Lord Grant Me Wisdom!

August 27, 2012

(Solomon said), “So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” – I Kings 3:9-10

Thanks to Walt Disney and others, we’ve all heard of the magic genie who grants you a wish or three for anything you want. I doubt most folks have ever asked themselves what they would ask for if they were given that opportunity. Why? Because it isn’t realistic.

Yet in today’s message, we have an example of the powerful LORD God himself – not some mere cartoon genie – offering Solomon anything he wanted. And for what did Solomon ask? He asked for a discerning heart, that he would have wisdom to govern God’s people. What a request!

It might be more impressive what he did not ask for. He didn’t ask for more wealth than he already had. He didn’t ask for continued health, that he might enjoy a long life on this earth. He didn’t ask for the death of his enemies so that his throne would be secured even more than it already was. He didn’t even ask for a trouble-free life. Instead he asked for wisdom.

We can learn from Solomon. We can place a high value on wisdom in the Lord, which starts with knowing, “There is a God; and I am not him.” We can set our hearts on carrying out the work the LORD has given us in a way that honors him. We can set our hearts on things above – the eternal promises of Jesus – and not on things below.

Prayer: Lord, earthly blessings are important, and you have given me too many of those to count. But today I ask you not for more money, better health, or a trouble-free life; instead I ask you to give me wisdom that I might have deep contentment with all you’ve given me, and make choices that honor you as my Savior. Amen.


Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

August 26, 2012

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“Citius, altius, fortius”

August 20, 2012

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. – Philippians 3:12-16

I really enjoyed watching the Olympics earlier this month. The athletes trying to do their best was a great a great thrill and inspiration.

“Citius, altius, fortius” is a Latin phrase meaning, “swifter, higher, stronger.” It is the motto of the Olympic games and does well to embody what our calling in Christ pursues.

Christ has already taken care of saving us for a Christian life and setting us apart for an eternal life in heaven. He’s placed us on the path of righteousness, but still lets us run. Swifter we flee from temptation. Higher we stretch ourselves to practice Christ-like love. Stronger we stand in the midst of suffering in this world. A shining example of this kind of fortitude was revealed in the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico.

A Tanzanian marathon runner named Akhwari was the last man to finish the marathon race. He arrived in the stadium staggering and limping, and finished his race long after the winner did. This, of course, prompted all kinds of post-race questions as to why he continued when he had no chance of winning.

He simply replied, “My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me to finish the race.”

A Christian who knew why God saved him and set him apart, the apostle Paul also spoke in similar terms, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me … I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12,14).

Through the sacrifice of his Son, God set the prize of heaven before us. Now in our life of faith in Jesus we press on to take full possession of that for which God has taken hold of us.

Run, Christian, run. Finish the race.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me finish the race. Guide my feet to follow the way that you speak in your Word. Extend my arms to reach others in love. Wipe my tears of sorrow so that I can better see the path. Lead me on, Lord. Lead me on. Amen.

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

August 19, 2012

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Darleen Mary McDaris, 1957-2012

August 18, 2012

The Memorial Service Bulletin

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Poetic Beauty of God’s Word

August 13, 2012

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. – Isaiah 55:10-11

In Isaiah 55, the poetry of God’s Word shines. Consider its beauty: God’s powerful promises are illustrated in falling rain and the emerald buds and blossoms that cool rain brings. Yes, we can read this in this summer of 2012, the worst of drought of Missouri. Poetry like this helps us ponder a beauty we don’t always see in everyday life.

How poetically beautiful does your life feel? Before thinking about yourself, consider Isaiah’s audience first. They had committed sins and they lived in a sinful world. It was hard to believe that God had a plan of salvation that would end in joy.

Like Israel, it isn’t necessarily that we think God is incapable of keeping promises. It’s more that the wicked world around us seems more real. It’s also that our struggle with sin makes life feel less than beautiful. Watch the news about the American economy or the presidential candidates’ religious views. Struggle through personality conflicts or health concerns. Assess your temptations to angrily argue at home or to surf the inappropriate on the Internet. You understand the truths the apostle Paul summarized in Romans 7, that we’re “wretched” people, plagued with sinful failures and temptations. In Romans 8, that this whole creation is frustrated in sin and groans with us for the poetic beauty of heaven. Altogether, that promised beauty can seem sometimes unreachable.

It’s not really the poetry but the content of God’s Word that draws us in here. We’re reminded of the beautiful reality that God’s Word always works. He promised a Savior from sin. Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose to win that salvation. He promised that every one of our sins was forgiven at the cross. Daily he applies that forgiveness in his Word. He promises that as we read and speak his Word, he works in the hardest of hearts to condemn sin and to comfort with his love.

Here Isaiah poetically reminds us that there is beauty to our lives even though they don’t always seem poetical. Our beauty is in trusting God’s powerful Word though we see a world of sin. Like refreshing rain that brings flowers and life, God’s Word works. Begin your day. Do your work. Speak his Word. Live in his grace. Joyfully trust that even when it doesn’t look like it, God’s Word never fails. Be at peace because every Word he has for you is love.

Prayer: Lord, refresh me today with the power of your Word. Fill me with joy to live as your forgiven child. Fill me with the confidence to speak your Word. I trust in you above all things. In you, I never fail. Amen.

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

August 12, 2012

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