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Psalm 23 Part 1 - What Do You Want

I have to confess that this well loved and well-known Psalm caused me trouble for many years as a kid.I mean, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”That’s exactly how it reads and that is exactly how I heard it for much of my life, beautifully read out of the traditional King James Version.For those here who know the 23rd Psalm by heart, I could almost guarantee that is the version of it that you have memorized.It is truly beautiful, though I don’t know if that beauty lies in the accuracy of translation or simply with how it connects us to what is one of the most familiar passages of Scripture.The King James Version is so much a part of what this verse is to so many, I have this King James Version of the Bible just for the reading of the 23rd Psalm, in the event I have to read it in a public setting. However, as usual, I have skewed from the point I was about to make.I mentioned that this verse caused me problems as a kid.What was the problem?The problem is simple, I just didn’t …

Time For Something New - Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

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My brothers and sisters, let us begin by just acknowledging that for many of us here, this seems most clearly a time to echo the words of the Teacher in Ecclesiastes: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” and most specifically, “a time to weep” and “a time to mourn.”   For those who have walked in the sanctuary and looked around, and reflected on the services held in there, the weddings, the graduation Sundays, the baptisms, the funerals, the Christmas and Easter and all other special programs…each and every Sunday morning and Wednesday night services, the grief can seem overwhelming.  There is loss and there is sadness…and God gives us space for that…He gives us time for weeping and mourning.
He gave that to the Hebrew people in exile who felt that everything had been lost…their homes, their temple, their towns had been destroyed by the invading armies.  I reflected on that in my devotional thoughts yesterday morning as I reflected on the damag…

Blessed: The Merciful - Mathew 5:1-2, 7

Jesus turns our world upside down. It is no longer the self-sufficient, those sure of themselves, the proud who are to consider themselves privileged, but Jesus tells those who hear Him, that the ones who are fortunate are the poor in spirit, those whocome to realize that without God, we are nothing—that our identity does not lie in what we do, what we have, or anything other than God Almighty on whom we are dependent for everything, even the breath we just took. It is no longer the happy-go-lucky folks that are to find themselves fortunate, Jesus tells us that those who are blessed are the ones who look into the world and weep at what they see—those who mourn the condition of the world when they see so many in need in the face of so many who have so much. It is no longer the arrogant who should hold their head up high, or those who exercise great physical or military might, but those who are humble are privileged, the meek are blessed—those who seek to live like Christ in their reaction…

Taming Wild Horses: Don’t Commit An Abomination - Proverbs 6:16-19

It seems like it has been forever since we have tackled the subject of “Taming Wild Horses.”It has been nearly a month in fact.Hurricane Florence came in and interrupted our series.Interestingly enough, while I was led to preach this series in preparation for our “Congregational Conversations,” that we might be reminded how to talk to one another, or any that we might not agree with, it seems that God had multiple plans for the series.Over and over during the last month, as folks have dealt with the aftermath of the hurricane, including conversations with insurance agents and adjusters, or with impatient or rude customers, as well as others, I have heard many comments about realizing the difficulty in taming these potentially destructive wild horses.Several said they had to remind themselves to control them…some have said they have chewed them up…some have confessed to having let the horse go wild once more. Since we will begin those conversations tonight, before we get into this last …

Blessed: Those Who Hunger and Thirst of Righteousness - Matthew 5:1-2, 6

“Blessed.”We began this series many weeks ago, and then, in the aftermath of Florence, we broke from it for the last two weeks.In a time where we really need to be reminded what it means to be blessed, we return to our series.What does it mean to be “Blessed”?We’ve discovered in our series that being “Blessed” is not about being “Happy,” it is beyond any emotional state that we have. Being “Blessed” is a state of being…it means to find oneself fortunate, well-off, or privileged.Who are the “Blessed”?As we have journeyed through the Beatitudes, we find that Jesus takes our world and turns it upside down in defining who is “Blessed.”Let’s remember what we have already considered. “Blessed are the poor in spirit…for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”Jesus said those who realize that they are not self-made and are not self-reliant are blessed.Those who are blessed are those who realize that they are wholly and completely dependent upon God and find their identity in God and God alone, not i…

Blessed To Be A Blessing - Exodus 12:1-3

How many of you have felt you have been blessed during the last nine days? What are we supposed to do with those blessings? Too often we think the blessings that we have received are all about us, ways that God is simply enriching our lives for the sake of us.We come into unexpected money and automatically start thinking to ourselves okay, now I can get a new dress, now I can get those shoes I’ve been wanting, or now I can get that new television, “now I can take that dream vacation” or “now I can move into a new house,” or “now I can join the country club.”Maybe we don’t actually plan on spending any of those financial blessings right away.Many of the blessings that we have experienced in the last week aren’t financial though…they have come in a home spared from damage, a quick visit from an assurance adjuster, free meals, disaster supplies, or the kindness of a fellow scorch member or a neighbor providing a meal for us.We consider all of these blessings and we figure we have been b…