Courage!

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It had to seem overwhelming.  Moses, the man who had led Israel from slavery to freedom was gone!  This same Moses had been the instrument God used to win a showdown with Pharaoh and all of the Egyptian “gods”.  Remember, Moses was so close to God that his face shone from having been in God’s presence as he received the Law.  Now, the mantle of leadership had fallen to Joshua.  I would not want to be in Joshua’s sandals.  Talk about a tough act to follow!

In verses 7-8 of the first chapter of Joshua, we find that Joshua did not have to act alone.  He had the same help as Moses.  It says, “Above all, be strong and very courageous to carefully observe the whole instruction My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (‭Joshua‬ ‭1‬:‭7-9‬ HCSB)

Look at the keys to success God gave Joshua.  He promised to be with him wherever he went.  In order to keep his steps on the right path, God advised Joshua to courageously observe His whole instruction.  In other words, Joshua had to be bold in obeying God’s Law.  He would be able to fulfill that by not deviating from the instructions of the Lord. Furthermore, Joshua was to keep the word in his daily life by reciting it day and night.  In doing these things, he would fulfill the first instruction of carefully observing.God’s instructions handed down through Moses.

We need to courageously follow God today.  What does courage have to do with it?  It takes courage to live by God’s instructions when others are not.  The world’s culture does not seem to enjoy absolutes.  Yet God’s word is filled with several clear instructions.  We must be bold like Joshua to stand for God even if nobody stands with us.  Remember, even if nobody else is with us, God is!  His promise is still in effect today.  He is with us wherever we go, so why shouldn’t we have courage?

The 8 Letter Word

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Warning! I am about to use an eight letter word which may offend some. In fact, you may insist I wash out my mouth with soap.  This word used to be important to many and widely used, but our feelings about it have changed. Once, it was cherished and used proudly, but now it is used with apologies if at all. What is this dreadful word you ask? The offensive word is, “doctrine”. Come back and finish reading after you recover from passing out….I will wait for you.

Why is this word considered so bad? Just the other day I heard a Christian from another church bragging, “We don’t have doctrine!” It floored me. What they were saying is that they do not believe and teach anything! In their defense, he did hold up a Bible and said, “This is all we need.” I think the problem is a misunderstanding of what doctrine is. I even agree that man made statements of belief with no basis in Scripture is wrong. But the word, doctrine, is a Biblical word, Paul tells Timothy “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (II Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV). In other words. The Bible is good for doctrine. The word doctrine means teachings, and in newer verses it is translated as such.  God’s word is the basis of all we believe and do.  Doctrine is what the word teaches us.

There is no reason to be scared of doctrine! God wants us to teach us how to think and act so that we will “equipped for every good work”.   We need doctrine as well as reproof, correction, and instruction to reach maturity in the faith.

Let His Light Shine

Every school day around 6:20 am, I get my two children corralled into the truck and we leave for the thirteen mike trek to school. We get to do this because my daughter has choir and recorder practice early every morning. She also likes to read. Being dark in the truck at that hour, she has devised a scheme to get light by which she can read. She turns on a flashlight, and gets under her jacket or a blanket with her book.  This usually works well, but the other morning, the blanket slipped and the truck was flooded with light. I couldn’t see the road or anything but the light. It was shocking!

The impact of that light reminded me of the story of Moses spending time with God. After making the second set of stone tablets, he returned to Mount Sinai. “Moses was there with the Lord 40 days and 40 nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. He wrote the Ten Commandments, the words of the covenant, on the tablets. As Moses descended from Mount Sinai — with the two tablets of the testimony in his hands as he descended the mountain — he did not realize that the skin of his face shone as a result of his speaking with the Lord.” (Exodus 34:28-29 HCSB)

Moses had spent time with God and it showed. His face shown with God’s glory. I wonder if we reflect the glory of God like that? Perhaps our lives don’t shine with holy glory because we aren’t putting the time in with God.  There is no shortcut that I have found in this.  It takes time.  Spending time with the Lord in prayer and in His word is an investment we must make if we want to reflect His glory to the world around us.  We should want the world to see God when they look at us.  That doesn’t happen just by saying it.  We must invest the time with God.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!   Everywhere you go this time of year you see signs of the season in full swing.  Candy canes, Christmas trees, wreaths, lights, etc cover the landscape.  For some, this is the most wonderful time of the year.  For others, it may be the busiest most hectic time.  Some even dread this time as it reopens old wounds and clearly reminds them of what they don’t have.  But we must always remember what we are celebrating.  Christmas is the day we have chosen to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  We don’t the exact date, so for centuries, December 25th has been used.

One of the things I love about this time of year is there are so many reminders of Jesus if we just have our eyes open to see them.  Evergreen trees and wreaths remind of the eternal life He came to bring.   The stars and all the lights remind us of the star which shone over Bethlehem and caught the attention of the wise men who traveled to see the newborn King of Kings and Light of the World.  Even the custom of giving gifts can remind us that God loved us so much He gave His Son, Jesus, to open the door to eternal life to all who place their trust in Him. (John 3:16-18)  Sharing the good news should be easy this time of year if we will only not lose sight of the reason we celebrate.

Let us remember to keep Christ in Christmas.  Let this be a time of sharing His love with all around us.

Thank You!

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Thank you! Two simple words, yet combined they have great power. Everyone likes to feel appreciated. We all want others to acknowledge what we do. We don’t serve for the praise of man, but it is nice to be appreciated. Many people walk away from churches because they feel unappreciated.

Today, I want to express my appreciation to you. To every church which blessed me by allowing me to serve in staff I say thank you. I especially appreciate my early churches. You put up with me when I thought I knew everything. You helped mentor me and blessed my family. I am amazed as I reflect back to how much you had to tolerate as I was taking my firsts steps in ministry.

I am also overwhelmed with gratitude for LBC Mexia for allowing me to serve here for 17 years. When I became a pastor, I hoped I wouldn’t have to move much. I never in my wildest dreams imagined I would be able to stay at one church for nearly two decades! The typical tenure for pastors is 4 years. You have been amazing people. It is your hard work and sacrifice that keeps us moving forward. Thank you for supporting us through difficult times. Thank you for loving us with all our faults. I love you and am grateful to be your pastor.

This Thanksgiving, let’s take time to give thanks and show appreciate.