Too Many I’s

July 20, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit. – Psalm 51:7-12

What a week, it tires me out just thinking about it.  Monday was a week-long all by itself.  Then came the ups and downs of Tuesday.  I’m usually on a pretty even keel, but this week, this week I lost it.  Things I normally roll with pushed me hard, leaving me exhausted.  I don’t think I’ve been a lot of fun to be around.  In fact, I wrote two letters of apology this week and probably should write a third.

When you have a week like this, what is the common denominator?  I should have recognized it sooner, but the common denominator is disappointment.  Either I failed to meet my own expectations, or someone else failed to meet my expectations.  My expectations, but wait, what about their expectations?  It’s more than possible that I failed to meet their expectations.  In short, I made this week about me.  What did I want, what did I expect, what didn’t go the way I wanted it to go?  That’s an extremely slippery slope to be on.  Instead of focusing on God, I selfishly focused on me.  When our expectations go unfulfilled, it can produce despair and disappointment.  Instead of the hope and joy that God would have us experience, “self” looks backward with anger, bitterness, and resentment.  That’s a very sad lonely place to dwell.

In this broken world disappointment is inevitable, so, how do we recover from it?  Start by sharing your disappointment with God, tell him honestly what you’re experiencing.  You can talk to God, tell him exactly how you’re feeling, and if you can find the words, then bring him your tears and your groans.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. – Romans 8:26-27

As we turn to God, as we lay our anxieties before him, God is faithful to give us his peace.  

You keep him in perfect peace
    whose mind is stayed on you,
    because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. – Isaiah 26:3-4

Thankfully, God understands and doesn’t take offense.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you. – 2 Corinthians 4:7-12

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed, forgiven child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, we glory in the comfort we find in your Word. Like the Apostle Paul, we find comfort no matter our lot in life for you are there to comfort us. You promise to never forsake us or leave us, you are our solid rock. Heavenly Father, thank you for your loving grace and forgiveness we find only in you. As we believe on the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we are all new creatures in Christ, co-heirs to the kingdom of Heaven, brothers washed in the blood of the Lamb. No greater comfort can we find than knowing this. And all of God’s children said, Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Time + Life + Bible = Discipleship

July 19, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

Jesus Calls the First Disciples

18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them.22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. – Matthew 4:18-22

What does it really mean to be a disciple of God?  Does it intimidate you?  For a long time it made me feel unworthy.  After all, who am I to be a “fisher of men?”  It isn’t really about that.  Rather, a disciple of Christ is someone who believes God’s Word, trusts in His sacrifice to save, willingly receives the Spirit, and imitates Christ’s example in his own life.  Christ’s disciples are also called to share the good news of the gospel with all people.

God has commanded us to share His Word to the ends of the earth.  – 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. – Matthew 28:19

I do feel as we get older we feel better equipped to share God’s Word with others.  It seems that with age comes wisdom, certainly experience, and maybe a bit more empathy for others.  All of it though comes from a growing faith and relationship with our Savior.  How many times I’ve wondered where I would be in my faith if I’d devoted even 10% of the time I now spend in God’s Word to studying it then.  That early relationship with Jesus is so very, very, important.

How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
    let me not wander from your commandments!
11 I have stored up your word in my heart,
    that I might not sin against you.
12 Blessed are you, O Lord;
    teach me your statutes!
13 With my lips I declare
    all the rules of your mouth.
14 In the way of your testimonies I delight
    as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on your precepts
    and fix my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes;
    I will not forget your word. – Psalm 119:9-16

There’s one thing that all disciples of Christ must agree on, and that is the inerrancy of God’s Word.  Those who are serious about being a disciple must take God’s Word seriously.  God’s Word is the absolute and final authority in all things.

You cannot be a true disciple of Christ and at the same time reject God’s Word.  There are those who say they are Christians while at the same time rejecting scripture because they dislike what it has to say about God.  Here’s the truth, there is no God, no Jesus outside of what the Bible teaches about them.  You see, we don’t get to pick and choose what scripture we like or agree with and then disregard the rest.  True disciples will submit to God’s authority in all things.

We need to immerse ourselves in God’s Word every single day if we want to grow in faith.  Be a student of God’s Word, read and meditate on it daily, talk to God in submission and prayer.  There’s a beautiful picture of a disciple in Psalm, Chapter 1.

1 Blessed is the man 
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked will perish.

Listen to God’s Word; be a doer of God’s Word; seek His face daily as you read the scriptures, pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal how to apply it to your life; and be a Christ-like example in all that you do, sharing God’s love and spreading his Word to those hungry to hear it. 

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed, forgiven child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, as we seek your face, as we trust in your Word, teach us to be more like Jesus. How we yearn to hear your voice, to grow in grace and forgiveness. You provided the perfect example and sacrifice in Jesus, our risen Lord and Savior. Oh, to be like Jesus and to follow after him. As we believe on the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we are all new creatures in Christ, co-heirs to the kingdom of Heaven, brothers washed in the blood of the Lamb. No greater comfort can we find than knowing this and sharing your truth with others. And all of God’s children said, Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Sometimes God Is Extravagant!

July 18, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

You will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
    for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
    that you might comfort me.

“Behold, God is my salvation;
    I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
    and he has become my salvation.”

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day:

“Give thanks to the Lord,
    call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
    proclaim that his name is exalted.

“Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
    let this be made known in all the earth.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
    for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” – Isaiah 12

Does God ever surprise you?  Maybe by now I should no longer be surprised, but I’m so delighted when he does.  Sometimes he surprises us in small ways, and then, sometimes it’s, “Ready or not, here it comes!”  It’s almost like winning the lottery.  If we’d just remember when we’re at the end of our rope to give it all to God in faith that he’s in control, he’ll understand.  Even better, he’ll provide an answer if you let him.

There are times, I feel, when we’re too timid to ask God, or we assume that our problems are too small to bother God with; after all, he has a universe to look after.  Or worse, our faith doesn’t trust God to take care of it.  We’ll save our prayer for something really important.  We all need to learn to pray in faith that God hears and answers our prayers.  Sometimes that answer is quiet, but other times it’s “in your face,” make no mistake about what God can do!

There’s a saying that I’m fond of, “Don’t tell God how big your problems are, tell your problems how big your God is!”

I think one of the best illustrations of this in scripture happens when Elisha and his servant find the city of Dothan surrounded by an army.

15 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. – 2 Kings 6:15-17

God can be exceptionally extravagant with his blessings.  I think he does it to remind us that he’s always there, looking out for us, even when we take his blessings forgranted.  I’m often guilty of that, forgetting where all of my blessings come from.  And, I don’t think I’m unusual in that.  We all tend to forget who’s the author of all of our blessings.  And then, God reminds us.

17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. – James 1:17

Consider God’s extravagance in loving us, sending his one and only Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 

“For God so loved YOU that he gave his only Son, that when YOU believe in him, YOU will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 – paraphrased)

That’s extravagance; that’s God’s blessings times a thousand.  

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed, forgiven child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, thank you for loving us extravagantly, undeservedly, sending Jesus to be a sacrifice for our sins. Thank you for answering even the smallest prayers. Thank you for your extravagant provision for our lives and all of the blessings you so constantly bestow on us. Forgive us Father when we fail to come to you in prayer, or when our faith is weak. Strengthen us with your Word Lord, teach us to depend on you for everything and to understand that your love is extended personally to every one of us. You chose us before the formation of the world to be your children, saved, justified, sanctified and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. What wondrous love is this? And all of God’s children said, Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Are You Listening?

July 17, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

I and the Father Are One

22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” – John 10:22-30

Well, it’s official sports fans, I don’t hear as well as I used to.  I even have a doctor’s note to prove it.  Now, when I’m accused of not listening, I can confidently say, “I’m listening, but I can’t hear you,” I have a note!  Two weeks from now when I have my new hearing aids, that will no longer be an excuse for me.

Actually, I’m really looking forward to hearing all that I’ve been missing; hearing loss can be very isolating.  Rather than continually asking, “What did you say?”  I tend to withdraw, smile, nod my head and wonder what was being said.

Speaking to the Jews in Jerusalem, Jesus encountered a different kind of hearing loss.  His audience heard his words, but did not believe or receive what he was telling them.

I Am the Good Shepherd

1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” – John 10:1-18

Jesus’ words divided the crowd, some thought he was demon possessed, others thought he was insane and asked, “Why listen to him?”  Still others pointed out the miracles he’d performed and said his words were not those of someone possessed by demons.  God’s Word can divide as we learn from scripture.

12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12

What’s really at issue is their faith.  Those who don’t believe on the name of Christ hear the words, but cannot understand what is being said.  Those that know their Savior are always listening to his voice, growing in God’s grace as they trust in His Word.

27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” – John 10:27

I Hear The Savior Calling – Martin Albrecht 1909-93

I hear the Savior calling! The gospel comes to me.
My eyes once closed in blindness Are opened now to see
That I myself was helpless To live eternally,
But, dying, Christ did save me, And now he calls for me!

Are you listening?

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed, forgiven child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, how we long to hear your voice! You come to us in your Word and sacrament and fill us with your love for us. Father in heaven, as we listen to your Word, send your Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds to receive it. Strengthen us to share your Word boldly with others. Come to us in the still and quiet morning and refresh us with your promises. Open our ears to hear the gospel when we’re feeling isolated or alone. Thank you Father for sending Jesus, your precious Son to pay our debt on the cross. As we believe on His name, we know you welcome us as your children, the sheep of your pasture, who listen to our Good Shepherd. And believers everywhere said, Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Bread Of Life

July 16, 2019

Good Morning Everyone, 

23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; 24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. 25 I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. 26 He is ever lending generously,  and his children become a blessing. – Psalm 37:23-26

“Will Work For Food” – have you seen the signs?  When I traveled out West, you’d see them on every off-ramp.  Any street corner that had any amount of traffic would have at least one possibly two or more together looking for a hand-out.  I see them now too, but I think our weather, especially in winter, thins out those willing to stand out in the cold.  

I was headed to an appointment this past Thursday, and as I exited the freeway, an individual was standing there holding a similar sign.  This particular off-ramp has a three or four minute light at the bottom.  As I was waiting for the light to turn, I watched him answer one call on his cellphone, and then make two additional calls while he finished one cigarette and lit another one from the butt end of the first.  It made me wonder how he could afford the cellphone and cigarettes, but not something to eat.

Before you declare me callous, when I come across something like that, I’ll typically drive to where I can buy a fast-food meal and then circle back to deliver it.  I find myself hard-pressed to offer them cash because I’m fearful they won’t spend it on the food they’re asking for.

After feeding the 5,000, Jesus withdrew from the crowd knowing they would try to take him by force and make him their king.  The next day the crowd went to Capernaum seeking Jesus.

25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” – John 6:25-27

“Do not work for food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life.”

Like the person on the off-ramp, are we always seeking this food, food that perishes?  God’s promises for us are all found in his Word.  As we seek Jesus, we find both the bread and the living water of salvation.

28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” – John 6:28-40

What a promise we’ve been given in God’s Word!  Within our Saviors embrace we have the promise of eternal life, and, like Jesus, He will raise us up on the last day to spend eternity with him.  All this we have as a promise from God himself, that whoever looks on Christ and believes in him shall have eternal life.  It’s not bread we can buy, it is a gift from God.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed, forgiven child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, give us this bread always; as we believe on the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, deliver us. Clothed in His righteousness alone, we dare to stand before your throne, declared not guilty by the blood of the Lamb. And all of God’s children said, Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

God Withholds No Good Thing

July 15, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

10 For a day in your courts is better
    than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
    from those who walk uprightly.
12 O Lord of hosts,
    blessed is the one who trusts in you! – Psalm 84:10-12

Sometimes, it’s hard to see my blessings.  What I mean is, life can get a bit overwhelming at times.  One day I have the world by the tail with both hands, and the next it’s kicking me from several directions all at once.  It makes me want to scream, “Wait a minute, what happened here?”  How can things be going smoothly today and then fall apart tomorrow?

There are days when I look up and say, “Really Lord?”  “Seriously?”  “What’s the lesson here?”  God must wonder about me and the conversations I have with him.  And, when it gets too bad, I open my Bible and look for the lesson.  God provides not only answers, but shelters in His Word.  

How lovely is your dwelling place,
    O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
    to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
    my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
    ever singing your praise!  – Psalm 84:1-4

“For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere!”  What comfort we find in the arms of a loving God!  As fellow believers in Christ, we know that our Lord is a God of compassion.  In fact, God continually showers his children with blessings.  Think for a moment on all that God does provide that we can be thankful for.

God has not withheld anything from you, consider that.  God did not require that you earn his grace, his love, or his forgiveness.  He offers all of it to us freely through the death and resurrection of his only Son, Jesus Christ.  At your baptism, God anointed you with the Holy Spirit, through his Word and sacrament he strengthens your faith and draws you ever closer to him.  His love and compassion for you knows no bounds.  You are his own dear child, paid for by the precious blood of the Lamb.  On the cross He took our sins on himself to endure the punishment we deserve, that we might spend an eternity with Him in heaven.

“Really Lord?”  “Seriously?”   

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
    give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
Behold our shield, O God;
    look on the face of your anointed! – Psalm 84:8-9
 

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed, forgiven child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, we glory in the comfort we find in your Word. Like the Apostle Paul, we find comfort no matter our lot in life for you are there to call us your own. You promise to never forsake us or leave us, you are our solid rock. Heavenly Father, thank you for your loving grace and forgiveness we find only in you. Heavenly Father, you withhold nothing from your children, but shower us in continual blessings. As we believe on the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we are all new creatures in Christ, co-heirs to the kingdom of Heaven, brothers washed in the blood of the Lamb. No greater comfort, no greater blessing can we find than knowing this. And all of God’s children said, Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Who Is This Jesus?

July 14, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. – Titus 2:11-14

Recently, I listened as my Pastor talked to a group of young children at our community soccer camp about their Savior, Jesus.  It was then that one little girl raised her hand and asked, “Who is this Jesus?”  

It’s a question many people still struggle with today.  There are even “Christians,” as well as other world religions that don’t know their savior.  Some believe He’s a prophet, others refuse to accept Him at all.  Some challenge the veracity of a “God-man,” and challenge that He cannot be both God and man.  Of course, scripture is very clear who this Jesus is.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. – Isaiah 9:6-7

The prophets of the Old Testament foretold the coming of the Christ Child, the promise of a Savior who would atone for the sins of the world.

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. – Isaiah 7:14

“God with us;” what a beautiful promise from our Father in heaven.  So, who is this Jesus, and why was it necessary for him to be born?  The Apostle Paul, writing to the Romans, explains it like this.

10 As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one.” – Romans 3:10

Since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, sin has dominated God’s creation.  Our need for a Savior has been real.  An all loving Father sent his one and only Son, Jesus, to be the atoning sacrifice for our sin.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

This Savior Jesus, became like one of us, fully human and fully Divine.  Fully human so he could live a perfect life in our stead, fully Divine as part of our Triune God.

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. – Romans 3:21-26

A gift of grace and forgiveness; who is this Jesus?  He’s your Savior, the one who bore your sins on the cross at Calvary; who died for the sins of the world, yours and mine.  This Jesus rose again the third day as He promised and today sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty in the heavenly realms.

This Jesus gave us His righteousness, that washes away your every sin; who makes it possible for one day to spend eternity with God, to everyone who believes on His name.

Who is this Jesus?  He is Love.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed, forgiven child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, we need only to look to your Word to discover this Jesus. Fully human and fully Divine, of one being with the Father. This Jesus died for the sins of the world, that clothed in His righteousness, we dare to approach your throne and claim your promise of forgiveness and eternal life.  Thank you Father for sending your Son to us, that through his death and resurrection we are redeemed, sanctified and justified to be your children. Who is this Jesus? He’s our Savior, our Lord, our Brother, our friend. And all of God’s children said, Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Wait For The Lord

July 13, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

    Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation!

10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in. 11 Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.

12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence. 13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!

14 Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:7-14

“Wait for the Lord.”  How’s your patience?  Or, how’s your trust in God?

A friend and Pastor asked recently about getting some wood for their backyard fire pit.  As I have a lot of dead-fall and trees on my property, finding something suitable for firewood shouldn’t be a problem.

Most of the dead-fall is a ways into the woods and would be hard to retrieve at this time of year, so I opted for a dead tree along side my lower yard that would make our job easier.  I was up early to fill the gas on my brush-cutter and chainsaw, adjusted the tension on the chain and then started them both so I was sure they’d run without an issue once we got started.  

I searched up and down the edge of the woods looking for a dead tree that would be a likely candidate for firewood.  The particular tree I chose was growing with a slight bend that would cause it to drop into the woods, but I knew if I notched it correctly, I could drop it onto the lower yard where it would be much easier to cut up.  Out there in the quiet of the early morning, I said a little prayer that it would all go well once we started because I wasn’t at all certain about my ability to make this tree do what I wanted it to do.

An hour or so later, my friend arrived and we set to work on harvesting the dead tree.  I cut the notch just as I had planned, stopping more than once to look again where the tree could fall, and then resumed cutting.  At first it seemed like my geometry was working for me and the tree started to fall as planned.  But then, physics took over and the tree pirouetted and fell between my favorite maple tree and the oak tree next to it.  It hung there in the canopy of the two trees, at a bad angle.

I had successfully kept it from dropping into the woods, only to have it endanger the maple and oak as it fell.  My Pastor friend said, “What do we do now?”  I studied it for a bit and said, “Maybe if I can get a strap on it, I can pull it enough to drop into the open area I had intended in the first place.  “What can I do?” he asked.  Not meaning to be flippant, I said, “Pray!”

I stopped at the ATV long enough to get a drink before going after the strap.  While I was standing there, we heard a loud snap, the tree turned again and dropped right where I’d wanted it.  “Clearly, a Pastor’s prayer is more powerful than mine,” I joked.  And then I told my friend, “there are times when God just wants us to wait.”

18 Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. – Isaiah 30:18

If only it was always this easy to wait for the Lord.  God does refine us though as He tests our faith in little ways.  Not to prove anything to Him, it’s more for our benefit knowing that we can trust God in all things.

The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. – Psalm 12:6

The faith God grows in our hearts, that he refines in love and patience, needs to hear all that the Lord would say to us.  As we seek His face in the Word, remain patient that God has a plan for our lives.  No, it’s not always readily apparent, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a plan.  God’s plan is to prosper you, to save you, and to give you his peace.

Be patient then as you wait on the Lord, you’re a work in progress, growing in God’s grace and forgiveness as a child of God.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed, forgiven child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, forgive us when our patience is weak, open our eyes to understand your Word, that we may be refined by fire, to grow in grace and forgiveness as you’ve planned. We praise you Lord for your patience, your grace and your love. I pray that each of us will learn to wait on the Lord. And all of God’s children said, Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 Before they call I will answer;
    while they are yet speaking I will hear.

 

July 12, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I had a profound experience recently when I was able to “listen in” on someone praying for me. A brother in Christ shared his prayer with me, that God would bless my time in the Word and reveal its message ever more clearly. It was also a prayer of thanksgiving, that God has included me in his Book of Life. What a blessing it is to have someone pray for you!

It made me think about how many times I’ve said “I’ll pray for you,” but haven’t followed through. Do we say this thinking it will comfort someone, or do we actually get down on our knees and pray for someone? I think, if we’re honest, we’ve all done both. It’s so important though that this isn’t just said with our best intentions, but that we actually follow through and pray.

Prayer can be difficult, sometimes we’re not sure how to pray. Even then, God provides through the intercession of the Holy Spirit.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.- Romans 8:26-27

God even assures us that our prayers have power.

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. – James 5:13-16

Today, in fact right now, in the quiet of this moment, I challenge you to pray for someone. It is a powerful and humbling experience to speak to God, but I urge you to do it. You may even want to consider letting that person know that you’re praying for them. Be specific; let them know how you asked God to work in their life.

Above all, don’t forget to offer a prayer of thanks to God, knowing that he not only hears but also answers prayer. My prayer, for all of you, is that God will continue to bless you with the richness of his mercy in Christ Jesus.

I’ll leave you with these final words of encouragement;

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. – Romans 8:28-30

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed, forgiven child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, your Word assures us of the fruits of faith, that one day we will be at home with you in heaven. How we yearn for that day to see our Savior face to face. Thank you Father for your precious gift of forgiveness and salvation, won for us through the death and glorious resurrection of Christ Jesus. As we seek your face in your Word today, may it humble us, strengthen us, and give us the joy of knowing your grace. Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

My Father’s House

July 11, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. – John 14:1-3

Recently, a good friend and a Christian brother, told me he was concerned about where he’ll live when he gets to heaven. My first thought was that he was kidding me, but then, I could tell by the look in his eyes that he was totally serious.  He went on to tell me, that this had been bothering him for some time. He was certain that he would see his Savior face-to-face, but not as sure where he’ll stay when he gets to heaven.

I’ll admit, that I was a bit uncomfortable with his question. I often use levity to lighten a situation because it makes me more comfortable and it was tempting to fall back on a “Heaven joke” to break the seriousness of the moment.

Instead, I shared John 14 “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” – John 14:2-3

As I watched, as God’s word spoke to his heart, I could see the care wash from his face. “In my Father’s house are many rooms….”  One of those rooms is there for each of us who believe in Jesus Christ, our Savior. Jesus, who not only gave up his life for ours, but has gone on to prepare a place for each of us.

Later, when I stopped to think about this conversation, I was struck by the fact that he had no reservations about whether or not he’d go to heaven, just where would he live.  Without faith, he would never have asked that question; so different from when Jesus told his disciples.

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. – John 14:5-14

Jesus understood that his disciples still didn’t completely comprehend what was about to happen; he reassured them by telling them about the Holy Spirit who he’d send to them.

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here. – John 14:15-31

In my Father’s house are many rooms, what peace and assurance we have in the promise of our home in heaven!

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, your Word assures us of the fruits of faith, that one day we will be at home with you in heaven. How we yearn for that day to see our Savior face to face. Thank you Father for your precious gift of forgiveness and salvation, won for us through the death and glorious resurrection of Christ Jesus. As we seek your face in your Word today, may it humble us, strengthen us, and give us the joy of knowing your grace. Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Jesus Loves Me

July 10, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another. – John 15:9-17

Is there anything more precious than watching children learn about Jesus?  Our Pastors share a Children’s Message early in worship and the congregation delights in watching the children run to the altar to hear about their Jesus and what he’s done for them.  They’re eager to hear about their Savior and how much he loves them.

Once upon a time, we were like that too, before we became jaded, opinionated and suspicious of everything.  What a loss our souls feel when we feel that God has abandoned us, when we no longer feel His love because we’ve turned our backs on him.

This past weekend, I was able to spend some time with my grandson Ben watching “Veggie Tales” and the account of Noah and the flood.  Ben’s pretty young, he’ll turn three in November, but he’s not too young to hear about his Jesus and how much his Jesus loves him.

1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. – 1 John 3:1

“Jesus Loves Me.”  Such simple words and yet so profound, so comforting, so sustaining.  If we could all just remember them, how much peace they can bring to our lives.  “Jesus Loves Me.”

God’s love for us defies understanding, but His message is simple.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

Put another way, “For God so loved you, that he gave his only Son Jesus, to be the atoning sacrifice for your sins, so that all who believe in him will not perish, but will have eternal life in God’s kingdom.”

What an amazing promise of God’s grace, God’s love, and God’s forgiveness.  Our Savior, Jesus Christ, went willingly to the cross, to pay the price we could not pay.  Jesus traded his life for our own, and why?  Because He loves us.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:9-11  

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed, forgiven child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, what a privilege it is to be a child of God. We stand in awe of your love, your grace and your mercy to us. We rejoice in our Savior, Jesus Christ, who willingly became the sacrifice for our sins. There is nothing we can do Lord to earn or deserve your love for us, but as we believe on your name, we cling to your promise of eternal life with you in heaven. And all of God’s children said, Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

God Is Light

June 9, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. – 1 John 1:5-10  

At the dawn of creation, God created light.  In fact, light came before anything else He created.  And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. – Genesis 1:3-4

Light is, after all, fundamental to life.  It allows life, it sustains life, and it reveals what was previously hidden.  In places like Alaska, many people suffer from seasonal depression because of the shorter days during winter.  It can significantly impact their attitude and feeling of well-being.

The same can hold true with a Christians life.  The further we are from God, the more our souls are downcast as we lack the fellowship and joy that comes from knowing God.  John doesn’t just say that God created light, rather he says God is light.  That light emphasizes the glory of God, his truthfulness and purity.  It’s within that purity that no uncleanliness can exist.  The darkness that blackens our own hearts is what separates us from God, breaking our fellowship with Him.

But through God’s grace and forgiveness in Christ Jesus, we are made pure and are reconciled to God.  Washed in the blood of the Lamb, we are clothed in His righteousness and dare to approach God’s throne.  The joy we receive being united with God impacts our relationship with others creating a unified fellowship of believers.

Watch out though that you don’t deceive yourself claiming to have no sin.  We cannot claim the righteousness of Christ if we are still harboring hidden sin in our lives.  John put it more strongly, 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. – 1 John 1:10

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. 106 I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules. – Psalm 119:105-106  

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed, forgiven child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, we live sustained by the light of your Word. In a world of darkness, you are our sure light and hope. Thank you Jesus for being the light of the world, in your righteousness alone are we brought out of the darkness of sin into a world of light and salvation. Father in heaven, we cling to your promise of eternal life as we cling to our Savior, Jesus. In His name we pray, Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

If You Then Will Worship Me, It Will All Be Yours!

July 8, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. – Luke 4:1-2

Have you ever wondered if Jesus really understands what you’re going through?  How could he?  After all, he lived more than two-thousand years ago, and things then aren’t the same as they are now; or are they?  Temptation knows no time.  What’s more, the same Enemy that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, is the same Enemy who tempts you today.

1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” – Luke 4:1-4

The Enemy seeks only to maim and destroy, his attacks are relentless, but even more so when we are weak.  The devil never plays fairly, he comes to you in ways you least expect, and his whole being is deception and lies.  Think of his attack on Eve.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:1-5

 All lies, but Satan couched them in a way that made them irresistible to Eve.  So much so, that she ignored God’s command.  Have you ever been the victim of this ploy?  How about those times you set yourself up as the authority in a small group Bible study?  Instead of having the heart of a servant, you assume you know more than the rest of the group and your actions portray the same.

41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” – Matthew 26:41

So what has this to do with Jesus understanding the temptations we face?  Actually, everything.  The time, place, and subject may change, but Satan’s lies do not.  The Enemy is crafty, he knows you and attacks you in ways he knows you’re vulnerable.

And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
    and him only shall you serve.’” – Luke 4:5-8

Jesus knew the devil’s tricks.  And when Satan set out to deceive him, he found that he wasn’t able to do so.  Part of defeating Satan then, is to recognize his attacks for what they are.  God is always there to fight for you.

13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

For forty long days the devil tempted Jesus.  We’re not told of every single temptation He endured, but we know for that time Satan’s attacks were relentless.  And let’s not forget what is at stake, your very soul.  The Enemy wants to snatch eternity from you; he seeks to take away your citizenship in heaven and instead assign you to torment in hell.  Like Christ then, don’t let Satan win.  

And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    to guard you,’

11 and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” – Luke 4:9-12

Does Jesus understand what you’re going through?  Absolutely, more importantly though, he knows you and he knows all of Satan’s tricks.  Jesus has already defeated him.  Stay strong in the Lord, hold fast to what you know is true, God’s Word.  Have faith and trust God’s plan for your life.  This temporal world is not forever, your time spent with your Savior is eternal.  And if you ever doubt, remember this, when all else ends, Jesus wins!

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed, forgiven child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, you alone know and understand what we are going through.  You ask only that we have faith and trust in your promises. As we cling to your Word, all else pales in comparison to the riches we have in being your children. Thank you Lord for strengthening us when we are weak, knowing when we are over-whelmed, and providing us with grace, love, and forgiveness for our sins. We eagerly await your coming again, but rejoice now in all of the blessings that you provide. And all of God’s children said, Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Who Has Measured The Waters?

July 7, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? 13 Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel? 14 Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? – Isaiah 40:12-14

I hope you’ll indulge me for a minute while I go on a personal rant.  Since when do we know more than the God of the universe?  One of my personal favorites, not, is the guy who does the morning weather on the station I watch in the AM.  He’s always couching things as being millions or billions of years ago.  I’d like to shake him and tell him, “You don’t know that!”  If you knew it as a fact, then you’d give me the information as an exact number, and you’d be able to prove it.  But you can’t, and the reason you can’t is you weren’t there, no one was, it’s all theory; worse yet it’s all a lie.  But you trot it out as if it were truth and people will believe it.  Stop misleading people!

It’s the same thing with a lot of the science shows available to watch.  They’re forever speaking in terms of millions or billions of years ago and it’s all theory, there’s no proof, we’re expected to believe it because they said so.  Well, no!  And please stop feeding this garbage to children.  Someone should remind them, – but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. – Matthew 18:6  

We have become enamored with our own intellect, so much so that we’re willing to trade our Savior for the sins of the world.  We see the same thing happening in churches today.  In an attempt to be politically correct, they’ve chosen to ignore or take out of context, that part of God’s Word that doesn’t jibe with their agenda.

21 Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,   and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; 23 who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. – Isaiah 40:21-23

Any time we feel the need to elevate human intellect about God, all kinds of alarms and red flags should go off.  Recognize God’s Word for what it is, the truth.

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. – Isaiah 40:28  

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed, forgiven child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, please forgive our unbelief in your divine creation. You Lord created all of us in your image; you set the stars in the heavens above, your Word created all that there is. Help us Father to understand that your Word is truth, build in us a desire to increase our knowledge of you, and a willingness to share it with others. Lord God, thank you for your grace and the forgiveness you so freely offer to broken sinners. As we live in that grace, teach us to trust you in all things. And all of God’s children said, Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

The Road Less Traveled

July 6, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. – Matthew 7:13-14

Years ago, when I was an OTR, over-the-road truck driver, I was hauling a mine head to a coal mine in Dent’s Run, West Virginia – not an easy place to find 40-years ago.  I was given directions to follow the highway until I saw a small wooden sign pointing to Dent’s Run Mine.  I remember at the time almost missing the sign because it was so small; just an arrow nailed to a post with white letters painted to say “Dent’s Run.”

It really wasn’t much of a road and I was driving a big rig with an over-size piece of equipment on a flat bed trailer.  I wasn’t much of a fan of turning onto the road, but if that’s where the mine was, I needed to keep going.  I remember that the road got narrower and narrower and then started to climb into a wooded area.  I was really having second thoughts, but there was no where to turn around so I hadn’t much choice but to proceed.  A few hundred yards later, the road split.  On the right it started a fairly steep climb and was impossible to tell where it would wind up.

To the left, it was flooded, but I could see the road about 30 yards ahead where it emerged from the water.  I remember sitting there wondering what in the world I had gotten myself into when a large dump truck came blasting through the water and stopped in front of me.  I got out and spoke to the driver and he assured me that the mine was just another half-mile down the road.  He also told me not to worry about the water because it was solid underneath.  And, with that, he squeaked by me headed for the highway.

Believe me when I tell you that I was already regretting taking this load in the first place.  I was driving a rig built for the interstate, not some bulldozer cut out of the side of a mountain.  I guess you’re still bullet-proof when you’re in your twenties; if this happened now, I think I’d have to put a “for sale” sign on the truck and walk out.  Believe it or not, it gets worse.  I got back in, put the truck down into low range and started my way, very slowly, through the water and out the other side.  Turns out, the water was only a foot and a half deep.  Another half-mile down the road and I came to a berm that completely blocked the road!  Now, I’m on the side of the mountain, and about 500 yards below me, down the side of the mountain, was the mine, I could see it clearly.

But how do you get to it?  I was considering this impossibility when a guy in a four-wheel-drive pickup came shooting straight up the side of the mountain, rooster tails flying from beneath his wheels, and when he reached my truck, “Boy was he glad to see me!”  So I asked him, “how am I supposed to get this load down to the mine?”  He looked at me kind of surprised and said, “Well, you need to drive it down, what did you think?”  I remember saying, “even if I try, and let’s say by chance I make it, how am I ever going to get back up again?”  “No big deal, we’ll hook a D-9 cat to you and pull you back up again.”

Well, how do you argue with that logic?  Down over the side I drove hoping I didn’t roll the truck before I got to the bottom.  I dropped the load and as he said, they hooked a big Cat to my truck and pulled me back to the road again.  Nothing to it, just like he said.

That’s a long story, entirely true, to illustrate that the narrow path isn’t always the easiest path to follow.  I think it also illustrates that taking the narrow path requires faith.  If you think about it, I first had to trust that small, hand-painted wooden sign.  I needed to trust the first truck driver that I could make it through the water without getting stuck.  I needed to trust the second driver that I could get down the mountain without rolling my truck and trailer.  And, I had to trust that they could get me out of there again.

So it is with God; if we are to take the narrow path, we need to have faith and trust Him.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7-8  

Trusting God can be a challenge for most of us.  We want to know the outcome before we’re willing to trust him completely.  If we’re going to trust God completely, that means, we need to be OK without knowing his plans only trusting his Word that he works only good for those who love Him.  And with that trust comes peace, peace that you know the God of the universe is in control and oversees everything.  He knows you personally and intimately, and loves you more than you can even imagine.

15 “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” – Genesis 28:15

God always honors his promises, our Lord is unchanging from everlasting to everlasting.  He is the Alpha and the Omega, the great I AM.  Put your trust in the Lord, and walk the narrow path with confidence that He is with you always, to the very end of the age.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed, forgiven child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, your Word is truth, and your promises endure forever. Forgive us when our trust wavers, or when we fail to trust altogether. You promise only good to those who believe, who’s Lord is Christ Jesus; who endured the suffering and shame of the cross to die for our sins. As we seek your face, as you grow our faith, plant in us a firm trust in you and all that you promise. And all of God’s children said, Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

For God So Loved The World

July 5, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another. – John 15:9-17

As we immerse ourselves in God’s Word, the predominate theme is God’s love.  Simply put, God is love.  From Genesis to Revelation, God’s promise of love and forgiveness are as sure and as real and as true as His Word.

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who spread out the earth above the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever; the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever; the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever. –
Psalm 136:1-9

It’s that quality of love that sets God apart from every other religion on earth.  All that God has done, all that He has accomplished has been an act of love.  God’s love reminds us that we are made in His image, love exists because it is the very character of God.

God Is Love

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. – 1 John 4:7-16

What’s more, God’s love for us in unconditional.  We can best understand it as a parent’s love for their child.  But when it comes to loving others, we find it very difficult to do, even in the midst of God’s love for us and the example set by Christ Jesus himself.  That unconditional love of God is best demonstrated by the sacrifice he made of His one and only Son.

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

If we are to comprehend unconditional love, then we must look to God, who, despite everything, chose to love us and forgive us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:6-8  

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed, forgiven child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, how do we comprehend the deep, un-ending, unconditional love that you have for us? We come to you broken, stained with sin, corrupt in every way, and yet, you choose to forgive us; sacrificing your one and only Son to be the atonement for the sins of the world. Thank you Father for loving us. As we grow in our faith, as we immerse ourselves in your Word, teach us to love even as Christ loved us. And all of God’s children said, Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

For God And Country

July 4, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,  

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! 13 The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; 14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, 15 he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds. 16 The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. 17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. 18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, 19 that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. 20 Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. 21 For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. 22 Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you. – Psalm 33:12 – 22

I recently read a quote which holds a lot of truth.  “Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you: Jesus Christ and the American Soldier; one died for your soul, the other died for your freedom.”

How quickly some would forget this.  At a time when society is doing everything it can to remove God from our lives; when sin is openly celebrated and even taught in our schools.  When groups are trying to re-write American history by removing, defacing, or attempting to destroy our American Heritage.  When it’s become OK to disrespect our flag and our country; when we celebrate professional players who openly disrespect our National Anthem.  When we denigrate those who serve to protect our cities, and we vilify those who serve and protect our freedom.  What has happened to our America?

Abraham Lincoln, in his Lyceum Address, offered this warning concerning the destruction of our country.

“At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it?– Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!–All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

Even in the midst of all of the attacks on God, our Flag, and our nation, we need to remember that the Lord is sovereign and He remains in control over all things.  That’s not always easy in the midst of the chaos in which we live, but we can take real comfort knowing this.    

23 Sing to the Lord, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day. 24 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! 25 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and he is to be feared above all gods. 26 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens. 27 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his place.

28 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! 29 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; 30 tremble before him, all the earth; yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.

31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” 32 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! 33 Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. 34 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! – 1 Chronicles 16:23-34

Today, instead of focusing on our day off, instead of making this a day honoring our favorite barbecue, instead of making this day about us; let’s at least take some time to honor our servicemen, our veterans, our policemen, our firemen, and those who defend our borders.  And let’s especially remember the One who made the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another. – John 15:13-17   

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! – Psalm 33:12  

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed, forgiven child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, when our world seems to be in shambles, when people openly defy you and celebrate their sin; we then find comfort knowing that you are still in control. When the enemy seeks to defile us and we are attacked from every side, you have already overcome sin and death and we need not fear as we take refuge in your arms. Thank you Lord for those who willingly put their lives on the line every day to protect our society, our country and our freedom. Lord give them an extra measure of blessings for their selfless acts on our behalf. And Lord, as we believe on the name of your only Son, Jesus Christ, may we always stand ready to share the gospel with others. For all the blessings we receive from your hand, we give you thanks, and praise, and honor, and glory, forever and ever. And all of God’s children said, Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Seventy Seven Times

July 3, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. – Psalm 103:6-14

Seventy times seven; seventy times seven seems almost impossible.  When Peter asked Jesus about forgiving, Jesus had this to say – 21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. – Matthew 18:21-22

Easy to say, perhaps not so easy to do.  What I’ve learned about forgiveness, is that you need to take yourself out of the equation.  And what I mean by that is this, if we insist on inserting how we feel about someone, we’ll never get to forgiveness.  The reason being we’ll continue to insert our personal hurt or insult into the equation, and those feelings are what keeps us from forgiving. 

I think that you see this most often in personal relationships.  A husband and wife get into an argument, one or the other eventually apologizes, but they’re not forgiven because the spouse is holding on tightly to a litany of wrongs that have never been forgiven.  So, instead of forgiveness, the apologizing spouse is treated to a beat down listing of every real or perceived wrong they’ve ever committed.  There’s power in that list, it becomes an enormous club that you can use to keep your spouse in check.  If they’re never forgiven, you can’t lose an argument; because even if they’re right this time, you’ve got your list of every time they done wrong to hold over them.  

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. – Psalm 130:3-4

I submit that this kind of relationship is doomed; because, eventually the beat down spouse will give up, or the spouse with the list will remove themselves. Both of them will part unhappy.

Maybe the second hardest person to forgive is yourself.  For me, that was the most difficult because it required me to look at my life and own my failures, recognize that where I was in life had a lot to do with me putting myself there.  That’s not something I wanted to do.  If I pretend I wasn’t part of the problem, then I didn’t have to live with the guilt or remorse.  I was only deceiving myself.  I didn’t find my way back to God until I learned to understand forgiveness.

let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. – Isaiah 55:7

Don’t mistake forgiveness with giving up, or with losing something.  Forgiveness is all about what you’ll gain once you forgive.  I promise you’ll find peace as you forgive one another.

31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:31-32 

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed, forgiven child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, we come to you with broken and with contrite hearts seeking your forgiveness at the cross. Your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, won that forgiveness for us with his innocent and precious blood. Father, teach us to forgive with the same heart as Christ; who nailed to the cross, implored you to forgive those who were responsible for putting him there. But you Lord are rich in mercy and grace, forgiving the sins of the world. And all of God’s children said, Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Called By Grace

July 2, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

By Grace Through Faith

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:1-10

Do we take God forgranted?  It’s a question I’ve been wondering about for a while.  While most of us don’t question our faith, do we really live life in the Spirit?  Has God just become an insurance plan in your life that you’ll cash in when you die, or are you really willing to submit your will to your Lord?  If I have you thinking, maybe it’s time to re-examine your relationship with God.

Peace Through Faith

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. – Romans 5:1-11

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, the Apostle Paul addresses this specifically in his letter to the believers in Rome.  The gift of grace and faith is not to be taken forgranted.

Dead to Sin, Alive to God

1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. – Romans 6:1-11

We have been called by grace, set apart from this world and should no longer let sin dwell inside of us.  Those “baby sins” we find so difficult to give up, gossiping, vulgar language, judging others; all the sins we commit in secret thinking no one will notice – the God of the universe notices and is totally aware of.  You cannot hide from God.

You Have Searched Me, O God, and Know My Heart

O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up;   you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

We are called by grace, saved by faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Let’s not take the enormity of that gift forgranted.  Instead let’s honor our Father who sent his one and only Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins and for the sins to the world.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed, forgiven child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, forgive us when we take your gift of grace and forgiveness forgranted. Renew a right spirit within us so that we always recognize we have been chosen by you before the foundation of the world was laid. Remind us daily that we are yours, bought by the blood of Christ, sacrificed on a cross, and restored to life in glorious resurrection. Precious Savior, you paid the cost for our sin, and indeed for the sins of the world. All of this a gift from our Father in heaven, who knew there was nothing we could do to deserve his grace and forgiveness. You alone know our hearts and our minds, teach us to always live in your grace, called to be children of God. Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Faith Trusts Completely

July 1, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,  

13 The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; 14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, 15 he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds. 16 The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. 17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. 18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. 20 Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. 21 For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. 22 Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.Psalm 33:13-22

Trust can be a hard thing to cultivate in a relationship.  Think about any relationship that you have, then ask the question, “Do I trust this person?”  And, if so, “Why?”  There can be a lot of answers to the question, and the answer may well depend on how you see the world.

Some will say, “I don’t trust anyone.”  Others might say, “I’ll trust them until they break that trust.”  Or, you might hear, “They have to earn my trust.”  And even then, “Do you trust them completely?”  Once lost, trust can be nearly impossible to re-establish.

So now, ask yourself, “Who do I trust completely and without reservation?”  There can be only one person, God the Father Almighty.

Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! – Psalm 37:1-7

Have confidence in your faith as you trust God in all things.  The God of the universe hear’s your prayer and will answer you, don’t lose faith as you trust in Him.

Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in. You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. – Isaiah 26:2-4  

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed, forgiven child of God.

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” – Isaiah 12:2

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, in you alone can we place our faith and trust. You can called us to be your children through our faith in Christ Jesus, who took our sins to the cross and was the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. By His innocent death and glorious resurrection he has conquered death and we stand forgiven, clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Strengthen our faith as we seek you in your Word. Have the Holy Spirit open our eyes and reveal your truth to us as we trust completely in your Word. And all of God’s children said, Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel