Daily Devotion April 2021

4/13/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/zY5o9mP22V0



Complete the Verse & Name the BookIf anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Pastor Michael’s sermon “Conspiracy and Commandment” that was based on Matthew 28:11-20. With this sermon he concluded a series of sermons on the book of Matthew that started back on November 10, 2018. Here is a recap of the second half of his sermon.


The word doubted in verse 17 does not mean a settled unbelief—a belief that says, “I’ve settled it; this is not true.” The word here means an unsettled belief—there’s an uncertainly, a hesitation, a question that asks, “Could this really be?” It reflects a difference in personalities. 


Some people take longer than others in getting there. Some like Peter are immediately falling down and worshiping while others, like Thomas, have some doubts. They want more proof. Thomas’s doubt was not a settled unbelief but instead was an unsettled belief. There was still some confusion in his mind. 


The word for doubt that is used here is the same word used when Jesus walked on the water, and Peter stepped out of the boat to join him. Matthew 14:31 says: Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Jesus was asking Peter, “Why are you unsettled in your belief? What gave you uncertainty or hesitation?”


There are times when we doubt, when we have unsettled belief. That doesn’t mean we don’t believe in Jesus any longer. Most likely it involves saying, “I know you’re truth, but there are some things I don’t understand. Why did you allow . . .” 


Mark 9:14-32 tells the story of a father who brought his son with an evil spirit to Jesus to be healed:


So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.


Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”


“From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”


“ ’If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”


Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”


The great commission involves some of the last words Jesus spoke while he was on Earth. Every purpose, mission, or vision statement of the church must look like this and include making disciples and obeying Jesus. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus. Who Jesus is is described in Daniel’s vision in Daniel 7:13-14:


“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all people, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”


Matthew 26:63b-64 says:


The high priest said to [Jesus], “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”


“Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”


When Jesus said these words, he was referring to this passage in Daniel, and every member of the Sanhedrin knew he was referring to this passage and declaring he was the Messiah.  


Even in his birth, Jesus had authority. The Magi went to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2). Matthew 21:1-11 records the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem when the crowds shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest!”


The devil tempted Jesus by taking him to a high mountain and showing him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me” (see Matthew 4:8-9). The devil wished he had all authority, but it was Jesus who actually had all authority. 


Because Jesus has all power and authority, he tells us to go and make disciples. Jesus commissions us to go on a co-mission with him. We are partners in this mission. We can be successful in this co-mission because of the power he gives us. We are to go and tell people about salvation in Jesus. 


You may have heard people say, “Our mission is to those around us. We have to take care of our own.” That’s true, but our mission goes further than that. Jesus said to make disciples of all nations—not just our community. If we say, “Once we meet the needs of our community, then we’ll start to work on meeting the needs of those outside our community,” then we’ll never reach out to those outside our community. It’s like saying, “We’ll have kids when we are financially secure.” If that is our attitude we will never have kids. We don’t have a choice of sharing the gospel in our community or outside our community; we are to share the gospel in our community and outside our community. 


Our commission is to make disciples—followers of Jesus who are committed to Jesus and obey Jesus. A disciple learns and obeys the commands of Jesus. Baptism involves a public declaration of a commitment to Jesus. 


Our church reaches outside our community with mission trips and placing our services and other activities online so anyone in the world has access to them. 


Jesus leaves us with some very encouraging words: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Jesus has all authority in all nations, and he’s with us all the time through all the ages. It’s all about Jesus! His presence will be with us always. 


When the birth of Jesus was prophesized, the following words were said: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). We have the power of Christ to partner with Christ with the presence of Christ. We are to bring the gospel to all people for the salvation and sanctification of all people. Jesus is the Savior of the world. He has all power and all authority. 


The end of Matthew is not the end; it’s just the beginning. It’s taken us two and a half years to get through the book of Matthew. It will take us a lifetime to finish the commission. We are the fragrance of God, so go and tell.



Verse Completion. . . take up his cross daily, and follow Me. Luke 9:23 (NASB)


4/12/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/XFqjq_LsZVg



Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd when He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday Pastor Michael’s sermon “Conspiracy and Commandment” was based on Matthew 28:11-20. With this sermon he concluded a series of sermons on the book of Matthew that started back on November 10, 2018. 


All through the book of Matthew, the author has been contrasting those who love Jesus and those who don’t. Matthew’s audience was the Jews. He wanted to prove to them that Jesus was the Messiah—the way, the truth, and the life. He wants them to understand that the only way to the Father is through the Son. Those who hear the message will respond with either rejection or acceptance. 


Matthew ends the book with two last scenes. The first scene is that of conspiracy found in verses 11-15:


While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble. So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.


We see a great contrast in this passage between the women who were overjoyed with the news of the resurrection of Jesus and the guards who were scared of what would happen to them. The guards were witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus, and they shared this with the Sanhedrin. It’s interesting that each of the members of the Sanhedrin had another chance to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. They had another opportunity for grace. They were given another occasion to believe in Jesus. However, instead of repenting they rejected Jesus again. 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 says: But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?


Rather than breathing in the fragrance of Christ, the Sanhedrin rejects Jesus completely. They view the fragrance of Christ as something repulsive. Those who were supposed to be leading people to God were rejecting God. It’s ironic that the religious leaders came up with a plan that involved bribes and lies. In Matthew 27:62-66, the chief priests and Pharisees called Jesus a deceiver, and now they are attempting to deceive. 


It’s interesting that the religious leaders took the guards’ word as truth when they didn’t take the words of Jesus as truth. Their hearts are getting harder and harder. The religious leaders want the guards to tell a story full of lies. It’s a far-fetched story when you consider the facts. There were twelve Roman soldiers guarding the tomb. They worked in shifts so while some were sleeping, others were standing guard. There was no time when all the guards were asleep. The idea of the disciples overpowering twelve Roman soldiers was absurd. At this point the disciples were in hiding. They feared for their lives. Roman soldiers who fell asleep on the job would be executed. There was no way they were going to sleep while on duty.


The amount of money to get the soldiers to say they fell asleep on the job must have been huge. Where did all this money come from? It was money that had been given to the temple—money given in worship to God. Money given to promote God was used to bribe people in an attempt to destroy God. 


The soldiers took the money because they were told that if the word reached Pilate, they would bribe Pilate, too. The soldiers went to the Sanhedrin first because they were on loan to the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin thought they will be able to handle the difficult situation with bribes and lies. They wanted Jesus to look like a deceiver when in fact they were the deceivers. Thirty years after the death of Jesus the fictitious story made up by the Sanhedrin continued to circulate among the Jews. Even in 2021 the story continues to circulate that the body of Jesus was stolen. 


Scene One is all about lies, deceit, bribery, evil, and the rejection of Jesus. Scene Two is the opposite; it’s all about truth, honesty, uprightness, and the reception of Jesus. Matthew 28: 16-20 says:


Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”


This likely happened close to forty days after the resurrection and before the ascension of Jesus into heaven. The disciples worshiped Jesus as God—the Messiah. They worshiped him as their Savior. 


Tomorrow we will continue with the second half of Pastor Michael’s sermon.


Verse Completion. . . finger of God. Exodus 31:18 (NASB)


4/10/21


Good morning. Give thanks to the LORD; for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/Kf9ed6qwlaI



Complete the Verse & Name the BookBe merciful, just as . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Dr. Michael Wedman’s lesson from 2 John 7-13—“Walking in Discernment”. Today we will recap the second half.


The definition of a cult is those who believe that Jesus isn’t fully God and fully man or those that believe the Holy Spirit is not God. Those who deny the trinity—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—are a cult. Anyone who attempts to add to Bible is a false prophet. Anyone who contradicts what is in the Bible is a false prophet. We have to discern between the truth and lies. Discernment identifies the truth. When you know the truth you can tell when something is false. Those who are taught to identify counterfeit money are taught to carefully study true bills. Once they know the truth they are able to spot the lies. 


John wants us to be equally discerning with our Bibles as the counterfeit identifiers are with money. We need to read our Bible. We need to study our Bible. We need to understand our Bible so we are able to spot falsehood. If we don’t know our Bible well, we can walk away from truth and into falsehood. If we begin to listen to falsehood, we take a path that leads away from Jesus. Each step on that path is a step away from Jesus. The farther away from the truth one gets the less that person knows the truth. 


There’s a reward for following Jesus. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 says:


By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. 


Paul is saying to build your life on the truth, and build with truth. We have a choice on how we build our lives. We can say we know Jesus and yet not follow him. We can say we love Jesus and declare he is our Lord and Savior and yet we can walk in the opposite direction of him in disobedience and falsehood. When we do that we are in danger of losing any reward we were going to receive from Jesus. There’s a reward for staying with the truth. If we follow falsehood it means we don’t love Jesus. 


The Gnostics said, “We have the new, progressive teachings. You need to get rid of that old, outdated stuff. We are more informed. We have the extra-spiritual knowledge that God revealed to us.” The Didache, also known as The Lord’s Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations, said that a prophet who came to stay with a person was only to stay for two days. If a prophet stays for more than two days, that prophet is a false prophet so don’t have anything to do with him. If the prophet stays for two days and asks for money, he is a false prophet. If a prophet teaches anything different from what the disciples of Christ taught, he is a false prophet. 


The danger of false prophets is they destroy the spiritual well-being of people in the church. They lead people away from Jesus. They diminish the love one has for Jesus and others. 1 John 2:22-26 says:


Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.


See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—even eternal life.


I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 


If someone says, “I believe in God; I just don’t believe in Jesus,” that person is the antichrist because the Father and Son are one. It’s impossible to have God and not Jesus—No one who denies the Son has the Father. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). There is only one way to receive salvation and that is through Jesus. Acts 4:12 says: Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. If Jesus isn’t fully man then he didn’t pay the penalty for sin because a human being had to pay the offering. Jesus is able to represent us because he was fully man. 


It took deity to pay the God-sized penalty—the sacrifice had to be perfect. Only God is perfect—for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Jesus was fully man and fully God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.


Anyone who denies that Jesus is fully God and fully man or denies that Jesus is the only way to salvation should not be invited into your house. Remember that John is talking about the traveling prophets in this passage. We are promoters of the truth, not falsehood. We need to turn the TV off when a health and wealth preacher comes on. Don’t let him into your home.


What John is talking about are the essential doctrines: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, sin, salvation, sanctification, Scripture, and so forth. There are some subjects that are not essential such as the rapture—will it occur before, during, or after the tribulation? Whatever your beliefs are on this subject are not essential to your salvation.


John looks forward to meeting face to face because so much of communication is body language, tone of voice, and eye contact. We are told that only seven to ten percent of our communication is through our words. Face to face communication is so much better than emails or texts particularly if there is conflict involved.


Fellowship brings joy. Being able to work through misunderstandings brings joy. Reading God’s word brings joy. John is looking forward to being joyful with these folks. He loves them and cares about their souls. 


The health of the church and the health of our lives depends upon the truth—knowing it, walking in it, and being discerning about the truth. May we accept, receive, and follow only the truth that comes from Jesus. 



Verse Completion. . . your Father is merciful. Luke 6:36 (NASB)


4/9/21


Good morning. Give thanks to the LORD; for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/NFxmPonKXkQ



Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd the glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud. And to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman taught from 2 John 7-13 with a lesson titled “Walking in Discernment” as he continued Fireside Fellowship.


The book of Second John deals with the topic of division in a church. Division entered the church because people were not living by the truth. In John 14:15 Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” People in the church were not loving God because they weren’t obeying his commandments. When we don’t walk according to the truth of Christ we’re not loving Christ, and that brings division and strife into the church. Love is based on the commandments of Christ. Love and truth are inseparable. 


False teaching has entered the church. Where there’s false teaching, there’s division because love is dependent on the truth of Christ. When the truth of Christ is absent, there is no love. Paul said to the Ephesian elders, “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock” (Acts 20:29). 


John is writing to the churches around Ephesus, and he is warning them about false teaching. In 1 John 4:1 he said, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”


The early church had the Council at Jerusalem (see Acts 15) to settle disputes in the church. This council was composed of men that included some of the disciples of Jesus. When a decision was made by the council, the churches would follow that decision. When Second John was written all the disciples, except for John, had died. The Council at Jerusalem was not as strong as it used to be. As time went on the governing body of the church was transferred to the elders within the specific churches. Sometimes a group of churches would contribute to form a governing body for their group. 


Traveling prophets received their authority from their local church. Only John remained with a direct connection to Jesus. Some of the prophets that went out from the churches were true prophets, but some of them were false prophets. The false prophets preached what suited people. As he preached what the people wanted to hear, they would respond accordingly with their pocket books. It became profitable for the false prophets. 


With the false prophets came Gnosticism—people who felt they had a secret or special knowledge from Christ. They felt they were being progressive—they had new information for a new culture. According to them God had given them the keys to unlock knowledge for a new age. Sounds a lot like today, doesn’t it? Any book that claims secrets being unlocked or a code revealed is a deviation of the truth. The Bible is the fixed revelation of God. God is not revealing himself in new ways to keep up with the current culture. The Bible was written for mankind so people would know how to be in a right relationship with God and others, and that does not change. There is no new revelation. All the knowledge we need—to know God in truth—is in the Bible. There are no amendments to the Bible. Those who try to add to the Bible are cults. 


The Gnostics denied the humanity or deity of Christ. They denied that Jesus was fully God and fully man. Hebrews 2:14-18 says:


Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the 


power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. 


Jesus is fully human in every way—he was thirsty; he was hungry; he was tempted. 


Hebrews 4:15-16 says: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.


Jesus was fully man. 


Jesus was fully God. John 10:30 has the following words of Jesus: “I and the Father are one.” John 8:58 says: “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” Colossians 1:15-20 says:


[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.


Jesus was fully God and fully man, but the Gnostics denied one or the other. They brought falsehood into the church. False doctrine always has the effect of bringing division and strife into the church. The way we love Jesus is by obeying his truth. When we throw out part of his truth and start following falsehood, we’re no longer following Jesus fully. When we’re no longer following Jesus fully, strife and division is the result. This is why Satan tries his best to bring falsehood into the church. 


Let’s take a look at today’s passage in 2 John 7-13:


Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.


I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.


The children of your chosen sister send their greetings.


John is addressing the false teachers who have come into the church. He is addressing those who deny the birth of Jesus. Philippians 2:7 says: but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.John calls those who deny that Jesus was fully man deceivers and the antichrist—those opposing Jesus. 


Tomorrow we will continue the recap of this lesson with the second half.



Verse Completion. . . consuming fire on the mountain top. Exodus 24:16-17


4/8/21


Good morning. Give thanks to the LORD; for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/_iLscNgnRSU



Complete the Verse & Name the BookBut when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Pastor Del McKenzie’s talk on the godly character quality of initiative. Today we will continue with a recap of the second half of his talk. Yesterday Pastor Del identified what initiative is and what’s the opposite of initiative.


When in life is initiative really important? It’s vitally important for salvation. John 3:16 has the following words of Jesus: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” It’s vitally important for justification. Romans 5:1 says: Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 9 says: Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. John 1:12 says: But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. Reception is necessary for eternal life. Jesus offers us eternal life; we have to receive it.


Initiative is vitally important for regeneration—the imparting of life by the Holy Spirit. It’s the new birth—born of the Spirit. We have to initiate our faith. Romans 10:9 says: If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. We have to take the initiative to confess.


Pardonforgiveness, and cleansing are gifts of grace. We have to initiate God’s giving by receiving his gifts. It’s up to us to receive. 


We have to believe by putting the weight of our need on the trusted object. In the case of salvation Jesus is the trusted object. We have to take the initiative and go to Jesus and say, “I am a sinful person. I need forgiveness. I need cleansing. I need pardon. I need acceptance by you.” We can’t do it without Jesus, and Jesus won’t do it without us. We have to take the initiative to initiate a relationship with him. 


We need initiative for deliverance. James 4:7 says: Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 


Faith is not passive; it is active mental work we do that stems from our heart. 1 John 5:4-5 says: For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?


It’s important in life that we have initiative if we’re going to have deliverance from the forces of darkness. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says: For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to  the obedience of Christ. Some people never pursue deliverance. 


Initiative is important in the area of ministry. If we’re going to have a ministry in the body of Christ and be influential in the lives of others, we have to do something. Sometimes God stretches us when we are willing to be used by him in whatever way he chooses. We find out we are capable of more than we previously thought. 


We need initiative toget direction. God guides people who initiate. God guides a moving person. One can sit in a parked car and turn the steering wheel all they want, but they’re not going to move the car. It takes initiative to get the car moving. 


All of our responses to God take initiative. Revelation 3:20 says: ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.’


Orderliness in life comes from initiative. Cleanliness comes from initiative. Advancements in life come from initiative. 


Why is initiative often lacking in life?


1.   Timidity. Some people by nature are not initiators. These people have to be transformed into the image of Jesus. This transformation takes place through the Holy Spirit. 


2.   Fearfulness. Some people are afraid to step out of their comfort zone. They fear the unknown. 


3.   Laziness. Ease and comfort are not easily overcome. We like to have life be easy and comfortable. The Bible has a lot to say about laziness:


a.   Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. Colossians 3:23


b.   Whatever your hand finds to do, verily, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or wisdom in Sheol where you are going. Ecclesiastes 9:10


c.    But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8


d.   “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.” Luke 16:10


e.   Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, 


But the hand of the diligent makes rich. 


He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely, 


But he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully. Proverbs 10:4-5


f.     He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, 


But he who pursues vain things lacks sense. Proverbs 12:11


g.   The hand of the diligent will rule, 


But the slack hand will be put to forced labor. Proverbs 12:24


h.   The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, 


But the soul of the diligent is made fat. Proverbs 13:4


i.     In all labor there is profit, 


But mere talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23


j.     Laziness casts into a deep sleep, 


And an idle man will suffer hunger. Proverbs 19:15


k.    The sluggard does not plow after the autumn, 


So he begs during the harvest and has nothing. Proverbs 20:4


l.     Go to the ant, O sluggard, 


Observe her ways and be wise. Proverbs 6:6


m. I passed by the field of the sluggard,


And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense;


And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles,


Its surface was covered with nettles,


And its stone wall was broken down.


When I saw, I reflected upon it;


I looked, and received instruction.


“A little sleep, a little slumber, 


A little folding of the hands to rest”—


Then your poverty will come like a robber,


And your want like an armed man. Proverbs 24:30-34


We have the tendency to be lazy, self-centered, and selfish people. In our day we have seen develop the mentality of entitlement that says, “Someone owes it to me, and I’m going to sit and wait until someone gives it to me.” Romans 12:21 says: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. If we’re going to fulfill this verse we have to develop the character quality of initiative. God wants us to have it. It can be developed if we set our hearts to it and recognize our need of it.


Where am I at on the continuum of initiative? Where do I want to be on the continuum? What plan do I have to arrive at that place? 



Verse Completion. . . “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 1 Corinthians 15:54 (NASB)


4/7/21


Good morning. Give thanks to the LORD; for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/SLAwq29bXdk


Complete the Verse & Name the Book“And I will send hornets ahead of you, that they may . . . (completion at the end)



On Monday, Pastor Del McKenzie continued his series on “Godly Character Qualities” with the topic of initiative. So far he has taught on gentleness, humility, integrity, endurance, responsibility, thankfulness, forgiveness, acceptance, generosity, loyalty, honesty, flexibility, sincerity, orderliness, thoroughness, discernment, decisiveness, punctuality, respect, graciousness, deference, truthfulness, and commitment.


The law of inertia, Newton’s first law, says that if a body is at rest or moving at a constant speed in a straight line, it will remain at rest or keep moving in a straight line at constant speed unless it is acted upon by a force. We can find ourselves remaining at rest until something moves us by force. 


Initiative is a character quality we need to replace inertia, apathy, lethargy, and passivity. 


What is initiative? It’s a character quality that’s on a scale. Some may  have too much initiative and initiate the wrong things. Others may be lacking initiative. There may be things we haven’t started that we should have started. There may be things we started but shouldn’t have started. Sometimes it’s a mistake to start something, and sometimes it’s a second mistake to keep it going. 


 Initiative is the characteristic of originating new ideas, new methods, or new actions. It’s a habit of thinking and acting without being urged or forced to do it. It’s a habit of acting or changing before other people do. Some people have initiative and others do not. A person with initiative acts to resolve an issue, improve a situation, or find a fresh approach to what is being done. Initiative is the habit of starting things. Is initiative something that typically, normally, and generally I show? Do I start the day with initiative? Initiative starts with getting out of bed in the morning. 


Initiative is recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I’m asked, urged, or forced to do it. I once watched a dad working on his tractor. His young son stood by anticipating what tool his father would need next, and he was ready to hand it to him. That’s initiative. 


God is an initiator. Galatians 4:4-5 says: But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. God initiated the entire incarnation event. 


Jesus was an initiator. Matthew 16:13 says: Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He began asking His disciples, saying, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Jesus initiated a conversation that resulted in Peter saying, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Initiating conversation is something each of us can do. 


The Holy Spirit is an initiator. Acts 13:1-2 says: Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. And while they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” The Holy Spirit initiated Paul’s first missionary trip. After that trip Paul initiated the second trip. Acts 15:36 says: And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.”


Initiation is beginning or starting something: a series of questions, a study, a group meeting, or anything else. Some people are good at initiating things and others are good at following what others have initiated. 


What is the opposite of initiative? Inertia which means remaining the same; nothing changing. When we apply inertia to life it means being unresponsive—we don’t respond quickly or easily to suggestions or opportunities or challenges. We don’t respond to needs, and instead we procrastinate. One bit of advice I received from a friend was to look at all the tasks facing me for the week and tackle the most difficult or unpleasant one first. 


Some people are not responsive to the needs around them. The “Parable of the Good Samaritan” found in Luke 10:25-37 illustrates this. It wasn’t the priest or the Levite who took the initiative to help the traveler who was beaten and robbed; it was the Samaritan who initiated help. 


After the resurrection of Jesus, Peter initiated a fishing trip. John 21:3 says: Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out, and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.


The opposite of initiative is inertia—doing nothing; walking on by; not considering the opportunity or challenge.


Apathy is also an antonym of initiative. Apathy comes from a Greek word that means “without suffering”. Initiative pulls us out of our comfort zone to the place where we might have to do some suffering. The Good Samaritan suffered financially. He also sacrificed his time in order to help a person in need. Sometimes helping others will cost us something emotionally (such as a drain on our emotions) or physically (physical exertion) or socially (we run into opposition). People often choose apathy over initiative because initiative will cost them something. 


Tomorrow we will continue a recap of Pastor Del’s talk on initiative with the second half.



Verse Completion. . . drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites before you.” Exodus 23:28 (NASB)


4/6/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/GDbqsWhKSMI



Complete the Verses & Name the Book

·      In your anger do not sin: Do not let . . . 


·      and do not give . . . (completions at the end)



Yesterday we recapped the first half of Pastor Michael’s first-person sermon “Joseph’s Journey” based on Matthew 28.Today we will recap the second half of the sermon. Recall from yesterday that the sermon is being told from Joseph of Arimathea’s perspective as a member of the Sanhedrin.


One day while we were discussing the law, we heard that one of the disciples of Jesus was willing to turn Jesus over to us. How could someone who walked and talked with Jesus so intimately turn into a traitor? Judas said he would do it for thirty pieces of silver. My colleagues gladly accepted the deal. They set the time and place for the betrayal.


When the time came I stayed away. I didn’t want to be associated with the arrest of Jesus. In hindsight I wonder if I could have stepped in and made a difference. I did attend the trial along with most of my colleagues. It was the ugliest trial I’ve ever witnessed. The rule makers and rule followers, that’s us, the Sanhedrin, threw everything out the window. We turned into an angry, shouting, chaotic mob. We went so low as to look for those who would give a false testimony concerning Jesus. We who prided ourselves on being moral, upright, religious leaders were breaking our own laws. In our hearts was blackness and darkness, and it was coming out in ugly ways. I witnessed some who were beating Jesus, spitting on Jesus, and mocking Jesus. Their actions made them the criminals, not Jesus. Those who claimed Jesus was from Satan were acting like Satan. 


At this point I couldn’t believe that my ambition in life had been to be part of a group of seventy men who were acting in this manner. I had so looked forward to being part of a group of men who had power, position, authority, and wealth. Now I was part of a group of men who were acting in direct opposition to everything they stood for. I thought about standing up for Jesus. I thought about defending him. I thought about fighting off his attackers, but I was only one. What good could I do in all that chaos? Sometimes it’s difficult to know when to speak out and when to stay silent. Maybe I didn’t do anything because I was scared of what would happen to me. Regardless, I knew I didn’t want to have any part in hurting Jesus. 


Jesus was taken to Pilate. It appeared to me that Pilate wanted to release Jesus, but the Sanhedrin put so much pressure on Pilate. They wanted Jesus dead. While Pilate pondered the case, the Sanhedrin incited the mob to chant, “Crucify him! Crucify him! Crucify him!” Those who were supposed to bring people closer to God were inciting the crowd to crucify God. Pilate even offered to release the worst criminal to the Sanhedrin in place of Jesus, but they wanted no part of it. 


What had happened to our nation? Where was our moral compass? The spiritual leaders were following Satan. I wonder if I should have gone right up to Pilate and said, “Don’t harm Jesus. He is completely innocent of all these charges that have been brought against him.” What I know is hearing the words “Crucify him!” was the worst sound I’ve ever heard. 


I didn’t follow Jesus into the Praetorium, but I saw him when he came out. He was a bloody mess. He looked barely alive. They walked him to Golgotha where they nailed Jesus to a cross, lifted the cross up, and dropped the cross in its place. Even though the Sanhedrin had gotten their way to have Jesus crucified, they continued to shout at Jesus, mock him, and spit on him. They degraded Jesus in every way they knew how. They took glory in their shameful actions. They had God with skin on right in front of them, and yet they were doing all they could to stamp out the way, the truth, and the life. 


After seeing how my colleagues acted I made the decision to no longer be a part of the Sanhedrin. It was time for me to openly declare myself as a follower of Jesus. I determined that the body of Jesus would not be thrown into a pit with other dead bodies. Since I had a tomb in Jerusalem near Golgotha, I decided to place the body of Jesus there. It was a new tomb in one of the best burial sites in all of Israel. I went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Nicodemus bought the burial spices, and I bought the linens. We soaked the cloths in the spices and wrapped the body of Jesus. We gently placed his body in the tomb and rolled the stone to cover the entrance. 


The Sanhedrin convinced Pilate to place Roman guards at the tomb and seal the tomb because Jesus had said he would rise from the dead on the third day. My colleagues must have believed it was possible, or they wouldn’t have posted guards to make sure Jesus didn’t escape from the tomb. What they didn’t know was that no tomb could keep Jesus. He was going to rise from the dead on the third day, and nothing could stop that from happening. Just as he said he would, Jesus rose from the dead! 


Jesus is truth! Jesus is the Messiah! Jesus is the Son of God! He’s the King of kings and Lord of lords! And he’s my Savior and Lord!


After he rose from the dead, Jesus showed himself to many people including myself. I saw him dead on the cross, I saw him dead in the tomb, and I saw him alive with my own two eyes. I even spoke with him. 




Jesus is alive today in 2021. He offers everlasting life, forgiveness of sins, and salvation. He is qualified to offer it because he has risen from the dead. Do you know Jesus is alive? What are you going to do with Jesus? What do you believe about Jesus? You may be afraid of Jesus, because if he is truth and you choose to follow him, that means you’ll have to give up your kingdom for his kingdom, your version of the truth for his truth, and your ways for his ways. Fear of this nature is a false fear. What we give up doesn’t begin to compare to what we gain with Jesus. Will you receive Jesus? Will you believe in him today? Invite him into your life with this simple prayer:


Jesus, come into my life. I believe you died on the cross. I believe you rose on the third day. Jesus, forgive me of my sins. Come into my life, and take over my life. Help me to live for you. 


Jesus is risen indeed!



Completions to Verses:


·      . . . the sun go down while you are still angry,


·      . . . the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV)


4/5/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/2fs760h4yI4



Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clearsighted and  . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday Pastor Michael’s sermon “Joseph’s Journey” was a first-person sermon based on Matthew 28:


You might remember me, Joseph of Arimathea. I’m the Joseph who took the body of Jesus and placed him in my own tomb. I’m part of the Sanhedrin. I first heard about Jesus when I was on that council. We heard Jesus was stirring things up as he taught about God. He taught things from the Scriptures we hadn’t heard before. That caused us some consternation because we were the authorities on the Scriptures. If anyone knew God it was us. 


In addition to his teaching, Jesus was going around healing people: blind people received their sight, deaf people were able to hear, lame people were made to walk, and he also cast out demons. We found this disturbing. Under whose authority was he doing all this? We decided to investigate. A group of us traveled up to Capernaum and found Jesus with a large crowd gathered around him. We worked our way up so we could see what was going on, and we actually got to witness Jesus healing people. On one side of him were those waiting to be healed, and on the other side of him were those who had been healed. There was a lot of celebrating taking place as those who were healed rejoiced with their friends and family. 


One particular healing caught our attention. There was a group of four men who carried their paralyzed friend up to Jesus. I was impressed at the dedication of these men to their friend, and I marveled at their faith. They actually believed Jesus could and would make their friend walk again or they wouldn’t have been carrying him to Jesus. We got close enough to Jesus so we could hear what he said when he healed the paralyzed man. We thought we’d be able to determine by what authority he was doing these healings. Before he healed the man we heard Jesus say, “Your sins are forgiven.” That was blasphemy because only God could forgive sins! Even the ruling council could not forgive sins. Some of the council members called Jesus on it. He replied to us, “I have the power to forgive sins and heal people.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Take up your mat and go home.” I saw the man pick up his mat and walk! I said to myself, “Who is this man that supposedly forgives sins and actually heals a paralyzed man? Could this possibly be the Messiah?” 


My colleagues said there was no way Jesus could be the Messiah, but I began to wonder. I kept trying to separate the forgiving sins from the healing, but I couldn’t. Only God could heal a paralytic, and only God could forgive sins. I saw Jesus heal a paralytic so he must be God. If he’s God then he can forgive sins. But Jesus doesn’t look like how I pictured the Messiah. My head was spinning. I needed time to process everything. 


My colleagues on the Sanhedrin wanted to discredit Jesus and get rid of him. Jesus was gaining popularity as he taught and healed in various places. The Sanhedrin would send delegations to trip Jesus up, but it never worked. Jesus handled everything with wisdom. The Sanhedrin tried to make Jesus look bad, but we were the ones who always ended up looking bad. 


The whole Sanhedrin seemed to be against Jesus except for Nicodemus and me. I wanted to talk to Nicodemus in private and get his perspective on Jesus, but I could lose my position on the council if that happened. Those of us who sympathized with Jesus had to be very careful about what we said and did. However, one day I took a chance and spoke to Nicodemus about Jesus, and I discovered we both felt the same way about him—that he was the Messiah. I found out that Nicodemus had a meeting with Jesus one evening. Jesus told Nicodemus he had to be born again, and if he believed in Jesus he would have everlasting life. I asked Nicodemus if he believed Jesus was the Son of God. His reply was, “After spending time with Jesus I do believe he is the Son of God—the Messiah.” What Nicodemus said resonated in my heart, and I knew that what I had been thinking about Jesus was true—Jesus was God with skin on. 


When the Sanhedrin would talk about killing Jesus, it made me cringe. Nevertheless, I felt like Jesus would be safe. What could mere men do to the Son of God?


Tomorrow will be the second half of Pastor Michael’s sermon.



Verse Completion. . . subverts the cause of the just. Exodus 23:8 (NASB)


4/3/21


Good morning. Give thanks to the LORD; for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/Xrmlv806bGM



Complete the Verse & Name the BookI am the good shepherd; and I know My own; and . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday was a recap of the first half of Dr. Wedman’s lesson “Walking in Love” based on 2 John 5-6. Today is a recap of the second half of that lesson.


Agape love puts feet to our faith. We need to know the truth so we can follow the truth and be loving. 


What is the truth we need to know? What does love look like? Romans 13:8-10 says: Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.


When you are following the commandments, when you are obeying God, you are loving. If you are stealing from your neighbor, you are not obeying what God commands, and you are not loving your neighbor. We are to love our neighbors by doing what’s best for them—lifting them up. We are to build up their spiritual lives. We aren’t to be self-centered; we’re to be others-centered. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” If we are harming our neighbor in some way, we are not loving our neighbor. If we’re not loving, we’re not following God. When we don’t love our neighbor, we bring strife, disunity, chaos, and division into the church. 


Paul said in Galatians 5:13-26: You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.


So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.


The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.


There’s a difference in living by the truth and not living by the truth. There’s a difference between practicing agape love and not practicing agape love. One is radically different from the other. We need to know the truth of how to walk in love. We need to know the truth of Jesus. We need to know the truth of the Holy Spirit and be led in that truth so we can walk in love. Our minds need to be set on things above. 


Colossians 3:1-10, 12-14 says: Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.


Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 


Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.


Idolatry is greed. Whatever we are greedy for is idolatry—we’ve made the object of our greed our idol. Whatever it is in life that we just have to have (more than God) is an idol: ambition, power, position, prestige, influence, a pat on the back. 


The truths of Christ lead to unity. Love leads to unity. The first thing John wants this church to learn is how to love. He wants them to know what agape love looks like. If we’re going to walk in love we have to know the truths of the commands of Christ, and we have to obey the commands of Christ. 


Love is so much more than a feeling. We can’t claim to love God and follow falsehoods. We can’t claim to love others when we are walking in falsehood by disobeying the commands of Christ. We need to learn to be good at loving others. Learn the truth. Live the truth. Love the truth. 



Verse Completion. . . My own know Me. John 10:14 (NASB)


4/2/21 (Good Friday)


Good morning. Give thanks to the LORD; for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/rOmipqhQBOM



Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman taught from 2 John 5-6 with a lesson titled “Walking in Love” as he continued Fireside Fellowship.


And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.


John is writing to a church that is experiencing division, strife, and false teaching. His advice to the church is that they love one another. Loving each other is not easy, but it’s something we are called to do. Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). 


People will be able to recognize disciples of Christ by the love they have for one another. This is agape love—action love—not just a feeling, an emotion, or a passing love. This is an abiding love. It’s a doing love that makes a difference in the lives of others. This is a love that puts other people first. It involves a commitment. It’s not easily offended. It doesn’t push people aside as it strives to put self at the forefront. Agape loves stems from a relationship with Christ. 


John is saying, “I want you to practice putting each other first; practice not being offended by others; practice not pushing others aside; practice doing what’s best for others rather than what’s best for you. Look at people as people who are important to God rather than objects you can manipulate to benefit yourself. Look at people as people God loves enough to die for.”


How do we love? By walking in obedience to God’s commands. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him” (John 14:15-21).


How do we know the commands of Christ? We know them because Jesus gives us the Spirit of truth. The Holy Spirit leads us in the commands of Christ. When we follow the commands of Christ we love others. All the commands of Christ are truth. Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

“You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you. If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me” (John 14:23-31a).


Jesus is our example. We can tell he loves the Father because he obeys the Father. Jesus is getting ready to go to the cross and do exactly as the Father has told him to do. Love can be costly; it can even cost us our life. Love is following the commands of Christ. Love is knowing the truth and following the truth—being obedient to the truth. We can know the truth because we have the Holy Spirit living in us. The Holy Spirit leads us to truth and teaches us truth because he is truth. We need to know truth so we can love. 


Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:1-4).


We don’t know how to walk in truth unless we have the Spirit of truth that teaches us the commandments of Christ. 


Jesus said, “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. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:5-14).


Just as Jesus shows his love for God by obeying God, we show our love for Jesus by doing exactly what he asks us to do. We are following Jesus when we are loving in action—by what we say and do, how we act with people, how we interact with people, how we react to people. Agape love puts feet to our faith. We need to know the truth so we can follow the truth and be loving. 


Tomorrow we will continue the recap of Pastor Michael’s lesson with the second half of “Walking in Love”.



Verse Completion. . . that you may not sin.” Exodus 20:20 (NASB)


4/1/21 (Be on the alert for April Fool's Day jokes)


Good morning. Give thanks to the LORD; for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/7asEdmZsSPo



Complete the Verse & Name the BookIf you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Pastor Del McKenzie’s talk on the godly character quality of commitment. Today we will continue with a recap of the second half of his talk. We left off yesterday with Pastor Del teaching about the enemies of commitment: difficulties, discouragements, distractions, unusual events, shooting the breeze, opportunities, self-indulgence, and the freedom to change our minds at any time we desire.


These enemies must be overcome if we are going to have strong character. There are many examples in the Old Testament of those who overcame the enemies of commitment:


1.   Ruth. Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, decided to return to Moab after her two sons died. She encouraged her two daughters-in-law to return to their own people. 


But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17). Ruth was totally committed to her mother-in-law. 


2.   Elisha. Elisha was committed to Elijah. 2 Kings 2:1-6 says:


When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the LORD has sent me to Bethel.”


But Elisha said, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.


The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, “Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?”


“Yes, I know,” Elisha replied, “but do not speak of it.”


Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, Elisha; the LORD has sent me to Jericho.”


And he replied, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho.


The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?”


“Yes, I know,” he replied, “but do not speak of it.”


Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.”


And he replied, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them walked on.


You can see Elisha’s level of commitment to Elijah in this passage. 


3.   Joseph. Joseph was committed to purity. Genesis 39:11-20a tells the story:


One day [Joseph] went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. [Potiphar’s wife] caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.


When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”


She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”


When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.


The price for Joseph’s commitment to purity was several years in prison. He was willing to pay it because he had the godly character quality of commitment. 


4.   Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were committed to worshiping the LORD God and him alone no matter what the cost. The story is told in Daniel 3:13-18:


Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, and 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? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”


Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O 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 save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”


Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were committed to truth. Nothing could make them bow down and worship a false god.


God is committed to us. He makes a covenant with us. He signs his commitment to us in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. In response, we need to overcome the enemies of commitment and be fully committed to Jesus. 


How do we enlarge our commitment? 


1.   First, we have to make a commitment. We have to decide what we will be committed to and then make that commitment with our hearts and minds. These commitments should be irrevocable—we will never go back on them. If we aren’t careful, we can avoid making commitments because of the shallowness of our hearts and lives. Ask yourself, “What commitments have I made? What commitments should I make?”


2.   Keep the commitments we make. Do what’s right even if no one else does. We do what we said we would do, we do what people rightfully expect of us, and we do our best. 


3.   Remember the promises of God. He has made promises to us. Those promises are commitments. 


4.   Make commitments that sail against the winds of our culture and the world. Our commitments need to be right and proper commitments. 


Am I a committed person? What am I committed to? 



Verse Completion. . . sinners love those who love them. Luke 6:32 (NASB)