Mid-Week Devotion

11/28/17
My mid-week devotion this week comes courtesy of Christian author Ted Dekker.
Be Blessed  and be a blessing to others. Remember, God Loves You!  ~ Pastor Eric

Do me a favor and hit pause on all your busyness for a moment.
Do it right now. This won’t take long, I promise.
Here’s one story the devil doesn’t want you to read.
A spiritual teacher is walking with a small boy in the savannah one sunny afternoon. He uses a walking stick because his bones aren’t as strong as they once were.
The child holds the old man’s free hand because in the boy’s eyes, the teacher is a giant and can save him from any danger.
The teacher has brought the boy to a field frequented by lions. Seeing a pride under a tree, the teacher stops and points to a lion who stands alone, watching them. He turns to the boy.
“Imagine that God is a strong lion, and the accuser, representing all of evil, is a hyena,” he says. “Tell me, can the hyena hurt the lion?”
“Yes,” the boy says. “He can chase him and with many others, take him down.”
“Well then, let’s make the lion bigger, because God is infinite. Let’s make him as big as the field. The hyena, being finite, does not grow bigger. It is still the same size. Now can the hyena hurt the lion?”
The boy thinks for a moment. “Yes, he could bite the lion’s foot,” he says.
“Then let’s make the lion bigger. As big as the whole savannah. Can the hyena now hurt the lion?”
The boy thinks hard for a long moment. “Well . . . Maybe . . .”
“Let’s make the lion as big as the whole world and the hyena now only a tiny speck on the field. In fact, let’s make the lion as big as all the worlds. As big as the whole universe. Now . . .” He turns to face the boy, staff planted in the dirt before him, his gaze steady. “Can the hyena on that field, who is still the same size, much smaller than a single atom on the surface of a billion suns, hurt the lion?”
“No,” the boy says, eyes wide with wonder.
“Can the hyena threaten the lion?”
The boy shakes his head. “No.”
The teacher looks off to the horizon and draws a deep breath through his nostrils.
“Can the hyena even bother the lion?”
The answer is plain to the boy. “No,” he says.
The teacher looks down and offers an approving nod. “Always remember, this is how big and powerful your Father is. The only thing bigger is His wisdom and His love for you, because God is love and you are His son. The hyena can only bother those who do not know who they are.”

End of story.

-Do you know where you come from? What is your origin? But more, who is your Father? You must know the answer if you wish to experience your true identity on this earth.
-You were fashioned in the image of God, who is Father, Son, and Spirit, and who spoke to Himself at the foundation of the world, saying, Let us make man in Our image.And thus, the Scripture tells us, you were made in the likeness of God.
-Know this today, in the midst of your life: God is both infinitely transcendent and infinitely close, closer than your own breath. Right now. All you must do is be still and know this, and then there is no storm large enough to swallow you.
-If you know someone who could use this today, hit forward and pass it on.
~ Ted Dekker

 

11/15/17

Daniel 3:16-18 New Living Translation (NLT) 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

Hopefully, very few of us will ever have to face the fate of being thrown into a blazing furnace.  Did you notice the statement of faith and trust in God?  Look at verse 18.“But even if he doesn’t…”   Even if God does not deliver them, they will not now nor ever serve their gods or bow down and worship them. 
Have you ever had an “even if” moment where your faith and the world collide?
Even If:
the marriage fails
I get fired
I cannot become pregnant
the cancer returns
When the storms of life come upon you will you echo the words of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and say, “Even if God doesn’t….”
Sometimes life throws a curveball and we end up taking a crash course in faith and what it means and how much of ourselves do we put into our faith toward God and how much is just words to please ourselves? 
Mercy Me has a song out called “Even If.”  At the concert of a few weeks ago, Bart Mallard, the lead singer of Mercy Me explained how the song “Even If” came to be written.  Bart has a son that has Type 1 diabetes, and if you know anyone with diabetes or have it yourself, you know it is a journey of highs and lows. One day coming from a doctor’s appointment with his son, they ran into a church friend who ask some questions about Bart’s son and about diabetes, and then she offered to pray for his healing.  Well that upset Bart though he stayed pleasant because as a father, Bart would love for nothing more than for the diabetes to leave his son and never return and Bart has prayed for that exact healing to happen, but it has not.  However, Bart’s faith says’ that God is all powerful and that God can and could heal his son at any time. But Bart testified that even if God does not take the diabetes away, Bart will still love, worship, and follow God. 
Faith is sometimes equated as I don’t understand but I know the One in control so even if…..I will trust you God. 
 
Lamentations 3:19-23 New Living Translation (NLT)
19 The thought of my suffering and homelessness
    is bitter beyond words.
20 I will never forget this awful time,
    as I grieve over my loss.
21 Yet I still dare to hope
    when I remember this:
22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.
The mercy and faithfulness of God will be with you even through your “Even If’s”
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Eric

11.08.17
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV).

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV).

But the things that come out of a person’s  mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:20 NIV).
 
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV).
 
I believe the why (of the shooting this past Sunday) is in the Word of God. I believe the why is that we are living in a broken world full of broken people. And broken people are going to act out against that brokenness within them toward those they believe are part of the cause of their brokenness. Of course that doesn’t make the shooting good or right, or make our hearts and souls feel any better for the victims and their families. 
 
I struggled with writing anything at all. We are all beyond the words now and we just want someway, somehow, for all of this to STOP!
 
However, part of my calling in pastoral ministry is to offer hope, comfort, and the reassurance of the love and presence of God during times of sorrow, pain, death. I never expected that calling to be on such a massive scale of violence in our own country for such a prolonged period.  
 
I’m a pastor but I am also human, and I hurt and cry and feel pain and offer up my prayers to all those affected. To help my pain and hurt I go to the Word and I find the Word, Jesus, the source of Hope, Strength, Comfort, Peace, Love, Mercy, Grace. 
 
Let us not lose hope in our faith. Let us keep meeting, and proclaiming, and living the life of Jesus out into the world by our words and actions. There is no other name, no other person that has changed the course of history and of people, than the name of Jesus Christ. 
 
Evil is real and evil exists. Evil is not going away until the Kingdom of God is fully here and Jesus is on the Throne forever. Although, evil’s time is running out. The time of evil is running short, for the days are getting closer when Jesus will return and evil and Satan and death and all of their associates will be banished forever. 
 
These are hard and trying times in our country with so many issues and problems in so many venues of society from government to entertainment to sports, to academics and health, and foreign relations, and on and on the issues and problems arise and they effect us all on some scale one way or another. Maybe no more so than the unexpected acts of violence toward innocent bystanders in public places that we have seen recently. Living in fear and isolation, though, would not be the cure. Jesus told us that we will have trouble. We will face hardships. As He was persecuted, we should expect to be persecuted along with the addition of being part of a broken people living in a broken world. 
 
“Now faith is confidence is what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV).
 
We know what we hope for so let us live with the assurance of what we hope for, even though now we do not see, yet one day we shall. One day the promised land will be in full view for all to see and live into. God is faithful and God has never gone back on a promise, never. God said that He would return. God said that He would set up a new heaven and a new earth. God said that He would sit on the throne forever and that He would be our God and that we would be His people and evil and death will be no more. Live in that HOPE! Share that HOPE in to the world!
 
Jesus is Lord!
Pastor Eric

 

11.02.17
Greetings Sisters and Brothers!

This is my mid-week devotion to remind us all of the love and grace of God active in our lives and in the world each and every day.

Yesterday was All Saints Day. The day we take to recognize the saints of the past. That great cloud of witnesses that have gone on before us. Those saints that led their lives in such a way that today we are following in their footsteps, in the journey of faith, for how they lived their life touched us so. But we often stop others short of calling us saints. We have no problem calling those that touched our lives and lived the faith out the term of saint. And of course, the giants of the faith from the Bible and the Billy Graham’s and Mother Theresa’s, and Dwight Moody’s and Charles Spurgeon…but do you know that the Apostle Paul’s term for followers of Christ was saint?

“This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:1-2 NLT).

A lot of Paul’s letter started off like that, and who is the “holy people” Paul was referring to? People like you and I. The members of the church. Followers of Jesus Christ. A people set-apart to be the body-of-Christ, a “holy people” (i.e. saints). A saint is simply a follower of Jesus Christ.

The word saint has been elevated to such heights that the common person would not even think of themselves to be a saint much less to be around saints. Yet every Sunday, every Bible Study, a prayer service, we are rallying around gathering with fellow saints, followers of Jesus Christ.

Paul would say and scripture would confirm that we are not called saints because of anything that we have done or that we are elevated into some special category of holiness, though we do strive for that. It simply means that we have given our life over to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and from that we are a “holy people”, a people set apart, saints to carry out the gospel of Jesus Christ into the world.

Take time to thank God for the saints in your life, past and present, and ask God to help you make an impact in the lives of others as a person set apart from the Lord to impact lives with the message of the love of God.

“Oh, when the saints, go marching in.
Oh, when the saints, go marching in,
How I want to be in that number, when the saints go marching in!”

Go forth ye saint of God,
Pastor Eric

10.18.17

Every word in the Bible is true.

“All scripture is inspired by God and useful to teach what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right” (2 Timothy 3:16 NLT).

Look what happens in Genesis when Adam and Eve start to doubt the word of God? That same doubt and unbelief of God’s word goes on today in many shapes and forms in our churches and across the world people are showing they do not believe God’s word by the way they live out their lives.

We have people denying the divinity Lordship of Christ.
We have people denying the atonement/saving act of Christ dying on the cross for the sins of all humanity.
We have people denying the commands of God.
We have people denying the love of God.
We have people denying the wisdom of God.
We have people denying the power of sin and the need for a savior.
We have people denying the saving/transforming power of God in the lives of others.
We have people denying the authority of God’s Word in their lives and in the world.
We have people denying the definition of marriage as one man and one woman as ordained by God.
We have people denying their God-given gender.
We have people denying the sacredness of sex given to us by God.
We have people denying the sacredness of life with abortion and physician-assisted suicide.
We have people denying the sacred worth of every living being for we were all made in the image of God.
We have people denying the power in Christians to overcome the one in the world with the One who resides within us.

Sad to say much of these denials (and there are many more) come from those who claim the name Christians, who profess in some manner, the name of Jesus.

Do you see the danger in starting to break down which parts of the scriptures are not true?  If we say we deny the parts we don’t like, then how can we really say the scripture passages we like are true? If we only believe 95% of what Jesus taught, how can we really know the other five percent is true? Doubt breeds its way to doubt which breeds its way to total rejection.

Like the people of Israel, we are called to be people set-apart from the world.  We are to be in the world but not of the world. The Israelites were to live a life different than their neighbors for they were a people called apart from the One, True, God.  Fast forward today, we as Christians, followers of Christ, are called to be people of the Light, people that show others the love of God in the world by the way we live our  lives and share God’s love through our relationship with the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  Much of how we do that is through living out the Word of God through the Spirit of God at work in our lives.

We show people the power of the living word by showing them the power of the Living God at work in our lives and in the world all around us. Let us not be part of the people who deny God’s Word, but seek to be people who bring God’s word alive. God’s living, active, breathing, life-changing word out into the world for all to see so they come to know the Living Word that came to live among us and show us the way to God and the ways of God.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes; first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16 NLT).

Jesus is Lord,
Pastor Eric

10.12.17
Greetings Sisters and Brothers of Calvary UMC,
Here is my mid-week devotion to remind us all that as Christians we all have a calling on us to proclaim and witness toward others the name and person of Jesus Christ. There is no better time than the present to get started doing that if you have not already. The world is in need of knowing and following the Savior of the world, Jesus!
“I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Philippians 3:14 NLT).
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” (The Lord’s Prayer).
Our nation just experienced one of the worst mass killings are country has ever had.  I think for most residents of the country it was a horrible event that sent waves of sadness, tears, anger, and fear through us.  But did the shooting in Las Vegas change us any?  We are maybe more aware that evil is everywhere, but did this cause any inner transformational change on how one is going to live their life?  We express emotions, but any inner change leading to behavioral change leading to transformational change to seek to draw others closer to Jesus Christ?
A few news headlines over the last few days:
Mother of six killed by drunk driver as she was returning from visiting her twins in the hospital.
Father disciplines three-year old daughter by having her stand in alleyway in the early morning hours for not drinking her milk.  Fifteen minutes later he checks on her, she is gone.  Alleyway known for roaming coyotes.
Husband calls wife at work tells her that he just drowned their 17-month old daughter in the tub.
Why? Why? Why?
I bet if you asked the people in these stories that they would all say the shooting in Las Vegas was terrible, heartbreaking, and yet they did what they did to ones they professed to love.  
The world is full of the inhumanity we do to each other.
I read an article about a committee on racism.  In the article one expressed hope of erasing racism.  A lofty goal, a worthy goal, but if a mass shooting at a country music concert and years and years of hate-filled acts of violence toward each other has not eliminated racism and hate, it is not going away.
We cannot legislate morality and we cannot conversate our way toward eliminating racism and hate.
The heart is wicked above all.
My hope, your hope, this country’s hope, the hope of the world is Jesus Christ!
The evidence is clear our hearts are wicked.  The evidence is also overwhelmingly clear that Jesus transforms hearts, minds, lives and souls.
Within or without the UMC, I am going to continue to proclaim the Light of the world, Jesus Christ.  We cannot keep simply going on as usual and expecting different results. If you want change in this country, the change is going to happen as the body-of-Christ.  Those redeemed in the blood of Christ, rise-up, stand up and proclaim the only life-giving, heart-changing, soul-transforming Name given to us, Jesus Christ.
To ad-lip Max Lucado, it is time for us to awaken people living in the lower story to the hope, the joy, the peace, the love, the grace, that awaits them in the upper story that is all around them.  
We know the killing agent that is in us all: Sin
We know the sin killing name that can break the hardest of hearts and set the prisoner free, Jesus.  
Join us to proclaim the name and person of Jesus Christ to a dark and hurting world.
Pastor Eric
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