3/4/2024

Our scripture this morning is 1 Chronicles 16:23-25.

Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.

This passage recalls King David bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. It is also recorded in 2 Samuel 6:17-20 and Psalm 96, which was used by King David for the occasion. The people are called to celebrate, reflect on their faith, and share God’s glory, declaring it among the nations.

We read “He is to be feared above all gods.” We know He is the only God, all others are fictions we create for ourselves. Sometimes we think the notion of idols is silly in today’s world. However, anything that draws us away from Him is an idol.

We have received the same call: to pray and worship, to love like Jesus, and to evangelize, carrying the Gospel to everyone. The apostle John writes ”Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth“ (1 John 3:18). We must not only speak the words of scripture, we must live them out in our everyday activities, showing God’s love to all.

Gracious God, when we fell into sin, You sent Your son to save us. Help us to live in faith, loving everyone as You first loved us. Amen.

3/3/2024

Our scripture this morning is Romans 5:1-2.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

Paul speaks of our justification, being made right with God in a legal sense. In this we are no longer guilty of sin but washed clean through Christ’s sacrifice. All who come to Him in faith can be redeemed. By God’s mercy we are declared not guilty.

Reconciliation is being reconnected to God personally. We have a restored relationship, the one for which we were created. Jesus makes a way for us to be a full part of God’s family, with rights and responsibilities. This is not just a peaceful feeling but “the peace of God which passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

When Paul writes “we boast in the hope of the glory of God” he is speaking of the end for which we all long, eternal life with our Heavenly Father. The old hymn says “for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.” Jesus came to call us back to our blessing and birthright, to experience “this grace in which we now stand.”

Loving Lord, we are sorry for our failures and come to You in repentance. Through the gift of Your son we are made new and blessed to go to the world in His name. Make us energetic bearers of the Good News. Amen.

3/1/2024

Our scripture this morning is Ephesians 4:30-32.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Paul writes to the church in Ephesus with guidance on getting rid of ill feelings and bad behavior and replacing it with compassion so as not to “grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” This tells us how important it is that we empathize with and forgive one another “just as in Christ God forgave you.”

 In 1 John 4:11 we read ”Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.“ Peter tells us ”Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble“ (1 Peter 3:8). It’s important that even if we are not in the same situation as others, we all have that “been there, done that” experience of knowing God’s compassion and forgiveness.

Jesus teaches ”You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate” (Luke 6:36). It’s not just a nice thing or a good idea, Jesus says “you must”! We need to give and accept the love and forgiveness we have all first received from God.

Loving Lord, when we fell into sin, You sent Your son to save us. Help us go in Your name to show Your love to a hurting world. Amen.

3/1/2024

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

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out 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, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

John discusses the issues of sin, atonement and fellowship in these verses. Christians know we have sinned and the only remedy is going to God in repentance, confessing, and accepting His forgiveness. Nothing we can do will save us; only by going to the Lord for mercy can we be absolved.

Atonement is Christ’s sacrifice that allows us to be reconciled with God. Some people remember this as “at one -ment”, the gift Jesus gave to allow us to be at one with God. He has reached out to us with the blessing of His son and Jesus told us “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Christian fellowship can be described as shared knowledge of God’s light and love with one another. God’s faithful want to be associated with others who follow Jesus and strive to live as He taught us. It’s a preparation for the community of heaven. We all need to live in His love here to be ready for the life everlasting.

Loving Lord, You created us and gave us a beautiful world. When we fell into sin, You sent Your son to save us. Forgive us and send us to share Your love with all Your children everywhere. Amen.

2/29/2024

Our scripture this morning is Psalms 139:23-24.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

In this short passage the psalmist asks for God’s help in identifying and removing “anything in me that offends You.” It is a humble request for help in avoiding evil and living as God intends. Self searching is involved as well, partnering with God in keeping ourselves on “the path of everlasting life.”

The author speaks of his anxious thoughts, part of our human condition. We are often concerned about things over which we have no control. However, God is in control of everything and by giving up our issues to Him, we can be comforted and pointed in the right direction.

While there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation, we can accept the forgiveness He offers us and follow the example of Jesus. We become right with God by confessing our failures and receiving His mercy. We are the workers in His world, sharing His love with all our brothers and sisters.

Loving Lord, we ask Your forgiveness for our sins and Your strength to lead lives that show our love for You. Bless us to go in Your name to all the world. Amen.

2/28/2024

Our scripture this morning is Daniel 12:1-3.

At that time Michael, the archangel who stands guard over your nation, will arise. Then there will be a time of anguish greater than any since nations first came into existence. But at that time every one of your people whose name is written in the book will be rescued. Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace. Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.

Daniel, whose name means “God judges” or “God’s Judge”, was a prophet during Israel’s exile in Babylon. Scholars call this Apocalyptic Literature, which are visions of the end times. The Book of Revelation echoes many of these themes. The historical Daniel may or may not be the author of this book. However, we should ask not “is the story true?” but rather “what is the truth in the story?”

There are several familiar lessons in Daniel: The Fiery Furnace (Ch 3), The Writing on the Wall (Ch 5), and The Lion’s Den (Ch 7). Daniel and his companions were faithful to God through severe trials. In each of these we are shown God’s love and protection for His people, even in their captivity.

This passage deals with the resurrection of the dead, a promise that those who die in the Lord will be raised on the last day. It warns that “some will be raised to everlasting life and some to everlasting disgrace.” By faith, we can be connected to God eternally. The choice is ours to make. 

Gracious God, thank You for making a way for us to be saved. Through the gift of Your son we may come to You for forgiveness. Bless us to help lead others to righteousness and live with You forever. Amen.

2/27/2024

Our scripture this morning is Jude 1:17-21.

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

In this short letter Jude speaks to concerns over false teachings and his concerns for the people of his time are still an issue today. We hear the values of society (be what you want) being promoted rather than the Gospel (be like Jesus). Jude was not the only one who worried about this.

The church fathers warned of false teaching: Luke in Acts 20:29-30, Paul in 1 Timothy 4:1-3, John in 2 John 1:7, as did Jesus Himself in Matthew 24:5. We are to focus on the truth as taught by Jesus and the disciples rather than the desires of the world around us. God wants us to live full and fulfilling lives but not to do whatever we please.

Jude reminds us to “keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” The world can offer only temporary things. Eternal life is the gift God promises to those who are faithful and keep His commandments.

Gracious God, we are sorry for the times we have listened to the voice of the world and not Your word. Forgive us and strengthen us in faith to stand against evil and bring Your love to all. Amen.

2/26/2024

Our scripture this morning is Psalms 56:2-4.

My adversaries pursue me all day long; in their pride many are attacking me. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

This psalm of David speaks to the fear we suffer when attacked. While the situation in this passage is one of physical combat, we can suffer emotional fear as well. No matter what causes it, God can handle our distress if we let Him.

David writes “In God I trust and am not afraid.” When we give God the things that frighten or upset us, He can calm and reassure us. As the Psalm says “What can mere mortals do to me?” This reminds us that while we inhabit these physical bodies, Heaven is our true and eternal home.

In Matthew 10:28 Jesus tells us “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” Yes, we can suffer injury and even death in our mortal bodies. However, God created us out of love and our spirits belong to Him.

Loving Lord, we are grateful for our physical existence in the world You created for us. Keep us mindful of Your protection and the fact that our spirits are Yours forever. Amen.

2/25/2024

Our scripture this morning is Romans 8:31-34.

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.

God created the world, gave it to us and we messed up! God gave us His son to release us from our sin – let’s not mess this up! God wants us back so badly He is willing to do anything for us. All we need do is accept the love and forgiveness Jesus bought for us on the cross.

Evil will still whisper in our ear “It can’t be that easy!” This is why we must rebuke evil as Jesus did (Matthew 4:10), following the path He has set for us. Paul tells us “If God is for us, who is against us?” and we know nothing can stand against the Lord Almighty.

Later in this chapter Paul writes “Nothing can separate us from God’s love” (Romans 8:39). However, we can separate ourselves by allowing the world to influence us. This has been our challenge since the very beginning. God has justified us through the sacrifice of Jesus and His resurrection. Now we are His representatives, called to share His love everywhere.

Gracious God, You have blessed and redeemed us through the gift of Your son. Help us to bring this sacrificial love to all Your children. Amen.

2/24/2024

Our scripture this morning is 1 John 3:1-2.

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.

In Genesis 1:27 we read we are made in God’s image, so we are like Jesus as well. Because of this we are called to be more like Him in the lives we lead here, sharing the gift we have been given. This is how we show our love for Him and each other.

Since the world did not recognize Jesus, it will likely not recognize His followers. He told us it would be difficult but that doesn’t change the task He gives us. He reminds us “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me first” (John 15:18).

The apostle Paul tells us “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as children by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15). What He gives us is not just the name “Children of God” but the blessing and the promise that go with it. 

Heavenly Father, we are amazed that You call us Your children. Forgive us for our disobedience and strengthen us in faith, that we may go to the world in Your name. Amen.