This is the Day the Lord has Made

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Psalm 118:24. It’s a very well known text and often used as a call to worship, a rallying cry to get church members stirred up. I’m sure we have used it more than once over the years in our Happy Monday posts. We began our annual Rome Prayer Breakfast yesterday morning by saying this verse together, a couple of times. And during that meeting it’s meaning struck me in a new way. The Bible is like that; no matter how many times you read the Word it will never quit speaking to you. Continue reading

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Nets vs. Bait

Screenshot 2019-04-29 at 9.29.44 AMIf you listen to my Sunday sermon (it’s linked in the left-hand sidebar) there are numerous references to Peter and other disciples fishing. Jesus called Peter by telling him that he would become a “fisher of men.” Peter left his nets behind and that’s an important detail to keep in mind.

When we go fishing it’s probably not on a commercial fishing vessel. We go for recreation or even for sport which probably means a rod and reel for most people. We use bait, either live bait like night crawlers and crickets or else some type of lure or fly. Sharing the Gospel message is like casting a net, not like using bait on a hook. When Jesus first met Peter his crew had been out all night and not caught anything. Same story in John 21. We cast the net of the Gospel and many times come back with nothing. But we keep throwing it out there. If we were trying to attract cell phone or cable customers to sign a contract then bait and switch or bait and hook tactics might do the trick. But we are called to build the Kingdom, not generate profitable sales figures. Go out into the world and be wise as serpents but innocent as doves. Don’t forget the innocent part.

Denominationalism

Screenshot 2019-03-06 at 10.41.29 AMIf you don’t know about the recent special session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church, the issues at hand nor the potential for that denomination to split, I’m going to assume it’s because you have been trying to avoid hearing about it. I’m not even going into it here. I suspect you either know all you want to and more or you are really trying hard not to find out.

I only bring it up because one of my friends posted a link to Facebook last week and one his friends, that I do not know, went off on a tangent about denominations. He first denounced the Methodist Church for even having a vote on such an issue then denounced all denominations across the board referring to the practice of denominationalism. What does he even mean by that? Continue reading

Pat on the Back

For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.  1 Thessalonians 5:7-11

The Old Testament prophets had three different types of messages. Most people think of prophets as predicting future events but that’s only one thing they did. The prophet was the spokesperson for God when he had a message for Israel. Sometimes the prophet brought a message of warning. Jeremiah and Jonah offer examples. “This is what you are doing, this is what God wants you to do. It’s not too late to repent.” Sometimes Israel heeded those warnings, often they did not. Sometimes the prophet brought a word of encouragement. “You are a doing a good job, keep up the good work.” Some days are harder than others and we need to be reminded that our help comes from the Lord.

Sometimes Paul talks about running the race that is set before us. At other times he speaks of pressing toward the mark. Sometimes the race is hard and we don’t run as much as we lean into it and strain. The path is uphill and into the wind. The world gives us enough to push against we certainly don’t need to make things hard on each other. I’ve been in church my whole life and I’ll be honest with you: sometimes church people are the worst. Paul tells us in 1 Thes. 5 to encourage one another. Build one another up. Sometimes we just need a pat on the back and an “atta boy” or “atta girl” to remind us we are not alone. God is always with us but we as believers need to bear one another’s burdens as well. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

The Shepherds as a Model of Evangelism

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

 

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. -Luke 2:8-20 Continue reading

I Must Decrease

He must increase, but I must decrease. -John 3:30 

The ministry of John the Baptist preceded Jesus’ public ministry. People had speculated all kinds of things about John the Baptist but he was clear that another was coming after him that would be greater. John compared himself to a friend of the bridegroom. We might say today that his spotlight was fading and Jesus’ was coming up. His statement indicates that his popularity and even his ministry would be decreasing as Jesus’ ministry rose in prominence. It was his time. We sometimes apply this idea to our own lives. We must make less of ourselves and more of Jesus. I suggest there is more than one way to think about this. Continue reading

Why Study the Bible?

Read the Bible and pray. Those are the basic instructions given to every new believer. What LifeWay Researched has determined, however, is that while Americans are very fond of the Bible they just don’t read it.

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Scott McConnell of LifeWay Research says that even among worship attendees less than half read the Bible daily. You can read his full report here. I have often observed that many Christians get their Bible reading at church on Sunday, i.e. in the Sunday School lesson or what the pastor reads from the pulpit. Continue reading