Meditation

06/24/2022

As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before he Lord, she despised him in her heart. When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, ‘How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!’ David said to Michal, ‘It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—-I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.’ And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.” (2nd Samuel 6:16, 20-23)

Devotion to God should unite marriage partner in inseparable commitment. Too often religion becomes a source of marital conflict. David and Michal had entered marriage because of their love for each other, but this did not keep them from have interpersonal problems. Michal was disgusted with David’s behavior while he was accompanying the ark of the Lord on its return to Jerusalem. She felt it inappropriate for the king to e dancing and singing in the streets. David justified his behavior on the basis of his devotion to the Lord. Marriage partners in a conflict situation often use religion to justify actions the mate dislikes. Unequal religious devotion can also cause marital conflict, as noted here between David and Michal.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Precious Abba, how many times do we witness partners in marriage, have conflict and justify their position with Scripture? It appeared to me that David was full of the Holy Spirit, bringing the ark of the Lord back to Jerusalem and in the moment it was perfectly the right thing for him to be dancing and singing as the ark was coming home again. Michal was influenced by her father Saul’s rule, which is why God replaced him with David. David was not perfect and he paid dearly for his sins, but he was the right ruler at the right time for Israel. He was ushering in a religious renewal within the country, and it was certainly a cause for celebration. Today we continue to pray troops serving in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, that a peaceful solution might be found and let the fighting be silenced. We also pray for those who are suffering in body, mind, and/or spirit, with friends, family, for those we don’t know. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

Image is what people think we are. Integrity is what we really are.”

KNOWING GOD:

If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son whose does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders of the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you/ All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.” (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)

Parents symbolically represent God to the children. Therefore, rejecting parents is not only disobedience to them but also rejects God’s established order fro family life. When a son consistently rejected parental discipline and lived a life contrary to God’s will for Israel, the law prescribed the death penalty. The penalty was on the sin of disobedience to God as much as rejection of parents. It was also a public testimony to the seriousness of God’s claim upon the people of Israel. Although the conditions of God’s covenant have changed, the seriousness of His claim has not. A good example is parents allowing their child to watch combat video games, where the more people you kill makes you the winner, is warping the minds of our youth. In the video games, the people you kill at the end of the game, all get up and you start over. In real life, when you kill people, they stay on the ground because they are dead or wounded. The warped sense of the video games teaches a very bad lesson to youth who are the outcasts of the school or deal with issues of self-worth and the games move beyond games and become part of the impetus of committing criminal acts.

I AM:

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.” (Romans 1:26-28)

One consequence of human rejection of God’s plan for life is homosexual activity. The biblical revelation uniformly declares heterosexual relationships to be God’s intended form of sexual interaction and condemns homosexual acts. A homosexual life-style is contrary to the gospel. Even though rejecting homosexual acts, the New Testament offers forgiveness and a new life orientation to homosexuals as well as to other sinners.

2ND THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

Then Jehoshaphat rested with his fathers and was buried with them in he City of David. And Jehoram his son succeeded him as king. Jehoam’s brothers, the sons of Johoshaphat, were Aariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azariahu, Michael and Shephatiah. All these were sons of Jehoshaphat king of Israel. The father had given hem many gifts of silver and gold and articles o value as well as fortified cities in Judah, but he had given the kingdom to Jehoram because he was his firstborn son. When Jehoram established himself firmly over his father’s kingdom, he put all his brothers to the sword along with some of he princes of Israel. Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He waled in the ways of the kings of Israel, as the housed of Ahab had done, fore married a daughter of Ahab. He did evil in the eyes of he Lord. Nevertheless, because of he covenant the Lord had made with David, the Lord was not willing to destroy the house of David. He had promised to maintain a lamp fro him and his descendants forever. In the time of Jehoram, Edom rebelled against Judah and set up is own king.” (2nd Chronicles 21:1-8)

Jealousy among family members and the desire for power incited violent attacks upon other members of he family among the rulers in Israel and Judah. Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, slaughtered his brother along with other princes of Israel to avert any threat to the throne. His sin brought God’s judgment upon his family and upon himself. The kings’ family life does not describe that of the ordinary people in that day. Violence toward family members and sexual abuse of children were forbidden by law and were not characteristic of Hebrew families. Such historical descriptions certainly are not set up as examples to follow. They illustrate the extreme results of the sins of jealousy, pride, and the hunger for personal power. Sounds very similar to what’s going on in our world today, and for the same reasons.

Meditation

06/23/2022

At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirab. There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man name Shua. He married her and lay with her; she became pregnant and gave birth to a on, who was named Er. She conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan. She gave birth to still another son and name him Shelah. It was at Kezib that she gave birth to him. Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah’s firstborn was wicked in the lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death. Then Judah said to Onan, ‘Lie with your brother’ wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to produce offspring for your brother.’ But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so he put him to death also.” (Genesis 38:1-10)

By Hebrew law, if a man died and left no children, his brother was required to marry the widow and father children who would bear the name of he deceased brother (Dt 25:5-6). Under the patriarchal family structure of that time, neither the widow nor the brother could refuse the demand of the head of the family to fulfill this obligation. So Onan took Tamar as a second wife and had intercourse with her but withdrew before ejaculation in order that she not become pregnant. He did not want to father a child that would not bear his own name. This disobedience resulted in his death. Unfortunately, the experience of Onan had been identified with masturbation. (Masturbation in the past was Onanism.) The punishment on him had been interpreted to show God’s displeasure with self-stimulation. This interpretation misrepresents the passage under consideration. The Bible does not speak specifically about the issue of masturbation in this passage or in any other. Attitudes toward masturbation must be informed by general principles of biblical teachings about sexuality rather than from the experience of Onan.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Precious Abba, worldwide we have a threat progressing at an alarming rate. It is sexual immorality with children, and is intentional by those who arrange these acts only by the adults. Give comfort to those young people who are being abused in the worst possible way and remove them from these circumstances. For those who participate or arrange these immoral acts, let them understand their depravity and let their acts come into the light and let them be punished for their ungodly acts. In addition, let them understand the innocence they have stolen from those children, that can never be replaced. Today we continue to pray troops serving in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, that a peaceful solution might be found and let the fighting be silenced. We also pray for those who are suffering in body, mind, and/or spirit, with friends, family, for those we don’t know. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

Character is what we stand for, reputation is what we fall for.”

KNOWING GOD:

On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him—-Mehuman, Bitha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Carcas—-to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at. But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger. Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times and were closest to the king—-Carshen, Shethr, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena and Memucan, the seven nobles of Persia and Media who had special access to the king and were highest in the kingdom. ‘According to law, what must be done to Queen Vashti?’ he asked. ‘She has not obeyed the command of King Xerxes that the eunuchs have taken to her.’ Then Memucan replied in the presence of he king and the nobles, ‘Queen Vashti had done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes. For he queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and they will despise their husbands and say, ‘King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come. This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen’s conduct will respond to all the king’s nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord. ‘Therefore, if it please the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she. Then when the king’s edict is proclaimed throughout all his vast realm, all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest.’ The king an his nobles were pleased with this advice, so the king did as Memucan proposed. He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom to each province in its own script to each people in its own language,, proclaiming in each people’s tongue that every man should be ruler over his own household.” (Esther 1:10-22)

The fear of women gaining an upper hand over men, if not forced into submission is clearly reflected in the text. It is apparent that the king was drunk and wanted to put Vashti on display when he sent servants to bring her into the banquet hall. Her refusal was not based upon stubbornness but upon propriety. She did not want to be a spectacle. The fact of her refusal, however, aroused the king’s anger and created tension for his advisers. Fearful that other wives would follow her example, they decreed that every man should be the ruler in his household. The text suggests two principles: 1) a wife is not wrong to refuse her husband’s will when it would make her do that which she believes is wring for herself, and 2) fear of women becoming dominant may lead men to take actions that re ill-advised and inappropriate to the circumstances involved.

I AM:

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of he living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, an I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ ‘Therefore come out from hem and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, an I will receive you.’ ‘I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’” (2nd Corinthians 6:14-18)

A Christian should marry a Christian. Since Christ through the Holy Spirit dwells within the believer, Christians are not to marry unbelievers and participate in their false worship. Marriage should strengthen Christian faith.

2ND THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

His father had never interfered with him by asking, ‘Why do you behave as you do?’ He was also very handsome and was born next after Absalom.” (1st Kings 1:6)

Unwillingness to confront children when their actions are contrary to family expectations encourages them to continue those actions. David failed to exercise his parental responsibility in this case. The long rage result was revolt and ultimately, death for David’s son.

I cannot emphasize enough the need for parents to turn a blind eye to behavior that is destructive or at the very least disruptive for the family. These are warning signs and our children are not looking for a parent to be their friend, they need a parent to take their responsibilities seriously, and confront any behavior that is out of the ordinary or taking place on a regular basis. Tough love is just one name for a parent taking their responsibility seriously. It is a show of love and that you care for your child, not trying to be overly intrusive in their lives. The warning signs are there for a reason and must be dealt with.

Meditation

06/22/2022

When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan.” (Genesis 14:14)

The household in biblical times included the primary family, servant, other family members, and person entrusted with various responsibilities for maintaining the household. Thus, to the household of Abram children of servants were educated as soldiers from their youth, Education is a basic task of the household. The Wisdom Literature and education of children in the household (Proverbs 4:1-7; 22:6; 29:15, 17); In the New Testament, Paul encouraged fathers in the task of education (Ephesians 6:4). The encouragement of training youth for battles is older in this country, age 18, but in Israel, it begins much earlier and includes both boys and girls for military service.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Precious Abba, in America we call for mandatory registration for the draft to military service, at age 18. but volunteers have given the draft an excuse not to be used in recent years. Other countries have requirements for serving in the military. We pray that our draft does not have to be used, that we can negotiate for peace, but if necessary, our military stand ready to go into battle for our country. We ask You, Abba, to bless those who have served, are serving and will serve in the future and all others around the world to stand down and let us come together to the table to talk about peace in our world. Today we continue to pray troops serving in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, that a peaceful solution might be found and let the fighting be silenced. We also pray for those who are suffering in body, mind, and/or spirit, with friends, family, for those we don’t know. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

Have you ever stopped to consider, that maybe, just maybe, God is waiting for a sign from us?”

KNOWING GOD:

The Word of he Lord came to me: ‘God and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem: ‘I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert, through land not sown. Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of his harvest; all who devoured her were held guilty, and disaster overtook them,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 2:1-3)

Marriage can symbolize the covenant relationship between Israel and God. Consequently, the prophet also used adultery and divorce as symbols of the broken relationship caused when Israel turned to other gods resulting in God’s judgment on them.

I AM:

I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.” (2nd Corinthians 11:2)

Symbolizing the church as the bride of Christ is found in Paul’s writings as well as in Revelations 21:2, 9, where the New Jerusalem represents the body of believers in Christ.

2ND THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

‘Why then, they asked, ‘did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?’ Jesus replied, ‘Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.’ The disciples said to him, ‘If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.’ Jesus replied, ‘Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way my men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.’” (Matthew 19: 7-12)

The Greek expression translated “renounced marriage” literally refers to a man who has castrated himself. Jesus did not refer to a literal self-castration but rather to persons who abstained from sexual relations to devote their full commitment to the kingdom of God. Jesus pointed out that only some can follow this unmarried way of life.

Jesus honored celibacy as a valid life choice just as He honored marriage in the preceding verses. A eunuch is a person physically incapable of sexual union. According to Jewish law such a eunuch could not be validly married. Jesus also affirmed those who remain single by choice to fulfill a vocational commitment to service for God. Jesus’ own life illustrates this commitment as does the life of Paul. The daughters of Philip were also unmarried by religious commitment. Since marriage was the normal expectation for all people in the Hebrew faith, the Bible does not explicitly with singleness as a life-style. It does offer guidelines to human wholeness that are applicable to singles as well as to married persons.

Meditation

06/21/2022

The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’ Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam, no suitable helper was found. God the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman, for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:18-24)

One of God’s basic purposes for marriage is companionship. Companions help one another, are suitable or compatible for one another, and are able to stand alongside and share their personal lives. The unique quality quality of this companion was demonstrated when Adam could not find a creature corresponding to himself among the animals he was commissioned to name. Built from a portion of man’s side, the suitable companion shares the same physical nature. The basic implication of the text focuses on the similarity of man and woman and on their mutual need for each other. Because of their similarity, the man and woman can marry and establish a one flesh union that takes priority over all other family relationships, even though they are not exactly the same physically.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Precious Abba, You intended marriage to meet the basic human need of love and companionship; this expression describing this companion literally means “a helper corresponding to him” or “a helper along of of him, a beautiful description of the relationship which Gd intends between husband and wife. Today we continue to pray for those who are suffering in body, mind, and/or spirit, with friends, family, for those we don’t know, especially the people in Ukraine, as they are fighting for their very lives and way of life. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

Ever been between a rock and a hard place? Then thanks the Lord, because it’s good to be next to the Rock when you are in a hard place!”

KNOWING GOD:

Then, Manoah prayed to the Lord: ‘O Lord, I beg you, let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.’” (Judges 13:8)

The prayer models for all Christian parents the need for God’s guidance in the nurture and education of children. Even though Samson did not fulfill in his personal life the desires of his parents, the commitment of Manoah an his wife to the Lord is exemplary and shows wisdom in their commitment to God.

I AM:

Whomever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1)

Parents must discipline children for the children to have a chance in life. Without discipline and correction we need learn. Many verses in Proverbs stress the value of discipline in child guidance and point out the foolishness of resisting discipline. In today’s times, many people think discipline is beating children and this is not discipline. Teaching discipline is essential in their development. Too many parents today want to be “friends” with their children and they will make many friends in their life time, but in the early development years, they need guidance and discipline on how to behave with other children, with adults, in school, in church and in a variety of other situations that they will encounter. Those who beat their children have more serious problems than bad parenting techniques.

2ND THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with here in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” (1st Corinthians 6: 15-17)

Sexual union is God’s plan to create physical and emotional unity in the marriage relationship. Such unity is the foundation of the family. Participation in such union outside the marriage commitment destroys family and betrays our commitment to Christ to whose body we belong and to whom we are united in spiritual union as His bride. Sexual activity is not a right and/or need for every individual to be satisfied the easiest way possible. Sexual activity is demonstration of commitment and unity within the family. Paul used this imagery of the church as the body of Christ in different ways in various contexts. Apparently a Corinthians Christians had used his freedom in Christ as a license for immorality, and some of the church approved. These people misunderstood the meaning of grace and the nature of the Christ life. Paul reminded the people that they were the body of Christ. Each person was a member of Christ, and, as such, could not be united with immorality. Since God owns us by the power of Christ’s death on the cross, all our actions must subjected to Him. Christ defines and determines all our relationships and actions. For the prostitute, whether male or female, one must not engage in prostitution. It is a sin and separates all who participate in this act, must confess our sins, with sincerity and with penitent hearts, to find forgiveness and renewal of your relationship with our Lord and Savior.

Meditation

06/20/2022

Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you? Then tell them, ‘I is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over eh houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’ The the people bowed down and worshiped.” (Exodus 12:24-27)

Whenever the Passover meal has been observed in Jewish homes down through the centuries, its symbolism has been used to retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. The combination of sensory experiences—-taste, touch, sight, sound and smell—-contribute to a vivid and memorable learning experience, enabling small children to grasp significant truths in concrete form long before they are able to understand abstract ideas. Christian have a similar teaching opportunity each time trey beak bread and pass the cup in observance of the Lord’s Supper.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Precious Abba, though Christians are not Jews, we still remember the lessons learned of the Passover and why it is still important to learn and remember the lesson, just as it is important for Christians to remember why we take the cup of wine and the bread or Host, and a remembrance of our Lord’s giving up his blood and flesh as a sacrifice for our sins. Today we continue to pray for those who are suffering in body, mind, and/or spirit, with friends, family, for those we don’t know, especially the people in Ukraine, as they are fighting for their very lives and way of life. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

Jesus died for you, so now live for Him.”

KNOWING GOD:

Who is it he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk, to those just taken from the breast? For it is: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule a little here, and little there.” (Isaiah 28:9-10)

The drunken priests were mocking Isaiah as they asked sarcastically, ‘Are you here to teach us, as though we were small children?’ In the process, they shed light on ancient Hebrew elementary education. Apparently, drill and repetition were important methods in the teaching of small children. So it is today. Modern instructional technology has never replaced guided practice as a major teaching strategy. Computer assisted instruction often provides an electronic medium for leaning ‘rule on rule.’ We need to learn o use the best technology to apply old and true methods of education.

I AM:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—-put it into practice. And he God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)

Modern day educators speak of the learner’s active participation in the educational process. That is what Paul advocated here. The Greek word (logizethe) underlying ‘think’ means, ‘to calculate,’ ‘to reckon carefully.’ To think then is too weigh seriously the cost of incorporating the virtues listed in verse 8 into one’s daily life. Thus, the Christian is to grapple with these concepts, not just reflect on them passively.

2ND THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” (Luke 24-27)

The Bible is the textbook of the Christian faith. The Old Testament sheds light on the mission and teaching of Jesus Christ, and the New Testament enlarges our understanding of the message of Israel’s prophets. Christian teaching must be based on Scripture, must point to Jesus Christ, and must not contradict Scripture.

Meditation

Sermon for the 2nd Sunday Following Pentecost – 06-19-2022

1st Kings 19-1-4, [5-7], 8-15; Psalm 42 – 43; Galatians 3:23-29; Luke 8:26-39

Before I begin this morning, let me first wish all of you a Happy Father’s Day. Certainly we have many fathers here, but there are those whom may never have had the privilege to be called by this name before.

Our lesson from 1st Kings reveals to us that Elijah had defeated Jezebel’s gods, making a mockery of those she revered. Elijah received a messenger from Jezebel, telling him: “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” Make no doubt about it, she was threatening to make a mockery out of him and his god. He had made it out into the desert and God saw him asleep under a tree, exhausted and through a quiet reflection of an almost silent whisper. He reassured His servant. Instead of revealing Himself in a spectacular way, God seeks the private rod of faith and openness of heart. God’s word may come to us in speech to our inner ear or through a dream. The word may one to communicate to God’s people or as in this case to direct one’s personal life.

In our Psalms this morning, the idea of God as a living God was truly important to God’s Old Testament people. The gods of the nations were very often wooden or fashioned stone idols, having no apparent life at all. By contrast the Hebrew people had a God that was alive and active for His people. In the everyday life to these people hope was a fleeting thing, but true hope looks beyond trouble and oppression to a future time when praise will replace grief. Such language also can express the fuller revelation of heaven and the endless praises made possible there. These people didn’t need another wood or stone representation to worship, they needed God, regardless of where they were, that they could instinctively turn to, whenever they were faced with spiritual issues.

Beloved, I submit to you that the true feeling of abandonment by the believer was also the moment of faith, as they confess the closeness of God, the kinship between Creator and creature, and the assurance that God would save again and I believe this to be true today, more than ever before.

Yesterday, Bob Moody (in our Brotherhood of St. Andrews weekly meeting) talked about being in Japan while in the service and took a hike up to Mt. Fuji, and that it was a place where churches were located inside the mouth of the volcano. This gives new meaning to faith, I’m sure. In the Old Testament days, many mountains were places for worshiping. The mountains are not holy of themselves. God is holy. Other persons or objects may acquire holiness by virtue of being in relationship with God. The very name of God in Greek is Abba, kind of like calling God, Daddy!

Our Lesson from Galatians is a favorite of mine and very descriptive of our relationship with Him. Much of the Old Testament is a historical depiction of the peoples relationship with God, and learning to be obedient to Him. The laws were to help us atone for our sins, and keep us out of trouble with God. It became very legalistic and at times the priests had to explain them and if they could not explain actions that had taken place within the laws, they made up one that would work. It was cold and sometimes harsh, but it was the part maturing of a people that was attempting to lead them from sin natures to spiritual ones. It was taking down the barriers between God and His people and creating an atmosphere religious awareness of who they are. They are God’s people and like today as we gather in church, we become the community of God. All of us who claim to be Christians realize that we are unified in God and the barriers that used to separate us lose the strength that they used to have. We all have access to God equally, because we have, through our baptism of faith become brothers and sisters in Christ and are therefore now sons and daughters of God.

So though we once had sinful natures, we now become humans with a Christian nature. This does not mean all of the barriers simply go away, it means that we now recognize God as our Creator and the Lord Jesus Christ as His Son and our brother; seeking to work against barriers that separated us. We are adopted sons and daughters of Almighty God, a Father who seeks to be in an intimate relationship with His children, all of us.

Our Gospel this morning from Luke Jesus and His disciples are sailing towards the region of the Gerasenes, across the lake from Galilee. A man who was demon-possessed; he had not worn clothes for a long time and had been kept chained up as not to hurt anyone. Upon seeing Jesus he cried out, “Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places. Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “Legion,” because many demons had gone into him. And they begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. Instead Jesus used God’s power and the demons begged Jesus to let them go out of the man and into a heard of pigs feeding there on a hillside and the herd rushed down a steep bank into the lake and were drowned. Word spread quickly and the people from the area came to Jesus and saw the man who had been possessed, wearing clothes and sitting at Jesus’ feet, in his right mind. The people saw all of this and asked Jesus to leave, as they were filled with fear, so Jesus went to the boat, and the man asked to go with Jesus, but He told him to let people see how he had been cured. Jesus’ instruction were simple, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” And the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.

Earlier I told you I would expand on how I define a father. Some families do not have fathers, for a variety of reasons, and yet others step in to fulfill the duties. Sometimes it is a grandfather or Uncle that step forward to help out, as best as they can. I have two sons whom I love dearly, but Pat and I also have a dozen Godchildren. Like many others, I have coached many teams of boys and girls, as their weren’t enough volunteers to coach teams. I proudly consider them all my children and we treated them with love and discipline, some of which went on to greater things than sports. I have mentored children in high schools for years, like so many of you here today. As a Police Chaplain, I have come into contact with many children in terrible situations they had nothing to do with, but were hurt nonetheless. I have worked in maximum security prisons up to a few years ago, working again with young men and some not so old, who have done terrible things in their lives, but now rejoice and sing praises to God inside prison walls. I have work in hospice care both as a care giver and a chaplain. I have worked in hospital ministry, which involves working with the patients and their families.

I tell you these things, because a mentor I had before entering seminary, told me that I needed to know about as much as I could about all of these things, so that I could help congregations get out and work within our communities. It’s not important that I have done this work, it’s important that I can help others in our parish to do this work as well. Saint Richards is known for its community work, some of which I helped to start several years ago.

You might say why is this important and that’s a fair question. My answer is because we are Christians, and this is the work we are called to do for the greatest Father of all. In exchange, He wants to have a daily relationship with Him. He wants to share in our lives, in both the good and the bad days that we have. He is our Father, and for all He has blessed us with, we are His prized possessions. He loves us enough to not give us what we deserve, but instead, to give us more than we can imagine. So on this Father’s Day, have a walk with Him; talk with Him, and let Him know just how much you love Him too. Amen

Meditation

06/17/2022

I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.” (1st Corinthians 14:18-19)

In our lesson for Corinthians, we are talking about being clearly heard and understood. If you are a teacher of Romance languages , people in several languages can pick up the general idea of the subject matter, but if you are a teacher in church, general ideas are not good enough. You must be clear and yes, even slow down at times so that all understand exactly what is being said and in the context of the teaching. Christian teaching and learning are illuminated by the Holy Spirit, but they do not circumvent the mind. The substance of the Christian faith is intelligible, and the communication of the Christian faith must be rational. The study desk and the prayer closet are both essential both teaching and learning. Teaching is an attempt to communicate, not to display personal spiritual powers or gifts. Teachers serve learners’ needs rather than satisfy personal ego.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Precious Abba, let us always remember that what we tell people is only important for their conversion to following Christ, if they truly understand what it is we are telling them. Clarity is supreme when we are helping someone to build a foundation that is solid as rock, for it is built on a foundation of sand, it will gradually fall apart and so will their faith. Today we continue to pray for those who are suffering in body, mind, and/or spirit, with friends, family, for those we don’t know, especially the people in Ukraine, as they are fighting for their very lives and way of life. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

The Ten Commandments are not optional!”

KNOWING GOD:

So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, ‘Go over before the ark, of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among ou in the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:4-7)

Even a mound of stones used an an object lesson, can serve as an effective and aid to learning the lessons of faith. The stones taken from the bed of the Land of Promise became a powerful teaching tool for future generations. In every age, the people of Gd have tangible reminders . In every age, the people of God have tangible reminders of the Lord’s guidance and deliverance—-a country church house , a hospital where God’s healing mercy was experienced. Such memorials can provide vivid lessons in the providential work of a living Lord.

I AM:

He (Jesus) taught them many things by parables.’ Jesus knew the people and used parables to help them understand His teachings.’” (Mark 4:2)

Parables were powerful teaching tools in the hands of the master Teacher. The parables of Jesus are among the best known stories in the world. Most the people were farmers, growing crops for their families and to trade in the markets; some raised goat and sheep and other animals for the same reasons, and all were used in ritual sacrifices by the priests as tithes to the church, which supported both the priests and their families and gave them food to eat. Though the stories Jesus told were about everyday things, they pierced to the very heart of spiritual truths. As teachers, we need to use stories from everyday life to help others see the radical effects Christian faith should have in our lives.

2ND THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” (Luke 2-46)

Asking and answering, one of the most ancient educational methods in the world, played an important role in he religious instruction of first century Jewish boys. In the Temple scene, Jesus was not “grilling” His teachers, as some suppose, but was asking for information. Question asking should not be the exclusive prerogative of teachers; it is important for learners to raise questions, too!

Meditation

06/16/2022

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1st Peter 3:15)

Christians who expect to be effective witnesses for Christ in a largely secular world must speak with up-to-date knowledge backed by personal experience. A major purpose of the church’s educational function is to prepare and enable believers to articulate their faith wherever you happen to be. Your response should always be compassionate and easy to understand and never condescending at all.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Precious Abba, the lesson from 1st Peter is a good reminder for us all, that when we share out witness of faith in God through Christ Jesus, that it never should be too wordy or an opportunity to “talk down” to someone; rather, it should be seen as what it is, an opening to share your faith in a way that helps someone else make their decision to also follow Christ. Abba, this prayer is to help us to help others in a friendly and sincere manner, that they decide to accept Jesus as Lord. Give us the right words to say and the manner it should be delivered that it might be received in such a way, that this person/s should decide to accept Jesus into their lives. Today we continue to pray for those who are suffering in body, mind, and/or spirit, with friends, family, for those we don’t know, especially the people in Ukraine, as they are fighting for their very lives and way of life. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

If God never gives up on people, neither should we!”

KNOWING GOD:

Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach.” (Proverbs 22:17)

This is an educational discipline. The learner’s self-discipline is more important than externally imposed discipline. The presence of good teaching does not guarantee learning, for learning is an active process in which learners seek truth and apply themselves to the task. Indifference, self-sufficiency, or dullness of mind and heart can close our ears to words of wisdom. We do not acquire knowledge by sitting passively and waiting for it. We must search for it as though it were a hidden treasure, because in truth, that is what it is.

I AM:

He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise.” (Proverbs 15:31-33)

Here the biblical writer repeatedly emphasized the relationship between learning and the quality of “teachableness.” Just as children can learn from parental discipline, so can we learn from constructive criticism all through our lives, if we have the humility to accept corrective advice. Despite what some people think is being harsh, discipline gives your children essential tools that will contribute to their success in school and life as well.

2ND THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a wiling party to his death.” (Proverbs 19-18)

Parents can spare their children great later in life if they will correct and guide them in their young years. He Hebrew worth, “yasser” means both discipline or rebuke and teach or guide. Parental discipline should always be corrective in nature, never vindictive. Laissez-faire (“let them do as they choose”) parenthood can contribute to trouble and unhappiness in the lives of children, and sometimes even to their untimely deaths.

Meditation

06/15/2022

Then the king of Assyria gave this order, ‘Have one of the priests you took captive from Samaria go back to live there and teach the people what the god of the land requires. So one of he priests who ha been exiled from Samaria came to live in Bethel and taught them how to worship the Lord.” (2nd Kings 17:27-28)

Here we have a pagan king showing unusual insight when he recognized that the foreign colony living in Samaria needed to live in accordance with the will of the God of Israel. The law of God provides a basis for a stable and durable social order. Where love, justice, honesty, and reverence are woven into the fabric of society through the teaching of God’s Word, the people will know how to live in right relationships with God and one another. On the other hand, widespread ignorance of the will of God provides a fertile seedbed for injustice, crime and social chaos.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Precious Abba, we see that the king of Assyria had sent people from a variety of areas to resettle in Samaria and yet discipline was lacks, and so he sent lions who attacked these people, but when reports came out, he resorted to sending a priest to Samaria, to teach the people how to worship God. Abba, we know you used pagan kings to further your kingdom on earth, and in this case, the priest was effective in teaching how to worship You. Today we continue to pray for those who are suffering in body, mind, and/or spirit, with friends, family, for those we don’t know, especially the people in Ukraine, as they are fighting for their very lives and way of life. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

What man creates feeds our desires. What God creates feeds our needs.”

KNOWING GOD:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—-his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

The key to living a transformed life is cultivating a renewed mind. The Christian who is too lazy mentally to drink deeply from God’s revealed Word or to think courageously about the meaning of personal faith will tend to be shaped by institutionalized values and socially acceptable modes of thought. The teacher may become the lazy person’s god. The teacher mus remain an instrument through whom God can work to challenge learners to think, question, and change. The Christian must find God’s will personally and individually. No teacher can find God’s will for me. Spiritual transformation through learning is a continuing process, not a once-for-all accomplishment.

I AM:

My son keep my words and store up my commands within you. Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as am apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; written on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’ and call understanding your kinsman; they will keep you from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words.” (Proverbs 7:1-5)

Instruction in the Word of God and a serious commitment to live by it provide a safeguard against moral lapses. This truth, a recurrent theme in Old Testament wisdom writing (Psalm 119:9-11; Proverbs 5:1-14), and also appears in the New Testament (2nd Timothy 2:16).

2ND THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance; that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” (1st Corinthians 15-3)

Like a flaming Olympic torch passed from one runner to another, the gospel tradition had been passed from faithful believers to Paul. Through careful instruction, he communicated that message to his children in the faith. Each generation of Christians must raise up faithful teachers who will pass the torch to the next generation of believers. The faith is always one generation away from oblivion. The church depends on dedicated teachers for its continued existence.

So, there it is in black and white, the church will not exist, if a generation does not take the torch from the previous generation and continue the tradition. I have read a myriad of stories claiming the decline in Christianity, yet when tragedy occurs, the outpouring of prayers and people standing up for what is right according to the Word of God goes up. There are a lot more Christians in the world than most believe, but in fact the numbers do no lie. Some come from repressed socialist and communist dictatorships, who hunger for God’s Word and others come from new believers coming forth in their belief. Where do you stand? I’d say there are many people searching that have not committed themselves as yet. You???

Meditation

06/14/2022

And he said to man, ‘The fear of the Lord—-that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.’” (Job 28:28)

Beloved. Wisdom is more than accumulation of information or training in logical thinking. True wisdom is inseparable from knowledge of God, for He is Truth in its ultimate form. Genuine education goes back to the basic sources of knowledge, and the Lord is the fundamental source of all knowledge and wisdom. True wisdom produces a moral life not just an admired mind.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Precious Abba, in this reading from Job, we have taken that which for some would be an oracle consisting of hours, days, months, maybe even years. However, in the context of education, as it is presented in God’s Word, this subject we call education as it pertains to wisdom, is taken from the concept of creation from the very beginning, when God thought it was necessary to teach His creation what true wisdom is. We cannot separate God from the subject matter, for He created everything in this universe along with this little blue orb that we call earth. God is Truth. Abba, You desire for us to know Truth and gain wisdom, but to do so we must first know You. You are our example of truth and wisdom and moral living, so we ask you once again, to walk with us and talk with us, and let us know You as we had not come to know you yet, but desire to know all about You. Today we continue to pray for those who are suffering in body, mind, and/or spirit, with friends, family, for those we don’t know, especially the people in Ukraine, as they are fighting for their very lives and way of life. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

What man creates feeds our desires. What God creates feeds our needs.”

KNOWING GOD:

Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him.” (2nd Kings 12:2)

Here we have a teacher-priest that dramatically influenced an Israelite ruler. So long as the priest Jehoiada instructed him in the way of the Lord, King Joash remained in God’s will. After the death of his teacher, Joash became very wicked. Kings and peasants alike need the corrective influence of godly teaching in their lives. I have worked in prisons with hardened criminals and seen the result of negative influences from family members, friends, teachers, etc. and what that does to people. That gives them no excuse for what they have done, though it certainly contributed to their fall in our society. I’m seen good Christian men working side by side with me, help to change those men into something more positive than anyone would ever think could happen. Does that help them get out of prison? No, but it does help them to know who they should be safe with; who they can talk to about their walk with Christ; where they can improve themselves to make themselves better men. Our society likes to label people, but in truth, it only segregates those with negative labels to congregate with those who are similar to themselves. We must move past labels and towards the problems with families torn apart with single or no parents; kids that we know need a helping hand or a kind word. We don’t have a lot of people seeking to help work on solutions, they just seem to want to tear down things that have been honored by God since creation began. King Joash lost his mentor and in so doing, he fell under Satan’s ways. It is time to stand up as communities and say, “What can I do to help out,” and then do it.

I AM:

Blessed is the man who find wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long live is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed.” (Proverbs 3:13-18)

True wisdom promotes health, well-being, and happiness. Many of the problems that plague human existence spring from poor judgment, foolish choices, and confused values. God-given wisdom helps us avoid these pitfalls and heightens the quality of lives for everyone. This type of influences will most certainly make a difference in your life, but if you do not put them to use, it is a waste of time.

As the phrase in Proverbs tells us, “She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed.” We have opportunities every day of our lives, to enrich someone else’s day by just greeting them with a smile and comment on what a great day it is; maybe we see a neighbor struggling to dig a whole to plant a tree and we go and help them; maybe we see sorrow in someone’s eyes and we just reach out and tell them you’ll pray with them about whatever is bothering them; or see a child with a broken bike or tricycle and you help them fix it. It is in doing things for others, that we receive the biggest blessing and it helps us to continue to look for the opportunity’s, as they are all around us.

2ND THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

Keep a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (2nd Peter 3-16)

This is not necessarily about someone saying something about you, where you sue them and get money! This is one of those verses that you remember when a friend says “so and so” was telling me you about not taking good care of your home or your parents or, well you fill in the blank. If you are living you life as best as you can, doing good things for others, and generally having a pretty decent day. Then someone who really knows you will not listen to those who do not really know you! They are not using the wisdom God gave us when speaking of other people. They most often lay their own problems on others. If you real friends hear them, they will stand up for you, and in the process expose that gossiper for what they are, not a friend.

Beloved, it starts with the Lord first thing in the morning, thanking Him for another day to serve Him. It includes asking forgiveness for those things we may have done and forgotten about and also those we do remember, because that’s not who we truly are. We love the Lord and seek to serve Him however He calls us to, as best as we can, and many times without anyone even noticing what we have done. That’s because it is not about us, it is about our humbling ourselves before Him and meaning it when we say we won’t do it again. It is primarily about our sharing our lives with Him and learning to be more like He wants us to be. When you live your life for Him, you don’t have a problem with conscience, you are busy serving Him.