Category Archives: Morning devotions

Belonging to Christ (Mark 9:41)

“For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.” [Mark 9:41]

The text for preaching on Sunday is Mark 9:38-41. And as I pray about and ponder this text I am caught by the phrase, “belong to Christ”.

And as I reflect on this phrase a few thoughts come to mind:
~ There is a big difference between Christ belonging to you and belonging to Christ.

~ Saying, “I’m a Christian” is not the same as belonging to Christ, often that simply reflects that Christ belongs to you.

~ If Christ belongs to you then you are in control of the relationship.

~If you belong to Christ, He is in control of the relationship, and you’re glad about that.

~ Belonging to Christ implies commitment and love.

~ Christ belonging to you implies manipulation.

~ If Christ belongs to you then you are less apt to share that which belongs to you.

~ If you belong to Christ you are more apt to shout this from the mountains tops and worship him.

Just a few thoughts as I prepare for the sermon on Sunday. What do you think? Does anything here resonant with you? What does it mean to you to say, “I belong to Christ”?

Here’s what it means to me:
Jesus is Lord of my life. He has saved me through his death and resurrection and therefore I owe him everything; especially including my very life. On my own I am weak and vulnerable but under Christ’s Lordship I am safe in his loving arms. But that’s not why I gather under his wings like chicks with a hen. I am drawn to Christ because of his awesome love for me; a love that I know will never fail despite the fact that I am a miserable sinner. And so therefore, I worship Christ and praise his name. I belong to Christ and gladly submit to him.

Now you’re turn…

Holy Father, thank you for coming to us in Jesus Christ. My life is yours. In Jesus name I pray, Amen

The Pastor -|—

Whom to Fear (Matthew 10:26-33)

[26] “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. [27] What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. [28] And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. [29] Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. [30] But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. [31] Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. [32] So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, [33] but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.(Matthew 10:26-33 ESV)

These verses come to mind this morning as I read a story on Twitter about ISIS allegedly killing 30 Ethiopian Christians. And sadly, this is a story that will get very little media attention; 30 Christians (link included) going to their deaths because of their faith. I weep for the families affected and for the Ethiopian people but I also praise God with them that these 30 were found worthy to die for the Way. I probably will never face anything like that in my life time but I hope and pray that my faith would be strong enough to stare death in the face and cling to the hope of the resurrection.

And for this Christian way over here in this country, there is very little I can do to protect Christians way over there. But one thing that we can all do is pray for the Church:

Pray that the Church is faithful to the Word of God.
Pray that the Church is faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Pray that Christians remember what and who Jesus died for.
Pray that the Holy Spirit will convict those who oppose Jesus.

And that last prayer request is not out of line. It’s not a fantasy or dream to think that the Holy Spirit could convict those in ISIS. Saul (later became Paul) was a feared persecutor of the Church; killing and imprisoning many Christians. But then Jesus showed up; blinding him and changed his heart. If Jesus could do that to Saul/Paul then Jesus can do that to anyone.

God willing of course.

But in the mean time, do not fear those who can kill the body, rather…
Fear God
Worship God
Praise God
Glorify God
Run to God
Cling to God

and all through Jesus Christ who died that we may live.

This pastor’s heart is heavy this morning but also very hopeful. God is good and God has already won the victory, no matter how many Christians are killed for the Way.

Praise be to God!

Holy God, grant faith to Your holy Church that it may stand under the threat of those who oppose it. May the Good News of Jesus Christ give hope to many as Your kingdom has been and is being established through Your Son. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Don’t Be a Frog (1 Timothy 6:20-21)

O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you. [1 Timothy 6:20-21]

These verses from my morning Bible reading snacked me in the face; for this spoke volumes about what is going on in our culture and the Church. It’s a warning that desperately needs to be heeded today.

In these verses, the apostle Paul is warning his young companion and partner in the ministry to remember what he came to believe and whom he came to believe in:

guard the deposit entrusted to you.

Paul then goes on to warn Timothy to avoid the “knowledge” that some claim to be biblical and godly; for these people have swerved from the faith. People are trying to distort the Gospel for their own purposes. Some oppose the Gospel and are trying to make it something that it is not. There are many false prophets going around and some claiming to be speaking the truth.

And this is very dangerous. It’s the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing thing. It looks and sounds good but really it’s irreverent babble and contradictions. As I have preached and taught before, anyone can stand in front of a group of people; wave a Bible around and make godly sounding claims that really have no basis in scripture whatsoever. The sure defense to this, though, is to guard the deposit entrusted to you. Remember what you came to believe and know your Bible. One of the joys of theology is that it does not change. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. So if a new thing about God is being taught; be very, very leery. If someone is trying to tell you what the biblical writers “really meant”, run away fast.

And this is exactly what is going on today. Thousands of years of Church teaching is changing. But the problem is that it has been changing at such a slow rate that many in the Church haven’t noticed a thing. Remember how to boil a frog? You don’t throw it into boiling water but rather into cool water and slowly increase the temperature so they don’t notice they are being boiled to death.

The Church is being boiled to death,

but very few people are taking notice. Instead they are engaging in irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,”. We need to guard that deposit and remember what we came to believe in and whom we believe. We need to remember that the Bible (ALL of the Bible) is God’s word. We need to honest with ourselves but more importantly we need to be bold and courageous in our faith.

The time to jump out of the water is now, before it is too late.
Don’t be a frog.

guard the deposit entrusted to you
Remain faithful
Cling to and proclaim THE Truth
Don’t swerve from the faith

And…

Grace be with you.

Holy God, You have entrusted the Church with the Truth of the Gospel. May we cling to that Truth and proclaim that Truth, all the while avoiding irreverent myths and false knowledge. May You be glorified. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Doing Prayer Right (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. [1 Timothy 2:1-2]

As a man of prayer, one of the things I struggle with is prayer. Sounds like a contradiction but if, as a Christian, you are not struggling with prayer, then you might be doing it wrong.

What do I mean by this?

Paul is teaching his young companion, Timothy, to pray for ALL people, not just family or the people you like. Not just for those you want to manipulate, but for ALL people. And Paul says that “all people” includes kings and those in high positions. Today, the “all people” would include our president, lawmakers, judges, state and local leaders, school board members, your church council/session.

All people, no matter how you feel towards them.
politicians
that cranky neighbor
that ex who cheated on you
ISIS
ruthless dictators
that parishioner who is spreading lies about you

All people

Paul says that we ought to do this that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. But also, we ought to be doing this because God desires to see all people saved. This doesn’t mean that all people will be saved, but God desires it. God knows whom he has elected for salvation but you and I don’t. So therefore we are to pray for all people. But your prayers shouldn’t be selfish in nature but rather that they may come to know God or have their faith strengthened or that they may not fall into temptation or that they may lead with wisdom or…(and you get the point).

We are to pray for all people not to get ahead but rather that they may come to know salvation through Jesus Christ.

But I have also come to discover a “selfish” side effect of praying for all people. Is there is a person in your life who has hurt you or raises your blood pressure to a point that you feel chest pains?

Pray for them.

I have discovered that it is really hard to be mad at someone that you are praying for. And if you are still mad while praying for that person, then you might be doing it wrong.

Pray for ALL people that GOD may be glorified.

Holy God, I desire to have a relationship with you but I also know that your heart is for all people. May my heart be like Yours, oh God, that I may see others as people worthy to be prayed for as You would like. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

What is Acceptable to God? (Psalm 19:14)

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord , my rock and my redeemer. [Psalm 19:14]

The words of my mouth.
The meditations of my heart.

Have you ever thought about those two things? Have you ever given any consideration about not only what comes out of your mouth but also what you are meditating on in your heart?

You see…

These two things are intimately tied together; for what you are meditating on in your heart is going to eventually come out in your words and/or actions. So it only makes sense that we ask God to let that which is in our heart be acceptable to God. What comes out of our mouth can be judged by others but only God can judge what is in your heart. But then again, if what is in your heart eventually comes out in your words and actions then eventually people are going to judge your heart as well. Right or wrong, they (and you) will judge the heart.

So do a preemptive strike and commit your heart to God.

Ask that your meditations be acceptable to God.
Ask that your words glorify God.
Ask that your actions point to our Rock and Redeemer.

Begin with your heart because that will direct your words and actions. When you don’t know what to say or what to do, what you truly believe in your heart will come out. When you are in moments that demand words then what you are meditating and dwelling on will be the first to emerge.

If you are dwelling on a hurt
If you are dwelling on a sin
If you are dwelling on hate
If you are dwelling on someone else’s mistake(s)

These things will eventually show its ugly head in your words/deeds.

So…

Meditate and dwell on God and His wonderful mercy and grace and compassion and love and forgiveness. If you are meditating on this then that which Satan would rather you meditate on will be pushed to the back burner and squashed.

May your heart be found acceptable to God.

Father God, heal my heart that it may meditate on that which is good and acceptable to You. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Richly (Colossians 3:16)

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Let the Word of God dwell in you,

RICHLY

not poorly
not so-so
not half-heartedly
but,

RICHLY

Let the Word of God be abundant in you.
Let the Word of God be of utmost value to you.
Let the Word of God be something you would die for.
Let the Word of God dwell in you,

RICHLY

For if the Word of God is not richly in you then it will be of no value to you when teaching and admonishing others. You will not take it seriously and you won’t handle it with respect. If the Word of God is poor in you or just something that gets a passing notice in you, then there will be no incentive to use it and go to it and proclaim it in such a way that God is glorified. If the Word of God dwells half-heartedly in you then you will only be interested in finding glory for yourself.

But when the Word of God is rich in you then others are built up in the wisdom of God, and not put down in your superiority. And when the Word of God is rich in you then praise and worship comes flowing out of you in thanksgiving to the King of all creation.

And how does the Word of God dwell in your richly, by submitting to God through prayer and allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to you. It dwells in you richly through faithful and humble study. It dwells in your richly through constant communion with it.

Let the Word of God dwell in you,

RICHLY

to the praise and glory of God our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Holy Father, may your Word dwell in me richly and may it be of utmost value to me as it is Your holy word. May I not use it for my own gain but use it for training in righteousness and leading others to You. In Jesus name I pray, Amen

The Pastor -|—

I Call Upon You (Psalm 18:3)

I call upon the Lord , who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. [Psalm 18:3]

Oh Lord, I call upon You this morning as I rise from bed to enjoy another day; for this is indeed the day You have made so therefore I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Oh Lord, I call upon You this morning as I rise from bed to face another day; for it will be filled with temptations to run away from You. May You grant me strength and courage and faith to seek Your lovely and beautiful face and run into Your mighty arms.

Oh Lord, I call upon You this morning as I rise from bed to face another day to immediately commit everything to You. There is much to be done in Your kingdom and on my own I would be overwhelmed with the tasks that I would certainly bring all to ruin.

Oh Lord, I call upon You this morning as I rise from bed to face another day; knowing that I am afflicted with the spiritual cancer of sin. In the name of Jesus, please heal me and forgive me and lead me in ways of holiness and righteousness that I may glorify You today.

Oh Lord, I call upon You this morning as I rise from bed to face another day; ready to battle the forces in this world that are hell-bent on leading as many people away from You as possible. Help me to see that I don’t fight alone but rather as David faced Goliath so I face this world with You.

Oh Lord, I call upon you this morning as I rise from bed to face another day; ready to receive those who You will place in my path. May I make the most of every opportunity to share my faith in You through Jesus Christ.

Oh Lord, I call upon you this morning as I rise from bed to face another day because You and You alone are my Lord and Savior and God; and you have saved me from my enemies. All praise to You this day and always. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

May God bless your day as you enjoy and bask in His awesome love.

The Pastor -|—