Old Man Winter and Jack Frost made a stop over in the hometown of Oakman, Alabama on Wednesday. I love the way a good 2-3″ snow covers the grass and the walkways hiding their imperfections. I love the peacefulness of new fallen and early morning snow. Driving to Tuscaloosa this morning, I loved the snow covered fields and the snow laden trees with their branches hanging low over the path. There is a beautiful calmness associated with a light snow. (For those in the frozen tundra called the Mid-Western and North Eastern United States, I know it is no longer beautiful, but give this Southerner a break. We don’t get snow like this all the time and it melts away by the next day.)
As I took in the beauty of the snow as it was falling and laying down a fresh white blanket, I could not help but think of the following passages of Scripture:
- “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Psa 51:7). David pens these words after realizing the magnitude of his sin. He is pleading with God for forgiveness.
- “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; thought they are read like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isa 1:18). Ah, the beauty of the forgiveness of sin.
Like David in the psalm or the people of Judah to whom Isaiah prophesied, we have the stain of sin in our lives and on our hearts. There is nothing, NO-THING, you and I can do about it on our own. I cannot do enough good deeds to outweigh my sinfulness. The balance always tips toward sinner and away from perfection. But thanks be to God for His Grace through Christ. I join with the Paul and shout, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! . . .” (Rom 7:24-25).
Will you allow God to wash you whiter than snow?
What makes you happy? When are you feeling your best?
We live in a world that looks for happiness. Even the Founding Fathers of the United States include the pursuit of happiness as one of mankind’s inalienable rights. (Note that to pursue happiness is a right, not happiness.) According to these men, this right is from our Creator. Maybe that is why I hear many people defending their lifestyle and worship style choices by saying “God wants me to be happy.” Does He? Does God want me to be happy?
I did a quick search of the English Standard Version via E-Sword for the phrase “be happy.” The search yielded only one reference, “When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be liable for any other public duty. He shall be free at home one year to be happy with his wife whom he has taken.” (Deuteronomy 24:5) There is not much there stating that God wants you and me to be happy, instead this verse tells us about the importance of focusing on our marriages.
Just for the sake of comparison, I searched the phrase “be holy.” The search yielded 156 verses with a combination of those words and 32 matches for the exact phrase. Consider this selection as an example of the results, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16).
Maybe, A pparently, Obviously God wants us to be holy.
With all that said, let me share with you a small piece of wisdom about holiness: When I am pursuing holiness, I find much happiness. Holiness is key to happiness. If you want to be happy then:
- Trust God, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psa 23:4
- Be content with God’s blessings, “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” 1Ti 6:6-8.
- Live in the moment with God, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Mat 6:34.
- Set a goal of holiness, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Col 3:1-2.
Be Holy to be Happy, walk in the steps of the Lord. “I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.” Jer 10:23.
Yesterday’s sermon was from the chronological reading we are doing as a congregation at Central. There were three main lessons that we learned from Nadab and Abihu and their offering in Leviticus 10. Here are those three lessons.
Lesson One: The Worship of God
- Approach God in Worship Doing only what He Commands.
- This regards God as holy and honored.
- We are presumptuous if we think we know what God wants.
- The Regulative Principle of Worship: 1689 London Baptist Confession:
“But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God, is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures.”
- This principle apply to our singing, the Lord’s Supper, and all of worship.
Lesson Two: Approach God with Respect
- Not only respect His commands (wishes, desires)
- But also with Reverence: Lev 10:3
- Consideration for Who God is:
- We cannot approach God flippantly.
- Respect impacts my
- Attitude toward and in worship
- Attendance and Attention in worship
- Activity in worship
Lesson Three: The Priority of God in my Life
- Mat 6:33
- Mat 10:34-39
- Col 3:1-4
- God and His Will come first!
If you would like to hear the audio file of this lesson it is available HERE: Look for the title “Lessons from Nadab and Abihu”
From deep in the files comes this type writer copy of a poem of unknown origin (I did make some updates for inflation and current culture):
- Funny how twenty dollars looks so big when we take it to church; But so small when we take it to the store
- Funny how long a 60 minutes is when we are at worship; But how short when watching a game, on the computer, or out with friends.
- Funny how laborious it is to read a chapter in the Bible; But how easy it is to read 200 pages of a best selling novel.
- Funny how we cannot think of anything to say when we pray; But do not have any difficulty gossiping about others.
- Funny how we believe everything on social media; But question God’s Word, the Bible.
- Funny how we thrill at overtime at a football or basketball game; But complain when worship extends a few minutes.
- Funny how we need 2 or 3 weeks to fit a church event into our schedule; But have no problem adjusting for other social events at the last minute.
- Funny how people scramble to get a front row seat at a concert; But scramble for the back row in worship.
- Funny, isn’t it? Or is it really funny at all?
I recently had another birthday and that makes me older that many and younger than others. I am old enough that this summer my high school graduating class will
Let’s look into this . . .
hold our 30 Year Reunion. Time truly does fly by. Sometimes I feel like the psalmist, “I have been young, and now I am old . . .” (Psa 37:25). But my years provide me with advantages of experiences and those experiences brought about lessons. Lessons not only from my own experiences but also the experiences of others. Lessons I learned and want to take time to share with you.
- I cannot make someone love me. All I can do is try to be someone who is not difficult to love.
- What we have in life is not as important as who we have in your life.
- We are each responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.
- Heroes are those that do what has to be done, without regard for how they feel or the consequences.
- Trust builds through the years, but a single second or two can destroy trust.
- A few minutes of mistaken actions can provide a lifetime of heartache.
- We are each in control of our own attitude. We can choose our attitude!
- No matter how good a friend is, we are going to hurt each other on occasions. Forgiveness is essential to life-long friendships (and marriages).
- Along those lines, forgiving others is often easier than forgiving myself.
- Maturity has more to do with attitude, dependability, and being responsible for your life than how many candles were on my last cake.
Yesterday I celebrated Presidents’ Day by preparing my tax return for the IRS. Without going into too much detail about my finances, the following formula seems an accurate description of taxes. After reading it you might be able to guess how I feel about our current tax code and the taxes you and I pay in this country.
1. What did you make this year ________________________
2. Enter amount on line 1. ____________________________
3. Enter amount on line 2, _____________________ (this is what you owe).
With al that said, what I really want us to consider today is what we give God. As I reflect on the topic taxes and giving I am reminded that we can and should give so much more to God that what is in our wallets. I categorize what we owe God into three areas:
1) Finances. This is the easiest and most talked about area of our giving. We cannot ignore the simple fact that God’s business on earth requires money. It takes a fiscal budget to succeed in evangelism, to be benevolent, and to edify the church.
2) Abilities. We are to use our gifts to minister to each other and to God (1 Pet 4:10). How are we using our talents for God?
3) Time. We are blessed each day with a merciful new morning (Lam 3:22-23). I need to use the opportunities that I have to serve God and to lead others toward Him through Christ (Col 4:5; Eph 5;15-17).
Take the first letter of each of these points (Finances, Ability, Time) and you have FAT. I don’t know about you, but I am willing to lose some FAT for the Lord.
Filed under giving, sharing
On Social media, today is Throw Back Thursday, so I thought I would go to the hard copy files (a real filing cabinet, with hanging folders) to the thick files labeled, “Miscellaneous Bulletin Articles” and pull one for the blog.
What If . . . ?
- What if God couldn’t find the time to bless us today because we could not find the time to thank Him yesterday?
- What if God decided to stop leading us tomorrow because we did not follow Him today?
- What if God did not walk with us today because we failed to recognize it as a day He made?
- What if we never saw another flower bloom because we grumbled when God sent rain?
- What if God stopped loving and caring for us because we failed to love and care for each other?
- What if God took away His Word tomorrow because we did not read it today?
- What if God had not send His Son because He wanted us to be prepared to pay the price for our own sin?
- What if God would refuse to hear us today because we refused to listen to His Word yesterday?
- What if God answered our prayers the way we answer His call to service?
- What if God met our needs the way we give Him our lives?
- What if . . .