King of the Earth

www.bible.com/1713/zec.14.9.csb

While many movie villains work very hard to take over the world, I don’t think any of them have any idea what they are doing, or what the job entails. From what I’ve seen, they all want to micro-manage, and that just takes too much effort. Of course, if they don’t, then they foment revolution and someone else just takes over. It’s hard enough to be the ruler of a single nation, like President of the United States, where people have a certain degree of autonomy. Imagine trying to micro-manage the lives of people all around the world.

A close second of course is the megalomaniacal supercomputer which actually has the power to monitor everyone’s activity, but it is also unfeeling and doesn’t really care if the people live or die. That too is a recipe for disaster as human beings tend to have a need for freedom. We will do all we can to make sure we continue to be free, even to rebel against such total authority. Even with the best of intentions, such systems are doomed to failure.

In truth, there is really nothing and no one on this earth capable of ruling the whole world. This is why some movies depict enormous space aliens or a horde of smaller ones to try to take over. And that may work for a while, but do you see the need to go outside our system to find a believable world ruler. We just know that a human being, even as great as Charlemagne or Alexander the Great just don’t have enough to make the grade. There are just too many moving parts.

So finally we turn to our text for today, announcing that God alone is sufficient for the position of King of the Earth, and rightly so, for He alone has made the world. He knows all of its moving parts, all of His subjects personally, and is able to move things in such a way as to satisfy His will. He alone has this authority.

I saw an interesting post on Facebook, to the effect through this viral fear, God has managed to remove all of the idols, sports idols, fame idols, money idols, even church and security idols. All of these things leave us but with one final direction to look, to our Creator. And He has managed to do this in a matter of days. You may say we have done these things ourselves and we can pat ourselves on the back, but it took cooperation among many different moving parts to make this happen. This week even more establishments are being told to close their business. I might be tempted to say at this point that the fear of Corona Virus 19 is king, but I know better.

Lord, help me find the balance today between fear and caution. The world is telling me today I have much to fear. And as much as that may be true, I know better. I know there is but one King, You. You are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There is no higher authority than you, so to you, I make my appeal. Please protect my family and my co-workers from the fear of this virus. Please protect us from the dangers it presents, so that we may continue to serve and worship You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

He Knows

www.bible.com/1713/jer.17.10.csb

Since many of us have had some time to be home this week, Scripture forces us to rethink what we do with our private time. Just because no one else can see what you’re doing, doesn’t mean God can’t. God knows your secrets. He knows the whole you, inside and out, and yet, God doesn’t immediately judge us. Despite all that exists within us, either good or not, God continues to love us as His own children.

I offer this reminder this morning, that as you go about your day and carry out your tasks, God is never far from you. God sees what you are going through. He knows your struggle and your pain. He knows. And because He knows, both what you are experiencing now and and what you will later on, He has already prepared the way. If you will follow Him, he has already prepared the path for you to travel. He has already equipped the you with the skills you will need to manage through the crisis to come. What you are going through now, though it is hard, is preparing you to help someone else later on, or to help you manage through a time when you will need such skills to bear the trial in the future.

Something that I’ve noticed in my own life is that God placed both my wife and I in healthcare. I didn’t think too much of it at the time, and I even mourned the fact I was no longer pastoring, but now I see that even in this, God has enabled me, and us, to deal with the crisis to come. Who knew we would have such a crisis as this, and yet here we are, dealing with it. God knew it was coming. God was preparing us long before we had any idea that anything like this coronavirus outbreak was coming. And in our little world of influence, God has given us and equipped us with all we need. May I add my praise to God for His marvelous foresight and foreknowledge.

Whatever you are facing today, I want to encourage you to praise the Lord, even in the midst of the trial, because He can see farther than you can. May you continue to follow the Lord and give Him praise, because He cares for you. Let us continually cast our cares, yes, but also our praise upon Him for His marvelous gifts.

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me those trials that I hated at the time. Thank you for preparing me from long ago for the crisis I face at the present. Help me Father to see my present trials in the same way, that I might be prepared to help others in the midst of theirs. Thank You Jesus, Amen.

Sick and Tired

www.bible.com/1713/psa.51.10.csb

Ooh it’s Friday! Wow. Color me uninterested. Whereas I was supposed to be on the road and traveling to a conference this morning, I am very much grounded as our venue canceled classes last week and closed up for the semester. So that means no eating out, no seeing some new places, no hanging out with people smarter than me. Well, that’s just fine.

If you are suffering from the effects of social isolation and distancing, then you know what I’m talking about. Nevertheless, I still have a job, in healthcare, which is committed to staying open and running throughout this crisis. Well, that’s just fine. It gives me a reason to get out of the house everyday.

That being said, we have a lot of sick and tired going on, generally this week has been weird. We can’t go do anything but go to the grocery store. Restaurants are closed. Movie theater is closed. Schools and churches have buttoned up. It’s just home and work. And I’m lucky to have both. But imagine a lot of folks are climbing the walls about now.

Something that we could ask for this morning is a clean, renewed heart. The ones we have need tending. I look forward to adventures and travel simply because they refresh me, and make me appreciate my own home that much more when I am away from it. But I also know that this world is not my home. I have a much better place and a much better homecoming waiting for me, and it makes this home a little less familiar.

My prayer this morning, especially as we are forced to shelter in place and so on, is to cultivate our spirit, remind ourselves that while we are warm and dry, we still need to prepare our spirit. We need to work on that holy book we keep around the house, need to be familiar with it. We have this opportunity to explore it, study it, begin to pieces together that have baffled us. There will always be an endless supply of distraction, but only one book will renew you’re spirit. Only one book will make you look at your world differently every time you put the book down. Only one book can change the way you think about this world and open your eyes to the larger world God has made. Take time this morning and today to open God’s book. Read it. Study it. Maybe comment below if you have come across insights. I invite you into God’s book. May it renew your spirit so that you are not sick and tired.

God bless our reading today, as You the Divine Author invites us to Your Word and Your Thoughts. We can do but to think Your Thoughts after You, but we await what You have to show us today.

Finding Life

www.bible.com/1713/pro.21.21.csb

In these days when staying home and social isolation are required, it’s a little harder to find life. If you have to stay by yourself, it can be very easy to get discouraged. But Jeremiah makes some interesting promises this morning.

If you pursue righteousness and unfailing love, or perfect, loyal love, then you will find life, more righteousness, and honor. The irony is that you don’t look for life to find it. You look for righteousness, those things that are righteous or holy, and you look for genuine love, love that does not fail or falter, love that does not give up. Looking for these two things in your life means you will find life.

Does this mean we are looking for people who can do that for us, or for this kind of love and righteousness in our own lives? It seems to me it needs to begin with you. You need to cultivate righteousness and love, these kinds of holy and genuine acts and feelings in yourself. Your thoughts and actions need to reflect a holy heart. Your love must be sincere and without hypocrisy. Only t when you are able to do these things will you begin to enjoy the benefits above. Sound like a difficult task? You bet it is. That’s why we have Jesus.

Jesus has already shown us what this love and righteousness look like. We need only look to His example, and follow H as His disciples. Then we will be able to cultivate these things in us.

So if you are looking for life, look for the One who showed us this life through His own sacrifice on the cross that is the righteousness and love that Jeremiah speaks of.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and prayers below. God bless you all today!

Fear

www.bible.com/1713/ecc.12.13.csb

Apparently there’s a lot to be afraid of nowadays. Here in Kentucky. We have been told to be afraid of church, bars, restaurants, large gatherings and non-essential travel? Why? Well, there’s a nasty virus out there that we can’t see that lurks in the potential breath of strangers. It’s here to make us sick, even to kill us if we are exposed to it. We’ve got to wear masks, seal ourselves off from social contact, and stay HOME.

Now we are flattening the curve and exercising social distancing out of an abundance of caution. There, I managed three social buzz-phrases in one sentence. It’s making me sick.

I have had two opportunities to leave town cancelled, one this weekend and one the next, because the virus has caused fear in others to cancel events and shut down venues. Instead of getting out of town, it looks like I will be staying in town for the duration. The lack of mobility is starting to wear on me. Even the idea that I can’t anywhere because nothing is going to be open is grating in my nerves. So what’s a guy to do?

Solomon suggests that we fear God and keep His commandments. This is the end of the law. This is the goal of all that has been written. Maybe I’ve needed to rant a bit, and I thank you for reading this far. And maybe all of this is to point out to us what’s really important in this life. Priorities are changing. We need to review those priorities in light of our walk with Christ. What is it to be a Christian in the middle of all of this? I think it means more than watching TV and moping around the house. Now is the chance to catch on your Bible reading, break out that study guide you’ve been meaning to get into. Catch up on a sermon series you’ve missed online or offer to help in your community in any way that you can. Call some elderly folks in your church and see how they are doing. You know they’ll appreciate the visit.

Lord help me today to see the opportunities that lie ahead for those who follow You. Help me to be the Christian I need to be today despite the circumstances. Show me the opportunities before me so that I can continue to serve You faithfully. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Seek and Find

www.bible.com/1713/jer.29.13.csb

One of the frequent activities I see visitors engaged with in the hospital are those simple seek and find word puzzles. You know, the ones with rows and columns of letters where you have to look through the list of words and then find the word somewhere in that matrix. They are ubiquitous in the hospital waiting rooms and gift shops. So when God calls us to seek Him find, of course my brain goes right to the puzzle.

Of course God is looking for more than puzzles here. But I think there is a truth in this. When you work such a puzzle, you know the answer is in there somewhere, even if you haven’t found it yet. We have this confidence that if we look hard enough, we will eventually find the word and mark it to show its location. I believe we can have that same confidence when looking for God in tough situations.

God calls us to seek Him. That means we can be confident that God can be found. Sometimes it is hard to see Him, but God not only calls us, but wants to be found. All it takes is time and patience.

So if you are looking for God today and it doesn’t seem easy to find, slow down, look more carefully. Be patient. He is there.

God help me to be patient today in my search. I know sometimes circumstances cloud my thinking and make it difficult to see You, but I know you are there. Help me find You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Merciful

www.bible.com/1713/mat.5.7.csb

Have you ever had the chance to show mercy? Being merciful usually implies you are in a position to offer mercy, a position most of us might feel doesn’t apply to us. When are we ever in a position to be merciful? Well, it might happen more often than you think.

Have you ever had your sense of right violated, like someone cuts in front of you at the restaurant, or the check-out line at the grocery store? Or maybe someone’s else’s kids got the playground equipment you’ve been telling your kids to wait their turn for? Basically any time your sense of righteousness has been violated, you are in a position to show mercy. And this is an odd feeling. You want to strike out in some way, like pointing out that your rightful turn was overlooked. You may want to yell or say loudly, “Hey!” Those are opportunities for mercy and graciousness.

Mercy is not demanding your rights when you have the opportunity. Mercy is giving way when you have the right to your own way. Mercy is something that as Christians we have every opportunity to practice, but it takes maturity to be able to do it well. What will you do when the opportunity presents itself? Get mad? Get even? Or give way in grace?

Lord, help still my temper when my rights are violated. Remind me that justice and vengeance are yours, not mine. And Lord help me remember this lesson before I make a mistake.

In Your Name, Amen.