if we each think of each other first, we will each find we have all we need. For in giving our life away, we find life. The truest road to a miserable life is to think only of yourself. The truest road to a happy life is to think of others first.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 1:26-38

Mary says the truest word of faith in all the Bible today - Let it be unto me according to thy word. Mary didn't know what the future held. She didn't know what people would think. She didn't know what Joseph would say. She didn't know how her life would turn out. She knew none of those things. All she knew was that God had something for her. And her response was this - let it be unto me according to your word. She trusted. Even though she didn't know the road. She trusted. May we do the same.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Advent: Monday, December 21, 2009

Today, just a quick thought. I've found folks like these as much as the longer ones. The less said the better sometimes :)

The will of God may lead us on a winding road that doesn't make sense, even to the most mature mind. But when the way gets puzzling, we can still trust in God. He knows the end from the beginning, and we can trust His character, knowing that His plans are aimed at accomplishing the best goals.

Donna Morley

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Advent: Thursday, December 17, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Zechariah 4:1-14

We see the Lord remind us today - not by might, not by power, but by my spirit. The Lord doesn't always choose the strong or the powerful, He chooses the willing. And then, through His spirit, He makes all things possible. So, His concern for you today is not if you are perfect or if you are strong or fast or any of these things. Are you willing. Are you willing to be used by God? And if so, then by His Spirit all things are possible.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 4:9-5:5

Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Lions are not safe. They are kings of the jungle. There is a great line in CS Lewis' The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when they are talking about Aslan, the Christ figure, who is a Lion.
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Jesus is good. To say He is safe is to imply that He will ask us to remain the same. He will not do that. He will ask us to change, to do. To go. He will ask us to do more than we think possible. He is not safe. But He is good.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus reminds us again, be ready. Be ready for what is to come. Live your life aware. Live you life with an awareness of who you are, what you are doing, what's going on. Don't just float through. Don't just sleep through. Be aware. Live fully. Seize the day. This is a moment to start living!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Advent: Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Zechariah 3:1-10

The Lord took away the filth, took away that which was unclean, and made the priest clean. The Lord is a God is at that takes away our sin, it was cast upon Jesus, and makes us clean again. You are not defined by your failures, by your sins, by your mistakes. You are not defined by the things you have done wrong. You are defined by the grace of God. That's what make you who you are. You are more than your mistakes, you are more than your history. You are more than whatever in your past steals you joy and sleep. You are more than these things.

You are a loved child of God. Go out and live like it today!

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 4:1-8

There's a lot in Revelation that I don't understand. I don't claim to be an expert, I don't claim on know all the details. I try to look at the book from a big picture view. And what does the big picture show us? We see here what heaven looks like - the worship of God. We see here the different parts of the court of heaven worship God, declaring His worth, declaring how worthy of praise He is.

And He is worthy of praise. No matter what is happening in your life, He is worthy of praise right now. All good gifts come from above, and no matter what is happening in your life, there is something good happening there. And, for that good thing, God deserves praise.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 24:45-51

The Lord tells us today - the wise are always ready. They live with an awareness of what is coming, they are prepared, the know that anytime could be our last breath. If today was last day, would you be able to look back at your life with pride? Are you proud of the way you've lived? Are you proud of what you've accomplished?

Today is a new day! Let's live in such a way that we honor God and help each other out! There's so much for us to do. Let's be faithful to God, and faithful to each other. And know that it's all in God's hands.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Advent: Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Zechariah 2:1-13

We see the Lord promise what is to happen - a time will come when the people will live in Zion, it will be restored and He will be glory within. He will be the one that will protect it, there will be a wall of fire around it and it will be fully inhabited by people, by animals, by life. He will restore that which has been destroyed and forgotten. He will bring life back to death, He will bring hope to the hopeless and bring back to life that which is death.

God is a God of hope, life, and restoration. No matter what's going on in our life, God is a God that longs to restore. That what His promise here, and His promise now. He is a God that will restore and bring life.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 3:14-22

The harshest words written to the seven churches are, in my opinion, these written to the church of Laodicea. The Lord says this - be hot, or be cold. Don't be luke warm. Don't half way do it. Either be for God, or not. But, don't be divided. Faith is really is serious business. God doesn't want just part of us, He doesn't want half our heart, or part of our heart - He wants it all. He doesn't want us to play religion or church, He wants us to have a true and deep relationship with Him. He wants our hearts to be on fire. He wants us to life fully for Him. Either hot. or cold. Not luke warm.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 24:32-44

No one knows the day or the hour. No one knows the future. No one knows what it is to hold. No one knows what is to come. so, what we do is this. We live faithful today, and we trust in God. That's what we do. We place the future in His hands. We place the unknown in His hands. We place what don't know, don't understand, can't control, we place this His hands.

And we live faithful today. We live fully today, and faithfully today. It's what we have, and may we live it to the fullest.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Advent: Monday, December 14, 2009

Today, just a quick thought:

If you feel like you're at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on! Because God's a God of miracles, and He's holding the other end.

Pat Hicks

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Advent: Thursday, December 10, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Amos 9:1-10

Even here, in this passage full of judgment, in this passage full of the Lord's anger with His people, there is a moment of grace. The Lord is saying how He will destroy the people, destroy the sinful nation, destroy all those that have stood in opposition to Him and to His will. But, the House of Jacob (His people), He will not destroy completely. Even through they deserve it. Even though they should receive it. Even this it is fully within His rights and power. He will not. Because they are His. And even at this moment full of judgement and anger, His love for His people is greater than everything. That's the amount of love God has for His people, and for us.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 2:8-17

In the letters to the seven churches at the start of the book of Revelation, there is a constant refrain. You will be tested. You have been tested. Tests will come. It won't always be easy. There will be very hard times. But, God is with you. God will not leave you. Even in the tests, God is there. And to those that over come, through the power and strength of God, there is a great reward. There is a crown, there is life, there is all this an more.

So, when your test of faith come today, don't give up, don't be discouraged. You are not the first to be tested, and you won't be the last. And above all, God is there. Even in the tests. God is there.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 23:13-26

These are part of what's called "The Seven Woes," Jesus' harshest condemnation of the Pharisees. He really hammers them. Really takes them to task. Why? They are more focused on the letter of the law than the heart of the law. They are more focus on the acts of religion than the heart of religion. They are more focused on legalism than helping others. They are more focused on appearing religious than having a heart for others. Remember, our faith is something that starts on the inside, but that then calls us to serve one another, and God. Our faith calls us to love God, and seek justice, love, mercy, all these things. Let's be faithful to the one that died for us. And let's leave all the rest in His hands.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Advent: Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Amos 8:1-14

We see the Lord speak judgment against His people. Why? What had the done wrong? How had they failed? How had they not done what they should have done? This judgement is pronounced over the way they treated each other, over the way they treated the poor, the needy, the sick, they soar. They had not shown God's mercy to all, they had robbed, they had stolen, they had abused.

Perhaps Christianity, in the end, in not shown by the words we say, the music we listen to, the shirts we wear. Perhaps, in the end, Christianity is shown by the way that we treat each other.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 1:17-2:7

The constant message of Revelation is heard for the first time in this passage - do not be afraid. Do not fear. Revelation reminds us over and over again, that not matter what happens, God is at work. God is doing something. Something good, and something for God's glory, it will come out of this. God is at work in all things. Do not fear. God is with us, and God is at work.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 23:1-12

Jesus tells us not to seek praise - but instead to serve. Let's not be about tooting our own horns, lets not about about showing off, let's not be about showing everyone how great and awesome we are. Let's serve. Let's serve God and let's serve our neighbor. That's what we are called to be about, that's who we are called to be.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Advent: Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Amos 7:10-17

Amos wasn't a trained priest. He's wasn't a learned prophet. He was simply someone God had called to do something, and he did it. God doesn't always call the most qualified, the ones that look like they'd be the ideal candidates. God calls the willing, God calls the ones that would be willing do what He says, go where He sends, speak what He lays on their heart.

Today, God will not just call the perfect, He will call you and me. God will have something special, something divine, for us each of us. We just have to respond. Where is He calling you today. He is calling. May we listen for His voice.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 1:9-16

We see that John is given this word while in prison on Patmos. One of the mistakes we can make is that if we assume we follow Jesus, everything will be perfect, nothing bad will ever happen. That is not true. Following Jesus is not a magical amulet that protect us from all harm. We are not promised that bad thing will not happen. John, here, is in prison for his faith after all.

What we are promised is this - God will never leave nor forsake us. No matter what happens in life today, God will be by your side. He will not leave you. He will not forget you. He will not abandon you. He will be with you. Trust in Him today, and always. He will not forget His children.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 22:34-46

Love of God, love of neighbor. That's it, that's the list. That's what we are called to do. That's who we are called to be. That's how we are called to live. Loving God, loving neighbor. That's the goal of the Christian life, that's the purpose and plan God has for us. That's the highest goal we can have today, and each day. To love our God will all that we have and love our neighbor as ourselves. That's what we are called to do today and each day. Love. God. Neighbor. That's it. Let's be about that.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Advent: Monday, December 7, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Amos 7:1-9

We see here a potential vision of the Lord's judgment. He stands and says, this could be coming. If you do not repent. Yes, the Lord is a judge. Yes the Lord will be the judge of each of us. Yes the the Lord is the righteous One, the Holy One, the Perfect One. Yes, we all bow down before Him.

But the Lord is also gracious, and kind, and loving, and merciful, and caring, and forgiving. The Lord is a God that longs to give second, and third and one hundredth chances. The Lord is a God that longs to give His people grace.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 1:1-8

It all comes down to Jesus. That is the message of the beginning of Revelation. His the first the and the last, the beginning and the end. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He holds it all together. Him. That's what our faith is about, our life, our all. Remember, it's all about Jesus. Let's love Him, let's serve Him.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 22:23-33

God is the God of the Living. He is the God of life. He is the God of newness and hope and tomorrow. God is the God of life. Now, since He's our God, let's go out there today and live! Let's live boldly, let's live passionately, let's live with all that we have. This is a new day, let's go make the most of it!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Advent: Thursday, December 3. 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Amos 4:6-13

We see God's desire for His people today - return to me. In all the stuff that happened to the people, the Lord was using it for one reason and one purpose - to get His people to return to Him. But they would not. That is always God's desire. God desires isn't to get us or punish us or any of these things. His desire is for us to live in peace with Him and with each other.

New Testament Lesson

2 Peter 3:11-18

The author of this passage reminds us that as we wait for the return of the Lord, we should wait with grace in heart, peace in our lives, and serving God and each other. None of us know when the hour will come, none of us know when the day will be. But, we do know that it will happen and we want to be found ready when it does. So, no matter it if its today, or a million years from now, let's live today to the fullest, and lets live today as if it were our last day.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 21:33-46

The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. Jesus was rejected by the religious leaders, He was rejected by the powerful, He was rejected by the ones that were in power. And this stone, Jesus Christ, is the cornerstone of our lives. He is the foundation, He is the one that holds it all together, He is the hope, the power, the source of life. He is. No one or nothing else. Jesus.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Advent: Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Amos 3:12-4:5

One of the condemnations the Lord makes through the prophets is this disconnect that had happened in to His people. The people were going through the motions of religion (sacrifices, feast days, etc) but yet their hearts were far away, and they were oppressing the poor and the needy of Israel.

The Lord says - no. Do not oppress the needy. Do not harm them. Do good. Give yourself to me. God doesn't desire the motions of religion, He desires a heart committed to Him, a life committed to loving Him fully and loving our neighbor fully. And as we fall more in love with God, we will fall more in love with our neighbor. And in that, He honor God, with all that we do.

New Testament Lesson

2 Peter 3:1-10

Even less than 100 years after the resurrection, people saying, when is the Lord coming back? What's taking so long? Maybe He's not coming. There was doubt and dismay even then. And the word says - don't worry. Don't doubt. God's time is different than our time, God's schedule is different than our schedule. Trust in God. He knows what He is doing. In all things. Trust in God. He knows what He is doing.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 21:23-32

Instead of listening to Jesus and His words, instead of trying to learn from Him, instead of following His example and His love, the religious leaders tried to trip Him up, tried to confuse Him, tried to trick Him. The could have learned, loved, and found life. Instead, they were threatened by Jesus, they didn't like what He was trying to do it, so they ignored Him, they abused Him, they tried to trick Him, and eventually crucified Him.

Today, let's spend time listening for Jesus. Let's spend time following His example of love. Let's spend time following His example of peace. Let's learn from Him. We don't have to understand Him fully, but we can understand this. He love us, and love all the world. Let's live into that.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Advent: Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 1:21-31

In the prophets there are two things the Lord normally condemns the people for, and they are linked to each other. The first is idolatry. They have worshipped idols and have not given their true devotion to God. The second is something that He condemns just as strongly. They are not treating each other as they should. They are taking care of the poor, the orphans, the needy. They are not caring for the oppressed, they are robbing and stealing. They are not caring the needy in their midst.

As we draw close to Christmas, let's make sure that God is our first love, above all else. Let's give our devotional to Him, above all. And let's take care in this time to to take care of the needy all around us. Let's give. And love. And serve. Let's show God's grace and mercy to all.

New Testament Lesson

1 Thessalonians 2:1-12

Paul, in his ministry, kept the first thing the first thing. His calling was to share the Good News of Jesus with as many as He could. His calling was to share the grace and salvation of God with everyone. Why? Because He had been saved by this goodness of God. And that salvation called Him to love others.

That is what being a Christian is supposed to look like. Loving God because of what God has done for us. And loving others, because of what God has done for us. God's great love for us should motivate us to be the most loving, forgiving, serving people out there. Look at the love given us! How awesome is that!?! May we love one another in the same way.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 20:9-18

Jesus was rejected by many during His ministry. He came showing God's love and power, and He was rejected by many. He was rejected because they didn't like what He was calling them to do, or they didn't like the way He did it, or they didn't like what He said, or how He said it. He came offering life, life abundant and life full, and they rejected it.

Today, through following Him and living in His love and mercy, He offers us life. Life full and abundant. May we not reject His life today. May we live in His life today. And may we find more life there than any place else.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Advent: Monday, November 30, 2009

Hey there, remember me? Sorry I haven't been blogging much. I plan on being back to my normal routine starting back today, and actually I have another post I've been working on that I'm going to post later today.

Old Testament Lesson

Amos 2:6-16

The Lord warns His people - you have not done what you should, you have lead others astray, and just as I punished you in the past, I will punish you again. And it seems like in this text what has upset the Lord the most is not that the people made mistakes, we all make mistakes, it is that the people caused (and in this case) forced others to make mistakes.

Remember, we don't just live for ourselves, we live for God. And our lives have an impact upon others. Today, the lives we lead will glorify God, or not. And they can encourage other, or make a negative impact upon others. Today our lives will have an impact. May it be an impact for good.

New Testament Lesson

2 Peter 1:1-11

The author of this passage gives us a list of things that we should be seeking to apply to our lives, things that will strengthen us, encourage us, allow us to walk closer to our God. Things that will grow our faith and grow our hope. And they all build towards one thing - love.

Faith leads to goodness, and goodness to knowledge, and knowledge to self-control, and self-control to endurance, and endurance to godliness, and godliness to mutual affection, and mutual affection to love. It all leads to love. That's what we are supposed to be about, that's what we are supposed to seek above all, that how we are supposed to live. With love. May we love God, and love our neighbor with all that we have.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 21:1-11

We see today in this text Jesus receive the worship that He deserved. He received the honor he deserved. He received the praise He deserved. In this passage, Jesus is honored as He should be. I didn't always happen, and it wouldn't happen again. But He was worshiped in this passage.

In our lives today, may we give Jesus the honor, praise and worship He so greatly deserves. May we not wait till another day. May we do it and honor Him today.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ordinary Time: Monday, November 16, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

1 Chronicles 15:1-29

There is a joy that comes from God. David felt this joy. There is a difference between joy and happiness. Joy is not based upon circumstance. Joy is not based upon the conditions of life. You can be joyful when there is no reason, when there is no point in it. Because for the Christian, joy is based upon our walk with God.

Because we have a hope, we have joy. Because the grave is empty, we have joy. Because there is life abundant, we have joy. Even when our circumstances are not good, we can have joy. David had that joy. May we as well.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 20:7-15

We have joy because we see here in Revelation that in the end, evil will be defeated. We live in a time now where it looks like evil is winning. We live in a time where it looks like good will not triumph, where it looks like sickness and sadness and death will win. That is not so. Goodness will win today and now, and it will triumph in the end. Don't lose heart. Have hope. In the end, God wins!

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 17:1-13

We have joy because we see the glory of Jesus. He is the king of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the beginning and the end. All things were created by Him and for Him. He is the Lord of the Church and the head of it all. This passage shows us the fullness of His glory. And, in all His glory, power and might, He loves us. Oh, how He loves us. Today, we have joy, because we are loved. Today, YOU are loved.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ordinary Time: Thursday, November 12, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

1 Chronicles 10:1-14

We see Saul fall today. He had such potential. He was the one that "looked" like a king. He was strong. He was handsome. He had all the gifts. He was a good warrior. He was a good leader. He rallied the people at times. He served God at times. He was everything you would think that you would want in a king.

But, he turned away from God. He became more worried about his own power, his own way, his own desires than he did for what God wanted. He turned away from God and because of that it all came crashing down. It all has to start with our walk with God. That's what is most important. That's what matters the most. Everything else pales to that. It all starts with God.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 19:1-10

Revelation reminds us over and over again - things may look bad. It might look like things cannot get better. It might look like there is no hope. It might look like there is no way. But, God will make a way. God will rescue His people. God will intercede on behalf of His people. And, in the end, God will be worshiped by all. He is almighty, He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and all will see His glory and power. He is worthy. Today, and always.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 16:1-12

Remember, when we feel bad that we don't understand God, we don't understand the Bible, when don't understand what God is doing - neither did the disciples. Jesus would teach them, He would speak to them, He would explain it them, and they did still didn't always get it. They did in the end, but they didn't all the time.

Thankfully, He was patient with them, and He loved them above all else. He does the same for us. He loves us in our weakness, He loves us in our not knowing. He simply loves us.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Today, just a quick thought. It's Veterans' Day, and also drawing close to Thanksgiving. Today, and each day, may we remember just how much we have to be thankful. Let us be thankful for "for heroes proved In liberating strife. Who more than self their country loved. And mercy more than life" May we be thankful for all that are serving our country and all those that have served our country. May we be thankful for all the goodness of life. May we realize how blessed we are.

He who can return thanks for little will always find he has enough.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Nehemiah 9:26-38

This passage recounts the goodness of God. Time after time the people turned away. Time after time they turned from their God. Time after time they fell into sin. Time after time they chose the wrong, the improper, the the sinful. Time after time they were punished.

And time after time God forgave. Time after time God restored. Time after time God forgave His people and gave mercy, hope, and love. We don't deserve the goodness and mercy of God. That's not what we deserve or have earned. But He gives it anyway. God is a God of mercy, time after time. Let us be thankful for that.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 18:9-20

If Revelation teaches us anything, it's this. God will intercede on behalf of His people. In Revelation, the people of God are oppressed. They suffer. They are beaten down. They face persecution on every side. And, in the end, God defeats those that have harmed His people. God stands by His people and in the end, goodness will win. God will win over evil. The meek shall inherit the earth. God will reign and His people will live forever. God wins in the end. Thanks be to God.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 15:21-28

Jesus brought healing to those in need. They cried out and He brought healing. They hurt and He restored them. They were weak, and He brought strength. They were weak and wounded, sick and soar. And He gave them life.

The same Jesus that brought life to so many is the same Jesus that longs to bring us life today. Today, and each day, life is found in Jesus. In love, His mercy, His peace, His life. He is love and life. Today.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ordinary Time: Monday, November 9, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Nehemiah 9:1-15

The people come to this point where they are starting anew. They are starting back where everything was, but where so much had changed. They were starting again. But, before they restarted, they were reminded. The Lord was there in the past. The Lord had moved and the Lord would move again. In this time of change and new life, God was still God. And the same God they trusted back then was the same God they could trust now.

The same is true for us today. We can still trust God.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 18:1-8

We are reminded over and over in scripture that we are not to judge. But, we are also reminded today that God will judge one day. He is the final judge and authority. He is the king of kings and Lord of Lords. He is all in all and the Lord of it all. And, thankfully, He is a God of mercy. He longs to love and forgive His children. Yes, He will judge one day. But today, in this place and time, He offers mercy, love and grace.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 15:1-20

Jesus reminds us that it starts with the heart. That is where it all begins with. He wants our heart. He wants our very being. As the heart goes, so goes everything else. Today, and each day, may He have our heart.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ordinary Time: Thursday, November 5, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Ezra 7:1-16

One of the interesting things about the rebuilding of Jerusalem is this - God used people that weren't "His" to make this possible. Gentile kings and leaders, they allowed the Jewish people to return and rebuild. The kings supported, helped and encouraged. They told them to do and supported them in it. Yet, they weren't "God's people." They were Gentiles.

To me, this shows that God can and will use anyone. Sometimes when the church is resistant to doing what God would have us to do, God will use other means. God will use whoever, and whatever He has to in accomplishing His will. We need to always be careful to make sure we are trying to do God's will, not assuming that our will is God's will. God's will is going to be accomplished. May we be part of it.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 14:1-13

Blessed is those that die in the Lord. Revelation reminds us of that. One of the lessons we learn from Revelation is this - God wins. And there is a reward for those that are faithful to God, that serve and love Him, that seek to do His will and seek to grow in grace. God sees His people, He loves His people, and He has rest for His people. Don't grow weary. Don't grow tired. There is rest for those that love God and are called for Him. There is rest.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 14:1-12

Herod did a lot of things that were wrong. Lots of things that weren't good. Lots of problem. But, we see in this story perhaps his greatest downfall. Pride. He knew the beheading of John the Baptist was wrong. He knew he shouldn't. But, he had committed himself and he was too prideful to back down. It's the pride that goeth before the fall. May we remember the dangers of pride.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Nehemiah 13:4-22

When we make mistakes, when we fall down, we can always take comfort in scripture. Why? Because the people there are no better than we are, and honestly, sometimes I think they are worse. Today, we see that the Temple is rebuilt! God has restored His favor! Blessings back in the Land! The people have been restored!

And in no time, the people are back to breaking the law. They are back to doing the very things that got them in trouble in the first place. They are back to not keeping their word to God.

So, it's not just us that fall down and make mistakes. It's not just us that don't do what we said we would do. This is not to offer excuses. But it is to say that all humans throughout all time have suffered from the same problem - sin. And thankfully, our salvation doesn't come through anything we do, but through all that He did.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 12:1-12

The power of evil is defeated by the blood of the lamb and by the word of our testimony. Jesus Christ, through the cross and the empty tomb defeated the powers of sin, death, and the grave. For us as Christians, they have no power over us. They are defeated. Where o death, is your victory, where, o death, is your sting? Sin is defeated, death is defeated.

And today, as Christians, as the church universal, when we raise our voices, when we offer praise to God, when we testify about God's grace by our words, and with our lives, darkness is defeated. Today, this day, with your witness, you have the power to defeat darkness.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 13:53-58

Because of their lack of faith, He could not do the miracles that He desires. The only thing stopping God from breaking out in our midst today is us. The only thing stopping God is our faith, or our lack thereof. God will do His part. May we do ours. May we believe. May we have faith. May we hope. May we know that God is still at work today, and each day. May we have faith.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Nehemiah 12:27-31a, 42b-47

We see the wall is rebuilt. That which has been destroyed has been restored. We see where hopelessness and sadness reigned, hope was restored. The city had been destroyed. The temple laid to waste. All the signs of God's love and promise were gone. All looked lost.

But, God is a God of second chances. God is a God that doesn't give up. God is a God that forgives. God is a God of endless hope and a God that longs to restore. That which was lost has been found, that which was destroyed has been rebuilt. God is a God of endless hope.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 11:1-19

One of the hopeful messages of Revelation is this - God sees the pain and hurt of people. We see in Revelation judgement after judgement. But, who is being judged? Who is having all these harsh pronouncements given? Who is facing the wrath of God?

Those that have worked against God; those that have oppressed God's people. Those that have persecuted the church, those that have sought to stop God's will. God hears the cries of His people. He hears the cries of the church. He hears the anguish of His children. And Revelation teaches us that He will intercede on behalf of His people.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 13:44-52

What can compare to God? What can compare to knowing Him? We chase life and love and peace in so many ways. And they all leave us empty. On in Jesus. Only in God. Only through Him do we find the life that we want so badly. What can we compare the kingdom of God to? It is the pearl of great price, the gift that is worth everything. What can we compare to the goodness of God? Nothing. It is above all and beyond all. It is all in all.

Ordinary Time: Monday, November 2, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Nehemiah 6:1-19

Nehemiah had a gift given to him by God - the gift of discernment. He was able to discern, to understand, to figure out that this one saying that he had a prophesy, did not. He was not speaking for God, he was speaking for those that were opposed to God and to His plan. Nehemiah was about to understand that see that.

Some of us may have that gift of discernment. Others may not. No matter, we all have a gift. We've all been gifted by God in some way. We all have something that God has given us that He wants us to use for His glory and His Kingdom. What are your gifts? Where do you feel like God has gifted you? What areas of your life do you just feel God calling you in? Those may be your gifts. Listen to God. Explore where He may be calling you. And follow.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 10:1-11

We see in Revelation the continuing prophecies of God. We see the continual unfolding of God's plan. We see God's completeness being unfurled. And we don't fully understand it. I think that if there are things that we can learn from Revelation, they may be this - God wins in the end. When its all said and done, when it's all over - God wins. And, we don't understand it all. We don't understand every mystery. We don't understand all that God is doing. And that's ok. We don't have to. We just have to trust.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 13:36-43

We see in this parable that angels will come, they will separate the righteous and unrighteous, and judgment will be done. Notice who's doing this. The angels on behalf of God. Not me and you. Our job is not to judge others. Our job is not to pronounce where folks will spend eternity. Our job is not to be the ultimate judge of others. Our job is to love. Love God, love neighbor. And leave the rest up to the one that will be the judge - God Almighty.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ordinary Time: Thursday, October 29, 2009

Let your work on God's team be inspired by the old story Rufus Jones told about a little boy playing on the deck of a ship plowing through a pitching storm at sea. When a passenger asked the boy if he was afraid, he replied, "I am not afraid because my father is the captain of this ship. Your Father is the Captain, and all is well.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Ezra 6:1-22

We see the time in exile has now ended for the people. They are restored. They had been wandering away from the Temple, from the land, from the promise for these years. Now they have returned. And it is God who has lead to their restoration. He has protected them and made a way for them. Even though they were imperfect and had failed God time after time after time, God did not give up on them. They were still His people. And He made a way.

God doesn't give up. He's always calling us back, spurring us forward. God doesn't give up. He always brings hope.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 5:1-10

Jesus Christ is worthy. Not because of anything He has done. He is not worthy of worship just because of the many things we have to be thankful for. He is not worthy of worthy of worship just because of His great acts. He is not worthy just because of any of this.

He is worthy because HE IS. He is the great I AM. He is God. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the beginning and the end. He is all in all. He is the Prince of Peace. He is. He is God. He is Lord. He is Savior. He is worthy not because of all the great things He has done. He is worthy because HE IS.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 13:10-17

The Disciples were not perfect. All you've got to do is read the Gospels. They didn't always get it. They didn't always understand. They missed what was happening a lot. But yet, in spite of all this, they were willing. And Jesus revealed Himself to them. Because they were willing. Remember, God doesn't want perfect people. He wants people willing to love Him and love each other.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Ezra 5:1-17

We see the people working on the Temple. They have been restored. They had been punished for their sins, they had seen it all taken away. And now, at this time, restoration comes. All is not lost, all is not forsaken. In spite of all that had happened, God restored them.

Always remember that God is a God of second, third, and one-hundreth chances. God is a God that longs to restore and to save His people.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 4:1-11

We start getting a glimpse of what happens in heaven in this passage - the enteral worship of God. God is praised forever and ever in heaven. Heaven is an eternity with God. Here on earth, so many things separate us from God. Time. Sin. Effort. Schedules. All these things, and many, many more. These things pull us away from that time we could be in God's presence, just being with Him.

In heaven, those things are gone. And in heaven we will do nothing be before God, worshiping Him. Heaven is an eternity before God and His glory. Revelation begins to paint that picture for us.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 13:1-9

What type of dirt are we today? Will our souls receive the seeds that God wants to spread His grace to us? Will our souls receive it and all it to grow? Will our souls be too hard to receive? Or will the seed come and wither away after a great start? What type of dirt are we today? Will we receive what God wants to do in our lives?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ordinary Time: Monday, October 26, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Zechariah 1:7-17

This prophet was there at a time when Jerusalem had been destroyed. He was there when things looked like they could not get worse. At a time when it looked like God had given up on His people. And what was the word that the Lord spoke to this His people at this time?

Comfort. Hope. Restoration. God has not forgotten. God has not given up. God will not abandon His people. Hope. Even in the darkest moment, there is still hope. God restored His people. And God will always restore His people.

New Testament Lesson

Revelation 1:4-20

John was about to see some amazing things. Some visions that even today we don't understand. He was going to see some of the greatest mysteries that anyone could ever see or ponder. And what was the first word given - do not be afraid. Do not fear. That command is given time and time again in Scripture. Do not fear. Do not be afraid. God is with you. No matter what you face today, God is with you.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 12:43-50

Jesus reminds us today that all of us that love and serve Him, we are family. No matter what church we go to, what denomination we are part of, what our belief or our theology is. All that love Jesus, all that serve Him, we are family. If God is our Father, that makes us each brothers and sisters. So today, in all that we do, let's love as a family should love.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ordinary Time: Thursday, October 22, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Ezra 1:1-11

We saw a lot of warnings through the prophets - repent. Stop. Behave. Do right. Do justice. Follow God. Do what you are called to do. And if they people did not, judgement would come. And judgement did come. They were driven from they land. They were taken away. They suffered. They were destroyed and defeated. They lost everything. They felt forsaken.

And now, at that point, what happens? Hope. God says, I will send you back. I have not given up on you. I am still God and you are still my people. And will still save you. I will restore you. I have not forsaken you, even in the rough parts. God preserved a remnant. God preserved His people. And He longed to save them, even then. God is a God that does not forsake His people, even in the rough times.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 16:1-9

One of the things that Paul tells all the churches they should do is to take up and offering for the folks in Jerusalem. They are poor. They have no means of support. They have no means of protection. They face persecution from every side. They are defenseless and with our support.

Except from other churches. Remember, we are all on the same team. No matter what church we go to. No matter what denomination we are part of. We are all part of the same team. We all work together for a common cause - the cause of Christ. We are all part of the same family. Paul told the churches to support one another. May we do do the same today.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 12:15-21

In Jesus name, all people have hope. In Jesus name, all people have joy and peace and redemption. In Him name all people have life. In His name all people find love and healing and mercy. In His name there is life. No where else is life found, but in Jesus. Today, and each day, may we live in the power of Jesus name.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Lamentations 2:8-15

We see the ruin of Jerusalem. We see mothers and children weeping. We see pain and hurt and loss. We see all those toss aside by the pain around. We destruction. We see grief. One of the reasons I love the Bible so is that every emotion we ever feel, we can find within. There are times in our lives we feel like those in the text today that have lost it all. We feel as though our world has crumbled. We feel as though all is lost. We feel pain of terrible loss. We see today that we are not the only people in history to feel that way. We see that others have hurt as we hurt. We see that loss is not just upon us, but it's upon many.

And, as we continue to read Lamentations, we are reminded that God doesn't leave us in our loss, God doesn't forsake us. God loves and cares for us, even in great sadness.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 15:51-58

This passage is part of the graveside service out of the United Methodist Church. I've read this passage at many gravesides and each time I do, it gives me great hope. There is a mystery to what God is doing. But, this body is not made for eternity. The soul is. And, even in our moments of grief, we Christians need to remember - death has been swallowed up by victory! Where oh death is your sting? It has been defeated by the cross and the empty grave! Through Christ, we have the victory not just over sin, but over even death! Praise be to God.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 12:1-14

We see that Jesus, above all, loved people. He understood that the highest calling of the Law and of religion in general is to love. Love God, love each other. That is what He did while upon the earth, and that is what He calls us to each day. Love. Love God and love our neighbor.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Lamentations 1: 1-12

Lamentations is a terrible sad book. It's the book about the mourning that happens after Jerusalem is destroyed and the people taken into exile in Babylon. It's a book of heartbreak, or hurt, of pain, or loss. The people are devastated and all is ruined.

And the saddest part of the book was that it didn't have to be this way. The people had such potential to be faithful and do good for God. They had such potential to do the things God would have them and be the people God would have them to be. They had such potential to change the world for better. But they didn't. They never become would they could be.

Today, we have great potential as well. There is much we can do for God, for our neighbor. There is much we can do to make the world a better place. May we take advantage of our potential.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 15:41-50

Paul reminds us that this life is not the end. There is more than our eyes can see and ears can hear. There is a life, and world beyond this one. CS Lewis said we are each made for eternity:

There are no 'ordinary' people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations -- these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whome we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit
This life is not the end. And you were created so something so much bigger than all this. You were made for eternity.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 11:25-30

What does Jesus promise? Does He promise an easy life? No. Does He promise no problems? No. Does He promise wealth and money? No. Does He promise good health? No. Does He promise that tear or pain or hurt will never come your way again? No. So then, what does He promise?

Rest. All who are weary will find their rest in Him. Rest. His yoke is easy. His burden is light. Rest. Are you tired? Are you worn out? Are you beaten down? You can find rest. In the life, love, and service of Jesus. We find our rest in Him.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Laity Sunday

This is a video we showed in Worship yesterday spotlighting some of the ministry we are involved in here in Ripley

Ordinary Time: Monday, October 19, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Jeremiah 44:1-14

The Lord speaks to the sin that His people are committing today and He asks them this question - Why are doing great harm to yourself? That's ultimately what sin does, it harms us. It harms us. It does great harm to us. It harms our walk with God. It harms our walk with others. It harms our very soul. Sin, temptation, these thing look so good on the outside. . . so tempting. But, the do us more harm than we can ever imagine.

Be wary of sin. Be wary of temptation. For they will only do us harm, and do harm to the relationships all around us.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 15:30-41

Paul reminds us of this same fact today - bad company corrupts good morals. We need to be a friend to all. We need to be loving to all. We need to not be judgmental or condemning, the world has a enough Christians that do these things. The world needs folks right now that are willing to love and serve and see the best in others. That is what the world desperately needs at this point.

But, we need to, as well, have those Christian friends we can turn to in times of trial. Those Christian friends, those pastors that in our hour of need can walk with us, pray with us, care for us, and support us. We need to be those Christian friends to others, and in our lives we need make sure that we have those Christian friends.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 11:16-24

Jesus speaks to those that rejected Him and His ministry and says that this is that they have missed their moment. They had their chance. Jesus gave them a chance and gave them a moment. Just as He does for us. Today, we will have a moment with Jesus. A chance with Him. Let's not miss it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ordinary Time: Thursday, October 15, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Jeremiah 38:1-13

One of the things we see in the life of Jeremiah is that things were not always easy or good. One of the misconceptions we have is that if we just love God, we'll face no troubles. That simply is not the message of the Bible. Everyone that loved God, everyone that sought after Him, everyone that tried to be faithful, they faced troubles.

But here's the thing. They were never alone. God did not forsake them. God did not abandon them. Even in the pit, even in the well, God made a way. Even then. So, the life of God is not always easy. But it is always worth it.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 14:26-33a, 37-40

Paul wants things done in order not because order is always perfect. He wants things done in order because thats the way that those that are new to the faith can learn. That's the way those that are just learning can learn more. Remember, we don't exist for ourselves, we don't even worship for ourselves. We exist, and we worship, for God. And for others. We should live in such a way, and be such a people, that glorify God, and build each other up.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 10:34-42

Jesus reminds us today that He has come, and He asks us to make hard choices. Will we be faithful to Him above all else, or will we be faithful to other things? Will we choose Him above all else? Or will we choose others things? Will He be the Lord of our lives? Or will we choose other things?

He loves us more than we'll ever know. We are worth more to Him than we'll ever know. He longs to love us and make us whole. He just wants all our life in return.

May we know that we will find life no other place than in Jesus. And may we turn to Him each moment of our lives to know His love and His mercy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, October 14, 2009

You are who you are for a reason.
You're part of an intricate plan.
You're a precious and perfect unique design,
Called God's special woman or man.

You look like you look for a reason.
Our God made no mistake.
He knit you together within the womb,
You're just what he wanted to make.

The parents you had were the ones he chose,
And no matter how you may feel,
They were custom designed with God's plan in mind,
And they bear the Master's seal.

No, that trauma you faced was not easy.
And God wept that it hurt you so;
But it was allowed to shape your heart
So that into his likeness you'd grow.

You are who you are for a reason,
You've been formed by the Master's rod.
You are who you are, beloved,
Because there is a God!

--Russell Kelfer

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Jeremiah 36:27-37:2

The king would not listen to the words of warning that were given. There was a chance there for redemption, for a turn around, for a new hope. But the king would not listen. He would not seize this moment. He would not turn to God at this time.

It's never too late to turn to God. It's never too late to start anew. It's never too late to give to God those things that torment us. It's never too late for a fresh start, for new hope, for a new day. This is a day of new beginnings. May we turn to God today, and may we receive the peace He longs to give.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 14:1-12

Paul reminds us that no matter what our gifts may be, they are not merely for their own glory or for our glory. Whatever gifts we've been given are for the good of church, for the good of kingdom, for God's glory. Today, whatever gift you have (and yes, you have one!) is for God's glory. Use it for such. Use it for good. Use it to build up. Use it for your church; use it for the kingdom. God has given us these gifts for these reasons. May we use them as such.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 10:16-23

Jesus warns us that trouble will come. Following Jesus is not always easy. In fact, it's not easy most of the time. I'm not a "bed of roses" preacher. Some folks say you become a Christian and everything is perfect, no problems. That's not the way that it works most of the time. Problems will come. There will be trials. There will be tough times. There will tears.

But, as He promised today, He will not leave us. He will give us what we need to say. He will not leave us alone in those times of trial. He will not forsake us. He will not abandon us. He will love us. And He will be with us. No matter what we are going through. He will be there.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ordinary Time: Monday, October 12, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Jeremiah 36:11-26

There are times in our lives when we need to listen to the words or warning. Today, the king did not. Why? Well, he's the king. He doesn't need to listen to anyone! Who can tell him what to do? Who can correct him? After all, he's the king. He's always right.

We need to be very careful in life that we don't get that same attitude. All of us, today, can be corrected at times. All of us can learn from others. All of us make mistakes. All of us have much to learn in life. There is only one that is perfect. And that one is not us. Today, may we be aware of our weakness in life, and may we never become so arrogant that we will not listen to words of correction or advice.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Christians should not be known for their doctrinal agreements. We should not be known for our acts of worship. We should not be known for our churches and our buildings. We should not be known for righteousness. We should not be known for our eduction. We should not be known for our positions. We should not be known for any of these things.

They will know we are Christians by our love. That is what we should be known for. Our love.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 10:5-15

Jesus told the disciples to go into the towns. He told them in some places they'd be received well. In others, they would not. He told them to do all the good they can do where ever they are. If they are allowed to stay, stay and do good. If not, leave then, and go on continuing to do good. Every effort we make may not be successful. If it not, shake the dust off, continue doing what God has called you to do, and keep doing good.

Today, in all that we do, may we try to do as much good for others as possible. And in doing that, we will show God's love, and be a light for Him.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ordinary Time: Thursday, October 8, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

2 Kings 23:4-25

Outside of David, Josiah was the greatest of the kings. Was he great militarily? He had some success, but not overwhelming. Was he of great wealth? Well, he was king, so he did alright. Where did his greatness come from?

It came from what we read today. He had a heart for God. And he was going to follow God with all that he had and all that he was. He was going to lead the people in the ways of God. He was going to put a stop to the idolatry that had plagued the land. He was going to make sure the people knew that the Lord was God and was going to lead them in worship.

It was not any of the "earthly" things that made him great. It was his heart for God. May we do likewise.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

We all have different gifts. We can all serve God in different ways. None of us have the same talents or the same passions or the same callings. None of us have the same gifts from God.

But the same God gives us each our gifts. However we are gifted, we are called to use those gifts for God and for His glory. We are called to use whatever it is that He has given us for the good of God and His people. No matter what your talent is, no matter what your gift is. You were given it by God. May we use what He has given us for that good.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 9:18-26

Jesus brings healing. Sometimes, as in this text, it is physical healing. Sometimes He heals the sick and the dying. Sometimes these great and wonderful things happens. Sometimes, very often, He heals brokenness. The broken heart. The broken soul. The one that is beat down. The one in need of rest. The one that needs His grace. The one that needs His mercy. Jesus brings healing. May He bring healing to you today, in whatever form you need it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Today's devotional will be a little different. I just wanted to share a brief thought with you that I had yesterday. I had to drive to Jackson yesterday for a meeting and as I was driving back to Ripley I was just thinking about all that's going on in my own life, the life of my family, in the life of the church.

And the reality is it's not just me. It's each of us. Every one of us has something going on in our life that keeps us busy. Everyone one of us has something that keeps us worn out. Everyone one of us has something that worries us. Every one of us.

And as I was thinking about this yesterday, the Lord laid something on my heart; you are so stressed about all these things because you are carrying them all by yourself. Sometimes I forget that. I get so focused on what I can do or what I need to do that I forget that I'm not in this alone.

And I assume I'm not the only one.

Today, take time to share these burdens with God. Take time to share with Him you real concerns, your real hurts, your real needs. Take time to remember that you are not in this alone. That it's not just up to you. Take time to give it to God.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

2 Kings 18:9-25

One of the things that always got the people in trouble in the Old Testament was that they relied upon things other than God. They would rely upon Egypt. They would rely upon other kingdoms. They would rely upon everything other than God.

In this time of fear, in this time where we seek safety everywhere, may we learn the lesson that the people of the Old Testament never did. Our safety, our protection, our provision, it comes from God, and God alone.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Paul reminds us that we live for more than just ourselves, we live for others as well. And while I may do something that doesn't cause me to to weaken my faith, it may effect someone else different. My life effects yours, and your life effects mine. We are part of the same body, we are part of the same family. Our lives really do affect each other.

So, let's live in a way to build up, not tear down. Help, not hurt. Strengthen, not weak. Pull together, instead of pull apart. Let's live as the family we are.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 7:13-21

Let us bear good fruit. Let us produce love, joy, peace and kindness. As the children of God, may we grow deep in Him. May we have firm roots in Him. My we dig down deep in our walk with Him. And, just a tree will produce the fruits of it's kind, as the children of God, may we produce the good fruits that God would have us to produce.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

2 Chronicles 29:1-3, 30:1-27

One of the truths of all the Bible is this: when people turn to God, He meets them there. No matter what. No matter what has happened. No matter what may have been done. No matter what the past may hold. No matter what. When people turn to God, He meets them there.

The king said "let us turn back to God." The people did, and God was there. God is a God that desires to be in relationship with us, to know us, to love us, to care for us. That is what He wants, above all. Today, when we turn to God, He is there waiting on us.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 7:32-40

All of Paul's talks about families here is defined by his first sentence. I want you free from anxieties. Paul doesn't want us worried about the the stuff of this world, he wants us worried about and focused on the stuff of God. Paul always reminds us that as great as things can be here, as awesome as it can be here, this world is not our home.

And we are called to keep our minds on things above. Not just just the things of this age. Today, may we keep our minds focused on the eternal, and things from God.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 7:1-12

Jesus teaches us to be very, very careful when starting to judge others. Before we judge others, lets look at ourselves. Before we start worrying about others mistakes, lets look at ourselves. Before we start looking at other's sins, let's look at our own.

None of us are sinless. None. None of us are perfect. None. Let's remember our own imperfections when we are tempted to judge others. Let's remember our own mistakes when we are tempted to judge others. Just as we want mercy for our own mistakes, may we show mercy for others and their mistakes.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ordinary Time: Monday, September 28, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

2 Kings 17:24-41

We see in this passage why the Samaritans had a bad name, even to the time that Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan. They worshiped gods other than the Lord God. They worshiped their idols from their former lands. They also worshiped God, but He did not have exclusive ownership of their worship and their hearts. He only had partial.

God wants it all. He wants all our hearts; He wants all our worship. He wants all that we are. And, it's in giving Him everything that we have and all that we are that we find out who we are called to be.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 7:25-31

Paul reminds us that this world is not our home. We are here for a time, but this world is not our home. We have a higher home; we have a higher place. We were made for something more than this; we are created for an eternity with God. Never forget where you true home is, never forget what you were made for. You are made for eternity. Not just for this time. Remember your true home.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 6:25-34

Jesus reminds us of that in this passage. Don't worry about all these things. Trust in God. Seek His kingdom. Turn to Him. Rely upon Him. Follow Him. And He will take care of you. God will take care of you. He will give you what you need. He will not forget nor forsake you. Trust in Him. Seek after Him. And, in doing that, we will find that we have all that we could ever need.

Friday, September 25, 2009

An Open Invitation to the People of the United Methodist Church

Bill McAlilly on his great blog Building Bridges posts this Open Letter to fellow United Methodists. It's a great letter and I wanted to share it on my blog:

If you believe that Jesus Christ is the center of our Faith and that all of life flows from life in him…

If you believe that what unites us in Jesus Christ is greater than any difference that may separate us…

If you believe that we as Christ-followers need to recapture the gift of Christian Conversation…

If you believe that the Holy Scripture is best understood in light of the life, teaching death and resurrection of Jesus…

If you believe that we are better together than we are apart…that our strength is in unity not in schism…

If you believe that resurrection is stronger than death, that hope is greater than fear…

If you are tired of the endless arguing about who is in and who is out, who’s acceptable and who’s not…

If you would like to have a conversation about what’s right with the United Methodist Church…

I invite you to a conversation about the matters of our hearts and the desires of our faith…

I invite you to a conversation where we discover those places of vitality and strength…

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ordinary Time: Thursday, September 24, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

2 Kings 9:1-16

One of the things we see through out the books of 1 Kings and 2 Kings, as well as all through out the Bible, is that God is always up to something. God is always at work. God is always doing something. Here, a new king was anointed and done so for a specific purpose. He was raised up by God to make things right. God was always at work.

And He is today as well. He is always working, always doing always in the midst of some new and awesome thing. In your live, in the lives our churches, in all that is happening. God is at work. Have hope, have confidence! God is doing something awesome.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. There was an old belief in Paul's day (which is still around today) called gnosticism. This said that the body was bad, and the spirit was good. So, it didn't matter what you did to the body, as long as you soul was good. Paul said, no, the body matters.

First, the actions we take affect our soul. How we live affects our soul. Our lives and bodies affect our souls. They are connected. They are joined. In short, how we live really does matter.

Second, these bodies are a gift! Take care of them. Nurture them. Take care of yourself. This is something I haven't always done, but I'm trying to do better. We each need to. This body is a gift from God. Take care of it!

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus warns us, don't worry about being seen as faithful, just be faithful. Don't worry about others seeing you prayer, or fast, or doing things things. Just do them. Don't make a big deal about your faithfulness. Don't brag about it. Don't puff out your chest. Just be faithful. Just love God. Just spend time with God. And then, it's worthwhile. Because then it's not done for others to see; it's done to spend time with your savior.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

2 Kings 6:1-23

One of the great truths of the lives of those that God uses in amazing ways is that they trust God in all things. They know that He is looking out for them; that He is at work for good in their lives; that they are never alone. God is with His people. At all times. And in all places. And in all ways. God is at work for the good of those that love Him.

He protected Elisha today. He stood by him and helped him in this time of danger. And because Elisha knew the power of God, he trusted in God. Today, and each day, may we trust in the power of God. May we know that He is with us, and that His arm is still mighty to save.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 5:9-6:8

Paul felt like that as Christians, we should be able to work things out. We are a family. We share the same God as our Father and if He is our Father, then we are brothers and sisters. And as family, we can work through anything together. As far as disagreements, we can disagree without being disagreeable. We can have our differences without it getting personal. We are family. Let's work like one. Let's live like one.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 5:38-48

Jesus ends this passage with the command to be perfect as God is perfect. How? How do we do that? He tells us right before. Love. Love your enemies. Bless those that curse you. Forgive. Gives someone your coat. Walk a mile with them. Get to know them.

We may never be perfect in action. But, through God's grace, we can work towards perfection that really matters. Perfect in love. That's what we are to strive towards. Love God with all that we are. Love our neighbor with all that we are. Love. May we seek after this greatest gift of all - love.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ordinary Time: Monday, September 21, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

2 Kings 5:1-19

What Naaman was told to do didn't make sense to him. Surely, he thought, there is another way other than this. This plan isn't what I'd do. This isn't the way I'd do it. There must be a mistake. That's the way it sometimes works with God's plan. God's plan doesn't always make sense the way we'd like for it to. God's plan doesn't always work the way we'd like. God's plan isn't what we would do.

But, Naaman did what the prophet said and he was made clean. He followed the plan set for and God brought a good end. Eventually, he trusted. And, God made a way. May we learn to trust. And, we when we learn to trust, we will find that the same God that made a way from Naaman is the same God that will make a way for us.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 4:8-21

Paul says one of the most bold things he ever said in scripture today. Be imitators of me. If you want to see what a Christian looks like, if you want to see a Christian life, be do what I do. Live like me. Follow the way that I live. What a bold statement. What an amazing statement. To tell others to live like me to see a Christian life.

Can we say that? Can we say to others, if you want to see what a Christian looks like, watch me? The truth is, whether we say it or not, others are watching. May we live in a such a way that glorifies God with all that we do.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 5:21-26

Jesus wants us to be right in our hearts with others (not hating them in our hearts) and with our lives (leaving our gifts at the alter and making things right). It's not an either/or thing. It's a both/and. God wants our hearts to be right with others and our lives. It does not good to have a "pure" life and evil heart, just as it's not right to have "pure" heart and be mean with our lives! May we see to love God, and love our neighbor, with both our heart and our life!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, September 17, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

1 Kings 22:29-45

One of the lessons we learn from all the books of Kings is that the vast number of the kings of both Israel and Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord. Just because they had this powerful position, that did not mean that they were righteous.

And the sad part about that is that these persons were put in a great position to do good. They could have done so much good for God when they were king, but the did not. Instead of turning to God, they turned to themselves. They did not use their positions for good.

Today, not many of us a kings. But, all of us are in a position where we can do some good for God. May we each use our positions for good and to glorify God. May we use whatever status or position we have for the goodness of God.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 2:14-3:15

Paul reminds us today, let us not be divided by factions. Let us not be divided as Christians. While we may have different opinions and have different views of things, we are all one in Christ. If Christ is our Lord, if God is our Father, then we are family. And as family, we may have disagreements. But, that doesn't mean that we aren't family. As Christians, as brothers and sisters in Christ, may we remember that what unites is much great than whatever separates us.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 5:1-10

Jesus teaches today, blessed are those that seek God. Blessed are those that seek peace and mercy. Blessed are those whose desire is not for the things of this world, but the things of God. Blessed are those that truly know what's important. Blessed are those that seek what is right, just and good. Blessed are those that seek God.

May we seek God today, and each day.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ordinary Time: Monday, September 15, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

1 Kings 21:17-29

The Lord is a God who longs to bring grace and forgiveness. Even Ahab, one who had done terrible, terrible things when he heard of God's coming judgement, he stopped and repented. And the Lord did not bring the judgement against him that he rightly deserved. The Lord is a God that wants to forgive and restore. The Lord is a God that doesn't delight in punishing His children. When we take one step towards God, He comes running after us. Even one as Ahab, who had done so much against God, when he stopped and repented, the Lord gave forgiveness.

Our God is a God of forgiveness and second chances. May we live the life changing power of God's grace today.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 1:20-31

Paul reminds us today that God is beyond our mind's ability to understand. His ways are higher than ours His thoughts are beyond our thoughts. His plans are good and righteous and always for our God. The thing with God is that while we don't always know what He's doing; we don't always know what He's up to, it will always be for the good of His children. It will always be for the good of those that love Him and are called by Him.

Even when we don't understand. Because we can't understand. But, we can trust. Because while we might not know exactly what He is up to; we do know this. God loves us.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 4:12-17

Jesus began preaching, and preached this simple message - Repent for the kingdom is near. To repent means not just to stop sinning, but to turn away from it. To make a 180 degree turn. And, just as importantly, turn to God. How can we stop sinning? How can we turn? How can we do these things? Only through God and His power. That's why to turn away from sin, we must turn to God. All things are possible through God. When we turn to God, we can do more than would ever thing possible.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ordinary Time: Thursday, September 10, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

1 Kings 18:1-19

We see the challenge made by Elijah today. On behalf of God, he challenged the prophets of Ba'al. It would be decided who was the God of Israel. Would it be the Lord God, or would it be Ba'al. When we read further, we see that the Lord won the challenge and showed His power and might.

Never forget we serve a big a mighty God. Never forget that we serve a God that can do amazing things. Never make God too little. Never make God too small. He is still alive! And will do amazing things! Don't doubt, have faith! Our God is an awesome God!

New Testament Lesson

Philippians 2:12-30

Paul reminds the people to be faithful - work out your salvation with much fear and trembling. As awesome as God is, He wants us to do our part as well. He wants us to be faithful. He wants us to respond. He wants us to be accountable. He wants us to follow. We are saved by grace through faith, yes. But, we are called to believe and respond. And we are called to let that grace work within us, that we may be faithful.

God will do His part. May we be faithful and do what God has called us to do.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 2:13-23

In the story of Jesus' birth we see great acts of courage - Joseph and Mary fleeing, the wise men deceiving, acts such as these. We also see great acts of evil and hatred, such a Herod killing all the boys under two years old. In life, we have choices to make at time. Will we be strong and brave like Joseph, Mary, and the Wise Men? Or will we give into fear and hate like Herod?

In our lives, in times of choice, may we choose the path of grace. We serve a God of grace. May we be a people of grace.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

1 Kings 17:1-24

We see this great story of the widow who was faithful. She didn't have enough. She didn't know how it would work out. But, she knew that God has placed this one with her. And she gave. And the Lord blessed. She served beyond her ability. She gave from her heart. And the Lord took care of her. Even when she didn't know how or why, she did what the Lord required. She was obedient. The trust moment of obedience is that moment when you don't understand what God is doing or why He's doing it, but you obey. The widow did. May we do the same.

New Testament Lesson

Philippians 2:1-11

May we be humble as Christ was humble. May we serve as Christ served. May we love as Christ loved. Let us remember that if the very Son of God was a servant, that we should be too. May we take on that mind of Christ today. May we see the needs of others, the hurts of others, and pain of others. And then, as Christ did and still does, seek to help. May we take on the mind of Christ today be the hands and feet of Jesus today.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 2:1-12

The king and his prophets, they should have been looking for Jesus. They had every means of knowledge. They knew where He was to be born, they knew all these things. But, they did not look. Others did. Others found. Others sought. They did not. May we seek Jesus today. May we look for here. And we are told, when we seek, we shall find.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Today, just a quick quote. I'll return to my normal format tomororow:

Remember that to the new heart there is a joy even sweeter than that of being forgiven, even the joy of forgiving others.

--Andrew Murray

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

1 Kings 9:24-10:13

We see the height of Solomon's fame in this passage. He is the greatest political king in Israel's history. Never is the kingdom more famous, more powerful, more wealthy, or bigger than it would be under Solomon's rule. All is going well. Why? Because as the text said, Solomon was worshiping the Lord, doing as the Lord would have, following His command, judging and ruling wisely. The Lord had kept His promise to Solomon. The Lord had done what He had promised He would do.

The Lord is a God that keeps His word. He does not depart from what He promises. He does not break His word. Of all that keeps us safe and secure, the greatest is this: His promise to never leave nor forsake His. He is always with us. Today, and each day. Today, rest easy for the Lord is with you.

New Testament Lesson

James 3:1-12

This is one of the most powerful passages of scripture in my opinion. Out of the same mouths flow both blessing and curses, this should not be so! Who can tame the tongue? Each day of our lives, we have a choice with our words. We can build others up, or we can tear down. Each day. By the words we say. By how we speak to one another. By how we speak to strangers.

Our words have a chance to impact people. Do we speak with grace? Are our words graceful? Do we tame our tongue? Do we use this instatement for God's glory? Do we use it build up instead of tear down? Through His grace, may we do so.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 15:1-11

Jesus made no reply because He knew the real power in all of life was not Pilate or the religious leaders, but it was God. God is the one that is king. God is the one at work. Jesus had no reason to quake before any person, because God was king. This amazed Pilate.

And the same is true today. We have no reason to fear. From humans or from anything. God is King. God is with us. God will not leave us. Do not fear. God will never leave your side, no matter what. Do not fear. God is you rock, your shield, you defender. Do not fear. God is with you. Today, and always.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Today, just a quick thought:

Every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day.

--Author unknown

Monday, August 31, 2009

Ordinary Time: Monday, August 31, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

2 Chronicles 6:32-7:7

We see here the Temple dedicated; we see Solomon offer the praise of his words, through prayer and we see him offer the praise of sacrifice upon the altar. With this sacrifice, the Temple is now open and there is sacred space to worship God.

Now, we know that God didn't live in the Temple, just as we know that God doesn't live in any of our churches. We know that as the Psalmist tells us "heaven is your throne and the earth your footstool." But while God doesn't live only in these places, He is there. And those spaces are places that we have specifically set aside for the worship of God. These spaces are more for us than they are for God. These are spaces that we have said we will come and we will worship.

In our lives, we need these spaces. We need the space of worship in church, but we also need the space of personal reflection, personal prayer, personal time. As busy as we each are, we need to make time for those spaces. We need to encounter God there. If we make space to meet God, we will find Him there, waiting on us.

New Testament Lesson

James 2:1-13

We see one of the messages that comes forth in James - treat everyone the same. Don't show favoritism. Don't show partiality. Everyone is made in God's image. Don't treat anyone differently than you'd treat anyone else. Those are good lessons and good words for us. We should treat everyone the same. We should remember that everyone we meet each day deserves our respect. Wesley said did not Christ die for all? Thus He loves all. And so should we. Just as Jesus was loving to all, we should seek to do the same, through His grace.

And with the empowerment of His grace, we can do it. Today, and each day, may we treat everyone with respect.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 14:53-65

One of the hardest parts to read about the crucifixion is all the abuse that Jesus took. We said above that Jesus treated all with respect. In the passages we read about the crucifixion we see that He was not treated with respect, He was abused, spit upon, and beaten. And yet, on the cross, He prayed for the forgiveness of those that had done this. He did this all out of love. Let us never forget what our Lord suffered. And never let us forget what that shows us about the depth of His love towards us.