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.