Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lent: Thursday, February 26, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

The people are reminded that they are God's people. But, they are not God's people because of their great strength or might. They are not God's people because of their great numbers. They are not God's people because they have earned it or deserve it.

They are God's people because He has chosen them. Because He loves them. Because He has reached out to them. Because of Him.

Today, you are loved. Today, you are prized by God. Today, you are the apple of His eye. But, it's not because you have earned that love. It's not because you have done so much to make that love possible.

God loves you because that's who He is. He loves. Whether you are good or bad, saint or sinner. God is love. Today, and everyday, live with the assurance that you don't have to earn that love, it's freely given. And, live a life worthy of that love.

New Testament Lesson

Paul says that there are requirements for those that are leaders in the church. They aren't perfect, for Paul himself would tell you that he's not perfect. But, if you are going to recognized as a leader in the church, then you need to be living a life worthy of that position. Not a life of perfection, because no one, save Jesus, is perfect. But, a life dedicated to the Gospel. A life that shows Christian virtues. A life that shows the grace of love of Christ and His Church.

Today, to those that lead His church, may we live a life of devotion to Him. May we grow in grace and love of God and our neighbor. May we live by the power of the Spirit and in the assurance of Grace.

May we live for God.

Gospel Lesson

Jesus is the Lamb that comes to take away the sins of the world. Today, you can be forgiven.

Think about that.

Whatever it is that you can't forgive yourself of, today, you can be forgiven. Through Jesus, God is offering you forgiveness.


From whatever it is that is plaguing. Robbing your sleep. Killing your soul.

You can be forgiven.

If you will turn it over to Him.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday: February 25, 2009

Today is Ash Wednesday. This is the first day of the season of Lent. Throughout this season, and particularly today, we stop.

And remember. Remember our need. Remember our sin. Remember that we are fallen, that we are bent. That we crooked. Remember that we are not we were created to be.

Something happened. The fall. We were created, and God said it was good. But then temptation entered. Temptation gave way to sin. Sin gave way to death. And the human race was left with a giant hole in our heart.

We try to fill it with success. Power. Money. Sex. All the trappings of this world. But, yet, we remain empty.

Because,while we are all bent, we are each all created with that need deep within us for relationship. With God, and with others.

Even when we are at our best, there is a part of us that knows we are not what we ought to be. There is a part that knows that we are needful and that we need God.

Even our worst, we know that the hole in our hearts desperately needs God's grace.

Today, we stop. We pause. We remember our great need. We are sinful. We are broken. We are like sheep without a shepherd.

And, we also remember that it not just me that is that way, or you, but each of us. It's not that I am sinful, of you are sinful, but we are each sinful. It's not that we are better than or worse than anyone. We are all equal.

We remember that we each need God. Today.

And we remember that each day, God turns His ear to our cry. And He hears.

Today, this Ash Wednesday, and all through Lent. Stop. Turn to God. And He will hear. And He will come.

Stop. Remember. Repent. Turn. And God will be there.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thoughts on Mardi Gras

Today, just a thought on what today is. Today is Fat Tuesday, or as its known more commonly, Mardi Gras.  Today is the last day of celebration before the beginning of Lent, which starts tomorrow on Ash Wednesday. We'll talk more about Lent tomorrow. But, I will encourage you to be thinking today about what you might like to "give up" during Lent.  Its tradition to sacrifice something during lent to remember the sacrifice that Jesus endured for our sake on the cross.  Some give up sweets. Others, Coke.  Some that are really dedicated/crazy give up coffee. 

I'm not that strong. 

But, today is the last day of celebration before the fasting starts. That's where Mardi Gras comes from.  It actually has religious overtones.  

Part of life is enjoying life.  Living a joyous life.  A life full of grace.  I really think the world has enough stern, judgmental  Christians.  It has enough Christians ready to look down noses upon the frailty and mistakes of others. 

What the world needs today is more grace.  More mercy.  More compassion.  More hope.  More life. More love. 

So, today, celebrate.  Live with abandon. Grad this day by the horns and drag every ounce of life out of it.  Today, live.  Live fully.  Live in abundance. 

No matter if you stuck behind a desk, on the road, digging a ditch. 


You have been given this day by God.  Make the most of it. 

Monday, February 23, 2009

Epiphany: Monday, February 23, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

We see the Lord reminding the people.  Some good stuff is going to happen to you. God is going to bless you.  You are going to get land, houses, vineyards. All these good things. 

When they come, though, don't forget who gave them to you.  It was not because of your own strength, but it was because of God. God is the one that made this success possible. God is the one that brought the victory. God is the one that makes all the good things in our lives possible.

So should we be. When we encounter success.  Victory.  Achievement.  A blessing of any type.  Let us not be too quick to grab the credit. But, let us remember that it is God that makes all these good things possible. 

New Testament Lesson

Of all the ways that God has spoken, the Loudest was through His Son. Through Jesus, we see the ultimate revelation of God, the Word of God. Thought Jesus, we see who God is. 

Well, then, who is God? He is love, mercy, dan compassion. He forgives.  He heals.  He comforts.  He brings life to the dead. He's not much on the self righteous or the holier than thou.  In fact, He spends most of His time with those that would not always have been acceptable to the holier than thou crowd.  

In short, He is Love. And, today, this day.  He loves each of us. 

Gospel Lesson

We see once again in this passage that Jesus is the Word.  He is with the Father, and all things were created through Him.  He is at the very right hand of God.  He is King of King, and LOrd of Lords. 

And yet, He gave all that up, to come to Earth to show us God's love, God's grace, God's comfort. Today, may we realize just how beloved we are, and may we live out that same love with each other.  

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Epiphany: Thursday, February 19, 2009

Today just a quick thought. I drove over for a conference in Alabama this morning. As I drove through the foothills of the App. Mountains I thought about the greatness of God. How He formed all that is and all that ever has been.

He has held the entire world in His hand, as the old kids song goes.

And He holds you in His right now. Whatever you are going through right now, God knows. God loves. God cares.

Whatever it is.

God is with us today.

He promised to be. May we trust Him now and always.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Epiphany: Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

We see God tell the people that because they did not seek Him, they did not turn to Him, and so He sought out another. That's something that is worth remembering.  God is not lucky to have us, we are lucky to have Him.  It's not love that we love God, but that God loves us!  

He always calls, always wants to people to come into relationship with us.  He wants to know you today.

New Testament Lesson

Paul tells us today to train ourselves.  We need to work on the things that help our faith to grow, help us to be the people that God's calls us to be.  It's hard work.  It's not always easy.  It can be hard to pray and read and study. But, just as athlete trains to be the athlete, we train ourselves to be the people that God wants us to be. 

Gospel Lesson

These people were trying to trip Jesus, focused on the things that didn't matter.  He was teaching them to love and serve and forgive. They were worried about the trivial things. 

Today, may we focus on God's grace, love and mercy.  Let's focus on the things that we know, and let's leave the trivial things to God and to His mercy. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Epiphany: Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Today, just a quick thought: 

 I would rather walk with God in the dark than go alone in the light.

Mary Gardiner Brainard

Monday, February 16, 2009

Epiphany: Monday, February 16, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

One of the lessons we see in Isaiah is that the Lord implores His people, turn to me in your time of trouble. Don't turn to other people, don't turn to your own strength, don't turn to that which is wrong. Turn to me, and I'll give you strength for the trial.

That's a lesson we can learn today, as well.  In our times of trial, where do we turn for strength? Is it the Lord our God?  All else will fail compared to His great strength.

New Testament Lesson

We see Paul express thanks to God for the fact that God redeemed even him. For Paul had done things that were beyond the pale, that has actually hindered God's work and the church. And, yet, God forgive him.  God's grace knows no limits. God will forgiven anyone that desires to be forgiven. All one must do it turn to Him. 

Today, may we know that power of God's forgiveness. 

Gospel Lesson

We see in this passage the people welcome and worship Jesus. They give Him the praise He is due.  They would later turn on Him, but in this moment, they worshipped.  Let us never loose the power of a moment.  Let us take time, at this time, at this moment, to worship. To praise God. To thank God. To come before Him saying, “Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Epiphany: Thursday, February 12, 2009

Today, just a quick thought: 

I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess.

 Martin Luther

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Epiphany: Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

We see that the Lord is the one that comes to save.  He is the one that saves His people.  Be reassured today that He is on your side.  He is working for you.  He is for you!  Think about that. The God of Heaven, the God of all that is, both seen and unseen, is on your side.  Is pulling for you. Will stand with you!  Rejoice, the Lord today stands with His people.  

New Testament Lesson

Paul reminds us today that no one receives the reward without first working for it. No athlete wins with prize without the prior training and completion.  It is the work put for that makes the achievement possible. 

In faith, we must put feet to our faith. We must work for what we believe.  We must be about God's work. We will have hard times. We will have struggles. We have time when nothing goes right. 

But, don't give up!  Keep trying and pushing!  Keep working!  Keep doing!  The Lord is one your side, and it is the effort put forth that makes the reward that much sweeter. 

Gospel Lesson

We see today that Children have a special place in the heart of God. Thank you to all of you that work with our children.  Thank you for taking the time, and effort to work with these precious ones. 

And, may we have that childlike faith. Just a child trusts in their parents, so, today, may we trust in our God.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Epiphany: Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

There's an old saying about our walk with God; when we are not as close to God as we used to be, who moved? God didn't.  He's always there.  He never leaves.  What happens is that sin clouds our eyes.  Sin keeps us from being able to see.  He has not moved.  It's that the stuff of lives, it can separate us from God. 

But, the great news is that God is a God that longs to forgive His children.  If we confess our sin, He will forgive.  The relationship can be restored. 


Today, you can start over.  You can hit reset. God loves you and wants to know you.  May we respond to His grace today.  

New Testament Lesson

Faith is a treasure.  It is a gift.  It is the dearest thing in our lives.  Everything else withers with the trials, but faith, if tended, will remain strong, and grow. Today, tend the faith given you. Nourish it. Spend time in prayer.  Spend time reading the scriptures.  Spend time serving others.  Spend time with other's that love God. 

Nourish that gift of faith. Guard that treasure. And, it will grow strong, strong enough to sustain you through all of life.  

Gospel Lesson

Jesus tells us to be aware of the things that can keep us from His, as well as the things that can keep others from Him. And, get rid of them.  It goes back to the treasure. What is worth to us than our walk with God?  What do we spend out time nourishing?  May it always be our faith, and not those things that tear us from faith.  May we be aware of those things that trip us and entangle us.  And may we guard ourselves against them.  

Monday, February 9, 2009

Epiphany: Monday, February 8, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

The Lord reminds the people today that is it not the "stuff" of religion He's interested in.  God does not want us to go through the motions of having religion, He wants us to actually have religion.  Help those in need, take care of each other.  Love.  Forgive. Serve.  Believe.  Have faith. 

He wants a faith that starts in the heart, and works it's way out into our lives.  It's not about what we "do," it's about who we are "are." And, who we are will show its self in what we do. 

Today, may we have a heart for God and for His mercy.  

New Testament Lesson

Paul says may I never boast in anything, other than the cross of Christ, and the new creation.  As believers, as Christians, as those that love God, today, may we be humble.  May we remember that the source of our strength is God, that He is our ability, our courage, our very life. And today, and each day, if we boast, may it be in Him.  

Gospel Lesson

I preached on passage as found in Matthew yesterday.  Even a cup of cold water, given in His name, is a great thing. Today, we don't have climb the highest mountain, or swim the deepest sea.  If we can give just a cup of cold water, we are doing something for God. 

I preached yesterday that the goal of the church is not build the church, but to change the world.  How do we do that?  We give one cup of cold water each, one cup at a time.  

Today, be faithful.  Give that cup.  And, in doing that, we will change the world!  

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Epiphany: Thursday, February 5, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

In previous chapters Isaiah told the people, God is there, God cares, God loves you.  And we hear it today in the strongest words.  Anyone that is hungry, come and eat.  Come and drink.  Come and live.  Call the Lord will He is near, and He will be there. 

And, don't spend your money on that which doesn't satisfy.  How many of us chase after things that ultimately do no satisfy us?  True satisfaction, true life, true peace, it is found the free grace of God. Come, all that are thirsty, and receive this free gift

New Testament Lesson

Paul tells us that we are saved for freedom.  We are not saved for the law. The Christian life is not about following a checklist of "thou shalls" and "thou shall not."  It's about living boldly in the freedom of God's grace.  You are not saved by your works.  You are saved by grace. The burden is lifted. The weight is gone.  

You don't have to earn God's love. 

It's simply given to you. 

Today, live as a loved child of God!

Gospel Lesson

If we don't get it sometimes, if we make mistakes, if we don't understand; don't feel bad.  Neither did Peter.  He goes from confessing Jesus as Lord one minute to being called Satan the next.  

We do the same. We go from the mountain top to the valley, very quickly sometimes. The great thing is that the God of the mountain is also God of the valley. And God is with us, all the time. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Epiphany: Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

One of the constants we see in scripture is that things are not always easy for God's people.  Sometimes their problems are of their own makings, such as the struggles of the Israelites.  Sometimes their problems are because of the opposition of the world, such as the churches in Revelation.  

But, in all cases, God promises He will be there with His people, even in the midst of their troubles.  Even if their troubles are their own fault.  God will not leave His children, He will not abandon them in the moment of need.  His grace is always there, at all times. And, will be the shield, protected, and hope, for all that rely upon Him.  

New Testament Lesson

Paul reminds us that we are the children of the promise.   As Christians, the whole catalog of God's promises are ours, as well as the main point behind the promise. The promises of God remind us that God's goodness to us is not because of our worth, but because of His Word.  None of those that are the recipients of the promise are "good," they all make mistakes, they all mess up, they are all imperfect. 

But, God's goodness to them is not because of who they are.  It's because of who He is. The same is true for us today.  His goodness to us is not because of who we are.  It's because of who He is. Today, live in the confidence of the fact no matter what, you are loved. 

Gospel Lesson

Anytime I feel like I don't measure up, I like to read about the disciples.  Because, bless their hearts, they never really got it till after Pentecost. They walked with Jesus, lived with Him, heard His teaching, and they missed the point half the time.  

It shows that God can and will use anyone.  Today, remember you're not the first person not be perfect, nor will you be the last.  Live in the understand that God's grace can use anyone.  The disciples, Or, even, any of us. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Epiphany: Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Awake!  Rise up!  Hope!  Your Redeemer comes!  That's the message of this passage. God will bring restoration to His people.  God will save His people.  Things will not always be as they are now.  God is in the Hope business.  God is bringing His people to life.  Rise up! 

Whatever it is that is keeping you down this morning, know that God is at work!  He will help you throw off the yoke and live.  He desires to see His people really, really live.  Live joyously, knowing that God is at work.  

New Testament Lesson

We see Paul tell about having a physical problem while their, but they didn't hold it against him.  Paul started churches all over the world.  He preached, he taught, he did much. But, he was also never fully healthy.  We don't know what his illness was, but it was something that greatly plagued him. 

And, in spite of whatever it was, he never gave up, or gave in.  He kept working for the goal and mission given to him.  That goal was greater that the pain.  The mission was greater than the problem.  God was greater than the illness. 

So is it for you today. Whatever it is that brings you down, causes you pain plagues your life.  God is bigger than that. Now, He may not take it away, but He will give you strength to do whatever it is He has called you to.  Hope in that. 

Gospel Lesson

We see Jesus make provision out of very little.  He took care of the people.  He cared for them.  He loved them.  He fed them.  He provided. Today, in this day, may we place our trust in Him, and know that He will give us this day our daily bread.