Standard of Giving

TAXES. The old joke goes that there are only two things guaranteed in life: death and taxes. It is no wonder that a politician’s campaign and career can be made or broken by the promises he or she makes about taxes. We all understand the necessity of paying them but that doesn’t mean we have to like it!

Taxes are the subject in this passage in the book of Matthew. The Pharisees (it’s ALWAYS the Pharisees!) were trying to trap Jesus into speaking out against the Roman government. They hoped to be able to make a case for sedition and treason and so they asked him about paying taxes. Notice how they buttered him up first with false flattery:

Matthew 22 (Common English Bible)

15 Then the Pharisees met together to find a way to trap Jesus in his words. 16 They sent their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are genuine and that you teach God’s way as it really is. We know that you are not swayed by people’s opinions, because you don’t show favoritism. 17 So tell us what you think: Does the Law allow people to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

Silly Pharisees. Jesus can read your hearts and minds, so of course he is wise to what you are trying to do. His response is epic:

18 Knowing their evil motives, Jesus replied, “Why do you test me, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin used to pay the tax.” And they brought him a denarion. 20 “Whose image and inscription is this?” he asked.

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”22 When they heard this they were astonished, and they departed.

All Pharisees (including us) should take this to heart. When Jesus reminds them that we should give unto God what belongs to God, he is referring to a very well known standard of giving set forth in Malachi that refers to tithing:

Malachi 3 (New International Version)

10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

Perhaps the better question is about tithing. God’s word instructs us to bring the whole tithe of ten percent into his storehouse. How are you doing with that? If you’re not there yet are you working toward it?

God throws open the floodgates of heaven to those who read and heed his word in all things. He loves to pour out blessings on his people. This is something you can absolutely count on! Taxes, death, and blessings…all of life’s guarantees.

Floodgates of Blessings by Becca Ziegler

Welcome?

How many of you are familiar with the British actor known as Mr. Bean? Played by Rowan Atkinson, Mr. Bean is a rubber-faced physical comedy master in the vein of Jim Carry or the Three Stooges. I stumbled upon a skit called Mr. Bean Goes to Church that I found to be both hilarious and distressingly true.

Mr. Bean visits a country church for the first time and struggles with how to do things “properly” because he is new. He can’t figure out the liturgy, sings off tempo, makes too much noise opening a cough drop, and eventually falls asleep during the sermon with his head bobbing on the shoulder and chest of the VERY visibly disgruntled church member sitting next to him.

Watching the reactions of the disapproving church member is where the story of hospitality in the church is told. He is very inconvenienced with this newbie next to him, is reluctant to share his pew and his hymnal, rolls his eyes when Mr. Bean sings at the wrong time, and does everything in his power to say “You’re not welcome here.” Mr. Bean doesn’t fit in.

Have you ever felt that way in a church? I have. My worst experience was in a church in New Orleans where we were spotted as “new” and made by the pastor to stand and not only introduce ourselves but tell “a little something about us.” We were just trying out all the Methodist churches in the area and simply wanted to worship. I am sure that pastor thought he had a very strong hospitality game by doing this. He was wrong. We never went back.

I have used this clip as an ice-breaker when training churches on how to be more welcoming. Hospitality in the church is the most vital part of our evangelism ministry yet we have no idea how we are perceived.

In Paul’s letter to the new church at Thessalonica, he praises them for their outreach efforts. Note that none of it has to do with brochures, a committee, calling out visitors in worship, or any of the things churches do in the name of “hospitality.”

1 Thessalonians (The Message)

7-10 Do you know that all over the provinces of both Macedonia and Achaia believers look up to you? The word has gotten around. Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word, not only in the provinces but all over the place. The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore—you’re the message!

All of us are in the “Evangelism Ministry.” True outreach happens when we authentically walk the talk and live out the Good News of Jesus in front of people with the simple example of our lives. When a fellowship of people truly love the Lord and ALL of his people, the word gets out.

People come up and tell us how you received us with open arms, how you deserted the dead idols of your old life so you could embrace and serve God, the true God. They marvel at how expectantly you await the arrival of his Son, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescued us from certain doom.

This actually has nothing to do with church and everything to do with you. When you put away the dead idols of your preconceived notion of who is included in “God’s people,” it is only then that you can embrace and serve God, the true God.

So be the message. Receive strangers with open arms in the name of Jesus. Jesus rescued us from certain doom! Find a way today to tell this Good News to someone who hasn’t heard it yet. YOU are an evangelist when your life echoes the Master’s Word. Go and tell!

Need a laugh? Watch this.

Go and Tell by Michelle Robertson

I Will Give You Rest

Raise your hand if you’re not sleeping well. An unscientific sampling of my friends and colleagues tells me that many of us are struggling with the inability to fall asleep when we go to bed, experiencing restless nights, or waking up hours before the alarm goes off. I try to take the opportunity in those times to pray, but even the comfort of laying my burdens down before God isn’t enough to bring rest sometimes. Not because God is inadequate, but because I seem to have a perverse need to pick everything back up that I just laid at his feet.

How about you? Are you tossing and turning as well?

When Moses was on his final leg into the Promised Land he was sleepless. The strain from fighting Pharaoh, leading his ornery people through an unforgiving wilderness, and the realization that this huge nation was about to enter a land already filled with hostile people finally overcame him. He pleaded with God for his protection and presence. He knew he couldn’t go it alone.

Exodus 33 (New Revised Standard Version)

12 Moses said to the Lord, “See, you have said to me, ‘Bring up this people’; but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ 13 Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” 

14 The Lord said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 

This phrase brings reassurance that God’s presence goes with us everywhere we go. When we can fully immerse ourselves in that reality, rest will come to us.

Rest is a gift of God that can only be opened when we truly let go of all of our worries and cast all of our cares upon him….which is so hard to do! Our brains want to keep “working the problem.” It takes a lot of submission to give things over and leave them there.

15 And he said to him, “If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. 16 For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.”

Moses asks God to be his strength and his shield against all the ites….the Moabites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, and all the other ites who will attack the Hebrew nation as they attempt to settle in the land. Do you have ites attacking you? Jealous-ites? Fear-ites? Anger-ites? Illness-ites? Betrayal-ites? Listen to how God answers Moses and remember that HE KNOW YOUR NAME, TOO.

17 The Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” 18 Moses said, “Show me your glory, I pray.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The Lord’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.“

Take that, all you ites!! We are the Lord’s people and we will not be moved. God knows us by name and he brings us goodness, mercy, graciousness, and deliverance.

So rest in that. God knows you by name and he goes before every problem and issue you are facing. Thanks be to God! 

God Goes Before Us by Michelle Robertson

Timeless

When you think of something that is timeless, what comes to mind? In art, you might recall pieces like the Mona Lisa or the Statue of David. In music, surely Beethoven’s Fifth and Bizet’s Carmen pop up. In cars it would have to be the Ford Model T or a 1960s era Corvette. In Rock and Roll it would be Stairway to Heaven or anything by Queen. (Argue with me!)

But when it comes to the Psalms there is only ONE. Heads and tails, the 23rd Psalm stands above the rest. Because of its inclusion in most funeral liturgies, it may be the most read aloud scripture of all time. At least in this pastor’s experience it certainly is the one scripture I have read aloud the most and for good reason: it is absolutely beautiful. It teaches us about the nature of God, it includes lyrical phrases, it proclaim’s God’s majesty, and it speaks to the heart of every pilgrim wanderer. It’s timeless!

Psalm 23 (New King James Version)

 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

I will always remember having an epiphany during a church matriarch’s funeral. I was preparing to read the 23rd Psalm as a soloist was singing. When my eyes hit the phrase “valley of the SHADOW of death” I realized that God was reminding us that death is just a mere shadow. When the light of Christ hits your life you don’t have to fear what lurks in the shadows any more. His light brings life.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

If you’ve had a rough week, meditate on these words. You will dwell in the house of the Lord FOREVER. Surely that balances out the aggravations of inflammatory politics, the constant threat of this pandemic, the uncertainty of our economy, all of our personal struggles, and the upcoming elections. ALL of these things will pass away and God assures us that the days of our lives will be filled with goodness and mercy.

Thanks be to God!

Valley of Shadows by Kathy Schumacher

Enduring Love

Think about something you love in this world. Maybe it’s your spouse or your child. Maybe it’s where you live. It could be your football team. Perhaps it is something you were given that you truly cherish. Maybe it’s pizza. If we were to each make a list of the ten things we love, I imagine our lists would be quite different.

Just so you know, the first thing on God’s list of “Things I Love” is YOU.

Other things that God loves are justice, righteousness, delivering his people, and forgiving their sins.

Psalm 106 (New Revised Standard Version)

Praise the Lord!
    O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
Who can utter the mighty doings of the Lord,
    or declare all his praise?
Happy are those who observe justice,
    who do righteousness at all times.

Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people;
    help me when you deliver them;
that I may see the prosperity of your chosen ones,
    that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation,
    that I may glory in your heritage.

Both we and our ancestors have sinned;
    we have committed iniquity, have done wickedly.

God wants his people to prosper and participate in the gladness of his nation. We are all part of his heritage. And oh, how it must grieve him that we continue to turn again and again to little gods of our own making.

They made a calf at Horeb
    and worshiped a cast image.
20 They exchanged the glory of God
    for the image of an ox that eats grass.
21 They forgot God, their Savior,
    who had done great things in Egypt,
22 wondrous works in the land of Ham,
    and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
23 Therefore he said he would destroy them—
    had not Moses, his chosen one,
stood in the breach before him,
    to turn away his wrath from destroying them.

A friend of mine recently posted that he loves it when he reads in scripture that God changed his mind. The friend goes on to say that when he does, it is always toward compassion. Indeed, how could it not be? God is the creator and sustainer of compassion. Combined with his steadfast love for us, we are the blessed recipients of everything that flows from compassionate love.

This is what Jesus did for us on the cross. He let compassionate love flow from his veins and delivered all sinners from imprisonment of their sin. We are free because of his enduring, saving, and forgiving love.

So when you’re making your list of things you love, start with Jesus. Teach your children to love him, sing of YOUR enduring love of God to all who will hear, and most importantly be a reflection of that love to a world that desperately needs to see it.

Evening Reflection by Michelle Robertson

Bull!

Have you ever been in charge of watching a group of kids only to have them completely blow up the minute your attention was diverted? Any school teacher will tell you that kids have a sixth sense about when they can get away with something and when they can not. Children are inherently devious that way.

We have been following the story of the miraculous deliverance of the Hebrews as they fled from slavery in Egypt and escaped from Pharaoh’s army. Their arrival in the Promised Land was marked with bitter complaining as they grew hungry and thirsty, but God provided for them. At that point you would think they would be settled down. But no!

Moses had ascended to Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments from God and the MINUTE his back was turned, this happened:

Exodus 32 Common English Bible

The people saw that Moses was taking a long time to come down from the mountain. They gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Come on! Make us gods who can lead us. As for this man Moses who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we don’t have a clue what has happened to him.”

Aaron said to them, “All right, take out the gold rings from the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took out the gold rings from their ears and brought them to Aaron. He collected them and tied them up in a cloth. Then he made a metal image of a bull calf, and the people declared, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf. Then Aaron announced, “Tomorrow will be a festival to the Lord!” They got up early the next day and offered up entirely burned offerings and brought well-being sacrifices. The people sat down to eat and drink and then got up to celebrate.

It is almost hard to believe that the second they were left alone they created an idol to worship. How could they forget the incredible miracle God had performed as he divided the water and allowed them to walk across the sea on dry land? How could they forget water flowing in the desert from a rock so they wouldn’t die of thirst? How did they overlook the consistent delivery of manna from heaven so they wouldn’t go hungry?

The Lord spoke to Moses: “Hurry up and go down! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, are ruining everything! They’ve already abandoned the path that I commanded. They have made a metal bull calf for themselves. They’ve bowed down to it and offered sacrifices to it and declared, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” The Lord said to Moses, “I’ve been watching these people, and I’ve seen how stubborn they are. 10 Now leave me alone! Let my fury burn and devour them. Then I’ll make a great nation out of you.”

God was over it. He called “Bull.” We tend to forget that his mercy is balanced by his anger when we deliberately walk away from his will for our lives and commit blasphemy.

11 But Moses pleaded with the Lord his God, “Lord, why does your fury burn against your own people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and amazing force? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘He had an evil plan to take the people out and kill them in the mountains and so wipe them off the earth’? Calm down your fierce anger. Change your mind about doing terrible things to your own people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, whom you yourself promised, ‘I’ll make your descendants as many as the stars in the sky. And I’ve promised to give your descendants this whole land to possess for all time.’” 

Moses boldly asks God to remember his promise when the people flagrantly refused to remember theirs.

I think everything we need to know about God happens in the next sentence:

14 Then the Lord changed his mind about the terrible things he said he would do to his people.

The people said to Aaron, “Come on! Make us gods who can lead us.” How about you? Have you walked away from your Lord and begun to worship other things? Are material things, status, position, political entrenchment, or privilege the things you worship now? What kind of flags are you flying from your boat? Whose name is on the sign in your front yard?

Have you erected your own golden bull in place of serving God and being the reflection of Christ to the world?

Take heed. God won’t tolerate that bull for long. Remember, return, and repent.

God Never Forgets by Michelle Robertson

RSVP

Have you ever thrown a party and nobody came? Imagine the frustration of that. You send the invitations, bake the cake, buy the decorations, and put together the little party favors for every guest. The day of the party you clean the house, set the table, sweep the front steps, change your clothes, and….nada. Nobody comes. Nobody calls. Nobody even has the manners to at least try to come up with a reason not to attend.

This is the story Jesus told when asked about the Kingdom of God. His listeners were the chief priests and the leaders of the temple. They had questioned Jesus’ authority to speak as the Son of God. They had allowed money lenders to defile the steps of the temple on the holy days. They had been listening to Jesus for three years, but they weren’t picking up what he was laying down.

Now they were out to get him.

Matthew 22 (The Message)

22 1-3 Jesus responded by telling still more stories. “God’s kingdom,” he said, “is like a king who threw a wedding banquet for his son. He sent out servants to call in all the invited guests. And they wouldn’t come!

“He sent out another round of servants, instructing them to tell the guests, ‘Look, everything is on the table, the prime rib is ready for carving. Come to the feast!’

5-7 “They only shrugged their shoulders and went off, one to weed his garden, another to work in his shop. The rest, with nothing better to do, beat up on the messengers and then killed them. The king was outraged and sent his soldiers to destroy those thugs and level their city.

Jesus throws down the authority gauntlet. He warns the Jewish leadership that their continued refusal to receive the Son of God was not going to end well. They may succeed in ensnaring Jesus for a time, but the ultimate victory was going to be his at the resurrection. God would destroy not only their hierarchy but their precious temple and the city it stood in.

He warns them that God wasn’t playing.

8-10 “Then he told his servants, ‘We have a wedding banquet all prepared but no guests. The ones I invited weren’t up to it. Go out into the busiest intersections in town and invite anyone you find to the banquet.’ The servants went out on the streets and rounded up everyone they laid eyes on, good and bad, regardless. And so the banquet was on—every place filled.

And so the doors of the kingdom were flung wide open to the gentiles, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the poor, the blind, the marginal….suddenly the invitation was sent out to everyone. The banquet was on and everybody had a seat. The Bread of Life welcomed everyone to come and feast at HIS table.

You are invited as well. Maybe this is your moment to accept Christ into your heart. Jesus invites you to come inside and put your feet under his table. The food has been laid out on beautiful platters and the glasses are filled with Living Water. The meal has been bought for you with the precious blood of the lamb. In Christ, you will never hunger or thirst again. You can come and eat and stay as long as you like…even for the rest of your life. Will you come and partake?

RSVP.

Come and You Will Never Thirst Again by Kathy Schumacher

Worries

Last week was filled with worries for all of us. Covid numbers are back on the rise, families are dealing with remote learning struggles, we experienced the debacle of the Presidential debate, many of us are worried over the elections…and to top it all off our President, First Lady, and key leaders in our government have tested positive for corona virus. Can 2020 get any worse? Have we all somehow stepped into the twilight zone?

When the world as we know it feels like it is crashing at our feet, it is always good and helpful to do two things: pray and turn to scripture. Amazingly (yet not surprisingly in the way the Holy Spirit works) the lectionary passage for today speaks directly into this unspeakable time. With the wisdom of the ages, God’s holy word written over 2,000 years ago offers exactly the right advice for today.

Rejoice.

When the diagnosis comes, rejoice. When death draws near, rejoice. When the sting of rejection is so hard you can’t breathe, rejoice. When divorce is requested, rejoice. When the world seems to be going straight to hell as you watch from your sofa, rejoice.

Who in their right mind would rejoice in this season? The people of God. You see, rejoicing casts out worry. Rejoicing opens up prayer. Rejoicing is the foundation for supplication to a Heavenly Father who is ready and able to hear your requests.

Rejoicing brings PEACE.

Philippians 4 (New Revised Standard)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The news this week will likely not be any better. In fact, it will probably be worse. But the God of peace is right here, right in the middle of it, right by our side. Paul didn’t say to rejoice when the news is good. He said to rejoice ALWAYS. Do not worry about anything.

So hang on to the good, the true, the honorable, the just, the pure, and the things that are pleasing to God. Set aside all of your worries and think about these things. Keep following Jesus, reading his word, praying for our nation, and focus on things worthy of praise.

Think about those things, and only those things, and the peace of God will be with you. His peace surpasses all understanding. The world can’t give us any peace, but the Lord is always near.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Again I will say, REJOICE!

The Peace of God by Mary Watts

Off and Running

How many among you are runners? I am one of those weird people who enjoys running… in certain circumstances. Mind you, I definitely have some requirements for when I like to run.

I like to run when:

it’s not too early,

it’s not too late,

it’s not too hot,

it’s not too cold,

it’s not raining,

it’s not too humid,

or when a dog is chasing me.

For over a decade I have run with two women who are my bffs, therapists, hand-holders, comediennes, and steadfast supporters of everything I have ever tried. One of our husbands dubbed us as “toggers,” i.e. talking joggers. Really, the whole point is to talk. Running is secondary. We call ourselves Elite Toggers because when it comes to talking while running, no one can hold a candle to our nonsense.

I don’t know if Paul was a runner/jogger/togger but he really had the lingo down. In a letter to church at Philippi, he uses running imagery to describe the pursuit of all things holy.

He begins by laying out his credentials as a properly born Jew:

 Philippians 3 (The Message)

You know my pedigree: a legitimate birth, circumcised on the eighth day; an Israelite from the elite tribe of Benjamin; a strict and devout adherent to God’s law; a fiery defender of the purity of my religion, even to the point of persecuting the church; a meticulous observer of everything set down in God’s law Book.

Then Paul goes on to say that he is throwing away all of his credentials for the sake of Christ. He contends that any gain his credentials gave him are a loss now because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus his Lord.

10-11 I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.

And then the beautiful running analogy:

12-14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

How about you? Are you running toward Jesus or trying to slink away? Do you keep turning back toward your sinful behavior, past mistakes, old habits, and ways of doing things that slow down your forward motion?

Make today a day to be off and running. God is at the finish line, so keep your eye on the goal!

Elite Toggers by Wende Pritchard

Pouring Out Speech

This has been a week for “pouring out speech.” The presidential debate and ensuing commentary have not lacked for words. If we thought things could not get worse on social media, news commentary, and our overall feeling of woe, we were wrong. A lot of speech was indeed poured out, but not much knowledge was revealed. We just left feeling battered and bruised.

This phrase actually appears in a psalm of David. Where would we be without David? The Old Testament would be lacking in so much learning had there been no King David. From his many acts of sin, which teach us about repentance, to his incredible way of shaping and forming word-pictures in the Psalms, we owe David a debt of gratitude for his life and his work.

Today’s Psalm is a favorite of mine. I can hear the music from an old choir anthem I sang decades ago in the first verse. The last verse is a common prayer used by pastors before they preach. You may have heard this in church and not realized that it is from Psalm 19:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

I think this is a challenge for us as well, but first let’s dive into the beauty of the beginning of the Psalm. Pay attention to the way David figuratively gives voice to the different aspects of creation…the sky proclaims, the day pours out speech, and the heavens declare:

Psalm 19 (English Standard Version)

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
    whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
    which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
    and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
    and its circuit to the end of them,
    and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

We see an image of God’s entire creation singing his praises in David’s words. It is chill-bump worthy. Then David pays homage to the safety and comfort of the law. As one who broke it many times he should know!

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
    enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
    enduring forever;
the rules[d] of the Lord are true,
    and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
    and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward
.

At the end of the Psalm is the challenge I would like to put before you today. It’s not just preachers who need to pray that the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing to God…it’s all of us. It applies to what we say to our spouses, how we discipline our children, what we post on social media, the words we wear on our t-shirts and yard signs, and how we behave in Presidential debates. We, too have been given a voice to either declare the glory of the heavens and be a proclamation to God’s handiwork or be an embarrassment to him. So here is your challenge: THINK before you speak or post.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Heaven Declares God’s Glory by Karen Warlitner