Daily Devotion August 2020

8/31/20


Good morning, Suffering Servants.


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


Complete the Verse & Name the BookDo not be deceived; God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday, Pastor Michael gave the sermon “Suffering and Service” based on Matthew 20:17-34. Matthew was writing to a predominantly Jewish audience. His main goal in writing the book was to let the Jews know that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus didn’t meet their expectations of the Messiah—a revolutionary who would overthrow the Roman Empire and set up an earthly kingdom where Israel would rule the world. Matthew wants his audience to know Jesus came to set up a heavenly kingdom. A heavenly kingdom works opposite that of an earthly kingdom. 


Disciples of a heavenly kingdom look nothing like the disciples of an earthly kingdom. Those in an earthly kingdom put themselves first. What’s important to them is power, authority, influence, position, and wealth. Their motto is “Look out for #1!” On the other hand, the kingdom of heaven is about humility, submission, servanthood, and serving  others. Their motto is “Die to self.”


Matthew 20:17-19 says:


As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to him. “Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. Then they will hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”


Jesus wants the disciples to be prepared for what is going to happen to him in Jerusalem, and it’s the third time he has told them. The Pharisees, high priests, and teachers of the Law are going to work with the Gentiles to get rid of Jesus. Jesus wants his disciples to understand that he came to earth to die. He will die the cruelest and most shameful death—death on a cross. He also told his disciples he would be raised to life on the third day. If you want life, choose death to self. If you want to be first, be the last. If you want to be the greatest, be the least. 


The mission of the kingdom of heaven is to proclaim and promote the gospel of Jesus Christ and add disciples to the kingdom of heaven.


Verses 20-28 say:


Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. “What is your request?” he asked.


She replied, “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”


But Jesus answered by saying to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?”


“Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”


Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”


When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


Mom and her boys don’t get it; the kingdom of heaven is not built by ambition. Mom wants her boys to be in prominent positions, but by making the request, she demonstrates she doesn’t understand what the kingdom of heaven is all about. To be prominent in the kingdom of heaven requires death. Those in the kingdom of heaven have to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus to death. To be prominent requires humility and servanthood. By Mom asking for her boys to be in the most prominent positions, she was asking for her boys to suffer and die.


James was the first apostle who was put to death. Acts 12:1 says: About that time King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in the church. He had the apostle James (John’s brother) killed with a sword. John suffered in a different manner. He was exiled to the island of Patmos where political criminals and those who were found guilty of the most heinous crimes were sent. John had no other believers to associate with. It was here that the book of Revelation was revealed to John by Jesus.


A Roman coin was found with a picture of a bull. The bull was facing a plow and an altar. The inscription read “Ready for either.” The altar is the picture of sacrifice—bulls were offered as sacrifices on the altar. The bull was ready to die on the altar. The other use of a bull was to be hooked to a plow where all of his days would be spent working the fields. James went the route of the altar. His brother, John, went the route of the plow. As disciples of Christ, we need to be ready for the altar or the plow. Some of us may be asked to sacrifice our lives on the altar. Others of us may be sent into the harvest fields to work and make disciples.


Our salvation is a gift from God. Our ability to live is a gift from God. The ability to work is a gift from God. The ability to have wealth is a gift from God. The ability to volunteer in the church is a gift from God. Our talents and skills are gifts from God. 


The kingdom of Satan separates people; it gets people angry at one another. Satan says, “You are an important person! You’re smarter, faster, sing better, have more wealth, have been in the church longer, have more influence.” That kind of thinking separates people. Jesus brings people together and builds unity. There’s no place in the church for the kingdom of Satan thinking. The church doesn’t belong to Satan; the church belongs to Jesus. Jesus is the head of the church. We need to kick Satan out of the church; pride, ambition, arrogance, power, and authority have to go. We tend to operate a church like a business. We tend to act as the head of the church when the head is Jesus. 


The use of the word slave in verse 27 means the lowest of the low—those who have no rights. It’s the opposite of a bossy person. Bossiness has no place in the church. As Christians we give up our rights. We die to self. We make it about the spiritual well-being of others. 


Verses 29-34 say:


As Jesus and the disciples left the town of Jericho, a large crowd followed behind. Two blind men were sitting beside the road. When they heard that Jesus was coming that way, they began shouting, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”


“Be quiet!” the crowd yelled at them.


But they only shouted louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”


When Jesus heard them, he stopped and called, “What do you want me to do for you?”


“Lord,” they said, “we want to see!” Jesus felt sorry for them and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see! Then they followed him.


The crowd was telling the blind beggars, “Shut up! We don’t want to hear from you! You’re not important! You’re nothing. You have nothing to offer Jesus. You have nothing to contribute to this movement. You are the lowest of the low. You’re not important like we are important. Leave Jesus alone.” The crowd was acting like followers of Satan rather than followers of Jesus. 


The blind beggars weren’t interested in what the crowd had to say; they were interested in what Jesus had to say. They were calling out to Jesus, and then Jesus called out to them. Jesus had compassion on them, unlike the crowd. They then become part of the crowd, and you know they were right up front with Jesus—the last became the first. 


Proverbs 25:6-7a says:


Don’t demand an audience with the king or push for a place among the great. It’s better to wait for an invitation to the head table than to be sent away in public disgrace.


Those who thought they were first in the crowd were humiliated when they discovered they were really last as the blind beggars were brought to the front. 



Verse Completion:. . . destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.Galatians 6:7-8 (NIV)


The Obedience of Christ


8/29/20


Good morning, Followers of Jesus.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/Vqcsgx7oO2U


Complete the Verse & Name the Book:Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back . . .(completion at the end)



Reading through a notebook where I write things down that I want to remember, I came across the following:


·      Praise is celebrating God for who he is.


·      Thanks is celebrating God for what he does.


Thankfulness turns to praise. Praise turns to worship. Worship puts us directly in the presence of God.



Pastor Randy Remington gave a sermon titled “To Live and Love like Jesus” based on Matthew 16:13-20:


When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”


“Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”


Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”


Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”


Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”


Then he sternly warned the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.


Questions reveal what is important to the person who is asking the questions. Jesus asked many questions. 


You would worry a lot less about what people think of you if you realized they don’t.


It takes revelation to see who Jesus is.


The church, ekklesia, means “the called out ones.” They are a congregation or an assembly of people. The church is not a building or an institution. The church is the very presence of Jesus in people.


The mandate of the church is to live and love like Jesus.


The church can easily become a mechanical process. We need to focus on:


·      Encountering God’s presence. Ephesians 2:19-22 says: So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.


·      Experiencing God’s family. Galatians 6:10 says: Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith. 1 Peter 4:8-11 says: Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.


·      The extension of his Kingdom. John 4:35 says: “You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.”



Verse Completion. . . is fit for service in the kingdom of God. Luke 9:62 (NIV)


Focus and Faithfulness


8/28/20


Good morning, Followers of The Way.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/qQJhUIBb0gw


Complete the Verse & Name the Book‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears My voice and opens the door, . . . (completion at the end)


We have a choice in the way we learn how to behave: we can watch the mistakes others make and not repeat those mistakes, or we can ignore the mistakes made by others and make the same errors for ourselves. God has warned us about many hazardous things in life that can trip us up. We can heed those warnings or ignore them and suffer the consequences. 1 Corinthians 10:1-24, 31 says:


I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses. All of them ate the same spiritual food, and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ. Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.


These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, or worship idols as some of them did. As the Scriptures say, “The people celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry.” And we must not engage in sexual immorality as some of them did, causing 23,000 of them to die in one day.


Nor should we put Christ to the test, as some of them did and then died from snakebites. And don’t grumble as some of them did, and then were destroyed by the angel of death. These things happened to them as examples for usThey were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.


If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can standWhen you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.


So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. You are reasonable people. Decide for yourselves if what I am saying is true. When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ? And though we are many, we all eat from one loaf of bread, showing that we are one body. Think about the people of Israel. Weren’t they united by eating the sacrifices at the altar?


What am I trying to say? Am I saying that food offered to idols has some significance, or that idols are real gods? No, not at all. I am saying that these sacrifices are offered to demons, not to God. And I don’t want you to participate with demons. You cannot drink from the cup of the Lord and from the cup of demons, too. You cannot eat at the Lord’s Table and at the table of demons, too. What? Do we dare to rouse the Lord’s jealousy? Do you think we are stronger than he is?


You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficialDon’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.


So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.


We have been warned by God to learn from the mistakes of others. As we read the Scriptures, we can see illustration after illustration of those who didn’t follow God’s instructions, and they paid a high price for their disobedience. With our sin nature, we tend to crave evil things, but when we see the consequences suffered by others who carried out their evil cravings, the appeal of sin diminishes. David saw Bathsheba, lusted after her, and followed through with adultery. That sin led to another sin that involved the murder of Bathsheba’s husband so Bathsheba could become David’s wife. When we see the far reaching consequences of David’s sin, the desire to be involved in such evil is no longer appealing. Sin has consequences, and we are wise to not travel down the sinful road. With the Holy Spirit living inside of us, we have the power to resist temptation. Galatians 5:16-18 says:


So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.


Notice the consequences for grumbling—death! We probably wouldn’t put grumbling as a sin worthy of the death sentence, but God took it as a serious offense. 


Toward the end of this passage we see two things we are to concentrate on:


·      Be concerned for the good of others.


·      Whatever we do, do it all for the glory of God.


We don’t have to be concerned about sinning when we follow these two instructions. David wasn’t concerned for the good of Bathsheba and her husband when he committed adultery and murder. He certainly wasn’t living his life for the glory of God at that point in his life. With God’s help, let’s be concerned for the good of others and do everything for the glory of God.



Verse Completion. . . I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20 (NASB)


God is Infinite


8/27/20


Good morning to everyone who has built their house on the Lord Jesus Christ.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/7LJrj7olwgk


Complete the Verse & Name the BookI have come as light into the world, that everyone who believes in Me may . . . (completion at the end)



Construction of The Leaning Tower of Pisa began in 1173 and was completed in 1399. A marble foundation was laid, but it was only able to be ten feet deep due to a lot of water under the ground in the area of construction. The south side began to sink as the first story of the tower was completed. To compensate, the engineer, Bonnano Pisano, added an inch to the columns and arches on the south side as the next story was built. By the time the fourth story was built, two inches had to be added to the columns on the south side. Construction came to a halt due to the difficulties.


In 1234, an architect by the name of Benenato added a fifth story continuing to make the south columns taller than the north ones. Construction was again halted after the addition of just one story.


In 1260, William of Innstruck added the sixth and seventh stories. 


In 1350, Tommaso Pisano added the eighth story. He made the spiral stairs on the inside of the tower higher on the south side than the north side. The tower was finally completed around 200 years after construction began. When it was completed in 1372, it was still leaning and has been leaning ever since. Today, it is more than five meters off perpendicular. 


Psalm 127:1-2 says:


Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the LORD protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat, for God gives rest to his loved ones.


Any efforts toward security outside the will and working of God are in vain. Whether it’s a house or a city, the efforts of the builder or watchman are worth nothing without the overriding providence of God. Working long hours has no value apart from divine provision.


Zechariah 4:1-7 says:


Then the angel who had been talking with me returned and woke me, as though I had been asleep. “What do you see now?” he asked.


I answered, “I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl of oil on top of it. Around the bowl are seven lamps, each having seven spouts with wicks. And I see two olive trees, one on each side of the bowl.” Then I asked the angel, “What are these, my lord? What do they mean?”


“Don’t you know?” the angel asked.


“No, my lord,” I replied.


Then he said to me, “This is what the LORD says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him! And when Zerubbabel sets the final stone of the Temple in place, the people will shout: ‘May God bless it! May God bless it!’”


I’m not attempting to make a political statement, but I support our military forces. My reasoning is when we have a strong military, we are not as likely to be attacked by other countries. If we are attacked, and we have a strong military, we are more likely to be triumphant. However, we can have the strongest military in the world, and if God wants us to be overthrown for his purposes, the weakest country could overthrow us. Ultimately, we don’t put our trust in our military; we put our trust in God.


Joshua 6:1-5 says:


Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go out or in. But the LORD said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse and the people can charge straight into the town.”


That’s exactly what happened. Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the LORD protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good.


2 Chronicles 20:15-17, 21-22 says:


[Jahaziel] said, “Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the LORD’S victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the LORD is with you!”


After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the LORD and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang: “Give thanks to the LORD; his faithful love endures forever!”


At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the LORD caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves.


Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the LORD protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good.


Genesis 11:1-9 says:


At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words. As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia and settled there.


They began saying to each other, “Let’s make bricks and harden them with fire.” (In this region bricks were used instead of stone, and tar was used for mortar.) Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.”


But the LORD came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”


In that way, the LORD scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the LORD confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world.


Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the LORD protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good.


Jesus said, “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” Matthew 7:24-27. Jesus is the Rock we build our lives on. 


What are you attempting to do in your own strength and power? Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the LORD protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good.



Verse Completion. . . not remain in darkness. John 12:46 (NASB)


Time The Subtle Thief


8/26/20


Good morning, Citizens of Heaven.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/VTkgv26DcLA


Complete the Verse & Name the BookBut the Lord is faithful, and He will . . . (completion at the end)




After reading Exodus 29, Exodus 30, Exodus 31, and Matthew 22, the following prayer was prayed:


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to us. Thank you, Jesus, for your life sacrifice on the cross for my sins. I am thankful I don’t have to go through all the animal sacrifices and ritual of the old covenant. Jesus, your sacrifice was once and for all. It was sufficient to meet all the requirements for sin. Thank you for your forgiveness. Give us the strength and power to not continue in sin.


Thank you for filling Bezalel with your Spirit giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. May we not forget that any abilities we have come from you. We praise you for all you have given us. May we use our talents and abilities for service to you.


Jesus, your parable teaches us that we don’t get into heaven if we haven’t prepared ourselves. If we have garments stained with sin, we will be cast into hell. Jesus, it’s your blood that covers our sins. You died in my place. The only way I’ll be able to get into heaven is with your blood covering my sins. May your blood wash away my sins right now. Thank you for your life sacrifice, and help me to sin no more.


God, you affirmed the resurrection when you said, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God is not the God of the dead but of the living.” We believe in your resurrection, and we believe in our resurrection by your power.


May we remember the two most important commandments:


1.   You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.


2.   You shall love your neighbor as yourself.


We pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.



Put yourself back into the Old Testament story where people are dying, and there's a means of rescue by looking up at the serpent on the pole. If they look, they will not die. So faith is not a cursory glance at an unimportant fact. Faith is the desperate gaze of a dying man at the only possible means of his rescue. This is the topic of Dr. Josh Moody as he presents Part 2 of his sermon “Born Again.” https://godcenteredlife.org/broadcast/born-again-part-2/



Verse Completion. . . strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NASB)


8/25/20


Good morning, Hearers & Doers of God’s Word.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/V4dR_zuB3qk


Complete the Verse & Name the Book: You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow-slave, . . .  (completion at the end)



Let’s take a look at a few verses from Psalm today:


Psalm 116:2 says: “Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” Isn’t it amazing that Almighty God would even listen to us? Who are we but tiny specks in his creation! Yet God likes hearing from us. He’s a good listener, too. Have you ever had someone “listen” to you while they looked over your shoulder and appeared to be more interested in what was going on behind you than what you were saying? It’s happened to me, and, unfortunately, I’ve done it to others. Notice here how God “bends down to listen.” When we talk to him, he listens. What we say is important to him. What an honor we have to be able to talk one-on-one with the Creator of the universe! Let us pray as long as we have breath!


Psalm 116:15 says: “The LORD cares deeply when his loved ones die.” The death of God’s children is of great concern to him. He doesn’t lightly permit it. This verse is close to our hearts as my wife and I lost a good friend this month. We don’t know why God called a 43-year-old child home, but we don’t question his judgment. God sees the big picture while we see with limited vision. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says: “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”Jesus wept for Lazarus. He feels our sorrow. He cares deeply right along with us who are sorrowful. 


Psalm 118:22 says: “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” This verse was written a minimum of 600 years before its fulfillment. The stone clearly references Jesus who was rejected by his generation and subsequently was exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand (see Acts 2:32-33, Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10-11; Luke 20:17; 1 Peter 2:7). God is able to bring victory out of defeat. God is able to bring life out of death. God is able to bring resurrection out of a cross. God is able to turn the wrath of man into his glory. God is able to turn a sinner into a saint.


Psalm 118:24“This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” God made the day; science didn’t make it. God created gravity and put the earth in motion (spinning around to give us our days and nights and moving around the sun to give us our seasons). Science is the study of God’s creation. I know I take the rising of the sun and the setting of the sun for granted, but I shouldn’t because they are both a reminder of God who created the heavens and the earth. Each day I need to rejoice in him and be thankful. Nothing man has created comes anywhere close to God’s creation. Only God is worthy of our worship.


Psalm 119:7-8“As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should! I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me!” When we were teenagers, our parents probably gave us a curfew hour to be home by. What if we said, “Thank you, Mom and Dad, for caring about me and my safety. You want me home by midnight, so I’ll be home by midnight. Thank you for loving me as much as you do,” and then we stayed out until 1:00 a.m. What would our parents think of our “thank you?” It would be meaningless. Notice the Scripture says, “I will thank you by living as I should. I will obey your decrees.” If we want to show gratitude to God for loving us enough to give us boundaries to stay within, we should stay within those boundaries. John 14:15 says: “If you love me, obey my commandments.”


Aren’t you glad your parents didn’t give up on you when you broke their commandments? Aren’t you thankful God doesn’t give up on us when we don’t follow his commandments? The more we understand that the commandments are there for our good, the easier it becomes to follow them. We see how much God loves us, and we return that love to him by following his words. Ps. 119:18 says: “Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.” Verse 36 says: “Give me an eagerness for your laws rather than a love for money!”


Psalm 119:55 says“I reflect at night on who you are, O LORD; therefore, I obey your instructions.” When I was in college, the night before a test, I would make sure the last thing I did before I went to sleep was review for the test. Supposedly, the brain meditates on what you fed it while you are sleeping. It seemed to work for me. Maybe that’s why the psalmist says he reflects at night on God . . . all night long while he is sleeping his mind meditates on God. When God is in our thoughts, obedience to God is easier. When sinful thoughts are in our minds, obedience to God is more difficult. Let’s try to make our last thoughts before we go to sleep to be about God and his ways.


Psalm 119:71 says: “My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.” Going back to the illustration of the teenager’s curfew, if the parents made the child suffer for not abiding by the decree, there’s a good chance that suffering could result in changed behavior. We can look back and recognize that the suffering was actually good for us; it made us pay attention to the curfew. It’s the same with God’s laws. When we break them, we suffer for breaking them. We don’t like the suffering, so we pay attention to the decrees. The suffering ends up being good for us.



Let us not make the gate to enter the kingdom of God higher or lower than Jesus does. You must be born again to enter God’s kingdom, but you don’t have to have a certain style or mode of operation. Here is Dr. Josh Moody to speak on the topic: https://godcenteredlife.org/broadcast/born-again-part-1/



Verse Completion. . . even as I had mercy on you? Matthew 18:32-33 (NASB)


8/24/20


Good morning, Gospel Spreaders.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/2xTXuc3ilfA


Complete the Verse & Name the BookLet us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday Pastor Michael gave the sermon “The World, the Church, and Us” based on Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 and 3:15:


History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new.


What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.


We live in a world that is experiencing a worldwide pandemic. Words commonly used these days include: unprecedented, fear, loneliness, uncertainty. Our pandemic will go down in history books as did the Black Plague of 1347-1351 that claimed 200 million lives, smallpox disease that claimed 300 million lives in the 20thcentury, the Asiatic flu or Russian flu of 1889-1890 that affected 40% of the world’s population and killed around one million people, the Spanish flu of 1918-1919 that affected one third of the world’s population and killed 50 million people, the tuberculosis plague, and other outbreaks. It will be interesting to see how our pandemic compares to other plagues. 


Masks were first required to be worn in America on October 24, 1918. Schools were closed, amusement parks were closed, and ordinances were passed that prohibited spitting.


As disciples of Christ, we view the world through the eyes of God (see text). World events have happened before. What we are experiencing is not something “new.” God is sovereign over all that happens; God is in control. Psalm 24:1-2 says, “The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths.”This is my Father’s world. Exodus 9:29-30 says:


“All right,” Moses replied. “As soon as I leave the city, I will lift my hands and pray to the LORD. Then the thunder and hail will stop, and you will know that the earth belongs to the LORD. But I know that you and your officials still do not fear the LORD God.”


Job 41:11 has the following words from God:  “Who has given me anything that I need to pay back? Everything under heaven is mine.”


What’s happening now is part of God’s plan; it’s under his sight. The world is not spinning out of control. God is not surprised by anything that happens. He never says, “Wow! I didn’t see that one coming!”


This pandemic has changed the world; it’s not the same. It has changed the church; it’s not the same. Gone are the days of the event oriented church, at least for the short term (3-5 years). Large group gatherings won’t be happening. So what does church look like in the future? We will have to gather in smaller groups. Home Teams are the future of our church. We will gather in people’s houses as small groups—even if it’s just 2 or 3 or 4 people. This is what happened in the early days of the New Testament church. Worship happened in homes.


How we do things is changing, but our mission is still the same: to promote and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation and sanctification of all people.


We are discouraged from meeting as a large group now due to the pandemic so we will meet in small groups in people’s houses. The day may come when we have to meet in houses because of persecution. We would avoid going to a church building in order to escape being arrested. Worship, discipleship, and evangelism would take place in homes. We have a personal responsibility to grow in Christ. 


As we consider getting together with others, we have to be sensitive to the risk tolerance of others. Someone may have a very low risk tolerance—they want to have extremely limited contact with others. On the other hand, another person may have a high risk tolerance—they have little concern over the virus. Most people fall somewhere between these two on the risk tolerance scale. When considering joining or starting a Home Team, one needs to find those who have a similar risk tolerance. 


We must give spiritual growth a high priority in our life. We need to get together with others so we can encourage and pray for one another. It may mean a different arrangement of furniture in our houses. James 1:2-4 says:


Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. 


We have an opportunity to grow in Christ and mature. Verse 12 says:


God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.


Faith gets built during times of trial, hardship, and persecution. We solidify the fact that Jesus is Lord. 


Romans 14:1-4 says:


Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval.


Read this passage in regard to wearing face masks. Those who wear them should not condemn those who do not wear them. Those who do not wear them shouldn’t condemn those who do. Don’t look down on someone because they don’t have the same risk tolerance as you. Verses 7-8 say: “For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Verse 10 says: “So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.” Verse 12 says: “Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.” Verse 19 says: “So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.”


Our mission in life is about Jesus and not us. Our mission in life never changes: to bring as many people to Christ as we possibly can in whatever method it takes. We have a responsibility to live as disciples of Christ and help others to do the same. 


We need Psalm 23 in times like these:


The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.


Is God shepherding you or is the news shepherding you? Is God shepherding you or are you shepherding yourself?


C. S. Lewis wrote the following in 1948 concerning the atomic bomb. As you read it, remove “atomic bomb” and insert “COVID-19”:


In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”


In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.


This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.


— “On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948) in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays


The world needs to know who Jesus is. The world needs to know Jesus loves them, died on a cross for them, and offers them forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. If we don’t tell them, who will? It’s up to you and me. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus. Our mission has not changed but our methods have. The harvest is ripe. People are waiting to hear about Jesus. Jesus is Lord over the world, our church, and ourselves. 


Find out what motivated the enemies of God to support the work of God: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/ezra-6-a-joyful-ending/



Verse Completion. . . we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 (NIV)


8/22/20


Good morning, God Worshipers.


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


Complete the Verse & Name the Book:One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies . . .(completion at the end)




When we open our prayers to God, it’s a good practice to start by exalting him—by declaring who he is. Tied closely to that is praise and thanksgiving. Worshiping in song is a great opener as well (see today’s “Song for the Day”). If you need some help in declaring who God is, Psalm 99 may be beneficial:


The LORD is king! Let the nations tremble! He sits on his throne between the cherubim. Let the whole earth quake! The LORD sits in majesty in Jerusalem, exalted above all the nations. Let them praise your great and awesome name. Your name is holy! Mighty King, lover of justice, you have established fairness. You have acted with justice and righteousness throughout Israel. Exalt the LORD our God! Bow low before his feet, for he is holy!


Moses and Aaron were among his priests; Samuel also called on his name. They cried to the LORD for help, and he answered them. He spoke to Israel from the pillar of cloud, and they followed the laws and decrees he gave them.


O LORD our God, you answered them. You were a forgiving God to them, but you punished them when they went wrong.


Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain in Jerusalem for the LORD our God is holy!


Using words from Psalms 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, and 108, the following could be a way you open in prayer:


Father God, you are King, and I rejoice in that. I am glad because righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Mountains melt like wax before you, God. The heavens proclaim your righteousness. Every god must bow to you. For you, O LORD, are supreme over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods. You protect the lives of your godly people. You rescue them from the power of the wicked.


God, I sing a new song to you for you have done wonderful deeds. Your holy arm has shown your saving power! I break out in praise and sing for joy. Let the sea and everything in it shout your praise! Let the earth and all living things join in. You will judge the world with justice and the nations with fairness.


I exalt you, LORD God. I bow low before your feet, for you are holy! I worship you for you are holy! I worship you with gladness. I come before you, singing with joy. I acknowledge that you, LORD, are God! You made us, and we are yours. I enter your gates with thanksgiving. I go into your courts with praise. I give thanks to you and praise your name. You, LORD, are good. Your unfailing love continues forever, and your faithfulness continues to each generation.


I praise you for your love and justice, LORD. You will sit on your throne forever. Your fame will endure to every generation. The kings of the earth will tremble before your glory.


Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth and made the heavens with your hands. They will perish, but you remain forever; they will wear out like old clothing. You will change them like a garment and discard them. But you are always the same; you will live forever.


Let all that I am praise you, LORD. With my whole heart, I praise your holy name. May I never forget the good things you do for me. You have forgiven all my sins. You have healed all my diseases. You have redeemed me from death and have crowned me with love and tender mercies. You fill my life with good things.


Father God, you are compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You don’t constantly accuse me, nor remain angry forever. You don’t punish me for all my sins; you do not deal harshly with me as I deserve. Your unfailing love toward me who fears you is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. You have removed my sins as far from me as the east is from the west. You are like a father to me—tender and compassionate.


You know how weak I am; you remember I am only dust. My days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, I bloom and die. But your love remains forever with those who fear you. 


LORD, you have made the heavens your throne, and from there you rule over everything. May the armies of angels who serve you and do your will praise you.


O LORD my God, how great you are! You are robed with honor and majesty. You are dressed in a robe of light. You stretched out the starry curtain of the heavens. You placed the world on its foundation so it would never be moved. You clothed the earth with floods of water; water that covered even the mountains. At your command, the water fled; at the sound of your thunder, it hurried away. Mountains rose and valleys sank to the levels you decreed. You are the one who set a firm boundary for the seas, so they would never again cover the earth.


You make springs pour water into the ravines, so streams gush down from the mountains. You send rain on the mountains from your heavenly home, and you fill the earth with the fruit of your labor. You cause grass to grow for the livestock, and plants for us to use.


Your trees are well cared for. There the birds make their nests.


You made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to set. You send the darkness, and it becomes night, when all the forest animals prowl about. 


O LORD, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you made them all. The earth is full of your creatures. Here is the ocean, vast and wide, teeming with life of every kind, both large and small. They all depend on you to give them food as they need it. When you supply it, they gather it. You open your hand to feed them, and they are richly satisfied. But if you turn away from them, they panic. When you take away their breath, they die and turn again to dust. When you give them your breath, life is created, and you renew the face of the earth.


May your glory continue forever! You take pleasure in all you have made! The earth trembles at your glance; the mountains smoke at your touch. I will sing to you as long as I live. I will praise you to my last breath!


LORD, I proclaim your greatness. I want the whole world to know what you have done. I sing your praises. I exult in your holy name. I remember the wonders you have performed—your miracles and the rulings you have given. You always stand by your covenant—the commitment you made to a thousand generations. You brought your people out of Egypt, loaded with silver and gold; and not one among the tribes of Israel even stumbled. You spread a cloud above them as a covering and gave them a great fire to light the darkness. They asked for meat, and you sent them quail; you satisfied their hunger with manna—bread from heaven. You split open a rock, and water gushed out to form a river through the dry wasteland.


I praise you, LORD! I give thanks to you for you are good! Your faithful love endures forever. Who can list all your glorious miracles? Who can ever praise you enough? You provide joy for those who deal justly with others and always do what is right. 


You live from everlasting to everlasting! We speak out because you have redeemed us. You have gathered the exiles from many lands, from east and west, from north and south. 


LORD, you change the rivers into deserts, and springs of water into dry, thirsty land. You turn the fruitful land into salty wastelands, because of the wickedness of those who live there. But you also turn deserts into pools of water, the dry land into springs of water. You bring the hungry to settle there and to build their cities. How you bless your people! You rescue the poor from trouble.


God, I now wake the dawn with my song. I thank you, LORD. I sing your praises. Your unfailing love is higher than the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May your glory sine over all the earth!



Verse Completion. . . edifies the church. 1 Corinthians 14:4 (NASB)


Never Give Up


8/21/20


Good morning, Followers of the Christ.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/6T7n1j03UZA


Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And He said to them, . . . (completion at the end)


After reading Exodus 26, Exodus 27, Exodus 28 and Matthew 21, the following prayer was prayed:


Father God, you had a veil that was four inches thick to serve as a partition separating the holy place from the holy of holies. Horses could not tear the veil apart; it was so strong. But, Jesus, when you died on the cross, that veil was torn in two! You made it possible for us to have access to God the Father through you. We are such fortunate people! May we not take this privilege lightly. Thank you for making yourself available to us. Now we have access to the mercy seat where we may receive mercy for our sins. We deserve to die for our sins, but, Jesus, you died on the cross in our place so we can have life. This is the greatest gift one could ever have! We are eternally indebted to you.


Over 500 years before it happened, Zechariah prophesied and said you (the King of kings and Lord of lords) would be gentle and ride on a donkey. That’s exactly what happened. Your word is true 100% of the time.


Jesus, may we remember to keep your house a house of prayer.


Jesus, you taught us how important faith is by saying, “all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.” Lord, increase our faith.


How we finish the race is more important than how we start it. May we grow in faith and love and finish the race strong.


Jesus, the psalmist wrote over 1,000 years before you were born, “The stone which the builder rejected, this became the chief cornerstone.” Jesus, the Jews rejected you, the promised Messiah. Yet you were the Messiah—God in human form. They missed it. Help us not to miss anything you say. Help us to stay alert.


We ask these things in the name of Jesus, amen.



Do not think that your part in the church of God is insignificant, or that  it matters little whether you are involved each week. Each and every part is essential, just as a foot and an eye are essential to the good working of a body. You can read Dr. Moody's devotional on this topic: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/nehemiah-3-each-part-does-its-work/



Verse Completion. . . “Yes, I am.” Luke 22:70 (NASB)


8/20/2020


Good morning, Prayer Warriors.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/9d4m9f4Saps


Complete the Verse & Name the BookThe Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but . . . (completion at the end)


Pastor Randy Remington gave a sermon titled “The Secret to a Peaceful Life” based on Luke 12:49-52 and 5:15-16:


“I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning!  I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished. Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against—or two in favor and three against.”


But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.


How long is the “Fasten Seatbelt” indicator going to stay on in your life? During turbulent times, we need to look at the examples in the life of Jesus that are found in the Scriptures above.


Jesus often withdrew to pray. Time in prayer and the ability to handle pressure/strife/stress have a definite relationship.


Go to the word of God. When a person doesn’t choose God to be in their life, they are faced with worry and fear.


Philippians 4:6-7 says:


Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.


Go beyond a cry of help to God; find a quiet place.


Through prayer we admit we are not in control. Through prayer we unveil our fears. Through prayer we place our fears in the hands of Jesus and hear him whisper, “I can handle it.” Through prayer we receive God’s peace which precedes a change in our circumstances.



Verse Completion. . . is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 (NASB)


8/19/2020


Good morning


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/S0LZ74fryo0


Complete the Verse & Name the Book:Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the . . .(completion at the end)


When I was a kid, I remember hearing sermons on the topic of hell. Today those sermons are rare. People want to hear what makes them feel good. People want to hear something positive when they come to church. There is plenty in the Bible that is positive. There are many parts that speak of blessings that God pours out on his children. There are many parts that speak to the reward of eternal life that’s coming to God’s children. We need to hear sermons on these positive aspects of life, but we also need to hear sermons on the negative aspects of life. There needs to be balance. That is one thing I appreciate about Pastor Michael; he preaches the whole word of God. Some passages are difficult, but Pastor Michael doesn’t shy away from them. We are truly blessed to have a Bible scholar as our preacher and teacher at NCCU.


Pastor Randy Remington used to be the pastor of Beaverton Foursquare Church in Beaverton, Oregon. Now he is the president of the entire denomination. When he was pastoring, I heard him give a sermon called “Eternity Is at Stake” based on Luke 16:19-31:


Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.


“Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to sit beside Abraham at the heavenly banquet. The rich man also died and was buried, and he went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side.


“The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’


“But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’


“Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in the place of torment.’


“But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’


“The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’


“But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’ “


This is the only record in the Bible of someone experiencing hell.


There are two extremes in dealing with hell—sensationalism and avoidance.


There are questions people have when considering hell:


1. Is hell for real? When one looks at statistics, 78% of the people believe in heaven; 78% think they are going there. 64% believe in hell; only 4% believe they are going there.


13% of Jesus’ teachings deal with hell and judgment. Yes, it’s for real!


2. Is hell eternal? Will there be another chance? Matthew 25:46 records the following words of Jesus: “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”


3. Is hell necessary? Matthew 25:41-45 records the following words of Jesus: “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’


“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’


“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’


a. Hell is necessary for civic virtue.


b. Hell is necessary for final justice. God has the last word.


c. Hell is necessary for the benefit of impenitent sinners.


d. Hell is necessary for the glory of God.


Here are two things to consider:


·      Lazarus is outside our gate. Don’t close your heart to God, and don’t close your heart to others.


o  1 John 3:17 says: If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?


o  1 Timothy 6:17-18 says: Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others.


o  2 Peter 3:9 says: The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.


·      Our own mortality. 


o  Hebrews 9:27-28 says: And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.


o  John 3:36 says: And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.



Verse Completion. . . greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:4 (NASB) See also Mark 10:15.


The Righteous Judgement of God


8/18/20


Good morning, Jesus Worshipers. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/NI_1YliutzA


Complete the Verse & Name the BookTherefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day . . . (completion at the end)


Pastor Randy Remington gave a sermon titled “Jesus for Everyone” based on Luke 19:28-40:


After telling this story, Jesus went on toward Jerusalem, walking ahead of his disciples. As he came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives, he sent two disciples ahead. “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying that colt?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it.’ “


So they went and found the colt, just as Jesus had said. And sure enough, as they were untying it, the owners asked them, “Why are you untying that colt?”


And the disciples simply replied, “The Lord needs it.” So they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it for him to ride on.


As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen.


“Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the LORD! Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!”


But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!”


He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”


This passage demonstrates three truths about Jesus:


1. Jesus is confrontational. He said things that he knew the religious leaders would react to. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!” This clearly indicated he was God. 


John 12:17-19 says: Many in the crowd had seen Jesus call Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead, and they were telling others about it. That was the reason so many went out to meet him—because they had heard about this miraculous sign. Then the Pharisees said to each other, “There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him!”


Jesus gave the Pharisees and the people a choice. In essence he said, “Crown me or crucify me.” There’s no neutral ground with Jesus. We will either worship Jesus or resist him. 


2. Jesus is counterintuitive. He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Zechariah 9:9 says: Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—riding on a donkey’s colt. These words of prophecy were written around 500 years before they were fulfilled.


Jesus demonstrated triumph through weakness. God seems to do the opposite of what we want or think we need.


3. Jesus is coming. He will make things whole. Psalm 118:25-26 says: Please, LORD, please save us. Please, LORD, please give us success. Bless the one who comes in the name of the LORD.


Jesus will bring peace. Ps. 96:12-13 says: Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he is coming! He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with his truth. Isaiah 11:6-9 says: In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all. The cow will graze near the bear. The cub and the calf will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like a cow. The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm. Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the LORD.


See Romans 8.


·      Don’t let a sunset out-praise you.


·      Even if you feel insignificant, the Master can use you.


·      Don’t let anyone discourage you from praising the Lord.


·      You’ll never know peace until you surrender to Jesus.


·      The rejection of Jesus leads to terrible judgment.


·      That which makes Jesus cry should also break our hearts.


Verse Completion. . . has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34 (NASB)


The Fittingness of Christ's Priesthood


8/17/2020


Good morning to everyone looking forward to the return of Christ.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/eI6D3lNzGkw


Complete the Verse & Name the Book: He disciplines us for our good, . . . (completion at the end)


Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church on the campus of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. He is a minister I highly respect, and today’s sermon is based on Dr. Moody’s sermon, “Live with the End in Mind” based on 1 Peter 4:7-11:


The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.


God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen. (NLT)


The backstory of this passage is Peter is writing a letter from Rome. He calls it Babylon because Babylon is the name given to cities that were in rebellion to God. Peter was writing to the scattered believers in Asia Minor. Peter is an apostle of Jesus. Originally he was Simon, but Jesus gave him the name Peter which means rock. Peter was called “The Rock” because of his confession of faith that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah. 


Peter played a prominent role in the founding of the church in Jerusalem, but now his ministry has expanded. He is writing to non-Jewish Christians who are experiencing great persecution and harassment for their faith. He is writing to encourage them to remain faithful to Jesus, the Messiah, in spite of what the Roman Empire is doing to them.


They are feeling alienated, like no one cares, and no one notices them. They are a long way from Jerusalem, and they are feeling like they are nothing in God’s plan. Peter reminds them that they are God’s chosen people just as Abraham was God’s chosen. Peter tells them they are to prepare their minds for action. The words he uses are “gird up the loins of your mind.” In ancient times they wore long cloaks. If they were to do physical work, they would have to “gird up their loins” so they could work. This phrase can be found in Exodus 12:11 in regard to eating when the Passover was first instituted:


‘Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the LORD’S Passover. (NASB)


Peter also tells them they are living stones. They are the Temple. They are the living stones that make up the Temple. Peter also tells them they are a kingdom of priests that declare God’s praises. What Peter is doing is underlining their identityin Christ as God’s chosen people. Peter doesn’t stop with their identity in Christ, he also points out their destiny. He reminds them where they are going. He is reminding them to live with the end in mind. Peter is telling them, “You may be experiencing harassment; you may be experiencing persecution and difficulty, but I want you to be the kind of people, like Jesus, who love even your enemies. That’s how you are going to win the victory. A final vindication is coming when Jesus returns.”


The idea of the return of Jesus is very much under-preached in contemporary churches, and yet it is a central doctrine of the church. We might feel like the culture is turning against us. We might experience harassment when we say that Jesus is the only way to God, or when we stand up for certain moral standards. We need to remember that there will be a final vindication when Jesus returns. We need to live with that kind of purpose. 


The end of time is not emphasized much these days.  We can go online and listen to artists who have long since passed, but it seems like they are still alive. The idea of an end with the clock ticking is difficult for us to grasp, and yet it’s true; we need to live with the end in mind


How do we do that? Peter gives us four ways we are to live with the end in mind:


1. Be disciplined. Verse 7 says: Be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. As an athlete who runs a race, there is an end. In order to make it to the end, one has to be fit, healthy, and disciplined. Peter says to “be earnest and disciplined in your prayers.” Why does he say “in your prayers”? Because we have to be earnest and disciplined with what we say with our lips in prayer, but we also have to be earnest and disciplined with how we live our lives. How we live our lives is a kind of prayer to God. If we ask God in the morning to make us holy, but we live the rest of the day as if we had no desire at all to be holy, we shouldn’t be surprised when God doesn’t hear our prayers. If we want our prayers to be answered, we need to live disciplined lives for the sake of our prayers. Our whole lives need to be in tune to God. We pray for God to send revival, but do we live like we really want it? We pray for God to win the nations for Christ, but do we live like we really want it? We need to live disciplined lives. 


In the Gospels, we find the story of the man healed of many demons. Luke 8:35 says: And the people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting down at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they became frightened (NASB). As Christians, we need to be in our right mind: seeing clearly, thinking clearly.


Peter tells us to be sober minded. We are not to participate in things that could confuse us: alcohol, drugs, the constant streaming of Facebook or Instagram where we become intoxicated by it. We have to be disciplined. We have to turn it off sometimes in order to be sober and see clearly and think clearly so we can live rightly. 


We live with the end in mind, so we live disciplined lives. One way to live a disciplined life is to get the calendar out, get a set of goals for the week, organize your calendar by those goals, and look at your calendar the night before so you can schedule your life by those goals.


2. Love each other. Verse 8 says: Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Loving others is even more important than being disciplined. If a church is not disciplined, there is chaos. If a church is disciplined but not loving, there’s coldness. We need to be disciplined, but we also need to be loving. The love of Jesus covers over our sins. We are to use our love to cover over the sins of other people. One way to tell that someone is disciplined but they are struggling with love is they find it difficult to forgive others. Love covers over a multitude of sins; love covers over how someone has offended you. Love may not mean that you can trust the person completely, but you can let your love cover over their sins.


Churches need discipline; they need protocol, policy, procedure and the like so we can be sober minded and self-controlled, but more important than these things, we need love. Conservative Christians tend to emphasize discipline; liberal Christians tend to emphasize love. Biblical Christians need to be disciplined but, above all, loving.


Sometimes we are tempted to say, “I would love that person if they would repent in a way that I have defined that demonstrates they have repented sufficiently.” Just let your love cover over a multitude of sins. Simply love each other. Husbands and wives, forgive each other as Christ has forgiven you. Children, forgive your imperfect parents. Parents, let your love cover a multitude of sins committed by your children. Love each other. Christ is returning. The end is coming, and we need to live with the end in mind.


3. Show hospitality without grumbling. Verse 9 says: Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. My last two years of high school were spent at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines. My dad pastored a church not far from the military base. After church on Sundays, my mother would always invite the single men to our house to join us for lunch. They often were just a few years older than myself, and I enjoyed them staying for lunch. We always had fun visiting during the meal and after the meal. I know my mom had a soft spot in her heart for these young men who were so far away from home. My mom was happy to open up our home to these men. She certainly didn’t do it begrudgingly! There wasn’t even a hint of grumbling in her. It brought her great joy to see these young men enjoying a home cooked meal and being included as part of our family. I think this is an example of what Peter is talking about here.


The word hospitality literally means “love of strangers.” We aren’t to love only each other, but we are to love outsiders. This is a key mark of a Christian leader—to love those who are not yet part of the community. It’s a key way to live with the end in mind. This is how Jesus lived; he loved those who were outside the church. Jesus loved sinners. He loved strangers. He loved those who were different. 


If a church is not disciplined, it will be chaotic. If it is disciplined but not loving, it will be cold. If a church is disciplined, but the people only love each other, the church will be like a club—a religious golf club. The attitude is “Our church is for us.” This is the wrong idea of church; it’s not for us. Archbishop William Temple put it this way: “Church is the one organization that exists for the benefit of its non-members.” 


A lot of people get confused by this love for the outsider; they think it’s about being seeker sensitive where one attempts to define how worship is done by what meets the preferences of non-Christians. What non-Christians want might be determined by a survey. Sometimes they want better coffee—great! Sometimes they want better parking—great! Sometimes they want less of the Bible—I’m not for that! Sometimes they want the songs to have less Bible doctrine—I’m not for that! 


Some have gone too far the other way and said, “Church is not for the preference of non-Christians; it’s for the preference of Christians.” That’s not right either. One is a consumer market for Christians, and the other is a consumer market for non-Christians. Neither one is right. Our worship, our church, our ministries are for God. It is for him that we meet. We meet for his honor and glory. We meet for his preference. We meet for an audience of one. The way we do church is defined by God in his word. That’s why we read the Bible. That’s why we pray. That’s why we aim to be hospitable—to love strangers. We’re a church; we’re not a club.


To live with the end in mind, we are to be disciplined, to love each other, and show hospitality without grumbling. There’s something else we need to do.


4.  Use your gift. Verses 10-11 say: God has given each of you a gift from the great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen. 


Church is not like a bus with the pastoral staff at the front driving while everyone else is sitting in the back either applauding because they like the way things are being done or grumbling because they don’t like the way things are being done. That’s not church. Church is a body where everyone has a gift, and everyone is to use their gift. 


If you are a Christian, you have a gift that is from Christ himself. He wants you to use it for the benefit of the church. When we speak, our words need to be as if they are the words of God. There shouldn’t be just persuasion; there should be power. That doesn’t necessarily mean increased volume from the preacher but the power of Christ. There should also be a sense of wonder. When we gather together, whether it’s in a building or over the Internet, we need to feel as though God spoke to us. 


The first category of gifts is speaking and the second is serving. We don’t serve out of our own strength. Often times gifted people are tempted to serve out of their own strength—manipulating, dictating, and controlling others. Peter is saying to not be like that; instead, serve with God’s strength. 


If you don’t know what your gift is, here’s what you can do:


1.   Ask. Find three people you know and trust and ask them what they would say about how you are gifted. 


2.   Exercise. Take any opportunity you have to exercise your gift.


3.   Improve. Evaluate what went well and what didn’t go so well. Turn your critics into your coaches. 


Keep repeating the process.


Take a look at the different ministries here at NCCU, and see what might be the best fit for you. If you feel like the ministry you are interested in is already full and doesn’t need you, you might want to rethink that conclusion. Most likely, people in that ministry would love to have an assistant. We all need a break from time to time. Who is going to fill in while a person is gone on vacation or is sick? That’s where you come in. It’s not like you have to sign on a dotted line anywhere that says you will serve in a certain position until the day you die! Some people like being assistants and like staying assistants. That’s fine. Others like being assistants until they gain confidence to be a leader of a ministry. There’s a place for everyone!


Ministries haven’t stopped because of the pandemic. They might look different, but they are still there. Sometimes we have to get creative with how we can best serve the Lord in a time of crisis. 


It takes all of us using our gifts. If a church is not disciplined, it’s chaotic. If a church is disciplined but not loving, it’s cold. If a church is disciplined but only loves insiders, it’s like a club. If a church is disciplined and loves each other and loves outsiders but not everyone uses their gifts, then what happens? People burn out; the 20% who do 80% of the work burn out. When people don’t use their gifts, the church doesn’t flourish. It takes us all. 


In the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, there was a marathon runner from the country of Tanzania named John Stephen Akhwari. During the race he fell and dislocated his knee. He received medical attention and continued the race. More than an hour behind the winner of the race, Akhwari finally entered the stadium and crossed the finish line. When asked why he continued in the race when he knew he couldn’t win, Akhwari answered, “My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race.” Akhwari was living with the end in mind.


Maybe you feel trampled over. Maybe you feel like you have a dislocated knee. Maybe you feel like you can’t go on. Live with the end in mind. Jesus is returning. You’re living for him. You’re living for his glory. 


Reminders


·      Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu above.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


·       You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


Verse Completion: . . . that we may share His holiness. Hebrews 12:10b (NASB)


8/15/2020


Good morning, Friends.


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


Complete the Verse & Name the BookBut flee from these things, you man of God; and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, . . . (completion at the end)


Have you ever been so distressed you couldn’t even pray? I know I have been there, and perhaps you have been there as well. What do we do when we are in that terrible state of mind? God’s word tells us what to do—remember. We are to remember how God has worked in the past. We are to remember how he has been there for us in the past. Psalm 77 says:


I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help.


You don’t let me sleep. I am too distressed even to pray! I think of the good old days, long since ended, when my nights were filled with joyful songs. I search my soul and ponder the difference now. Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he slammed the door on his compassion?


And I said, “This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me.” But then I recall all you have done, O LORD; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. O God, your ways are holy. Is there any god as mighty as you? You are the God of great wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations. By your strong arm, you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. 


When the Red Sea saw you, O God, its waters looked and trembled! The sea quaked to its very depths. The clouds poured down rain; the thunder rumbled in the sky. Your arrows of lightning flashed. Your thunder roared from the whirlwind; the lightning lit up the world! The earth trembled and shook. Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters—a pathway no one knew was there! You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep, with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds. 


The next chapter reminds us of the next step. After we remember God’s wonderful deeds of long ago, we tell others of them. Psalm 78:4-8 says:


We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders. For he issued his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them—even the children not yet born—and they in turn will teach their own children. So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands. Then they will not be like their ancestors—stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God.


It’s also encouraging to know that when we are so distressed we can’t even pray, we have the Holy Spirit who prays for us. Romans 8:26-28 says:


And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.


The “Song for the Day” today is “We Will Remember” by Tommy Walker. Here are the lyrics to this song:


We will remember, we will remember

We will remember the works of Your hands

We will stop and give you praise

For great is Thy faithfulness


We will remember, we will remember

We will remember the works of Your hands

We will stop and give you praise

For great is Thy faithfulness


You're our creator, our life sustainer

Deliverer, our comfort, our joy

Throughout the ages You've been our shelter

Our peace in the midst of the storm


With signs and wonders You've shown Your power

With precious blood You showed us Your grace

You've been our helper, our liberator

The giver of life with no end


We will remember, we will remember

We will remember the works of Your hands

We will stop and give you praise

For great is Thy faithfulness


When we walk through life's darkest valleys

We will look back at all You have done

And we will shout, our God is good

And He is the faithful One


Hallelujah, hallelujah

To the one from whom all blessings flow

Hallelujah, hallelujah

To the one whose glory has been shown


We will remember, we will remember

We will remember the works of Your hands

We will stop and give you praise

For great is Thy faithfulness


I still remember the day You saved me

The day I heard You call out my name

You said You loved me and would never leave me

And I've never been the same


We will remember, we will remember

We will remember the works of Your hands

We will stop and give you praise

For great is Thy faithfulness


We will remember, we will remember

We will remember the works of Your hands

We will stop and give you praise

For great is Thy faithfulness


CCLI Song # 4556277

Tommy Walker

© 2005 Universal Music - Brentwood Benson Songs (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)

CCLI License # 2796866


Reminders


·      Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu above.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


·       You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area




Verse Completion. . . perseverance and gentleness. 1 Timothy 6:11 (NASB)


Levi's Inadequate Priesthood


8/14/2020


Good morning, People of Integrity.


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


Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd my God will meet all your needs . . . (completion at the end)


After reading Exodus 23, 24, 25 and Matthew 20:17-34, the following prayer was prayed:


Father in Heaven, we want to be people of integrity, so guard us from bearing a false report. Help us not to follow the crowd when the crowd is doing evil. May we not be partial to a poor man in his dispute but do what is just and right with everyone.


May we do good deeds when we have the opportunity regardless of whether the person is a friend or enemy.  May we do what’s right even when no one else is around. If we see an enemy’s dog loose and in danger, may we take action to return it to the owner safely.


May we have no part in bribes as bribes pervert justice.


May we promote working six days and resting on the seventh.


May we give you the first fruits of our labor.


As we serve you, God, we ask that you remove sickness from our midst.


May we be a people who are obedient to all the words you have spoken to us.


Father God, we look forward to the day when we can see your glory as Moses and the Israelites saw it on Mt. Sinai. 


The tabernacle you had built contained a mercy seat at the top of the ark. This was the place where sins were covered. Jesus, thank you for being our mercy seat. It’s you we turn to to have our sins covered by your blood. You are our only hope for salvation.


Jesus, you taught us to be servants that serve others. Your life exemplified this even to the point of death when you gave your life as a ransom for many.


In the name of Jesus we pray these things. Amen.


Reminders


·      Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu above.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


·       You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


Verse Completion. . . according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (NIV)


Christ and Melchizedek


8/13/2020


Good morning to everyone who uses God’s word as a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/8C3WQ1G1Uso


Complete the Verse & Name the Book“But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; and . . . (completion at the end)


I have a book called Daily Light on the Daily Path. It is strictly Scripture verses that have been selected and assembled for two readings each day of the year—one for the morning and one for the evening. Here is part of what is written on the back cover of the book:


It was compiled by the descendants of the London bookseller, Samuel Bagster. Bagster’s grandson, Robert, who died in 1924, wrote of the origins of this book, “Daily Light on the Daily Path was prepared entirely within the family. Few are able to appreciate the heartsearching care with which every text was selected, the days, nay the weeks of changes, alterations and improvements, until at last each page was passed to the printer.” 


So many times what I read for the day is exactly what I needed to hear as God spoke to my heart. See if God doesn’t speak to you through his word today. Here are the selections for August 13:


Morning: He has prepared a city for them.


“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”—An inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you.—Here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. 


“This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”—Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the fall and spring rains.—For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay.” 


We who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.


References: Hebrews 11:16; John 14:3; 1 Peter 1:4; Hebrews 13:14; Acts 1:11; James 5:7-8; Hebrews 10:37; 1 Thessalonians. 4:17-18.


Evening: He chose the lowly things of this world.


Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.


You were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.


He saved us . . . because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.


“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.


References: 1 Corinthians 1:28; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 2:1-3; Titus 3:5-6; Isaiah 55:8


I would encourage you to look back at yesterday’s devotional and choose a topic to listen to as Timothy Keller speaks. There are many topics on the list Arline provided yesterday.


Reminders


·      Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu above.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


·       You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


Verse Completion. . . anything beyond these is of evil.” Matthew 5:37 (NASB)


8/12/2020


Good morning, Follower of Jesus.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/C_Z-tKOfGfM


Complete the Verse & Name the BookFor the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,” and “The laborer is worthy . . . (completion at the end)


After reading Exodus 19-22 and Matthew 20:1-16, the following prayer was prayed:


Dear Heavenly Father, you told the Israelites if they would obey your voice and keep your covenant, then they would be your own possession and would be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. We want to hear your voice, Holy Spirit, obey your words, and keep your commandments. You gave us ten commandments through Moses to get us started:


1.   To have no other gods before you


2.   To not have any idols


3.   To not take your name in vain


4.   To remember the sabbath day and to keep it holy


5.   To honor our father and mother


6.   To not murder


7.   To not commit adultery


8.   To not steal


9.   To not bear false witness against a neighbor


10.  To not covet anything that belongs to a neighbor


Thank you for setting up laws that were fair. Help our country to make laws that align with your laws. You are a just God, and we desire to do your will. 


If we have treated a neighbor unfairly, help us to make restitution to them. For example, the restitution for stealing an ox was to pay back five. Help us to make wrongs right with your help.


May we be gracious and lenient to the poor and not charge them interest for money that has been lent to them.


Jesus, you showed us how the world’s system of operation and your system of operation are very different from each other. The world’s system states that the one who works the hardest, earns the most money, and gets farthest ahead is successful. Your system teaches us to not worry about money; you will supply our needs and reward us financially how you see fit. Some who earn the most money now will come in last place in your kingdom. Some who have nothing financially now will come in first place in your kingdom. Jesus, keep our eyes on you and off money. In Jesus’ name. Amen


 Arline has taken the time to list many talks/sermons of Dr. Timothy Keller. This represents many hours of work! Dr. Keller is such an inspirational speaker! I would encourage you to pick one of the topics and see what he has to say about it even if it’s just for a few minutes (see link below). 


Reminders


·      Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @  

https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu above.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


·       You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area



Verse Completion. . . of his wages.” 1 Timothy 5:18 (NASB)


Tim Keller Sermons


8/11/2020


Good morning, Heaven Bound.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/fC6jl9WFIOA


Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, . . . (completion at the end)


Oscar Wilde wrote the story The Happy Prince in which a prince lived in a palace where there were many parties, an abundance of good food, and everything available for a him to enjoy life of pleasure. The prince knew nothing of sorrow for sorrow was not allowed to enter the palace. When he died, a grand statue of him was constructed and placed in a position overlooking the city.


One day a swallow sought shelter on the statue. The bird noticed a raindrop fell on it. He was about to fly off to a drier place when he noticed the raindrop was actually a tear from the statue of the prince. The swallow and the prince began to talk, and the prince told the bird that when he was alive, his whole life was centered inside the walls that surrounded the palace he lived in. He had no idea of what lay beyond the walls. Now that he was elevated, he could look over the city and see things like a poor seamstress working late into the night embroidering flowers on a satin gown to be worn by the Queen’s maids-of-honor at the next ball while her little boy was in bed in a corner of the room with a fever asking for oranges. All she had to give him was river water. The prince asked the swallow to pluck the ruby out of his sword-hilt and fly to the mother and deliver the ruby. 


After completing the task, the swallow wanted to fly South for the winter, but the prince kept seeing more hurting people like the man in an attic room who was trying to finish a play for the Director of Theater, but the man’s hands were so cold he couldn’t write, and hunger had made him feel faint. The prince asked the swallow to pluck one of his eyes out that were made with rare sapphires and take it to the man.


This continues for many days. The prince has the swallow tear off leaf by leaf the gold that is covering the prince. The swallow gives the gold leaves to the needy. Finally, the prince tells the swallow it must leave and fly South for the winter, but it is too late. Winter has set in and the swallow dies from the cold. 


In the spring, the mayor notices how shabby the statue of the prince looks. He orders the statue pulled down after the art professor at the university said, “As the statue of the Happy Prince is no longer beautiful, he is no longer useful.”


The mayor had the statue melted in a furnace and remade into a statue of himself. While the workers were busy in the foundry, they noticed a broken lead heart that wouldn’t melt in the furnace. They pulled it out and threw it on a dust-heap where the swallow was lying. 


The story ends with God saying to his angels, “Bring me the two most precious things in the city.” The angels bring him the leaden heart and the dead bird. God says, “You have rightly chosen for in my garden of paradise, this little bird shall sing for evermore, and in my city of gold, the Happy Prince shall praise me.”


Oscar Wilde knew how to write a good story. This story has a great plot and tugs at one’s heartstrings. However, it’s not true to life; a person can’t do good for others after they have died (see the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus found in Luke 16:19-31).


Sometimes in this life it seems like there are those who prosper well while they live lives far away from God. On the other hand, it seems like there are those who live lives close to God and suffer many hardships. Psalm 73 says:


Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hears are pure. But for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness. They seem to live such painless lives; their bodies are so healthy and strong. They don’t have troubles like other people; they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else. They wear pride like a jeweled necklace and clothe themselves with cruelty. These fat cats have everything their hearts could ever wish for! They scoff and speak only evil; in their pride they seek to crush others. They boast against the very heavens, and their words strut throughout the earth. And so the people are dismayed and confused, drinking in all their words. “What does God know?” they ask. “Does the Most High even know what’s happening?” Look at these wicked people—enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply. Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason? I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain.


If I had really spoken this way to others, I would have been a traitor to your people. So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is! Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked. Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction. In an instant they are destroyed, completely swept away by terrors. When you arise, O Lord, you will laugh at their silly ideas as a person laughs at dreams in the morning.


Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant—I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.


Those who desert him will perish, for you destroy those who abandon you. But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.


The entire chapter of Romans 5 tells us why it is so worth it to follow Jesus. Those who seem to have it so good in this life but have nothing to do with God, will not inherit eternal life. Nothing in this life compares with eternal life with Jesus! The first five verses of this chapter along with the last verse say:


Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.


We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.


So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Reminders


·      Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu above.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


·       You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


Verse Completion. . . be patient with everyone. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (NIV)


8/10/2020


Good morning, Family of God.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/dy9nwe9_xzw


Complete the Verse & Name the BookThey exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served . . . (completion at the end)


On Sunday, Scott Frisbie gave the sermon “God’s Big Block Party” based on Acts 10 to 11:18. Cornelius was a Gentile and a God-fearing man. Since he wasn’t a Jew, he wasn’t allowed to worship in the Temple. So often when we find God doing something in our lives, we find He is doing something in someone else’s life at the same time.


How thankful for we are that God is patient with us. When He tries to teach us things, so often we don’t catch on. Sometimes it takes several tries. Peter was like that, too. Perhaps Peter could be called “The Patron Saint of the Thick of Skull.” God knows our limitations, and He knows how difficult it can be to get things into our heads.


God is at work in Peter’s life. God is transforming the way Peter thinks. From the beginning, God had a plan to bring everyone into the family of God. God told Abram, “I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”(Genesis 12:2-3)


God’s ideas are always so much greater than our ideas. God poured out his Spirit on the Gentiles just as He had the Jews. In 11:17 we find Peter saying, “And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?” God’s gifts are for everyone. He wants to pour out His love on everyone. We are so thankful and gracious to God when He pours out His grace and mercy on us. Are we just as thankful and gracious to God when He pours out His love on someone else, or are we judgmental and feel others might not be as deserving as us? We understand why God would want us in His kingdom, but we can’t understand why God would want some others in His kingdom. We feel they are less deserving. 


There’s nothing we can do to earn God’s love. There’s nothing we can do to earn God’s grace. There’s nothing we can do to earn God’s mercy. God doesn’t love us more because we go to church. God doesn’t love us less because we don’t go to church. God simply loves us, and there’s nothing we can do to make God love us more than He already does. 


When God says, “I want to show my love to that guy over there that you don’t think deserves my love,” we should ask ourselves, “Who am I to stand in God’s way?” Arguing with God does not end well. Instead of arguing with God, we need to ask God to open our eyes. 


The Jews in the early church said, “We have Jesus. We have the Messiah. We have salvation. We don’t want to share this with the Gentiles.” However, Jesus said, “No, this block party is going to be much bigger than you could ever imagine. All the Gentiles are invited!”


Sometimes a church can act like a club—an exclusive club where only certain people are allowed in. We feel comfortable when it’s just us special people who come to the gatherings. We like keeping our “club” to ourselves. However, God reminds us to think big—expand out of our comfort zone. John 3:16 says: “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” Everyone includes that person we don’t like. 


Don’t argue with God. Don’t stand in God’s way. Let God do what He does best: bringing the lost to Him and showing His love and grace to them. 



Max Lucado talks for about four minutes on coronavirus anxiety and fear: https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/simple-trick-ease-anxiety-max-lucado


Reminders




·      Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu above.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


·       You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


Verse Completion. . . created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Romans 1:25 (NIV)


8/8/2020


Good morning, Prayer Warriors. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/bIP1PusCcQY


Complete the Verse & Name the BookFinally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, . . . (completion at the end)


 On August 2, Dr. Josh Moody gave the sermon “God, Why Don’t You Do Anything About Justice?” based on Habakkuk 1:1-11:


This is the message that the prophet Habakkuk received in a vision. How long, O LORD, must I call for help? But you do not listen! “Violence is everywhere!” I cry, but you do not come to save. Must I forever see these evil deeds? Why must I watch all this misery? Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight. The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts. The wicked far outnumber the righteous so that justice has become perverted.


The LORD replied, “Look around at the nations: look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it. I am raising up the Babylonians, a cruel and violent people. They will march across the world and conquer other lands. They are notorious for their cruelty and do whatever they like. Their horses are swifter than cheetahs and fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their charioteers charge from far away. Like eagles, they swoop down to devour their prey.


“On they come, all bent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind, sweeping captives ahead of them like sand. They scoff at kings and princes and scorn all their fortresses. They simply pile ramps of earth against their walls and capture them! They sweep past like the wind and are gone. But they are deeply guilty, for their own strength is their god.”


God gave the prophet, Habakkuk, a burden—a weighty message in the form of a vision. Habakkuk had a couple of questions for God that were the necessary birth pains for renewed faith. The first question he had was, “How long, O LORD, must I call for help?” It’s not uncommon for us to say the same thing for we feel that God’s answers to our prayers are a very long time in coming. 


The Syrians were famous for their violence—their brutality. We live in a violent age. We don’t have to look far to see people treating one another with disdain and disgust. There’s violence in our words as people commit verbal murder every day on Twitter and social media.


Habakkuk sees the evil deeds—the destruction and violence. Others don’t because they are like the proverbial frog in the pot of water that is slowly heating up. Fighting and arguing have become the norm. It’s been going on outside the church but also inside the church. 


In verse four we see the law has become paralyzed. The law was the Torah. It was the inspired word of God. The law has become numb; there’s no life to it. The seeds of God’s word are falling on thorny, rocky soil. The devil is snatching away the seeds. Tradition is voiding the word of God. Habakkuk is saying God’s people are not paying any attention to the Bible; they don’t have listening ears, soft hearts, and open minds. Bible teaching is going on, but people are not listening.


If you look up justice in a British dictionary, you find it means equality or fairness. In an American dictionary, justice has to do with what is right according to the law. How does the Bible define justiceJustice in the Old Testament is used with judgment. Justice is defined by what God says is right and wrong. If God’s word is paralyzed, justice will not go forth; justice will not have any impact. There are injustices everywhere in our society today because we have turned a deaf ear to God’s word. 


The wicked surround the righteous; the righteous are outnumbered. Justice doesn’t get far before it is perverted and twisted: wrong becomes right and right becomes wrong. It’s like Habakkuk is writing about our contemporary society. 


God’s answer to Habakkuk’s question begins in verse five. God is going to do things that will blow their minds. God is God of the nations. He raises some nations up and puts others down. The Babylonians have their own system of justice, but God is going to use them to bring about his own, true justice. They are a strong, confident, and violent nation. They worship military power, but God is going to use them for his purposes. They will be God’s tool he uses to bring about true justice. 


God’s justice is real. He’s working out his justice now, and his justice will be worked out perfectly forever. 


There was an extremely wealthy man in New York who lived in an exclusive neighborhood with a seven car garage. When he retired, he moved to Florida. His health deteriorated, and his wife had to take care of him. A daughter traveled down to see her parents and asked her mother if she could have some money to tie her over. The mother responded with, “It’s MY money!” It’s said that sin is its own reward. One way or another sin will kill you. 


Jeffrey Epstein was probably one of the most evil people of our age. He died in prison under mysterious circumstances. Some people feel like he got away with all the evil he did; he never had to face justice. Don’t believe a word of it. The moment he died and left his prison cell, he stood before a holy God and Jeffrey Epstein faced justice. 


Jesus taught the truth with such authority that people were amazed. Opposition, jealousy, and anger grew up against him. God raised up another evil empire, the Romans, and used them to crucify the Son of God so there would be justice. God raised Jesus from the dead three days later so that IF people would turn to him, repent, and believe, they wouldn’t receive justice but mercy, forgiveness, and amazing love.  


Reminders

·      Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu above.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


·       You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


Verse Completion. . . whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 (NIV)


The Fruit of Assurance


8/7/2020


Good morning, Disciples of Christ.


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


Complete the Verse & Name the Bookknowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should . . . (completion at the end)


Have you been camping this year? We recently returned from a four-night tent camping trip to Olallie Lake on Mt. Hood in Oregon. I used to like to camp for the adventure, collecting wood, building a campfire, , telling stories around the fire, day hikes, swimming, a change in diet, etc. Now that I’m older, I find the value of camping to be the appreciation one gains of what one has at home. Oh, sure, there is great value in the beautiful scenery and the rest, but tent camping teaches one to appreciate the luxuries of home.


While camping we were inundated with annoying bugs; the primary pests were mosquitos. At home, there are virtually no bugs in the house. While camping, there was dust and dirt everywhere, and there was nothing that could be done to stop it; it covered everything. At home, the dirt problem is minimal, and it’s easy to deal with if something becomes dirty. While camping, we chased the shade to keep from becoming uncomfortably hot and to keep from getting sunburned. Finding shade in the tent was not an option as it was far too hot in the tent during the day. At home, the perfect temperature is constantly available, and finding shade is never an issue. While camping, it was difficult to sleep in comfort; it was too hot in the sleeping bag and too cold out of it. The air mattress was easily moved out from under the sleeping bag. 


At home, we live in peace and quiet; our neighbors are never an issue. While camping, we couldn’t help but hear our drunken neighbors carry on until past midnight. Using the restroom at home is so easy. Using the restroom while camping is a unforgettable experience when there is no running water. When I’m thirsty at home, I go to the refrigerator and an inexhaustible supply of pure drinking water is available. When camping in a remote area, like we did, there is no drinking water available. One has to ration the water brought to camp to insure there is enough for everyone for the entire length of stay.


While camping this trip, there was thunder, lightning, and rain one afternoon. It became extremely muggy. The tent or the outdoors did not seem like a safe place. Inside our car seemed like the safest place to be, so we spent hours just sitting inside our car. After the storm had passed, we had to deal with all the places the water entered where water is not supposed to enter. Have you ever tried sleeping with a wet pillow . . . and I’m not talking about a small amount of drool?


Does it sound like I’m never going to go camping again? I hope not, because we have another camping trip scheduled for next month. I still don’t appreciate all I have as much as I should. I need another reminder, because I take a lot for granted.


Sometimes we take God for granted. We don’t think about the rising and setting of the sun, his creation that he has balanced perfectly, the grace that has been extended to us, the price Jesus paid for our sins, the promise of everlasting life, etc. Sometimes, we need to step back from all that is going on around us, and remember who God is. We need to join David in saying:


O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. You satisfy me  more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy.


I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely (Psalm 63:1-8).


What mighty praise, O God, belongs to you in Zion. We will fulfill our vows to you, for you answer our prayers. All of us must come to you. Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, you forgive them. What joy for those you choose to bring near, those who live in your holy courts. What festivities await us inside your holy Temple.


You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas. You formed the mountains by your power and armed yourself with mighty strength. You quieted the raging oceans with their pounding waves and silenced the shouting of the nations. Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy.


You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture, and the hillsides blossom with joy. The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep, and the valleys are carpeted with grain. They all shout and sing for joy (Psalm 65)!


Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth! Sing about the glory of his name! Tell the world how glorious he is. Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! Your enemies cringe before your mighty power. Everything on earth will worship you; they will sing your praises, shouting your name in glorious songs.”


Come and see what our God has done, what awesome miracles he performs for people! He made a dry path through the Red Sea, and his people went across on foot. There we rejoiced in him. For by his great power he rules forever. He watches every movement of the nations; let no rebel rise in defiance.


Let the whole world bless our God and loudly sing his praises. Our lives are in his hands, and he keeps our feet from stumbling. You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver. You captured us in your net and laid the burden of slavery on our backs. Then you put a leader over us. We went through fire and flood, but you brought us to a place of great abundance.


Now I come to your Temple with burnt offerings to fulfill the vows I made to you—yes, the sacred vows that I made when I was in deep trouble. That is why I am sacrificing burnt offerings to you—the best of my rams as a pleasing aroma, and a sacrifice of bulls and male goats.


Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me. For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke. If I had not confessed my sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me (Psalm 66).


A once or twice a year camping trip might be enough to remind ourselves of how much we have been blessed with and to restore an appreciation of what we get to enjoy on a daily basis. On the other hand, a once or twice a year evaluation of what we have in God is not adequate. We need to daily thank God for all we get to enjoy in him. We daily need to thank him for salvation. We daily need to thank him for his creation. We daily need to thank him for the people he has put in our lives. We daily need to thank God for sending his Son, Jesus, and giving us the Holy Spirit.


Reminders


·      Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu above.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


·       You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


Verse Completion. . . no longer be slaves to sin; Romans 6:6 (NASB)


Hope for the Hebrews


8/6/2020


Good morning, People of Faith.


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


Complete the Verse & Name the Book: I can do all things through . . . (completion at the end)


Pastor Michael has been talking to us about faith. Salvation is by faith alone. Salvation does not come about because of our great works. Paul writes about faith in Romans 1:16-17:


For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”


In 3:21-4:25, Paul continues to write about faith:


But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.

After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn’t he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course he is. There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.

Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God? If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”

When people work, their wages are not a gift but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners. David also spoke of this when he described the happiness of those who are declared righteous without working for it:

“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of sin.”

Now, is this blessing only for the Jews, or is it also for uncircumcised Gentiles? Well, we have been saying that Abraham was counted as righteous by God because of his faith. But how did this happen? Was he counted as righteous only after he was circumcised, or was it before he was circumcised? Clearly, God accepted Abraham before he was circumcised!

Circumcision was a sign that Abraham already had faith and that God had already accepted him and declared him to be righteous—even before he was circumcised. So Abraham is the spiritual father of those who have faith but have not been circumcised. They are counted as righteous because of their faith. And Abraham is also the spiritual father of those who have been circumcised, but only if they have the same kind of faith Abraham had before he was circumcised.

Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless. For the law always brings punishment on those who try to obey it. (The only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break!)

So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.

Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb.

Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God. (NLT)


Joseph exercised faith when he requested Israel’s sons to take his bones back to Canaan when God redeemed his people from Egypt (see Genesis 50:24-26). 

Our faith in Jesus brings us salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 says:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. (NASB)


Let’s thank God for his grace and the faith he has given us.



Reminders

·      Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 

·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu above.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


·       You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


Verse Completion: . . . Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NASB)


The Threat of Apostasy


8/5/2020


Good morning, Sinners Saved by Grace.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/b0UaWZq76Ck


Complete the Verse & Name the Book: For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and . . . (completion at the end)


Wouldn’t it be great if we never sinned after becoming Christians? The fact is we all do. We all fall short of the glory of God. None of us are perfect. Does that mean we take the attitude that says, “I’m going to go ahead and sin since everyone does”? Not at all! We call on the Holy Spirit to help us live lives that bring glory to God. We have the attitude that says, “Sin is a disgrace (Proverbs 14:34). Sin cuts us off from God (Isaiah 59:2). I’m going to do all I can to prevent sin from entering my life.”  Romans 6:1-2, 11-14 says:


Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?

So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.

Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.


1 John 2:1-6 says:


My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.

And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.


Sin leaves us stained. We know we are guilty of doing wrong. What do we do? Do we run away from God because we know we have sinned against him? Not at all! We run to God in genuine repentance. 

Lauren Daigle sings of this experience in the song “How Can it Be?” which is the “Song for the Day” with the link above. Here are the lyrics to her song:


I am guilty

Ashamed of what I've done, what I've become

These hands are dirty

I dare not lift them up to the Holy one


You plead my cause

You right my wrongs

You break my chains

You overcome

You gave Your life

To give me mine

You say that I am free

How can it be

How can it be


I've been hiding

Afraid I've let you down, inside I doubt

That You still love me

But in Your eyes there's only grace now


You plead my cause

You right my wrongs

You break my chains

You overcome

You gave Your life

To give me mine

You say that I am free

How can it be

How can it be


Though I fall, You can make me new

From this death I will rise with You

Oh the grace reaching out for me

How can it be

How can it be


You plead my cause

You right my wrongs

You break my chains

You overcome

You gave Your life

To give me mine

You say that I am free


You plead my cause

You right my wrongs

You break my chains

You overcome

You gave Your life

To give me mine

You say that I am free

How can it be

How can it be

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Jason Ingram / Jeff Johnson / Paul Mabury

How Can It Be lyrics © Essential Music Publishing



In Psalm 51, we find David’s prayer of repentance after his sin of adultery:


Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion, it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there.

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.

You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. Look with favor on Zion and help her; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit—with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings. Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar. 


1 John 1:5-10 says:


This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other and the blood of Jesus his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.


People love to be told today that there are many different faith options. No one wants to hear that there’s only one way to heaven. But the narrow way is the way that leads to life. Hear the second half of Dr. Moody’s sermon “The Road Less Travelled - Part2


Reminders

·      Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 



·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu above.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


·       You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 



Verse Completion. . . are saved. Romans 10:10 (NIV)


8/4/2020


Good morning, Peacemakers.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/i51ZYgVFCUo


Complete the Verse & Name the Book: If possible, so far as it depends on you, be . . . (completion at the end)


Regarding wealth, you’ve probably heard people say, “You can’t take it with you when you go.” That doesn’t mean people won’t try. On May 25, 1994, 71-year-old George Swanson was buried in a 7X7X16’ hole with his 1984 white Corvette in Irwin, Pennsylvania. There were 27,000 miles on the odometer. 

A wealthy son in Nigeria had his father buried in a brand new BMW car right off the showroom floor. Locals quipped that the car had satellite navigation so he would be able to find his way to the pearly gates.

Bill Standley of Mechanicsburg was a rodeo rider for years. He was also a motorcycle enthusiast. He made arrangements to be buried sitting astride his 1967 Harley Davidson motorcycle that was enclosed in a Plexiglass and plywood casket. He died of cancer at the age of 82. A brace was designed that hooked onto the motorcycle and held Bill up by surrounding his ribcage. The floor of the casket was painted black with a single white stripe down the middle.

Psalm 49 says:


Listen to this, all you people! Pay attention, everyone in the world! High and low, rich and poor—listen! For my words are wide, and my thoughts are filled with insight. I listen carefully to many proverbs and solve riddles with inspiration from a harp.

Why should I fear when trouble comes, when enemies surround me? They trust in their wealth and boast in their riches. Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death by paying a ransom to God. Redemption does not come so easily, for no one can ever pay enough to live forever and never see the grave.

Those who are wise must finally die, just like the foolish and senseless, leaving all their wealth behind. The grave is their eternal home, where they will stay forever. They may name their estates after themselves, but their fame will not last. They will die, just like animals. This is the fate of fools though they are remembered as being wise.

Like sheep, they are led to the grave, where death will be their shepherd. In the morning the godly will rule over them. Their bodies will rot in the grave, far from their grand estates. But as for me, God will redeem my life. He will snatch me from the power of the grave.

So don’t be dismayed when the wicked grow rich and their homes become ever more splendid. For when they die, they take nothing with them. Their wealth will not follow them into the grave. In this life they consider themselves fortunate and are applauded for their success. But they will die like all before them and never again see the light of day. People who boast of their wealth don’t understand; they will die, just like the animals.


Who on their dying bed would say, “Move me closer to the window. I want to look at my new boat one more time”? When we die, all of our physical possessions mean nothing to us; they are completely useless to us. They may bring a certain degree of pleasure to us while we are alive, but they bring zero pleasure to us once we have died. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to stockpile a bunch of possessions that we know will be useless to us down the road. I like Paul’s perspective on wealth found in 1 Timothy 6:6-10:


Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.


When we apply God’s truth to our lives, we avoid many pitfalls and enjoy an abundant life. 



Jesus presents a choice that is clear and absolute. There is no middle ground or other option so that no one is offended and all ideas are equally true. Christianity is not a religion, it is a word of grace and rescue. Hear Dr. Moody speak on : The Road Less Travelled - Part 1


Reminders

·      Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu above.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


·       You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am: https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


Verse Completion. . . at peace with all men. Romans 12:18 (NASB)


8/3/2020


Good morning, Justified by Faith.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/PHuLOdZdqs8


Complete the Verse & Name the Book: Do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both . . .(completion at the end)


Yesterday, Pastor Michael shared his sermon “Works and Grace” based on Matthew 20:1-16. How many times have you heard the comment, “That’s not fair!”? Where does the idea of fairness come from? It comes from our own sense of justice and how we view the world as to what is right and what is wrong. 


“For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.

“At nine o’clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing. So he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. So they went to work in the vineyard. At noon and again at three o’clock he did the same thing.

“At five o’clock that afternoon he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, ‘Why haven’t you been working today?’

“They replied, ‘Because no one hired us.’

“The landowner told them, ‘Then go out and join the others in my vineyard.’

“That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each received a full day’s wage. When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. When they received their pay, they protested to the owner, ‘Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.’

“He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’

“So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”


We see this last sentence appear again. Jesus said similar words in 19:30, 18:4, and 16:25. Jesus is teaching the disciples and us about the Kingdom of Heaven. Living in the Kingdom of Heaven is different than living in any other kingdom in the world. Likewise, the disciple of Christ is different from other disciples. 

The idea of the Messiah being a suffering servant was so foreign to what they imagined the Messiah to be. The Kingdom of Heaven is different from the worldly kingdoms. The world says, “If you want to be first, be the best, the fastest, the wealthiest, the strongest, the best looking.” Jesus said if you want to be first then become humble, lowly, weak, poor, marginalized. The world says if you have position, power, influence, and prestige, you are greater than those who don’t. Greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven is about humility, denying self, and dying to self. It’s the opposite of the world. 

Jesus was counter cultural. The world says, “Look out for #1.” Jesus says to look out for others. The world says, “I have rights.” Jesus says to give up your rights. In the Kingdom of Heaven, people put others ahead of themselves. 


When grapes are ready for harvest, they must be harvested right away. They have to be brought in before the rains come. The vineyard owners would go to the public square and hire workers to bring in the harvest. A denarius was the typical pay for a day’s work (6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.). The first workers agreed to a denarius for pay. 

Later, the owner realizes he needs more men to bring in the harvest so he hires more workers three hours later than the first group. Notice how the owner didn’t make an agreement for a specific amount of pay with this second group. He simply said he would pay them what was right. This happens again through the day with a third, fourth, and fifth groups. The fifth group only had one hour left in the day to work.

When it came time to be paid, the fifth group is paid first and they receive a full denarius. Can you imagine their excitement? Can you imagine the good words they had to say about the owner? They likely said, “We will work for you anytime!” 

When it came time to pay the first group, they expected to receive more than one denarius. When they were paid one denarius, they said, “That’s not fair! Why should we who worked 12 hours be paid the same as those who worked only one hour?” Why did they think it wasn’t fair? They were basing it on their sense of justice as to what was right and what was wrong. Their sense of fairness involved comparing themselves to others. 

At the beginning of the day, they were happy to work all day for a denarius. At the end of the day when they compared themselves to others, they were displeased with a denarius. What was fair before is no longer fair due to a comparison made with others. They were saying, “I worked harder. I am more valuable than those who didn’t put in a whole day of work. I need to be paid on the basis of my value in comparison to others.” 

This is how the kingdom of man operates. We get our self-worth by comparing ourselves to others. “I’m more valuable than that person. I work harder. I have more skills, gifts, abilities. I’m smarter, stronger, faster, and more efficient than that person. I’m wealthier. I’m better looking.” We evaluate our worth by comparing ourselves to others. As soon as someone we view as less valuable than us receives more than us (or even equal to us), we say, “That’s not fair! I’m worth more!” 

Unfortunately, we bring this way of thinking into the church; we bring the kingdom of man into the church. We say things like, “I’ve been here longer. I give more than others. I’m on the governing board. I’m an elder. I was a founder of this church.” We say, “That’s not fair that that person was chosen. I’ve been here longer. I give more than that person . . .” We think we are more valuable to God for the works we do.

The disciple of Christ does not live the same way as the disciple of any other kingdom. The disciple of Christ lives differently; he lives counter cultural. When we become Christians, we cannot live like we used to live when we were part of the kingdom of man. Our lives must change. When Jesus is our Lord and Savior, we have to follow him and that means living counter culturally and thinking radically differently from the way we used to think. 

Have you seen the bumper sticker “God is my co-pilot”? That says you are equal with God. When we become Christians, we don’t add Jesus to our life; we subtract ourselves—we die to self. We subtract in order to gain. 

The owner tells the first group that they are being treated fairly because he is paying them what they agreed to. There’s no law that says he can’t bless others with more than what they expected.

This parable is about the generous grace of God. Did the one who worked only one hour deserve a full denarius? Did the ones who worked less than a full day deserve a full denarius? No, they did not. However, the landowner, who represents God, wanted to be generous with grace. “I will give you what you don’t deserve.” This parable demonstrates grace—undeserved favor. We can’t work for grace. We can’t work to be rewarded by God. We will never be able to say to God, “Look at all I did for you; now reward me.” We don’t obey God to get something; we obey because we are in relationship with God.

We cannot do anything to earn salvation. We can do nothing to try and impress God. Some of us come to God at the third hour, others at the sixth hour, ninth hour, and some at the eleventh hour, but we all come by the grace of God. 

If we read this parable and something inside of us says, “Wait! That’s not fair,” then we are probably not as loving and gracious as we thought we were. It would indicate that we operate more by law than by grace, mercy, and forgiveness. It gives us a good indication of what is going on in our heart. 1 Corinthians 13:6 says, “[Love] does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.”One of the most difficult things to do is rejoice when something good happens to someone else. We see it and think, “That’s not fair. Why didn’t that happen to me?” 

A person of generous grace is who Jesus wants us to be. We need to be people who are slow to judge others and quick to grace others. The Kingdom of Heaven is not fair, and I am thankful for that because I get to experience God’s grace.



Here is Part 2 to Dr. Josh Moody’s sermon “You Will See Heaven Opened”: https://godcenteredlife.org/broadcast/you-will-see-heaven-opened-part-2/


Reminders


·      Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 


·       You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos 



Verse Completion. . . soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28 (NASB)


8/1/2020


Good morning, Surrendered to Jesus. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/qTm_rA54EGw


Complete the Verse & Name the BookTherefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, . . . (completion at the end)


This past Sunday, Pastor Michael gave the message “The First and the Last” based on Matthew 19:13-30. Jesus wanted his disciples to understand how things work in the Kingdom of Heaven.. At this point the disciples understand that salvation is by faith alone. Salvation comes not by works but by a relationship with Jesus. Salvation is not by our power but by the power of God. The Kingdom of Heaven is about dying to self and showing care for others. God’s Kingdom is about mercy and forgiveness. It’s not about me first but God first.


One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he would lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left (verses 13-15).


The children weren’t going to Jesus for healing; they were going for a blessing from Jesus. The parents wanted their children to know Jesus. The placing of hands on the head was traditionally connected with a blessing.

Jesus uses this opportunity to teach his disciples what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. Notice how the disciples rebuked the parents for bringing the children to Jesus. In this culture, children were considered the lowest—they didn’t bring anything, they didn’t contribute to society, and they didn’t earn their living. In Matthew 18:1-4, Jesus taught  that those who humbled themselves as little children were the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Those who welcome little children are welcoming Jesus. In the Kingdom of Heaven, the least become the greatest. The disciples had difficulty learning this. They were used to the worldly kingdom where it’s all about power, influence, position, authority, works, and what I bring to the table. Jesus taught that the Kingdom of Heaven is comprised of those who trust in him, are humble, lowly, who have no position, power, or influence, and they don’t seek it either. The kingdom of heaven is counter cultural. 


Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”

“Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” the man asked. And Jesus replied: “ ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “

“I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”

“Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money  to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. 


The man wants to make sure the good he has done outweighs the bad he’s done, so he asks Jesus what good deed must he do in order to earn eternal life. Jesus meets the man where he is; the man thinks he can get to heaven through good works, so he wants to know what are the important good works so he can make sure he does those things. Jesus quotes five commandments and all of them have to do with relationships with others.  

This man is planning to get to heaven by doing good works. Jesus tells the man that in that case only perfection is possible and he can start by selling all he owns and give the money to the poor. The man is wealthy and he is used to a high standard of living. He is used to buying what he wants to buy. Jesus was telling the man he needed to die to self. It wasn’t a money issue; it was a heart issue. Jesus wanted the man to give his heart to God. Sadly, the man was more attached to the things of this world than he was to Jesus, and he wasn’t willing to change. 

What are the things you hold dearest in your heart? Those are the things that will keep you from fully following Jesus.  In the Kingdom of Heaven, love for Christ is ahead of love for anything else. 


Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”


Let’s not make this all about riches. It is very hard for a _________ person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. We could fill in the blank with other words: proud, powerful, influential, pleasure-loving, child-worshiping, spouse-worshiping, parent-worshiping. It’s not about money; it’s about what’s in a person’s heart. From time to time, God peels back another layer of our heart and asks, “Will you die to this? Will you crucify this desire in your life? Will you give up _____ for me?” 

Some commentators have said that the part concerning the camel and needle refers to a gate called “The Needle” where camels would have to get down on their knees to make it through with great difficulty. This doesn’t make sense with the context. Jesus is saying here that it is impossible to get to heaven through works. It would be easier for a literal camel to go through the eye of a literal needle.


The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”


The disciples can hardly believe what they have just heard. If the rich man who follows the commandments can’t get into heaven, then who can? Jesus told his disciples they were right to be astonished because with man it is impossible to get to heaven; it’s impossible to gain salvation. However, with God it is possible to gain salvation. It’s God’s actions that save us—not our own actions. The only way to God is through Jesus (see John 14:6).


Then Peter said to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?”

Jesus replied, “I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.


Revelation 3:21 and 4:4 reveal more about thrones in heaven. 

Why do we inherit eternal life? It’s because when we receive Jesus we say, “Jesus, I have nothing on my own to offer you. It’s not about my goodness, my works, my morality, or my religion. I know I will be persecuted for following you, but I make the decision to follow you. Here’s my whole heart; I hold nothing back.”

Sometimes the health and wealth preachers misapply this portion of Scripture that says, “And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return. They say that means if you give $10 you will receive $1,000 in return; if you give $100, you will receive $10,000 in return. That’s not what Jesus was saying. It’s not about money. Jesus was saying if you left ten people you loved to follow him, you will find 1,000 people who will love you in your new family of believers. The love, peace, and comfort you used to experience will be multiplied 100 times. The presence of God will be with you more than you could ever imagine. Sometimes we’re afraid to follow Jesus because we’re afraid of what we will lose. Yes, we sometimes experience loss in this life, but in the long run, we far exceed anything we ever imagined. We will gain 100 times more than we will lose. 

To be great in the Kingdom of Heaven, you give everything to Jesus. 



The people who are afraid of questions are often insecure about what they believe. This message looks at reasonable questions. It’s important to allow people to ask questions, especially because we have the truth. Come to the Bible with your questions, and find the truth in Jesus.

Hear Part 1 of Josh Moody’s sermon “You Will See Heaven Opened” https://godcenteredlife.org/broadcast/you-will-see-heaven-opened-part-1/


Reminders


·      Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos



Verse Completion. . . to him it is sin. James 4:17 (NASB)


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