Morning devotions ~ Be nice and love…EVERYONE

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. [Luke 6:35-36]

Wow, that’s a tough one. Love my enemies? Do good to them and lend to them? Expect nothing in return? This seems to be asking a lot. And why should I do all of this since my enemies have very little interest in loving me or doing good to me or even lending to me?

In a culture of, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, we are not used to returning good for evil. If someone hurts you then you withhold love and goodness as a form of punishment. But more than that, we often withhold love and goodness as a way to protect ourselves from further injury and pain. We have a tendency to distance ourselves from our enemies

But this is not the way of the Gospel.

Instead, Jesus says love your enemies. What better way to proclaim the Gospel than to show love to those who are not expecting it or to those the world is not expecting you to show love to. This is the whole “heaping burning coals on their head” (Romans 12:20-21) thing; that we should not be overcome by evil but over come evil with good. A tall order. A difficult task. An awesome command.

Lord have mercy and help me.

But consider something else: Who are we to call people evil when we ourselves are evil? That’s right, God shows love and goodness and mercy to you and me; filthy sinners; evil; enemies of God. God sent Jesus to die for us because we are evil and sinful. God did not withhold his love from us even though in the economics of this world he had every right to do so. This, my friends, is what makes God’s love through Jesus Christ so amazing…

It’s undeserved.

Therefore, what better way to show God’s love than to love those we consider enemies, because who knows, we might win a new friend. Better yet, we might win a new brother/sister in Christ.

As God loves you through Jesus Christ, love one another…EVERYONE, to the praise and glory of God our Father.

Have a glorious and blessed day 🙂

The Pastor -|—

Morning devotions ~ Messing with heads

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. [Romans 5:8]

Isn’t this awesome; that God would show such an amazing love even though we are sinners. But better yet, God shows this amazing love because we are sinners. This is what is called unconditional love. And praise be to God for that because we would never live up to God’s demands and expectations.

So if God shows us this kind of love shouldn’t we show this same kind of love to one another; especially our enemies?

[In case you’re wondering, the answer to the previous question is ~ YES]

Too often we make our love for people conditional. If they are nice to us then we are nice to them. But Jesus says, what reward is there in that, even the Gentiles do that; even those outside the faith. But when you show unconditional love to those you feel don’t deserve it and those who are not expected it, you proclaim the love of Christ and show people that there is something “usual” about you.

I have always enjoyed this fun-loving quote:
Love your enemies. It messes with their heads.

I giggle at this but there is Gospel truth there. Your enemies are not expecting love from you. They expect revenge or apathy or coldness from you but not love. So try it sometime. Show Christ’s love to an “enemy” and see what happens. It may tick them off at first, but keep at it. Keep at it and proclaim Christ’s love. Keep at it and Praise God always and forever.

God of love, your love is amazing. You love is life-giving. And your love is something I don’t deserve. Help me to receive this love into my heart so that I can show this love to others; not to my glory but to your glory Oh God. Thank you, God, for showing me unconditional love, in Jesus name I pray. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

WARNING

Christian beware!!! Today is the “last day of Christmas”.

Maybe you have already taken down your tree and decorations. If not, I am guessing soon. Whatever the case, beware, watch out, don’t let your guard down.

As the world around us moves on from Christmas, the many reminders of the season are slowly being packed away for another year. And as that happens, the threat of forgetting looms larger and larger all the time. Soon life will return to “normal”.

May that never be.

Just because the Christmas season has passed it doesn’t mean the promises of Christmas should be packed away as well. The love of God that came down in that baby in the manger, Jesus, is still alive and well the other months of the year. This Good News is not seasonal, and praise be to God for that. I don’t know about you, but I need to hear about God’s love every single day. I need to read scripture, pray, think about, contemplate, ponder and question every single day. I need to hear that my sins are forgiven. I need to hear that God is nearer to me than I am to myself. I need to hear the Good News proclaimed to me every single day. I need to hear about the hope of the resurrection.

I need Jesus.

So Christian beware!!! Don’t grow complacent as “normalcy” re-enters your life.

Keep running to the manger to see God’s love.
Keep running to the cross to see Jesus die for you.
Keep running to the tomb to see it empty.

Don’t pack away the Good News of Christmas with the rest of your decorations. Prominently display this Good News for all to see. And if it helps you, throw in a few “Merry Christmas” greetings throughout the year. I guarantee you will get people’s attention and get them thinking again and maybe even yourself.

So Christian beware and be merry.

Merry Christmas and Praise be to God 🙂

The Pastor -|—

God’s enduring love

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1 ESV)

I read Psalm 136 this morning. It has 26 verses and 26 times this refrains repeats: for his steadfast love endures forever.

That caught my attention.

The psalmist could have easily started with verse one and then continued with the next 24 verses describing this awesome God of ours and what he has done. The psalmist could have then closed with something about God’s enduring steadfast love (just in case we forgot). But to read Psalm 136 in that way; taking out the “for his steadfast love endures forever” refrain, just doesn’t seem right. God’s steadfast is so much more awesome than that and therefore it needs to be repeated over and over and over again. Because, let’s face it, we have bad memories therefore we need this refrain; in the good times and the bad.

God created everything,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Jesus was born for you and for me,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Jesus forgave sins,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Jesus suffered beatings, mockings and the cross,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Jesus died,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Jesus rose,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Jesus lives,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

And Jesus will come again,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

That’s sounds about right.

Thank you God, for your amazing, enduring steadfast love. Thank you for enduring with me even though I am a sinner. Thank you for enduring with me even though I stray away. Thank you for enduring with me when I become complacent in the good times. Thank you for enduring with me when I feel lost in the bad times. May all give you praise and glory for your enduring steadfast love, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

 

Wonderful moments

I had a wonderful moment in worship yesterday (in addition to the hearing and preaching of the Gospel).  It’s a moment that I suspected would come eventually but I was still caught by surprise when I saw it.  It was so uber cute and I’m glad I got to share it with the congregation (at least with those who were sitting along the aisle and could see).

About half way through the final hymn I got up and approached the altar to silently pray.  I thanked God for sustaining me through a busy morning (2 worship services) after a night where Mayah (my 1 year old) did not sleep much.  I asked that His holy Word would continue to work in the hearts of those who heard it this morning and I praised God for His awesomeness, love and grace.

Upon turning around to walk out my wonderful moment happened; my little girl was excitedly walking down the aisle towards me.

[Mayah just started walking this past week so we are still smitten with the cuteness of it all]

My heart melted as I got down on one knee with my arms open wide; waiting to receive my little girl.  I could see smiles cascading down the aisle of those privileged enough to be able to witness this moment. When Mayah got to me she lunged into my arms as if she could hardly wait to get there.  I scooped her up and proudly walked up the aisle with a huge smile on my face.

For me it served as another great reminder of God’s blessings in my life.  It was extremely difficult to get out of bed on Sunday morning after only sleeping a couple hours and the coffee was barely able to give me the boost I needed.  With a lot on my mind, God was faithful to send His Holy Spirit to give me what I needed to lead worship and preach the Gospel.  And to top it off (like icing on a cake), God sent my little girl down the aisle as if to say, “You are loved“.

What a moment 🙂

I do feel blessed and not just because I have a wonderful little girl and loving wife, but that I have an awesome God who loves me so much.  God was faithful so that He may be glorified through this weak and tired body of mine.

So many wonderful moments and blessings all around.
What a great day.
What an awesome God!

The pastor -|—

God is awesome!

I really want to share with you some details about an encounter with a gentleman (Q) last night, but I can’t because of confidentiality.  But I do want to say that God is awesome and works in wonderful and powerful ways.  I also want to say that I am thankful for the priesthood of all believers because without faithful people living out their faith, this gentleman would not have received the care that he desperately needed…not just last night but for the last couple months.

I want to give a big shout of thanks out to these two parishioners but I won’t.  Rather I will give and big shout of thanks and praise out to God for working through these two people to share the Gospel with Q.  I want to say that it was pure chance and dumb luck that they found me last night so I could talk to Q (I was out for a run and hence away from my home and phone).  But I won’t say that…rather I will say that God is awesome and works in wonderful and powerful ways.

I don’t know what is in store for Q but I can rest assured that he will be cared for and love for the rest of his life.

Praise be to God!

-edh-