Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday. Do you believe it? As we near the close of 2020 this is a question I have heard enough times to last well into the middle of the decade. It seems as if this year has brought more than ample opportunity to restate the last seemingly unimaginable occurrence and utter it yet again to anyone who is listening…Do you believe it?
Not all of it appearing to be negative, in January there were the customary “It’s the new year already!… Do you believe it? Then in February the Stock Market was getting ready to break into new territory as it approached 30,000. I said it myself to several people…Do you believe it? Then there was the impeachment trial, the news of a new virus sweeping through China, then Europe, especially Italy. I heard it again and again…Do you believe it. Finally, it made its way to America, the stock market tanked, and the first cases of the Corona Virus showed up in little old Delaware, now many were the utterances…Do you believe it?
2020 hasn’t seemed to get easier since then in many respects. Churches closed, schools closed, restaurants closed, some reopened months later, many have not…some likely never will. As it seems we are now slipping backward and giving up some of the precious little ground we had recovered over the summer, I say it yet again…Do you believe it?
My question to you however isn’t about Covid, or the economy, the election or anything having to do directly with 2020. It is this…God is being so, so, very good to us…right now! Do you believe it? I’m serious…Do you believe it?
You see this is a fundamental knowledge of God that we must come to if faith is to have no bounds in our lives. This is critical if you desire to walk with God with the kind of confidence we see in Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Jonah, Peter, John, Paul…the list goes on and on…but does it include us? What unchangeable truth these people and countless others, both named and unnamed in God’s word understood is this. God is, has always been, and will always be Good. It is not something He does, it’s what He is…it is His very nature. James 1:7 says this: Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. What God gives us is good and He is good and has no ability to be anything else. But, does everything come from God? Doesn’t our enemy bring bad things to our lives? Reasonable questions to be sure. One of the many things we garner from the story of Job’s life is that Satan is unable to move against God’s people without God’s permission. I would even argue that the devil requires God’s allowance to come against any one of God’s creation loved immense and intensely by Him. What we know for certain though is that God intends to increase and bless all those who are His even through the attacks of Satan against them. And we know that all things work together for good, to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purposes. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:28,29 (NKJV). There is nothing that can ever happen to you or even to the world (to the degree that it affects you) in which God has not already decided that He intends to use it to make you more like His Son, so that you will be found fully acceptable to Him and able to live with Him eternally in His presence! That alone…seriously…that alone proves He is always being so, so very good to you. We cannot do enough good, to be good enough to be found worthy, but God is constantly allowing things to affect us that give us opportunities through faith to allow the transformative power of His Holy Spirit to make us more like Jesus, which does make us worthy…Do you believe it?
Saying something as if it is a fact is one thing. Knowing something to be a fact is intelligence. Believing something causes it to become empowering because no one truly believes something and does not act upon that belief. James said that faith without works is dead…in other words, believing without doing is simply knowing. I can say that exercise is good for the body. It does nothing for my physique. Again I can be knowledgeable that exercise is indeed good for the body and my muscles will remain as they are. However, if I believe that exercise is good for the body, I will not be able to refrain from exercise because of my belief and I will look expectantly for the changes even as they are developing.
God is good all the time…and all the time God is good. We say it a lot in church. Most of us would say we know it to be true. Do you believe it? To help me in my belief of it I have actually changed the way I say it. When I speak of it to myself and to others I say it just the way I have been stating it today. I say it in the form of a question to remind myself it deserves an answer. Do you believe how very, very good God is being to us right now? I find that saying it this way spurs the faith I hold to action. The first of which comes in the affirmative answer. Yes! God is being so, so, very good to us right now! Right now. In the midst of 2020 and all it has brought. And next year in whatever 2021 might bring…and in the years beyond. GOD IS BEING SO, SO, VERY GOOD TO US! Saying it is good, knowing it is important…believing it is critical!
That list of believers I mentioned earlier…none of them would have been notable in the least if their faith in the fact that God is good, and was in fact being good to them in their challenging times had not spurred them to act as if it were so. The same is true for you, brother, sister in Christ, it is true for all of us. If we want to see the power of God in our personal stories we have to live and act as if God is always being so, so, very good to us…Do you believe it?
For the Lord is good; His loving kindness is ever lasting and His faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:5
So now, acting on the belief that no matter what the circumstances might look like, God is being so, so, very good to you…go be awesome!
Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thanksgiving Thursday! Lynn and I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving today. We have much to be thankful for! Allow me to read to you from the 105th Psalm today. I am only going to read the first 5 verses but I would strongly encourage you to read the rest of it for yourselves sometime yet today.
Psalm 105:1-5 (NKJV)
Oh, give thanks to the Lord!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples! 2 Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works! 3 Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! 4 Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face evermore! 5 Remember His marvelous works which He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,
This Psalm is one of several that recount the story of How God brought the people out of Egypt and into the promised land. I chose this particular one because it makes specific note of how God placed Joseph in Egypt prior to the famine by which he was able to keep the family of Israel fed and cared for. It also makes note of some of the difficulties Joseph had to endure in order for God to place him in the right place, in the right position, at just the right time. It goes on to speak of the difficulty the Israelite people suffered under the rule of the Egyptians after the time of Joseph. Finally, it makes mention of God sending Moses to lead the people out of the bondage of Egypt and ultimately into the promised land. There are several other Psalms that also tell of the same story.
Why were these written? What was their purpose? Certainly they have historic value, but that exists in abundance in multiple chapters of the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. So why Psalm 105,106,107, 114 and others like them? I believe the beginning of this Psalm points out they were expressly written to remind the people of what God had done for them in the past. How He had brought them out of the difficulties they had endured and provided for them completely along their journey. How He fed them daily, always with enough. How He gave them water in the dry places from rocks that lacked any promise of being able to do so. Though they were in the wilderness for 40 years their shoes did not wear out and their clothes did not tatter by His mighty hand of preservation. They traveled safely through the lands of enemies and were not defeated or consumed. This Psalm and the others like it reminded the Hebrews that though they might go through difficult times, though life might not always be what they wanted it to be…Their God was mighty to save! As they sang Psalms like 105 from memory, they would find strength and encouragement for the present as they gave thanks for the past, and this allowed them the greatest opportunity to move confidently in faith toward their future.
Did they get it right all the time? Nope, and neither do we. Did possessing these Psalms alone make the difference? Not at all, A God who has historically been all that was needed doesn’t seem to move in the present without people exhibiting faith. Mark wrote of this when He stated that Jesus was unable to heal very many people in His hometown because of their lack of faith. These Psalms were intended to grow and develop faith in the people of God as they told and retold the stories of what God has done for them.
At our Thanksgiving table we have kept a tradition held by many Americans. Everyone seated at the feast takes a turn telling of something they are thankful for that year. Some years such as last year at the family dinner there was much laughter as we all took our turns. Other years the thankfulness has elicited tears amid the smiles. This year we will probably continue to do just that. However, this year I am going to propose another new tradition begin. I invite you and yours to do the same. I will propose that someone or multiple someone’s tell the story of how we arrived where we are as a family today. I suggest that as the story is recounted the difficult times not be glossed over in order that we might also tell specifically how God brought us through. Our story will give us 20 years to look back at and see all that God has done. If you join us in this ‘new’ tradition, started by the Israelites of old, your story may have fewer or many more years to cover. My wife Lynn noted as I mentioned this idea to her that the oral tradition of passing family stories down from generation to generation is a dying practice. That is unfortunate on many levels, but most of all because the faith building stories of God’s provision could be lost in the shuffle. I want my children and grandchildren to be able to tell what God has done for us as a family long after I have gone home to be with Jesus, so this year at the Brown household we are going to get that started. Won’t you join with me in that around your thanksgiving tables too?
God is good…all the time…and all the time…God is good…let’s all tell the story of how…Shall we?
So now, with a heart of thanksgiving go tell your family how God has been awesome!
Hi, this is pastor Ken, and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Wakey, Wakey…Eggs and Bakey…
Colossians 3:12-14 in the New Living Translation (NLT) reads as follows; God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
I was thinking today as I got up with the alarm and headed down the stairs to let the dogs out, start the coffee and begin the day just how different it was when we still had our five children living at home. This morning as I ambled about the kitchen preparing breakfast, ours and the dog’s it was much quieter than it used to be. Sunday mornings used to be the most fun for me. I would rise early and go through the upstairs hallway singing in a playfully obnoxiously loud voice, “O how I love Jesus, O how I love Jesus, O how I love Jesus, because He first loved me”. The purpose of my poorly attended concert was to awaken the kids so they could get ready for our customary family breakfast, then get dressed and ready themselves to go to church.
It is a song most of us know well, and contained in its stanza is revelatory truth and realization. We hold to the heart cry of every Christ follower, we love Jesus, but acknowledge that would not even be possible if He had not first loved us. So what does the referenced scripture say ought to be the result of His choosing to love us first?
He wants us to get up and get dressed, and He has some specific things He would like us to wear.
Tenderhearted mercy, this garment speaks of a heart of compassion. Our Lord desires that we see people the same way He does. His mercy for us is new every morning…even though we all failed to completely live up to it the day before. Just as He shows us mercy…over and over again…He expects that we will do the same for each other. His call for our mercy is to be like His…never ending and from a tender heart toward the recipients.
Kindness, the absence of selfishness. Jesus wants us to be selfless because it shows off the wardrobe of kindness. Kindness requires that we give of ourselves to others. It is an impossibility to show genuine kindness to someone without considering what is in their best interest…which means we have just laid down our own for theirs…selfless activity.
Humility, as I have noted to you before, is the currency in the economy of the Kingdom of God. If Kindness is a shirt…this is an under-shirt. As noted above, it takes the ability to esteem others higher than ourselves (which is humility) to genuinely show true kindness. Jesus spoke numerous times as to the necessity of humility to find our place in His kingdom. He knew that there is a richness of life only found when we see others as more valuable than ourselves.
Gentleness, or as some translations say, meekness is not a garment of weakness. It actually requires unusual might. This is a muscle shirt. How? It takes great strength to deny yourself and elevate others. Gentleness is akin to humility with one additional characteristic, a desire to treat the one being elevated with kid gloves. It is the defining quality shown in the story of The Good Samaritan. The ability to be careful with the one we are helping even if it makes our own life more difficult is the result of gentleness.
Patience, other versions use the word longsuffering which probably conjures up a more accurate mental image of this piece of clothing. Longsuffering is the ability to exercise patience under someone’s heavy provocation for the long haul. This can be a particularly uncomfortable piece of clothing at first, challenging to wear, and yet oddly pleasing. It is so because it is only worn by the obedient, and Christ always, always, always…did I say always rewards our obedience with enough grace to carry on with further obedience knowing that it pleases Him.
After we have gotten dressed, it’s time to go. Where? To practice. Now that we have on the correct uniform…it’s time to hit the practice field. We are to use the garments we have just put on to practice making allowances for each other’s imperfections. We all have faults, we all offend, so it’s nearly impossible for us not be offended from time to time. We live in a world full of irritants…I mean…others, but the clothes Christ asks us to wear give us the ability through His Spirit living inside us, doing the necessary remodeling in our hearts, to treat each other like He wants us to. So just as He has forgiven us, we must forgive others. No one person will ever be able to offend you more than you, in darkness, have offended God. We will always owe more to His forgiveness toward us than anyone will ever, ever owe us.
It’s a cold world out there…so over it all most importantly…put on the covering of love. Love is the coat that insulates us from the self-centered desire to treat others with contempt, anger, bitterness and selfishness in response to their misdeeds toward us, and warms our hearts to be like minded with Christ and see the world around us as being in desperate need of His tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness illustrated through our lives.
So now, fully dressed in the prescribed uniform…Go be awesome!
Hi, This is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Words To Live By
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT) in the New Living Translation read as follows…All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us 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. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
These two verses say it all. They give us every reason to spend time daily in the Word of God. I would be both saddened and surprised by the number of people I know to be Christians, good people of God, who do not spend daily time in His Word…except that I have a past. There was a time when I had my set of excuses for why I couldn’t find the time, or the energy, or the right translation, or the…you fill in the blank. The problem with that thought process though is summed up here in these two little verses.
First of all, it is God’s inspired, infallible, perfect, and as I mentioned a few weeks ago, LIVING WORD. If I am going to claim a growing relationship with God, I have to be in relationship with God. That means we must be talking to each other on a regular basis. I cannot have weekly conversations with my wife and claim we are in a growing relationship…she would beg to differ! Yes, prayer is a form of communication with God…a vital one, but how am I to discern His voice if I don’t know the kinds of things He would say? I get it, there are those who have access to no other form of communicating with God…but if you are reading this…you’re not one of them.
All scripture is inspired by God. All of it? Yes, all of it. So to really know what God would say and have me do in the various situations of life I encounter, I need to be able to draw from the whole counsel of the Word of God. That means as I mature in my relationship with Him, I have to move from milk to meat. I take no issue with daily devotionals, they are very useful tools, but at some point if we want to make the most of this relationship, if we want it to deepen and grow in stature and strength, we must start digesting greater portions than what comes neatly packaged in those pre-portioned daily doses. At some point, it’s time to reach for the real thing, and start gaining a working knowledge of all of it.
Secondly, God’s Word is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. We cannot separate our daily lives from our spiritual lives. God intends for the two to be one. We need His Word to indicate to us what is true, what is righteous, what is of value to our walk with Him. Without this instruction we are vulnerable to accepting things that are untrue, unrighteous, and will hinder our growth as Christ followers. As far as our spiritual walk is concerned, there are only two gears, forward and reverse…neutral is not an option. Furthermore, His word sheds light into the darker recesses of our lives and illuminates problematic action and thinking that comes through in our words, actions and responses to the people and situations we encounter each day.
It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. It is a shame that in our society correction is seen as a negative. An airline pilot given a corrective heading from Air Traffic Control to avoid a mid-air collision with another plane does not resent the correction, he is grateful for the lifesaving information. God’s Word does much the same thing for us, and our response to it should be one of thanksgiving. God is not trying to take from us with His correction…He is trying desperately to give us something…the abundant life! We ought to be thankful for this action of His living Word. Learning what we are doing wrong, and how to do it right is as good as leaving the cold uncertainty of a totally dark cave and finding ourselves warmed by the light of the sun in an open meadow.
God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. If it were not for His Word, we would fail to be ready to do the good things He has planned ahead of time for us to do. (Eph 2:10) These things He is attempting to prepare us for are what give our lives purpose. Essentially God’s Word brings purpose and meaning to our lives, and readies us to take hold of that life giving purpose and meaning.
We are busy…I get it, and although our busyness may cause us to skip a meal from time to time, no one claims to be so busy they stop eating altogether. As Christians we can no more afford to avoid God’s word daily than we can afford to stop eating to get more done. We would soon weaken, tire, and eventually stop living. So, sit down at the table of plenty, take your Bible in hand and eat and drink in His wondrous word. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Psalm 34:8
So now…sampling from all of the goodness found in His Word…Go be awesome!