Better Is One Day In Your House

GUWG-One-DayThirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
August 23, 2015

How lovely is your dwelling place,
    O Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
I long, yes, I faint with longing
    to enter the courts of the Lord.
With my whole being, body and soul,
    I will shout joyfully to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home,
    and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young
at a place near your altar,
    O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God!
What joy for those who can live in your house,
    always singing your praises. Interlude

What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,
    who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
    it will become a place of refreshing springs.
    The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
They will continue to grow stronger,
    and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.

O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, hear my prayer.
    Listen, O God of Jacob. Interlude

O God, look with favor upon the king, our shield!
    Show favor to the one you have anointed.

10 A single day in your courts
    is better than a thousand anywhere else!
I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God
    than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is our sun and our shield.
    He gives us grace and glory.
The Lord will withhold no good thing
    from those who do what is right.
12 O Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
    what joy for those who trust in you.

Weekly Lectionary Readings

Proper 8 (13)
June 29, 2008

Genesis 22:1-14; Psalm 13; Romans 6:12-23; Matthew 10:40-42

Ever feel forgotten? Ever feel like nobody cares? This week’s Psalm has David wondering that. Here’s what David writes,

1 O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?
How long will you look the other way?
2 How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

3 Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
4 Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”
Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.

5 But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
6 I will sing to the Lord
because he is good to me.

It’s real easy to feel like David — we think the bad guys are going to win again — Why doesn’t anything ever go my way? Here’s the answer to our whining — But I trust in your unfailing love — I will rejoice because you have rescued me.

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he picks up that theme of what God has done for us and reminds us that because of Christ’s death on the cross and subsequently His resurrection from the dead, sin has no power over us unless we let it have power over us. Paul calls believers to be slaves to righteousness and not to sin, because we, as believers, are free from the power of sin and to live a life of holiness.

Part of that involves what Jesus tells us to do. I love verse 42. 42 And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” I remember several years ago, while we lived in Fort Miller, there was an annual Bike Fest not to far away. Because we were on the main north-south route that was not an interstate, many of the bikers made their way past our house and church. One Saturday morning, I was doing the lawn maintenance, when some bikers stopped in front of our church. It looked like they were trying to find a place to go to the restroom. I put down my stuff and let them in. As soon as I did that, I got some cups from the kitchen and ran over to the house to get some cold water from the refrigerator. Our tap water was bad there. I came back and offered drinks to the 12 to fifteen bikers gathered there. They were really appreciative of the rest stop and the hospitality. One said about our hospitality, “I almost makes me want to go find a church like this one back home.” Several handed me twenty dollar bills as they left and Pam and I put them in the offering in the morning. I got to meet some really nice people that morning and got a chance to minister briefly to them and offered them a cool drink of water in Jesus’ name. That’s the life of holiness lived out practically. Blessings…

Weekly Lectionary Readings

Proper 4 (9)
June 1, 2008

Genesis 6:9-22; 7:24; 8:14-19; Psalm 46; Romans 1:16-17; 3:22-31; Matthew 7:21-29

I’ve asked Pam to write this week’s devotional.

One Saturday when we were living in New York, Dale and I awoke with the ground shaking under our bed. The freeze which was on the other side of our bedroom wall was banging against the wall. We thought the freezer was on it last leg. It was not until our children came to our door and announced we had an earthquake. Psalm 46 talks about the One we can go to when it seems like our lives — our are experiences — seem to make our world shake. The psalmist tells us it is God who is our help in times of trouble. I know for the past 6 months my life has been shaking out of control. There haves been times as I drink a Diet Coke that I wondered if something stronger would take away the pain and trouble. By the way, I would never find out. It is so easy for people to do things or put our faith in other people then God. The interesting thing is this chapter is my favorite chapter in the Bible and I totally forgot its promise.

The psalmist goes on and talks about God’s power. Sometime we forget that God is powerful because we want to do it on our own. God is powerful enough to take care of all our problems, not just the big ones. He can take care of the little ones like finding the cell phone that we lost yesterday. The earthquake which we were in it did some damage further upstate, but did you know that every day there are hundreds of tremors that nobody feels.

If you do not get anything out of this, please remember this, “Be still and know I am God.” We need to get to know God’s voice before we go though troubling times. So when we are in those times and everything is crashing down on us and when it seems that there is no way out of the hole that we are in — We can hear the quiet voice of God telling us everything is going to be alright and he is there to put his loving arms around us.

Weekly Lectionary Readings

Proper 3
May 25, 2008

(Because of the early Easter, the readings from Epiphany 8 are used.)
Isaiah 49:8-16; Psalm 131; I Corinthians 4:1-5; Matthew 6:24-34

Here is another good set of scriptures.  This Sunday we will be recognizing our graduates, both college and high school.  We have four graduates this year.  I have been putting together a video of pictures from our graduates and we plan on showing that after worship at a little luncheon that we are putting on for them.  As I was preparing for this Sunday, I wondered from what scripture passage I should preach.  I wanted a message that would be good for our graduates.  Since I usually look ahead to the lectionary readings for the week, I looked at those and found the Matthew passage.  This is a very appropriate passage for our graduates and really for all of us.  We are reminded that we cannot serve two masters.  We can’t serve God and something or someone else.  Yes, I’m expanding the thought that is presented to us.  I don’t know about you, but I am one track minded.  I find it very difficult to multi-task.  Sometimes while I’m at work, I find it hard to talk and ring up a customer.  I am not designed to do things that way.  Maybe you are, but the passage reminds us that God created us to serve Him and that we can’t serve two people or two things at one time.  (On a side note, I probably wouldn’t be a very good waiter.)  The crux of this passage is found in Matthew 6:33, probably one of my favorite scripture passages: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” That’s pretty good advise for any of us, graduate or not.  I love how this passage concludes: Don’t worry about tomorrow — it has it’s own troubles.  Isn’t that the truth.  Thank you Lord, for your Word to me this morning.

Not only is the Matthew passage intriguing to me this morning, but so is the the 1 Corinthian passage. I’ll just cut and paste it and let it speak for itself.  1 So look at Apollos and me as mere servants of Christ who have been put in charge of explaining God’s mysteries. 2 Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful. 3 As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. 4 My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.

 5 So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.

So many Christians, try to judge others motives (and I’m guilty of that.)  We are reminded that this side of heaven we don’t know these things, especially when it comes to other preachers of the gospel.  I, like Paul, cannot trust my own judgement — but the Lord knows — he will examine me and decide.  Great stuff from Paul.  Hope you have a great weekend in Christ.

Weekly Lectionary Readings

Christ the King Sunday

November 25, 2007

This Sunday is the final Sunday of the liturgical church year. It also completes Year C. The Revised Common Lectionary provides for a three year cycle of readings; a set of readings for each week, with a reading from the Old Testament, the Psalms, Gospel, and an Epistle. Next week we will begin Year A with the commencement of Advent. This also marks one year of this regular feature on my blog.

This week’s readings focus on the coming reign of Christ. For the first time since Pentecost, my preaching will follow this week’s reading.

Matthew’s gospel recounts the crucifixion narrative and that Jesus’ crime was being the King of the Jews. In another gospel, the Pharisees complain to Pilate that Jesus was not the King of the Jews, but that He claimed to be King of the Jews and Pilate replies “I have written what I have written.”
The psalm is substituted this week with another song; the song of Zachariah, John the Baptist’s father. It is a great foreshadowing of next week, as we begin to look toward Christmas during our Advent Celebration.
Paul’s letter to the church at Colosse may have been the basis for The Apostle’s Creed and The Nicene Creed. As I conclude tonight, I’d like to repeat Paul’s words here:
15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, 16 for through him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him. 17 He existed before anything else,
and he holds all creation together. 18 Christ is also the head of the church,
which is his body. He is the beginning,
supreme over all who rise from the dead.
So he is first in everything. 19 For God in all his fullness
was pleased to live in Christ, 20 and through him God reconciled
everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Weekly Lectionary Readings

Proper 28

November 18, 2007
Isaiah 65:17-25
Isaiah 12
II Thessalonians 3:6-13

Luke 21:5-19

A New Heaven and A New Earth

After this week, just one week remains in this church year. Again, this week focuses on the life to come — on the promise that Christ went back to heaven to prepare a place for those who are his followers. The prophet Isaiah reminds us there is a time coming when everything will be made new — there will be a new heaven and a new earth and no one will be able to remember the old, and there will be no sounds of weeping and crying there. We are given many promises in these few verses.

Instead of a Psalm this week, we have another passage from Isaiah.

1 In that day you will sing: “I will praise you, O Lord! You were angry with me, but not any more. Now you comfort me. 2 See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The Lord God is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.”

3 With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation! 4 In that wonderful day you will sing: “Thank the Lord! Praise his name! Tell the nations what he has done. Let them know how mighty he is! 5 Sing to the Lord, for he has done wonderful things. Make known his praise around the world. 6 Let all the people of Jerusalem shout his praise with joy! For great is the Holy One of Israel who lives among you.”

What a wonderful song we will be able to sing on that day. It is also a song that we can sing today and I think it’s appropriate for the week before Thanksgiving Day here in America.

However, the apostle Paul warns those who are lazy, especially when it comes to the Lord’s coming and the new heaven and new earth. There were those in the first century who thought that the coming was near and they didn’t have to do anything — Paul tells us to never weary of doing good. Church we need to be ever vigilant as Christ return draws near — we must continue to do good and build the Kingdom of God. I know that the Kingdom of darkness is not giving up, so neither should we who are a part of the Kingdom of Light give up — Keep pressing on.

To finish this up, we are warned by Jesus that bad times are coming and that the church we be part of it. I don’t want to get into a lot of end times theory, but if we look at this scripture seriously, Jesus warns the believers that they will suffer persecution — they will suffer tribulation. I know that’s not a popular belief. Just recently, I saw a clip of a well known television preacher who said with no doubt in his mind, “The church will not go through the tribulation.” I guess that means we are going to have to apologize to all the martyrs who have given their lives for Christ over the last two thousand years. I want to say, “Who do we think we are that we will excape persecution?” (Yes, I guess maybe I’m tired of this type of escapist thinking!)

Jesus says, ” 12 But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers. 13 But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. 14 So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you, 15 for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you! 16 Even those closest to you—your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends—will betray you. They will even kill some of you. 17 And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish! 19 By standing firm, you will win your souls.”

The day is coming — there will be a new heaven and a new earth — there will be a time when all weeping will cease — we need to persevere — we need to continue to do Kingdom work — the church can not be lazy — and we need to be ready for the increasing antagonism toward the work we do — but do not be discouraged — do not lose heart — never go tired of doing good — for there is a great reward for those who follow Christ and do as he commands. Carp Diem!

Weekly Lectionary Readings

Proper 27

November 11, 2007
We are nearing the end of the church year and heading toward a new beginning with the celebration of the Advent season. The lectionary provides for a three year cycle of reading the scripture in worship. We are currently in year C. As we near the end of the church year, this week’s scriptures focus on a coming resurrection — the time when believers (those alive and those who have “fallen asleep”) will be raised. The prophet Haggai speaks to the remnant left and tells them that the Temple which they know now is nothing compared to the splendor of the new Temple.
Paul reminds us in 2 Thessalonians, that Christ will return for His followers and we need to be alert and on guard, for there will be false teachings in the last days. We need to be reminded here that Paul thought he was in the last days. He was cautioning the church even then to be aware of the false teachings and to persevere and God will give us that grace and give us the hope that Christ is returning.
Jesus’ teaching in Luke reminds us that the resurrection is real. The Pharisees were really trying to trick Jesus, but in doing so, he was able to teach that there is such a thing as the resurrection.
Instead of sandwiching the Psalm in the middle I thought we would leave with his words:
17 The Lord is righteous in everything he does; he is filled with kindness. 18 The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth. 19 He grants the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cries for help and rescues them. 20 The Lord protects all those who love him, but he destroys the wicked.
21 I will praise the Lord, and may everyone on earth bless his holy name forever and ever.

Weekly Lectionary Readings

Proper 26

November 4 , 2007

I wonder how many times we feel like Habakkuk? How long, O Lord? When will you come and straighten everything out? When will you come and serve justice? Then we remember what the psalmist wrote, “O Lord, you are righteous, and your regulations are fair. Your laws are perfect and completely trustworthy… Your justice is eternal, and your instructions are perfectly true….I find joy in your commands. Your laws are always right; help me to understand them so I may live.

Paul encourages us who are enduring for the cause of Christ that we will be rewarded for our suffering. I thank the God for the grace and mercy that he has showered down on me. The same grace and mercy that He has showered on me and us, He has showered on Zacchaeus. The Pharisees didn’t understand how the Son of God could hang around such sinners. It’s becaue of His great love for us. Thank God for his love and mercy.

For All The Saints

All Saints Day
November 1

Last night my lesson revolved around today. Most in The Wesleyan Church would have no idea about All Saints Day. Part of my reason for working through the lectionary is to educate myself.
We tend to view saints as super spiritual people. Last night I was asked, “Aren’t saints supposed to be perfect?” If we look at how the word was used in the scriptures, no. When we see it used in the scriptures the word refers to those who have placed their trust in Christ and who are committed to following Him — no matter what. As I taught the lesson we worked through the Ephesians and Luke passage. The apostle Paul, prays a wonderful prayer for the Ephesian church. Jesus tells us what a saint does. I like the title of the graphic. It’s called the hardest prayer, and yet Christians for centuries have been doing that.
November is often a time when we remember those who have been persecuted for their faith. Typically the second Sunday in November is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. In my travels today, I want to remember those who have gone on before and especially those ancient and even contemporary saints who have given or who are giving their lives for the cause of Christ.

Weekly Lectionary Readings

Proper 25

October 28, 2007

Like I blogged earlier today, Joel reminds us that the rain is God’s way of showing his faithfulness to His people. God wanted to remind His children that He hadn’t forgotten them. Yes, God was upset with how His children disobeyed Him and followed after idols. That’s how they ended up in captivity. However, God was making a way…a new way.
The psalmist reminds us of God’s forgiveness…It foreshadows the coming Christ, who will give hope…Again we are reminded that God has everything in His hands.
Paul’s words to Timothy are a great reminder that we all need to pursue God…Pursue him to the end of our life…How good it will be to get to our reward and hear Christ say, “Well done. You are a faithful servant.” It reminds us that this world is not all there is, there is more to come.
The gospel writer Luke reminds us with Jesus’ words how important it is to have a humble heart. It is so easy to act pompous like the Pharisee did…I know, I’ve done it…We need to remember like the tax-collector said, “Be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.” That is a great posture to have in front of God. Jesus modeled that for us in humbling Himself on the cross…and just as it says in Luke, those who will humble themselves will be exalted. My prayer as I wrote earlier this week is to be that humble servant.