Category Archives: Psalms

Ascribe

Holy God, loving Father,
You anointed Jesus in the Jordan River
and proclaimed him Your beloved Son,
but all too often I overlook this very important fact;
that Jesus is not just your Son
but Your Son who died as the
perfect,
spotless lamb
for the atonement of our sins.
May I be drawn into an ever deeper understanding
of the divine nature of our Lord and Savior,
so much so,
that I ascribe to You what is due Your holy name;
for to see and know Jesus
is to see and know You.
All glory, strength and honor
be ascribed unto You,
oh God,
through Christ Jesus my Lord.
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Something Different

I did something different last night.

Last night was Thanksgiving Eve worship. The service itself was pretty straight forward; nothing out of the ordinary. We did accept non-perishable food items as part of the offering, but that’s not weird; especially for Thanksgiving. The “different” happened during the “Prayers of Thanksgiving”; the spot where, on Sunday, the bulletin reads, “Prayers of the Church”. On Sundays I simply lead those prayers by ending each petition with “Lord in your mercy”, to which the congregation responds, “Hear our prayer”. Last night, though, I did something different.

[What is it already? Stop beating around the bush!]
[Easy now, I’m getting to it.]

During the “Prayers of Thanksgiving” I explained that I was going to start and then let the congregation add what they are thankful for. It was going to be like what many families do at Thanksgiving; going around the table sharing what they are thankful for, much to the chagrin of many children.

[Hurry up, I want some pumpkin pie]

I finished my part of the prayer and was blown away by what happened next. People didn’t just name something they were thankful for, but rather they prayed a prayer, giving thanks and praise to God. The Prayers of Thanksgiving turned into a genuine Prayers of the Church or Prayers of the People. I mean, that’s how it is supposed to be, right? People prayed from their heart. I almost felt bad ending the prayers when I did. We could have gone on for quite a while. People offered up a variety of prayers but the overwhelming topic of the prayers was Jesus and the salvation we have through him. Kind of puts Thanksgiving into perspective, doesn’t it?

Sure, I am thankful for my wife and children. I am thankful for my home and clothes and food on my table. I am thankful for my health and ability to earn a living. Those things are great and I thank God for them. Most of all, though, is the blessing of all blessings: Jesus. Period. For without him, everything else is just stuff that will fade away.

And now, I hope “the different” that happened last night becomes “the norm” for future worship services; people praying the prayers of the church. The people offering their petitions. Yes, I going to do that “different” thing again. So get ready, Living Word, your pastor is going to change some things up 🙂

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever. [Psalm 136:1-3]

Have a fantastic Thanksgiving; giving Him all your thanks and praise; for His steadfast loves endures forever and ever. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Fear? Be Still!

“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

[Psalm 46:10-11]

Texas church shooting: “So many babies” among those slain in Sutherland Springs

A Family Was Praying in a Texas Church. Then 8 Were Dead

At least 26 dead in South Texas church shooting, officials say

Those are just a few headlines that I found concerning the shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Not knowing any more details, those headlines are enough to send chills up and down anyone’s spine. What a scary event; Christians gathering in a sanctuary to worship God almighty through Jesus Christ our Lord. Satan has definitely fired a shot across our bow and has gotten the attention of many. But God says…

BE STILL, AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD!

This is not a suggestion to try. This is not a request. This is a command. For Satan is not god. This world is not god. I AM God, He says. Period. So…

BE STILL, AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD!

Many people were killed and injured, but God is still God. Satan would have you turn in upon yourself for safety and security. Satan would have you turn to the world for peace. Satan would have you put your hope in locked doors and armed guards. Satan would have you take your eyes off the prize. But God says…

BE STILL, AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD!

Satan would have you live in fear. Fear?

“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
The Pastor -|—

 

Cling to Jesus

It’s happened again. An individual has taken the lives of a number of people and has injured more in New York City near the World Trade Center memorial. I don’t have all the details but you can go to the news outlet of your choice and read for yourself.

We are still recovering from the Las Vegas shooting, now this. I just shock my head when I first learned of this and I can’t help but wonder, “Am I safe anywhere“? I can almost hear the cries now:
Why God, why?
~ How long, oh Lord?
~ When will this stop?

Not again!

Etc, etc, etc…

So many questions. So much anger. So much fear. I get all of that, but remember, no matter the situation; no matter what is going on, God is still God and therefore…

1 As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.
[Psalm 42:1-5]

I will remember in prayer those who have been affected by this violence, but I will not let go of my God. I will not shake my fists at Him. I will not accuse Him of being weak or indifferent. I will worship Him still, for I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, [Job 19:25-26] This violence is not the eternal reality for those who are in Christ. This world is indeed messed up; filled with sin and death, but God has overcome the world through Jesus Christ. Cling to him and be at peace.

Praise be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Pastor -|—

Understanding Repentance Rightly

I am working through a devotional series in my YouVersion Bible app called Acts of Repentance. The first two days were great, but day three really bothered me and thus I wrote a correction for them.

Day 1 focused on Psalm 51 where David is writing following his affair with Bathsheba and subsequently being called out on it. The devotion gave a list of four things we should do: (1) Acknowledge our sin, (2) Ask for forgiveness, (3) Ask for renewal, and finally, (4) Ask God for help to use your sin to teach those who are engaged in sin and are in need of repentance. I thought that list was helpful.

Day 2 focused on Luke 13:1-8…
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure.

The take away from this devotion was: (1) What fruit are you bearing in your life currently? (2) What sins do you need to repent of in order to start bearing the kind of fruit God desires. Once again, helpful.

But now, day 3…

From 1 John 1:5-10
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Here’s the beginning of the devotion that followed this text:
Repentance results in forgiveness. We repent and God forgives. Repentance and forgiveness are not difficult concepts. Repentance is our action and forgiveness is God’s reaction to us out of His perfect love for us.

NO, NO, NO!!!

What this is saying is that forgiveness is dependent on our action. True, we need to make a confession of our sin but repentance is not something we do in order to curry favor with God so that we can be forgiven, but rather repentance is something we do BECAUSE we are forgiven. Repentance is something we do to honor God because God is worthy. When we make repentance a work, then God’s grace is taken out of the picture. Remember the woman caught in adultery? The Pharisees wanted to stone her for her offense but after Jesus silenced the crowd he turned to the woman and said, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” The forgiveness came first and the call to repent came next. True, there was no confession on the woman’s part (at least nothing that was recorded) but the point is that Jesus didn’t wait for her to clean up her life first.

God acts first. We respond.

Thus the devotional should have read:
Forgiveness results in repentance. We repent because God forgives. Repentance and forgiveness are not difficult concepts. Forgiveness is God’s action and repentance is our reaction to God because of His perfect love for us through Jesus Christ.

There, that works. I wonder of the author of this devotion will humbly accept my correction 🙂

The Pastor -|— 

The Redo

I don’t know who is reading this but I am writing this anyway. Maybe this is more therapeutic than anything else but hopefully the beginning of something. I was reading my devotions this morning and could feel something stirring in me; a stirring to explore and write. I am not sure where this is going so we’ll see what God is up to.

So why am I writing this morning?

Today got off to a bad start. First, I over-slept, which is something I rarely do with two young children. One of them is usually up early. Second, I got so caught up with being on time that I didn’t see the needs of my family. I was rushing to get myself ready while trying to get the kids fed and ready for preschool. I got flustered and impatient when I should have been more composed and compassionate. It was no one’s fault but my own that I over-slept (my Fitbit alarm has now been set for tomorrow, hopefully that problem solved).

After a moment of conviction I had a little heart to heart chat with my son; seeking forgiveness for being impatient and not there for him. I received a big forgiving hug and a smile from him. I was then ready to go, but still unsettled. I dropped the kiddos off at preschool and made my way to the office. Once settled in I turned to my Bible reading plan. What I read first got my attention and thus the motivation to write this morning. From Psalm 145:1-13…

1 I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
8 The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The Lord is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.
10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The underlined parts grabbed me and convicted me. This is our awesome God but doesn’t it also point to how a father ought to relate to his children? Granted, this psalmist probably wasn’t thinking of parenting when he wrote this, but it still works. I mean, think about it. A parent ought to…

~ Commend God’s mighty works and deeds to his children…every day.
~ Be gracious
~ Be merciful
~ Slow to anger
~ Abound in steadfast love
~ Be good to all

That right there is the call for ALL Christian parents and thus I am going to be reflecting on this more and, God willing, be writing more about these actions. Once again, I am not sure where this is leading. Maybe it is more of an outlet for my own thinking and exploring. Who knows (well…God does), so we’ll see. For now, I am anxious to get home and have a redo with my children; to do better. I am anticipating some hardcore playing in the backyard. Hopefully my bad back will hold up 🙂

The Pastor -|—

God’s Ear

I love the Lord, because he has heard
my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
[Psalm 116:1-2]

God is listening for me to cry out to Him
God is waiting with a ready ear
God’s ear is ready to receive
God’s ear is focused on me
God has heard my cries
God has heard the groanings of my heart
God knows my voice
God loves the sound of my mouth
God has acted; I will respond
God is ready; I will cry out…
…as long as I live

Praise the Lord!

The Pastor -|—