Weekly Devotions

Wait With Certainty

Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord! ~ Psalm 27:14   We wait a year for a birthday or an anniversary.  We wait nine months for babies to be born.  We wait days to attend a sporting event.  We wait minutes for a taxi to arrive.  In all that waiting, we rarely wait anxiously because we are usually confident in the outcome.  The baby will be born, the game will begin on time, the taxi will arrive, the celebration will be held.  The Certainty of outcome can make the difference in how we wait.   The Prophet Isaiah gives us a wonderful promise for waiting:   ”But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”   ~ Isa. 40:31   Paul the Apostle tells us “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” ~ Romans 8:25   In life, sometimes we are anxious about the future because we aren’t certain of what it holds.  And we too often wait anxiously; our heart grows weak with uncertainty and fear. But God knows the future; indeed, His knowledge is unlimited. We may not know the future, but we know who does.  Therefore, we have every reason to wait with courage, certainty, and confidence. God promises to give courage and strength to those who wait upon Him.   Isaiah 30:18 reminds us, “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you, therefore He will rise up to show you compassion.  For the Lord is a God of justice.  Blessed are all those who wait for Him.”    Are you looking to the future, unsure of what it holds?  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Lean not to your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him.  And He shall direct your paths”  ~(Proverbs 3:5-6).  Receive from Him His strength for your heart as you wait upon Him today!
~ Pastor Greg

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Thanks or No Thanks

There are two things that reveal that we are moving towards the greatness that God wants to reveal in our lives.  First, we look for opportunities to love and serve people.  God has placed people in our lives so that you can express his love through what He has done for you.  Second, our goal in this is to have the attitude and motivation that says; “we want to love Jesus more.”   Jesus addresses this attitude of love and service to Him through others in this Parable:   “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” Luke 17:7-10, NIV   Now I must confess when I first read this it took me back a bit.  It confused me to hear Jesus’ words, “Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?  So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, we are unworthy servants (huh?) we have only done our duty” (what?).  As I studied this I found that what Jesus was pointing out was “good and faithful servants” don’t serve for thanks or praise and they don’t need thanks or praise but our service is a gift to God.  A gift expressed out of heart felt gratitude for what has been done for us.    Have you ever heard someone say, “I did such and such and no one seemed to care, no one let me know how much they appreciated it.”  Now please believe me, I have learned nothing is accomplished all by myself.  Others around me have enabled success.  And I am thankful and want to show my gratitude.  But at the end of the day our service is a gift to God.  We want to love Him.  And one of the ways to show our love to God is through service.  Who cares if someone notices?  We don’t need thanks from others.  We can receive it gracefully and humbly, but we don’t need it.  Why?  Because we serve as a gift to God, not to be seen by others.     When I have the attitude that I find my satisfaction in serving God whether I receive thanks or no thanks, my motivation is to please the ONE who has redeemed me, then my service has truly become a gift to Him.  All of our lives should be about service and love to God through service and love to others.  Thanks or no thanks … I have only done my duty to the ONE who dutifully loved me.

~ Pastor Greg


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Complaining Is a Sin!

In Ephesians 4:29, the apostle Paul instructs us not to use any foul or polluting language.  At one time, I didn’t realize that this included complaining, but I have since learned that murmuring and complaining pollute our lives.   We pollute our lives by complaining about almost anything anymore.  Nothing is ever right.  Nothing ever suits us.  The Israelites were a people group who were known for their negativity.  They constantly complained about their condition.   People of our western civilization have so much at their fingertips compared to the rest of the world.  And yet we are the most depressed culture in all of the world.  We live in a spirit of complaint.    Plain and simple, complaining is a sin!  It causes many people a great deal of problems in their lives and destroys the joy of anyone listening.    We need to ask ourselves, how quick are we to become impatient and begin to complain when stuck in traffic or while waiting in checkout lanes in grocery stores or department stores?  How quick are we to spot and point out all the faults of our friends or family members?  Do we complain about our job when we should be thanking God that we have one?   That leads me to the solution.  The best antidote for complaining is thanksgiving.  Truly thankful people do not complain. They are too busy being grateful for all the good things they have that they have no time to notice the things they could complain about.  We are blessed!    The Bible says that we are to enter God’s courts with praise and thanksgiving, (Psalm 100:4).    You and I need to make it a daily goal to live a life of thanksgiving.  Why not start a thanksgiving journal?  Everyday, write down at least three things that you are grateful for.    Three things I am thankful for today:
  1. Thankful for my loving, adoring and faithful wife.
  2. Thankful for the privilege to follow God’s lead and Pastor the wonderful people of the Parkway Church.
  3. Thankful for God’s constant care and watchful eye. He is never absent.
  Let’s be as positive and grateful as possible.  Let’s remove ourselves from chronic complainers to charismatic Christians.

~ Pastor Greg


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A Bountiful Harvest and Pathways that Overflow in Abundance

“You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance”. (Psalm 65:11 NLT)  What a powerful verse!   The ERV translation says, “You start the new year with a good harvest.  You end the year with many crops.”   Psalm 65 is considered a National Psalm of praise and thanks to God for His goodness.  It was apparently sung after the spring rains came in to water and refresh the earth.  This song was even more meaningful if the Nation had been through a particularly bad dry season.   As 2018 ends, you may be reflecting over what has happened in the past 12 months.  Some will have testimonies, others will remember challenges, while some others may think of the health issues they had to face.  Some would say, ‘It was my best year’, while others may say, ‘it could have been better’.  The list can go on and on!   While preparing this closing statement for 2018, here are some old memories that went through my mind.
  • I remembered a year beginning with challenges of unfulfilled influences.
  • I vividly remembered the shootings that took place in Las Vegas, just two weeks after I had been there.
  • I remembered the sabbatical that wasn’t. And the loss of my dear friend Billy Newsom. 
  • But I also remember connecting with a Pastoral Covenant Group in January: A ministry life-saver! 
  • I remember the physical change the last few months, for the better, and how that impacted me in a positive way emotionally and mentally as well.
  What memories are going through your mind right now?  I’m sure they could be both negative and positive.    But I love the promise of Psalm 65:11 “God crowns the year with a bountiful harvest and pathways that overflow with abundance.”  He takes the good with the bad in our lives and makes it multiply beautifully with mercy.   Why not make this your New Year’s prayer:   Lord, help me to trust YOU for favor in every area of my life and my family in 2019.  Show me clear signs of your benefits.  Let me see YOU at work bringing about your promises.  Amen.  
 
 
~ Pastor Greg

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Fear Not

Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year; everything and everyone is decked out!  There are parties to attend, joyful music on the radio, food and gifts galore. Unfortunately, there is another side to the holidays.   For many, Christmas can be a time of deep loneliness and stress and fear.  Maybe you’ve lost someone.  Maybe you are going through a divorce.  Maybe you are worried about how you’re going to keep the lights on, let alone put presents under the tree.  The pressure to keep up with society’s version of the holidays can be overwhelming, triggering anxiety, depression and fear.   However, these feelings are not unique to our current culture.  Worry and fear have been lurking in the shadows since the very first Christmas.  The characters in the Christmas story had everything to be afraid of.  Joseph was afraid. Mary was fearful.  The shepherds, and the wise men lived in a scary world filled with uncertainty.  God knew this and sent his messenger, the angel Gabriel, to deliver the news of a Savior.  Each time Gabriel brought the message, he started with this phrase, “Do not be afraid.”   Why?  What can we take away from this?
  • First, I’m certain angels are terrifying or they could be. I’ve never seen an angel.  And I’m not sure how I would respond if I did.  But I’m sure it would bring some sense of dread.
  • Second, even in the most frightening of circumstances, God has a plan.
  Herein lies the power of Christmas.  Jesus, born in a manger, in the middle of the desert, under the rule of a tyrant, was the hope of all humankind.  This is what we celebrate.  No matter what is going on in our lives or in the world around us, Jesus is our hope.  We can overcome fear.  The message is clear in all of the uncertainties around us!  Jesus is here.  “God with us.”   “God does not give us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.”  These were the words to Timothy, Paul’s young protégé.  That’s one of your Christmas gifts!  Receive it!  Open it.  Live in it!
 
 
~ Pastor Greg

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The Thrill of Hope

I love that line in the Christmas song, “O Holy night.”  It speaks of expectation.   Is there anyone more expectant than a child at Christmastime?  Children are anxious and hopeful that their desires will be fulfilled and that a new dollhouse or game system will appear under the tree.   They spend hours fiddling with wrapped gifts, desperately trying to decipher what each one contains.  Then Christmas Eve comes and the anticipation is more than their little hearts can handle.  They lie awake all night, waiting for the sliver of a sunrise to pounce on their parents and declare that it is finally Christmas!   Imagine living in the days leading up to Jesus’ birth.  Political darkness reigned in the region; oppression and hopelessness were commonplace.  God had promised that he would send a Savior one day.  After centuries passing with this promise hanging over them, you can imagine that many people lost hope.  Many even stopped believing.   Those that still believed were looking toward an event that would reshape humanity—an event that many assumed would come through the powerful hand of a great conqueror, through the deliverance of a nation by a mighty king who would rescue them from oppression and slavery.  Instead, what they received was the birth of a child from a scared young woman in an unbelievable scenario.  Their Christmas (Savior) story was not what they expected it to be.   “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” – Isaiah 7:14   “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” – Luke 2:11   The birth of Jesus represents a promise fulfilled.  The world around us may seem dark, and it may seem like our prayers are met with silence, but there is always cause for hope.  He fulfills His promises.  What would our days look like if we lived expectantly about what God is capable of doing?  May this Advent season represent a time of anticipation for the wonderful things God has in store for us.  His promises never fail!  Hold fast!  He will arrive.
 
 
~ Pastor Greg

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