November 29

Well the tree has been put up and the fall decorations put away for another year.  Lights are hung and shining bright and the manger scenes are all arranged.  The food has been planned and the shopping has started (and mostly done in my household).  Calendar events are lined up with all the school Christmas concerts and the special activities have made the list.  There is much to do this time of year as we approach the 25th.  But more important then any of the things listed above is to turn our hearts to the meaning of Christmas.  In all the busy-ness and bustle, make sure we do not forget the spiritual aspect of this season.  Wonder anew the birth of our Savior.  Sit and ponder the message of the manger.  Read over and over the Bible stories which testify to this miracle.  Pause in our overwhelming tasks and take comfort and joy in the great glad tidings of Christmas.  May each heart be filled with the real meaning of Christmas!



November 22

Count your blessings and be overwhelmingly thankful this year.  I just want to use this opportunity to wish everyone a very thankful Thanksgiving.  May God continue to richly bless you as you praise and give glory unto him for all the gifts he has given you.



November 15

We are getting closer to Christmas and as I pastor, I am looking ahead to plan one what I am going to preach on during this Advent season.  However, we have Thanksgiving coming next and I do not want to overstep this holiday.  Because we have much to thank God for even in this last year.  This year we seem to be on a downward trend in our area with Covid and there is not an anticipated spike like they were expecting last year.  The vaccines are now widely spread and those who wanted them, now have them (with even a booster for some).  And the many shutdowns and closures that were still in effect last year have been lifted.  And while we might not yet be back to normal quite yet, it seems much closer this year than last.
I am focusing on this kind of thanksgiving a week early because I think it also ties in with this week’s sermon on letting God’s light shine in and through us.  And I think that we as Christians know that God had led us through this time with his grace and compassion.  And this is what Moses saw when God revealed himself to him.  And this revelation made Moses’ skin glow.  We too can be lights to others when we allow God to shine through us.  And this time of year with Thanksgiving coming is a perfect time.  How can you this holiday be a light in this dark world?  Maybe it is reaching out to a charity this Thanksgiving or volunteering in your community.  Maybe the mission field you are called to this Thanksgiving season is with your family.  Maybe your church need extra help getting ready for the holidays or your neighbors with their falling leaves.  How can you this holiday be a light in this dark world?


November 1

I had a thought this week.  It has nothing to do with the service on Sunday.  But it is about the verse where Jesus promises that he will be with us even when two or three are gathered in his name.  Before when I have read that verse, I thought it was great that Jesus would be present when we gather. (Matt 18:20)  But when his is with us, he is not just present but also worshiping and praying and interceding with us.  He is not an observer standing in the corner, he is down on his knees with us praying with and over us.  That is even a greater thought.


October 25

Lifestyle changes are not easy to do.  After living for years one way, to give it up and adopt to a new way of life is very difficult.  But that is what God called the children of Israel to do.  They needed to change who they were and whose they were.  They were slaves to the Egyptians.  As slaves they had to do what their master told them to do.  Now at Mt. Sinai, they are now a freed and redeemed people who were serving a new master, God himself.  And so they need new rules to follow.  And as stated in my message he only gave them two major rules.  Put me (God) first and to look out for those around you in a loving way.  And while they were expanded on here (and in the following chapters and books of the Bible), they are worded this way in Deuteronomy.  These rules have not changed in the 3500+ years since then for God’s followers.  We are to put God first in everything to do and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  And this needs a permanent lifestyle change not so quickie diet.



October 17

Flying our banner as we fight the battles here on earth is an important component to victory.  But we need to remember that “we do not battle primarily against people who want to cheat us, affect our political system in ways we disagree with, or who want to put shows on television [or in our schools] that shouldn’t be there.” (Enns commentary on Exodus pg 361)  “Our battle is truly spiritual, and it occurs in the many situations we encounter every day that vie for our attention and attempt to make us less fit for heaven . . . The battle is all around us, and it is waged in many unexpected and barely perceptible ways: the friendships we keep, fear of the future, the words we use with our spouses and children that show our self-centeredness, our avoidance of prayer, the corruption of simple pleasures that God has given us and so forth.  In other words, the battle does not concern the grand, obvious things that we sometimes think of: the direction our country is headed in or the state of the church at large. (pg 361)



October 11

Paul says in Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  This was true back in the days of the wilderness wanderings after the exodus from Egypt.  And it is still true today.  But like the Israelites we sometimes forget this wonderful promise and complain and grumble like they did.  But there is no need to do that God already knows what we need before we even ask him (Matt 6:8).  This should encourage us to leave it in the Lord’s hands.  But, if you are anything like me, this is easier said than done.  However, it is a good reminder about how God loves us and takes care of us, even to our most basic needs (like water and food).  A good lesson from Exodus!



October 4

Much of the sermon this last week was about the location of Mt. Sinai and where the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea.  But while the place where Mt. Sinai and the crossing is in doubt for the most part, the fact that God did part the waters of the Red Sea for the Israelites to pass through on dry ground is not in doubt.  This was the hand of God reaching down at that point in history, at a particular place, with his people and performed one of the most famous miracles of all times.  It happened.  And even if we do not know the when and where, does not negate the fact that it did happen.  And as we learned, God sometimes brings us to the point in our lives where he will part the waters for us figuratively to bring deliverance in our lives.  He can and he does.  No doubt about it.



September 27

Fall is officially here.  And with it pumpkins, apple cider, leaves changing color and cooler weather.  It is a wonderful time to see God at work.  Imagine a God with the power to change each individual leaf on each individual tree to it’s own unique color.  I am not saying that this is the way God does it, but I know he has the power to do it this way.  After all, he knows ever star in the sky (Ps 147:4) and every hair on our head (Matt 10:30) and every sand on the seashore (Gen 22:17).  So just a few leaves are nothing to him.  Oh praise the greatness of our God (Deut 32:3)



September 20

The devotional Our Daily Bread had a good example of seizing opportunities to display God’s power to the world on Sept 19th.  I did not read it in time for it to be included in my sermon but let me copy it here for you in this post.  It is based in the verse from 2 Cor 2:15, “We are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”
“I knew a rancher who lived near Lometa, Texas.  His two grandsons were my best friends. We would go into town with him and follow him around while he shopped and chatted with the folks he knew. He knew them all by name and he knew their stories. He’d stop here and there and ask about a sick child or a difficult marriage, and he’d offer a word of encouragement or two. He would share Scripture and pray if it seemed the right thing to do.  I’ll never forget the man. He was something special. He didn’t force his faith on anyone, but he always seemed to leave it behind. 
The elderly rancher had about him what Paul would call the sweet “aroma of Christ”. God used him to “spread the aroma of the knowledge of [Christ]”  He’s gone to be with God now, but his fragrance lingers on in Lometa.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked with a mere mortal.”  Put another way, every human contact has eternal consequences. Every day we have opportunities to make a difference in the lives of people around us through the quiet witness of a faithful and gentle life or through encouraging words to a weary soul. Never underestimate the effect a Christlike life can have on others.”
 
A good word from Our Daily Bread. https://odb.org/US/2021/09/18/a-sweet-aroma