Sermons/Devotions

God’s Word: a Judge of Ideas

 Apr 6 - Sword

the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is a judge of the ideas and thoughts of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12

If God’s Word is a Sword, then I just noticed something … WORD and sWORD are spelled almost alike!

For that matter, so are WORD and WORLD. In fact, twenty years ago, I did a sermon advising people to get the “L” out of their life. (It sounded like I was saying, “get the hell out of your life” … which would have worked too.) I suppose that here we could say that if want more peace than a sword, we need the word and not the “S” (the “mess”).

That just occurred to me. But that’s not the main point for today. It’s a Wednesday as I write this. I’m getting ready to head into a Truth Project class. We’re seeking to learn God’s plan for living … in a world that’s lied to us, confused us, and continually led us astray. How do we reorient ourselves? This verse is clear: By God’s Word.

  • God’s Words are not a dead reflections from millenniums ago; they are continually “living and active.”
  • Like a surgeon’s scalpel, they may cut – dividing soul from spirit, joints from marrow, and truths from the lies that we keep telling ourselves – but without surgery, sometimes, we don’t heal, and that cutting scalpel of the Word is often the only thing that brings peace.
  • And yes, as I get ready to walk into our Truth Project class, I confess that in the midst of a culture of lies and confusion, I need (we need) “a judge of the ideas and thoughts of the heart.” We need God’s Word to cut through the darkness and illumine our hearts.

In Christ’s Love,

a guy who prays,

Lord, create in me

a greater hunger

for your Word

 

Invest in Those Younger

 Apr 5 - Keep these Words

Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. – Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Quick: Name the people younger than you that you are investing in and sharing faith with?

For some of us, it’s our children (or grandchildren). We keep the words alive and the faith alive by continually telling our children about God and reading Bible Stories (rather straight from the Scripture or even in a picture Bible Story book).

And that’s exactly what God intended!

That’s what this passage is about.

But pieces of our leadership team saw some Union County statistics recently. In a five mile circle around Waxhaw, only 9% of households attend church. That implies that approximately 9% of kids are being nurtured in a Christian home. Hence the question: Who are the people younger than you that you are investing in and sharing faith with?

In Christ’s Love,

a guy who is more

and more passionate

about reaching those

younger than himself

… often young parents

who will reach their

own kids

 

 

 

 

Pirates and True Treasure

Apr 4 - True Treasure

I have treasured your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you. – Psalm 119:11

Two key words grab me: “treasure” and “sin.”

How many of you grew up watching pirate movies. Usually there’s “treasure.” And always there’s “sin” – someone is always scheming, scamming, lying, cheating, and even killing to get the treasure for themselves.

Scripture, however, tells us not to be pirates! Indeed, Psalm 119 reminds us that there is a “treasure” that keeps us from “sin.” That treasure is “[God’s] word.”

And if there was a pirate’s map, an “X” wouldn’t mark the spot. A “heart” would mark the spot. We would seek this treasure with all our heart, be saved from the pain of sin, and finally live the life God intended.

In Christ’s Love,

a guy who used to

seek treasure and

have a black beard

… now I have a

gray beard and

know the true

treasures

 

 

Meditation: Day and Night

 Apr 3 - Day and Night

This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. – Joshua 1:8

If I could choose to transport into any moment in history – especially any moment in Bible history – I would have liked to be there on the Road to Emmaus.

The Scene: It was Easter Sunday afternoon. The disciples factually know that Jesus was crucified. He died and was buried. Their hearts were broken. Now there’s a rumor – unconfirmed, too astonishing to be true – that maybe, maybe, he’s risen. It’s a strange mix of emotions as they walk along. Deep sadness. A sense of betrayal – they thought Jesus was going to be the conquering king, not a dead man. Gnawing confusion. A crazy hope that you dare not believe.

Suddenly, up comes a stranger. “What are you talking about?” “Are you the only one in Jerusalem that hasn’t heard.” They’re focusing on the crucifixion. Then the strange (who they don’t recognize yet as Jesus) essentially calls them slow of mind and heart. And then he proceeds to warm their hearts with the most remarkable story in history!

Jesus starts to connect the dots. Beginning with Genesis, he retells the entire Old Testament, laying out every place where God foretold the life, death, resurrection, sacrifice, and redemption that would come through the Messiah.

As I teacher … I wish I could have been there. In fact, as I go along in ministry, I keep finding out new connections that I hadn’t known.

When those disciples finally recognized that this was the resurrected Jesus (and when he suddenly disappeared), they asked in amazement, “Were not our hearts burning within us?!”

That’s “the book of the law” (… and the prophets … and the Gospels) that we are supposed to “meditate on … day and night.” It’s all there. It’s all been revealed. But if you want your heart to be warmed, your life to be inspired, and “your way [to be] prosperous,” the thrill is meditating on God’s word and uncovering all the blessings and wonders that God has in store.

In Christ’s Love,

a guy who wants

to be continually

on that road

listening to Jesus

Dust on the Bible

 Apr 2 - Dust

All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness – 2 Timothy 3:16

One of the first country songs I ever really listened to was a mid-90s hit, Dust on the Bottle. Talking about fine, old wine, David Lee Murphy sings, “There might be a little dust on the bottle / But don’t let it fool ya about what’s inside.”

Now, I’m not always a big lyrics listener. I can usually hum the refrain, but don’t always pay attention to the story. Therefore, out of context, what I heard in my head was Murphy singing: There might be a little dust on the BIBLE / But don’t let it fool ya about what’s inside”!

Dust on the Bible?! I have a question …

Have you ever wished you could hear from God?

I suspect we all wish that occasionally a voice would whisper from heaven, saying, “Take the job,” “Don’t marry the guy,” “Turn right … now.”

Indeed, have you ever wished you could hear from God? Well, God does speak. All the time. His Words are probably on your bookshelf. Hopefully not gathering dust.

The real key to valuing the Word of God is entrusting that it really is the Word of God … and not just a godly word from some godly old men from some bygone era. The real key to valuing the Word of God is believing – as today’s verse says – that “all scripture is inspired by God” and “profitable” to me, you, and our world still today.

In Christ’s Love,

a guy who dusted off

an old Bible recently

and is enjoying spending

more time with

an old friend

Christ Is Risen!

Apr 1 - Easter

1 Corinthians 15:13-20 – If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. … But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.

The Apostle Paul (who wrote this verse) staked his life — not on a wish or a possiblity — but on an absolute fact that he’d witnessed. “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead”!

Peter, James, Philip, Nathania07l, Matthew, Thomas, and the rest went to their death as martyrs — not because of a wish or a possiblity — but because of an absolute fact that they’d seen with their eyes and touched with their hands. “In fact Christ has been raised from the dead”!

When we believe their testimony, our “faith [is] not in vain.” Rather, we’re staking our lives — not on a wish or a possiblity — but on the absolute fact that these tax collectors and fisherman spent their lives proclaim. “Christ has been raised from the dead”!

Christ is Risen!

Alleluia!

 

Forgiven

Guest Writer: Victoria Ladd

Mar 30 Cancelled Debt

Colossians 2:14 – By canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

In the letter of Colossians, Paul emphasizes the importance of God in our everyday lives. Specifically, in chapter 2, we are to be true to our faith in God and that by putting our trust in him; we will be forgiven of our debts or sins against us now and forever.

Upon my first read of the verse, I immediately thought of when I spent part of a summer at Lutheridge, which was a part of the Journey to Adulthood (J2A) class to become confirmed into the congregation. One day, we were all given slips of paper where everyone wrote down a debt or sin that was burdening us (a weight on our chest). At this time in my life, it could be anything from failing a test in school to having gotten into an argument with a friend or family member. Later on, we folded our slips and they were put onto a line of wooden crosses on the table. One of the pastors then lit the crosses and we all saw the slips burn and the crosses spelled out the word “forgiven”.

I still look back on that moment to this day. I know in my life, I’ve veered off course in my faith and have fallen to the burdens of everyday things. But in being true to my faith and turning my heart to God, I’ve seen the power of God’s everlasting love and forgiveness in cleansing me of my debts and I truly am thankful for God’s mercy and grace on me.

In Christ’s Love,
A Thankful Servant
To God’s Amazing Grace
Victoria Ladd