RSS

Faithing Your Practice

Generally speaking, we talk about practicing our faith. We naturally think of Bible reading, prayer, fasting, serving, sharing our faith, and so on. And certainly, those things are important and vital in developing a deeper knowledge of God, a deeper faith, and a deeper love for God.

But have you considered how to faith your practice? Have you considered how the things you already do—sleeping, eating, taking a shower, driving, working, washing clothes, scrubbing dishes, paying bills—all present you with opportunities to deepen your relationship with God? On the one hand, we seldom associate routine, mundane activities with the pursuit of God. But if we are intentional, we can faith these practices.

I have found that mowing the lawn provides me with opportunities for worship. In the spring, I praise God for new life and growth. In the fall, I reflect on God’s majestic creativity in the beautiful colors of the leaves. In between, the growing dandelions cause me to reflect on the weeds I allow to grow up in my life and what I need to do to gain victory over sin. As I walk behind the lawn mower, I ponder, reflect, pray, and plan. I pray for my family, my church, and other things God brings to my mind.

Practice your faith. Faith your practice. Use any and every activity to grow closer to God.

 
 

Celebrate the Son!

Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday provide a unique blend of irony. We spend one whole day sitting around, thanking God for everything we have, only to plow each other down in a parking lot at 3 AM to purchase everything we think we must have.

Since Black Friday sales actually started two weeks ago, Thanksgiving Day feels more like a rest stop or speed bump between Halloween and Christmas.

With the emphasis on commercialism and doing our part to stimulate the economy, it’s no wonder we tend to become a little cynical. You can feel the cynicism creeping through the following statements.

  • “Only in America can people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.”
  • “Black Friday is the day I can finally jump on the Christmas Bandwagon with the rest of the nuts who started on Halloween.”
  • “Hope you enjoyed Black-and-Blue Friday at Walmart.”
  • “Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping.”
  • “Oh for the good old days when people would stop Christmas shopping when they ran out of money.”
  • “When women are depressed, they eat or go shopping. Men invade another country. It’s a whole different way of thinking.”

During this advent season, we need to rediscover the true message of Christmas. This is especially true with all the negativity of 2020. We need to be reminded that Christmas is a time of celebration as we rejoice in the birth of our savior. We need to remember that the manger sits in the shadow of the cross. This theme is clearly seen in Mary’s song of joy in Luke 1:36-55. In her song, Mary proclaims, Magnify the Lord for his mercy! Celebrate the Son!

In verses 26-38 of the first chapter of Luke, we read the account of the angel Gabriel visiting Mary and announcing that she will bear the Christ child. We know several details about Mary at this point in her life. She is young, probably 12-14 years of age. She is Jewish and a descendant of David. She is a virgin who is engaged to Joseph. Based on her offering at the dedication of Jesus (Luke 2:24), she is poor. She is undoubtedly inexperienced in the ways of the church, probably illiterate, and has a somewhat limited future. That being said, she knows her Old Testament and she is reflective by nature (Luke 2:19, 51).

In his message to Mary, the angel Gabriel explains that as proof that God can accomplish the miracle of miraculous conception, Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, has become pregnant in her old age. Mary responds to the news by packing her bags and heading south for Elizabeth’s house, about 80-100 miles south, a three to five day journey.

After arriving, Mary greets her cousin. Before she finishes the words, Elizabeth’s unborn son, John, leaps in her womb (41, 44). It is quite mind-boggling to think that one unborn child acknowledges the presence of another unborn child!

Elizabeth declares that Mary is blessed among women (42). In Hebrew culture, a woman’s status was based to a great degree on her children—the greater the child, the greater the mother. While we do not want to elevate Mary higher than she deserves, neither do we want to minimize her place in God’s plan.

Though Elizabeth is the elder, she steps into the background and assumes the position of a servant. She recognizes Mary’s son as “my Lord” (43).

Mary responds to these events by breaking out in song. She sings what is referred to as “The Magnificat” (the Latin word for “magnify” or “glorify”). Mary’s praise is both personal (46-49) and prophetic (50-55). Her words reveal a deep understanding of Scripture and a personal relationship with God. She traces God’s dealings with his people beginning with Abraham. Mary has a firm grip on the promises of Scripture. The song comes from a grateful heart and a humble spirit.

Mary’s song is also very specific. She praises God for what he did for Mary (46-49), what he did for all believers (50-53), and what he did for Israel (54-55). In her own life, God saved her (47), chose her (48), and was mighty for her (49). God demonstrated his mercy for the god-fearing (50), the helpless (51), the humble (52), and the hungry (53). Lastly, God kept his promises to Abraham and his descendants (54-55).

As you begin the season of Advent, what song is on your lips? Is it a song of joy or a song of sadness? Are you celebrating or mourning? Your answer depends in large part on the source of your joy. Let me encourage you to discover that joy is found in obedience to Jesus Christ. Then we can join with Mary in singing, “Magnify the Lord for his mercy!” Celebrate the Son!

This message was preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on November 29, 2020. It is one of several expository messages on Advent: The Mystery of the Nativity. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 
Image

2020 – Cited for DWHS

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 28, 2020 in B.C., Culture

 

Celebrate the Son! – video preview

Join us this Sunday at First Central Bible Church as we Celebrate the Son! We will unpack Mary’s song of joy in Luke 1:36-55 as we enter the season of the incarnation. Here’s a video preview of the message.

 
Image

Give Thanks!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 26, 2020 in Photos, Psalms, Scripture, Thanksgiving Day

 

2020 Thanksgiving

Brewster Rockit has captured the essence of a 2020 techno thanksgiving. 😉 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 25, 2020 in Brewster Rocket, Thanksgiving Day

 

Why does God shake up our world?

2020 has certainly shaken our world down to its very core. We’ve lost confidence in government to solve our problems. We’ve lost confidence in our health care systems to protect us from a virus. We’ve lost confidence in people’s ability to get along with each other. We’ve even lost confidence that our favorite sports’ team will have enough healthy participants to play this week’s scheduled game. Everything we hold dear feels shaky.

Why has God allowed this degree of instability to enter our world? Why has God so shaken every aspect of our experience and environment?

Hebrews 12:25-29 points out that God shakes our world so that we will discover that he is the one who cannot be shaken.

25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,

God shook up the Old Testament Law and replaced it with a relationship with himself through Jesus Christ. Now he is shaking up the world and replacing it with a kingdom which no amount of final judgment can destroy. God has taken away the things that we lean on in order that we might depend on his strength alone. When we do that, we discover that what he gives is stronger and more stable than we ever imagined.

Because we have an unshakeable kingdom, and because we have a God who is a consuming fire, let us bow before him in worship.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 24, 2020 in Culture, Hebrews, News stories, Scripture, Videos

 

2020 Football challenges & quirks

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 23, 2020 in Arlo & Janis, Broom Hilda, Sports

 

Choose to say, “Thank you”

What the #%^*#@*^#! do you know about thanksgiving?

In 1987, I received a vulgar, violent, poisoned pen letter in response to an article I wrote and published in Decision Magazine in November 1986 on the subject of giving thanks. The letter came from “Great White Cloud,” a Native American gentleman living in Chicago. He explained that he and his family had left the reservation and moved to Chicago to find a better life. He lost his job, his brother was mugged, and his daughter was raped. He asked me, “What the #*^##%@ do you know about giving thanks?”

Maybe you can identify with his statement. Perhaps 2020 has been a year of great disappointment and heartache. As you think about Thanksgiving Day next week, you have no idea what to be thankful for nor any reason why you should give thanks.

The way we respond to the events of life indicates much about our outlook on life as well as our view of God. Scripture tells us that we are to be thankful (1 Thessalonians 5:18). But what are we to be thankful for? Why are we to be thankful? Psalm 138 provides an answer to these questions.

The psalm breaks down into three separate movements—verses 1-3, 4-6, and 7-8. The subject changes in each section because a different pronoun is used. Verses 1-3 center around “I will,” verses 4-6 express “they will,” while verses 7-8 focus on “you will.”

Verses 1-3 describe the nature of thanksgiving, that true thanksgiving is a public declaration of the attributes and actions of God. Verses 4-6 explain that thanksgiving leads to worship, that personal praise inspires corporate worship. Verses 7-8 conclude that worship leads to increased confidence and trust in God. Making the choice to praise God for who he is and what he has done will inspire others to praise God, and increase our confidence to trust him for the future.

Thanksgiving is more than simply saying, “Thank you” (1-3). True thanksgiving is choice we make regardless of our circumstances. The psalm is written in the context of battle and opposition. David does not say he feels thankful, but rather says, “I give thanks.” His praise includes his voice—“sing praises,” his body—“bow down,” his whole being—“with my whole heart,” and is done in public—“before the gods … towards your holy temple.” David praises God for his attributes and actions, for who God is and what he has done.

Putting all this together, we can define thanksgiving in this way: True thanksgiving is a public declaration of the attributes and actions of God. It is the idea of praise. This acrostic helps me remember this definition.

  • P  ublicly
  • R  emembering the
  • A  ttributes & Actions of the
  • I  ncomparable
  • S  overeign God of
  • E  ternity

Thanksgiving leads to worship (4-6). David’s praise inspires others to join him. Personal praise leads to corporate worship. One reason to praise God is because he doesn’t use human standards. He rejects the proud and lofty and shows compassion towards the humble.

Worship leads to confidence (7-8). The more we understand and worship God, the more we are willing to trust him. When setting out on a journey, we want to see a complete roadmap of where we are headed and all the possible obstacles in the way. However, God does not tell us what is around the next bend. He does tell us that he will take care of our interests. Because of what he has done in the past, we know we can trust him for the future.

When situations arise, we have two choices how to respond. Each choice leads to its logical conclusion.

Thanksgiving leads to worship and an increased faith and truth. Ingratitude says, “God, I don’t like what you are doing in my life.” This leads to doubts about God’s character and his actions. This in turn leads to despair, the felling that if God is not good and if he doesn’t care, then who does?

This afternoon, sit down and make a list of the attributes and actions of God you are thankful for. Think of how you can praise God for who he is and what he has done. Share the list with someone else. Make it public.

Take the time. Make the choice to give thanks. It will change your whole outlook on life.

This is a synopsis of a sermon preached at First Central Bible Church on November 22, 2020. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

Choose to say, “Thank You” – video preview

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 20, 2020 in Preaching, Psalms, Thanksgiving Day, Videos