What it’s the Greatest Commandment?

Exodus 20:1-7 And the Lord spoke all these words: “I am the Lord your God, who led you away from the land of Egypt, out of the house of servitude. You shall not have strange gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, nor a likeness of anything that is in heaven above or on earth below, nor of those things which are in the waters under the earth. You shall not adore them, nor shall you worship them. I am the Lord your God: strong, zealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the sons to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, and showing mercy to thousands of those who love me and keep my precepts. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. For the Lord will not hold harmless one who takes the name of the Lord his God falsely.” This is the long version of the first three of the Ten Commandments. When Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” “Jesus said to him: “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God from all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38) Jesus, in effect, rolled the first three commandments into one. Those three all deal with who God is, and how He is to be treated by humankind. He is to be loved completely. Love God more than your self, your spouse, your children, your country, your job, your bank account, your hobbies, your television, your … your anything. Anything, that is cherished above the Lord, is an idol. “You shall not adore them, nor shall you worship them.” Prayer Lord, forgive us for those times we have allowed or hearts to be drawn away from you. Lord, we adore you. “Your teachings are worth more to me than a thousand pieces of silver and gold. (Psalms 119:72) Amen. Also visit my other blogs
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    Study, Meditate, Follow

    “Behold, I am instructing you. Be strengthened, and be steadfast. Do not dread, and do not fear. For the Lord your God is with you in all things, wherever you may go.” (Joshua 1:9) I would love to claim that promise for myself. However, it was not a general promise to all, nor was it without conditions. “Therefore, be strengthened and be very steadfast, so that you may observe and accomplish the entire law, which Moses, my servant, instructed to you. You may not turn aside from it to the right, nor to the left. So may you understand all that you should do. The book of this law shall not depart from your mouth. Instead, you shall meditate upon it, day and night, so that you may observe and do all the things that are written in it. Then you shall direct your way and understand it.” (Joshua 1:7-8) If I am to claim any of this promise, I must read, study, and meditate daily on the scriptures. Many centuries after Joshua, Paul wrote to Timothy, “All Scripture, having been divinely inspired, is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in justice, so that the man of God may be perfect, having been trained for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) Realize that the Scripture to which Paul is referring is the same Scripture God commanded Joshua to study. Do you want to be a man or woman out God? How can you expect to follow God if you have not studied His word? Any fool can claim to be right before God. But only a student of scriptures can be confirmed righteous. Prayer Lord, as I study and meditate on Your word, lead me in the path of righteousness. Amen. Also visit my other blogs
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    First Choice or Last Hope

    Our church has a wonderful prayer chain. Anyone can email a prayer request to the church. That email is then forwarded, along with a wonderful prayer, to all who have agreed to be “prayer warriors.” However, I often notice from these requests that it appears that prayer (God) is the final option when going to God should be the first option. And I will admit that I am too often guilty of this myself. Understand I have nothing against modern medicine. Indeed I thank God for the wisdom and knowledge is available to us. However, I fear that our faith in doctors is sometimes greater than our faith in God. James 5:13-15 13. Are you having troubles? You should pray. Are you happy? You should sing. 14. Are you sick? Ask the elders of the church to come and rub oil on you in the name of the Lord and pray for you. 15. If such a prayer is offered in faith, it will heal anyone who is sick. The Lord will heal them. And if they have sinned, he will forgive them. Philippians 4:6-7 6. Don’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have. 7. And because you belong to Christ Jesus, God’s peace will stand guard over all your thoughts and feelings. His peace can do this far better than our human minds. Prayer Lord, we believe that you hear our requests. We believe that you will answer in your time and in your way. Forgive us for not coming to you first. Forgive us for turning to you oily when we have given up hope. Amen. Also visit my other blogs
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    (For further reading: Preaching to People Who Have “Heard it all Before” — By: J. Brian Tucker )

    FROGS

    FROGS

    Mark 6:7-13

    He called the twelve apostles, sent them out two by two, and gave them authority over evil spirits. He instructed them to take nothing along on the trip except a walking stick. They were not to take any food, a traveling bag, or money in their pockets. They could wear sandals but could not take along a change of clothes. He told them, “Whenever you go into a home, stay there until you’re ready to leave that place. Wherever people don’t welcome you or listen to you, leave and shake the dust from your feet as a warning to them.” So the apostles went and told people that they should turn to God and change the way they think and act. They also forced many demons out of people and poured oil on many who were sick to cure them.

    Jesus had been training the twelve to be servants completely relying on the Master. At this time they are to be emissaries for the Master, acting as the Master and with all of the authority of the Master. And, as in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19:12-27), they are expected to bring an increase into the kingdom of God.

    Now they are commissioned to go into the world and tell everyone the Good News while curing them. It is the same command that he will repeat to them in his last few earthly moments. (Mark 16: 24-18, Matthew 28:16-20, Acts 1:8)

    They are to go with nothing but the clothes in their backs. They are tobe Fully Reliant On. God. It is the same thing Jesus requires of all his followers: be willing to abandon everything and everyone that would keep you from serving God. (Mark 8:34)

    Are you ready to be a F.R.O.G.?

    Prayer

    Jesus, Master, we struggle to empty ourselves of self and to be full of you. We know that when we are weak, you are strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10.) Please show us how to trust in your strength so we can allow ourselves to be weak. Amen Also visit my other blogs
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    “Forgive Me” Prayer

    Psalms 50:1-19 1. Unto the end. A Psalm of David, 2. when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he went to Bathsheba. 3. Be merciful to me, O God, according to your great mercy. And, according to the plentitude of your compassion, wipe out my iniquity. 4. Wash me once again from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 5. For I know my iniquity, and my sin is ever before me. 6. Against you only have I sinned, and I have done evil before your eyes. And so, you are justified in your words, and you will prevail when you give judgment. 7. For behold, I was conceived in iniquities, and in sinfulness did my mother conceive me. 8. For behold, you have loved truth. The obscure and hidden things of your wisdom, you have manifested to me. 9. You will sprinkle me with hyssop, and I will be cleansed. You will wash me, and I will be made whiter than snow. 10. In my hearing, you will grant gladness and rejoicing. And the bones that have been humbled will exult. 11. Turn your face away from my sins, and erase all my iniquities. 12. Create a clean heart in me, O God. And renew an upright spirit within my inmost being. 13. Do not cast me away from your face; and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. 14. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and confirm me with an unsurpassed spirit. 15. I will teach the unjust your ways, and the impious will be converted to you. 16. Free me from blood, O God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue will extol your justice. 17. O Lord, you will open my lips, and my mouth will announce your praise. 18. For if you had desired sacrifice, I would certainly have given it, but with holocausts, you will not be delighted. 19. A crushed spirit is a sacrifice to God. A contrite and humbled heart, O God, you will not spurn. As I was meditating on David’s prayer for forgiveness, it occurred to me that the was praying for absolution for sins that he had been caught in, the adultery with Bathsheba and the dearth of her husband. David also ask for forgiveness for iniquities that he alone ores aware. And finally for the obscure and hidden things of which God, in his wisdom, our aware. Prayer Lord, forgive my sins of which others are aware. Lord, forgive my sins of which only you and I are aware. Lord, forgive my sins of which only you are aware. Amen.

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    ©2020 Thomas E Williams

    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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    ©2020 Thomas E Williams

    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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  • ©2020 Thomas E Williams

    Preparing For Battle

    My daily personal Bible studies are like snacks that feed me, however the pastor’s sermon and the hymn singing is a full meal. Sunday school is where we exchange ideas and gain new perspectives and helps to sharpen our swords for the daily battles.

    “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:3-5) Prayer Forgive us, Lord, for allowing the things of this world to distract us from our true duty. Thank you for the sanctuary of your church where. by Your power, our spiritual wounds may be healed, our armor repaired, and or sword sharpened. Amen. Also visit my other blogs
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  • ©2020 Thomas E Williams