Midweek Reflections Archive

Archive of Midweek Reflections

Midweek Reflection on Hebrews 1:1-14 – Jesus is Superior to Angels (Hebrews Sermon Series)

What have you been taught about angels?

The GotQuestions website shares that angels are mentioned more than 270 times in the Bible and within 34 of the 66 books. Through various passages of Scripture, we learn that these created beings serve different purposes, such as praising and worshiping, protecting, and carrying messages from God. We also learn distinct features of angels who praise and worship the Lord based on the vision given to the prophet Isaiah. They each had six wings – two to cover their faces, two to cover their feet, and two to fly. At the sound of the angels’ voices, the doorposts and thresholds shook and smoke filled the temple (Isaiah 6:2-4).  What a magnificent sight to behold! We marvel at these majestic beings who are present in the very throne room of the Lord.

Marveling can be a spectacular endeavor. As humans, we engage in that activity quite easily and rather frequently. We not only marvel at angels… we marvel at beautiful scenes, at people who possess extraordinary talents, at modern inventions and conveniences, at novel ideas, and the list goes on.

How often, though, do we marvel at the One who is superior to the angels, the One who created the universe, the One who is the radiance of God’s glory and His exact representation, the One who sustains all things, the One who provided purification for sins (Hebrews 1:2-4)? How often do we marvel at and worship the people and things around us, including ourselves, and give nary a thought or more than fleeting  attention to the One who is superior to all others… the One who took on flesh and – sinless – bore  unfathomable suffering for us that we – the sinful – could be restored to the Father and be co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17)?

The angels know God… intimately. They are consumed with carrying out God’s will. And yet, they are not made in the image of God like we are (Genesis 1:26-27). They do not have the mind of Christ like we do – if we’ve surrendered our lives to Him (1 Corinthians 2:16). The apostle Peter, when writing to believers scattered throughout the Roman Empire, reminded the believers that their salvation through Jesus Christ the Messiah was spoken about through the prophets of long ago… hundreds of years before the Messiah would walk on the earth. Peter followed up that reminder with “Even angels long to look into these things” (1 Peter 1:12).

“Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” asks the author of Hebrews (1:14).

The angels have no need for salvation themselves; they don’t know separation from God. When they look at us, then, they are curious. They marvel. They long to understand this redemptive relationship between God and humans. Salvation is ours through the blood of Jesus Christ. That is indeed worth marveling at, praising God for, and giving our deepest thanksgiving. It is not something to be ignored… and we’ll learn more about that on Sunday when Donnie leads us through Hebrews 2.


Colossians 1:15-23 – How God Sees Us (Renewed Outlook Sermon Series – March 31, 2024)

Have you ever looked through a “Where’s Waldo?” book… scouring the pages trying to find the man in the stocking hat and red and white striped shirt amidst hundreds of other people, objects, colors, and patterns? I remember well the intensity of trying to find Waldo throughout the pages of the book. I would concentrate so hard on looking for red and white stripes and get easily frustrated by all the other stuff that prevented me from finding him. More than once I would loudly proclaim to those around me, “There is no Waldo! He is not in this picture!” My mom would patiently tell me to look again. Sometimes I would look again and again and still no Waldo… until my mom or brother had mercy on me and pointed him out. And there he was… he’d been there the whole time. I just couldn’t see him through all the commotion.

Donnie shared on Sunday that the city of Colossae was facing a similar challenge… after hearing the good news of Jesus Christ and fixing their eyes on Him, they allowed other things (specifically, other ideas & teachings) to cloud their vision and obscure their spiritual view. The apostle Paul knew this body of believers was on a dangerous path and needed to renew their outlook, to return to a proper perspective of Jesus Christ.

Many of us need the same reminders Paul gave the Colossians. We have so many voices pouring into our daily routines, so many obstacles crowding the path in front of us that the truth of Jesus Christ has been dampened, or worse… lost amid the chaos.

This is a sobering thought but one worth reflecting on… if the story of our lives was featured as a two-page colorful layout full of the people, places, and events we’d encountered… would others clearly see Jesus, or would they be asking “Where’s Jesus?” and have a hard time getting even a small glimpse?

“I have become its [His body – the church] servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness – the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:25-27


Colossians 3:1-4 – How God Sees Us (Renewed Outlook Sermon Series – April 7, 2024)

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” – Colossians 3:2

How do we “set our minds on things above,” especially when we’re bombarded by messages that are earthly-focused? During Sunday’s sermon, Donnie used Joshua and Caleb as one example for us to follow. They were two of the 12 spies Moses sent out to explore the land of Canaan, the Promised Land. And they were the only two to trust that the Lord would lead them in conquering the people of the land. Their minds were not set upon the trials and difficulties that may lay ahead; no, they were set on “things above” – the Lord. (Read Numbers 13-14.)

Too often, we’re like the 10 other spies and the rest of the Israelite community – setting our minds on the cost involved instead of the blessing that awaits. We let failures of the past, fixations of the present, and fears of the unknown future reign supreme in our minds, rendering us ineffective as we swirl down into the pit of complacency.

We’d do well to heed Paul’s instructions on this topic of our minds…

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Through these verses we see the discipline and the focus required for a mind that is set on things above. It’s intentional, it’s purposeful, it’s centered on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Join me in praying a prayer written by A.W. Tozer in his book The Pursuit of God: “O God and Father, I repent of my sinful preoccupation with visible things. The world has been too much with me. Thou hast been here and I knew it not. I have been blind to thy presence. Open my eyes that I may behold thee in and around me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”


Colossians 3:5-11 – What Changed? (Renewed Outlook Sermon Series – April 14, 2024)

What ignites and douses simultaneously? What serves as both an accelerant and a diminisher? What builds intensely at the same time it tears down?

Anger.

The Greek word for anger used in Colossians 3:8 is ὀργή, or orgé . That word does not imply the sudden or instant outburst of emotion but rather a settling in, a fixed disposition held toward another. It stews and simmers, and over time, builds to a boiling that infects and destroys. This anger is dangerous, which is why God’s Word gives such serious warnings about it.

His Word and warnings against anger are further emphasized by the way He’s created us. His design specified not only what we would look like and how we’d function – our physical bodies, but also our emotional, mental, and spiritual states. Physiologically, anger produces an increase in our body temperature – specifically in the upper body and arms, rising blood pressure, quickened breathing, and sweating. Those are short-term physical results of anger, but long-term consequences include increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack. Emotionally, anger tramples our ability to have compassion and to empathize. Mentally, anger often leads to irrational thinking and confirmation bias. Spiritually, anger wreaks havoc on relationships – our relationship with God and others. James 1:20 tells us that “human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

Anger is a characteristic of our old way of life, our earthly nature of which we must rid ourselves (Colossians 3:5-9). Again, this type of anger is not righteous… it’s self-righteous. Its focus is on the self – how I’ve been wronged, how I’ve been mistreated, how I’ve missed out. In “The Pursuit of God,” A.W. Tozer defines self as “the opaque veil that hides the Face of God from us.”

Father, may we as Your followers rid ourselves of anger. May we quit putting on our old wardrobe and quit walking in the ways of life we once lived. Instead, Lord, may we “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:10). In the holy and powerful name of Jesus we pray, Amen.


Colossians 3:12-14 – How Do I Look? (Renewed Outlook Sermon Series – April 21, 2024)

Have you ever thought about gentleness being associated with great strength? Many of us know gentleness as a fruit of the Spirit; we know it’s an attribute that marks a follower of Christ. We know of gentleness, but too often we fail to clothe ourselves with it. It’s so much easier and “acceptable” to spout off in frustration, to put someone in their place, to defend and protect ourselves. After all, how are we ever going to be heard in this noisy world if we don’t get loud and obnoxious?

Someone makes a harsh comment to us, so we speak back in the same manner, right? Someone raises their voice to us or possibly even their hand, so we raise our voices and lift our hands, too, right? Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth, right?!

Wrong.

Proverbs 15:1tells us, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Answer the person who spoke harshly and with a raised voice in a calm and reasonable manner, and it’s like throwing a bucket of ice water on the flame of a candle. Just takes the wind right out of that person’s sails.

When Jesus was arrested and taken to the high priest, Matthew 26 and Mark 14 tell of many people coming forward to give false statements about Him. The high priest addressed Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” (Mark 14:60). Jesus remained silent, giving no reply. Then, the high priest asked Him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” (v. 61). Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven” (v. 62).

Jesus did not point fingers at those bearing false testimonies; He didn’t yell at or curse them for their wrongdoings. He gave a gentle answer.

Paul wrote in his letter instructions for Titus to pass along to the believers: “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone,” (Titus 3:1-2). He didn’t say, “Be gentle to those who are nice to you or to those whom you like.” We are to be gentle to everyone.

Gentleness is a characteristic of great strength, and since it’s His Spirit that resides within the follower of Christ, we have sufficient strength to clothe ourselves with gentleness each day.


Colossians 3:15-17 – From Character to Conduct (Renewed Outlook Sermon Series – April 28, 2024)

What does peace mean?

I was recently asked that question.

My answer was, “Peace doesn’t mean everything around you is calm and quiet. It means you – in your heart and mind – are calm amidst the chaos.”

There was a gracious person listening to that answer, but it could have easily been someone who smirked and said, “Yeah, okay,” while walking away and whispering under their breath, “Poor misguided and naïve girl… she obviously doesn’t live in reality where we daily are subjected to dissension, hate, murders, disasters, wars. Peace is just something disillusioned fools conjure up to make it through the day.”

I hope I get the opportunity to answer that question again because after more study and prayer, I would answer differently. I would answer, “Peace is not an abstract philosophy, or something only possible through imagination, or a vapor that’s here one moment and gone the next. Peace has a physical body. Peace has a name that brings people to their knees. Peace has a constant presence that even death cannot overcome. Peace is Jesus Christ.”

God has been faithfully teaching me through His Word that peace has no relationship with the things of this world; it is not impacted by circumstances or feelings. Even when God is allowing us to walk through the thick darkness of the valley, peace is ours through Jesus Christ. Now, we often don’t focus on that peace. The doubts creep in, the lies of the enemy bombard us, and the worries and uncertainty wrap strong tentacles all around us in attempts to suffocate. We find ourselves not just in the valley but in a deep, muddy pit, prone to doing what Donnie has advised against over and over again – to sit in that mud pit and make mud pies.

Though I’ve heard mud can do wonders for the skin, a mud pie is not going to nourish our bodies or our souls. We need to get out of the pit and continue through the valley, painful as it might be. We need a new perspective, a renewed outlook. We need Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

Jesus makes Himself known to us through His Word, so if we want to know Jesus, to trust in Jesus, to rely on His strength, we immerse ourselves in His Word. By studying and ruminating on His Word, we can avoid the deep pits in the valley because He lights our paths (John 8:12). We can have peace in our hearts because He rules in us (Colossians 3:15). We can be thankful in the trials because the testing of our faith produces perseverance, and perseverance works us toward maturity (James 1:2-4).

Father God, to those who have surrendered their lives to Jesus – according to Your foreknowledge, being sanctified by the Spirit, for obedience to Him and for sprinkling with his blood – may grace and peace be multiplied to us (1 Peter 1:2). In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.


Genesis 6:9-7:24 – Noah (Crazy People Sermon Series – March 10, 2024)

“Noah did everything just as God commanded him” (Genesis 6:22). What God commanded him to do – to build a massive boat when it had never even rained before – well, that was crazy! Imagine the response of those around him; you can almost hear their taunts of “Crazy old man!” Noah was not deterred. Because he walked faithfully with God (Genesis 6:9), Noah was obedient. And in a generation where all the people on earth were corrupt (verse 12), doing what the Lord commanded was crazy.

We live in a time similar to Noah’s – corruption runs rampant. Does our obedience as believers mimic Noah’s? Are we so focused on following the Lord that those who don’t know Him would label us crazy?

As we ponder those questions, let’s also reflect on what did eventually happen after Noah completed the ark and his family and the animals entered. Genesis 7:11-12 tell us “… all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.” Verse 23 of that same chapter reads, “Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.”

May we be so obedient to the Lord that others take notice, even if that leads to the label of crazy.


1 Samuel 17:1-58 – David (Crazy People Sermon Series – March 17, 2024)

What definition shapes the way you live your daily life? Is it a parent’s harsh words of criticism from decades ago? Is it a health condition that prevents you from optimal functioning? Is it the devastating betrayal of a family member or friend? Is it loneliness, defeat, anger, maybe even hopelessness?

Too often we allow our circumstances and other people to define us. That’s a terrifying thing because circumstances can change in an instant, and people can be equally as fickle.

On Sunday, we examined 1 Samuel 17, the passage that includes the well-known story of David’s encounter with Goliath. Three times in this chapter insults were hurled at David… two of those coming from people David would have looked up to – an older brother and the king he served. David could have chosen to focus on the weaknesses others were so quick to point out, but instead he focused on the One from whom true identity comes – the Lord Almighty. Boldly, he proclaimed and defended the name of the Lord, and he took down the Philistine with one stone.

This is the part of the story where we often cheer because the supposed underdog has beaten the bully who was sure to win. What we can easily fail to realize – both in David’s case and our own – is that anyone who belongs to the Lord is not an underdog. David’s words in 1 Samuel 17:47 were spoken before he killed Goliath: “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give all of you into our hands.” Notice he didn’t say, “He will give Goliath into our hands”; he said “all of you.” Again, David was bold. And again, he was bold because he acted in the Lord’s strength, not his own weakness.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, that same strength lives in you. We are more than conquerors through Him! Nothing separates us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord – not trouble, not hardship, not persecution, not famine, not nakedness, not danger, not sword, not death… not anything else in all creation (Romans 8:31-39)! May we be so bold in our proclamation of the Lord God Almighty that we baffle the world by our “crazy”!


Daniel 3 & 6 – In Babylon (Crazy People Sermon Series – March 24, 2024)

Your homeland has been invaded, your people attacked. The place where you worship the Lord has been ravaged, its contents carried off in the hands of enemies. And you have been taken captive, deported to a foreign land where you’re demanded to worship a golden image set up by an earthly king…

Those were the circumstances of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – three Jewish men standing before the king of Babylon.   In a rage, King Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up?” (Daniel 3:14).

How would you answer that? Keep in mind that the consequence of failure to worship the golden image was being thrown into a blazing furnace (Daniel 3:6)… a consequence that had been loudly proclaimed and of which you were acutely aware. What would you do?

It’s easy to say we would do the same thing Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did. They obediently, boldly, uncompromisingly stood before Nebuchadnezzar and replied, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18).

We would do that same thing, right?

Or would we?

How often have we compromised our faith in favor of taking the easier, more comfortable, more acceptable path? When have we passed quickly by someone in need because we “don’t have time” or “it isn’t safe”? When have we clamped our mouths shut in silence when we feared others’ responses more than sharing truth? When have we opted for numbing our minds with entertainment instead of nourishing them with the living and active Word of God?

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). Lord, may Your Spirit powerfully move us to crazy obedience, crazy boldness, and crazy uncompromising faith.