Begin…

Hebrews 12:1–2 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Holy God,
as I begin this day,
I am feeling the weight of demands and expectations.
I am feeling the prodding of Satan’s attacks.
I am feeling the weariness of the battle.
All of which work against that which You call me to do;
to shine the light of Your love.
Oh God,
May my eyes be fixed on the founder and perfecter of my faith, Jesus Christ.
May his strength alleviate the weight of demands and expectations.
May Your armor shield me from Satan’s prodding jabs.
May Your promises revive my weary soul.
May I continue to “run the race”;
following the example of the witnesses before me
and with my eyes firmly fixed on my Lord and Savior.
And so,
I begin may day,
ready to run.
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Strength and Shield

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
[Psalms 28:7 ESV]

Oh Lord,
You are my Strength.
You are my Shield.
In You I am found safe and secure.
In You I am on firm footing.
In You I shall never to be moved.
And thus I praise You,
oh Lord,
for many would assail me,
Satan’s torments crash against me as the waves of the sea.
Sin is constantly enticing me to turn away from You.
On my own I am weak.
On my own I would surely succumb to the evil one.
On my own You are not glorified.
But You ARE my Strength.
You ARE my Shield.
And thus I am here to praise You.
My heart exalts.
My heart is over-joyed.
For You help me,
and You shield me.
You place a hedge of protection around me.
And there is nothing and no one that can snatch me out of Your hands.
And so, as I begin this new day,
may I ever remember You as my Fortress,
and say with confidence and boldness,
Satan, bring it on.”
To You, oh God, be all glory and honor and strength and praise.
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Stay in the Race

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” [Hebrews 12:1 ESV]

Let us run with ENDURANCE. It doesn’t say run fast. It doesn’t say run with flare. It doesn’t say win the race. It just says to stay in the race, knowing you don’t run alone. I can’t imagine I would have finished three marathons running alone; with no one cheering me on or setting a pace for me. My encouragement, strength and motivation came from other runners and those cheering me on; knowing I was simply running to finish, not to win.

Oh Christian, you are not alone; for Jesus has set the course, finished the race and won the crown for you. Let the author and perfector of your faith be your encouragement, strength and motivation along with the many witnesses around you; who have raced before and currently racing with you. Lay aside your self-righteousness and simply run the race; enduring to the end. The crown is waiting for you, oh Christian, the crown is waiting.

The Pastor -|—

Soaking In

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
[Romans 3:23-24]

Did you notice that above verse? Please don’t tell me you skipped it just to get to the “good stuff”. Read the verse. Now, read it again and this time include yourself in the word “all“. Now, read the verse again, keeping yourself in the word “all” and now, soak in the words “are justified by his grace as a gift“. Are you feeling silly for skipping that verse the first time?

My point is that YOU are a sinner, but through the grace of God in Jesus Christ, you are justified; made right in God’s eyes, as a GIFT.

GIFT!

GRACE!

No strings attached
No fine print
No bait and switch

Through faith in Jesus (which is a gift) you are justified by his grace.

Wow, I mean, WOW!

Soak that in.

A sinner saved by God.

Justified.

Wow!

The Pastor -|—

I Will Not Live in Fear but in the Fear of the Lord

Living in fear is never the answer unless, of course, we are talking about the “fear of the Lord”. In that case we aren’t really living in fear, per se, but rather in reverence and awe of our amazing God through Jesus Christ. It isn’t a fear that sends us running away. It isn’t a fear that causes us to cower and shake. It isn’t a fear to cause us to look over our shoulders. The fear of the Lord sends us running INTO the mighty arms of our Lord. We worship him. We revere Him. We stand in awe of Him.

Satan would have us do the opposite. So many people are fearful, today, as we process the horrific events in Sutherland Spring, Texas. People are wondering how to protect themselves, now, as we enter and worship in a sanctuary; a place that, by definition, is a place of refuge and safety. Do we need armed guards? Do we install metal detectors? Do we have bag searches at the visitor’s center? Do we lock the church doors after worship starts? Fear, fear, fear.

But I refuse to live in that kind of fear. I refuse to let Satan steer my eyes away from the One we ought to fear; God almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. No, I am not going to bury my head in the sand and pretend everything will be alright; that this will never happen to us, but I am not going to be held captive by Satan; by evil. I am going to enter my sanctuary each and every week with reverence and awe, and worship our awesome God through Jesus Christ. I will be aware of my surroundings but not at the expense of my God. Besides, if I die while worshiping, well, so be it. There are definitely worse ways to go and worse places.

Through Jesus Christ we are THE Church. We are his bride. Jesus died for us. Jesus redeemed us with his very blood. My friends, what is there to fear, then, outside of God almighty? So I am NOT going to live in fear, only in the fear of the Lord.

So with that said, there is only one thing left to do: Tell Satan to take his fear and go to hell.

The (feisty) Pastor -|—

Yours

Holy God,
Yours is the glory and honor and praise.
Yours is the Kingdom forever more.
You said a word and creation sprang forth.
You breathed breath and life sprang up.
And therefore, oh God, I ascribe all worship onto You,
oh sovereign King and Lord.

And so it is with great joy that I appeal to You this day.
It is with great joy that I fall into Your hands.
It is with great joy that I hope in You.
Bless my words and deeds
that everything about me points to You.
May I not seek advise from men but rather call out to You.
May I not worry and fret but rather find peace in You.
May Your Kingdom come.
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Who are You?

In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 16, Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Can you answer that question? I am not talking about the first question he asks which is, “Who do PEOPLE say that I am?” That’s an easier question to answer, but not the one a follower of Jesus needs to answer. Who to YOU say that Jesus is?

Father God,
You are holy.
You are mighty.
You are love.
Through Jesus Christ,
You are Life.
You are hope.
You are grace.
I ask, oh God, that each and every day
You reveal to me who You are
and then may I live in that revelation
in order to bring glory to Your holy name.
Oh God,
I worship You for You are my all in all;
more than words can describe.
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—