Practice Makes Perfect

Bounce, bounce, bounce. Our young neighbor spends most of his free time shooting hoops. He is only in elementary school now. By the time he reaches middle school and high school, he will amassed thousands, maybe tens of thousands of hours dribbling that ball and aiming for that net. I have to believe that it will make him a force to be reckoned with. Practice makes perfect, they say. Paul encouraged the church at Philippi to practice what is good and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8-9 Brothers and sisters, continue to think about what is good and worthy of praise. Think about what is true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected. And do what you learned and received from me—what I told you and what you saw me do. And the God who gives peace will be with you. His advice to that first century church still hold true today. By continued practice of what its good and worthy, we will be preparing ourselves to stand inn the day of judgement and give a good accounting of our life. Prayer Heavenly Father than you for sending Jesus as our perfect example of the life you expect us to live. Give it’s the courage, strength, and wisdom to follow the prompting of your Holy Spirit. Amen. Also visit my other blogs
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    Laundry

    This week my wife and I took our dirty clothes to the laundromat. As I was watching the clothes swirl around in the glass door of the front loading machine, the seed of a musing was planted in my brain. I imagined what it would be like to be an article of clothing in that machine. As I thought backwards on the life of one of those shirts sloshing back and forth in the washer. I can see the beginning of its life as the seamstress or tailor cuts the clothe and stitches it into a shape pleasing to them. Next it it’s packaged and purchased. It begins its life. It has a purpose to clothe the naked. However, as time goes on it becomes soiled. So, to the laundromat it goes. It is mixed with other pieces of laundry, some are shirts similar to itself however, some are socks, shorts, slacks, and dresses. At first they lay quietly while comforting warm water bathes them. But soon a motion begins. At first it is a gentle rocking. But then things begin to change. The motion becomes more turbulent and sometimes painful. Then things begin to spin faster and faster. It then slows to a stop. The shirt breathes a sigh of relief. But then the spinning begins again and again. At last the shirt, all tangled in a wad with the rest of clothes is placed in the dryer. Once more it begins to spin, but slower this time. Warm air begins to dry the clothes and they separate from the soggy ball into their individual forms. At last the shirt it’s removed from the dryer and is once more ready to clothes the naked. I see so many parallels between the shirt and our walk with God. He creates us to His design and sets us to work on His plan (psalm 139:24). Along the way, bits and pieces of this broken world begin to cling to us (Romans 3:23). Words, thoughts, and deeds not of God but of the world inhibit us from fulfilling His plan for us. He has created a community of believers each with their own gifts and duties (1 Corinthians chapter 12). Through His baptism he brings us together. It is necessary to occasionally shake things up in our lives to get its back on track, and sometimes the shaking is painful (Hebrews 9:15). Then in the warmth of God’s love we are once more ready to be about our Father’s business. (Psalm 51:12) Prayer Father, your lessons are everywhere if we will but seek them. Give us a seekers heart. Amen. Also visit my other blogs
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    Lighting the Darkness

    Mark 4:21-23 Jesus said to them, “Does anyone bring a lamp into a room to put it under a basket or under a bed? Isn’t it put on a lamp stand? There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed. There is nothing kept secret that will not come to light. Let the person who has ears listen!”

    Matthew 5:14-16 “You are light for the world. A city cannot be hidden when it is located on a hill. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket. Instead, everyone who lights a lamp puts it on a lamp stand. Then its light shines on everyone in the house. In the same way let your light shine in front of people. Then they will see the good that you do and praise your Father in heaven.

    Mark and Matthew may be describing the same event or perhaps Jesus used the same illustration at different times to a different crowd. In any case the message is clear, let your light shine.

    Though the analogy seems totally different than Jesus’ story about the farmer scattering seed, in both cases he requires us to share what we have. Seed and light are both symbols of the gospel.

    Are you hiding your light? Have you lifted it high so that it will reach further into the darkness?

    Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!

    Prayer Lord, you have entrusted us with the job of spreading your good news to the people around us. Sometimes we have done as commanded however, sometimes we’ve failed. Forgive us when we’ve failed to share your light. We ask that your light burn so brightly in us that people in darkness are drawn to it. Amen. Also visit my other blogs
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    A Little While

    When my youngest child was three to four years old, the family took a road trip of 550+ miles. After being on the road for nearly nine hours, we were about 50 miles from or goal when the youngest said, “I want to go home!” I tried to reason with her that we were nearly to where we were going. “No! I want to to home now! We can come back tomorrow!”

    There was no way for her to understand, because she had no concept of time or distance. In her young mind it was perfectly logical to “go home” as start again the following day.

    John 16:16-18 16.
    A little while, and then you will not see me. And again a little while, and you will see me. For I am going to the Father.” 17. Then some of his disciples said to one another: “What is this, that he is saying to us: ‘A little while, and you will not see me,’ and ‘Again a little while, and you will see me,’ and, ‘For I am going to the Father?’ ” 18. And they said: “What is this, that he is saying, ‘A little while?’ We do not understand what he is saying.”

    In our scripture verses Jesus is trying to explain things to his disciples. However, they couldn’t fully understand him because they did not possess the necessary concepts.

    When I read the Hebrew prophets, I marvel at some of the images that they employ. How difficult it was for them to translate spiritual images and concepts into something that human minds might understand. Isaiah quoted God as saying, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

    It wasn’t until the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples that they began to have an understand of what Jesus was telling them.

    Prayer
    Lord, as we rely on your wisdom, lead us to an understanding of the purpose you have for us.
    Amen.


    Also visit my other blogs.Tom and Ella’s Daily Journal of Our Liveshttp://TomAndEllaJournal.WordPress.comMy NEW sermons blog Armchair Sermons. Sermons posted Sundays 10 AM central time.©2020 Thomas E Williams

    Tom and Ella’s Daily Journal of Our Liveshttp://TomAndEllaJournal.WordPress.comMy NEW sermons blog Armchair Sermons. Sermons posted Sundays 10 AM central time.©2020 Thomas E Williams
  • Tom and Ella’s Daily Journal of Our Lives
  • http://TomAndEllaJournal.WordPress.com
  • My NEW sermons blog Armchair Sermons. Sermons posted Sundays 10 AM central time.
  • ©2020 Thomas E Williams
    • Tom and Ella’s Daily Journal of Our Lives
    http://TomAndEllaJournal.WordPress.com
    • My NEW sermons blog Armchair Sermons. Sermons posted Sundays 10 AM central time.
    ©2020 Thomas E Williams
    • Tom and Ella’s Daily Journal of Our Lives
    http://TomAndEllaJournal.WordPress.com
    • My NEW sermons blog Armchair Sermons. Sermons posted Sundays 10 AM central time.
    ©2020 Thomas E WilliamsAlso visit my other blogs.
    • Tom and Ella’s Daily Journal of Our Lives
    http://TomAndEllaJournal.WordPress.com
    • My NEW sermons blog Armchair Sermons. Sermons posted Sundays 10 AM central time.
    ©2020 Thomas E Williams

    FISH IN AN AQUARIUM

    Matthew 11:16-24 “How can I describe the people who are living now? They are like children who sit in the marketplaces and shout to other children, ‘We played music for you, but you didn’t dance. We sang a funeral song, but you didn’t show any sadness.’ “John came neither eating nor drinking, and people say, ‘There’s a demon in him!’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and people say, ‘Look at him! He’s a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ “Yet, wisdom is proved right by its actions.” Then Jesus denounced the cities, where he had worked most of his miracles, because they had not changed the way they thought and acted. “How horrible it will be for you, Chorazin! How horrible it will be for you, Bethsaida! If the miracles worked in you had been worked in Tyre and Sidon, they would have changed the way they thought and acted long ago in sackcloth and ashes. I can guarantee that judgment day will be better for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to heaven? No, you will go down to hell! If the miracles that had been worked in you had been worked in Sodom, it would still be there today. I can guarantee that judgment day will be better for Sodom than for you.” Jesus came to seek the sinners and did what the “religious” people would not, he went to where the sinners were. It only makes sense. If you were going to catch fish you wouldn’t build an aquarium and expect the fish to come to you, would you? No. You would get in your boat and cast your line or your net, right? Then why do so many Christians think that, if we construct a beautiful church building, that the lost will come flooding in? Are we afraid to be seen associating with “tax collectors”? Prayer Jesus, you called us to be fishers of men* but we have become aquarium builders. Forgive us. Send your spirit to fill us with the same desire to save the lost that you and your early disciples had. Amen. *Matthew 4:19
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  • Bookends of Love

    John 14:15-21

    If you love me, you will obey my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper who will be with you forever. That helper is the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept him, because it doesn’t see or know him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you all alone. I will come back to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. You will live because I live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father and that you are in me and that I am in you. Whoever knows and obeys my commandments is the person who loves me. Those who love me will have my Father’s love, and I, too, will love them and show myself to them.”

    Bookends of Love

    In this brief section of Jesus’s teaching and instruction to his apostles and disciples, he links love and commandments twice: “If you love me, you will obey my commandments” and “Whoever knows and obeys my commandments is the person who loves me.”  I found it interesting that love came both before and after the commandments. It was as if they we wrapped in love. Love is the reason for obeying his commandments and obeying his commandments is proof of our love.

    Prayer:

    Jesus, lover of my soul, I love you more than anything that this world had to offer. Your commandments are simple to understand but,sometimes, difficult to follow. Thank you for the Spirit of Truth that you have given us to guide our steps through this ungodly world.

    Amen.

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  • I Know Him

    1 John 2:3-6

    We are sure that we know Christ if we obey his commandments. The person who says, “I know him,” but doesn’t obey his commandments is a liar. The truth isn’t in that person. But whoever obeys what Christ says is the kind of person in whom God’s love is perfected. That’s how we know we are in Christ. Those who say that they live in him must live the same way he lived.

    I Know Him

    I’m sometimes amazed that I see people who claim the salvation that Christ offers but do not seem to accept the duty to change, to live the life that he lived, to love the way he loved. Friends, I have to tell you this, you cannot live with one foot on the path of righteousness and the other foot on that worldly path that leads to destruction. I know. I tried. If you take the name of Christ upon you (Christian), you must also take his lifestyle upon you. “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” 

    (John 14:15)

    Prayer:

    Jesus, teach us to study as you studied, to speak as you spoke, to live as you lived and to love as you love, to forgive as you forgive and to grow ever closer to being Christ-like.

    Amen.

    Priestly Duties

    Malachi 2:1-9
    “And now, you priests, this warning is for you. If you won’t listen and if you won’t consider giving honor to my name,” says the LORD of Armies, “then I’ll send a curse on you, and I’ll curse the blessings you give. Yes, I’ve already cursed them because you don’t carefully consider this. “I’m going to punish your descendants. I’m going to spread excrement on your faces, the excrement from your festival sacrifices. You will be discarded with it. Then you will know that I sent you this warning so that my promise to Levi will continue,” says the LORD of Armies. “I promised Levi life and peace. I gave them to him so that he would respect me. He respected me and stood in awe of my name. The teaching that came from his mouth was true. Nothing unjust was found on his lips. He lived with me in peace and honesty and turned many people away from sin. “A priest’s lips should preserve knowledge. Then, because he is the messenger for the LORD of Armies, people will seek instruction from his mouth. “But you have turned from the correct path and caused many to stumble over my teachings. You have corrupted the promise made to Levi,” says the LORD of Armies. “So I have made you disgusting, and I have humiliated you in front of all the people, because you have not followed my ways. You have been unfair when applying my teachings.”

    Priestly Duties

    The prophet Malachi lived about 400 years before Christ was born. He was the last prophet before John the Baptist. The warning that he gave was to the priests, not the people, nor the king as other prophets had been.  

    The condition for escaping the wrath of God was simple, listen and consider giving honor to His name. God certainly wasn’t asking a hard thing of them. He only asked that they, as His messangers, preserve knowledge and give good instruction to His people. 

    And what were the consequences of disobedience? They were harsh, very harsh

    • their blessings become cursed
    •  excrement from there sacrifices smeared on their faces
    • Discarded with the excrement.
    • punispunish even to descendants

    Why was the punishment so harsh that even their descendents were punishment? These priests had not only turned away from God’s path but they had also lead others astray by giving false teaching.

    As a preacher I am very aware of my duty and responsibility to God and my listeners and readers. I would never intentionally lead others astray and I pray that, no matter what words I speak, that the people hear the message that God has for them. I also stress that it is each persons responsibility to do their own study of the scriptures and to pray for and listen for the Holy Spirit’s leading. It is their eternal soul at stake.

    Now hear this, being a child of God and a follower of Christ cuts two ways. We are responsible to God for ourselves continuing on the right path AND we are responsible for not misleading others.

    Prayer:

    Father, forgive me for the times I’ve wandered from your path. Lord also forgive me for anytime that by my action or inaction others may have between lead astray. Also, Lord, don’t hold them accountable for my error. And more importantly, set their lives back on the path you have laid out for them.

    Amen.

    Through These Promises

    2 Peter 1:4-9

    Through his glory and integrity he has given us his promises that are of the highest value. Through these promises you will share in the divine nature because you have escaped the corruption that sinful desires cause in the world. Because of this, make every effort to add integrity to your faith; and to integrity add knowledge; to knowledge add self-control; to self-control add endurance; to endurance add godliness; to godliness add Christian affection; and to Christian affection add love. If you have these qualities and they are increasing, it demonstrates that your knowledge about our Lord Jesus Christ is living and productive. If these qualities aren’t present in your life, you’re shortsighted and have forgotten that you were cleansed from your past sins.

    Through These Promises

    Through the promises of Jesus, the Christ, we will share in his divine nature because we have escaped the corruption that sinful desires cause in our world. That is his promise to us.

    We also have made a promise to him. We have accepted him as savior. We have promised to be called but his name, Christian. We have promised to be lead by his Spirit and his goodwill. These are the outward signs of the inward change in our lives:

    • integrity
    • faith
    • knowledge
    • self-control
    • endurance
    • godliness
    • Christian affection
    • love. 

    These traits demonstrates that our knowledge about our Lord Jesus Christ is living and productive.

    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, give us your strength and your guidance to do your goodwill in our world today. Help us, we pray, to fulfill our promises to you.

    Amen.

    Disciples and Others

    Luke 6:13&17

    When it was day, he called his disciples. He chose twelve of them and called them apostles. 

    Jesus came down from the mountain with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples and many other people were there. They had come from all over Judea, Jerusalem, and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon.

    Disciples and Others

    So often when we think of Jesus and the disciples, we think of the 12 apostles who are namef in Luke 6:14-16. We tend to forget that there were large crowds that followed him. (John 6:2, Matthew 4:25 and over 30 other scriptures) 

    Just to clarify the meanings: a disciple is a student while apostles are sent to teach. 

    However, today I want to focus on “the others” in our scripture reading. The others were followers who were neither student nor apostle. What were they then? They may have followed Jesus in hope of a healing. Possibly, they came for the spectacle, the “show”. They may have come because they were curious why there was a crowd gathered. Nothing draws a crowd like a crowd.

    In our day we still have disciples (students) and apostles (teachers) and great crowds of others. Our duty as Christians is to change the others into students and then teachers. (Mark 16:15 and Matthew 28:19-20)

    Now understand that, though not everyone’s spiritual gift it’s to be a preacher or a teacher, all of us who call ourselves Christian we commanded to reach others for Christ. I can almost hear some of you readers saying, “I’m not a teacher!” Yes. Yes you (we) are by words and actions. If you claim the name “Christian”, you must also accept the duty of the Great Commission. So, Christian, ask yourself, “Are my words and actions Christ-like?”

    Prayer:

    Master, Teacher, help me to become a better student so that  by my actions and by my words, the ,”others” will be lead to become your disciples also.

    Amen.

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    ©2019 Thomas E Williams