Daily Devotion April 2021

4/30/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/bi6IZCJx3qA



Complete the Verse & Name the Book‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall. . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman taught from 3 John 9-14 with a lesson titled “Faithfulness in Discerning and Doing Good” as he continued Fireside Fellowship.


I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.


Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true.


I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.


Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name.


Diotrephes is refusing to welcome John, his messengers, and his messages. It’s possible that at some point Diotrephes held an office in the church, but he no longer holds that position. Nevertheless, he continues to lead by the power of his personality. He acts aggressively against anyone who oppose him and his ideas. He is rebelling against the authority of John. He doesn’t accept his teaching, and he refuses to welcome him into the church. Diotrephes is no longer following the whole truth. He could be accepting of Gnosticism, the belief that there is special knowledge that is given by God to a select few. Gnostics held the belief that God updates the truth from time to time and reveals the updates to a select few. The culturally relevant knowledge can only be known by those to whom God chooses to reveal it to. Diotrephes likely feels superior to John. 


Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13: Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.


Diotrephes is not respecting John. He’s not holding John in the highest regard in love because of the work John is doing. Diotrephes is not living in peace with others. He is opposing John and all those that are sent to the church by John. 


Hebrews 13:17 says: Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.


Diotrephes is not interested in submitting to the authority of John even though John speaks the truth. Diotrephes’ attitude is, “Who is John that I should obey him?” He likely opposed reading John’s second letter to the church. 


Diotrephes loves to be first. He’s the type of person who would go around saying, “Look at all I do for the church. Look at how many committees I’m involved in. Look at how much time I give to the church. Look at how much money I’ve given to the church. Look at how long I’ve been in this church. If it wasn’t for me, this church wouldn’t be in existence.” The conclusion people like this want others to draw is, “Then you are more important than others, and you deserve to have more say.” That conclusion would be false. 


People like Diotrephes have a false humility. After they have bragged about their great accomplishments, they say something like, “God’s been so good.” People like Diotrephes feel like they are an essential part of the church; they are irreplaceable. They feel like they were born to lead, and others need to step aside and let them lead. People who love to be first don’t like it when someone else receives recognition. They don’t like it when someone says something that has equal or more value than something they have said. 


John is venerated as a very special apostle since he is the last living apostle. He’s almost one hundred years old. He walked with Jesus. He was taught personally by Jesus. He knows the truth and has written about the truth. John is the elder of the elders. Rather than hold John in high regard, Diotrephes is jealous of John. John clearly stands for truth while Diotrephes is inclined toward falsehood. 


People who love to be first want the most power, the most authority, and the most to say. Philippians 2:3-4 reveals what a true disciple of Jesus is like: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Diotrephes didn’t care about anyone else’s interests—especially John’s—because Diotrephes loved to be first. 


Philippians 2:5-8 tells more: Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Diotrephes has no interest in taking the role of a servant. He’s not interested in humbling himself, and he’s not interested in obeying others—particularly John.


In Philippians 3:7-9, Paul writes: But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.Diotrephes was interested in a righteousness of his own that came from all his good works. Paul considers all his good works rubbish. What Paul cared about was drawing attention to Jesus. He wanted all the glory going to Jesus. What Paul cared about was having a relationship with Jesus. He cared about submitting to Christ and encouraging others to do likewise. 


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



Verse Completion. . . love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18 (NASB)


4/29/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/JA4e_txGlIA



Complete the Verse & Name the BookDo not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Pastor Del McKenzie’s lesson on self-control. Today we will complete the lesson with a recap of the second half. We left off with Pastor Del talking about self-control in the Scripture.


Titus was working on the island of Crete where the culture was very decadent. They were in a state of moral decline. Rather than being self-indulgent, those on Crete needed to learn to be self-controlled. Self-indulgence is indulging our human desires, appetites, passions, and bodily needs—giving our bodies more than what is needed or appropriate. It includes food, drink, recreation, comfort, sleep, exercise, and clothing. All of these things need to be under control. 


Self-indulgence covers a broad range of ideas. It includes mental indulgence. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says: The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to ChristOur thoughts can get out of control if we let them. Our minds can be full of thoughts that shouldn’t be there, but self-control can bring those thoughts to be obedient to Christ. We are to tear down every pretension that sets itself up against Christ. We need to have mental self-control. Our thinking needs to be godly and upright. 


We can be self-indulgent with our emotions. We are not to hate others, carry around anger, or be bitter. There needs to be self-control. We’re not to love what we shouldn’t love. 1 John 2:15-17 says: Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. Love is an emotion, and we need to have control over our emotions.


Spiritually we are not to neglect love, obedience, and service to God. We’re not to indulge our hearts in things that take us away from God, his word, his people, or service to him. 


Self-indulgence is the habit of indulging our desires, our appetites, and passions. Self-indulgence involves little or no thought to long-range costs and consequences. Self-indulgence is costly. When we don’t have self-control, we end up paying dearly for what we indulge in. The result can be financial debt that’s out of control and poor health. Our self-indulgence not only affects us but affects those around us. 


Fortunately, there is provision for self-control. Galatians 5:22-25 says: 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.


Nutrients from the soil go up through a tree and out onto its branches. The result is fruit. The life of the Holy Spirit flows into us and the result is fruit. One of those fruits is self-control. The Holy Spirit is identified as the Spirit of life. Jesus said, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). When we are walking in the Spirit, living in the Spirit, sowing to the Spirit, not grieving the Spirit, not quenching the Spirit, not lying to the Spirit, not resisting the Spirit, then his life flows into us and produces self-control. We gain self-control when we have the Holy Spirit living in us. 


Just as two people walk down a road together, we can walk down the road of life with the Holy Spirit. He’s our companion, our counselor, our lawyer to help us get through difficult situations. We can walk in the Spirit with his direction. The Holy Spirit enables us, convicts us, and corrects us. We can draw from the Spirit of God. 


We can walk in the grace of God—God’s free giving. All that we have has been given to us by God’s grace—both the internal and the external; the material and the immaterial; the temporal and the eternal. God’s gifts of grace include:


·      Common gifts: gifts given to everyone: sunshine, rain, nature


·      Personal gifts: gifts given specifically to someone: clothes, food, material things


·      Special gifts: gifts given to God’s followers: conversion, justification, sanctification, regeneration


All gifts come from God. Everything I have was given to me by the grace of God. I can be thankful for those gifts and use them to God’s glory. Self-control is part of the free giving of God.


All that we have accomplished God has done for us. Isaiah 26:12 says: LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us. It’s God who gives us the talents and abilities to do what we are able to do. 


We need to receive and embrace God’s free gift of self-control. Self-control is provided for us by the life of the Spirit, by walking in the Spirit, and walking in the grace of God.


How do we build self-control? How can we get to the point of instant obedience to the voice of God when he says:


·      “Don’t eat that.”


·      “Don’t eat any more. You have had enough.”


·      “Don’t think that.”


·      “Don’t read that.”


·      “Don’t look at that.”


·      “Don’t say what you’re thinking of saying.”


We can make a list of the areas in our life where we are self-indulgent. We can keep a list of the times when we say “yes” when God says “no”. We can keep a list of the times when we say “no” when God says “yes”. We can pray honestly about the things on our list. We can pray a prayer of confession, a prayer of admittance, a prayer of acknowledging areas in which we need help from the Holy Spirit.


We can set some goals in the area of self-control. The goals need to hold us accountable for our actions. 


We can make a commitment to God by saying, “God, by your free giving, by your power, by your enabling, I want to live your word. I want to be everything you’ve said I should be and can be. I want to be a self-controlled person. I commit to it. I’m reaching out to you now, and I’m calling on you for help in this area of my life. Amen.”



Verse Completion. . . transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.Romans 12:2 (NIV)


4/28/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/anE5zlOHaic



Complete the Verse & Name the Book‘You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is . . . (completion at the end)



On Monday, Pastor Del McKenzie continued his series on “Godly Character Qualities” with the topic of self-control. 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, commitment, initiative, submission, and diligence.


As we study godly character qualities we gain insight into the kind of people we are, the kind of people we can be, and the kind of people we should be. Louis L’Amour said, “Everything a man does is indication of his character—whether he cheats at cards or takes unfair advantage just because it’s legal.” Our character is who we really are—not what we do, not what people think of us, and not what we think of ourselves. D. L. Moody said, “Character is what a man is in the dark.”


It’s been said, “If a person doesn’t develop self-control, they have little chance of developing the other qualities.” One of the best things you can do for another person is help them develop self-control. We live in a world that is lacking self-control. Much damage can be done by a person who lacks self-control. Obesity can be the result for those who lack self-control physically. People can also be out of control emotionally, financially, relationally, and in many other ways. 


We find self-control in Scripture. Acts 24:24-25 says: A few days later Felix came back with his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish. Sending for Paul, they listened as he told them about faith in Christ Jesus. As he reasoned with them about righteousness and self-control and the coming day of judgment, Felix became frightened. “Go away for now,” he replied. “When it is more convenient, I’ll call for you again.”


Notice how self-control is in the same sentence with righteousness and the coming day of judgment. It’s something which is tremendously important. 


2 Peter 1:5-7 says: In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brother affection with love for everyone.


Notice how self-control is listed with the powerful concepts of moral excellence, knowledge, patient endurance, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. 


Proverbs 25:28 says: A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls. We are vulnerable people when we lack self-control. 


Titus 2:11-12 says: For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. Again we see self-control included with some powerful concepts. Saying “No” involves self-control. 


Self-control is control over our personal actions. It’s control over our personal desires. It’s control over our personal emotions. It’s control over our personal speech. It’s control over our personal appetites. We can’t control the actions of others, but we can control our own actions. 


Self-control is the practice of saying “No” or the habit of saying “No” to that which we should be saying “No” to. Self-control is also the habit 


of saying “Yes” to the things we should be saying “Yes” to. Self-control is instantobedience to the initial prompting of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit says “Don’t” then we don’t. When the Holy Spirit says “Do” then we do. 


Paul included self-control as one of the qualifications for an elder. 1 Timothy 3:1-3 says: Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.


Titus 2:2 says: Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Four verses later it says: Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In between these two verses it says that the older women can train the younger women to be self-controlled. 


1 Peter 1:13 says: Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. All believers are to be self-controlled.


1 Peter 4:7 says: The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. There is an interesting connection between self-control and prayer. We can’t pray well when we’re not self-controlled. 


Tomorrow we will continue the recap of Pastor Del’s lesson on self-control with the second half.



Verse Completion. . . an abomination. Leviticus 18:22


4/27/21


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/YPaU7jJvqRc



Complete the Verse & Name the BookIf they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Call” that was based on 1 Kings 19:19-21. Today we will recap the second half of that sermon. We left off with Pastor Michael speaking about how Elisha came from a wealthy family who lived by the Jordan River and had twenty-four oxen to use on their farm. Elisha was busy working in the fields when Elijah approached him.


Elijah was on King Ahab’s list of the ten most wanted men in the nation. People were to be on the lookout for Elijah so they could turn him over to Ahab to be killed. When Elijah threw his cloak around Elisha, it was like anointing Elisha as a prophet. Elijah’s cloak was a symbol of him being a prophet. Placing the cloak on Elisha was like placing a crown on the head of a king. Elisha has been promoted to the office of a prophet. Elisha is being called to follow Elijah. Elisha and his family know what this means for Elisha. Elisha is taken aback when Elijah starts to walk away.


Elisha has a decision to make. He has some questions to answer: “Am I going to follow Elijah? Am I going to accept the call of God on my life? Am I going to walk away from the farm?” It doesn’t take him long to catch up to Elijah and tell him that he accepts the call. However, he


needs time to say farewell to his family. Elijah’s response is, “That’s between you and God. God is the one calling you. In your relationship with God, if God is telling you to turn around and go back to say your good-byes, then go ahead and do that.”


Elisha returns to his family, and what he does next is amazing: slaughtered his yoke of oxen, burned the plowing equipment in order to cook the meat, and gave the meat to the people to eat. 


His family understands that Elisha will be leaving the farm to become a prophet of God. It’s impressive that the family supports Elisha’s decision. They have sacrifices to make right along with Elisha. They have lost one twelfth of their farm machinery, and they will be losing a hard worker on the farm that they rely on for much of their work. Elisha may never return. The parents may be losing a son. The siblings may be losing a brother. Right now Elijah is the number one enemy of Israel. If Elisha aligns himself with Elijah, then Elisha becomes number two enemy of Israel, and there’s a good chance they will never see either one of them again. 


Saying yes to God has consequences. The family could have placed conditions on Elisha’s release, such as being given the assurance he will return to the farm each spring to help with the cultivation. They could have asked Elisha to wait until after the spring or wait until the following year. Not only does the family accept Elisha’s decision with no contingencies, but they celebrate his decision. The family doesn’t count the cost to them for Elisha following the call of God on his life. Would you have done that if Elisha was your child or your brother? The family understood that when God calls, you say “yes” and “amen”. When God calls, you don’t resist. When God calls, you don’t argue. When God calls, you don’t justify. When God calls, you don’t make a list of the pros and cons. The family celebrates the call of God on Elisha’s life. 


Elisha knows he’s leaving security, wealth, comfort, love, and warmth to roam with Elijah. He won’t know where his next meal is coming from. He won’t know where he’ll be at night. He doesn’t know what his life expectancy will be. Elisha goes because he knows the cost of not following God is much higher than the cost of following God. He celebrates the opportunity to say yes to God with his family, friends, neighbors, and the farm workers present. It’s time for a “Saying Yes to God” party. Saying yes to God is saying, “God, you are worth following. God, you are worth giving up everything.”


Here is a family who follows after God, not Baal. They want their children to follow after God. They want their grandchildren to follow after God. When God calls one of their children into his service, they celebrate! They gave their children over to God when they were first born. Elisha leaving isn’t something that devastates them; it’s something that calls for celebration. Have we given over our children and grandchildren to the Lord? 


Elisha needed that celebration to know his whole family was behind him in following God. He knew they would be lifting him up in prayer. Elisha’s decision wasn’t an easy decision, but it was a quick decision that was based on the secure foundation of God that his family had built into his life. When Elijah’s cloak was placed on Elisha, he was able to say yes to God because that’s what he had been taught to do. 


Jesus said, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; any anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:37-39). Elisha is a beautiful picture of one who loses his life to follow God. Elisha’s mother and father were precious to him, but not more precious than God. Elisha’s relationship with God took precedence over his relationship with his family. Elisha follows God wholeheartedly. 


Elijah and Elisha didn’t look at service to God as a cost; they looked at it as an investment. Do we look at our lives that way? Do we see our lives as an investment in the kingdom of heaven? Many times those who profit well financially have made good investments with the money they had. At a later time they are able to enjoy the benefits of their wise investments. When we invest our lives in the kingdom of heaven, it’s the best investment that can ever be made. It’s the only investment that’s secure. The cost may be high, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. What cost to us can compare with the benefit of eternal life with Jesus?


Elijah said yes and amen to the call of God because it wasn’t about the cost, it was about the investment. Do you see following Christ as a cost or an investment? God is calling you to a life of service to him. Are you going to respond with yes and amen?



Verse Completion. . . they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 2 Peter 2:20 (NIV)


4/26/21


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/LM7e9tIyovA



Complete the Verse & Name the BookConsecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy; for. . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Call” was based on 1 Kings 19:19-21. 


Elisha came on the scene when Elijah was looking for a replacement. Elijah had been a prophet to the Northern Kingdom for around four years. Israel had been divided into the Northern Kingdom and Southern Kingdom. Solomon was the last king who had a united Israel. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, ignored the advice of Solomon’s advisors and took the advice of his young advisors. The result was ten tribes split away from Rehoboam and formed the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The other two tribes, Judah and Simeon, became the Southern Kingdom of Judah. 


The Northern Kingdom has a terrible history. During the time when Elijah and Elisha were prophets, Ahab and Jezebel rule the nation. 1 Kings 16:30-33 says: Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him. 


At this time in history there is less than one percent of the population of Israel that has not bowed to Baal. Only 7,000 people in 


the entire nation of Israel were faithful to God. Less than one percent of God’s chosen people were faithful to God! Those God chose to tell other nations about Yahweh are down to one percent who are available to be used by God. Israel in in chaos spiritually. The nation has walked away from God. 


Elijah told Ahab that a drought would be the result of the nation walking away from God. For three and a half years there was no rain in Israel. The result was a severe lack of water, fruit, and crops. Consequently, animals and people died. God allowed the nation to be thrown into chaos because they were following Satan. 


There is a showdown between the prophets of Baal and Elijah recorded in 1 Kings 18:22-39:


Then Elijah said to [the people], “I am the only one of the LORD’S prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. Get two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”


Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”


Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” So they took the bull given them and prepared it.


Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “O Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.


At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.


Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which was in ruins. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”


“Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.


“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.


At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”


Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.


When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!”


On that day God used Elijah to begin to change the nation of Israel. However, Jezebel continued to worship Baal. She threatened Elijah’s life, and he fled to the wilderness. While Elijah was discouraged, God provided Elisha to walk with Elijah and provide encouragement to him. Elisha would eventually replace Elijah. 


We meet Elisha in today’s passage:


So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the 


twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother good-by,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”


“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”


So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant.


Elisha and his family had wealth. They lived in one of the most beautiful areas of Israel and had a significant amount of land. A yoke of oxen is two oxen, so Elisha’s family was plowing with twenty-four oxen. Oxen were the number one piece of farming “machinery” one could purchase at this time. During the drought most farmers lost their oxen, but Elisha’s family had twenty-four. They lived by the Jordan River where water was available to them. 


Typically, a yoke of oxen would be able to cultivate an acre of land in a day. That means the family of Elisha was able to cultivate twelve acres of land each day. Elisha is part of the family business, and Elijah found him hard at work on the large family farm. 


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



Verse Completion. . . I am holy. Leviticus 11:44m (NASB)


4/24/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/B-Ryd6xwTn4



Complete the Verse & Name the BookBehold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Dr. Michael Wedman’s lesson “Faithfulness in Love” from 3 John 5-8. We left off with our teacher providing us with Scripture references that clarify what Christian hospitality looks like. We will continue now with more verses from Scripture on this topic:


·      Matthew 10:40-42: Jesus said, “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” There’s a reward for hospitality. 


·      Matthew 25:34-40: Jesus said, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’


“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’


“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’


Treat people as you would treat Jesus. Would you give Jesus the minimum or lavish on him your best? Part of hospitality is generosity. 


Scripture points out the difference in the traveling philosophers (who spoke in order to make money) from the traveling evangelists (who spoke to see people come to know Christ):


·      1 Corinthians 9:7-18: Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?


But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.


But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me. I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of this boast. Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it.


Paul did not want to be confused with false teachers or the traveling philosophers, so he said he wouldn’t be taking any money from the churches. Paul wanted people to know the gospel was being offered free of charge. His message was not about making money for him; his message was about the gospel and bringing glory and honor to Christ. 


·      Acts 18:1-3: After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Pricilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them.


Paul wanted to separate himself from those who preached the gospel for their own personal gain. The purpose of preaching the gospel is for the salvation of souls.


·      1 Thessalonians 2:9: Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.


Paul wanted to see people come to know Christ. He wasn’t looking for someone to cover all his expenses. 


·      Philippians 4:10-20 has Paul thanking the church at Philippi for their support of his ministry. They sent him things to help cover his needs. 


·      Galatians 6:6: Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.


Paul is saying that those who gain a spiritual blessing should share with the teacher their material blessings. 


Paul is addressing two things. First, there is support that is to be given to preachers, teachers, pastors, and evangelists by those who are disciples of Christ and are benefiting from their words. Second, Paul is saying that those preachers, teachers, pastors, and evangelists who receive material blessings are not to demand it. Those sharing the Good News are never to take advantage of others. Therefore support is given but never demanded. 


Gaius was supporting the work of John by giving him a place to stay, meals, and meeting other needs. We are partners in the gospel, so we need to open up our homes and hearts and provide hospitality. Gaius was treating John as he would treat Christ. Jesus told us to obey what he commands. He commands us to love others. Showing hospitality is one way we demonstrate love.


Let’s look for opportunities to show hospitality to others by making a meal, putting some gas in a gas tank, buying some groceries, providing short term lodging, or whatever God lays on your heart to do for someone in need. Let’s partner with Christ in the gospel of the truth, faithful in loving through hospitality. 



Verse Completion: . . . render to every man according to what he has done. Revelation 22:12 (NASB)


4/23/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/uU7Hn-10J8E



Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting. When they came out and blessed the people, the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. Then fire came out from before the LORD, and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman taught from 3 John 5-8 with a lesson titled “Faithfulness in Love” as he continued Fireside Fellowship.


Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth.


A dear friend is a beloved friend. We all need to be reminded from time to time that we are loved by God and secure in God. John wants Gaius to keep pressing forward with his hospitality and continue to partner with the truth. All three of these letters by John focus on truth and love. Truth leads to love; love leads to truth. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). 


Gaius demonstrates his love by showing hospitality. John is encouraging Gaius to continue the good work he’s doing. In 2 John 10-11 John wrote: 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. Gaius is not welcoming into his house those who don’t speak the truth. He’s not sharing a meal or providing lodging for those who speak falsehood. Gaius is welcoming those into his home those who are teaching the truth. 


We need to be discerning people who decipher the truth from falsehood. We invite the truth and reject falsehood. Partial truth is falsehood. Falsehood exaggerates and inflates numbers. You might hear people say, “There are a lot of us that think . . . “ when in reality it might be one or two people. Satan always wants you to think there are far more people against you than are for you. 


Gaius is being hospitable even to strangers. They are strangers to him in the sense that he doesn’t know them personally, but he knows of them from their reputation as followers of Christ. They are strangers who can be trusted. 


The traveling strangers return to their homes after staying with Gaius and tell others about the kind hospitality received in the home of Gaius. It was so nice for the traveling evangelists to be able to have a nice place to stay. Inns in these days had a bad reputation: stealing, robbing, killing, infested with fleas. Plato called innkeepers pirates. In Greek culture showing hospitality was a virtue, a very honorable thing to do. 


Scripture shows us what Christian hospitality looks like. 


·      Romans 12:13: Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Love is an action verb. We love by practicing hospitality. We’re commanded to be hospitable. 


·      Hebrews 13:1-2: Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.


·      1 Peter 4:7-10: The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. We are in the end times when showing hospitality to followers of Jesus is becoming more important. 


·      1 Timothy 5:9-10: No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.This advice was given by Paul to help with the dispersing of funds to widows. Widows who partner in the truth should receive funds. 


·      1 Timothy 3:2-3: Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. Being hospitable is a godly character quality—opening your life to help meet the needs of others. It involves kindness, care, and generosity. It is love in action. 


Every church needs a hospitality team made up of folks who have the spiritual gift of hospitality. As the end of time draws nearer and nearer and it becomes more difficult for disciples of Christ, we will need to have houses of hospitality where short-term needs are able to be met. As we host fellow disciples of Christ, we are able to encourage one another. When we show hospitality to others, we are treating them as we would treat Christ. 


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



Verse Completion. . . shouted and fell on their faces. Leviticus 9:23-24 (NASB)


4/22/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/aIIvpqSxcf4



Complete the Verse & Name the BookFor by your words you shall be justified, and by your words . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Pastor Del McKenzie’s talk on diligence. Today we will continue the recap with the second half. So far Pastor Del has spoken about Scripture verses that deal with diligence and looked at what diligence is and is not.


How do I know if I have diligence as a godly character quality? 


·      Consistency. Do I consistently do those things that need to be done including the routine activities: make my bed, eat on a regular schedule, sleep on a regular schedule, do the dishes consistently, clean consistently? Do I study the Scriptures consistently? Do I pray consistently? Do I worship God consistently? Do I have consistently good attitudes? 


·      Thoroughness. Do I do the details of life? Do I do all that can be done, or do I do sloppy work? How many things do I have going that never get done—things I’ve started but never completed? 


·      Excellence. Do I do the best I possibly can, or do I cut corners? Let excellence autograph your work. 


What are the results of diligence?


·      Success. Proverbs 22:29 says: Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men. Success comes to those who are diligent. Ecclesiastes 10:18 says: If a man is lazy, the rafters sag; if his hands are idle, the house leaks. There are consequences to laziness and idleness. 


·      Growth. 2 Peter 1:5-9 says: For this reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.


·      Assurance. 2 Peter 1:10-11 says: Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We need to be diligent in pursuing God and holiness. When we are diligent like this we will have the assurance of our salvation. 


·      Rewards. We will receive rewards at the judgment seat of Jesus. Jesus said in Matthew 10:42, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” Hebrews 11:6b says: [God] rewards those who earnestlyseek him. 1 Corinthians 3:11-14 says: 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.  Jesus said, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done” (Revelation 22:12). Jesus said, “I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown” (Revelation 3:11). What do we do with our crowns? We put them at the feet of Jesus. Don’t you want some crowns to place at the feet of Jesus? 


How do we develop diligence in our lives? 


·      Evaluate our character quality of diligence by asking ourselves: Am I lazy? Am I careless? Am I sloppy? Do I quit before the task is done? 2 Corinthians 13:5 says: Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?


·      Be honest with ourselves. Proverbs 22:13 says: The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!” or “I will be murdered in the streets!” These are simply excuses for not doing what we need to be doing. Do we rationalize anything less than diligence? Do we justify our lack of diligence?


·      Make a life plan with a purpose statement and goals. Make a schedule and stick to it. Measure it. Evaluate it. Be open to improving the plan by changing it when necessary.


·      Tackle the hard things. Do the most difficult or most unpleasant things first. Allow God to work in and through you. Isaiah 26:12 says: LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us. We can’t glorify, honor, and please God with our own resources and energies. We need to do it with love, but we can’t love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength in ourselves. We simply can’t generate that kind of love on our own. But we can go to God in prayer, and he will give us that kind of love. God enables us to accomplish the hard things. 


·      Take our needs to the Lord. His free giving is always enough. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says: But [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says: And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.


Let’s trust God to enable us to be diligent people.



Verse Completion. . . you shall be condemned. Matthew 12:37 (NASB)


4/21/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/XsxLxF93B1s?t=515



Complete the Verse & Name the Book“Now if a person sins and does any of the things which the LORD has commanded not to be done, though he was unaware, . . . (completion at the end)



On Monday, Pastor Del McKenzie continued his series on “Godly Character Qualities” with the topic of diligence. 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, commitment, initiative, and submission.


Have you ever done something half-heartedly? Sometimes we are tired, sometimes we get pressured into doing something we really don’t want to do, and sometimes we don’t see a reason for what we are doing. As students sometimes we don’t like the teacher. In the workforce sometimes we don’t like the boss or a co-worker. Sometimes we don’t feel qualified for the task that is before us. It’s possible to go through life half-heartedly. 


Diligence is a godly character quality that Scripture addresses:


·      Hebrews 11:6: And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.


·      Romans 12:11: Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.


·      Colossians 3:23-24: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.


Where does diligence fit in our lives? On a diligence scale of one to ten, where do we fall? Let’s define it, look at its opposites, look at the evidences of diligence, the results of diligence, and the development of it. We want to have godly character qualities so we will bring honor and glory to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 


One definition of diligence is steady application to activity of any kind. Diligence is a constant effort to accomplish what we’ve started. Perseverance is part of diligence, and it applies to all parts of our lives: vocation, spiritual life, ministry, and relationships with others. Once a task is begun, don’t quit until it’s done. 


When I demonstrate diligence, I do my best with energy. It applies to all aspects of life including digging a hole in rocky soil to plant a fig tree. 


Proverbs 4:23 says: Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Guard your heart with fervor and enthusiasm. Diligence is visualizing each task as a special assignment from the Lord and using all my energies to accomplish it. We should be working for the Lord regardless of the task. 


To better understand diligence we can take a look at its opposites. The book of Proverbs does a great job of this:


·      Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor (Prov. 12:24).


·      One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys (Prov. 18:9).


·      I went past the field of the sluggard, past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgement; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man (Prov. 24:30-34). In every community you will find what is described in this passage.


The opposite of diligence is unsteady, inconsistent effort. It involves failure to do our best. It involves being careless. Matthew 25:14-30 tells the parable of the talents. The man who lacked diligence was the one who was given one talent, and he hid it in the ground. The men who demonstrated diligence were the ones who were given five and two talents. They each went out and doubled what they were given. 


The master of the man who had buried his talent said to the man, “You wicked, lazy servant!” Jesus is applying this parable to the kingdom of God. I wonder how many of us will hear the same words spoken by Jesus when we approach the judgment seat of Christ. 


Hebrews 6:12 says: We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. We must be diligent in our faith and learn to persevere. God should always receive our best.


What causes laziness, lack of zeal, and slothfulness?


·      Lack of training. We could have been raised in a family where we weren’t trained to be neat, to persevere, do our best, and finish tasks we start. 


·      Lack of purpose in life. Some people never seem to identify their purpose in life. They’ve never identified what God wants them to do. It’s a good idea to write out on paper a life’s purpose statement. It should include some goals, strategies to reach those goals, and ways to evaluate whether the goals have been reached or not. 


·      Perverted values. Sometimes we put value on things that don’t deserve the value we place on them. Sometimes we don’t put value on things that we should highly value. 


·      Human nature. In our sinful nature we lose our purpose, zest for life, and an understanding of what God would have us do. We need God to change our sinful nature and change our ungodly character qualities into godly character qualities. We can’t afford to be spiritually lazy. If the love of the world is in us, the love of the Father is not in us. 


·      We refuse to grow and change


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



Verse Completion. . . still he is guilty, and shall bear his punishment. Leviticus 5:17 (NASB)


4/20/21


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/tXQpDDcrN-w



Complete the Verse & Name the BookBut now you also, put them all aside: . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon “A Prayer for the Promotion of the Gospel” that was based on 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5. Today we will recap the second half of that sermon. So far Pastor Michael spoke about the need to pray for the triumph of the gospel, and the need to pray against the wickedness and evil of Satan and his followers.


We also need to pray for the strength of God in our lives that we might continue to walk in the gospel. We pray that God will empower us and give us what we need to keep walking in the gospel in the face of chaos. We pray that those who are walking in the gospel will be strengthened. It’s difficult to remain in the full truth at times because we don’t want to stand out and be persecuted, ridiculed, and made to suffer. Sometimes we try to get by with one foot in God’s kingdom and one foot in the world’s kingdom. We need strength to stand firmly in God’s kingdom alone, so we pray to that end. 


God is always faithful. His promises are “yes” and “amen”. God is always there to strengthen us as we promote the gospel. He will protect us from the evil one as we pray against him. 1 Peter 5:8-9 says: Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 


We have an enemy—Satan. Satan is trying to destroy you. He’s trying to deceive you. He’s trying to take you away from the full gospel. He wants you to compromise the gospel and accept only part of it. Satan is going to do all he can to make sure he triumphs over the gospel. The reality is Jesus has already triumphed over Satan by dying on the cross. Colossians 2:15 says: And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. There is no power Satan has over God, and, consequently, there is no power Satan has over a disciple of Jesus. We need to pray that God would strengthen us so we can continue to proclaim and promote the gospel. 


Because of God’s faithfulness, we pray that God would keep us faithful so that no matter what Satan would do to try to destroy us, we remain faithful to God; we never give up. We need to lift each other up in prayer that our faith would be strengthened. We live in a world that doesn’t follow Christ, and it’s against those who follow Christ wholeheartedly. We must have the strength of Christ in us. 


When Paul says, “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance,” the worddirect means establish with firmness. Paul is praying that God would establish them and make them firm so they will continue in Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 says: May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.Paul is praying that God with give strength to those who follow after God. He is praying that they will persevere—continue to pursue and proclaim Christ, never giving up. He’s praying the gospel will triumph in their lives over falsehood, over false gods, and over hard hearts. He’s praying against Satan who is a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. 


Prayer is spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6:10-18 says:


Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And prayin the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. 


The first thing we need to do is pray. Prayer helps the gospel run freely. Prayer will help the gospel triumph in people’s lives. Prayer is what will strengthen us, protect us, and keep us faithful. Without prayer we are not doing any kingdom good. Without prayer we may be doing the wrong things. Without prayer we may be wasting our time, talents, and resources and accomplishing nothing except maybe feeling good about what we’ve done. However, the kingdom of God is not about me feeling good. The gospel is about promoting and proclaiming the truth of Christ and watching it triumph in people’s lives. The gospel is about God’s power and kingdom. It’s about forgiveness and everlasting life. 


As a church, I want us to pray the following prayer:


    God, we pray that the gospel would spread rapidly and be honored.


    We pray against all wickedness and evil that would attempt to stand against the gospel.


    We pray that God would strengthen our faith in Jesus by His Holy Spirit.


The only place in America that has never experienced a revival is the Pacific Northwest. Maybe the time is now for the Pacific NW to receive a revival and have large number of people come to Jesus to receive salvation. We can’t change the course God has planned for our nation, but we can change the course of people’s lives through prayer. Salvation is for people, and that’s what we pray for. 


May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).



Verse Completion. . . anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Colossians 3:8 (NASB)


4/19/21


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/-TGkqjQfZyU



Complete the Verse & Name the BookYou shall bring the very first fruits of your soil into the . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday Pastor Michael’s sermon “A Prayer for the Promotion of the Gospel” was based on 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5. Last week concluded a series of sermons on the book of Matthew. The book ends with the great commission: Go and tell. We are on a co-mission with Christ to promote the gospel to all people. We are to baptize people in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are to work to bring people to a public commitment to Christ and teach them to obey everything Jesus commanded. The purpose statement of our church is: We exist to promote and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation and sanctification of all people. How do we do that? 


The first step in going and telling is prayer. Today’s passage in 2 Thessalonians says:


Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.


Before we move into action we always need to move into prayer first. Prayer is our foundation. Prayer is our powerhouse. Prayer is what connects us with God. Prayer is what gives us the green light to go. We are to pray that the gospel spreads rapidly in our community and throughout the world. In many parts of the world it is possible for the gospel to run, to spread rapidly. However, the forces of evil will do all they can to prevent the gospel from running. They will attempt to stamp out the gospel just as they did in Thessalonica. Acts 17:1-9 describes the culture the believers in Thessalonica faced:


When they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said. Some of the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go.


They were living in a world where truth telling was unacceptable. People preferred falsehood over truth. They were interested in a message that fit their lifestyle rather than fitting their lifestyle into the truth of the gospel. Sounds a lot like today, doesn’t it? 


We are to pray that people will receive the message as truth and change their lives, be transformed and renewed, and live out the gospel of Jesus. We’re to pray that the gospel will run into our neighbor’s house and triumph in our neighbor’s life. We’re to pray that the gospel will run throughout our workplace and triumph over falsehood. We’re to pray that the gospel will run throughout our family and triumph over the falsehood presently believed by our family. It all starts with prayer: “Jesus, we need the gospel in this world. People need to hear the truth. I want your name to be glorified and lifted up, Jesus. I want you to triumph over falsehood.” Before we do anything, we have to pray. 


The second matter we pray for is that we would be delivered from wicked and evil people. Not everyone has faith in Christ—faith in the truth. We’re to pray for protection from Satan and those he uses to come against the gospel. Satan uses people as his tools to block the gospel. There are many people who are willing to be used by Satan to accomplish his goals. 


Wicked people are harmful, unreasonable, and without logic just like the mob in Acts 17. The words riot and orderly don’t go together. The words mob and logicaldon’t go together. Satan loves to stir people up and create chaos. We are to pray against Satan and his wicked forces including the people he uses. We pray for the gospel, and we pray against those who are against the gospel. 


Evil people are corrupted people who seek to corrupt others. Corrupted means to have gone away from that which is right. Currently, in our secular colleges and universities, we have professors who have walked away from the truth, and they purposefully try to corrupt others. They plant falsehoods and doubts. They speak out against the gospel. They try to stamp out the truth of Christ. If a student attempts to stand up for the truth, the mob rises up and opposes the truth. This is what we pray against. 


We pray for deliverance from Satan by the power of the Holy Spirit. We serve a powerful God who is more powerful than all the other forces in the universe because he’s the one who created all the forces in the universe. It’s the gospel of Jesus Christ that has power to change lives—not the government with its programs nor committees with their grandiose ideas. 


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



Verse Completion. . . the house of the LORD your God. Exodus 34:26a (NASB)


4/17/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/glrc6lDZh70



Complete the Verse & Name the BookNo one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Dr. Michael Wedman’s lesson titled “Faithfulness to the Truth” taught from 3 John 1-4. Here is a recap of the second half. 


How we interact with the world and what we give our bodies over to is important because our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Romans 12:1-2 says: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.


We use our bodies for the promotion of the gospel of Jesus Christ. John isn’t being flippant when he says “enjoy good health.” John is saying that he prays that Gaius will have a body that will be able to continue to worship God, be given over to God, and be able to do the 


works that God has prepared in advance for him to do. 


When we read “enjoy good health and that all may go well with you,” it may sound like the health and wealth gospel that has been prevalent in some circles. The health and wealth gospel is not the full gospel. It leaves out the importance of suffering and dying to self. If John was saying, “I hope you are healthy and wealthy because that’s what God wants,” how do you preach that to people living in poverty? Around the world there are more people who live in poverty than live in wealth—including disciples of Christ. How do you preach health and wealth to those who are suffering persecution? Would you say, “If you had more faith you wouldn’t be persecuted”? Would you say, “If you had more faith you wouldn’t suffer”? Would you say, “If you had more faith you’d have more money”? Would you say, “If you had more faith you would have better health”? Certainly not! How much wealth did Jesus have? The health and wealth gospel wouldn’t have worked for Jesus. Would you say to Jesus, “The reason you are being crucified is because you don’t have enough faith”? The health and wealth gospel only works for those who are healthy and wealthy, and it only works until the person isn’t healthy or wealthy. No writer of the Bible wrote that spiritual maturity looks like health and wealth. 


The words “that all may go well with you” in Greek are: “May you have a goodjourney,” or “May your journey in life be a good journey.” To understand what goodmeans here, we need to look at the next phrase: “even as your soul is getting along well.” Good has to do with soul wellness—knowing Jesus so well that you remain in the truth and become more and more like Christ. The prayer is that his physical condition and his journey in life will match his soul wellness. John wants Gaius’ journey to be a spiritually prosperous journey. He wants Gaius’ body, soul, mind, and spirit to be well. Spiritual health always comes before physical health or physical wealth. Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). The things Jesus was talking about are material needs: lodging, food, clothes. 


Verse three says: It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth.Evidently John sent out some teachers or prophets or disciples to some churches, and some returned to share with John what was happening in those churches—truth was being taught but falsehood had also worked its way in. 


Verse four says: I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. John’s greatest joy is not his children or grandchildren or pets or possessions; it’s knowing that those he brought to Christ are remaining faithful to Christ. John’s life is given over to discipling people. What John cares about is people coming to Christ and remaining faithful to Christ in spite of persecutions from without and persecutions from within the church. People who are faithful to Christ are what charges John up. They make life worth living as they are maturing in Christ and remaining faithful to Christ as they follow what Jesus commanded. John is filled with joy as he sees or hears of those who prove their love for Christ by following his commandments. 


What brings you the greatest joy? Is it seeing people remaining faithful to the truth? 


May you find spiritual maturity on your journey. May you know spiritual joy. May you know spiritual prosperity. May it be well with your soul. May you grow in Christ. May you experience good health as you walk with Christ in the truth, and love God and others. 



Verse Completion. . . has seen Him or knows Him. 1 John 3:6 (NASB)


4/16/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/1M5-zcCAdp8



Complete the Verse & Name the Book“You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest: even. . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman taught from 3 John 1-4 with a lesson titled “Faithfulness to the Truth” as he continued Fireside Fellowship.


The book of 3 John is very similar to 2 John. The author is John who wrote the Gospel of John, Revelation, as well as 1 and 2 John. He is the last surviving disciple who walked and talked with Jesus. 3 John was written around 90 A.D. He is writing to a church that has allowed false teaching to enter it and cause division. There are people in the church who are no longer walking in the truth of Christ; they no longer follow the commands of Christ. 


It’s likely that John is writing to an individual that is in the church that he addressed in 2 John. 2 John was written to be read in front of the church while 3 John was probably written specifically to Gaius, a leader in the church, to help him deal with the division that has entered the church.


Verses 1-4: The elder,


To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth.


Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.


In this short letter, John calls Gaius his “dear friend” four times. In this letter we see the same themes as 2 John: love, truth, deception, falsehood. The love spoken of in this introduction is agape love—a love that comes from Christ’s love in us. It’s not eros love which is a sensual or passionate love. It’s not philia love which is brotherly love associated with friendship. It’s not storge love or familial love such as the love of parents toward their offspring and vice versa. Agape love puts other people first. It’s a love that looks to the interests of others. There’s a concern for the spiritual well-being of others. Agape love is not easily offended. It’s not a love that always wants to be first. It’s not a love that is dependent on someone loving them back. It’s a selfless love that comes from Christ. Agape love is what kept Jesus on the cross. Agape love wants more than anything else the salvation of others. Agape love helps and encourages others. Notice how agape love and truth are inseparable in the introduction. Agape love comes from the truth; from the truth we learn to love. Love and truth are united with each other. 


With the use of “dear friend” four times in such a short letter, it’s likely that John felt Gaius needed encouragement, love, and support. Gaius is in a difficult position—leadership in a church that is divided. 


A typical letter at this time would have a greeting followed by a blessing. John is letting Gaius know that he is praying that he will have good health. John recognizes the importance of the body. There was a false teaching that said the body doesn’t matter—only the spirit matters. Therefore one could do whatever it wanted with the body since it would eventually turn to dust. This way of thinking is wrong. Jesus spent time healing people because the body is important. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says: Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. 


When we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, it’s the Holy Spirit who enters our life. It’s our bodies that we use to promote and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. We can’t do it without our bodies. 


Our bodies don’t belong to us; they were bought with the price of the life of Jesus. We can’t take the temple of the Holy Spirit and do whatever we want to do with it. We surrender our body, spirit, and mind to Christ to be used by him. We use our health for Christ’s kingdom. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 says: Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.


What we do with our bodies while we are alive is important. Let’s look at the context of these two verses by backing up to verses ten through fifteen: 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. 


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



Verse Completion. . . during plowing time and harvest you shall rest. Exodus 34:21 (NASB)


4/15/21


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


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


Complete the Verse & Name the BookGive, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For whatever measure you deal out to others, . . . (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 submission. Today we will continue with a recap of the second half of his talk. Yesterday we left off with Pastor Del identifying the categories of submission: 


1.   Submit to God


2.   Submit to leaders


3.   Submit to authorities


4.   Submit to older peopleYoung men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). The measure of a culture is determined by how it treats its elderly people. 


5.   Submit to each otherSubmit to one another out of reverence for Christ(Ephesians 5:21). We live in a family, neighborhood, and community. It becomes chaotic if some people have to have their way all the time. To keep things peaceful, sometimes I need to submit to other people’s ideas, and sometimes other people need to submit to my ideas. Unfortunately, give and take of this nature is all too rare. 


a.   Wives are to submit to husbands. Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives (1Peter 3:1-2). Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord (Colossians 3:18). Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22). That doesn’t mean wives are to submit to abusive husbands. Husbands are to love, care for, nourish, and be spiritual leaders for their wives. Most wives wouldn’t find it difficult to submit to a godly husband. Husbands and wives are in a partnership. When one doesn’t hold up their half of the partnership, there will be difficulties. We each have to ask ourselves, “Am I submissive, or am I a rebel in this marriage relationship?”


Now let’s take a look at the contrasts involved with submission


1.   Submit to God and resist the devil. James 4:7 says: Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. We dare not switch these around and submit to the devil and resist God, but it constantly happens all around us. It’s possible for a person to live their entire life and not get this right. The result is a cruel world where things are a mess. There are a lot of people in our world who are in bad shape because they submit to the devil and resist God. 


Jesus taught us to pray, “Deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13b). The devil is our enemy. He is an opponent to God and us. He is an antagonist. He’s a tempter. He tries to entice us to rebel against God. He’s a seducer and deceiver—the father of lies. Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). 


2 Corinthians 11:13-14 tells us more about the devil: For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.


We never want to give the devil an advantage, but we do when we don’t forgive others. 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 says: If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.


2 Timothy 2:24-26 says: And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.


2.   Resist sin and submit to righteousness, holiness, and godliness. Hebrews 12:4 says: In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. We need to have a strong resistance against sin. We are to put our old nature to death. We offer ourselves to God; we don’t offer ourselves to our sinful nature. 


3.   Resist the world and submit to God. Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2:15-17). We need to resist the world—the culture around us. 


The will of God will never take you,

Where the grace of God cannot keep you.

Where the arms of God cannot support you,

Where the riches of God cannot supply your needs,

Where the power of God cannot endow you.


The will of God will never take you,

Where the spirit of God cannot work through you,

Where the wisdom of God cannot teach you,

Where the army of God cannot protect you,

Where the hands of God cannot mold you.


The will of God will never take you,

Where the love of God cannot enfold you,

Where the mercies of God cannot sustain you,

Where the peace of God cannot calm your fears,

Where the authority of God cannot overrule for you.


The will of God will never take you,

Where the comfort of God cannot dry your tears,

Where the Word of God cannot feed you,

Where the miracles of God cannot be done for you,

Where the omnipresence of God cannot find you.


Anonymous




We need to be non-conformists, renegades, and rebels in the right sense—against sin, the devil, and the world.


4.   Resist the desires of our sinful nature. 1 Timothy 6:20b says: Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge.


How do we cultivate submission? We carefully go through the Scriptures that deal with submission. Take a good look at yourself and ask, “Am I a submissive person? Is submission a character quality in me? Do I submit usually, generally, consistently, or do I submit never, seldom, or only once in awhile?” 


Submission is a godly character quality needed for godly character. When we develop godly character qualities God can do wonderful things in our lives, and he wants to!



Verse Completion. . . it will be dealt to you in return. Luke 6:38 (NASB)


4/14/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/97w-I87urvo?t=136


Complete the Verse & Name the BookThus the LORD used to speak to Moses . . . (completion at the end)



On Monday, Pastor Del McKenzie continued his series on “Godly Character Qualities” with the topic of submission. 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, commitment, and initiative.


Where would you place yourself on the continuum of submission? If we’re going to have the character qualities Jesus had, we need the character quality of submission. Jesus submitted to the Father’s will when he said, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39b). 


There’s a right kind of submission and a wrong kind of submission. There will be major conflicts in our lives if we don’t develop proper submission. We limit our effectiveness and influence when we aren’t submissive. We miss blessings in the kingdom of God when we aren’t submissive. Romans 14:17-18 says: For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. The kingdom of God has to do with kingship, rulership, and lordship—powerful words when it comes to submitting. 


The day is coming when everyone will submit to God. Philippians 2:9-11 says: Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. If we are too proud to bow before Jesus now, it’s just a matter of time until all will bow to him. 


Today we will look at the concept of submission, the categories of submission, the contrasts of submission, and the cultivation of submission. 


Submission is yielding control to a more powerful or authoritative entity. Yielding is always voluntary. When we are forced to yield it becomes subjection or slavery. The only kind of servants Jesus has are willing servants. All submission to Jesus is willing submission. Romans 12:1-2 says: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.


We aren’t slaves of this world; we are willing servants of Jesus. Submission has to do with our will because then we can prove what God’s will is, and that ties our will into God’s will. We all have wills; we choose what we are going to submit to. Jesus said, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters” (Matthew 13:30). If we aren’t submitting to Jesus then we are opposing Jesus. The world around us is trying to squeeze us into its mold. The world wants us to accept its values such as: He who dies with the most toys wins. Which has a higher priority, our material lives or our spiritual lives? The world would tell us to use our time to make money or enjoy pleasures. Our bodies belong to God to be used by God; they don’t belong to the culture to be used by the culture.


Submission involves yielding, presenting, offering. One definition of submit is to accept or yield to a superior force or to the authority or will of another person. It could involve a group of people such as a culture. It could also mean yielding to an idea. All of us, to some degree, are influenced by the culture around us. We look around to see what others value, and we value those things. We look around to see how others are spending their time, and we spend our time in that manner. We look at the priorities of others, and we make those priorities our priorities. James 4:7-8 says: Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Ephesians 5:21 says: Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Colossians 3:5 says: Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. When Jesus died, we died with him. 


When we submit to Christ, we put to death the desires of our sinful nature. Colossians 3:8 says: But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. We put these things to death. Colossians 3:1-2 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. We need to submit our hearts and minds to God’s will. We need to occupy our minds with thoughts that are surrendered to Jesus. Submission is needed because our hearts are rebel hearts—we don’t want anyone telling us what to do. We want to do everything ourselves.


Let’s take a look at the categories of submission:


1.   Submission to GodSubmit yourselves, then, to God (James 4:7a). Offer your bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (Romans 6:13-14). Offering ourselves to God is an act of submission. God is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He’s the ruler. We need to submit to God who is loving, gracious, kind, and gentle. We should live with no controversy with God. Do I have any controversy with God? Am I arguing with God about anything? Is God saying one thing while I’m saying something different?


2.   Submit to leadersObey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you(Hebrews 13:17). Some examples of submission are found in 1 Corinthians 16:15-18. We are to submit to spiritual leaders. 


3.   Submit to authoritiesSubmit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right (1 Peter 2:13-14). There must be order in a society. Without order you have chaos. Chaos doesn’t draw people to the kingdom of God. In our society one doesn’t have to look far to see rebel drivers. 


Tomorrow we will continue the second half of Pastor Del’s talk on the godly character quality of submission.



Verse Completion. . . face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. Exodus 33:11a


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)


0