Reaching the Lost. Discipling the Saved. Sharing the Love of Jesus with Everyone.

Tag: Worship (Page 1 of 23)

Holy and Blameless Before Him

Today’s Scriptures from Ephesians 1 is an exercise dilemma. There is so much in the passage it’s difficult to know where to begin. Where to focus.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

Ephesians 1:3-4

For our time I want to focus on the amazing truth that we were chosen by God before the foundation of the world!

That is mind-boggling!

But note something else in that statement of reality: “that we should be holy and blameless before Him.”

Ok, that part may be a problem.

He “has blessed us…and chose us…that we should be holy and blameless.”

I know my life and decisions. I know my heart and mind. They certainly aren’t blameless.

Neither are yours.

But our text doesn’t lift us up in amazement just to dash us back down to reality.

What He demands, He has also supplied.

As we read on, “In [Jesus] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.”

We were not holy and blameless, but that wasn’t going to thwart God’s choice of us before the foundation of the world! Our sin wasn’t going to stop His predestined plan of adoption of us, nor would it stop His requirement of us being holy and blameless before Him for eternity.

The solution?

Jesus!

Through faith in Him, we are forgiven. We are made right with Him. We are purified. We are holy. We are now blameless before Him!

Mind boggling!

Thank You, Lord, for choosing us before the foundation of the world, redeeming us by Your blood, and through faith, making us holy and blameless before You! Grant that we live and share that reality and blessing with others!”

Scriptures

  • Psalm 85:1-13
  • Ephesians 1:3-14

The Right Reason to Rejoice

We like big. We like important. We like showy.

Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

Luke 10:20

More to the point, we tend to get distracted with those things instead of focusing on what’s really important.

Big conversion stories. Spiritual warfare. Apologists ‘winning’ arguments.

Even better if we are in those situations!

The disciples were sent out and saw some amazing things in the name of Jesus! Big things. Important things. Showy things.

And, like us, they were amazing and rejoiced in these things; mostly because these things seemed to elevate themselves.

But Jesus changes the focus. The reason for them to rejoice is not because they happen to be God’s instruments when He does amazing things, but that God has focused on them to be with Him forever and written their names in heaven!

What is the greater reason to rejoice? Their being saved and that they will be in heaven!

What is bigger than that? What is more important?

Through faith in Jesus, yes there are miracles that will happen. Yes, there will be things that will amaze. But those aren’t the point. Those aren’t the greatest reasons to rejoice. The greatest and right reason is that, through faith in Jesus, our names are written in heaven!

Thank You, Lord, for saving us and writing our names in heaven for eternity! Help us to rejoice in that reality!”

Scriptures

  • Luke 10:1-3
  • Luke 10:16-20

Faith Overflows

Today we hear of two miracles of Jesus. One is a lady who is healed through her faith in Jesus. The other is someone raised from the dead through some faith of her parents (though theirs seems a bit shaky).

Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”

Mark 5:36b

Faith is interesting. Putting trust in another and setting aside our own reason, experience, or feelings on the matter is not an easy or natural thing to do. But it is what we are asked to do, nonetheless. And when God is the object of our faith, it’s not as if we have nothing to go by. God’s track record on being faithful is perfect! Not only that, but faith tends to overflow to others! Faith infects! It points people to the One who accomplishes miracles; the biggest being the forgiveness of our sins and resurrection to eternal life! If He has accomplished those, what makes us thing that He won’t take care of our other issues?

“Thank You, Lord, for being faithful in all things. Send us Your Spirit and move us to be faithful as well.”

Scriptures

  • Mark 5:21-43

It’s Not What You Know, But Who You Know

We all know the saying, “it’s not what you know but who you know.”

[Jesus] said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

Mark 4:40

It’s a phrase telling us that knowing influential people is more important than knowledge, or qualifications, or abilities. It’s based on the assumption of a system skewed toward those with power or money or authority as being above laws and rules and fairness.

It’s cynical and nearly always penalizes the weak, the poor, and those without the right “connections.” It should be anathematized in any society that believes in the concept of fairness and “blind justice.”

Yet, we see this playing out in the open in today’s Scripture.

Jesus and the disciples are caught in a storm on a boat that is so bad, they feared for their lives. Jesus calms the storm with two simple words!

All the knowledge these seasoned fishermen had about the weather, the sea, and the wind was worthless. Having Jesus with them was salvation!

Yet it goes deeper than that!

Jesus chastised them for having little faith in this situation. The question has to arise, “if Jesus had not been there, would the storm have taken the rest of them and, if so, would it have been because of their lack of Jesus or their lack of faith in God?”

That’s a tough question – and not the point!

The issue is: faith in Jesus saves, and that faith should permeate everything we do and all that happens to us every day!

We know Jesus! We have faith and trust in Him! No matter what happens, we are saved!

It doesn’t matter what (or who) else we know, because we know – and have faith in – Jesus!

That’s all that matters!

Thank You, Lord Jesus! Strengthen our lacking faith!

Scriptures

  • Mark 4:35-41

New in Christ — Now and Forever

I do not understand – or care about – fashion. It occupies the same status for me as modern art or makeup or the Kardashians.

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17

I don’t have an issue with those who like or understand and like those things. They are just not me. In any way. At all.

But I do think a lot about Heaven. What it will be like. What we will do. How things will work. I think about the descriptions God gives – like in today’s Scripture – about our Heavenly dwelling and clothing.

What an amazing and glorious time to anticipate!

But that forthcoming reality is not just in our future; it is also in our present!

Yes, “we will have a building from God” for which we “long to put on,” but because we believe in Jesus (whose love controls and compels us) Who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee, the new dgis aren’t just at some point far off, but is our reality now! “If anyone is is Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

We are in the “now and not yet” of history!

The future is both assured and experienced now – albeit imperfectly!

So how are we to live in this “now and not yet” reality? Within our “once and future” clothing of righteousness?

By living for others, showing them what can be theirs through faith in Jesus!

He dies for all, that those who love might no longer live for [ourselves] but to Him who…died and was raised!”

Our eternal future is so secure in Jesus we experience it now; so we are free to live for and serve others! We are released to use the rest of this life sharing the saving Gospel of Jesus! We are compelled by the Jesus’ love to share His salvific work so others can be His new creation, too!

Thank You, Lord, for our present, future, and everlasting reality with You!”

Scriptures

  • Psalm 1
  • 2 Corinthians 5:1-9
  • 2 Corinthians 5:14-17

Naked and Afraid

The show “naked and afraid” seems strange to me. Why anyone would want to be on that show is beyond me. And, for the record, more and more, if I’m naked and see a mirror, I’m afraid, too!

With You there is forgiveness, that You may be feared.

Psalm 130:4

What’s interesting is that before the Fall, there was naked and no afraid. Harmony and serenity with God and nature. Amazing!

But once sin entered the world, so did fear. So did shame. So did danger and hardship.

But the loss of perfect communing with God had to be the biggest loss. Sin produces alienation with God. Separation. Even more rebellion. It brings dissatisfaction, fear, and depression.

That wasn’t just true in the Garden at the Fall. When we rebell and sin, we can also experience that loss, that fear, that shame. We can experience the loss of communion with God and the love and safety that comes with Him.

The effects of the Fall – of sin – can hardly be overstated. It’s effects were immediate, devastating, and perpetual.

We are not the only ones not satisfied with the way sin leaves things between God and us. God wasn’t either. He set in motion the same day both the forgiveness of Adam and Eve as well as His Plan for the redemption of His people. Enmity would give way to victory. Sin to forgiveness. Death to life.

Whether or not we will be ‘naked’ in heaven (do you ever wonder that?), we will never be afraid, through faith in Jesus Christ, through Whom we have forgiveness, life, and salvation!

Praise the Lord!

Scriptures

  • Genesis 3:8-15
  • Psalm 130

A Sabbath to God

“Work/home balance.” That’s tough to get right. There are some who say younger generations are better at that, it’s difficult regardless.

The seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.

Deuteronomy 5:14

If we ‘err’ on the side of to little work, we can be seen as lazy and may not be able to properly provide for our families. If we overemphasize work, we estrange our families, whom we are called to love, honor, and cherish.

But for us, the issue is not a struggle between work and home. For most Christians – whether they admit it or not – is a struggle between giving God our time; our hearts, minds, souls, and strength.

The commandment to keep the Sabbath is routinely misunderstood or altogether ignored.

It is true that our ultimate rest is found in Christ, Who has fulfilled it for us forever. It is also true that the specific day is no longer necessitated. But two things remain:

  1. God made us to need rest,
  2. God gave us the Sabbath as a blessing, and most importantly,
  3. God desires and deserves our focus!

We are not just in need of rest; we need rest in God! We need time with Him!

Everything else falls into place when we set Him as our priority in all we do. When we put Him first, we start to get a better understanding of the blessings of family and of honest labor. We start to see all the gifts of God differently. We start to experience His Grace in everything more clearly!

Let us remember a sabbath to God!

Thank You, Lord, for being our rest – forever!”

Scriptures

  • Deuteronomy 5:12-15
  • Mark 2:23-3:6

Purified and Sent

Isaiah was a prophet of God during the end of the northern kingdom of Israel before their deportation and also foretold of the southern kingdom of Judah’s coming fate as well.

I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

Isaiah 6:8

In today’s reading we get a glimpse of Isaiah’s sending by God as well as a magnificent depiction of God’s throne room!

Some of the heavenly beings cover their eyes as not being worthy in the Lord’s presence – and Isaiah, realizing his own state of unholiness and sinfulness is terrified in the presence of the most Holy Lord!

And yet, when the Lord asks who will go for Him, Isaiah, now purified from his sin, is bold and anxious to serve in whatever way the Lord desires! And let’s be honest – what the Lord desired from Isaiah was not easy.

The Lord has purified you from all sins through Jesus and calls You to serve Him.

What is your answer?

Scriptures

  • Isaiah 6:1-13

Put on Notice!

Pentecost is a pivotal event in the life of the Church; as was the Tower of Babel. For most Christians it is vastly minimized: “The Tower of Babel ‘incident’ was reversed at Pentecost.” That description, though true, is a weak testament of what is taking place.

And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Acts 2:21

At Babel, the people we, once again, trying to build themselves up, elevating themselves to heaven, making “a name for themselves.” They wanted to “become like God.”

Sound familiar?

This was idolatry. Physical and spiritual rebellion. And when God scattered them, that didn’t stop. The rebellion and idolatry continued. They worshiped other gods – whether real rebellious spiritual beings or fake ones; they didn’t worship YHWH; the God of gods and Lord of lords.

And soon after Babel, God starts His plan of reversal. He Calls Abram, makes covenant with him, giving him a great name, and wanting him and his offspring to have all of the families of the earth blessed through them!

God wants things to be different!

But evil doesn’t want the change and fights for continued idolatry and rebelion; and it seems they will win.

But Jesus and His empty tomb show that evil is a defeated enemy; and Pentecost is a strong, offensive move to show this to all the forces of evil and put them on notice:God’s coming for you!

The tongues and language reversal was God’s way, not only of reversing the curse of Babel, but God saying, “My disciples and people are coming into your areas and domain, evil; and you will not withstand it! I’m bringing the fight to you, and I am victorious!”

Pentecost is not only a reverse of a curse, but the advancement of God’s Kingdom and victory over sin, death, and the devil in and through Jesus Christ!

Hear this in every tongue and language, all peoples and evil everywhere: God has won – and He’s coming for you! Through faith in Jesus, we are a part of that army of victory – unto everlasting life!

Let’s go!

Scriptures

  • Genesis 11:1-9
  • Genesis 12:2-3
  • Acts 2:1-21

Justus Served

Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias

Being an apostle of Jesus is a big deal! These people were chosen by Jesus Himself to be with Him in His ministry, be His closest disciples and friends, be His witnesses to the world, and even sit on thrones in the Kingdom off Heaven!

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

1 John 5:11-12

Wow!

Of course one didn’t make it to the end. Judas Iscariot was out! But who was going to replace him?

We are told there were two candidates: “Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias.”

But what do we know of most of the apostles? We could probably name some things from the likes of Peter, James, and John. And Thomas. Perhaps some others. Maybe we could even eventually name them all, given enough time (and maybe some help).

But replacing Judas had to be a big deal, too! But whom to choose? The criteria was set forth by Peter, “one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us.” The two put forth, Justus and Matthias were good, qualified candidates; and a great choice was made!

Matthias was in!

Justus didn’t make the cut.

I wonder how Justus felt. Did he feel rejected; depressed; let down? Did he feel less worthy or that his work was less important? Did he pout? Or maybe he thanked the Lord for Matthias’ appointment and got back to work!

The thing is, neither Matthias nor Justus are mentioned again in Scripture! Scripture only tells us about them here.

Are we to take that to mean that neither had an impact of Christ’s Church or that they didn’t serve faithfully beyond the little we know?

No!

The fact is, if we place our value on what we or others perceive as important or lasting, we will always be disappointed. That’s not our Calling. We, like Matthias, Justus, the apostles and all Christians everywhere are Called to believe in Jesus and to love and serve Him and others. If we take our eyes off of Him and one comparisons with someone else, either pain or arrogance will follow; not the godly, sanctified life He has Called us to live.

I am sure that “Justus served” the Lord, as did Matthias and the other apostles.

We get to as well!

Jesus has chosen each one of us! He died for us, forgives us, rose for us, and prepares a place for us in Heaven. He wants to use every one of us to share that Good News with the world. He has Called you for that task!

Use us, Lord! Let us serve faithfully, without comparison! Amen!”

Scriptures

  • Acts 1:12-26
  • 1 John 5:9-12
  • 2 Corinthians 5:20

Trust in the LORD

We know the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me.” Luther gives us the meaning that “we should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” We also know the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord…with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5

Today’s Scripture from Proverbs reminds us of that.

Everyone and every other thing will fail us. They are unreliable, imperfect, and ultimately do not perfectly care about or for us. That goes for our own ‘understanding’ and ‘wisdom.’ We can place ourselves, our plans, our understanding above God.

This should never be!

If there is a discrepancy between what we believe is good or plan is better; about a direction to take or path to follow; about how the universe is run or things operate, it is that which comes from God that is correct. Period.

We need to trust that. We need to trust Him.

In all things.

For all time.

And we can do this fully and confidently because He has proven Himself time and time again, throughout history and in every situation – including all areas of our life!

This is most evident through the cross and empty tomb!

We would have had a different plan for mercy and forgiveness. God’s is the one that worked! We may have different ideas on who to love. God’s idea is perfect! We would have different ideas of how salvation should happen. God’s is perfect!

Trust in Him! In Everything! You will not be disappointed. Ever. Jesus is proof!

Scriptures

  • Proverbs 3:5-8

Did You Study?

Scripture tells us to “test the spirits,” but how do we do that? The answer is as simple as we learned in Sunday school: “Jesus!”

By this you will know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.

1 John 4:2-3a

Acknowledging Jesus Christ as God come in the flesh, who died and rose is doing so on the basis of the Holy Spirit making that known to us. Denial of that Truth is not from God, but from evil spirits and the world.

But testing should not stop there. Everything we know and believe should be done on the basis of what’s in the Word of God and to make the determinations as to what is godly and what is not, we have to actually know what God’s Word says. We have to be in the Word! We have to learn the Word! We have to believe the Word! We have to live and breathe the Word!

When God’s Word becomes such a part of us and His Spirit dwells in us, it is a much simpler matter to discern right and wrong; good and evil. It becomes clear when evil spirits, the world, and sin try to lead us astray.

We are from God.” and the Spirit who is in us “is greater than he who is in the world,” so rejoice, and revel in the tests, because we have the Answer – Jesus!

Scriptures

  • 1 John 4:1-6
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