Be Generous With Your Life

Today is Sunday, January 6, 2019. Epiphany

Day 22,214

38 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

“It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.”
David Brin, U.S. engineer and Science Fiction author
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is palladium. It means, “anything believed to provide protection or safety; safeguard.” (

I watched a football game last night! The whole thing! The Cowboys beat the Seahawks in a close game, 24-22. I don’t think it was quite as close as the score indicated, though. And the result may have been quite different if Seattle’s place kicker had not pulled a muscle on a too-long field goal attempt. The punter was drop-kicking in his place, and muffed the onside kick with just over a minute left in the game. That could have made a huge difference, but the Cowboys were able to run out the clock after that.

I may watch football again, today! The Ravens are playing the Chargers, on the noon game. I’ll be rooting for the Ravens in that game. I was not necessarily rooting in the game, last night, but I was also not rooting against the Cowboys, as I have done in the past.

I had a great talk session with our pastor, yesterday morning, and then, in the afternoon, he came over and we watched Ready Player One together. The movie was definitely entertaining. However, it was more different from the book than it was the same. It was most disappointing.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. We worship with The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N. Beach Street, in Fort Worth, TX. Our worship gathering begins at 10:15 AM.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 7:25

Today I am grateful:
1. For another opportunity to worship God with our Exchange family.
2. For another opportunity to lead others in worship.
3. For the potential for another beautiful day, weather-wise.
4. For the stirring of the Holy Spirit within me, leading on to better places.
5. For the love of God and the love of people.

O God, you make us glad with the weekly remembrance of
the glorious resurrection of your Son our Lord:
Give us this day such blessing through our worship of you,
that the week to come may be spent in your favor;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer, A Collect for Sundays)

Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16 (The Message)

During my conversation with our pastor, yesterday morning, two things kept cropping up. We were, at the center of it all, discussing the book Glittering Vices: A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins and Their Remedies, by Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung.

One thing that arose in our conversation was the topic of pusillanimity. I’ve mentioned this before. It is a shrinking back, probably out of fear, from things that God has for us to do. For me, it has been going up to a certain point in my life, but then failing to take that definitive step into the next phase. This has happened time and time again.

The other thing, though is what I want to focus on this morning. It comes from the above verse, Matthew 5:16. In our talks, Jacob said that, instead of reading through the whole Bible this year, he has chosen to only read the Gospels through, multiple times. He started with The Message, and plans to read several other translations throughout the year. This particular verse has caught his attention, and most specifically, the phrase, “Be generous with your lives.”

What does that mean? Both of us, my pastor and I, seem to struggle with a similar issue in our lives, and I would be willing to be that many other Christians are in the same proverbial boat. We are selfish with our lives. We declare ourselves too busy for other people. C and I rarely get home from work before 6:00 PM on weeknights. By the time we either cook, pick up, or order dinner and eat it, it’s quite close to our bedtime. We generally hit the pillows by 9:00 PM, as we get up at 5:15 in the mornings.

The thing is, though, we have to eat dinner, and you have to eat dinner. What’s to keep us from occasionally sharing that meal, even on a weeknight? I know we’re tire. So are you. But let me tell you something (and believe me, I’m stomping on my own toes, here). A year or so ago, we had a semi-regular Thursday night meeting for dinner with at lest two other families in our fellowship. We would all bring our own food to one family’s house, sit down and eat together, and just share conversation about whatever happened to come up. There was no agenda; no list to follow, no plans to make. We just “broke bread” together and had a good time. I have to confess that it was refreshing and rejuvenating. And I miss those days.

This is “being generous with our lives,” at least one way. Sharing our lives with others. There is something invigorating about breaking bread with others. It has lost a great deal of significance in our culture, but in Jesus’s day, it was very significant. Sharing a meal with someone was something much more intimate than it is, today.

How do we reclaim this? I’m not sure I have the answer to it. But we have to, my pastor and I agreed yesterday, figure out a way to do it. We need to “unself” a bit (to use a word that Eugene Peterson coined in another book). I need to let go of this feeling that when I have free time, I have to spend it doing only what I want to do. I need to be generous with my life.

Father, I need Your help in this, desperately, and I’m not the only one. Help us to be generous with our lives. Help us to unself. Help us to follow in the steps of Jesus and be more aware of the needs of others around us.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Soli Deo Gloria!


Oh! How He Loves Us!!

Good morning! It’s Tuesday, May 8, 2012. Today is National Coconut Cream Pie Day. Christi likes that. Actually, she says she likes Coconut Meringue better. I’m not a fan of either. Never been much for coconut. I guess the biggest news on this day is that, in 1945, it was V-E Day. Victory in Europe. However, in 1963, Sean Connery starred in his first James Bond movie on this day. Connery IS the best Bond. I will accept no arguments. Don’t even try.

Christi continues to work at the madhouse. Her quest goes on. All prayers are appreciated.

Stephanie should be able to get her diploma any time after June 2. As previously stated, there will be great joy and celebration, and possibly the Myposian Dance of Joy.

Father, I pray that you would show me more of you today. Give me something that will help me live this day looking to you.

I know I’ve shared this before, but I felt like starting off with some worship music this morning.

My heart will sing no other name…Jesus!

My Utmost For His Highest

Because you have kept my word about patient endurance… Revelation 3:10

Chambers compares the patience of a saint with a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. “God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says–‘I cannot stand any more.’ God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly. Trust yourself in God’s hands.” We must maintain our relationship to Christ by “the patience of faith.” As Job (who, contrary to the popular saying, wasn’t all that patient) said, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him!” No matter what the cost, I will wait for him.
Some see faith as sentimentality. “Faith is not a pathetic sentiment, but robust vigorous confidence built on the fact that God is holy love.” We cannot see what he is doing, but we know that he is good; that he is love, therefore, we “fling [ourselves] in reckless confidence on God.” (This is really good stuff!)
God gave all to save us in Christ; He desires us to place our “abandoned confidence in Him.” We have places in our lives where this confidence has not touched us yet. Jesus had none of those; our goal is to have none of those. “The real meaning of eternal life is a life that can face anything it has to face without wavering.”

Today’s Bible Readings

John 3; Psalm 13; 2 Samuel 18

John 3 contains what is probably the most famous of all Bible verses, John 3:16. It also gives us the phrase, “born again,” in verse 3, as Jesus answers Nicodemus’s questions. However, it is noted that the word “again” is literally “from above.” The point is, to enter God’s kingdom, we must be born of the Spirit. When we read John 3:16, we tend to think it is telling us how much God loved the world. This is not quite accurate. It might be better translated, “This is how God loved the world…” How did he love us? By sending his only Son to die in our place.
Later in the chapter, John the Baptist utters the famous words, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (v 30). But he utters something equally profound a few verses earlier that not so many people quote. “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven” (v 27). Do we really comprehend the gravity of that truth? I have not received even one thing that was not given me from heaven! This is truly a beautiful chapter!

Psalm 13
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

David feels forsaken. He prays for light in his eyes and is concerned about his enemies prevailing. But at the end, he trusts in the Lord and sings praises to him.

In 2 Samuel 18, David and company are about to head into the final battle with Absalom. The men would not allow David to go with them, saying that he was worth ten thousand of them. David acquiesced. However, he ordered them, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” Even after all of the treachery and betrayal, David still loved his son. How his heart must have broken! While Absalom was riding, his long, beautiful hair got caught in a tree. He hung helplessly in the tree. One of David’s men saw him and told Joab. Joab rebuked the man for not killing Absalom, but the man remembered David’s orders. Joab was not so compassionate. “I will not waste time like this with you,” he snarled (I’m embellishing…it doesn’t say he “snarled”), and thrust three javelins through the heart of Absalom. Runners carry the news to David. His reaction is recorded in verse 33: And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”

Father, I have worshiped you this morning, and feel as though I have already run into your arms. My heart will sing no other name…Jesus! I believe that your presence is here with me, and is with me at all times, 24/7. What I need is to recognize your presence throughout the day. If I truly believe (and I do) that you are with me all the time, then there are times during my day that I need to acknowledge that presence. Times when things may not be going quite the way I think they should; times when I have stress; times when I experience crisis; times when I doubt that you are actually in control of the madness. Father, I pray today…help me to fling myself on you with reckless confidence!! May I take no thought of consequences of following you! You are in control of my life. I have not one single thing that was not given me by you! By the power of your Spirit, and by the power of the ascended, glorified Christ, may I live my life in this manner! May my faith be a patient faith, one that shows complete and utter confidence in your loving hand. I also pray that you do these things for Christi as she makes her way to work today. Give her this reckless confidence in your hand; in your power. May she look to you today, by the power of the Spirit, for her confidence and guidance. Help her deal with the madness and appear to be the lone voice of sanity. I pray by your Spirit that you would give her favor with those in authority over her. I pray that you would change the hearts of those who deal recklessly with other people. I pray that you would shatter the immorality and materialism of one, bringing her to her knees in repentance! Unleash your power on this place, Lord. Only you can change hearts.

I thank you for the third chapter of John. I thank you for the way that you loved us. I also thank you for the words of John the Baptist that affirm our status before you. I have nothing, Lord. I remember from last week…I have nothing and I am nothing! I am not second, I am last! Make me last, Father. Humble me down to the dust with your Word. Glorify yourself and Christ through my life. Aim me at things I cannot see; stretch me to the point of breaking. I might complain, true. I probably will. (I think I just heard Christi laugh somewhere.) But you are God and you know what is best for our lives.

I pray for this day, Lord. Give Christi the bold confidence to get through it. May she not waver; may she not back down. Make her tough. I pray for Stephanie. She has not been feeling well for a couple days. Help her feel better and get her work done today. Sharpen her mind for the task ahead. May my day go smoothly today.

I pray for our friend, Dennis Jernigan, your psalmist. May his shoulder surgery go smoothly this morning, and his recovery be quick. It’s hard to play the piano with your arm in a sling. Get him through this with his eyes fixed on you.

I lift up my brothers and sisters in Christ at The Exchange. I pray for our church and its ministries, that we will be successful in the mission that you have given us. I pray for a place for us to worship; a permanent place that we can call home.

Fix your eyes on the Lord and fling yourself on him with reckless confidence! He is faithful and true, and oh, how he loves us!

Grace and peace, friends!

Ears To Hear; Eyes To See

I want to try to pick up where I left off yesterday morning, due to the power outage, mainly because I don’t want to skip any of the Bible readings. But first I want to recap our day at The Exchange Church. It was a pretty amazing day, beginning with some awesome worship, followed by a great message from pastor Joel Engle, part one of a series called “Jesus Is Not A Racist.” The key statement in this message was, “Jesus wants to tear down the walls of prejudice and build a bridge of love in our hearts.” The message centered around Acts 10:1-23, as Peter is instructed to go and see a Gentile centurion named Cornelius. The main points were that God touches the “unclean,” God shows us our blind spots, and God builds bridges. We are encouraged to examine our own prejudices and obey what the Spirit tells us.
Yesterday afternoon, we had a meeting for people interested in serving in various capacities at The Exchange. Christi and I are both interested in getting involved in the worship ministry. The pastor led that part of the meeting and shared his vision for The Exchange. I was overwhelmed by his vision, or perhaps it was the Spirit overwhelming me, because I must say I was moved to tears several times during the meeting. While we were visiting around various churches in the area, I heard at least two messages that told me that God wasn’t through with me yet. My calling as a worship leader is still valid. God still desires to use me in that capacity, and I still have a strong desire to be used. As Joel shared his vision, I realized that it is no accident that God has led us to this place at this time. I won’t share verbatim what he shared (although I took some good notes), but basically, his vision is to have a worship ministry that has an impact on the world! And by “world,” he means the whole world! One of the ways that he wants to do that is to begin making recordings of original worship music. Okay…I have some of that. So one of the first things I need to do is get working on recording some of my original worship music so I can submit it to Joel for possible use at the church.
He also used the word “excellence” a lot, which I really like. I’m a firm believer that whatever we offer to the Lord should be “excellent” in nature and in content. That means we have to practice. We have to know the songs we are going to play/sing. We need to give the Lord our best. After the meeting, we spoke with a couple of people to get the process started. It looks like there will be a mass rehearsal later this month. I’m hoping to be involved in that, in whatever capacity they need me. The program director told me to bring my electric guitar.
I’m both excited and terrified at the same time. I see this as an opportunity like I’ve never had before, and I don’t want to blow this. So I desire the prayers of anyone who reads this; prayers that I might be diligent and consistent, both in musicianship and spirituality. That means that these devotion times become more important than ever. I also need to start listening to God to hear any new songs that he might be sending my way.

Okay…now I’ll get to my devotional.

Bible readings from Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington:
I left off yesterday at Isaiah 10. If you remember, I was delayed by a power outage, and was unable to finish my devotion time yesterday.

Isaiah 10 starts off with a woe to people who decree iniquity.
1 Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression,
2 to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey!

God is very close to the widows and the fatherless, so anyone who preys on them will taste his wrath. What will you do on the day of punishment, in the ruin that will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth? (v. 3)

God will even punish Assyria. It is interesting, because God sent Assyria to inflict punishment on Israel, but the king of Assyria got arrogant.
13 For he says: “By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I remove the boundaries of peoples, and plunder their treasures; like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones.
14 My hand has found like a nest the wealth of the peoples; and as one gathers eggs that have been forsaken, so I have gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved a wing or opened the mouth or chirped.”

The king of Assyria thinks it is his own strength that has brought this about. But God makes an interesting comparison.
15 Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!
16 Therefore the Lord GOD of hosts will send wasting sickness among his stout warriors, and under his glory a burning will be kindled, like the burning of fire.
17 The light of Israel will become a fire, and his Holy One a flame, and it will burn and devour his thorns and briers in one day.
18 The glory of his forest and of his fruitful land the LORD will destroy, both soul and body, and it will be as when a sick man wastes away.
19 The remnant of the trees of his forest will be so few that a child can write them down.

The tables will be turned on the king of Assyria. And the Lord promises that there will be a remnant of Israel that will return.

Proverbs 3:19-26
More benefits of wisdom are given.
21 My son, do not lose sight of these– keep sound wisdom and discretion,
22 and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck.
23 Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble.
24 If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes,
26 for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.

These are great promises. The Lord will be our confidence! But then the focus shifts, and we are given some warnings.
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.
28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”–when you have it with you.
29 Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you.
30 Do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm.
31 Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways,
32 for the devious person is an abomination to the LORD, but the upright are in his confidence.
33 The LORD’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
34 Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.
35 The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace.

We are to be generous people! And look at verse 30! Have you ever started a fight with someone just because you felt like it? Oh, dear. I’ll admit it…I have. Just because I was feeling mean that day. We are most definitely not to do that! We are to be a people of compassion and kindness; of gentleness and generosity. We are to seek God’s wisdom, and, thereby, inherit honor.

Matthew 13:1-30,36-43 (I’m not sure I like this jumping around…)
This chapter is a group of the parables of Jesus, beginning with the parable of the sower.
1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea.
2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach.
3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow.
4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.
5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil,
6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away.
7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.
8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
9 He who has ears, let him hear.”

This parable has always intrigued me. I’ve gone through various stages of interpretation with it, as well. But where I have landed is this: Only the final soil is “saved.” The other soils may have had an appearance of salvation, but as time went by, it becomes apparent that they were not truly saved. There is one other observation that I have. “Soil” cannot change itself! There is nothing that I can do to cause myself to be “good soil.” That is entirely up to the desires of the Creator. Just as a gardener can manipulate the soil to make it more productive, so can our “Gardener” manipulate us to do the same. However, I cannot change my own heart. Only God can change my heart. Interestingly, it is also God that gives me ears to hear.

10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?”
11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’
16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.
17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

Jesus has to explain to the disciples why he is speaking in parables. He quote a passage in Isaiah that I just read a few days ago. Isaiah 6:9-10, in which Isaiah was given the message to take to the people. The author of the book I’m using stated at that point that “God was not saying that He didn’t want the people to respond to His call. He was telling Isaiah that the condition of the people was such that they would not respond, but they needed to hear nonetheless.” I respectfully disagree with Dr. Addington. He is showing a severe lack of understanding of God’s sovereignty at this point. He most certainly did purpose that the people would NOT heed the message. Jesus told the disciples that their eyes and ears were blessed, for the see and hear. But we have to remember, once again, that it is God who gives ears to hear and eyes to see.

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower:
19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.
20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy,
21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.
22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

At this point, Jesus explains the parable of the sower, reinforcing my belief that only the “good soil” truly received salvation.

24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field,
25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.
26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also.
27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’
28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’
29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'”

I believe this parable has a very important message for us. The “enemy” will “sow” imposters in our midst. They will look just like us. (The weeds looked just like the good grain.) It is not up to us to weed them out! God will take care of that. The end of the “weeds” is certainly not pleasant, either. Jesus explains this parable in verses 36-43.
36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.”
37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.
38 The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one,
39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels.
40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age.
41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers,
42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Father, as I get ready to go to work on this Monday morning, I pray for consistency in my walk with you. As I ponder the possibility of getting involved in the worship ministry at this place you have led us, my spirit is moved. I am inspired to follow you more closely. I am inspired to recognize the seriousness of my devotion to you, and to understand that this is most definitely not a game! I pray for wisdom and understanding. I pray for knowledge. I pray for a sense of devotion to you like I have never had before. I want to be on board with Pastor Joel’s vision for The Exchange. Not for any notoriety of my own, but for your name, for your glory.

I pray for this day, Father. Give Christi and me a good day at work as we try to be productive and get everything done that needs to be done. I pray that we will honor you in everything that we do today.

Pray for ears to hear and eyes to see.

Grace and peace, friends.

Worship Together; Worship Differently

We made it through Tuesday. I think I’m feeling a little better this morning, but I could have slept a lot longer. Christi had some interesting stories about her dealings with her mother yesterday. Let me tell you one thing…I’m married to an angel, that’s for sure! I could never have put up with what she put up with yesterday! Stephanie had a small issue during second period yesterday, but seems to have recovered nicely to get enough points for her reward yesterday. (She has to get 75% of all potential points in order to get a reward, whether it be library time or extra computer time, or whatever she chooses for that day.)

Today’s Bible readings:
Mark 15:1-20
As the process leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus continues, he is brought before Pilate, who does everything in his power to try to get Jesus released. But his fear of Caesar and a rebellion in his command keep from doing the “right” thing. Of course the true “right” thing was to continue down the path that had already been planned. Pilate gets a lot of blame, but the truth is, he was doing exactly what God had planned out. The Jews ask for a murderer to be released instead of Jesus, and he is taken away by the soldiers, where he is tortured and mocked. The book says, “This was a dark day for justice, but was the culmination of God’s wonderful plan to bring salvation to the world.”

Joshua 1-2
Joshua is given command of Israel, in the place of Moses. Verse 8 of chapter 1 is a popular memory verse. This is what the Lord said to Joshua: This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Plans are made. In three days, they will cross over the Jordan and begin their conquest of Canaan.
In chapter 2, Joshua sent spies into Jericho (did he not learn the lesson from the first spy trip?). Rahab, probably a prostitute, hid the spies when the soldiers came looking for them. She lied and said that they had already left the city. She was rewarded for this deception, as her family was the only family that was spared when Jericho fell. And, believe it or not, her name is in one of the genealogies of Jesus! The spies return to Joshua with this message: Truly the LORD has given all the land into our hands. And also, all the inhabitants of the land melt away because of us. (2:24)
Rahab is also included in the famous “Hall of Faith” of Hebrews 11. Verse 31 says, By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

Psalm 52
All of the actions described in verses 1-4 lead to the destruction and judgment of God in verse 5. There is violence, deception, loving evil more than good in the first section. But then in verse 5, But God will break you down forever; he will snatch and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living. Then, as a result, here is what people will be saying about this man. See the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction! True wisdom is trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. (v. 8) Sadly, this Psalm seems to have been written about Saul (or perhaps Doeg, the Edomite), who was pursuing David when this Psalm was written.
(From Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington)

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! (Psalm 95:6)

“Worship. In two thousand years we haven’t worked out the kinks.” We have difficulty figuring out the right words to pray. We still struggle over the Scriptures (there are as many interpretations of some passages as there are people). When should we kneel? When should we stand? When should we observe communion? How do we pray?
“Worship is a daunting task.”
I agree with Max Lucado when he says, “For this reason, God gave us the Psalms.” The Psalms are a worship book for the children of God. “This collection of hymns and petitions are strung together by one thread–a heart hungry for God.” I have long said that I don’t think it’s an accident that the Psalms are in the middle of our Bible. Out of these 150 chapters, there are some that are defiant and angry; there are some that are reverent; there are some that are very singable and some that seem to lend themselves to simply praying them, either out loud or silently. There are some that are “intensely personal.” All of this reminds us that worship, itself, is very personal. There is no secret formula (even though the seminary I attended tried to make Isaiah 6 a “secret formula” for worship). What inspires me might be a stumbling block to you, when it comes to worship. We all worship differently. But we all should worship!
(From Grace for the Moment, by Max Lucado–April 5 morning reading)

Father, the above paragraph is something that I whole-heartedly agree with. I believe, as anyone who knows me very well, with all my heart that worship is the number one priority of your church. While there are a vast number of people who still believe that evangelism is the ultimate priority, I stick with the few who believe that worship is number one. If we are worshiping you properly, then all of the other “ministries” of the Church will line themselves up properly. If I am worshiping you with all my heart, then I will share your gospel with others. If I am worshiping you as I should be, then I will fellowship regularly with other believers. If I am worshiping you, then I will contribute to the ministries of the Church as I should be. I must obey the Scriptures which say that the most important command is that I love you with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I have yet to do that. I don’t know anyone who has fully succeeded in that (I know one or two who might be close…), although we definitely try to do so. I pray that my heart of worship will increase daily. I pray that my worship of you will be acceptable. And then, I pray that I will fulfill your other desires for me.
I thank you that Jesus went through what he endured as he walked steadfastly toward the cross. I am grateful for that sacrifice. Even those words fall short of how I truly feel. It is impossible to adequately put into words how we feel about this. The simple words, “Thank you for the cross” just don’t seem to be enough. But in our feeble attempts at language, I guess they will have to do.

Father, I pray for Stephanie’s day today. Let her have a good day today, with no issues in her behavior. I also pray that Christi’s day will not be full of stress. Let your grace fall on them like a shower of fresh rain.

We worship together, even though we worship differently. That’s an awesome thought, isn’t it? I leave you with this…

Grace and peace, friends.

Where Will I Find Jesus?

Welcome to Saturday morning! It’s going to be a glorious day in Fort Worth, Texas! High around 75 degrees with mostly sunny skies today. We’re trying to come up with something to do outside today…maybe the zoo or something. Who knows? Maybe a drive out somewhere. I’ll let you know tomorrow.

The story is told that, when Francis of Assisi decided to turn his back on wealth and begin a life of simplicity, he “stripped naked and walked out of the city.” On the side of the road, he came across a leper. At first, he passed the leper, but turned around and went back and embraced the leper. He then continued walking. After a few steps, he turned around, and the leper was gone. “For the rest of his life, he believed the leper was Jesus Christ.”

“Jesus lives in the forgotten. He has taken up residence in the ignored. He has made a mansion amid the ill. If we want to see God, we must go among the broken and beaten and there we will see him.”

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:40
(From Grace For the Moment, by Max Lucado, evening reading for February 25)

“I am who I am because of Who He is.” A couple of days ago, I wrote about the name “Jehovah M’kaddesh,” which means “I am the Lord Who sets you apart.” When God chose us to become new creations in Christ, he set us apart for a purpose. One part of that purpose could be stated as this: “I am here to know God intimately and to lead others to that same knowledge.” I am set apart for the purpose of the Creator. “All that I am and all I will be are best found in deepening that relationship.”
But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him. (Psalm 4:3)
(From Daily Devotions for Kingdom Seekers, by Dennis Jernigan)

Don’t get me wrong…I consider myself to be all that “godly,” and I’m not so confident that the Lord hears every prayer I send up. Let me rephrase that. I know he hears all of my prayers. I still struggle with knowing that God loves me as an adopted child. I catch myself thinking, “How could he love me that much? I’m all covered with sin.” I have to make myself remember that Jesus took care of that. I keep forgetting that, because my sin is all too evident to me. But he reminds me that my sin is not evident to him at all, because he has cast it as far as the east is from the west. He remembers it no more. I’m reminded of this old song by the Newsboys (the real ones…not the fake version that’s out there right now).

I think one of Satan’s biggest tools/weapons is shame. He throws it in our face and it totally disables us because it gets our eyes and focus on the sin that has crippled us instead of on the Redeemer who has saved and healed us.
My sin is forgiven forever. All of it. There is no more condemnation. I just have to keep reminding myself of that, especially when it’s time to pray for something. God is my Father. I am his adopted son. I am a brother to his Son. ‘nuf ced.

I once worked at a church in Waxahachie, Texas, where we embarked on a project to provide Thanksgiving meals to some families that were experiencing hard times. At one point, one of the older men in the meeting piped up and said, “I think before we help them, we need to investigate and make sure that they’re trying to do something to help themselves!” (It was something like that…I can’t remember the exact words.) I still find people that feel this way. “God helps those who help themselves” is probably one of the most common phrases attributed to Scripture that exists nowhere in the Bible. Another one that has taken flight lately is, “God won’t give us more than we can handle.” But that’s a totally different discussion (the Bible never says THAT either…it’s a misquotation of 1 Corinthians 10:13). Anyway…here’s what Max Lucado has to say about the attitude in question.

“Have you noticed that God doesn’t ask you to prove that you will put your salary to good use? Have you noticed that God doesn’t turn off your oxygen supply when you misuse his gifts? Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t give you only that which you remember to thank him for?…
“God’s goodness is spurred by his nature, not by our worthiness.
“Someone asked an associate of mine, ‘What biblical precedent do we have to help the poor who have no desire to become Christians?’
“My friend responded with one word: ‘God.'”

God commands us to have compassion. He does not ask us to make sure that our gifts will be used wisely. He does not ask us to check to find out if that poor person is trying to get a job or find a house to live in. God does ask us to be like Him.
(Quoted from Grace For the Moment, by Max Lucado)

Today’s Bible readings:
Acts 9
Saul’s life is changed forever as he meets Jesus on the road to Damascus. To the amazement of the Jews in Damascus, Saul immediately began proclaiming Christ in the synagogues. He escaped Damascus after a plot arose to take his life, and got to Jerusalem, where he attempted to join the disciples. Understandably, they were skeptical. Barnabas, however, convinced them of the truth of his conversion.

Leviticus 22-23
Chapter 23 runs down the various feasts that the Israelites were to keep.

Job 15
Eliphaz starts up again. He begins by pretty much telling Job he’s full of hot air! (v. 2)
(From Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington)


U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson who struck down the entire healthcare reform law said he will quickly consider an
Obama Administration request to clarify whether states must comply with it.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman has ordered the Interior Department to move forward with five drilling
applications for the Gulf of Mexico that have been under review for four to nine months.

Pray for our District Court judges whose rulings have extensive impact on the citizens of the United States.

Father, you’ve said a lot this morning. You have shown me where you reside; in the beaten down and the broken of our world. While I can’t effectively travel to a place where those types of people abound, I can keep my eyes open for people who have been broken by the harshness of this world. I can look for ways to minister to you by showing compassion to “the least of these.” Help me to do that. Give me eyes to see. You have made me a fairly generous person, never denying one who needs a dollar or two to get some lunch or a snack. I never worry about whether or not someone will repay that dollar. Help me to look for you as I walk this life.

I praise you once again, Lord, for setting me apart for your purposes. I thank you for giving me the desire to know you more intimately. I pray that you will help me to help others do the same. I still consider myself a worship leader, even though I am not currently active in that role. I pray that my worship practices when we are involved in worship will inspire others. Not that they would watch me worship, but that they would be inspired to worship you. I believe, as DJ, that I am who I am because of who you are! I praise you that my sins are erased and forgiven (should be the other way around…) I praise you that my sins will never again be remembered by you. I wish that I could forget them, but perhaps it’s good that I can’t, so that I can always remember whence you have brought me! I don’t want to forget what you brought me out of! Thank you for adopting me, Lord. I give you praise for your mercy and grace.

I pray for the remainder of this day. Whatever we choose to do, Lord, I pray that it will be a blessing to us, and perhaps a blessing to someone else, as well. Help us keep our eyes open for you.

I pray for tomorrow, both for the worship we will attend in the morning, and for the Night of Praise with Dennis Jernigan. I pray that we will worship you with all our hearts and that we will also be blessed by your Spirit.

As you go today, in whatever you do, look for Jesus in the people you encounter. Let us keep our eyes open for opportunities to minister.

Grace and peace, friends.