“Truth is stranger than fiction.” You can’t make this stuff up. I have an example of that.
This story comes out of Oregon. A young mom pulled up to the door of a convenient store and left the car running while she ran inside to buy a few items. She left her child in the car seat in the back seat.
A car thief saw her walk into the store and he jumped in her car and zoomed away. He didn’t get far when he noticed the child in the backseat. He drove back to the store and waited for the mom to come out. When she did, he lectured her on what a bad mother she was leaving her child unattended in a running car. He ordered her to remove the child. She did. Then he promptly drove off. So, who was more ethical?
I am sharing Sundays on spiritual gifts because of the hour we are in. We don’t want to fall short in fulfilling God’s purpose for us in our community. Listen to Paul’s heart in these 2 verses: Romans 1:11 – “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – “ and 1 Corinthians 1:7 – “Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.
Wednesday is Inauguration Day and who knows what will happen? There might be something unusual. We should be watching and praying that day for our country.
“For Richmond” has sent out a prayer guide for that day. I encourage you to use it.
Consecrate yourself. 1 Timothy 2:1-8 As we pray, let’s start off by focusing and consecrating ourselves. The word consecrate means to dedicate ourselves for God’s work. Read the call for consecration in 1 Timothy 2:1-8 and pray accordingly.
Lament. Psalm 10 A lament is a passionate expression of grief and sorrow to God. Feel free to express your pain to God and expect God to meet you in that pain. Be guided by Psalm 10 as you pray.
Confession. Isaiah 58 Listen to the prayer of confession and song of lament. Start with an examination of your own sins and shortcomings and move outward to examine the sins and shortcomings we are engaging in a community. Talk to God in your heart or through journaling as you engage Isaiah 58.
Intercession. Matthew 5:43-48 Intercession is praying on the behalf of others. Read Matthew 5:43-48 and use it as a guide in your prayers for those in your family, friends, neighbors, and enemies.
Benediction Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: In might, spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and forever. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
We live in confusing, troubling times. Read these verses. Let their truth wash over your spirit.
Psa 16:1 A prayer of David. Protect me, O God, for I have taken shelter in you.
Psa 61:4 I will be a permanent guest in your home; I will find shelter in the protection of your wings. (Selah)
Psa 91:4 He will shelter you with his wings; you will find safety under his wings. His faithfulness is like a shield or a protective wall.
2Sa 22:3 My God is my rocky summit where I take shelter, my shield, the horn that saves me, my stronghold, my refuge, my savior. You save me from violence!
Pro 29:25 The fear of people becomes a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord will be set on high.
Psa 18:2 The Lord is my high ridge, my stronghold, my deliverer. My God is my rocky summit where I take shelter, my shield, the horn that saves me, and my refuge.
Pro 30:5 Every word of God is purified; he is like a shield for those who take refuge in him.
Psa 91:2 I say this about the Lord, my shelter and my stronghold, my God in whom I trust –
Psa 62:8 Trust in him at all times, you people! Pour out your hearts before him! God is our shelter! (Selah)
Psa 61:3 Indeed, you are my shelter, a strong tower that protects me from the enemy.
Nah 1:7 The Lord is good – indeed, he is a fortress in time of distress, and he protects those who seek refuge in him.
Psa 37:39 But the Lord delivers the godly; he protects them in times of trouble.
Part of the troubling times involves what’s happening in Virginia. Please read the paragraph and respond as you are led. This is from the Family Foundation.
Between now and Feb. 3, we are facing a crucial time for Virginian families: The Virginia Department of Education has proposed a policy that essentially mandates the promotion of gender confusion to every single K-12 public school student. There is a short window of time for parents and concerned Virginians to make their voice heard on the draft of this sweeping policy. (To review 10 ways this policy endangers parental rights and student safety and privacy, click here). Please pray that The Family Foundation’s efforts to educate Virginians on this transgender model policy motivate thousands of people to speak up boldly against it being mandated in their children’s schools. Pray that the Department of Education will be receptive to the concerns of parents and reject policy that hurts children and disrespects parents. Please pray that parents will use this opportunity to educate their children through scripture, helping them to avoid the confusion and deception of the world and instead celebrate their God-given gender and sexuality.
Intercessors for America has an excellent article on individual repentance from Gloria Robles if you are interested.
Here is our Wednesday chat.
At the beginning of a new year we often make resolutions to eliminate a bad habit or develop a new and good habit. That’s ok. Why not make it a biblical resolution? Here’s 3:
- Psalm 17:3 – “Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.” Make a resolution to watch what comes out of your mouth. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
- Daniel 1:8 – “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine…” This was not a diet but to avoid food sacrificed to idols. Consider not eating foods that give you a guilty conscience or eating because you’re bored. 1 Corinthians 3:16 says, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s spirit lives in you?
- 1 Corinthians 2:2 – “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. Desire nothing more than knowing Jesus better in 2021. Philippians 3:8 says, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”
Also be in prayer tomorrow for the 2 Senate races in Georgia that the election would be fair and honest. Pray Wednesday as Congress votes on whether to accept the electors votes or not. Pray that truth will be told in the presidential election.
When babies are soon to be born, families and friends of the expectant mother throw a “baby shower”, they “shower” the mother with helpful gifts.
When Jesus was born He too was “showered”, showered with praise. The birth narratives are wrapped in praise. Ten different times, either people or angels offered joyful, spontaneous praise to God because of Jesus the Savior’s arrival to earth.
Nine out of the ten praise events occur in the first two chapters of Luke’s Gospel. Gabriel’s announcement to Mary, John the Baptist leaping for joy in Elizabeth’s womb in the presence of pregnant Mary, Elizabeth’s response, Zechariah, John’s father’s praise. Want more? The Shepherd’s reaction to the angel’s announcement & the angel choir praising Him. Simeon in the Temple & Anna, too. We can’t forget about the Magi’s praise in Matthew.
Jesus received praise from all walks of life and people. Let’s add our praise to theirs this Christmas.
Allen and Tammy Hill will be ministering to us Sunday. Cathy and I know them through Lee Mitchell and they have become friends. Allen has worked in the medical supply field. They have what I would call a cell group that meets in their home for discipleship. Feel free to invite someone who needs to hear their ministry of hope through struggle.
All current Elders and Coordinators and future Elders and Coordinators are invited to a brainstorming time for ministry ideas for 2021 this Saturday at 9:00. We’ll meet in the Youth Room and be done by 12:00.
I am calling a special prayer time for Sunday, December 13th at 6:30. We will be praying for our country, election, church and as lead by the Lord.
We are planning a trip to Ohio this week to see my dad and Cathy’s mom. We’ll be back for worship on Sunday. Be safe if you plan to travel.
We have much to be thankful for in spite of ____________ (fill in the blank). Do intentionally thank God (see 1 Thessalonians 5:18). 1 John 5:19 says “That the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” But 1 John 4:4 tells us “Because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” You are a child of God and you are in His hand.
We’ve all had a troubled heart before. Maybe you do right now? Even Jesus did. In John 12:27 He says, “Now My heart is troubled.” None of us are immune from life’s troubles. In John 16:33 Jesus said, “In this world you will have troubles.” More are coming. Prepare. How do we deal with a troubled heart? John 14 is a great passage for that. I want to share a few thoughts from verse 1, which says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me.”
This verse indicates that we have a part to play. We are to “not let.” If that was impossible Jesus would never command it. It’s possible then to “not let your heart be troubled.” Maybe it means not watching the news? The word troubled means a “stormy sea.” Is there a storm in your life right now? What can you do?
Trust God. Believe in His ability. Hang on tightly to Him. Jesus was talking to men with troubled hearts. He could see it on their faces. He had just told them they couldn’t go where He was going. He told Peter he would soon deny Him. One of them would betray Him. They’d all run and hide in Jesus’ darkest moment. They were disappointed that He wasn’t going to defeat the Romans and put them in charge. And if He died, what would happen to them?
We all feel similar when circumstances don’t go our way. Maybe we try and ignore it, just pretend all is well. Or we escape into more work, or more TV or more alcohol. Or moan and grown and trouble everyone else’s heart. Or trust God through the trouble. Job did. He said, “Though He slay me still will I trust Him.” Right now, with the uncertainty in our country over the election, we must not let our hearts be troubled but trust God.
If you haven’t already voted, I trust you will tomorrow. Vote the closest to your beliefs, values, and conscience.
Rev. John Piper recently wrote that he is not voting at all. He can’t vote for Biden because he is pro-abortion. He can’t vote for Trump because of his many sins. Dr. Michael Brown has answered Piper convincingly.
I can’t recall a list of character requirements for politicians. I can think of one for pastors (elders; 1 Timothy 3). I don’t think I’m voting for a pastor but a politician when I go to my voting place.
I doubt John Piper would vote for King Cyrus either, but God did. In Isaiah 44:28-45:1 it says, “Who says of Cyrus, He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, Let it be rebuilt, and of the temple, Let it’s foundations be laid. This is what the Lord says to his anointed (this word means Christ or Messiah!) to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut.” In 45:4 it says, “for the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge Me.”
I am asking our church family to set aside blocks of time to pray for our country and the upcoming election November 1, 2, and 3. We will gather again this Sunday night at 6:30 for corporate prayer. The previous two Sunday nights have been great! I would also encourage you to fast a day, or a meal those days. Or fast from something you usually do and devote that time to prayer. May God bring needed revival to this land.