You are at war. I know, you probably didn't have to swerve to miss any IED's on the road today, and I'm sure you weren't dodging any heat-seeking missiles when you went to get the paper. Nevertheless, you are at war. That's the way God's Word describes your life here on this earth: War.
Have you ever had that feeling like you're spinning your wheels? Does it ever seem like you work work and work and don't seem to get anywhere? You know you make as much as a bunch of people, but it just doesn't seem like you can ever get ahead? God's Word for us today in Haggai 1 explains why that happens.
"Be joyful always." That's what the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to tell us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16. Now, if you're looking for a verse of the Bible to memorize, that is one of the easiest, right alongside the classic "Jesus wept." Actually, did you know there is a shorter verse in the NIV translation? Job 3:2 is just "He said." But I digress. I was saying that "Be joyful always" is a real easy thing to say, and almost as easy to memorize… but how hard is it to do?
Our church's construction project has hit a little delay. We're still waiting for approval from the Department of Transportation. So, I asked the contractor who's trying to work through all this what I could do to help. I was thinking he might tell me to make a phone call or supply some documents. His answer? Pray.
Are you busy? You know that question precedes someone asking for a moment of your time, right? You know that it might come off as rude to say "yes" and then walk away, even if you are busy. But you are busy, aren't you? Doesn't it always seem that there are more things to do than time, money, and energy to do them? Are there things you don't get to because your life is so hectic? My guess is "yes."
Tomorrow, I'll be conducting a funeral of a man not yet 50 years old. So, needless to say, there are a bunch of people asking a bunch of questions. Have you ever been in that situation? Have you ever asked God "Why?" And maybe it isn't even about a death. Maybe you've tried to figure out why you lost a job, or why your child rebelled, or why your health failed, or why whatever else happened in your life that you would not have picked for yourself.
You know the saying: "Freedom is not free." As we prepare to celebrate the 4th of July this weekend, it's important to appreciate that. Think of how much so many have given so that you could be reading this in peace. Think of the lives given so that we can be so comfortable in our security that seeing things exploding in the sky this weekend will not be scary.
Here's a quandary for you. When you see a building going up - who gets the credit? Is it the contractor, the supplier, the fund-raiser? Or what about the architect, or the laborers? I know that a whole bunch of people will be at least partially taking credit for my church's new building. The contractor and the stone supplier and the stained glass guy have already asked for pictures to use in their advertising. I'm sure the architect will have our picture up in his office soon, and I'm sure that, before long, the foundation that gave ...
"The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord look on you with favor and give you peace." For 25 centuries, believers have been holding God to these promises that he gave us to use as we bless each other. But what exactly are these words saying?
If you've been in church recently and made it until the end of the service, chances are you've heard the words of the section of Scripture we're looking at today - Numbers 6:22-27. I know - there are a ton of differences in worship styles between all sorts of different kinds of churches, but this is one place where there isn't all that much difference.
She was a lucky lady. Of all the funerals going on that day, it was her son's that Jesus happened to meet on the road. Talk about good fortune. But her good fortune had started even before Jesus showed up. This story is recorded in Luke 7:11-17. The widow was getting ready to bury her son when Jesus happened upon the funeral procession and raised the young man. She's the one I'm calling lucky. You see, her child had died.
Let me explain why I'm calling that good. If you've ever seen the fans ...
"My faith looks up to thee." That's a classic line from a great hymn, and it's a great sentiment. Too bad, all too often it's a lie. As much as we might say it and pretend like it is true - all too often, our sinful pride gets our faith to look in to me instead of up to thee.
The World Cup is coming. It's possible you might not have noticed it here yet. The first games are still a week away and the US National Team doesn't play until next Saturday, but in some parts of the world... Wow! It is already consuming headlines. It's such a media buzz that, in those places, if you weren't aware of it, you were probably in a coma.
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." Jesus said that. He said it on a day we call Maundy Thursday. He said that the day he handed himself over to the Jewish and Roman authorities. He said that the day before he died on that cross… for us. "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
We'd have to agree, huh? There's nothing more one could give, right? I think of those soldiers willing to do just that, and I stop ...
Our church, Abiding Grace, is in a building project. Last night, we had one of the coolest opportunities of the whole planning process. We got to meet with the artist who is creating our stained glass windows. That was fun - picturing how it will all look - anticipating how these windows will be communicating to all who see them something special - something about God and his grace for them.
Now, before you read on, ask yourself what image you would put in the front and center window. What would you consider to be the most important thing to communicate with those ...