Sunday, March 31, 2013

Proverbs 19 - He is Risen!

Whoa!  Some really hard hitting advise this morning. Basically, Proverbs 19 reminds us to walk in integrity, to be loyal, and to work hard.  Listen to wisdom and her words and you will live.

But, it is 4 a.m. on Easter morning and instead of focusing on the shoulds and the should nots of life... we should focus on the Good News! In a couple of hours it will be sunrise. I will have egg-bakes in the oven for breakfast at church. Then, we will gather together to give thanks to God for the one who is loyal to us, the one who walked this earth in integrity, died, but now lives.  He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!

Proverbs 19 begins with the word "better."  It is indeed better for us if we listen to wisdom and follow in the way that she advises. But, in all reality, there is only one who can do these things, perfectly and absolutely. We can try. It is better for us, in this world if we do. But, we cannot. Only Jesus could do what was good and right all of the time. And... it is His life that we celebrate this morning. He, who willing gave His life for us, lives. Because, He lives, so shall we. Thanks be to God!

A word of wisdom:  Gather together with others, this Resurrection Sunday, as it is the better thing to do this morning. Do not be lazy (as Proverbs 19 warns), but get up and out to rejoice with your fellow believers, with your brothers and sisters in Christ, and proclaim, not just today, but every day:
He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Proverbs 18 - Unfriendly Customer Service and Government Offices

"An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels. Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions." 18:1-2 NIV

"One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys." (18:9)

"Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor." (18:12)

We had some errands to do out of town the other day. It was a strange day. So many unfriendly people. We were able to laugh about it all at dinner, but while it was happening it was not so funny.

Now, I know that "Can I help you?" on a typed page may seem friendly enough, but it is not always about what one says, but how you say it. Be careful who you are treating like a criminal. This is, after all, the week that we are reminded often that Jesus, Himself, was treated like a criminal. Customer service representatives should remember that the department store you work in hired you to serve not interrogate customers. The store you work at may lose a customer and more. Your boss may find out why you lost a customer. You may be looking for a new job. Think a little ahead of your lips. Unemployment is high right now. There are people looking for work - lots of them. We heard "attitude" more than once on that little outing.  I don't know... maybe I shouldn't have worn my comfy, but worn flannel shirt that day. Did I look like a criminal?

These days, I like doing most of my shopping and business online or by telephone. I have to drive a distance to get to a lot of stores and it gets a bit tiring running into unfriendly people. It is a relief that so many government offices are doing business on-line now. It makes it quicker. I don't have to drive an hour to get there. And... the people online or on the telephone just seem friendlier for the most part.

Another of our stops was a government office. That was a fiasco! I know, that there is a lot of fear among people today. But, homeland security, should be a bit more friendly than what we experienced. Again, maybe it was my flannel shirt or maybe my teen-age granddaughter wasn't smiling enough or maybe my husband who is a graying, retired Marine made him nervous, or maybe it was my 40 year old sons very short crew-cut... I don't know what set the security guard off. I was the first to walk in to the building. I was the first who was told, with glaring eyes and that "tone" to "check in" without directions on how to check in. Actually, I did not realize that he was a security guard until much later when he started playing with his gun. I thought maybe he was someone with untreated mental health issues that had wandered in. He was, after all, just sitting there in the lobby, just staring. After I took a number, we waited for about 10  minutes to be called. We were the only ones there. We waited under the watchful, glaring eye of the homeland security guard. He never took his eyes off of us. Someone needs to tell him (and any others like him) that those taxpayers you try to intimidate really are your employers. And... someone should also tell you that those intimidating tactics actually start quarrels. He obviously did not know that.

Sadly, it seems, there are a few too many (one is too many) unfriendly people in the customer service business who are really there just for the paycheck. There are a few public servants, who get paid enough for two families to live well, who really ought to be a bit more thankful to the other taxpayers that they still have jobs. (I can see one place where the federal budget can be cut) There are too many people in the service industry who do not seem to care to hear what the customer or client wants or why they are there.

Don't get me wrong. I am not really anti-social and although I joke about being a hermit, I really am not. I like to be out and about in my own county (Baraga County). I actually enjoy shopping in the local stores. Family Dollar is great! The people at Family Dollar know how to greet you. They are friendly people and will help you. It's only when I leave the county that I seem to run into trouble. Not sure, maybe I really do look like the sinner that I am.

This is Holy Week and we remember that Jesus was a servant to all. The King of kings was not here to be served. He was here and is here to serve at all costs. He gave His life freely. Would courtesy be asking too much of those we actually pay to serve?

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, March 29, 2013

Proverbs 17 - Remembering and Fasting

"Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife." (Prov 17:1 NIV)

Lots of words of wisdom that, if followed, will help us to have peaceful, pleasant lives. Since, it is Holy Week and today is Good Friday, a day of fasting and mourning, I want to reflect a bit on the partying that Christians participate in on holydays. That was not a typo. I intended it. Holidays in many parts of the world are a time for partying, for feasting and not for reflecting what our LORD has done for us throughout the ages.

When I grew up, holydays, like Christmas and Easter were filled with a lot of alcohol and not just in my family, but a good majority of the community celebrated with feasting which ended up in strife. From observation, I have seen that this practice has not diminished.

Yesterday, was Maundy Thursday. We remembered the Passover. We remembered how the LORD delivered Israel. We remembered how the LORD was betrayed and in His last hours gave to His followers the Sacrament of Holy Communion - His Body and Blood. This morning, we remember that Peter, as he sat in the darkness around a fire, denied Him to save His own skin. Today, we remember that Jesus gave His life for us so that we might live abundantly in His presence, eternally. Tomorrow, is the Vigil of Easter, when once again, we remember how God has delivered His people, as we await the celebration of His resurrection.  That is something to be celebrated! Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday night, are not times for feasting that may well end up in strife. It is a time for celebration as we remember and give thanks to God for all that He has done.

Today and tomorrow, would be well spent, quietly remembering and fasting, with service to God and neighbor. It would be a misuse of the holy days to be indulging and feasting. You might be able to block out the fact that Jesus died for us because we are miserable sinners with alcohol and drugs, but it doesn't change the facts. He died for you. He died for me. He had to. We cannot save ourselves. Jesus' life was given that we might live. Today we honor and give thanks to the one who would give us such a life giving gift.

"Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife."

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Proverbs 16 - Plans of the Heart

It seems a good thing, even a wise thing, not to let our emotions control us.  Proverbs 9:1 tells us "To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue."

So often, I can feel my emotions rise to the surface. It takes a bit of self-discipline to slow them down, ignore my emotions and listen to what the LORD would have me do. My first instinct is often to react rather than listen to God. That first instinct of listening to my heart and reacting has sometimes gotten me into a bit of trouble.

I am one of the fortunate grandparents that gets to see at least one of my granddaughters quite often. I tend to react quickly when it comes to things that I perceive as possibly being damaging to her life in the present or future. Although, sometimes, it is necessary to act quickly, sometimes, I react too quickly. I have to remember that the LORD sees all that she does. He knows all that is in her heart. He has a plan for her and sometimes my reacting too quickly may not be included in His plans. Sometimes, she just has to go through what she must go through. She must endure what she must endure. She will, as I must, learn to listen to the LORD and respond in the way He would have us respond. She will have to learn this for herself. As much as I love her, my emotions cannot control my reactions with her; I must learn to depend on the LORD for my tongue's proper answer.

When responding or reacting to any given situation, it is wise to slow down and ask ourselves if our response is coming from the pride within our hearts or is it from our knowledge and/or wisdom of the LORD's will for us and others.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Proverbs 15 - Gentle Answers

It is very difficult to figure out what to say regarding any of these chapters from Proverbs. They are so filled with words of wisdom. (Please read them!) I could right a few sermons on each and every verse of every chapter! But, I won't; at least not today.

The first verse (NIV) reminds us that "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

You already know this. I know this. But, still... Sometimes, those harsh words just flow from my lips. Maybe, I am tired. Maybe, I have not spent enough time in prayer or hearing the word, but, for some reason their are times when I cannot help but respond with a harsh word. It all just seems to build up after awhile and there goes my quick tongue crushing spirits.

Yesterday morning, the drain in the bathtub decided to quit working on me. I spent the better part of the morning plunging and hoping it would drain so I could get it down low enough to put some drain cleaner in it. It didn't happen. It drained and as I was about to start on the mess, my husband came home and decided to add water to see if the drain was open - a half a tub full of water, again. I did not speak. I held my tongue. It was very difficult for me, but I did it. We did not end up exchanging any words we would be sorry for, because I held my tongue. Instead we watched a movie together. Of course, we have been married for over forty years, so he could probably tell from the look on my face what my tongue really wanted to say. Twelve hours later the tub has finally drained (again) and I can get to work on it as soon as I've written this blog. The point is, holding back from speaking harsh words sometimes takes some of us more years of persistent prayer and practice than others. But, it is well worth the effort to live in peace.

God's Peace - Pr. J


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Proverbs 14 - Wise Woman

We have a slight change this morning. So far, we've been hearing a lot about what the wise son does. This morning, Proverbs 14 tells us about the wise woman.  "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." (Prov 14:1 NIV) Sadly, the foolish one is not even aware that she's tearing down rather than building up and so it continues. They feel secure even as they are destroying their own lives. 

Just a few of the things that a wise woman will do:
     She thinks about what she will say and do. She watches the words that come from her lips. She will not bear false witness. She will not mock others. She will not laugh at those who have repented of their sins and turn to the LORD. Rather, she will support her neighbors in their every need.

Listen, then, to wisdom and follow in the way that the LORD would have you go, so that you might live life not just wisely, but abundantly in His presence for all eternity.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, March 25, 2013

Proverbs 13 - The Light Shines

Earlier today, I was hospital visiting. It was as though there were a light shining in every dark, sick room. Sick people who smile! I wish that more healthy people would....

The door was closed for privacy while I was visiting one. When we were through praying, I opened the door and the light shone and in and through the door came even a brighter light, the daughter. It is good to be around the faithful, for in them and through them, the light does shine.

"The light of the righteous shines brightly..." (Prov 13:9a NIV)

God's Peace - Pr. J


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Proverbs 12 - Seek Knowledge of What God Has Done

Today is the Sunday that we celebrate the Passion of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Yes, we also remember Jesus' final entrance into Jerusalem with the waving of palms. There is no sermon today. We hear the whole passion story according to the words of St. Luke. Through the knowledge of who Christ is and what he did (and does) for us, we are moved, we are turned to desire to know the will of God our Father for us. We seek His wisdom, even if it might mean a little (or a lot) of correction and discipline along the way. We seek the LORD's favor. We seek to be in His presence as we gather together to Worship Him, to learn about and remember what He has done.

In short... we come to Worship because we desire and love the knowledge and wisdom of the LORD. You're really not going to find it any place else, except in the Word.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Proverbs 11 - Be Nice!

Be nice!  That seems to be the gist of Proverb 11. Being "nice," being honest, being fair, is not only a blessing to those whom you are being nice to, in the end you will feel blessed. "Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves." (vs 17 NIV)

So much wisdom found in Proverbs; both blessings and warnings. Warnings not to what is wicked, but to do good. Warnings to not place your trust in possessions of even man. There is good advice found in Proverbs 11. Read it and remember it. Worship the LORD your God and follow in the path that He has set before you, doing what is right an avoiding what is wrong.

God's Peace - Pr. J  

Friday, March 22, 2013

Proverbs 10 - A Wise Son Brings Joy

I'm thinking we may have forgotten to teach some of the this parable to the next generations, or maybe the generation before us forgot to teach it to us, or maybe it is as Proverbs 10:8 (NIV) says:  "The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin." Maybe it's not that we weren't taught, but that some simply refuse to listen.

This chapter is full of 2-liners like "Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth." (vs. 4) or "Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray. (vs. 17) or "The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing." (vs 28)

It might even be a good thing for a confirmation class to do some digging into the book of Proverbs :) Just a little more memory work... Just kidding... I am hoping, though, that everyone is taking the time to read this Book. It is light enough reading that if you skip a day (which you shouldn't) you can take it in the next.

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Proverbs 9 - Correcting A Mocker

"Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.  Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning. (Prov 9:7-9 NIV)

Believe me, I have received my share of insults by those who prefer not to walk on the straight path.  I have learned, over time that there are definitely times when it makes no sense to correct someone. If they are corrected they will only argue or through a temper tantrum. There are times when it seems that it is best just to walk away, say nothing. It is better to keep right on walking by rather than end up in a dispute that you will not win and then end up carrying the ill feelings that you gained during that discussion out into the rest of the world. The rest of the world doesn't deserve that.

There is a whole world out there that needs and desires to hear the Good News. Why allow a mocker or a wicked one, who refuses to hear, to steal the time that could be better used to help those who are wise enough not to refuse help?

I am not saying that there is never a time to correct a mocker or rebuke the wicked. Jesus certainly incurred insults. As Christians, so shall we. There are times when even the mocker should be corrected and the wicked rebuked. If there is danger to others, it definitely needs doing. These things must be done from time to time. Wisdom will help you know when the time is right. What I am trying to say is that focusing in on one who mocks the LORD, trying to drag them onto the path of righteousness should never become the center of your life. Do not allow scoffers to drag you down and off the path the LORD has prepared for you. That would not be wise. If they will not hear the truth, there are times when you should simply walk away, whether it is family, friend, or foe.  You can help no one, if your whole life is spent trying to help one whose whole goal is to drag you down into the muck and mire with them.

According to St. Matthew (10:14 NIV), Jesus said, "If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet."

There is a whole world out that there yearning for some Good News, multitudes that need healing and actually desire it, that will listen and be made whole. Go... and proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom through Jesus Christ, our LORD. Go and proclaim the Good News to all people. But, remember it is the Word, who is Jesus the Christ, that saves not you or me. Once the Word has been shared, there is not much you can do for the mocker, but continue to pray for them and trust the Spirit of God to do what the Spirit does. Be careful that you do not become embroiled in thinking that with persistence you can save them. Wisdom will guide you as your remember that it is only Jesus who saves.

God's Peace -Pr. J

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Proverbs 8 - Wisdom Calls

Wisdom was born as the first of God's work. Wisdom has been around for a long time, even before the earth was formed. So it might appear that wisdom comes with age. It often takes experience (sometimes bad experiences) to receive her. But, not always as sometimes those with many years behind them, refuse to listen to wisdom, themselves.

Proverbs speaks of Wisdom as though she were a person. Wisdom calls out to us, pleading with us to hear the truth that she would speak. Hear it and listen. Listen to Wisdom and choose her instruction over fortunes of this world. Wisdom is much more valuable than the material things of this world. Wisdom is more valuable than popularity or fame.

There are days when I feel like I am butting my head up against a wall when it comes to imparting wisdom to those who follow after the false gods of gold and silver - of things. Yes, I am concerned that they are following after false gods. But, I am also very concerned and heart-broken because I know where this love of "things" and "self" will lead them. It will lead to troubled and unhappy lives as their false gods demand more and more and they have less and less time and energy to enjoy the gifts that God has already given them. "Use it or lose it." They will lose the gifts that God has given them. Not, so much because God will take them away. Rather, because the gifts will decay or be put on a shelf in a basement or closet where they can no longer be found for use.

Wisdom calls out. "For those who find me find life and receive favor from the LordBut those who fail to find me harm themselves; all who hate me love death.”  (Prov 8:35-36 NIV)

Wisdom calls out. Listen to her and live life.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Proverbs 7 - Adultery - Idolatry

We're still being warned about adultery... being told to cling to our sister, wisdom, and steer clear of those who would lead you into adulterous affairs. It does not matter whether you are male or female, the word and the wisdom of the word seems pretty clear. It leads to the chambers of death.

God has given us so much life, so much good life, why seek after something that will only bring chaos, pain and sorrow into your lives and the lives of those around you whom you love?

So you say you've never committed adultery? If you recall Isaiah 54:5 (NIV) "For your Maker is your husband— the Lord Almighty is his name— the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth." Whenever you have chased after false gods, you have not only committed idolatry, you have also committed adultery. Your maker is your husband. Do not chase after any other gods. Do not be seduced by them.

May God who is faithful to you, help you to be faithful in all that you do.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, March 18, 2013

Proverbs 6 - Worst Sin

More words of wisdom, words of warning not to stray from the path.  Proverbs 6 also warns against adultery as well as some other things that will keep you from a closer relationship with God and with your neighbor.

There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. (Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV)

I ask every one of my confirmation classes what the worst sin is. Of course, the response is always murder. I then proceed to go through all ten commandments and teach them how breaking any one of the ten commandments can lead to the death, the murder, of, either or both, the body and the spirit. It usually opens at least one or two eyes to the fact that things like gossiping, bullying, lying, and adultery can actually contribute to physical or spiritual death.  All sin, no matter what it is, drives a wedge between us and God as well as our neighbors.

Proverbs 6 also reminds us that if we keep to our own business, the work that is needed to support ourselves and our families, we won't have time to be burying our neighbors with the words of our lips or our actions.  Be wise, work hard, sleep well, and do no harm to your neighbor.

And... may the peace of the LORD be with you all...  Pr. J

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Proverbs 5 - Adultery

Adultery appears to be the main topic of Proverbs 5. Pay attention! It is not just the woman whose lips drip like honey. Stay away from those who would entice you away from what you have committed yourself to.

I am just amazed at the young people of today. OK. It's not just the young people. Some of them can jump from relationship to relationship in a matter of days. In some cases, a matter of hours. The lack of commitment, the lack of self-discipline is just amazing. And... where does this all lead. TROUBLE! Major problems! Chaos! Hate! Anger! Even death!

Just because you think you'll never be caught, don't be deceived. God sees you. He knows everything that you say and do and think.  By the way... adultery is more than just sleeping around. Adultery happens whenever you put anyone or anything before the one you've made a commitment to be faithful to. Are you going bowling or skiing or golfing this weekend, again, while your family stays at home waiting for you? That would be adultery as you have put your love of something before the love of family.

Relationships are a good thing. They are a blessed thing. Healthy relationships will build you up. Unhealthy will tear you down. For some reason, yesterday, 1 John 4:18 kept popping up in my mind. "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."

If there is fear in a relationship that you will lose the one you love; if there is fear in the relationship for any reason, then that love is not perfect. Perfect love is unconditional. Love puts your family before your own desires, before your own needs, even as Christ was willing to give His life for those whom He loves. He was willing to give it for you. Love, then, as Christ loves. He is faithful in that love. Be faithful in your love.

Do not break the covenant you have with others by seeking after momentary pleasures. Seek to stay in relationship with God your Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Seek to stay in relationship with you family; your wife and your children. Stray not on the path that would separate you from the love of any of these. Stray not from the path that the one who loves you has set before that leads you to be fully reconciled with Him in the Kingdom of God

God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Proverbs 4 - Listen, My Children

Wisdom will guide you all of your days...

There are times when I wonder if I should continue instructing the young. I cannot help but wonder if they are actually listening. At times, it seems like a waste of time. I am sometimes looked at like an old fuddy duddy even as I watch them follow their own paths - paths that will not lead them to fuller lives. So many seem determined to take the journey on the path of self-destruction.

But, then, again, it is my responsibility to warn them and to teach them. I do all I can to show them the way. Jesus is the way. Without Him, they shall be lost. It would, I think, behoove all parents, to raise up their children in the way that they should go. That is, if they really want their children to have the benefit, the gift, of living life to its fullest, here in this world and in the kingdom of God.

Spending time around youth of this community, I have found that the young people who have the benefit of being raised by parents who want this life in Christ for their children, listen closest to those things I would teach, as well. They actually pay attention. And.. they are the most pleasant young people to be around. They are open to new (healthy and fruitful) experiences. They think not just about their own lives, but show care and respect for those around them. Ultimately this leads to less stress, less chaos, in their own lives. They live life... much fuller. Being a Christian is not a boring life. It is one filled with adventure. There is so much to do, so much to give, so much even to receive, as we walk filled with the Spirit of Christ.

"Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding." (Prov 4:1 NIV)

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, March 15, 2013

Proverbs 3 - Wisdom To Live By

Words of wisdom... words to live by.  I am not writing anything this morning. So often, when I'm writing sermons, I think: "Why should I preach on this? The scripture speaks for itself. My words cannot make it any clearer. Let it stand as is." So, this morning especially since I'm thinking that not all of you are reading the scripture that goes with the blog daily, I am going to do just that and may God open our eyes, our hearts and our minds to a greater understanding of His word, His will for us.  God's Peace - Pr. J   P.S. On Palm/Passion Sunday there will be no sermon - only the word heard from scripture.

Psalm 3 (NIV)
1My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
2 for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you peace and prosperity.
3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
8 This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.

9 Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.

11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,
and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in.[b]

13 Blessed are those who find wisdom,
those who gain understanding,
14 for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
those who hold her fast will be blessed.

19 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
by understanding he set the heavens in place;
20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
and the clouds let drop the dew.

21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you,
an ornament to grace your neck.
23 Then you will go on your way in safety,
and your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Have no fear of sudden disaster
or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
26 for the Lord will be at your side
and will keep your foot from being snared.

27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to act.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
“Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—
when you already have it with you.
29 Do not plot harm against your neighbor,
who lives trustfully near you.
30 Do not accuse anyone for no reason—
when they have done you no harm.

31 Do not envy the violent
or choose any of their ways.

32 For the Lord detests the perverse
but takes the upright into his confidence.
33 The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
but he blesses the home of the righteous.
34 He mocks proud mockers
but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.
35 The wise inherit honor,
but fools get only shame.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Proverbs 2 - Ask For Wisdom

The LORD gives wisdom to those who ask.  Are you asking?

I don't think there are too many days that I don't shake my head in wonder at some of the things that are done with a total lack of wisdom or discernment. So many people making choices to destroy their own lives and they don't even know it. They are not wise enough to even recognize that they are miserable!

If you are tired of making wrong choices and seeing bad consequences, ask the LORD for wisdom. Follow in the path that He has set before you. Quit derailing yourself. The wisdom of the LORD will help you to make your journey through this life with peace - peace of heart and mind.

May God grant you wisdom and peace with His and the whole world around you.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Proverbs 1 - Listen!

Listen!  Listen, to the proverbs Solomon! Listen! Listen, to wisdom speak!

There is a reason for the all of the exclamation points.  Listening to wisdom, learning the way in which we should go is imperative to our health and happiness, even our prosperity.  Alas, it seems that every generation insists on learning from their own mistakes instead of listening to the lessons learned in previous generations. 

Have you ever had to deal with someone who is going in a might wrong direction. They are headed to a life lived alone. Boxed in by their own greed, selfishness, envy, laziness, attractions to those things that will destroy them. It may be that because they are so busy trying to find personal happiness they have shut the door to the rest of the world. They have shut the door on honest, healthy relationships with God and their neighbor. And.. it is in Godly relationships that we will find happiness. We will find peace. We will find joy. But, those who travel in their own righteousness seem to know best. They will go it alone. They will travel their own path. You may well be told that it is none of your business. They have the right to live life in the way they choose. That they are hurting no one. They are unable to acknowledge that they are not really living life - at least not an abundant life. They fail to see that the path they have chosen is hurting people, even society around them.  If you're going to indulge in something, indulge in the abundant life that God would have you live. Live life in Christ!

Sadly, so many children are being led astray by adults with so little Godly wisdom. They, too, are doomed to live lives filled with one calamity after another, one disaster after the last. They are taught to reject the knowledge and wisdom that will guide them to fruitful lives filled with joy and peace.

Do not hate knowledge, but grasp it. Hold on to it. Led the knowledge that the LORD would provide you with guide you in all that you say and think and do.

Listen to the words of Proverbs 1:28-33 (NIV)
“Then they will call to me but I will not answer;
they will look for me but will not find me,
since they hated knowledge
and did not choose to fear the Lord.
Since they would not accept my advice
and spurned my rebuke,
they will eat the fruit of their ways
and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
but whoever listens to me will live in safety
and be at ease, without fear of harm.”
Listen! Listen and live life, well!
God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Psalm 150 - Praise Ye The LORD!

"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the LORD." Psalm 150:6 NIV
Here ends our reading of the Psalms, at least for this blog.  Tomorrow we begin with the wisdom found in the book of Proverbs. One day at a time, one chapter at a time, God is leading us through His Word and we give thanks and praise for the opportunity to get to know Him better in this manner.
Without the word passed down to us through so many generations, we would not know of his acts of power, of his greatness.  We would not know all that He has done for us and for all humankind in His generous acts of creation and re-creation.
So here's the question for you this morning: How many of your friends and neighbors; how many of your family members do not know the stories of what God has done for them? And... if they don't know what He has done; then what is there for them to believe? Share the stories of all that He has done for you so that they, too, might believe. May God help us to continue encourage future generations to hear and read His word so that all might turn to Him and praise Him in His sanctuary; praise Him in His might heavens. (vs 1)
Praise ye the LORD!
God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, March 11, 2013

Psalm 149 - Sing and Dance to the LORD

"Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of his faithful people." (Psalm 149:1 NIV)

I spent the week-end at an LCMC Youth Retreat at a waterpark at Three Bears Lodge in Warrens, WI. What joy! I hate the drive, but it is so good to see the young people have fun.  Some of them played in the waterpark; most of them were in the arcade; they made dresses out of pillowcases to send to children in need; they filled packs with goodies for military personnel overseas. They sang and they danced during Worship.  There was even a dance for them. A few of them went, but only a couple stayed as the rest could not tolerate the music or the crowd. It is very hard to actually be present with someone when it is so loud. Rather than go to the dance, they did what I really enjoy most seeing them do. They hung around in our rooms fellowshipping together. What I really rejoice in seeing most is our young people spending time together. They seemed to be enjoying that time with one another.

Yes, there was "horsing around." It was all in good fun. But, the respect and the caring they have for one another was also obvious. I rejoice in the LORD, this morning, for He has given us some really awesome young people to share our lives with, to share our stories with, to walk beside, and to lead in the way that they should go.

And... I hope they keep singing and dancing, rejoicing in the LORD, all the days of their lives.

God's Peace - Pr. J


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Psalm 148 - Praise the LORD

I remember a poem I wrote when I was very young. It had to do with unity with all of God's creation. There are a few things that we have in common with all of His creation. For starters, the LORD created everything upon the earth and in the heavens above the earth. We are all God's creation. With creation, we bow down and praise the LORD!  With all of earthly creation and all the heavenly host, we praise the LORD!

God's Peace - Pr. J

P.S. Don't forget this blog is to encourage you to read your Bible daily so read Psalm 148 - it is awesome... Also, Romans 8:18-25

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Psalm 147 - Builds Up And Casts Down

The LORD builds up; and He casts down.  So often we hear that God will sustain us. And... He will. But, we also must remember that God is God and He alone is worthy to be praised. Beware of lifting up others before God. Beware of putting yourself before Him. "The LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground." (Psalm 147:6 NIV)

The LORD will sustain all who love Him.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, March 8, 2013

Psalm 146 - Purpose of Life

I woke up this morning wondering, again, what the purpose of life really is. We are born. We live. We die. Life, here on earth, is so short! And... there is so much pain and suffering here in this world. The truth is the pain and suffering is mostly brought on by our own desires to be more than we are. It is brought on by our desire to be our own god. We think we can do this or that. The reality is, without God, there is nothing. Our plans will come to nothing. But, God has a plan...  He has a plan because He loves you. We can't always know what that plan is. But, we can trust that He has one.

Those who trust in His plan and not our own, praise the LORD all the days of their lives and they will find peace in the midst of the most confounded times. Praise the LORD! That is enough purpose for any of us. Praise the LORD; sing His praises as long as you shall live!

Thanks be to God. "The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord." Psalm 146:10 NIV

Pr. J

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Psalm 145 - Rest Is Found In Him

I was exhausted as I lay down to sleep last night.  I've done a bit of traveling the last four days. What was even more exhausting was planning today and tomorrow as I try to catch up on work and prepare to take another trip. Tomorrow afternoon, I leave with the youth from our congregation for a retreat.  Now, my mind tells me that retreats are suppose to be restful. But, there is a lot of planning and preparation that goes into them.

So, as I tried to reconcile in mind the fact that our friend Eddie or "The Fisherman" would make his final voyage out to sea to be laid to rest today, while scheduling the next two days in my mind, I was exhausted. I realized that I would not be sleeping well last night if I did not switch my focus.

So, I did. I spent my final moments awake praising God and trusting that Eddie's, as well as my spirit, was in the hands of God. In this I rejoice. In this, I find peace. In this knowledge, I found rest.

Look to the LORD and you will find peace. In Christ, you will find all that you need.

God's Peace - Pr. J

"My mouth will speak in praise of the LordLet every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever. (Psalm 145:21 NIV)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Psalm 144 - Prepare for Battle

Whoa! There is so much I could say about Psalm 144! But, the first thing that strikes me is verse 1: "Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle." (NIV)

Now that is most interesting. God trains us for battle.  For 21 years, I followed my husband, a U.S. Marine, around the world. He was prepared for war and I was engaged in battle then, even as I am now. The battle can be tiring. There are times when it may even feel like you're losing the battle, but be assured, the LORD armies will not, cannot, be defeated. He is the Supreme Commander and is at the helm.

Be not afraid to: "Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." (Eph 6:11-13 NIV)

God's Peace - Pr. J 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Psalm 143 - Found Righteous

 "Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you." (Psalm 143:7b)

Now this is a fact.  Not a one of us can be found righteous by the works of our own hands or the meditations of our hearts. We all sin. We all fall short. So how then can we be found righteous?  According to Paul's letter to the Romans (4:23-25 NIV) we are credited with righteousness through Jesus Christ.  The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification."

It is in the righteousness of Christ that we trust that our sins have been washed away and we have. Therefore, all who believe in Him are sanctified by His blood and found righteous in Him. Thanks be to God, for His mighty works through Jesus the Christ!

God's Peace - Pr. J