Stay True

Scripture: Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.  But now that you know God–or rather are known by God–how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? Galatians 4:8,9 NIV

Observation: Paul was concerned for the Galatians. They were apparently weak-willed.

Application: The Galatians willingly returned to their idol worship.   How often do we forsake our first love?  How often do we give in to our fleshly desires?  When we do that we are saying that we are okay with being enslaved by the “weak and miserable principles” that ruled our lives before we knew Christ.  We must stay true to our commitment to Christ and not forsake his sacrifice.

Prayer: Father, help me to stay true to you, my first love.  Don’t let me slip back into my old habits.  I ask this on Jesus’ name. Amen

Doug

Anoint

Scripture: When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.  Mark 16:1 NIV

Observation: Jesus’ female followers are going to the tomb to anoint him.

Application: Dictionary.com lists four definitions for the word anoint. Two are applicable to my reading today. First, to consecrate or make sacred in a ceremony that includes the token applying of oil; second, to dedicate to the service of God.  Mark 16:1 NIV clearly states that the women were going to the tomb to “anoint” Jesus, not embalm him, that had already been done.  John 18:38-40 NIV, “Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.  He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.  Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.”  Jesus was not embalmed as we know it today, however, his body was wrapped with linen strips soaked with embalming liquids as was customary at that time. I believe that the two Marys and Salome went to consecrate Jesus and to dedicate him to the service of God. Again Dictionary.com says to consecrate is to make or declare sacred; set apart or dedicate to the service of a deity: to make (something) an object of honor or veneration; or to devote or dedicate to some purpose.  I believe that their intent was anoint and consecrate Jesus to set him apart to God for our sake.  However, before they got to the tomb God raised Jesus and he, himself set him apart for our sake.

Prayer: Father, thank you for giving us Jesus as our advocate to you and for anointing him for your purpose. Thank you Lord for setting him apart for our sake. Amen

Doug

God Reached Down

Scripture: With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.  The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  Mark 15:37,38 NIV

Observation: Jesus dies on the cross.

Application: We all know the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Jesus was brought into this world to show us our way to God, to give all of us access to the Father by allowing himself to be sacrificed.  He once and for all redeemed those who trust in him for that sacrifice.  His claim of being the Son of God was disputed by the Jewish leaders and his following was a source of envy by them that very likely lead them to have him killed.  At the time of his death God reached down and showed us by tearing the separator, (the curtain), from top to bottom, (from God to man), that Jesus was sent by God for the very reason that he had claimed during his ministry.  What a great illustration God gave us at the moment of Christ’s death.  We are now and forever able to have unrestrained access to the Father.

Prayer: Father, thank you for removing the separation so that I can be in your company.  Help me to be worthy of Jesus’ sacrifice and your willingness to allow that sacrifice. Amen

Doug

Stay the Course

Scripture: Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  Deuteronomy 8:11-14 NIV

Observation: Through Moses the Lord counsels the Israelites to not be distracted from following his commands as they were written for their protection.

Application: Deuteronomy 8 is one of my favorite chapters in the Old Testament.  There is so much to learn about the Lord and how very much he loves us.  If you notice people haven’t changed very much over the last 3000-4000 years.  They share the same restless and self-destructive behavior,”what have you done for me lately?” or “I’m not hurting anyone but myself.”   Today we struggle with balancing our responsibilities laundry, work, family, paying bills, little league and girl scouts, and we look for ways to release the stress.  Unfortunately those distractions many times are not in tune with the Lord.  When we take our eyes from him for even a minute Satan finds his in.  The Lord has tried to protect us from Satan’s clever distractions for hundreds of years.  Here in these passages the Lord warns the Jews and it rings true for us today. He tells us to stay focused and stick to his commandments. Don’t forget him for he will give all that we need.  He reminds us how much our worship of him will help us to stay the course.

Prayer:  Yes Lord, only you can protect me from the misleading values we hold in today’s world.  Help keep my eyes focused on you no matter what distractions might lay ahead.  You are my Lord and I will stand on your word.  I will not forget your commandments for my protection. I will share the truth found in your word at every opportunity!  Thank you lord for your love and direction.  Amen

Laurie

Let Go of the Light Switch

Scripture: He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.  Proverbs 18:22 NIV

Observation: That’s just plain old, good  truth!

Application: I don’t really have a great lesson from today’s reading in Deuteronomy, Psalms, or Mark but I do know of a great passage in Proverbs.  It tells me “he who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.” Proverbs 18:22 NIV I just think that today I’m going to let you know that I love my wife and I want to honor her.  She has always been a woman that felt it was more important to help a friend in need or teach one of our children a life-lesson than it was to turn off a light switch or close a cupboard door.  She’s not perfect like me, you see.  I never make mistakes or leave anything out and forget to put it away.  So because she isn’t perfect like me I end up nagging her about little, unimportant junk.  Well yesterday it all came home to roost for me. My Honey is dealing with a thyroid illness and she just feels lousy most days. Saturday was an extremely bad day for her.  So bad that we ended up going to the doctor to have some medication prescribed.  As we were returning home from the ER last night my wife’s mortality hit me.  One day I may not have her anymore and I know that I’d rather have a permanently turned on light switch than to be without her.  With that said I realize that need to do a better job of loving her.  Ephesians 5:25 NIV says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  I have failed miserably.  I need to let go of the light switches and just love my wife because she is a gift from God and she deserves that.  Please forgive me Laurie, I love you .

Prayer: Father, I don’t deserve the wife that you’ve blessed me with but I thank you for giving her to me. Please forgive me if I’ve taken her for granted and not loved her as you expect. Please help me to help her through her illness. Please heal her body Lord.  I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen

Doug

“Because You”

Scripture: Because of you the Lord became angry with me also and said, “You shall not enter it, either.  Deuteronomy 1:37 NIV

Observation: Moses is recounting all the events of the previous forty years to the Israelites just before crossing the Jordan.

Application: Wait a minute. I’m not quite sure Moses’ memory is very right here. Yes, it’s true that he doesn’t get to cross the Jordan and enter the promised land and yes, it’s true that when God told him he would not enter the land he had just dealt with yet another episode of revolt from the Israelites, but I’m not exactly sure that the S.O.D.D.I. defense, (some other dude did it), works here.  God clearly told Moses in Numbers 20:12, “But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.’ ” God says right there, ” because YOU.”  “Because you did not prove me holy…because you did it before the assembly…because you made it appear that water gushed from a rock due to your rage and not my mercy…you will not enter.”  When I stand before God and he and I have a conversation I want to hear him say “well done” not “because you.”  I want to prove the Lord holy by the fruit that I bear.

Prayer: Holy Father, I want to prove your holiness by my actions and attitude.  Help me to honor you today. Amen

Doug

So You Want to be Great…Huh?

Scripture: Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”  Mark 9:35 NIV

Observation: Jesus instructs his apostles about greatness.

Application: So you want to be great…huh?  You want wealth, stature, prestige, adoration…you want greatness?  Okay, then you need to start being driven, results oriented, you need to be ruthless. Don’t give an inch, you have to grind your competition into dust.  You have to care only for yourself and your condition. You have to never share, you have to take and keep, and you have to never, never, never be concerned with the affairs of others…right?  Well, not exactly.  Jesus laid out the plan a bit differently.  He said when they came to Capernaum, ” ‘…What were you arguing about on the way?’  But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’ ”  Mark 9:33b-35 NIV We should consider all others before ourselves.  We shouldn’t concern ourselves with earthly definitions of success we should only be concerned with how God views success. When we accomplish that then we will have reached our goal of being great by honoring God through serving others and when he is pleased we will have achieved greatness.  Of course, if that is our attitude then we won’t be concerned with being seen as great.  Our greatness will be in the humility of knowing that greatness belongs to God alone.

Prayer: Father, I don’t want to be considered great by man, I want to be considered great by you. I want one day for you to look at me and say to me “well done.”  Help me to be humble and want greatness for you.  Help me to serve others and to honor you as I serve. Amen

Doug

The following is a wonderful sermon about humility by the senior pastor of Millersville Bible Church in Millersville, Pennsylvania.  We have also linked to his blog, “A Time to Think,” where you can find many of the pastor’s sermons.

The Greatness of Humility by Pastor Steven Cornell


OK Lord! I Get It!

Scripture: They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.  You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”And he said to them: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban’ (that is, a gift devoted to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”  Mark 7:7-10 Amplified

Observation: Jesus is talking with the Pharisees.  They are questioning him about ritual cleansing before eating, a man-made ritual.  Jesus answers them saying you put a higher priority on hand washing than encouraging the church to follow the laws made by God.  He also instructs them on the false notion that once the legal requirements were met as their parent’s welfare was concerned, they no longer had any responsibility towards caring for them.

There are two important concepts for life the Lord is sharing with us here:

1)  Don’t let the traditions made by man interfere with your relationship with the Lord.

2)  Honoring your father and mother is a lifelong pursuit.

Application: I will only address the second of the two concepts here, although both are equally important. I have a very difficult relationship with my Mom.  In a nutshell, we are like oil and water. We have, at times, gone years without communicating and now neither my brother nor I have the strength within ourselves to deal with her.  In September 2009 I went  to visit Mom and Dad for 10 days to help get my Dad home and on Hospice care. While I did accomplish the most important task of getting Dad situated, I fell short of the long list of things my Mom wanted done.  This lead to my husband and I leaving early and my mother and I having hard feelings towards each other.  Since that visit in September she has been hospitalized and my father has recently passed away.  My help has always been accepted by her conditionally and dealing with dad issues was no exception.  Fortunately dad’s social worker and I were able to maintain good communication.  Without that communication I would not have known of my Daddy’s passing.  This Sunday I was praying about this difficult situation.  The Lord began speaking loudly and clearly to me about my relationship with Mom. He told me that I can’t change the way that she behaves but I still have a responsibility to care for her to the best of my ability, that’s why he included that “honor your mother and father” thing in the commandments.  He also gave me Mark 7 to remind me of the importance he places on that issue.  I must admit, I have failed to fulfill my Heavenly Father’s desires where my mother has been concerned. On Sunday, the Lord promised to give me the strength and protection I would need to express my love to my mother and fulfill my duty as her daughter.  He revealed to me that only he can shield my heart, and yours, from someone who purposefully sets out to hurt you.  He has called me to see my mother through his eyes and to not give up hope.   I called her Monday night and, with the Lord’s help, I listened and I encouraged her and told her I love you.

The Lord is so good to me.  He protects me and gives me the strength to deal with the most difficult situations.  I’m so thankful that I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and that the bible gives good counsel on all of life’s experiences.

Prayer: Lord, my mother needs you in her life.  I fear that if she doesn’t come to know you soon it will be too late, she is 83 after all.  Please Heavenly Father send someone to share the truth with her in a way that she can understand.  Lord, please continue to give me the strength to serve you by serving her.  Protect my heart and allow me to let any hurtful behavior go through me without taking up residence and causing more hurt.  Lord, I do love my Mom and it is my wish to help her live out her remaining years with her family around her, loving her to the best of their abilities.  Lord that can only happen with your help!  Please refine my attitude and conform it to you Lord.  Amen

Laurie

With God

Scripture: “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.  “Seven,” they replied.  He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people, and they did so.  They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them.  The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.  Mark 8:5-8 NIV

Observation: Jesus feeds the four thousand.

Application: A small amount of fish and bread does not a banquet make. However, a small amount of fish and bread and God feeds thousands. Don’t forget to thank the Lord for the provisions he provided for you today.

Prayer: Father, thank you so much for giving me a loving wife, God-loving healthy children, a good job, a home to live in, and a loving church family. Amen

Doug

Love

Scripture: If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.  1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NIV

Observation: Paul speaking on love.

Application: God wants our inside, not our outside. We have to have a Christ-like attitude to be of value to the Lord. If we tithe begrudgingly we just as well put the money back in our pockets. If we give a kind or instructive word to a “brother or sister” and then gossip it’s just lip service and of no use to the Lord. He wants us to be Christ serving not self-serving.  God wants us to be truly changed on the inside.  We must humble ourselves and persevere in his love.  He wants us to have his love and he want us to give it away because we love him.

Prayer: Father, help me to truly want to love others because you have loved me. Amen

Doug