"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. (Psalm 139:7-12)
During these days of social distancing, it is helpful to remember that we are never really alone. Scripture tells us that wherever we go God is with us, and no matter how dark our surroundings are He sees us. That means that even when we are lonely, we are not alone. Even when we are unaware of Him, God is aware of us. When we are treated unjustly, God is keeping track so that He can someday bring about justice on our behalf. And when we are the unjust ones, trying to hide from God because we feel embarrassed, ashamed, or guilty for our sins, God is none of those things. He knows us better than we know ourselves, loves us for who we truly are, and stands ready to restore us, because He anticipated our failures and prepared our pardon in advance.
“Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Spirit, which is always with us, and for Your mercy, through which you anticipated our sin and prepared our reconciliation, through Jesus Christ, amen.”
QUESTIONABLE SOCIAL MEDIA EXPLANATIONS:
Q: Why do they call it the ‘novel’ corona virus?
A: It’s a long story….
Q: If corona virus isn’t about beer, why do I keep hearing about ‘cases of it’?
A: As in any crisis, many people are responding irrationally due to wishful drinking.
Q: What’s the difference between COVID-19 and Romeo and Juliet?
A: One results from a corona virus and the other results from a Verona crisis.
Q: What should I do if I wake up late for work with a fever?
A: Tell yourself, “Self, I so late.”
Q: How do you know when staying home is leading to weight gain?
A: One sign is when your computerized scale reminds you to practice
social distancing by allowing only one person on the scale at a time.
Q: Are stores in other countries experiencing panic-buying of supplies?
A: Yes. Grocery stores in France look like a tornado hit them. All that’s left is de brie.
In Germany, hoarding of sausage and cheese is resulting in a “wurst-kase scenario.”
Q: Is wearing a mask really beneficial?
A: Yes. After months without a haircut, it helps you avoid being recognized in public.
The LORD protect you and give you peace!
In Jesus, Pastor Kirk
For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand--with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. (1 Peter 3:18-22)
Back when Christians were still being executed on crosses, believers often used the image of Noah’s ark and a rainbow to represent salvation and new life in Jesus. Peter tells us that Christ descended to proclaim victory over sin, death, and the devil to the spirits of those who rejected God in the days of Noah, so that even the most skeptical would have to concede His mercy and mastery of human history. In addition to foreshadowing the grace we receive in baptism; Noah’s ark is a reminder of God’s patience in fulfilling His plan. To this day, congregations sit in a part of the church called the “nave,” meaning “ship,” so that as we look back on Jesus’ resurrection, we do so with the same awe, gratitude, and trust in God’s promises that Noah and his family did.
“Heavenly Father, thank You for rescuing us from Your judgment and giving us new life through our baptism into Jesus. Increase our awe, gratitude, and trust, especially as we endure this storm, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
CRISIS MANAGEMENT LESSONS FROM NOAH’S ARK:
1. Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.
2. Stay fit. You may be asked to do something really big at 600 years old.
3. Don't listen to your critics -- do what has to be done.
4. Build on the high ground--morally and literally.
5. Bring two of everything you really need.
6. If you want to survive, travel in pairs.
7. There are more options than fight or flight. You could also float!
8. Take care of your animals as if they were the last ones on earth.
9. Speed isn't everything. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
10. Remember that you and your family are in the same boat.
11. During the storms, stay below deck and hold on tight.
12. Remember that woodpeckers inside may be a bigger threat than storms outside.
13. When you are in deep doo-doo, don't sit and complain -- shovel!
14. Remember that the ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
15. Even if you have to start over, give thanks for the opportunity.
16.No matter how bleak it looks, God can provide a rainbow on the other side.
The LORD give you courage and wisdom this week!
In Jesus, Pastor Kirk
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her; she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46:1-7)
In order to help prevent the spread of the novel corona virus, our congregation has stopped meeting together in person, though we will continue to worship and study the Bible together online. We do this not because we are afraid, nor because are forced to, but out of love for our neighbors and concern for the most vulnerable among us. We believe that God is with us regardless of what causes the nations to be in uproar; He is an ever-present help in times of trouble. So, we look for the opportunities amid calamities to demonstrate His love for others and to address their fears with the confidence we have that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is ours in Christ Jesus!
“Heavenly Father, thank You for Your presence with us in all circumstances and the confidence we have in your deliverance. Open our eyes to ways in which we can show Your love to our neighbors amid the current crisis, that they may share the confidence we enjoy, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
HONEST TO GOODNESS
A Sunday school teacher was telling the story of the Good Samaritan.
She asked her class, "If you saw a person lying on the roadside,
all wounded and bleeding, what would you do?"
A thoughtful little girl broke the hushed silence, "I think I'd throw up."
Another teacher was describing how Lot's wife looked back
and turned into a pillar of salt when little Jason interrupted,
"My Mommy looked back once while she was driving,"
he announced triumphantly, "and she turned into a telephone pole!"
A third teacher was telling the story of Noah and the ark.
She asked, "Andrew, do you think Noah did any fishing from the Ark?"
"No," replied Andrew. "How could he, with just two worms?"
The Lord bless you with confidence, courage, and a clean bill of health!
In Jesus, Pastor Kirk
The Jews were amazed and asked, "How did this man get such learning without having studied?" Jesus answered, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. (John 7:15-18)
Jesus was not an academic, nor was He self-taught. Rather, Jesus had an exceptional grasp of God’s Word because He learned it to live it, perfectly and completely, to bring glory to His Father. He challenges us to do likewise, not only devoting ourselves to honor our Father by how we live, but in the process learning the truth of our dependence on His grace. Only when we try to set aside our own egos and serve God exclusively do we discover the depth of our need and the value of His redemption!
“Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to do for us what we could not do for ourselves, ransoming us from our sin, death, and the devil. Reinforce our faith with Your Spirit, that we may honor You with our lives, in Jesus, amen.”
SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS
An experienced teacher was walking down the hall of a middle school.
She noticed the new substitute teacher outside his assigned classroom.
The young teacher was leaning toward the wall with his head against a locker.
The older teacher could hear him mutter, “How did you get into this?”
Knowing the new substitute was dealing with a difficult class,
the experienced teacher wanted to be supportive.
So she asked, “Are you okay? Is there anything I can do to help?”
The young teacher looked up and replied, “I’ll be fine.
I just need to get this kid out of his locker.”
The LORD free you to experience His love in new ways this week!
“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” (Matthew 7:24-29)
The wise are discerning and active. They don’t necessarily know more than others and they are certainly not know-it-alls. Yet they know who can be trusted to tell the truth, and they do not fail to act on the truth. As we begin a new school year, we pray not only for teachers and their students, but for ourselves, that we would be able to sort out the truth in a world of manipulation and misinformation, and that we would act on the truth that God has revealed to us in Jesus.
“Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to teach us the truth and act for our redemption. Guide and bless all teachers and students, including us, that we would be wise enough to discern the truth and courageous enough to build our lives on it, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
A burglar broke into a house one night and was searching for valuables.
Suddenly, out of the darkness a high voice called, “Jesus is watching you.”
The burglar nearly jumped out of his skin, clicked off his flashlight and froze.
When he heard nothing more, after several minutes, he resumed his search.
Once again, he suddenly heard the voice call out, “Jesus is watching you.”
Freaked out, he frantically spun around, searching for the source of the voice.
Finally, in the corner of the room, he spotted a parrot in a large cage.
Immediately the burglar relaxed, recognizing the voice as that of the parrot.
“You’re a pretty bird; what’s your name?” he asked.
“Moses,” the parrot squawked, and the burglar chuckled.
“What kind of people would name their parrot Moses?” he asked aloud.
The parrot looked down at a huge black mass beginning to stir beneath it.
The bird replied, “The kind that would name their Rottweiler ‘Jesus.’”
The LORD guide you into all truth this week!
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. "This, then, is how you should pray: " 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven..." (Matthew 6:7-10)
What a great promise we have in the words of Jesus that our Father knows what we need before we ask Him! We are tempted to think that our prayers fail because we do not know how or what to ask, but the reality is that our prayers only fail when we don’t ask. As Paul wrote, “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Romans 8:26) If God fails to give us what we ask, we can conclude that He knows we really need something else right now, and we can pray as Jesus did, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)
“Heavenly Father, thank You for inviting us to pray with confidence, knowing that You can be trusted to give us what we really need. Give us devotion and discernment to pray every day “not as I will, but as You will,” in Jesus’ name, amen.”
CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR…
Two priests die at the same time and meet St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.
St. Peter says, "I'd like to get you guys in now but our computers are down.”
“You'll have to go back to Earth for a week, but can't go as humans. What'll it be?"
The first priest says, "I'd love to be an eagle, soaring above the Rocky Mountains."
"So be it," says St. Peter, and off flies the first priest.
The second priest thinks a moment and asks, "Will you be keeping track of us?"
"No, with the computer down there's no way we can track what you are doing."
"In that case," says the second priest with a smile, "I'd like to be a stud."
"So be it," says St. Peter, and the second priest disappears.
After a week, the computer is fixed and the Lord tells Peter to recall the two priests.
"Will you have trouble locating them?" He asks.
"The first should be easy," says Peter. "He's over the Rockies, flying with eagles.”
“But the second one could prove to be more difficult."
"Why?" asks the Lord.
"Because he's on a snow tire somewhere in Alaska."
The Holy Spirit guide your prayers this week!
Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have opened; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, "Here I am, I have come--it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, as you know, O LORD.” (Psalm 40:5-9)
We cannot possibly tell others all the great things God has done throughout the world and throughout history. We can, however, pay attention to what God does in our lives and proclaim His goodness wherever we go. Scripture tells us that God has opened (literally, pierced) our ears so that we can grasp the perfection of His will and the great gift of our salvation through faith in Jesus. In response, we cannot possibly pay God back, but can become more passionate about His goodness and work in the world—passionate enough to open up our mouths so others can know His goodness.
“Heavenly Father, continue to speak Your Word into our hearts, so that we cannot help but proclaim Your salvation and perfect will, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
THAT HIT THE SPOT
A group of church friends got together on a regular basis for dinner and games. When it came time for Stan and Jean to be the hosts at their small farm, Jean wanted to outdo all the others. They had recently butchered a cow and she decided to have mushroom-smothered steaks. Jean told Stan her plan but commented that she was afraid the mushrooms might make the meal too expensive.
Stan asked, "Why don't you go down in the pasture and pick some of those mushrooms? There are plenty in the creek bed." Jean said, "No, some wild mushrooms are poison." He replied, "Well, I see varmints eating them and they're ok."
So, Jean decided give it a try. She picked a bunch, washed, sliced, and diced them for her smothered steak. Then she went out on the back porch and gave Ol' Spot, their yard dog, a double handful. Ol' Spot ate every bite. All morning long, Jean watched Ol' Spot and the wild mushrooms didn't seem to affect him, so she decided to use them.
The meal was a great success. After everyone had finished, they relaxed, socialized, and began to play dominoes. Just then a neighbor rang the doorbell. When Jean opened the door, the neighbor informed her, “I’m sorry, Jean, but Ol’ Spot is dead.”
Jean went into hysterics. Stan quickly called poison control and explained what had happened. Poison control called several ambulances, which quickly arrived to transport the entire dinner party to the hospital. There, every member of their group was given an enema and had their stomach pumped.
After the last one was finished, a doctor came out and assured them, "I think everything will be fine now." They arranged for transportation back to Stan and Jean’s to retrieve their cars. When they arrived, the neighbor was waiting for them on their front porch, curious about all the ambulances.
As they weakly climbed the porch steps, the neighbor told them, “I’m sorry I gave you such a shock, but you know, whoever ran over Ol' Spot never even stopped!"
The Lord give you wisdom and boldness this week!
“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret--it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.” (Psalm 37:7-9)
I have to admit that as a coffee-drinking, type-A, 21st century American, being still is not my strong suit. In fact, I hate waiting, and patience can really require a lot of will power. Fortunately, we are called to “be still before the Lord” and “wait patiently for Him.” The kind of stillness the psalmist urges is not necessarily a lack of physical activity, but a sense of confident peace, a trust that God is aware of and cares about all aspects of our lives. We are able to wait patiently for God to fulfill His promises because He has always faithfully done so. Not only is our fretting futile and our anger counter-productive, they display a lack of faith that the God who provided redemption in Christ will certainly bring about our vindication on the day of resurrection.
“Heavenly Father, give us the strength to wait for You, trusting confidently in Your promises and empowered by Your Spirit. Enable us to be free of worry and anger, knowing that You are our hope, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
The large sedan was moving extremely slowly, backing up cars on a two-lane highway.
A state trooper noticed the hazard being caused by the slow driver and pulled her over.
The car was full of fearful looking senior citizens, with a very elderly woman at the wheel.
“Ma’am,” said the trooper, “I’m afraid you are creating a hazard by driving so slowly.
The speed limit is 55 mph; if you can’t drive at least 45 mph I’ll have to give you a ticket.”
“Oh, my,” replied the driver, “I am so sorry officer! The last speed limit sign I saw said 25!”
“Ma’am,” the officer responded, “that was not the speed limit. This is highway 25.”
“Oh dear,” said the woman, “that explains all the cars honking and passing us.
Thank you for telling me, officer—I will definitely speed up to 55 then!”
The officer said, “Please do. I’ll let you go with a warning this time, but I have to ask:
Your passengers are all pale and covered with perspiration. Are they sick?”
“Oh, they’ll be fine,” the woman said, “but I think we just got off Highway 120.”
God give you confident peace this week!
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the person of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
We do a lot of Bible study at church and in our homes, but for what purpose? Contrary to all the jokes, there will be no quiz at the pearly gates: your name is either in the book of life or not! Certainly Scripture can bring us comfort and hope, but it is meant to do much more than that. We study the Bible because God has good things for us to do in this life that we cannot do without His transforming and equipping: teaching us what is truly valuable, rebuking our sinfulness, correcting our self-centered ways of thinking, and training us in righteousness, so that what we do can be seen to be done through Him. God breathed His Spirit into Scripture for this very purpose: so that we can know and participate in His grand and glorious mission of saving the world.
“Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word, by which we are equipped to do Your work. Enable us to humbly accept its teaching, rebuke, correction, and training, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
BEST (OR WORST) CHURCH COFFEE SHOP NAMES
As church coffee shops increase, so do place names playing on Christian and Biblical terms
to push caffeinated beverages. Here are 15 of the best—or worst, depending on your opinion of puns!
Tongues of Fire
Brew unto Others
My Cup Overfloweth
Jesus Loves You a Latte
Pressed but Not Crushed
Shadrach, Meshach, and A-Bean-To-Go
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Roast
The LORD equip and energize you this week!
"For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Colossians 1:13-14)
We’re still in the darkest days of the year, when many of us get up in the dark and get home in the dark. It’s a great time to remember all of the imagery in Scripture comparing our Savior and His salvation with light illuminating darkness. Not only does light guide us, keep us safe, and cheer our spirits, it allows us to clean what would otherwise be unseen and to value what would otherwise be worthless. Some day we will live with God in eternity, where we will walk by the light of the glory of God and there will be no night. Until then, we live as children of the light, guided by the Light of the World, always seeking to overcome the darkness and reveal God’s glory
“Heavenly Father, thank You for enlightening our hearts with Your Spirit. Enable us to see through the darkness of this world and reflect the brilliance of Christ, our Light and Salvation, that other may be brought into the light, in Jesus, amen.
A few days into the new year, a woman found her husband in their bathroom.
He was sucking in his stomach as he weighed himself on the bathroom scale.
The woman thought, “He thinks he will weigh less by sucking in his stomach.''
So, she rather sarcastically said to her husband, ''That's not going to help.''
Her husband said, ''Sure it will. It's the only way I can see the numbers.''
Voicemail message: "I’m not available right now, but thanks for calling.
I am making some changes in my life as we begin the new year.
Please leave a message and your number after the beep.
If I do not return your call, you are one of the changes."
The LORD guide you in the changes and challenges of this new year!
As Pastor at Pilgrim, Kirk is fueled by a passion for God's Word and a lot of good coffee.