Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A PP'sPs About Worship

Today's Texts: Eccl. 1:12-18, Deut. 31:30-32:47, Nahum 1, Matt. 9

Surprise, surprise! I want to talk about Deut.! As I read the song that God gave Moses to sing to the Israelites before they were to enter the Promised Land, I was struck by the relevancy of the worship. The song reflected the very recent work of God in the life of Israel.

Too often, we sing a song that was written 100 years ago, and we've sung it a 100 times, and we fail to consider it's meaning to us today. Now, I'm not criticizing the old hymns, I just hope that we are willing to consider, as we worship, the very immediate things that God has done in our lives, and then praise Him!

The song also considers both who God is (perfect, just, faithful), as well as what He has done, is doing, and will do in the future (Creator, Guide, Redeemer, Provider, Protector). What really struck me is that, according to the song, we are to not only anticipate, but welcome and worship the punishment of God! Worship Him for Punishment? Yes! Let me ask you how your children learned and matured? It was partially through punishment! God disciplines those He loves for our good. Let us worship Him for it!

I pray that today we will consider the immediacy of God's involvement in our lives, whether He's providing or punishing, and give Him the praise He's due.

Praising through punishment,


Monday, June 28, 2010

A PP'sPs About Doing the Word

Today's Texts: Eccl. 1:1-3, Deut. 30:11-20, Micah 7:1-13, Matt. 7:13-29

Again, I am amazed at how some of these texts paint the "big picture". In Deuteronomy, Moses is putting forth a choice: life or death; blessing or curse. Of course, he strongly suggests that they choose life! The Matthew passage prepares us for the reality that the choice to pursue life is a narrow path. It won't be easy! It will be hard!

But Moses, in verse 11, promises that it can be done! It won't be TOO difficult! It won't be TOO narrow! So how is it possible? How can we make the right choice? How can we choose life and enter the narrow gate?

Well, Moses' confidence comes from an astounding assumption; he assumes, according to verse 14, that the Israelites, and therefore we, will be immersed in the Word of God! He says, "But the word IS very near you. It IS in your mouth and in your heart, so that you CAN do it." Did you get that? He doesn't say it "should" be near you or in your mouth and heart. He doesn't say it "will" be. He assumes that it IS.

Are we fulfilling that assumption? IS God's Word near us? IS it in our mouth and heart?

Finally, Jesus, in Matt. 7:24-27, promises that the result of our immersion in God's Word will provide a firm foundation for the storms of life. We will not be destroyed! The winds WILL blow! The storms WILL pound! But we will be restored (Micah)!

Let us immerse ourselves in His Word so that we can more easily choose life!

Attempting to fulfill Moses' assumption,


Saturday, June 26, 2010

A PP'sPs About Curses

Today's Texts: Proverbs 30:1-31:9, Deut. 28:15-68, Micah 5, Matt. 6:25-34

Wow! That passage from Deuteronomy was intense! It was even gross at times! Wow! What are we to make of such harsh language? How do you feel about God making these promises of cursing? Is God a big meanie? How do we deal with a passage like this?

Well, first of all, no, God is not a big meanie. He is Holy! Absolutely Holy. Holy without a trace of unholiness. Do we truly get that? That means that He cannot tolerate even an ounce of sin; not even a smidgen of unholiness. If he did tolerate it, it would contaminate His holiness. He cannot do that. So, He MUST punish and eradicate sin. His people (especially His Old Testament people)must understand the absolute horror of their sin in the eyes of God.

This is the same concept that we'll read about in Joshua when the Israelites are told to completely eradicate the nations of the Promised Land. Again, the language in these passages is harsh. However, the idea is the same: if the Israelites allow the sin and idolatry of these foreign nations into their camp, it will contaminate them and they will be infected. Well, what happened? Did the Israelites completely destroy the people that inhabited the Promised Land? Nope. What was the result? The Hebrews eventually turned from God and embraced the sin and idolatry of the land and were infected. God had to take drastic measures (exile into Babylon & Assyria) to deal with the sin problem.

Now back to the overall problem of sin. Why are we promised God's love and forgiveness and not the harsh curses of eating our own children? Why doesn't our sin elicit the same response? Only, and I mean ONLY because of the blood of Christ! His sacrifice on the cross once and for all paid the penalty of sin. His blood cleansed all who have faith in Him so that God would not see our sin, idolatry, and unrighteousness, but would instead see the righteousness of His Son. Because of Christ, we can rest (without worry: see Matt. text) in the blessings of the first part of Deut. 28 and praise God that we can avoid the curses of the latter part of that chapter.

I hope that put this passage in perspective for you, all 2 of you!

Blessed and not cursed,


Friday, June 25, 2010

A PP'sPs About Treasure

Today's Texts: Proverbs 29, Deut. 28:1-14, Micah 4, Matt. 6:19-24

I've always liked the passage from Matthew. There was a song that had the words from verse 21 that I always liked, even if the artist's name eludes me now. Anyway, I've always tried to live by that verse. Of course, I've not always been successful! I do have a Mustang GT in the driveway! But even so, I try to keep my material possessions in proper perspective; they will rot, rust, and break down!

I love how each of the texts today come together to paint the "big picture" of the Christian life. Moses teaches in Deuteronomy that if we devote our lives to gracious obedience, then God desires to bless us. Not just a single facet of our lives, but every aspect of our lives! Read again those verses! Every single aspect! Now, this is a general promise of blessing for the obedient. We know that obedient Christians are not immune to problems, grief, depression, etc. For proof, read Job! However, even in the midst of those storms, God's promise to His faithful remains; He will bless us with His presence. Sometimes that's all we need!

The chapter from Proverbs confirms the general promise that the righteous will be blessed while the fool will find ruin. Micah further promises that God will ultimately restore His faithful.

Which brings me back to Matthew. What is one way that we can ensure that we are being obedient and eliciting the Hand of God? By keeping our possessions in perspective. What's most important to us? Our houses, cars, toys, golf clubs? Or is it our salvation, our Comforter, our Hope? Obedience comes much easier when we put things in proper perspective.

Laying up treasures in Heaven,


Thursday, June 24, 2010

A PP'sPs About Prayer

Today's Texts: Proverbs 27-28, Deut. 27, Micah 3, Matt. 6:1-18

Today as I was reading, the passage that impacted me was the text from Matthew, specifically, the Lord's Prayer. I felt like God was leading me to really read each of the lines of the prayer and glorify Him for the His characteristics found there.

The word for Father in Aramaic is "Abba". This word carries a strong sense of closeness, or intimacy. God is our close dad and loving Father! This is in great contrast to the god of the Muslims, Allah, who is far away and cannot be known. One cannot have a relationship with Allah. Praise be to Yahweh, who is knowable and relatable!

The fact that Abba is in Heaven reminds us that He is still sovereign! He is still in control and sees and knows everything. Our God is Great and Mighty, yet intimate and loving! Awesome!

"Hallowed" is just a fancy word for Holy. His name is to be kept Holy because HE is Holy! He does everything exactly the way it's supposed to be. He is pure; He is perfect; He is Holy!

The only response for us in light of His Holy Sovereign Intimacy is humility. "Your will be done" is our only possible response and was modeled for us by Jesus himself in the Garden. But, it's only when we fully understand how awesome and Holy and Mighty and Close He is that we are able to submit our will to His. May we get there soon!

The final lines are evidence that our God is a providing God. He is able to meet our physical needs (daily bread) as well as our spiritual needs (forgiveness and holiness), further moving us to humility and praise.

It is my prayer that we will spend today considering the amazing attributes of God found in this perfect prayer. And after we have considered these, may we respond with complete humility and genuine praise.

Humble in Worship,


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A PP'sPs About Worship

Today's Texts: Proverbs 25-26, Deut. 26, Micah 1-2, Matt. 5:17-48

Wow! Today's texts were full of wisdom! It's hard to nail down one passage to discuss, so I'll go with the first one that caught my attention.

Of course, it was the Deut. text. In vvs. 5-9, Moses is teaching the people about how they should behave when they inherit the Promised Land. Specifically, he is talking about worship. According to Moses, worship should be accompanied by remembrance of God's acts of mercy and provision! What a concept! He says that when you go to worship God with your tithe, you should remember God's work of redemption (specifically, here, redemption from Egypt).

Have we been redeemed? Has God shown His love and mercy and compassion and provision to you lately? My guess is, He has! But what do we usually do when we go to worship? Don't we usually tell God about all the hurt and sadness or illness or persecution that we hope He will fix, instead of thanking and praising Him for all He has already done? I know that I don't thank Him enough for the recent redemption He has worked in my life from grief and depression. And yet, that is the most profound reality in my life right now. How can I not praise Him? I know that I will make a point to praise Him daily and specifically on Sunday as I go to corporate worship. Will you make a similar commitment? I encourage you to consider His Hand in your life recently. Has he redeemed you? Thank Him. Has He held you in His arms of love? Praise Him.

Worshipping in Remembrance,


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A PP'sPs About Grace

Well, I have to apologize for missing a few days. I'm back! Did you miss me? Prolly not. Anyway...

I also want to add that after visiting with my doctor today, I was advised not to undertake that thing we talked about on Sunday at Pleasant Green, at least not until my headaches are better controlled.

Today's Texts: Proverbs 23-24, Deut. 23:15-25:19, Amos 9, Matt. 5:1-16.

As I read today's texts, the passage from Deuteronomy stood out. Moses teaches that we are to consider those less fortunate than us. He commands the Israelites to leave some of their crops for the less fortunate. They aren't to collect every last kernel, every last grape, every last olive. They are to leave the field after one pass.

I think sometimes today we tend to forget this passage because most of us don't have wheat fields, olive trees, or vineyards. But we do have incomes. We do collect checks. If we apply this passage to our lives today, we have to "leave" some for the less fortunate. I'm not even convinced that this is talking about our tithe. The tithe is usually taken off what is harvested. I believe we should be "leaving" money beyond our tithe for the less fortunate.

Southland Church has a program that I believe deals with this concept. They created the "Dollar Club". Here's the idea: each member is encouraged to bring an extra dollar and put it in the offering. A dollar. Not much of a sacrifice for most of us. Just like the Israelites leaving their fields after one pass. There wasn't much left, but it met a need.

Anyway, the church assumes that each person in attendance each week has put their dollar in and then they take that money and give it to someone less fortunate. What was just a tiny contribution (a dollar) is added to 10,000 other dollars per week and used to bless the poor and needy. Awesome! I believe this is what Moses, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was talking about.

I want to be a part of something like this! Those of you Pleasant Greeners: do you think we could do something like this? Are there enough poor and needy people in Harrison County to bless? Can we "leave the field after one pass" and sacrifice an extra dollar each week? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Other readers: is there a ministry that you can get involved in that meets this need? I encourage you to find it and "leave the field after one pass."

Leaving after one pass,


Thursday, June 17, 2010

A PP'sPs about Anger

Today's Texts: Proverbs 13-14, Deut. 19, Amos 3, Matt. 1:18-2:12

Well, once again I've been convicted by God's Word. As I was reading the passage in Proverbs, I was noting the comparing and contrasting of the righteous vs. wicked and acknowledging that I need to seek wisdom more diligently. Then I got to the part that mentioned handling anger.

As you may or may not know, I have an issue with anger. I have always had a temper, since I can remember. Because I realized early on in my ministry that I had a temper, I was usually able to keep it under control (unless, of course, I was driving or on a golf course!). However, for some reason, lately (I believe it has to do with my headaches) I have really struggled with getting angry. It almost seems impossible to control my temper these days.

As I read this passage, however, I was convicted about my lack of control regarding my anger. If my goal is to find wisdom and understanding, I must learn to control my temper, because the text says that a "hasty temper" welcomes folly.

Lord, give me the strength to control my emotions and be slow to anger. Amen.

Seeking to be less angry,


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A PP'sPs About Choices

Today's Texts: Proverbs 11&12, Deut. 18, Amos 2:6-16, Matt. 1:1-17

This morning I was drawn to the chapters in Proverbs. The author is presenting choices and the ramifications of those choices to the reader. If you choose wickedness, you will come to ruin; if you choose righteousness, you will be blessed. These chapters confirm what we will read in a few weeks from Deut. 30 where Moses presents the same question: will you choose to obey or to curse? If you choose to obey, you will have life; if you choose to curse, you, too, will be cursed with death.

In the Proverbs texts, the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. And the pudding is our tongue first and then our actions. What are we saying? How are we talking to others? Our family, our coworkers, our boss, our neighbors? Are we uplifting with our tongues, or are we "downlifting" (see yesterday's post)? I know I could be much more uplifting with my tongue. Lord, give me words of sweetness and not words of bitterness.

The author continues to define the pudding proof with our actions. Are we kind? Are we generous? Are we diligent? Do we do what we say? (That's a big one!) He adds in 12:1 that this endeavor may require discipline. What will our response to discipline be? Will we love it? Or, will we hate it? According to the author, we must love it!

So, I commit to seeking righteous choices, both with what I say and with what I do, acknowledging that discipline may be required. Bring it on!

Seeking discipline,


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A PP'sPs About Evil

Today's Texts: Proverbs 10, Deut. 16:18-17:20, Amos 1:1-2:5, Philemon vv. 23-25

I want to begin by going back to yesterday's post and acknowledge that for some, the storm has not yet passed. I want to first assure you that if I'm aware of your particular storm, I am praying for you as you endure. Second, I want to also assure you that, somehow, some way, your storm will pass. Finally, I want to assure you that regardless of the length or severity of your storm, God is with you. I'll say it again: God is with you. He IS your refuge.

Now to today's texts.

Once again, I am drawn to the text in Deut. In this passage, God is making sure that His people know and understand how bad evil is (This idea is confirmed in Amos. Wow!). God, through Moses, is warning the Israelites not to accept evil in their society. It must be exterminated.

Once again, I am convicted by God's Word. I have become entirely too accepting and approving of evil's influence in my life, primarily through the trash that I willingly watch on TV. Just because it's funny or entertaining, doesn't mean it's okay. I could be doing so much with the time that I expose myself to "downlifting" (the opposite of "uplifting") stuff.

The bottom line is confirmed in 17:1. God requires and deserves our very best. Is allowing ourselves to take in the shows, movies, music, relationships, etc. that downlift instead of uplift giving our very best?

God, give me the strength and motivation to exterminate the evil that I've allowed into my life. Continue to make me wise through your Word, moving me further and farther away from Folly. Amen.

Seeking to give my very best,


Monday, June 14, 2010

A PP'sPs About God's Provision

Today's Texts: Proverbs 9, Deuteronomy 15:19-16:17, Hosea 14, & Philemon vv. 8-22

As I was reading the passage from Deuteronomy, I couldn't help but be reminded of God's grace and provision through my Egypt Experience: Christy's passing. The only reason I am where I am today is because of the gracious rescuing hand of God; there's no question. According to today's passage, I should be regularly and intentionally offering up my gratitude to Him for rescuing me from despair. Guess what? I don't! Not regularly enough and not intentionally enough. This passage has reminded me to offer my gratitude as an act of worship; He is to be praised!

Further, according to Romans 12:1-2, that act of worship out of gratitude is accomplished through the transformation of my mind from one of Folly to one of Wisdom (Proverbs 9).

Oh, Lord, give me your Wisdom and keep me far from Folly!

Seeking to worship in incalculable gratitude,


Sunday, June 13, 2010

A PP'sPs About Refocusing

It's time to refocus.

In the past, this blog has been an attempt to inform and reflect regarding my personal life and the issues that I've endured. It has allowed me to mourn, vent, dream, and praise. Now on the other side of the storm, I've decided to refocus my thoughts and expressions.

One of my personal struggles as a Christian and especially as a pastor has been faithful reading of God's Word. I'm not a big reader in the first place, so it has always been a fight to keep myself in a consistent habit of reading my Bible. Lately, God has been convicting me of this. I've been praying for motivation and have been blessed over the past several weeks as the habit of daily Scripture reading has been reestablished in my life. (I know, I should be ashamed of myself as a pastor for not reading the Word every single day. Trust me, I am!)

So impressed by the importance of reading God's Word regularly, God led me to preach on the subject on Sunday. To further motivate me and the church and to encourage unity within the church, I have decided to commit to posting daily on this blog my thoughts and feelings regarding the assigned passage for the day (We are using the reading schedule in the back of the ESV Study Bible).

So, the focus of this blog will shift from my personal issues to pastoral reflections on God's Word for public discussion and potential edification for all involved. I invite anyone who stumbles across this blog to comment and interact with us and God's Word. My ultimate goal is the glorification of Almighty God and the edification of His people.

Thank you to all who read and commented over the past few years. More importantly, I want to thank you for your prayers. God has been faithful and has blessed abundantly.

To God be the Glory,