February 8

We talked Sunday about contrasts in Samson’s life.  Unfortunately, I did not read the Our Daily Bread story from Saturday before today.  It was a good one to illustrate one of my points.  You can read it for yourself here: https://odb.org/US/2021/02/06/big-blue-light .  I also just got an email from some missionaries would reminded me of a famous prayer (one of contrast) that I have read before but is also a good application to my sermon.  It is a prayer from St. Francis who lived who lived around 1200 AD.  He prayed,
Lord make Me an instrument of Your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness joy.
O Divine master grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand.
To be loved. as to love
For it’s in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life.
How is that for contrasts?

February 1

I am not discounting foxhole conversions.  There are many who come to Jesus during a crisis point in their life.  I was one who confessed my sins out of fear of going to hell.  And there are others who sincerely call upon God out of fear of dying.  However, there are just as many who use these confessions out of a sense of manipulation to get them out of the line of fire.  These are the ones I caution people about.  Time and time again, we treat God as a “Get Out of Jail Free” card or even worse a “give me what I ask for” card.  God is not a magical genie granting us our three wishes.  He is a loving and caring God who blesses us according to his will and plan for our lives.  When we abuse this love, we are not treating God as he deserves.  Remember to ask for things that are according to his will not ours and we will end up better for it.

January 25

I am finishing up on the annual report for our church this year.  And even though the pandemic did cancel a few events, shut our doors for 2 1/2 months, and changed how we worshiped together, God did bring us through and our church continues to grow deeper in God’s word.  Even with the virus, our attendance has remained almost the same as the last two years.  We did have 5 members from our church die this last year but all of the were already homebound.  As I will put in my report, I think God is preparing us for some wonderful things in this new year and I hope that everyone is on board for the ride.

January 18

Well, this next week we welcome a new president into the White House.  And with a nation so divided I wanted to remind you of a few Bible verses. 
Romans 13:1, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.” 
Titus 3:1, “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” 
Hebrews 13:17, “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account [to God]. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
1 Peter 2:13, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by Him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.” 
Notice the words/commands in these four about submitting or being subject (underlined).  Also notice who established them(bold).
And finally (and probably most importantly), 1 Tim 2:1, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

January 11

I just wanted to use this spot to follow up on my lesson about Barak not being willing to be used by God.  God wants to use us but we need to be willing is the lesson I pointed out.  But here is an idea that I did not explain further.  Even though Barak was hesitant the first time Deborah talked to him (vs 6-8), the second time, Barak listened and was able to accomplish God’s plan/will (vs 14-16).  He was given a second chance.  This is why he made it into the great faith chapter of Hebrews 11.  I think this is also something we can learn.  Even if we are unwilling at first, God can change our hearts and give us a second (or third or fourth . . .) chance.  This is not guaranteed, but God can (and often does) give us another chance if we become willing to follow him.  So if you have failed God in the past because of your unwillingness to carry out his plan, does not mean that God is through with you.  If you change and become willing, God will often give you a second chance.  Are you willing to be willing?

January 4

Well this is the first post of 2021.  I hope that this year we all will continue to see God’s blessings on us all.  Sometimes his blessings are not what we expect and some are hard to accept because they all do not come to us as good things.  Sometimes his blessings come as difficult circumstances that help us grow.  Sometimes they take the form of discipline and rebuke when we stray in order to correct us and get us back to following him.  Sometimes they are times when we need to cuddle close to him for comfort and encouragement.  Sometimes they are sickness that help us depend on him.  But they are all blessings.  So do not look only for the blessings that look most beneficial.  There are many more things God wants to do in your life to bring you the greatest blessings.

December 28

Posting this a few days late because of family get-togethers.  My hope this week is that God will continue to bless us as we end one year and start another this week.  As in the sermon, 2020 was a year of trials, but God was faithful and will continue to be faithful as we start another year of our Lord.  May God richly bless you and may you continue to grow more like Christ in 2021.

December 21

   This year has been one of changes and challenges.  And yet, we sit year on the verge of a new year with a God that has been faithful in the past.  With this in mind, I hope that we all are looking forward to this next year.  God will still carry us through it.  Will it have some of the same struggles?  Will we go through even more upheavals?  Or will this year be one of recovering and rejoicing? 
   I want to take this time to wish all who are reading this a very Merry Christmas and I hope that you will have one filled with the wonder of the year.  It truly is the most wonder full time of the year.

December 14

I just love looking at the names of God.  I have read books about it and taught different lessons about them.  Each one is unique and has a special emphasis and meaning.  They help explore the many different characteristics of him.  And it is no different with Jesus and his names.  I probably could have had three or four messages that talk about the names of Jesus given to him at his birth (or before his birth).  Many names were given by the prophets.  Others by the writers of the epistles.  In fact, I just started reading in the book of Hebrews for my devotional time this morning and found more names I could have used in the message yesterday.  So I would encourage you readers to find and examine other names of God, Jesus, and even the Holy Spirit and see what a difference these names will make in your life.

December 7

Wonderful Grace of Jesus.  The hymn is one of my favorite.  And not just because of the musicalness and with the men singing most of the refrain, but because of the words.  If there is anything in the word more important to sing about than grace, I do not know it.  God’s grace is so significant, words cannot describe it (How can my tongue describe it? Where shall my praise begin?) right?  This is why we sing, this is why we praise, this is why God deserves it all.  So why don’t we give Him are all this year here at Christmas and make this Christmas the most wonderful time for us.