Archive for the ‘Holy week.’ Category

Not too long ago, I heard someone list three things that tell the truth: small children, drunk people, and yoga pants. I’m not sure if there was an inference in there that all others lie, but the statement itself seems to be true (at least on its face).


In this day of fake news and alternative facts, it’s always nice to know when the truth is being told (as long as it’s not some negative truth about yourself). If you read the reactions to my e-letter from last week (see below), you’ll note that even I was called on my facts.


That is as it should be. None of us should toss around inaccurate statements. In this case, my general assertion was true, but way overstated. I’m glad it was pointed out to me. It will cause me to be a better writer in the future. Kudos to my diligent readers!


But back to the yoga pants. Truth tellers are not always met with overwhelming joy. Take Jesus, for example. As is also ascribed to George Washington, he could not tell a lie. It always got him into deep doo-doo. Eventually, it got him crucified.


Jesus’ problem was he often spoke out when silence would have helped him avoid most messy situations. Of course (had he done that), he could not have carried out his role as Messiah. Then where would we be?


While I can avoid yoga pants (and drunk people, sometimes), I can’t avoid the truth of Christ–at least not without negative consequences. He once said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) While it’s one thing to know the truth, it’s entirely another to be the truth. If what he says is correct, he is the very embodiment of the truth. There is no truth without him.


A preacher once told a congregation, “If God would strike every liar dead, where would I be?” After everyone stopped laughing he added, “I’d be preaching to an empty house. That’s where I’d be.” I guess we’re all guilty of not having enough truth within us.
The Apostle Paul wrote these words. “
Let God be true, and every human being a liar.” (Romans 3:4) We seem to be on a neverending quest for the truth. If Jesus is the truth, it might be a good strategy to begin with him.

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. (Luke 2:15-16 ESV)

God chose Bethlehem for Jesus to be born. He did not choose a major city like Jerusalem or Rome. Even today, it is still not a likely city one would associate with a place for the Savior of the world to be born. God did not seek super stardom for his son’s arrival. Nor was there a Facebook entry with thousands of followers and press reporters that converged on the sight.

Humble shepherds saw the angelic messengers and then paid homage to the Child that would become the Savior of mankind. Joseph did not have an internet reservation at a five star hotel. He had to make do with what one would least expect: A manger and animals! Imagine the outcry of child abuser activists today if one would use a manger as a crib.

Even two thousand years ago an earthy royal prince and future king’s birth would have been remarkably different from this. There would be the best materials for baby care: a cot, clothing, fine linen and woolen blankets and nursing care. There would be a royal doctor and midwives of the Court.

Joseph and Mary followed through with the honor God had bestowed on them to be the earthly parents of Jesus Christ. They trusted God to provide when there was not even accommodations and a place to put the baby to rest.

This biography tells us that opulence and materialism, especially shopping sprees at this time of year, draw our attention away from what God wants us to focus on, namely the Savior that was born into this world and stripped bare of what one would regard as basic essentials.

Prayer: Almighty God. We thank you for the greatest and most precious gift ever given to mankind, our Lord Jesus Christ as Savior from our sins. Help us to look beyond all the distractions of the material world and to focus on the real value of worshipping Jesus

Going a little further he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but you will.” (Matthew 26:39 ESV)

How often are we faced with something in our lives that troubles us, grieves us, or simply we don’t want to do? I face this situation almost daily. Whether it’s not wanting to deal with someone at work, face rush hour traffic or do a necessary chore around the house. Most the time I think to myself that it would be nice if I did not have to deal with such things. They tend to be interfering with my plans or my will and bring about frustration.

When I reflect on the reading above (Matthew 26:39), I am immediately shamed into realizing how petty my so called trials and tribulations of life are.

Here we find Jesus asking God the Father to take away the immense physical pain and death he will be suffering. However, it is what Jesus says next that provides the most important lesson. He says, “Yet not as I will, but you will”. In other words, “God please don’t let me suffer a horrible death and find another way for me to save all of mankind, BUT only if that is what you want. If not, I am want to carry out your will.”

These 8 words from Matthew 26:39 shifted my entire paradigm of what it meant to be a Christian. I have struggled, continue to struggle and will probably always struggle with trying to assert MY will over God’s WILL. Yet, I want him to remove all life’s trouble and pain. It is inherent in our fallen nature as human beings to think this way. However, meditating on this verse helps me truly understand that God has a plan for me (us) and in end it is His WILL that we should be praying comes to pass.

Be sure to ask yourself daily, whose WILL shall be done?

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Daily Devotional Bible Verses

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
(Luke 11:1-4 ESV)

Jesus’ closest followers came with a significant request: “teach us to pray.” Surely, they had prayed before, but somehow they recognized their need for instruction on how to pray most effectively. Jesus’ instruction on prayer began with this familiar statement: “Father, hallowed be your name.” To hallow something means literally to “render or acknowledge, to set apart.” Jesus knew that we are designed to render and acknowledge something or someone who is bigger and better than us.

We see this concept play out every week as we “hallow” exceptional people and exceptional things:

  • Fans will congregate in packed stadiums to cheer on exceptional athletes on football teams.
  • Every evening people pack Broadway theaters, the Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall as they’re moved by exceptional actors, singers, dancers, and other performers.
  • During 2009 and 2010 the movie Avatar grossed over 2.78 billion dollars as it wowed audiences with its exceptional 3D special effects.
  • Each year 5 million visitors visit the Grand Canyon to marvel at its exceptional natural beauty.

We often “hallow” or worship worldly things, without realizing we were designed to hallow an exceptional God.

As we pray, our natural inclination is to begin by focusing on our needs or our struggles. God clearly cares about those needs and struggles, but our prayers will always be limited in scope and depth when we begin by focusing on ourselves rather than God. Fixing our minds and hearts on His glory, His power, His wisdom, His justice, His authority, His holiness, and His love is what gives us the proper context for everything else we pray. Notice how your needs and your struggles look different when you focus on God’s glory first.

Do your prayers begin with God as the focus or you? Take some time today to praise God for who He is and what He has done.

fearWhen God asks us to do something, it can be doverwhelmng, terrifying even, and cause usanxiety. Maybe it is moving to a new city, asking someone if they know Jesus, or even quitting a job. This happened multiple times to Gideon, who was a Judge in the Old Testament. There is encouragement for us though. God didn’t look at Gideon as a failure because he was afraid and questioned God about the things he was supposed to do. In fact, each time he was afraid, God provided for him.

But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. (Judges 7:10 ESV)

In this verse we read that he was afraid to go down to the camp alone. So, God told him to go with one of his servants. God could have easily said, “You failed and I will use somebody else!” But he didn’t. Don’t feel as if you’ve failed when God has called you to do something and you are afraid. He will provide a way for you to make it through your fears and succeed. Being afraid is okay, but succumbing to that fear and being disobedient is not. God will call us to do hard things in our lifetime, but as with Gideon, He will be ever present and strong in our weakness!

Be encouraged today and trust our good God to equip you for the work laid before you! Below are some amazing verses on fear

  • Psalm 23:4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

  • Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?

  • Psalm 118:6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

  • 2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

  • Psalm 115:11 You who fear him, trust in the LORD– he is their help and shield.

soulConfess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.—James 5:16

Have you ever been wrong and refused to admit ot confess the act? I have recently been put into the position where I am being persecuted to the point of disbelief. I watch these people accuse me, then refuse to admit they were, or did, anything wrong. While I wish I could get an apology from them, my biggest concern is for the damage they are doing to themselves by not admiting their sin.

No one enjoys admitting they are wrong. We hope our spouse or kids or friends will overlook our shortcomings and not call us out on the mistakes we make. We want to preserve the appearance of having our life pulled together. No one wants to say, “I was wrong, and I’m sorry!”

But by avoiding those painful words, we miss the blessing that follows. When a wound is cleaned, the healing can begin. If we live with sin festering in our life, we miss the healing and wholeness that God has made available to us.

James tells us the next step after confession is also important for healing—we must also pray for each other. It’s hard to be angry with someone for whom we are honestly praying. By asking God to work through each other to advance his kingdom, we might find we can forgive as we have been forgiven.

Prayer

Gracious Lord, grant us the courage to admit our failings and to confess them to one another. Help us to forgive each other and to pray for those whom you have placed in our lives. Amen.

jesus calledOK, I’ve never heard of this one, but please read the story of a Pastor who asked his Church members to either become more active, or to leave the Church. What do you think of the story below?

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WINSTON-SALEM — Julie and Bob Clark were stunned to receive a letter from their church in July asking them to “participate in the life of the church” — or worship elsewhere.

“They basically called us freeloaders,” says Julie.

“We were freeloaders,” says Bob.

In a trend that may signal rough times for wallflower Christians, bellwether mega-church Faith Community of Winston-Salem has asked “non-participating members” to stop attending.

“No more Mr. Nice Church,” says the executive pastor, newly hired from Cingular Wireless. “Bigger is not always better. Providing free services indefinitely to complacent Christians is not our mission.”

“Freeloading” Christians were straining the church’s nursery and facility resources and harming the church’s ability to reach the lost, says the pastor.

“When your bottom line is saving souls, you get impatient with people who interfere with that goal,” he says.

Faith Community sent polite but firm letters to families who attend church services and “freebie events” but never volunteer, never tithe and do not belong to a small group or other ministry. The church estimates that of its 8,000 regular attendees, only half have volunteered in the past 3 years, and a third have never given to the church.

“Before now, we made people feel comfortable and welcome, and tried to coax them to give a little something in return,” says a staff member. “That’s changed. We’re done being the community nanny.”

Surprisingly, the move to dis-invite people has drawn positive response from men in the community who like the idea of an in-your-face church.

“I thought, ‘A church that doesn’t allow wussies — that rocks,’” says Bob Clark, who admires the church more since they told him to get lost.

He and Julie are now tithing and volunteering. “We’ve taken our place in church life,” he says. •