October 22, 2020
In our weekly meetings, Pastor Rod and I often look ahead on the calendar, anticipating major special events and holidays and how they might fit into ministry plans. For that reason, my mind has already been geared toward upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations. With everything that has occurred in 2020, I think this year’s festivities will take on new meaning for many people.
It was in that train of thought that my attention was drawn to Psalm 103. In these 22 verses, David has a conversation with himself regarding giving thanks to God because of His numerous blessings. In the process, he challenges himself (and us) to “forget not all his benefits,” (Psalm 103:2). He then proceeds to list some of those “benefits”:
As I looked over David’s list, I realized that each of those items is also manifested in my life in different ways. It is as important for me, as it was for David, to frequently recall God’s “benefits.”
I would like to challenge you to do something with me, this upcoming Thanksgiving season. Beginning on Saturday, November 6, each day I am going to meditate on one verse from David’s list (beginning with verse three), write out that day’s verse in my journal, and list some specific ways those “benefits” are seen in my life. Following that path, we will arrive at the grand climax (verse 22) on Thanksgiving Day and be able to look back over a concrete manifestation of Psalm 69:19 – “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, event he God of our salvation. Selah.”
Who is in it with me?
October 20, 2020
19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
You are probably familiar with the old adage, “you have two ears and one mouth for a reason.” We often get ourselves into quite a bit of trouble when we speak before we listen. Or worse, when we have an outburst out of frustration and anger. That is the idea the author of James is communicating in these verses. He’s issuing a caution, that if followed, would lead to far less embarrassment, frustration, resentment and hurt. Add the complexities of social media and a 24 hour news cycle to the equation and what you are left with is a world filled with people who are not listening, quick to speak, and even faster to get upset. Perhaps this describes you lately. Starting today let us be people who intentionally listen, are slow to speak, and have our tempers in check.
Is Your Name Written There?
October 15, 2020
At the beginning of Luke 10, Jesus sent out thirty-five teams of two disciples to various cities and villages. Their purpose was two-fold: (1) To proclaim the Good News that the Messiah had come and, (2) To prepare those locations for a personal visit (Luke 10:1). When the teams came back to report to Jesus, they were excited about what God had used them to do: “Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name,” (Luke 10:17).
However, instead of joining them in the celebration, Jesus challenged those disciples to rejoice over something of far greater importance: “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven,” (Luke 10:20). His point was that there is nothing better, in all the world, than knowing that your sins have been forgiven and that you have a personal relationship with God.
Friend, do you have that personal assurance? Can you think back to a time when you recognized that you were a sinner and deserved God’s eternal condemnation (Romans 3:23; 6:23a)? If so, how did you respond to that news? The Bible tells us that Jesus came to earth to deal with that very problem – to die on a cross (though He did not deserve it), bearing our sin and its just penalty (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). The Bible also tells us that, if we acknowledge our sin to God and ask Him to forgive us, because His Son already paid for it, He WILL forgive us and make us a part of His family (Romans 10:9-13) – introducing us into a personal relationship with Him. That IS great news!!!
But the news will only, truly be great if you accept it for yourself. Have you done that? Do you have a real reason to rejoice, today, because YOUR name is written in heaven?
Lord, my sins they are many
Like the sands of the sea,
But Thy blood, O my Saviour,
Is sufficient for me;
For Thy promise is written
In bright letters that glow,
“Though your sins be as scarlet,
I will make them like snow.”
Is my name written there,
On the page white and fair?
In the book of Thy kingdom,
Is my name written there?
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. 9 He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. 10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. 13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.
Are you good at holding grudges? Maybe it was something they did or something they said. But we just can’t seem to let it go. We know we should, but it is not quite that easy. I have found that when I am experiencing this kind of frustration one of the most helpful things I can do is remember how greatly I have been forgiven.
The imagery in Psalm 103 is so rich. As a loving and tender father God does not hold our failures against us. In fact, verse 12 describes our sins being as far as the east is from the west. I am no expert, but that sounds pretty far to me. God’s mercy to His children is deeper and wider than we will ever totally understand in this lifetime.
May we show that same tender, forgiving, and merciful spirit towards those around us even today.
March / April 2020
May / June 2020
July / August 2020
September / October