January 31

The idea of getting small bite sized pieces of hope is an interesting thought.  It makes more sense of those Psalms that seem to have so much contrasts in them.  It explains Psalm 22 the best.  When we can take our eyes off of our problems and circumstances even for a moment, and look to God, we can experience a small window of hope, however brief, in which we can rest in God’s strength and power.  And those times can mean the difference between making it through and giving up.  So do not discount the precious gift of even bite-sized hope.  It might not get us all the way to through, it will make those times a bit better.

January 24

Some of you noted after the service the timeline chart that I mentioned at the beginning of the sermon.  As I looked at these timelines I was fascinated about how much information they bring out of the text.  Many times when I read through the Bible, I skip over or just briefly skim the genealogies.  I am sure I am not the only one.  But when the information that has been in our hands for more than 2000 years is charted and they are no longer faceless names and numbers, it provides many insights.  I downloaded the chart shown (Adam to Noah) from a wonderful website, https://www.josephineelia.com/antediluvian-timeline/.  On that page she makes some of the conclusions I have come to in my last two sermons.  There is a link on that site to a similar page for the Noah to Joseph chart I also showed (https://www.josephineelia.com/postdiluvian-timeline/) as well as a combination of the two (I did not show) which drastically shows the longevity of the pre-flood generations. 
   I will point out briefly if you are interested in looking at timelines like this is that these numbers are based on what is called the Masoretic text of the OT which most of our modern Bibles are based on.  The Septuagint (an early Greek translation of the OT) has different numbers for the age of people in some of the genealogies.  There is a debate about which numbers are correct.  Some say the Septuagint misread/mistranslated the numbers, others say the Masoretic text was corrupted along the way some how.  I am not going to debate here which is better, but I think the Masoretic lines up better and has been the standard for many scholars down through the years.

January 17

We started off this week talking about hope.  It is also interesting that today we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.  He was a man full of hope.  I will never forget some of the lines from his famous “I have a dream speech”.  “So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. . . I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today. . . .This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”

January 10

I wanted to start the new year off with some thoughts on hope.  I love the verse that I picked for this year’s theme verse from Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  God’s hope filling us with joy and peace so that we will overflow with hope.  I pray that this year our hope will overflow and make an impact on this church and community.

January 3, 2022

Happy New Year.  Since we did not have worship service this week due to the weather, I will also not post much to this devotional.  The sermon I prepared for Sunday will be preached on January 9th.

December 27

I hope that everyone had a Merry Christmas and that this new year will be filled with God’s presence in your life.

December 20

This will be the last post before Christmas so I hope that you all will have a very Merry Christmas.  May God’s blessings and peace be on you this season as you reflect on God’s son who was born so long ago.  May you find the comforts and joys of this season that will only continue and grow in this new year.

December 13

Again, this post is much later in the week than usual.  The activities of the Christmas season added to the every day normal concerns are piling up at times.  But this week I have been thinking a lot about the songs we sing at Christmas.  The birth of Jesus certainly is something to be joyous about in song.  And as we looked at Sunday, this goes back to the days and months before Jesus was actually born.  Even the promise of a Savior being born spurred both Mary and Zechariah to burst into spontanious lyrics.  And the message they spread about the hope and praise they felt as God broke into their time and space encourages us who know the whole story about what Jesus came and did for us should give us comfort and joy in our lives.  Unlike them, we do not have to look forward to a fulfilling of God’s promise, but already know that the salvation of the world lived and died to save us from our sins.  And furthermore, rose to give us new life.  So songs of comfort and joy should flood our souls as we think back on that birth.  So play those Christmas tunes, lift up those carols, turn on that radio or recordings that sing of our Messiah’s brith, and celebrate the Savior who is Christ the Lord.

December 6

This is coming to you later on in the week.  One of the songs that I have been thinking about when I think about the proclamation of God’s words is not a Christmas hymn, but it can be.  It is titled “Whosoever Will”  “Whosever heareth shout, shout the sound! Spread the blessing tidings all the world around; Tell the joyful news wherever man is found, Whosoever will may come.  Whosoever will, whosoever will! Send the proclamation over vale and hill; ’tis a loving Father calls the wand’rer home: Whosoever will may come”.  That is the message of the manger and that is the message of the cross.  No matter who you are or what you have done, you can come and recieve the comfort and joy in the proclamation of God.

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!