The Right Place

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Devotion Title: “The Right Place”

Date: 03-31-15

The Big Idea: Now this may seem paradoxical—counterintuitive even, but I go back to the very person I betrayed: I flee to Jesus.

My Thoughts: Lifestyle worshiper, is it possible that you’ve done something horribly wrong? I’m not talking white lies or burps of profanity, but something much like Peter, who denied his Lord, not once, not twice but three time? Often what happens is we begin to isolate ourselves from others, especially if they call themselves “Christian”. Our shame and embarrassment is just too much to bear, eh? (Been there; done that; got the scars and T-shirt to prove it.)

But when I finally come to my senses (and this may take anywhere from a few moments to, ah, several years), I go to the right place. Now this may seem paradoxical—counterintuitive even, but I go back to the very person I betrayed: I flee to Jesus. Now why I do this, I’m not quite sure, especially when I see others who do not. But somehow Peter’s journey with Jesus has given me hope that I, too, can be forgiven.

Have you found this to be so, too? Have you discover that our Lord Jesus is “a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love” (Neh. 9:17b)?

Maybe you haven’t done something as terrible as I or Peter, but even if you haven’t, maybe you can receive comfort and hope from the words recorded in Mark 16:6-7 the angel spoke to the women at the tomb of Jesus:

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as he told you.’ ”

Did you read that? “… and Peter”?  This is where I get my hope. If the Lord Jesus can forgive the most horrible, terrible wrong done by Peter, He can forgive me, too. I can hear my name in Peter’s place: “and….” Can you?

This is our God! This is the Hope of the Resurrection He offers. This is the reason we praise Him: Father, Son and Holy Spirit! Hosanna in the Highest!

Main Text: — Mark 16:6-7— “Don’t be alarmed,” [the angel] said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. 7 But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as he told you.’ ” [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep — 1 Corinthians 15:3-6 (NIV84)

  I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.   —Revelation 1:18 (NIV84)

 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”  — John 11:25-26 (NIV84)

 Heavenly Father, by the shed blood of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and through His power, I ask You to forgive me for _____. I thank You, Lord Jesus Christ, for bearing the consequences of my actions. Remove the pain and shame I have cause Your name. Be that part of my life that has been disobedient to You. I release myself into Your hands. Empower me with Your Resurrected Life through the Holy Spirit to live a life that is pleasing to You. In Your Name, Amen. 

Pastor Mike

My Book Is Finally Here.

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A Solemn Assembly

As you can see, my book is finally here. It has been a project incubating for some time now, and I am humbled and blessed that it is now ready.

What is it? Beyond what the cover says, both it is a ceremony and a personal devotion for individuals, small groups and churches. This book offers prayers and insights into what it means to draw closer to the Lord Jesus in word and in deed. It offers hope to the hopeless through forgiveness and restoration. It presents the Light of the World to those stumbling in the darkness. It is a menu for those who hunger for a deeper spiritual satisfaction.

So not to disrupt the flow, the endnotes are packed with Scriptural references, comments, and insight that enrich the experience.

This book is available as an ebook from:

iTunes (iBooks, just search my name or the title)

Amazon.com (Kindle) http://www.amazon.com/Solemn-Assembly-Gathering-Repentance-Restoration-ebook/dp/B00UZ7PSXM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1427425832&sr=8-2&keywords=A+Solemn+Assembly

Barnes & Noble (Nook) http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-solemn-assembly-michael-l-rossmann/1121489718?ean=9781498430210

Paperback versions are also available from the latter two sources. A preview will soon be available from these sites, as well.

My prayer is that this tool will be used to bring many to the wholeness and freedom the Lord Jesus Christ offers in Himself.

Peace,

Coach Mike

“Overcoming Fear to Step Toward the Father”

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Date: 03-21-15

The Big Idea: As I come to realize that our Heavenly Father is a most forgiving God, these fears I had had melt away with each step toward HIM in this freedom of forgiveness. .

My Thoughts: I vividly recall Sister Mary Eloise teaching us that when we sin, God the Father is just waiting there to hurl a lightening bolt at us, but Jesus, God the Son is at His side saying, “But Father, I died to forgive this sin, too.” As she spoke that last sentence, she would do the sign language for Jesus. (I didn’t learn this until much, much later!) What she was teaching was very true, but my little mind was fearing a rather simple action: “What if Jesus didn’t get there it time to stop the lightening bolt?” Pretty silly, huh?

But sadly this fear kept me from approaching our Heavenly Father for years. I lived in a constant low-grade fear that at any moment a lightening bolt would slip past Jesus as a puck would slide past Tony Esposito—rare, but possible….

Perhaps you have come to learn this a lot sooner than I had in your journey with Jesus, Lifestyle worshiper, but on my pathway to freedom and wholeness it has taken me a while to understand this morning’s main text from Nehemiah: “But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love” (v. 17b). I began to discover this through the birth of my daughters. As each daughter’s birth approached, I feared a very malformed child. This fear was fueled by the very evil things I had done as a young person and by the doubts that Jesus could indeed stop those lightening bolts.

But the LORD is indeed gracious and merciful. By my third daughter’s birth, I was finally starting to get it: The Lord Jesus does stop those lightening bolts—ever time! (His shut out record is perfect!) I expressed this realization by giving my third daughter a very meaningful middle name: Joy. Not only was she named after one of her aunts, this name also captures my journey with Jesus overcoming my fears. I was finally beginning to approach the Father and experience His joy…. (and, BTW I have three beautiful daughters, two wonderful sons-in-law, and 5½ sparkling grandchildren–one’s due in August.)

In all this, as I come to realize that our Heavenly Father is a most forgiving God, these fears I had had melt away with each step toward HIM in this freedom of forgiveness.  And best yet, not only does our Lord Jesus stop ever lightening bolt, He will never leave the net! This is the rest of v. 17: He will not desert me.

As I enjoy this freedom in forgiven, I have come to rely on the LORD’s compassion and abounding Love more and more.  Do you have a story of joy on your pathway to freedom in forgiveness?

Main Text: — Nehemiah 9:16-18— 16 But they, our forefathers, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and did not obey your commands. 17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them, 18 even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, ‘This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,’ or when they committed awful blasphemies. [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. — Psalm 103:8-12 (NIV84)

Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”   —Luke 5:22-25 (NIV84)

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. — 1 John 2:1-2 (NIV84)

 Lord Jesus Christ, I  embrace Your grace that forgives my sins. I approach the Heavenly Father full of confident assurance because of the price You paid for me. Enlighten me by Your Holy Spirit to  understand these wonderful and precious promises You have for me in forgiveness. In Your Name, Amen. 

Coach Mike

“The First Step Toward Freedom”

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Date: 03-18-15

The Big Idea: Address our pray to the Holy One—and Only One, Who can actually give us freedom in forgiveness.

My Thoughts: Many of us seek freedom from the present. Others seek freedom from the past. Or even from themselves. But no matter what freedom we may be seeking, there is a first step in finding this hard sought after freedom.

The first step to freedom, as with many recovery programs, is to admit there is a problem/issue/concern. This admission/confession must get personalized. Yeah, your family has had a problem for years, true. But it is only when you own your role in & contribution to this problem/issue/concern, that you begin your journey toward freedom.

Unlike many sterilized recovery programs, this first step of admission is actually addressed to the more-than-personal higher power: It is addressed to the Holy One—and Only One, Who can actually give us freedom in forgiveness. He not only offers forgiveness, He alone can actually actuate such. As seen in our main text below, the Israelites began their journey to freedom by praising the Holy One. They full-well realized that only He can forgive their sins and bring them the true freedom they seek.

So, Lifestyle worshiper, as we journey on the pathway to Freedom and wholeness, let us take our first steps of confession and ownership of our problem/issue/concern by praising the Holy One Who is the Only One that can free us.

Main Text: — Nehemiah 9:5-6— Blessed be Your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

 I love you, O Lord, my strength. — Psalm 18:1 (NIV84)

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”  —Matthew 11:25 (NIV84)

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. — 1 John 1:8-9 (NIV84)

 Lord Jesus Christ, I  acknowledge that the enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy, but I confess that You have come to bring Life abundantly. I cry to You, Who is greater in me than he that is in the world, to free me from the bondage of those things that hinder my walk with You and the sins that have so easily entangled me. Empower me to run this race marked out for me on the path of Freedom. In Your Name, Amen. 

Coach Mike

“People of the Book’s First Response: Blindness, then Sight”

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Date: 03-15-15

The Big Idea: I need to be reminded once again of Neh. 8:10: “Do not grieve, for the Joy of the LORD is my strength!”

My Thoughts: Like coming out of a dark theater, when we frist encounter the Word, we are blinded, squinting and covering our eyes. It is almost too painful to even attempt to open them. And yet as we persevere, our eyes adjust and we see more. This is how the people in Nehemiah’s day initially responded to the Word (v. 9 below). They were overwhelmed with a sense of grief; they were undone and wrecked. Becoming a People of the Book, I often come away from the Word undone and wrecked. My point of view is often one of helplessness. I know I cannot fulfill the precepts of this Book; they are well beyond my capabilities. Oh, some I may be able to gut out with extreme effort and constant exertion, but in truth, I know my strength is far too inadequate to be like Jesus….

I need to be reminded once again of Neh. 8:10: “Do not grieve, for the Joy of the LORD is my strength!” The Lord Jesus Christ overcomes my weaknesses, and as my eyes become accustomed to the Light, I see Him more clearly.

Hannah Whital Smith writes to me a word of encouragement on this:

“I feel more and more utterly cast on Christ and more and more bereft of anything of my own. My wants are many and they are continual, but I know that His supply is far more mighty, and it is promised to me moment by moment, and therefore I can trust all to Him. All! I leave the whole battle to Him, because I must. Wisdom, courage, armor, strength, patience and victory all to be found only in the Lord. I have nothing, literally and truly nothing. But Christ has all, just as literally and truly all and He is mine. Oh, can I doubt that every need will be fully supplied? No a thousand times no! let me wait then patiently His own time, and commit everything to Him continually. “For they shall not be ashamed that wait for thee.” Isa. 49:23. I want to know that I am one with Jesus and to know that He is dwelling in me and working in me to will and to do His good pleasure.”—Journal, April 26, 1867 [Smith, Hannah Whitall, and Melvin Easterday Dieter. The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life: The Unpublished Personal Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997. Print. March 15]

I pray that on your personal journey becoming a People of the Book, the Lord Jesus Christ becomes your strength more and more in the inner being as He empowers you to faithfully respond to His Word of Truth.

Main Text: — Nehemiah 8:9— Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is sacred to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

 I love you, O LORD, my strength. — Psalm 18:1 (NIV84)

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  —John 15:5 (NIV84)

But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. — 2 Timothy 4:17 (NASB95)

 Lord Jesus Christ, I confess You are my strength when I am weak. I humbly seek Your Face as I actively yield to Your presence in my Life to walk this journey with You. Transform me by Your Holy Spirit into a People of the Book. Amen.

Coach Mike

“Becoming a People of the Book & Getting the Right Explanation of the Word”

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Date: 03-14-15

The Big Idea: If the Word is indeed the Word of God (and I most assuredly believe it is), then I must do everything I can to accurately interpret the Word so that I will not be putting words in His mouth, right?.

My Thoughts: Even the Apostle Peter had some difficulties with some of the Apostle Paul’s writings (2 Peter 3:16). Even when he literally walked with Jesus, Peter had to ask the Lord, “Explain the parable to us” (see Matthew 15:15). The Ethiopian Eunuch was reading Isaiah 53 and asked Philip to explain it to him (Acts 8:31ff). Dare I supposed I need not to ask for explanation of the Word?

I have found that to become a People of the Book, I need to rightly interpret the Word of God. In order to do this, I need to interpret its meaning in the proper context: Literary, historical and cultural context. Sometimes I need to read a good commentary or ask one who has study the Word longer than I have or who has a particular expertise in a language or given area of history…. I try to surround myself with people like this.

If the Word is indeed the Word of God (and I most assuredly believe it is), then I must do everything I can to accurately interpret the Word so that I will not be putting words in His mouth, right?

If our God is sovereign over time, and if He has breathed Life into the Words of this Book, then it follows that His Words can span time and culture. His Words go beyond any ‘first century worldview’ or 21st century deconstruction attempts. His Word is eternal and valid for all cultures and times….

On my journey becoming a People of the Book, I have learned some simple guidelines of interpretation: First, I make observations of the text prior to reading any commentaries. I focus on the verbs and participles in their original language, moving to key nouns and adjectives. Then I move to interpretation, asking such questions as what was the context of the original audience, what is the context of the passage in the Bible, and how does the author use these particular words. Once I come up with some contextual interpretation of the Word, I move to application. Following both of the first two steps avoids any misapplication and putting words in the Holy One’s mouth. What I have also learned is, much of the time this is hard and sacred work. Sometimes I have discovered that what I thought the passage said actually was my bias taking it out of context. …. Have you found this to be so, too? Has the Word presently come alive to you in ways that it has not in the past?   Share your story about your journey becoming a People of the Book as you get explanations of the Word.

Main Text: — Nehemiah 8:8—They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read. [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

 Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. — 2 Timothy 2:15 (NLT)

The disciples came to [Jesus] and asked, “Why do You speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”  —Matthew 13:10-12 (NIV84)

Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words, or He will rebuke you and prove you a liar. — Proverbs 30:5-6 (NIV84)

Coach Mike

“Exposure to the Word is More than Just Owning a Bible”

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Date: 03-13-15

The Big Idea: I went from being exposed to the Word to fill the hunger in my soul, to being a collector of Bibles to fill my intrigue.

My Thoughts: As I continued on my journey with Jesus to become a People of the Book, I found that daily exposure to His Word fed a deep longing and an intense hunger for Him. Intriguingly, shortly after committing my life to the Lord Jesus, I was handed a little green New Testament with the Psalms and Proverbs (which I devoured, camping in John & the Proverbs). Another gave me a Living Bible paraphrase of the New Testament, which I found easier to read. Then I set out to purchase my first Bible, a Thompson Chain reference for $35! (I vividly recall my mother saying why buy such an expensive Bible….) Still another friend gave me a Scofield  Study Bible. The NIV New Testament came out, so I devoured one of those, too…. Suddenly, I went from having no Bibles to an entire library of Bibles….

Shortly after this, I had the honor of joining a small group call Underground Evangelism. It was there I learned that many Christians throughout the world had no Bibles at all. I went home and counted how many Bibles I had. Between a close friend and myself we had 45 Bibles. Now, in truth, I had read all of them at some point, but I could not use all of them, so I began giving them away, keeping only the few I had had in the very beginning….

All this is to say, I went from being exposed to the Word to fill the hunger in my soul, to being a collector of Bibles to fill my intrigue. Oh, I could rationalize why I had so many Bibles, but really how many could I read at once and then how many did I really need?

Have you found on your journey as a People of the Book, that the real challenge is reading the one Bible you may possess? Even now as a pastor, I still read the Word, but often strictly for sermon preparation. I have even caught myself a couple of times never opening my printed Bible—since now I have many of the 45 Bibles back in digital form. Perhaps you can join me in committing to exposing ourselves to the Word as they did in Nehemiah’s day: “Day after day”?  Do you have a story you’d like to share about reading the Word as a People of the Book?

Main Text: — Nehemiah 8:18— Day after day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God. They celebrated the feast for seven days, and on the eighth day, in accordance with the regulation, there was an assembly. [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

[Jesus] went to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day He went into the synagogue, as was His custom. And He stood up to read.— Luke 4:16 (NIV84)

Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!” —Mark 12:24-27 (NIV84)

I arise before dawn and cry for help; I wait for Your words. My eyes anticipate the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word.— Psalm 119:147148 (NASB95)

Coach Mike