Bible Reading: Daniel 3; Psalm 119:46-48

This is the week we all sit around a table filled with food and rattle off a list of things we are thankful for.  We are challenged by this time of year to look beyond ourselves and think about the things we take for granted.  Even our commercials and other advertisement ask us what we are thankful for.  Honestly, it is not hard to think of things to be thankful for.  The main obstacle to thankfulness is our circumstances.  Can you remain thankful in the midst of chaos?  Would you have a heart filled with thanks to God if your life was being threatened?

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Most all of us know the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  Three men from Israel who were carted off to Babylon, and ended up being made administrators for the king.  When King Nebuchadnezzar sets up a gold image of himself that is 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide, and demands all the people of Babylon bow and worship it, things get interesting for these three men.  They are faced with a big decision to make: either bow down and worship the image of the king, or remain faithful to God.  If they bow to the statue, then all is well and good.  If they choose God over the statue, they will be immediately cast into the flaming furnace.  When they choose to remain faithful to God, their words are sprinkled with a thankful appreciation to God.  They said, “If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” 

Can you detect the thanksgiving?  These men know beyond all doubt and fear, that even when faced with a fiery death, there God cares for them.  Can you imagine the praises and thanksgiving they are lifting up to God as they WALK THROUGH THE FIRE!  These three men are so thankful to their God, that in the presence of a power-hungry king, they stand firm.  They do not back down in fear, but boldly proclaim the name of the God whom they serve.  Psalm 119:46-48 seems to fit the occasion.  It reads, “I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame, for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love.  I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.”

Call to Action: Are so thankful for who God is and what He has done that you would stand defiant before kings?  Do you love God to the degree of walking through fire?  This is the week that we take time to think of all the things we are thankful for.  Don’t simply say God first, because that is what is expected.  Instead, take time to focus on all of the reasons you are thankful to God.  Give Him more than a one sentence praise.  Take time to rejoice and praise your Heavenly Father who has saved you from sin and promised you eternal life.  Thank Him for all things big and small.  This God will walk with you through a fiery furnace, lead you through the valley of the shadow of death, provide manna and water in the wilderness, and fill you with His Holy Spirit.  Praise Him until your heart is filled with thanksgiving and delight in all that God has done, and in who He is to you.  Have a blessed and joyful Thanksgiving.

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AuthorLarkin Sumerlin

Bible Reading: Job 42:1-6; Proverbs 2:6

I love old sayings that we continue to use today, especially when they are more true than people realize.  Back home, when a person was being asked continuous questions (like your child constantly asking “Why?”), they would get frustrated and say, “God only knows!”  It may be venting frustration, but it is incredibly accurate!  There is so much going on in this world, that often times we find ourselves throwing our hands up and saying, “Only God knows!”

The book of Job gives us so much insight and wisdom into the wisdom of God.  Satan rocked Job’s world by robbing Job of all of his worldly riches, by killing Job’s seven children, and by wrecking Job’s health.  Job is left to suffer alone, until his three friends came along to help.  The problem:  Job’s friends did not help at all!  They did not possess godly wisdom, and they blamed Job for his own misfortune.  They said that Job must have sinned to bring all of the pain and suffering into his life.  Job, on the other hand, argues for his innocence and longs for the opportunity to defend himself to God.  Finally, God shows up and instructs Job and his three friends on the wisdom of God.  God tells Job about His wisdom in creating the whole earth and everything on it.  God goes into details regarding specific creatures He made, and the great care He took in all of His work.  Only after making His sovereignty, power and wisdom known to Job does God give Job the moment to speak.  Only now, Job is humbled and almost speechless. 

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In Job 42:2-3, Job says to God, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.   ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’  Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”  God is patient, kind and gentle with His people, but also will not tolerate His creation questioning His wisdom and love.  Job had questioned the wisdom and authority of God, and now Job saw his mistake.  After hearing and understanding who God was and what God had done, Job realized that he actually had no clue of what he was talking about.  Job confesses in verses 5-6 that he had heard about God before all of this happened, but now he truly saw God for the first time.  He had faith in God, but now Job’s faith had eyes to see. 

Call to Action: Somehow, we are quick to question God.  We experience a difficult trial, or many trials, and we feel like we have a case to bring against God.  However, we would be wise to remember who God is, and our relationship to Him.  He is holy, and we are not.  He is all-knowing, and we are not.  He is all-powerful, and we are not.  He created and sustains all things, and we do not.  Proverbs 2:6 reminds us that, “the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”  All that we have and all that we know is all thanks to God.  God is so kind as to not humiliate us for our lack of understanding, and our foolish pride.  Instead, God humbles and matures us.  As we grow to know and understand more of who God is, our faith and trust in Him grows.  We no longer feel the need to justify ourselves to Him, but instead we fully surrender to Him.

In light of these things, reflect on how you relate to God.  Do you try to instruct God, or tell Him how things should be?  Or do you submit to Him, and trust Him for all things?  Take some time to reflect on your relationship with God.  I pray it would lead us to be humble in how we approach Him, and may our hearts be filled with gratefulness and thanksgiving.

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AuthorLarkin Sumerlin

Bible Reading: Acts 1:15-26; Ephesians 2:1-10

Have you ever felt unqualified for something?  Maybe you were offered a new position at work you weren’t confident in taking, or perhaps you were selected to lead a group or project, and you did not think you had what it takes.  Can you imagine being recruited to be the apostle to replace Judas?  This is the task said before the man, Matthias.  He is selected by God to be the twelfth apostle right as the Church is about to explode to over three thousand members.  Matthias would be one of foundational pillars that would help the Church grow and establish itself.  How would you feel being offered this position?

Once we read what the qualifications for this position were, we have more confidence in Matthias since he fulfilled them.  The new apostle must have been, “one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us.” (Acts 1:21-22) Matthias had seen and experienced the life and ministry of Jesus, so he had on-the-job experience. But there is also a very special fact in Acts 1:15-26 that must have greatly encouraged Matthias.  It comes in verses 24-25: 

“And they prayed and said, ‘You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.’”

Did you hear that?!  Matthias was not chosen by the other apostles, but by God Himself.  The Lord looked at the heart of Matthias, and chose him to be His apostle.  There is an unexplainable confidence that you have when you are doing the work God has called you to.  We have all received training to be good at certain things, and this training happens throughout our life.  All of the things you have experienced throughout your life have been preparing you.  What have they been preparing you for?  All of your life experiences and circumstances have been preparing you for the good works God has prepared for you (Ephesians 2:10) 

Call to Action: Nothing in your life is meaningless.  Every single day of your life has a purpose.  Everything you have ever faced, done, or experienced, both the good and the bad, has been used by God to shape who you are.  Every day God is working on us and in us to make us more like Jesus.  You should be growing and maturing in the things of God more and more every day you live.  You do this out of love for God, and a deep desire to love and pursue Him more.  But you also do it in thankful service to God.  He has saved us from our sins, and now He plans to use us to spread the God News to the world.  This seems like a tall task, but God has chosen you and is with you.  Just as God called Matthias and equipped him for the work of being an apostle, so God will equip you for the work He has for you.  God has given you the abilities to bless others and bring them closer to Jesus Christ.  Do not waste your talents, but strive to serve God in every way.  You are not lacking.  God gives you all you need.  Rely on Him, and He will use you greatly in this world.

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AuthorLarkin Sumerlin

Bible Reading: Luke 20:19-26; James 4:7

The wisdom of Jesus is on full display in this passage.  The Pharisees were doing all that they could to trip him up and discredit Jesus, but Jesus was too smart for them.  In the passage for this week’s blog, the Pharisees think they finally have the perfect trap when they ask a question of loyalty:  Is Jesus loyal to Israel, or Rome?  Since Rome was the ruling nation over Israel, there was some tension in this question.  Citizens of Israel had to pay a tax to Rome, but to encourage people to do it was to betray the nation.  What would Jesus’ response be?  Would Jesus say it is lawful to pay the tax to Caesar?  Or would he be loyal to Israel?

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The Pharisees thought this was a sure trap.  If Jesus approved of the tax, then that meant Jesus was not truly loyal to Israel or God.  But if Jesus denied the tax, then He would be an enemy of the emperor and would surely be thrown into prison or worse.  They finally had Jesus trapped, and He would finally be removed from their life.  But Jesus is all-wise, and He has the perfect response to the question.  Jesus asked to see a coin of currency, and he follows up by asking whose face is on the coin.  The response was that Caesar’s face was on the coin.  To this, Jesus says in verse 25, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” 

At a moment where it looked as if Jesus was about to show some kind of flaw, His wisdom and grace shows through.  Rather than become an enemy to Rome or Israel, He instead shows where His true citizenship lies: with His Heavenly Father.  Jesus’ answer rings true, even today.  Jesus may have lived on this earth for 33 years, but it was not His home.  He was passing through in order to redeem the people of God from sin for all of eternity.  He was an alien in the world He created.  We too are not at home here, but waiting to be brought to our true home.

Christians, we care so much about our temporary homes.  Sometimes we treat this place like we will be here forever, and we lose sight of the fact that we are just passing through.  Consider the illustration of having to move out of your home while it is being redone.  The place you stay while your true home is being prepared never feels like home.  You may have to stay there for a few weeks or months, but you know it is just temporary.  In the same way, this earth is a temporary place for the people of God.  Our true home is in the kingdom of God, in a new heaven and earth that He will one day establish.  Jesus left to go and prepare a place for His people, and one day we will move in.  Until that time, make peace with this world.  Give to “Caesar” what is due, and love all of your neighbors with the love of Christ.  Provide for your family, serve others, and worship God while you wait for the glorious day when we arrive at the home He has prepared for us.

Call to Action: It is difficult to live with an eternal perspective.  This world has so many things to keep us busy, that we don’t think about heaven.  The good times we are blessed to have in this life are precious gifts God has given to us.  Take them all in and enjoy them.  This life is so short, so enjoy your children being small, and play as much as you can with them.  Go and visit your parents and grandparents, because one day you will not have the opportunity.  As great as these things are, they are just here to hold us over until our joy will be complete in Jesus.  If you think the blessings of this life are good, wait until the ultimate blessing comes to be.  Until that day, work hard, love harder, laugh more, grumble less, be happy, don’t worry, but above all, give to God what is Gods.  Every day, worship Him and draw close to Him.  It is only by giving our hearts and lives to God that w experience true joy, and that we can be able to hope for our eternal home with Him.

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AuthorLarkin Sumerlin

Bible Reading: Joshua 14:6-15

After reading this passage, how can it be that Caleb is not one of our favorite people from the Old Testament?  I am so encouraged by the faith of this 85-year-old!  Can you imagine all that Caleb has seen and experienced in his long life?  Through it all, his faith is not only intact, but stronger than ever before.  Caleb has experienced so much.  He began as a slave in Egypt, and passed through the Red Sea as God parted the waters.  He was with the people as God led them as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  He has eaten manna and drank water from a rock.  He was one of the twelve spies sent into Canaan, and only he and Joshua believed God would give them the land.  Caleb is outspoken about his faith, to the point that the other spies and people were prepared to stone him for his bold proclamation.  When God cursed the people to wander in the wilderness for forty years, until all of the disobedient ones had died, Caleb survived it all.  The next generation has rolled into the Promised Land, and Caleb, in his eighties, has been fighting all the way.

In this passage we get a sense of his zeal and faith in the promises of God.  He proclaims that he is eighty-five years old, and in verse eleven he says, “I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming.”  This elderly man is ready to fight for what the Lord has promised him!  He is so eager, that he asks Joshua for a piece of land that is filled with giants.  How does this old man plan to defeat them?  “It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said.”  Caleb knows that any time he goes to battle that it could be his last, and he is at peace with that.  When he asks to go and take the land where giants roam, he believes that if God wills, he will defeat them and claim the land God has promised.  Caleb realizes he may not live to establish his home and family, but he knows this land will belong to God’s people.  In that faith, Caleb presses on.

Caleb’s faith is so encouraging to me, because he knows the promises of God, and everything he does is motivated by those promises.  It makes me ask myself:  Aren’t the promises of God made to me even greater than the ones made to Caleb?  The promises given to us are grounded in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We have the promises of Revelation 21:3-4, which says, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  In light of the promises of God we have been given, shouldn’t our faith be as bold and sure as Caleb’s? 

Call to Action:  Do you know all of the promises God has made to you?  If not, begin reading through the Bible and highlighting the places where God promises His people something.  You will be surprised at the blessings God has waiting for those who follow Him instead of chasing the world.  As you read the Bible, and remember His promises, challenge yourself to walk in them.  Could you boldly declare the promises of God like Caleb did?  Tell people about the wonderful things God has done for you since saving you from sin.  As the children of God, we rejoice in our salvation, and we proclaim this Good News to all of the world.  Live your faith out loud, and have the courage of Caleb!

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AuthorLarkin Sumerlin

Bible Reading – Luke 8:40-48

Have you ever been at the end of your rope and looking for any hope to grab on to?  Have you ever been so desperate for relief that you would try literally anything?  I can imagine this is the mindset of the woman in Luke 8.  She has suffered from a discharge of blood for over twelve years.  She has used all of her resources to find a cure, and nobody could cure her.  This is no exaggeration.  The Bible says, “though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone.”  She is in a place of desperation.  She wants to be made well more than anything.  She has run out of options, and is looking for any and everything for relief.  And then she hears the news.  Jesus has come to town! 

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All of the people were excited to see Jesus, and the crowd was pressing in around Him.  This woman, desperate to be healed, gets as close to Jesus as possible, and she reaches out and touches the fringe of His garment.  She is instantly healed.  Finally, after 12 long years of spending all of her living in search of healing, she has found what she needed in Jesus.  In desperation, she believed Jesus could heal her, and after touching Him, she is made well.

But then, something happens that turns her joy into fear.  Jesus somehow realizes that someone has touched His garment!  With so many people pressing in around Him, Jesus knew that someone had touched Him.  His own disciples are even mystified by this.  They said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!”  How did He know?  In 8:46, Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.”  She has been discovered, but rather than hide, she comes forward to confess.  She comes in fear, trembling before Jesus, and she bows down before Him.  With all the crowd watching how Jesus will respond, the woman tells Jesus how she touched His garment in the hopes of being healed, and that she had been healed instantly.  Rather than scolding the woman, or handing her over to authorities to be punished, Jesus says the most compassionate words she has possibly ever heard.  Luke 8:48 says, “And he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.’” 

Do you seek Jesus during your times of desperation?  Because we know He can do all things, is the first place you turn to when you’re in need?  Truthfully, we should always be close to Jesus, so that whenever a need for healing or rescuing comes up, we know exactly where He is.  If something serious were to happen at this very moment, would you be confident in prayer to rely on Jesus, or would it be weird for you?

Call to Action:  Living in the time we do, we have so much more hope because we have the Gospel in its entirety.  We know about the death and resurrection of Jesus, whereas the woman in Luke 8 just knew about Jesus as a healer.  We can have so much more confidence because we know Jesus was more than a man; He is the Son of God!  Knowing this, we believe by faith that we can come to Him with things too great for this world.  We believe that Jesus can defeat any cancer, illness, disease, and even death.  Have the peace of Christ in your hearts, knowing that there is nothing too great for Him to handle.  Also, another call to action is to stay close to God at all times, good and bad.  Our hearts would be broken if our children only came to us when they needed something.  Why would we treat our Heavenly Father that way?  Spend time with God every day.  Make time every day to get alone with God and pray.  Be as close to God as you can be.  He is our hope and our peace.  Fall in love with the God who loves you deeply, and Who graciously give you all things.

Rev. Larkin Sumerlin

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AuthorLarkin Sumerlin

Bible Reading: Malachi 1:1-5; Proverbs 3:5-8

Lately I have been pestering the people around me about reading the Minor Prophets.  I started a plan to read through them all in a 25-day period, and quickly fell in love with them.  To read through the promises of God for His people, but also getting a glimpse of His holiness and justice as He judges all of the nations of the earth. In the Minor Prophets, we see the discipline of our perfect Heavenly Father towards His people, Israel, as well as His promises of hope and peace for them after He removes their enemies.  Malachi was particularly challenging to me, especially in light of the previous events in our nation.  Let me explain what I mean.

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In Malachi 1:1-5 we see God’s people asking a question so many of us have.  God says to them, “I have loved you,” and their response is, “How have you loved us?”  What follows can get lost if you are not familiar with history between Israel and Edom.  Brief Summary: Israel is a nation descended from Jacob, and Edom is a nation descended from Esau.  When God led Israel out of Egypt, they sought help and supplies from Edom, but rather than support God’s people, they instead war with them.  There has been bad blood between these nations for as long as they have been nations!  Edom has been a constant thorn in Israel’s side, and so they ask God, “How have you loved us?”  How could God claim to love Israel when He allows their annoying enemy, Edom, to exist and torment them? 

God’s response is to remind Israel of His faithful and steadfast love He has shown to them.  God reminds them of the times He has dealt with Edom on behalf of Israel, and He also tells Israel what He will do to them.  “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the LORD is angry forever.’” (Malachi 1:4) Even though this has not happened yet, God promises that His love for Israel will always be, and He will always be their God.  When Israel sees the love and faithfulness of God in action, they will worship Him saying, “Great is the LORD beyond the border of Israel!” (Malachi 1:5)

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I bring this passage up, with all of its history for Israel, to ask what your response is to God.  God says to you, “I have loved you,” and do you ask back, “How have you loved me?”  When things happen in this world, like the shooting in Las Vegas, or the hurricanes over the last weeks, or something closer to home, like cancer or another disease; what is your attitude towards God then?  Are you quick to point out where He has dropped the ball?  Or is your response to have faith in the steadfast love of God?  He has loved you, and He always will.  Can you put your faith in His unchanging love, even when things do not go how you want them to?

Call to Action:  Proverbs 3:5 teaches us to trust in the Lord with all of our heart, and lean not on our own understanding.  In our own understanding, it may look like God does not love or care about what is going on, but that is not God’s character.  God has loved us greatly, to the point that He sent His Son to die to redeem us from sin.  If God was willing to give His Son for our souls, why would He abandon us sit idly by while chaos occurs?  Look to the manger where He was born, look to the cross where He died, and look to the empty tomb where He resurrected; look to Christ, and remember how greatly God has loved you.  Place your faith in the steadfast love of the Lord, and may your heart be filled with His peace.

Rev. Larkin Sumerlin

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AuthorLarkin Sumerlin

Bible Reading: Micah 4:1-5, Colossians 3:1-17

There are few better images of rest and being worry-free than of a person napping in the shade of a tree.  Can you imagine propping up against a tree, finding that comfortable spot, and feeling the coolness of the shade, you fall asleep.  Even imagining it gives us a sigh of relief and peace.  But then we open our eyes, and we are back to reality.  What if this kind of rest was real?  What if it was possible to experience such peace, and have it last?  This is an image Scripture gives us of the rest God has for His people.

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In Micah 4:1-5, we read about the latter days, meaning the time when God’s kingdom has come to earth as it is in heaven.  In those days, all the nations will be turned away from worthless idols, and their focus will be on the Lord Almighty.  They will seek Him for wisdom and guidance, and they will no longer war among themselves.  Their useless weapons of war will be reshaped into farming utensils.  Peace is throughout the world, and there is nobody preparing for a war of any kind.  I love the promise of verse four, which says, “but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.”  Living in the eternal kingdom of God will be so peaceful, that we will be able to sit under the shade of the fig tree, and we will not fear harm coming from any direction; the perfect peace of God will fill the earth. 

Such a beautiful promise, but it is almost too wonderful to imagine.  We live in a day of division and hatred, with wars and rumors of wars.  There are threats from the other side of the globe, and just down the street.  How can Christians begin to rest in the shade of God’s peace in the midst of a world of sin and chaos?

In Colossians 3, Paul is reminding believers to put on the, “new self.”  They have been made into a new creation through Jesus Christ, and their old way of life is dead.  They no longer live in sin, doing things that displeased God and separated themselves from Him.  Now, their life is, “hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3).  Knowing that we are in God, and that God’s Spirit is within us, we can have confidence that we will live with Him in a glorious eternity.  God’s promises have become ours, just as we have become His.  Even still, how do these promises encourage us to have peace in our hearts?  How can the hope we have through Jesus Christ enable us to rest in the shade of God?

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:15-17

Call to Action:  Colossians 3:15-17 gives us solid instructions for how to rest in the shade of God’s promises:

  • Be thankful.  Thank God for the salvation He has given you, the freedom from sin, and also being adopted into the family of God (the one body).
  • Let the Word dwell richly within you.  God’s promises cannot comfort you if you do not know them.  God wrote a book for us that reveals Him to us.  Take time to read it every day.  Remember it, and remind yourself of it often.
  • Teach and Admonish.  Not only should you be reading the Bible, but you should be talking about it.  Discuss it with your family, your church family, your coworkers.  Encourage each other with God’s promises and, if needed, correct someone with God’s truth.
  • Sing Songs of Worship.  Worship God through music.  Sing in the car, in your home, in church, and everywhere you go!
  • DO everything for the glory of His name.  Keep your heart and mind so connected to God, that every word you speak and everything you do will be geared towards honoring Him.

May God fill you with His peace as you immerse yourself in Him.  May you find rest for your soul, until that glorious day when we will sit in the shade of the tree of God.

Rev. Larkin Sumerlin

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AuthorLarkin Sumerlin

Bible Reading: Matthew 3:13-17

Have you ever wondered why Jesus had to be baptized?  He is the Messiah; the Savior of the world.  We know that Jesus was sinlessly perfect, so why did He have John baptize Him?  Baptism, we know, is an outward expression on the heart-cleansing salvation God has done.  But Jesus did not need to be saved from sin.  Actually, the exact opposite is true, in that Jesus had come to save sinners.  When He comes to John seeking baptism, John says that Jesus should be the one baptizing him.  Jesus gives an interesting response that can seem confusing to us.  Our Lord said, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”  What does this mean?

When we profess faith in Christ, there are a few things that happen.  One, our sins are forgiven.  Through the atoning, sacrificial death of Jesus upon the cross, our sins have been dealt with.  Jesus took all of our sin upon Himself.  Another way of thinking about this is that He paid the debt that we owed.  Thanks to Christ, now, when God looks at believers, He does not see sin, because our sin has been covered by Jesus.  As amazing and beautiful as this is, it is not all that happens to bring about our salvation.  There is a second thing that happens, and it is equally amazing as the first.  Our sins are taken away from us and put on Christ, and His righteousness is placed on us!  Our sin is replaced with the righteousness of Christ, and now, not only does God not see our sins but instead He sees righteousness.

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Have you ever wondered why Jesus came down to earth and lived for 33 years before He laid down His life for ours?  Why not come down as an adult, 33-year-old man, and die quickly?  Instead, our Savior left His perfect, heavenly home to live in this fallen, sinful world for 33 years.  He lived in the midst of darkness and evil, yet He Himself remained holy, perfect and sinless.  Jesus did this in order to “fulfill all righteousness.”

Because of His perfect life, He gives His righteousness to us.  Because of His sacrificial death, He takes our sin upon Himself.  Because of His resurrection, He gives us hope of eternal life.  Because of His ascension, He sits on high interceding for us.

Call to Action: We praise the name of Jesus Christ because our sins are forgiven, AND because we are made righteous through Him.  Christ has made a way for us to live a righteous life.  He sets us free from the powers of sin, and sends the Holy Spirit to fill us and transform us.  As Christians, we can face every day knowing that God is with us, and He is for us.  This truth should draw us closer to God, and give us a burning desire to know Him more.  We should yearn for time spent with God in prayer and fasting.  We should crave the Word of God, and fill our hearts and minds with its life-giving truth.  We should live loving and righteous lives towards all people.  We should do all this out of love for our Savior, who loved us so much that He lived a righteous life, and died an atoning death, and He did it all for us.  Praise His great name today!

Rev. Larkin Sumerlin

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AuthorLarkin Sumerlin

Bible Reading: Hebrews 11:8-19

            We have all sung the song and danced the dance to “Father Abraham”.  Even as I write this the song is stuck in my head.  Abraham is a favorite Bible story for many of us because of his great faith in God, and his willingness to live out his faith by obeying God.  Hebrews 11:8-19 gives us a quick snapshot of the faith of Abraham and his wife, Sarah.  What an amazing story they have together!  Leaving his homeland at an old age because God promised him a future kingdom and future descendants to live in it.  They were childless, and God promised them a son.  Although they wondered what God was doing, at the age of 100 Abraham becomes a daddy to his son, Isaac.  God tests Abraham by asking him to sacrifice Isaac to God, and Abraham still obeys God.  Obviously, Abraham did not want to sacrifice Isaac, but as the writer of Hebrews says, “He [Abraham] considered that God was able even to raise him [Isaac] from the dead.”  As a new father myself, I cannot imagine the thoughts that must have went through Abraham’s head as he prepared to sacrifice his only son.  My heart breaks at the thought of my baby girl getting sick, little alone me having to take her life away.  But Abraham had great faith.

Abraham sacrifice.jpg

            And that is what I wanted to focus on for this blog post.  Faith is not disconnected from our hearts and minds.  Abraham was faithful to do what God had called him to do, but we do not know all he thought in his mind and felt in his heart.  The Bible does not give us those details, but we can only imagine what Abraham thought and felt.  God has called all of us for a purpose.  We are all called to be salt and light to the world around us as we seek to make Christ known.  We are called to live holy lives that glorify God.  We strive to make our marriages honor our Lord, and we work so hard to raise up our children in the way they should go.  We do this because we have faith in God and in His promises, and we seek to honor Him with how we live our lives.  But we also know that our faith connects with our hearts and minds.  Some things make us nervous, scared, anxious, angry, sad, and while we feel these things we must remind ourselves of how great our God is and continue to remain faithful to Him.

            Writing and reading this is much easier than living this out, but that is why I hope this passage in Hebrews can comfort us together.  As we read a brief blurb of Abraham and Sarah’s life, we see their faith in action and the faithfulness of God to keep His promises.  But take some time and imagine what Abraham and Sarah must have thought at any of these moments.  The Bible does not tell us, but think of what you may think or say.  And now read again and think about the fact that despite what their hearts and minds may have felt and thought, they still obeyed God.  They did this because of the hope they had in God, and they could faithfully follow Him wherever He might lead them.  God is faithful to His people, and He will never break His promises to us.  Knowing God is so faithful to us, it can be easier to choose to remain faithful to Him.

Call to Action: Do you believe God will keep His promises to you?  God has offered us so much hope in His Word, but do you believe He is able to do all He has said?  We have such a great hope in Jesus Christ, that even when faced with death itself, we do not fear, because our Savior can raise the dead.  Immerse yourself in Jesus.  Read the Bible every day, and hide the promises of God in your heart and mind.  Pray every day, and take time to be in the presence of God. Only by immersing ourselves in God can we be filled with hope and peace.  Believe in God, because He is able to keep His promises.

Rev. Larkin Sumerlin

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AuthorLarkin Sumerlin