Covenant faithfulness ~ A Lenten Prayer

Tonight we join with our brothers and sisters in Christ, from First Presbyterian Church, for Lenten worship. My colleague and close friend are preaching through the Old Testament texts assigned, through the Revised Common Lectionary, for the previous Sunday.

Last week my friend preached about the covenant with Noah and all of creation following the great flood. Tonight I get the privilege of preaching on Genesis 17:1-16; the covenant with Abraham and Sarah and their descendants. These two texts are wonderful texts that set up the Gospel of grace through Jesus Christ. And I can hardly wait to proclaim this message.

Below is the prayer I wrote to pray before I preach and so I offer it to you tonight.

Let us pray…

Oh holy God, to gather around your Word is such an awesome privilege. To join with our brothers and sisters in Christ in worship is an awesome joy. And tonight, oh holy covenant-keeping God, we joyfully and expectantly and anxiously await the proclamation of your Word. And so I appeal to You to send Your Spirit to infuse these words with life and faith-filling purpose; for Your Word does not return to you empty. My words, on the other hand, are empty without Your Spirit. My words have no power or influence or life; only Your words do, Creator God. So may I be faithful to say what You have ordained me to say. And may I bring glory to Your holy name. Bless this time, oh God, and then send us forth to faithfully serve You in covenant faithfulness. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Let us come before the Lord our God in worship.

The Pastor -|—

The Fighting God (Exodus 14:14)

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” [Exodus 14:14]

This short, little verse captured my heart this morning; as God spoke words of comfort after a very long and difficult day.

But first the context of this verse…

The Israelites are being lead out of Egypt by God through Moses and Aaron. God commands the group to head towards the Red Sea and set up camp. Once there, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart and he comes out with everything he has to capture those slaves again.

God did this to show God’s glory.

As they are beside the Red Sea the people see Pharaoh and his army and are scared silly (and a little angry that Moses lead them out here to die). Moses then speaks the word of the Lord to them:

Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:13-14)

Basically, no need to worry, God has this. You don’t even need to raise one finger. Trust God. God will fight this battle.

With that God parted the Red Sea, the people walked across on dry ground and the rest is history. Praise be to God!

And I needed that verse this morning. Without going into all the details, yesterday was a long and nerve fraying day. I had been up since 2:30 AM with a 4 month old who refused to be put down. My wife was out of town for work. I had two kids not feeling well; both demanding attention and it seemed like at the same time all the time. My toddler was being naughty because she wasn’t getting the attention she demanded. And my 4 month old was difficult to sooth. When I would try to put the younger one down for a nap, the older one would come in crying; waking up the younger.

My emotions and nerves were frayed and I found myself on the verge of tears a number of times. Lots of praying ensued and when Connie finally got home I just crashed.

And then I read this verse this morning:  The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.

[Cue the tears]

Praise be to God!
Thank you!

Have you ever felt defeated or nearly pushed over the edge?
Have you ever felt like the world was ganging up on you?
Have you ever felt like Satan’s onslaughts were going to destroy you?

Have you been there? That was me yesterday, but God fought for me even though I was trying to fight. And this morning God reminded me to give it up to him next time. Satan may try to destroy me in so many ways, and on my own I have no chance but God will fight for me. And God will fight for you.

What an awesome promise.
What a faithful God.

Through Jesus Christ God has defeated Satan but Satan is still trying do as much damage as possible until that day when God makes him a footstool for is Son. So when you see the forces of Satan baring down on you; do not be afraid. The salvation of the Lord has been won for you through faith in Jesus so therefore the Lord will fight for you and the Lord WILL win.

Praise be to God and Alleluia!!!

Thank you, powerful God, that you fight for me. When the forces of evil are marching against me, you are there to push them back. May I have the sight of Elisha to see the chariots of fire around me and may I rest in your promises, oh God. May you be praised, always and forever. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Awesome calling

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. [Genesis 2:24]

I met with a couple last night who are preparing for marriage.

Wow! What an awesome privilege to walk along side a man and a woman as they get ready to proclaim the Gospel through their marriage, but also scary.

I say scary because marriage is an awesome calling from God, not a right. It is also an awesome responsibility. Marriage is about putting Christ’s relationship with the Church on display. Marriage is about showing what forgiveness looks like; what God’s love looks like (among many other things). And I get to help couples see this.

God help me.

If only we could grasp this “profound mystery” (Ephesians 5:32) we would all fall on our faces before God, begging for forgiveness, for how we have messed up and watered down marriage.

So God help me as I walk with this couple. I don’t want to mess this up. But more importantly, I want to be faithful to scripture; I want to be faithful to your promises and commands.

So I ask all of you to be in prayer about marriage. Pray for men and women who are married. Pray for those preparing for marriage. Pray for those who are single that they may honor marriage through their calling to be single. Pray for those in struggling marriages that they may find healing in some way. Pray for those who are divorced that they may be made whole through Jesus Christ.

Pray for marriage. Pray for marriage with all your being. And then pray some more.


If you have time, pray for me as I work with couples. May I be faithful and bold and loving and compassionate. And may I glorify God.

And may YOU glorify God as well.

Have a great day 🙂

The Pastor -|—

Chariots of Fire

[No, this is not a blog post about the movie, but rather something even better. Yes, better than the movie, Chariots of Fire.]

When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15-17 ESV)

I was leading a Bible study this morning and read this text for the ladies. And like every time I read this text, I got goose bumps. One minute the servant of Elisha was scared silly because they were surrounded by the enemy and the next minute he is looking at chariots of fire surrounding and protecting him and Elisha. God had opened the servant’s eyes, at Elisha’s request, and he saw the glory of God.

And I think the source of these goose bumps is the reminder that God is indeed for me through faith in Jesus. I’m not suggesting that I am going to be prosperous in everything I do. I am not suggesting that I am never going to experience suffering or hardship. What I am saying is that through faith in Jesus, THE enemy; Satan, has been defeated. And now, only through the eyes of faith, can I see His chariots of fire defending me.

And so whenever I read this account of Elisha, it’s as if he is praying that my eyes be opened as well. O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.

[Cue the goose bumps]

And you too, hear this prayer: O LORD, please open his/her eyes that he/she may see the glory of God through Jesus Christ.

Doesn’t that give you goose bumps? It does for me even if only one person is reading this.

Praise be to God!

The Pastor -|—

Morning devotions ~ Such a time

For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” [Esther 4:14]

Haman has unleashed an evil plot to destroy all the Jews in the kingdom, but Mordecai finds out the plan. Upon his discovery he tells Queen Esther (a Jew herself) but she is unwilling to go and tell the king. You see, there is a law on the books that states: if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. (Esther 4:11) And at this point Esther had not been called in to see the king for 30 days. So Esther fears for her life. But Mordecai reminds Esther not to be so foolish to think that she will escape this judgement, besides, who knows whether she has been brought to a time such as this.

Long story short, Mordecai finally gets through and Esther agrees to help. She secures an audience with the king and Haman’s plot is revealed; where he is eventually hanged on the very gallows that he was going to hang Mordecai (the man who earlier saved the king’s life). God DID bring Esther to a time such as this and therefore millions of lives were saved.

Have you ever wondered what God is doing in your life? Have you ever wondered why you were in a certain place at a certain time? Have you ever wondered why you were called to suffer in a certain way? Well, maybe you were called to a certain place and time for such a time to bring glory to God. Maybe, just maybe, God had His reasons and was using you to do something special and amazing.

Esther’s story is pretty incredible and maybe God won’t call you to save millions of lives, but he might call you to save one. I believe in the depths of my heart that God calls us to moments to share the Gospel and with a particular person, in order to bring that person to faith. But how many times do we miss those moments or not trust God to be faithful. I also believe that God calls us to suffer in order that we may witness to others. What a powerful way to witness when you do so through suffering; a time when many people would curse God or turn away from God. What an opportunity to proclaim God’s love and faithfulness and the hope of the resurrection through Jesus Christ.  Maybe you have been called to such a time.

So instead of wondering why God is doing what He is doing or wondering why here, why now; just witness. Make the most of the opportunity and situation to bring glory to God. Share the Gospel of Jesus Christ; that through his death and resurrection you can have forgiveness of sins and thus eternal life. Live your faith and show your trust in God because who knows, someone might hear the Gospel for the first time and be saved.

And thus God using such a time for His glory.

May God open your eyes to see opportunities and may you have the faith to accept God’s call.

Praise be to God, always and forever. Amen.

The Pastor -|—


As I journey through the Old Testament in my daily Bible reading I just can’t shake the thought that those Israelites were idiots. I mean think about it.  Over and over again they had to be reminded of what God did for them:

~ His mighty acts over the Egyptians
~ Parting the Red Sea
~ Water from a rock
~ Manna from heaven every morning
~ Quail every evening
~ A pillar of cloud and fire guiding them
~ Sandals that did not wear out

Mighty acts of power, love and faithfulness after mighty acts of power, love and faithfulness.  All of this and they whine and complain when things get tough.



What does it take to convince them that God is awesome and powerful and faithful? What does it take for them to remember that God is not going to desert them?

All I can do is shake my head and roll my eyes.

Wait a second…

…don’t we do the same thing?  When times get tough, don’t we question God and wonder where He is?  Don’t we forget about God’s love and faithfulness?  I mean, we too run after other gods.  We too chase after idols.  We too whine and complain.

We too are idiots.

But praise be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ, that He is faithful.

People ~  Remember, remember and remember.

Our God is awesome
Our God is love
Our God is power
Our God is our God

Praise be to God and Amen!

The pastor -|—

Unbelievable forgiveness

This week I am continuing our Old Testament sermon series by talking about the story of Joseph and “unbelievable” forgiveness.

In Genesis, chapter 50, Jacob dies and Joseph’s brothers get nervous.  They are nervous that Joseph will unleash his fury since Jacob, the family patriarch, is now gone.  So they tell Joseph that their dear ole dad has said that he is supposed to forgive them the wrongs they had done to him.  The brothers then throw themselves down on the ground before Joseph and vow to be his slaves.

Joseph weeps.

I have never really thought about why Joseph is weeping.  But now I am wondering if Joseph is sad because after all these years of providing for them in Egypt his brothers still believe Joseph doesn’t really forgive them.  When Joseph revealed himself to his brothers in chapter 45 he gave no indication he was going to lash out at them even though Joseph had the power to do so.  But Joseph told his brothers not to be distressed or angry with themselves; this was part of God’s plan.  Joseph showed nothing but love towards them by taking care of them through the terrible famine.  Now…after all these years…the brothers still don’t believe Joseph really forgives them.  If I were Joseph I think I would be sad as well.

I wonder if God weeps when we doubt his amazing forgiveness.  I mean…there are times when I wonder if God actually forgives ALL my sins.  Surely there is something that God holds on to.  Surely there must be a limit to God’s patience.  Forgiving ALL my sins?  That almost sounds to good to be true…almost unbelievable.

But God says, “What more do I need to do to prove it to you?  My beloved son, Jesus, died on a cross and rose from the grave to forgive your sins.  I would think that would be proof enough.”  And yet we have our doubts from time to time.  God’s forgiveness of our sins, at times, almost seems unbelievable…there must be a catch.

But there is no catch.

When we go to God in confession, through Jesus Christ we have forgiveness…period.  No strings attached. That, my friends, is pretty amazing.  Unbelievable?  Nope…it’s true.  Through Jesus Christ we have forgiveness of ALL our sins.

So don’t be afraid and don’t be distressed.  Go to God and know his amazing love for you…forever and ever.  Amen.


Being challenged and stretched

These past few weeks have been a lot of fun.

Wednesday, January 5 we started a small group study/sermon series on Old Testament stories.  The format is that a group would gather on Wednesdays at 5pm to read and discuss an Old Testament story and then I would preach on that story the following Sunday.  Up to this point we have talked about: The creation story, Noah and Abraham.  The Old Testament stories that are coming up in our study are: Joseph, Moses, The book of Judges, David, Daniel and The book of Job.  This small group is scheduled to end right before Ash Wednesday.  I wasn’t exactly sure how this study would be received but so far there is a group of 5 people getting together every week and we are having a great time exploring these stories.

I don’t come each week prepared to lecture on the story but rather I have a couple questions in mind.  The group then takes those questions and a fun discussion ensues.  I have learned a lot from hearing different perspectives.  I have learned a lot about the faith of the group participants.  I have heard questions that I have never thought of before.  And…maybe…gained a couple pounds (one of the participants is an excellent cook and baker and has been bringing treats for us).

There is nothing quite like gathering with a group of people to read, study and discuss scripture.  I have read these stories many times but hearing from others has challenged me in ways that I would not be able to do on my own.  I can hardly wait to see what is coming next.