Our scripture this morning is Joshua 1:6-9.

“Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

It sounds like a pep talk from God – “Be strong and courageous”. Easy for You to say, Lord! You’re the creator of everything and nothing can stand against You! We are weak and prone to giving up.

God understands this, so He amplifies it: “I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous”. Now it’s serious. This is not just advice, this is an order! How can we possibly do this?

The answer is we can’t…not alone anyway. Only by trusting in Him and obeying His commandments can we ever hope to succeed against the enemy. However, God isn’t sending us alone. He tells us plainly “the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”. With this assurance we go in His name, knowing that He is with us always.

Heavenly Father, we are amazed that You are willing to forgive our failure. Bless us to be energetic workers for Your kingdom, strengthened by faith and inspired by Your word. Amen.


Our scripture this morning is Colossians 3:1-4.

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

Paul teaches that since Christ was raised from the dead, we will be raised as well. If we love Him and keep His commandments, He has a place prepared for us. Jesus wants us to be like Him while we live, and with Him forever.

The concept of eternity is difficult for us. We suffer from a “here and now” complex. However, Paul reminds us to “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth”. When we think more about heaven than earth and more about others than ourselves, we are living as God intends.

This isn’t always easy, but it is what we are called to as followers of Jesus. A life in Christ is one that demonstrates a relationship with Him and shares His love with the world. May we be faithful in all we say and do.

Loving Lord, we want to be like Jesus, but we need Your love and guidance to keep us in the path. Help us to show everyone how true believers live. Amen.


Our scripture this morning is Psalms 23:1-6.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

Sometimes when a lesson is very familiar it’s easy to just lose ourselves in the feeling that passage provides and not listen for new or deeper meaning. Psalm 23 is a great example of this. It is often read at funerals because it is comforting to remember God’s promise of provision and protection.

However, there is a lot to digest in this Psalm if we look at it carefully. It speaks of God guiding us to the “right paths for his name’s sake”. God has plans for us but we must accept them for ourselves. It may prove difficult but we don’t need to fear because He is with us.

The vow the psalmist makes to “dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long” should be our response as well. God accepts our commitment and His promise is that we may dwell with Him eternally. If we follow the Good Shepherd, we will never be lost sheep.

Loving Lord, we are grateful for Your care, leading us through troubled times. Help us to share Your love with all the world. Amen.


Our scripture this morning is Proverbs 18:20-21.

From the fruit of a person’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is filled with the product of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

The Book of Proverbs has much wisdom for us. It is likely you have heard Proverbs quoted often, perhaps without even knowing the scriptural source. Unlike much of the rest of scripture, which is in narrative or lesson form, these short sayings are little bursts of encouragement or warning for how we live and relate to God and one another. 

This passage about eating and speaking is one that Jesus may have been referring to in Matthew 15:11 when He tells us “It’s not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth — this defiles a person”. In James 3:9-10 we read “With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in God’s likeness. Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way.” Our words have power, and when we speak falsely or cruelly, we harm others and ourselves.

Jesus taught us to speak kindly to those who need comfort and support, and graciously to those who oppose us. The things we say and do mark us either as followers of Christ or those who are still lost. This proverb tells us “death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit”. Instead, let’s eat the bread of life Jesus offers us and love one another as He does.

Heavenly Father, we are sorry for the times our words have not honored You or harmed Your creation. Bless us to be the bearers of the Good News in everything we say and do. Amen.


Our scripture this morning is Isaiah 43:1-4.

Now this is what the Lord says — the one who created you, Jacob, and the one who formed you, Israel  — “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and the rivers will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, and the flame will not burn you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, and your Savior. I have given Egypt as a ransom for you, Cush and Seba in your place. Because you are precious in my sight and honored, and I love you, I will give people in exchange for you and nations instead of your life.”

The prophet Isaiah wrote much about God’s love for His people and how even their sin couldn’t change that. He warned them of the consequences of their disobedience, but with the promise that God corrects those He loves. Paul would later write about this in His letter to the Hebrews, saying “for the Lord disciplines the one he loves and punishes every son he receives” (Hebrews 12:6).

God hasn’t changed, His love for us now is the same as it has always been. Unfortunately, we haven’t really changed either. It is sad to realize we still make the same mistakes as they did, choosing our own way rather than God’s loving plan for us.

However, we can change our behavior as individuals and we can be blessed as part of His plan of salvation to go to the world in His name. God still wants us back! Through prayer, His word and joining together with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we can make a difference.

Gracious God, we are ashamed of the way we often treat each other and the mistakes we repeat. May we turn to You in repentance and accept Your forgiveness. Amen.


Our scripture this morning is John 15:9-13.

“As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends.”

Today in the United States and some other nations it is Memorial Day, a time to remember those who have died defending others for their shared beliefs. I retired after 20 years in the Air Force and while Memorial Day is for those who died in uniform, if anyone tells me “thank you for your service” today, I’ll say “you’re welcome” and remember all those who as Abraham Lincoln said “gave the last full measure of devotion” that we might live in peace.

In this passage, Jesus says His command for us is to “love one another as I have loved you”. He follows that immediately with “no one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends”. Jesus is telling them what He is going to do for us, and what those who follow Him may be called to do as well.

We know that many of the disciples were martyred for their faith, the sad continuation of a long line of persecution for God’s people that still happens today. We may not be asked to go into physical combat, but spiritual warfare is all around us. God calls us to be ready through His word and His love.

Gracious God, thank You for a love that will not let us go. Bless us to stand firm in our faith, loving one another and ready to lay down our lives for Christ. Amen.


Our scripture this morning is Acts 4:27-31.

“For, in fact, in this city both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your will had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, consider their threats, and grant that your servants may speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand for healing, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God boldly.

Today we celebrate Pentecost, the coming of of the Holy Spirit to be with God’s people. When I think of this, Acts 2 usually comes to mind and reading it today would be a good thing! However, the Bible application I use pointed me to Acts 4 today, which continues the story of Peter and the other disciples sharing the truth of Christ. 

They are no longer hiding behind the locked doors of the upper room, now they are preaching boldly in the name of Jesus. They have received the presence of the Holy Spirit and they are on fire for God. Peter who once denied he even knew Jesus now suffers punishment for Him and even after a stern warning from the authorities, he proclaims “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).

May we be as faithful as they were, today and always, to go boldly in His name. The Holy Spirit is with us to instruct and inspire. May we share the Good News of salvation with the world!

Loving Lord, the lessons You teach and the tasks You have for us are not always easy. Bless us  to accept the gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives that we may tell others of the joy we have found in You. Amen.


Our scripture this morning is Matthew 28:16-20.

The eleven disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but some doubted. Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 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, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

After His resurrection, Jesus meets the disciples for a final blessing and encouragement for what is yet to come. He tells them to “go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations”. We call this the Great Commission, our work here in His name. We are called to carry on sharing His love with everyone.

Jesus loves us and trusts us to continue what He came to teach us. He has given us a mission. This means we are tasked and empowered to bring the Good News to the world. We can also see this as a co-mission: we are individually responsible, but we also must work together as the body of Christ.

God has made us part of His plan of salvation. With His help, we are the disciples of today with the same charge Jesus gave long ago. It is not an easy thing but we know we don’t go alone. Jesus has promised “I am with you always, to the end of the age”.

Heavenly Father, we are humbled and grateful for Your forgiveness. Help us to be energetic and joyful workers for Your kingdom. Amen.


Our scripture today is Ephesians 6:11-18.

Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. For this reason take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit  — which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.

Paul uses the example of putting on armor for battle as encouragement for us to be prepared for what the enemy has in store. He reminds us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens”. Sin entered our world through deceit and disobedience but God did not abandon us, giving us the tools we need to resist evil.

We must choose to accept the strength God sends through His love and His word to stand against those who oppose Him. In order to be ready, we must understand what God wants for us – eternal life with Him. Jesus came to show us how to live in connection with God and one another and that this relationship is more important than any temporary earthly thing.

We may feel “the presence of evil” is a thing of the past, from a time when people didn’t know as much as we do now. That’s exactly what the enemy wants us to think! Evil wears modern clothes and speaks to us with sweet words in order to distract us from the gift of salvation we have been offered. We must recognize this trap and “stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints”, trusting that God stands with us.

Gracious God, we have failed to love one another as You intend, but in Your mercy You made a way for us to be saved. Bless us to stand with You that we may resist sin and go in Your name with the Good News. Amen.


Our scripture this morning is John 16:12-16.

“I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. For he will not speak on his own, but he will speak whatever he hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything the Father has is mine. This is why I told you that he takes from what is mine and will declare it to you. In a little while, you will no longer see me; again in a little while, you will see me.”

Jesus is preparing His disciples for His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. After that, they will receive the Holy Spirit, which will enable them to be His representatives. We are all called to be part of what God is doing in the world.

He tells them “everything the Father has is mine”, a statement He will repeat before He returns to heaven. In Matthew 28:18 Jesus says  “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth”. Then He gives us the Great Commission to go in His name, making disciples of all the world.

With the presence of the Holy Spirit, we are empowered and inspired to share the joy we have found in a relationship with God. While Jesus has gone to be with the Father, His lessons and His love remain in us. Now it is up to us to ensure that everyone knows what He has done, that our sins are forgiven when we come to Him in repentance.

Loving Lord, we are grateful for the gift of Your son who came to love and save and free us. Bless us to be energetic workers for Your kingdom, sharing our faith with everyone. Amen.