When You Worship - Thankfulness

We have a lot to be thankful for. On any given day we interact with blessings, physical and spiritual, that others can only dream about. Consider all that you have to be thankful for: family, friends, job, home, food, clothing, vacations, entertainment, hunting, sporting, and books are a just a few physical blessings. The list of what we have to be thankful for increases dramatically when we consider things like grace, mercy, salvation, worship, Christians, joy, and every other spiritual blessing we have received. In worship we have the privilege of coming to the One who has provided these good things to us. James reminds us that "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming

Comparing Ourselves to God

Today's reading (Ex. 6:28-7:13) shows us just how obstinate Pharaoh is going to be about letting the Israelites go to the Promised Land. In a show of God's power Aaron throws down his staff, which then turns into a serpent, to show Pharaoh just how powerful God is. In response, Pharaoh has his wise men and magicians throw down their staffs and do the same. With multiple snakes now on the ground, Aaron's breaks the stalemate by eating the other snakes. Instead of being awestruck Pharaoh thought that anything the Israelite God could do, he could do better. Ultimately, Pharaoh was shown that anytime we compare ourselves to God, we end up coming up short. These comparisons with God still happen

You Can't Stop God

This past Sunday, a church member came up to me to ask me about becoming a teacher, even though he wasn't very experienced or comfortable with the idea of teaching. His reasoning? The topic of teaching had come up several times to him the past few months and he didn't want to close a door that God was trying to open. In our reading today (Exodus 6:1-13) we read of Israel at the beginning stages of her Exodus from Egypt. After years of slave labor, it was time for Israel to be delivered to from their bondage and taken to a new land God had prepared for them where they could be free. The only problem? Egypt was strong and there was no way they'd let their slave labor pack up and leave town fre

When You Worship - Kiss

The word "worship" carries with it a very strange definition. For the Greek worshiper, worship meant "to kiss the hand" or "crouch before" another. Worship is a time of paying homage and respect to another (i.e. kissing the ring of the king). It is an acknowledgment that we are lesser and coming before a superior. In Christian worship we come before the Superior. The Almighty, the Creator, the Savior is the object of our affection. When we worship we come, not before some domineering authoritarian, but a loving God deserving of the utmost respect. When you worship this week, remember who it is you are worshiping. The One True God, the One who saves you stands before you. Remember His sacrifi

What We Leave Behind

At the end of the book of Genesis (49-50) we are given record of the deaths of two individuals who are both a large part of the Genesis narrative and significant figures in the history of Israel. Try to run from it as we might, death is a reality that all of us has to face at sometime. Knowing this it's important that we think about what is left behind when someone passes. When someone dies they leave behind families, friends, pain, hurt, and longing. Christians who pass away leave behind even more. They leave behind a strong spiritual example, biblical wisdom and understanding, life lessons, fond memories, and a legacy of faithfulness. Loss is not easy, but it helps to know it is not final.

When You Worship - Be Joyful

There are a lot of things in life to be worried about. Concerns about car repairs, bills, health problems, and children can overtake our minds and keep us from seeing God’s gifts in the day to day. Fortunately, as Christians we have a lot to be joyful about. That is to say that even in distressing circumstances, we can find relief in the presence and blessings of God. To the joy-drained Philippians, Paul encouraged them to reclaim their joy by changing their frame of mind writing: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, thi

His Will Be Done

From the fall at the Garden of Eden onward we are given glimpses of the Messiah to come, the Savior of the world, the One who will free us, Jesus. The Old Testament chronicles the unfolding of God's plan to rescue through Jesus His Son. Perhaps the most amazing part of this unfolding are the sheer number of people, either neutral or enemies of God, that end up advancing God's plan further and further along. The Pharaoh (Gen. 41:1-36) of Egypt in Joseph's time and the Pharaoh many years later that will push Israel out of Egypt (see Exodus 7 onward) both serve as great examples of this. The point being made is this: no matter what, what God wills to be done will be done. That's not to say that

Jesus Holds Your Hand

Yesterday, we talked about our plans, how they fall apart, and why that's okay. We watched as Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, the first of several unfortunate events that would befall him. After being sold into slavery, Joseph will find himself accused of attempted rape (Gen. 39) and thrown in jail (Gen. 40). Throughout every poor circumstance, the Lord is said to be with Joseph (Gen. 39:2, 3, 21, 23). In the midst of difficult times it gets easy to forget the presence of God. Despite our condemning of it, we still carry with us the mentality of Job's friends namely that if things are going wrong, God must not be with us. This mentality disregards the freewill actions of others

Life According to God's Plan

We ask children (and sometimes child-like adults) "what do you want to be when you grow up?" Answers like "an astronaut," "a firefighter," and "the president," (as well as the occasional "I want to be a dog/cat") are common. As we get older though our plans and dreams change, we still continue to plan and dream anyway. Joseph was a man with a plan, or at least a dream. In Genesis 37 we read about two dreams Joseph was given by God. In both, the interpretation was clear, one day Joseph's family would bow down to him. Enraged at this idea, and by the favoritism that had already been shown to him by their father, Joseph's brothers take him and sell him off into slavery never to be seen again...

Five Minutes with God | Day 14

Just a few days ago we read about God's promise to all mankind, that He'd never flood the world with water again. That was chapter 9 of Genesis. 20 chapters later we are shown that while God can always be trusted, man cannot. After working 7 years for the hand of Laban's youngest daughter Rachel, Laban deceives Jacob by giving him Leah instead (Gen. 29:1-30). Hurt by the betrayal, Jacob agrees to work another 7 years if Rachel is given to him as a wife as well. As previously mentioned, this account in Genesis 29 stands in stark contrast to the account of God's covenant in Genesis 9 and serves to remind us that while God does what He does for the betterment of others, man often does what he d

When You Worship - Focus

Look at your calendar and you will likely find that you have little time to do much more of anything. There are sporting events, church activities, school plays, vacations, weekend trips, family outings, Bible classes, and birthday parties. It’s no wonder that we have so much trouble taking a moment to slow down and focus. Throughout the New Testament we are constantly reminded to maintain our focus on things above (Col. 3:2; Mt. 6:33). Unfortunately, in our constantly-moving culture, this is often easier read than done. However difficult it may be, that doesn’t make it any less important to our Christian life. Over the next few weeks we are going to spend time in the bulletin talking about

Five Minutes with God | Day 10

When life starts falling apart around you, what is your first response? Think about that question for a moment. What do you do when everything starts to go wrong? In today's reading (Gen. 17:1-27) we are shown Abraham's reaction when life suddenly throws a curve-ball his way. Abraham is told that Sarah at 90 years old will bear him a child and Abraham laughs as if God just told him the most hysterical joke. Ultimately God is obeyed and He delivers on His promise to Abraham, but that doesn't change the initial reaction of Abraham on hearing this news. If we're honest, our reactions are often similar. In the face of God's plans we sometimes laugh or scoff. We create flaws or make excuses as to

Five Minutes with God | Day 9

When you first learn about faith as a Christian it is presented merely as the trust God desires for His people to have. What you typically aren't told, is that faith is terrifying. Faith requires a certain degree of ignorance. There will be parts of your faith journey that you simply do not understand, and that is scary. As a result, faith also requires a degree of humility. You can't trust that God will take care of you in the unknown if you have too high a view of yourself. In this sense, faith is not only terrifying, but also difficult. In our reading today (Gen. 12:1-9), we see Abraham embark on the difficult and terrifying journey of leaving behind everything he's ever known, his extend

Five Minutes with God | Day 7

Before making a deal with someone as an adult you read the terms of service and/or write down who will receive what once you sign on the dotted line. As a child deal-making is much different. You didn't have to sign on the dotted line or read through a packet of paper but you did have to check to make sure there were no crossed fingers behind the other parties back (since crossed fingers meant they could back out of the deal without penalty). Of course, you could always take the agreement up to the highest level of commitment by invoking a "pinky promise." Today's reading (Gen. 9:1-17) reminds us of the rainbow and the special significance it holds between God and man. In this text, God prom

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