Thursday, December 31, 2015

Resolution 12/31/2015 (rp)

“Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.  If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14-15

Beloved, I thought I might do something different today.  Being New Year's Eve, we find ourselves on the border of what was and what will be from a calendar driven human perspective.  About this time a couple of years ago, the O'Fallon congregation embarked on a year long theme of Commitment.  That theme was launched by a sermon of preparation about resolutions as it relates to our relationship with God.  The encouragement was to resolve to become (more) committed.

Because it is good for the people of God to be ever mindful of this, I'd like to share that sermon with you today.  The links below should cause your media player to deliver the message to your computer or device.

Should you have any difficulty with the above links, you can go to and access the appropriate link at the sermon title, "Resolved."  I pray that the message will be an encouragement to you.

Have a safe and blessed new year!

Increasing in faith,


Thursday, December 17, 2015

God Speaks 12/17/2015

So Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite said:
'I am young in years,
    and you are old;
that is why I was fearful,
    not daring to tell you what I know.
I thought, ‘Age should speak;
    advanced years should teach wisdom.’
But it is the spirit in a person,
    the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding.
It is not only the old who are wise,
    not only the aged who understand what is right.'" Job 32:6-9 "

It was on the legendary occasion of Job losing all he had that he entered into a conversation with a couple of old friends.  The conversation ended up being a contentious one in which they unsuccessfully challenged much of what Job said.  Elihu, having sat quietly and listened to the older men converse, offered a perspective as well as accurate points his elders failed to make regarding Job's error.  In effect, he spoke with and as the spirit of God and was not contradicted or chastised when God later spoke Himself as were the older men.
Beloved, God communicates with His own in so many ways.  In fact we should all pray for a spirit of wisdom and discernment that we may hear His voice despite its vehicle.  Most often, He speaks through those with whom we come into contact.  It was Nathan who caused David to realize his error with Bathsheba.  It was Joshua and Caleb who, against overwhelming opposition by God's own people, warned against their faithlessness.  It was even a donkey who chastised Balaam on the occasion of his wicked mission.
Rather than being skeptical, critical and suspicious of the things we are sometimes told, particularly as it relates to our own words and deeds, we must examine the things that are being said for God's truth.  Defensiveness may cause us to miss a message meant for us.  If we would give God sovereignty over our lives and acknowledge that He is not limited in the ways He communicates with us, we will come to understand that the source of the counsel is not nearly as important its content.  Let us seek wisdom outside of our own selves and be attentive to the voice of God, Prov12:15.
Increasing in faith,


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Preservation and Restoration 12/10/15

 "For we will surely die and are like water spilled on the ground which cannot be gathered up again. Yet God does not take away life, but plans ways so that the banished one will not be cast out from him." 2 Samuel 14:14

King David committed the most grievous of sins against Uriah the Hittite by committing adultery with his wife and then murdering him.  Despite forgiving and preserving his life, God informed him that trouble and strife would never leave his household.  This involved the rape of one of his daughters by his son and the murder of that son by another.  Absalom, the murdering son, fled the country and stayed away for three years.  The bible reveals that David was both hurt and angry about what had happened but in his heart of hearts longed for the return of his boy.  The law and popular opinion prevented him from making this happen until a conspiracy was hatched between his right hand man and a hired woman to demonstrate how he should forgive and restore his son (2 Samuel 14:1-13).

Beloved, we are all guilty of sin.  At some point, in some place, in some way, we have all committed acts that are outside the will and way of God.  Though forgiveness is available and provided in the all important spiritual realm, we are likely to have suffered for those transgressions in the physical one.  When we are guilty, suffering and hurting, we have a tendency to retreat within ourselves and wrestle with our sins alone.  When we have been victimized by others, there can be the tendency to place the perpetrators into emotional and physical exile even though a part of us wants to let it go.

In either case, the words and actions of God are clear.  Whether we are guilty or victims, God performs and commands preservation and restoration. Though the Hebrews were forced to wander for forty years due to their willful and obstinate behavior in the wilderness, His plan was that they would see the promised land and they did.  Though their unfaithfulness in the promised land was punished by exile, His plan was that they would be restored to Jerusalem and they were.  Though you may suffer the earthly consequences for your sinful words, thoughts or deeds or that of others, you are God's own and He has prepared a place for you.

David received the message and, despite his son's unquestionable guilt, preserved his life, restored him to his home and ultimately to himself.  God, despite David's unquestionable guilt, preserved and restored him.  Should not you and I do likewise in view of the preservation and restoration God has made available to us?

Increasing in faith,


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Recognition, Reward and Responsibility 12/3/2015

“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’?  Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’?  Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?  So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”  Luke 17:7-10

These days it seems that so many of us are about ourselves.  Stars of stage, screen and athletics are highly demonstrative about their accomplishments as seen in fist pumping gestures, end zone dances and primal screams.  This is not pointed out to be critical of emotional releases after putting in untold hours of hard work and experiencing success.  It does, however, pose the question, "How much attention and credit do you want for doing what you are supposed to do?"  This is not just a phenomenon associated with celebrity.  Perhaps closer to home, we have all seen those who perform some kindness or provide some assistance to someone in need and then publish it widely to all who will listen.

The context of today's passage is that Jesus is teaching his disciples a lesson on forgiveness.  He advises that there will be situations where people trespass against us.  It is inevitable, but when those times come, our duty is to forgive and not just once but every time, even multiple times in a day.  It is interesting that subsequent to this, the apostles ask for an increase in faith.  This is surely because forgiving is not always an easy thing to do, particularly multiple times.  It is here that Jesus supplies that forgiving is the minimum expectation of a Christian and that there should be no expectations of lavish praise and reward for doing so.

Beloved we must understand that we do not serve a quid pro quo God.  We should not expect to receive every time that we give or perform.  This is not to say that God does not reward but to say that God has provided so infinitely much to us, there is no amount of giving or performing that we could ever do to even approach what He does for us constantly.  I remember as a boy wanting to be paid for mowing our lawn.  It was explained to me in no uncertain terms that I was being provided with a roof, a climate controlled environment, food, clothing and many other amenities free of charge and that the yard was my responsibility, not a service rendered for which I should expect compensation or even thanks (though I often did).  It likewise occurred to me that I didn't thank my parents for all they provided because I took it for granted and often, was too busy asking for more.

Let us never confuse voluntary service with responsibility and let us never seek recognition and praise for what we are obligated to do (Matthew 6:1-4).

Increasing in faith,


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanks and Desire 11/26/2015

"But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.  For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.  If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.   But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.   For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."  1 Timothy 6:6-10

On this day we celebrate the uniquely American observance of Thanksgiving.  All over the country and in many parts of the world, families will gather together around a well set and well filled table and thank God for what they have received and what they are about to receive.  Churches may have Thanksgiving prayer services and perhaps offer meals to the less fortunate in their communities.  Friends will sit together before the game and go over lists of things for which they are thankful.  It is right and proper that we indeed give thanks to our great Benefactor and Provider, not just this day but all days.

Perhaps before the day is done, however, thoughts will turn to our plans to participate in some form of "Black Friday" shopping, which interestingly enough now begins on Thursday.  America leads the world as a consumer nation.  So much of our time, talent and treasure is geared toward obtaining stuff.  Driven by everything from personal desire to corporate greed, we literally shop until we drop for things we do not need but just want because it is the latest and greatest and the people next door have it.

Beloved there is nothing wrong with wanting nice things in and of itself.  I am reminded that God once lavished Solomon with super abundant wealth such as the world had not seen before or since.  It is important to know, though, that Solomon when given the opportunity to receive whatever he desired only asked God for wisdom with which to carry out the  work of caring for and leading His people.  Our problem can be that we lose sight of what God already richly provides (Matthew 6:31-33) in pursuit of things that can actually lead us away from Him.  This makes the desire for money and stuff potentially very dangerous.

On this day and all days, let us thank God for what He already provides as we continually seek His righteousness and His kingdom.

Increasing in faith,


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Jesus on Board 11/19/2015

"And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up.  Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, 'Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?' And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, 'Hush, be still.'  And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm."  Mark 4:37-39

Though it was an actual event (as opposed to one of the many parables Jesus had just spent a day preaching), there are arguable more profound lessons to be gleaned from this famous passage of scripture than the parables he so recently shared near the shore.

First, it is no revelation to know and understand that storms come into all of our lives.  Being a Christian neither guarantees nor implies a life free of concerns, difficulties and unfortunate circumstances.  In fact, Christ often said that the way would be perilous and fraught with challenges.

Second, when these storms come, take note of your surroundings.  No one has to tell you that you are in a storm when it arrives.  In fact, you may have to tell others.  Two important things should be noticed, however.  The first, as was the case with the apostles, is that you are in a boat.  While it is true that the storm sometimes threatens to overtake the boat,  the alternative here is that we could be in the midst of the sea without a boat, a situation that would be exponentially worse.  Second, note that the storm does not overtake the boat but that the boat is afloat.  The lesson here is that though our circumstances may rage around us and though we may feel in peril of our very lives, at that moment, we are not consumed but sustained.

Most important of all, Jesus was on board throughout the storm.  Yes he was asleep but I submit to you that it was because he was tired from doing the Father's work of caring for us all day.  More worthy of note, however, is the fact that he had no concern or fear about a storm that was raging on the earth that he made!  There was zero chance that Jesus would perish and if it was true for him in that circumstance, it was true of all of those who were with him.

Beloved, our storms can be awfully fearsome things.  We often panic, lose faith, give up hope and sometimes even want to jump out of a perfectly good floating boat.  Let us be reminded that with Jesus on board, we simply need to exchange our fear for faith.  It is Jesus and only Jesus that has truthfully said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" Heb 13:5.  Further, know that faith conquers fear but only in proportion to its strength.  We just need to make sure that we have invited Jesus aboard the boat of our lives.

Increasing in faith,


Thursday, November 12, 2015

How Long Will You Hesitate? 11/12/2015

 "Elijah came near to all the people and said, 'How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.' But the people did not answer him a word." 1 Kings 18:21

We are all, no doubt, familiar with the famous scene of Elijah, the prophet of God, confronting the 450 pagan prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel.  Wicked king Ahab had married infamous Jezebel who not only brought her pagan religion into Israel but killed all but one hundred of God's prophets.  This systematic introduction of Baal worship, clearly supported by her husband the king, put all of the people of Israel in a position to have to make a choice: worship the One True God, worship a pagan diety or straddle the fence.

Beloved, we are faced with the same decision today.  We know God.  Many of us have known Him from our earliest years being taught through bible stories, children's prayers and our parents' example.   Along the way, however, we have also been introduced to the god of this world.  Whether it is the worship of money and the things it can buy, the lust of the eye and the flesh which is so predominant throughout society or the rejection of God through action or inaction, we all have a choice.  In Jezebel's day, not only was godlessness sanctioned by the ruling authority, it became societally imperative.  Sound familiar?

The question asked by Elijah, therefore, is still asked today: "How long will you hesitate between two opinions?"  Then, the people failed to respond as if unsure of what to say, unwilling to verbally express the choice their lives demonstrated they had chosen or silenced by guilt.  As Christians, we must constantly examine our lives to determine who our actions serve.  Joshua famously put it this way: "If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LordJoshua 24:15.

It is my fervent prayer that in the face of ever increasing external and, yes, internal negative influences that "the redeemed of the Lord say so."  Let us all stand up and be counted for God, good and righteousness.  Let us serve the Lord.

Increasing in faith,


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Coming Soon!!


It has been nearly a year since my last blog post (Devotional email to some of you).  As many of you know, it started out years ago as a Monday through Friday daily blog and continued to be for 3 years.  It even generated a book!  After that things began to slow, then trickle then stop.  Since we last spoke, my faith and work in the Lord has only grown.  In fact, it is serving in other ways that may be the biggest reason my regular writing ceased.  Every now and then, however, I'll run across a scripture or a situation and think, "I really need to get back to writing these revelations down and sharing them with the family."  Some of you (Michelle, Karen, Cheryl, Gail & Jerry) have encouraged me to resume.  I appreciate your patience, understanding and support.

I am pleased and humbled to tell you that the time has come.  I am committed to resuming the Minister's Meditation at least once a week for at least a year beginning next week.  I hope you are all still out there and still interested. :)  Be sure to share this outreach and encouragement ministry with your friends and acquaintances.  Let us glorify God together.  Who knows?  Maybe there is another book being born.

Increasing in Faith,