Daily Devotion July 2022


Good morning! 

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

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

Complete the Verse & Name the BookIf anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not . . . (completion at the end)

The focus for today is being quiet before the Lord. Psalm 46:10 says,Be still and know that I am God.When everything around us is in turmoil, we can be still and know that God is in control; he is sovereign over all. 

Psalm 24 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.

Who may climb the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the LORD'S blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior. Such people may seek you and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob.

Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty; the LORD, invincible in battle. Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The LORD of Heaven's Armies—he is the King of glory.

Psalm 139:1-6, 13-14, and 23-24 says:O LORD you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I'm far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Let's take some time now to acknowledge God for who he is and listen for his voice speaking to us. Let's reflect on what he has done in our lives and thank him for his promise:Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.(Deuteronomy 31:8)

In Pastor Michael’s sermon “The Beatitudes: The Peacemakers” he quoted Matthew 5:9: God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.  Our goal is to be Christ-like. This is very difficult. There are three kinds of people:

Peace-fakers: They pretend conflict doesn't exist. They are too quick to forgive. Consequently, they do not deal with sin and its consequences. Time does NOT heal all wounds.

Peace-breakers: They use words and actions to purposefully create division, strife, and friction between people. An example is Absalom. He wanted to be king even though David was king. Absalom undermined David's judgments. He would say, "If I was king . . ." in an attempt to make himself look good and David look bad (2 Samuel 15). Peace-breakers have one purpose—tear down rather than build up. They see the world negatively.

Peace-makers: They intentionally, with effort, use their words and actions to promote peace with others. Romans 12:18-21 says, Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, "I will take revenge: I will pay them back," says the LORD. Instead, "If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads." Don't let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. 

Romans 14:19 says, So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. Peace-makers give a desire to hurt others back to God knowing it only takes a spark to get a fire going. Forgiveness is taking a hurt and giving it to God with no revenge.

God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. 

"God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way" (Matthew 5:10-12). 

When your light is shining for Jesus, expect difficulty. We love to follow Christ when it's easy, but when he says we are going to experience suffering, we say, "Maybe I'll just settle for being a dim light for him." In America, we do all we can to get rid of suffering, but Jesus calls us to suffer for him. 

Follow hard after God so you'll be a bright light. Don't be a two or three candlelight; be a 50 million candlelight. The more light, the more darkness that is dispelled.

Verse Completion. . . take him into your house or welcome him. 2 John 10 (NIV) 


Good morning! 

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/GQWl26M-a0Y

Complete the Verse & Name the BookThose whom I love I . . . (completion at the end)

The Israelites were complainers. As you read through the list of things they complained about, note how many you would have complained about had you been part of the two-plus million people.

1.   Moses and Aaron were the cause of the Israelites having to work harder. Exodus 5:19-21

2.   Having Moses as leader would lead to their deaths in the wilderness. Exodus 10:12

3.   Bitter water. Exodus 15:24

4.   Hunger. Exodus 16:2-3

5.   Thirst. Exodus 17:2

6.   Hardship. Numbers 1:1-2

7.   Moses married a Cushite woman. Numbers 12:1-8

8.   That they would die in Canaan because of the powerful people there. Numbers 14:1-4

9.   Was told they were going to a land flowing with milk and honey, and that wasn't happening. Numbers 16

10.  Treated like subjects. Numbers 16:13

11.   Moses and Aaron were the cause of Israelites being killed. Numbers 16:41

12.    No water. Numbers 20:2-5

13.    Tired of manna. Numbers 21:4-5

Do you see a common thread in all these complaints? They don't like the leadership; they don't like having Moses (and Aaron) lead them. So what was their solution to their perceived problem? The answer is in Numbers 14:1-4:Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. "If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!" they complained. "Why is the LORD taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn't it be better for us to return to Egypt? Then they plotted among themselves, "Let's choose a new leaderand go back to Egypt!"

What action was taken after this idea to choose a new leader? The entire chapter of Numbers 16 should be read, but here are bits and pieces:One day Korah son of Izhar, a descendant of Kohath son of Levi, conspired with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, from the tribe of Reuben. They incited a rebellion against Moses, along with 250 other leaders of the community, all prominent members of the assembly. They united against Moses and Aaron and said, "You have gone too far! The whole community of Israel has been set apart by the LORD and he is with all of us. What right do you have to act as though you are greater than the rest of the LORD'S people?" (verses 1-3)

Moses said, "The LORD is the one you and your followers are really revolting against!" (verse 11a)

Meanwhile, Korah had stirred up the entire community against Moses and Aaron, and they all gathered at the Tabernacle entrance. (verse 19a)

[Moses] had hardly finished speaking the words when the ground suddenly split open beneath them. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed the men, along with their households and all their followers who were standing with them, and everything they owned. So they went down alive into the grave, along with all their belongings. The earth closed over them, andthey all vanished from among the people of Israel. All the people around them fled when they heard their screams. "The earth will swallow us, too!" they cried. Then fire blazed forth from the LORD and burned up the 250 men who were offering incense.

Earlier, in Numbers 12:6-8, we have the LORD'S response to Miriam and Aaron when they complained about Moses:"If there were prophets among you, I, the LORD, would reveal myself in visions. I would speak to them in dreams. But not with my servant Moses. Of all my house, he is the one I trust. I speak to him face to face, clearly, and not in riddles! He sees the LORD as he is. So why were you not afraid tocriticize my servant Moses?"

God doesn't takecriticism of his appointed leaders lightly. We need to be very careful about what we say to others about our leader, Pastor Michael. The purpose statement of our church is, "We exist to promote and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation and sanctification of all people." If our pastor is doing that, we shouldn't be complaining; we should be enthusiastically supporting him. Moses was following God's lead and the people were to follow Moses without complaining. Pastor Michael is following God's lead and we need to follow his lead without complaining.

Philippians 2:12-18 says,Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Do everything without complaining and arguing,so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining likebright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ's return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.

Verse Completion. . . rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Revelation 3:19 (NIV)


Good morning! 

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/GQWl26M-a0Y

Complete the Verse & Name the BookThe one who does not love does not know God, for . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon titled “Thanksgiving and Praise” based on Ephesians 1:15-23.

While I was away on my sabbatical, I prayed this same prayer for you. Not only are you on my mind, but you are in my heart. We naturally pray for that which is in our heart. I prayed that you might know the Lord Jesus better. I prayed that your knowing would go beyond head knowledge and result in heart transformation. I prayed that your head knowledge would be used to deeply transform you into the likeness of Christ so others would see Christ in you. 

Knowledge is never just for information; knowledge is always for transformation. The deeper you know Jesus, the more you will be transformed by him. I am praying for the transformation of your life as you walk with Jesus. I am praying that you will look more like Jesus, act more like Jesus, and speak more like Jesus. I am praying you will be transformed into the very image of Christ. When we are transformed into the image of Christ, we can be used to build God’s kingdom. 

Paul is praying that the eyes of their heart may be enlightened so they can know the hope to which God has called them. Optometrists or ophthalmologists may dilate your eyes so he/she can look into your eyes and get a better picture of what is going on inside them. Paul is praying your spiritual eyes might be dilated by God so the largest amount of light might enter your life in order for you to see clearly the hope Christ gives us—everlasting life. Paul wants us to see that our inheritance is secure—one day we will live with Jesus forever. As we look around our world, we might not see much hope, but when we look to Jesus, we see much hope; we see that heaven awaits us. It’s a glorious inheritance that awaits us! 

While we live our lives here on earth, there is an incomparable power for believers in Christ. The Church, corporately and individually, has the power of God at work for us and in us and through us. It’s a power non-believers don’t have. 

God proved the strength of his power by raising Christ from the dead. Only God can raise people from the dead. Only God can take a person who is dead and give that person life. It is from that source of power that we receive our power. 

Christ was raised from the dead and seated in the heavenly realms. He is far above all rule and authority. No other power comes close to the power of God, and as believers we have the power of God at work for us. When we face temptations, trials, struggles, and suffering, we need to remember there is a hope for eternity.

Having this power doesn’t make us exempt from experiencing rough times. However, we have the assurance that God is with us through those difficult times. God is ultimately in control of the situation. He is sovereign. We may see a situation as insurmountable, but God’s power far exceeds it. By God’s power, there’s nothing we can’t overcome. Romans 8:37 says: No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

God placed everything under Jesus. God appointed Jesus to be head over everything for the church. We are the church. God placed Jesus to be head over everything for you and me. The church is the fullness of Christ. We bring fullness to this world. What we do for Christ is more than what we see being done. It’s bringing fullness to the world and those around us. 

I pray you would know Christ better. I pray that you would know the hope for the future of which he has called you to—eternity. I pray you would know his power for daily living. I pray you would know who you are in Christ—the fullness of Christ. 

May we continue to know and continue to be the fullness of Christ to those around us. 

Verse Completion. . . God is love. 1 John 4:8 (NASB) 


Good morning! 

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

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

Complete the Verse & Name the BookBut the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with . . . (completion at the end)

On Sunday, Pastor Michael preached his first sermon since returning from his month-long sabbatical. Dr. Wedman’s sermon “Thanksgiving and Praise” was based on Ephesians 1:15-23.

Christ is the head of the Church, and we are the body. We all have time, talents, gifts, and abilities given to us by God. We are to use what we have been given to build the kingdom of God. We are the hands and feet of Christ, so we do what the Head tells us to do. We are all called to be ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are all called to build his kingdom. Each one of us has been given work to do. God has called us to be the body of Christ.

Building the kingdom of God can be frustrating at times. There are times when things don’t go the way we think they should go. There are times when the work interrupts other things we’d like to be doing. We can lose our purpose if we aren’t careful. We have to remember our purpose here on earth is to build the kingdom of God and bring glory to him. God’s work takes effort, patience, and commitment. As we mature in Christ, we still say yes to God even when there are hardships, troubles, and difficulties. 

Our work isn’t about professionalism, it’s about a partnership; we are partners in Christ. A common mistake made by those who have invited Jesus into their lives is they shy away from ministry work or they become involved in work but make the work about them and not Christ. They want the glory for the work they do rather than giving God the glory for any accomplishments. We shouldn’t be building ourkingdom; we should be building God’s kingdom. Pride never builds the kingdom of God. We should always desire for the focus of what we do to be on God and not us. We shouldn’t seek rewards here on earth; we should seek rewards in heaven. Our reward in heaven is hearing God say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Ministry is for everybody. Everybody has a work to do that God has called you to do. It’s a privilege and honor to get to serve Jesus, the one who gave his life for us. On our own we are nothing. We depend completely on the Holy Spirit. He’s the one who gives us talents and abilities that can be used to build God’s kingdom. We are graced to get to be a part of the kingdom of God that will last throughout eternity. 

Let’s look at Ephesians 1:15-23:

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

This is an amazing prayer that Paul prays for the church! Paul wants the church to understand who they are and what they’re supposed to do. 

Verse Completion. . . intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. 2 Peter 3:10 (NASB) 


Good morning! 

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/P8ajtJtNXF4

Complete the Verse & Name the BookFor you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that . . .(completion at the end)

Have you ever felt like you were adept at doing something and then you meet someone who wastrulyadept at it? This has happened to me so many times: I thought I could do art, and then met an artist; thought I could write and then read something that made me realize I'm still in kindergarten; thought I could play basketball and then met someone who really could play; thought I could play Scrabble and then lost by a hundred points; thought I was strong and then met someone who could crush me with no effort . . . I could go on and on. 

Perhaps Peter was starting to feel like he was getting a grasp on what being a follower of Christ looked like, and then he saw himself for who he was. Luke 5:1-8 says,One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the water's edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish."

"Master," Simon replied, "we worked hard all last night and didn't catch a thing. But if you say so, I'll let the nets down again." And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.

When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, "Oh, Lord, please leave me—I'm such a sinful man."Peter realized then and there he was in the presence of God. Peter thought he was adept at fishing, and then he met the one who created the fish and everything else in the universe. At that moment, Peter realized he was in the presence of one who could look inside him and see all the sin there. It shook him up!

Isaiah had a similar experience. Isaiah 6:1-5 says,It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other, "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven's Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!" Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.

Then I said, "It's all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven's Armies."

Perhaps Isaiah felt he was a godly person, but when he saw the LORD, he immediately knew he was a sinful man.

Isaiah 64:4-6a says,For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him! You welcome those who gladly do good, who follow godly ways. But you have been very angry with us, for we are not godly. We are constant sinners; how can people like us be saved? We are infected and impure with sin.When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. 

This is why Jeremiah wrote:This is what the LORD says: "Don't let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken!"(Jeremiah 9:23-24)

In Galatians 6:14, Paul wrote,"As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world's interest in me has also died."

When we look at ourselves, we might see a good person. But when we come in contact with Almighty God, we see ourselves for who we really are—sinners. However, because of the love of God, our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus. John 8:36 says,"So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free."

Verse Completion. . . you through his poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9 (NIV)


Good morning! 

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/2a-wLjBw0vE

Complete the Verse & Name the BookWhy do you call Me, “Lord, Lord,” and do not . . . (completion at the end)

What can we expect when we follow God wholeheartedly? Let’s take a look at Joshua 14:6-11: A delegation from the tribe of Judah, led by Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, came to Joshua at Gilgal. Caleb said to Joshua, “Remember what the LORD said to Moses, the man of God, about you and me when we were at Kadesh-Barnea. I was forty years old when Moses, the servant of the LORD, sent me from Kadesh-Barnea to explore the land of Canaan. I returned and gave an honest report, but my brothers who went with me frightened the people from entering the Promised Land. For my part, I wholeheartedly followed the LORD my God. So that day Moses solemnly promise me, “The land of Canaan on which you were just walking will be your grant of land and that of your descendants forever, because you wholeheartedly followed the LORD my God.’

Now, as you can see, the LORD has kept me alive and well as he promised for all these forty-five years since Moses made this promise—even while Israel wandered in the wilderness. Today I am eighty-five years old. I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then.

Things worked out pretty well for Joshua. Similarly, things worked out well for Caleb who agreed with Joshua. Deuteronomy 1:35-36 records what God said, “Not one of you from this wicked generation will live to see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see this land because he hasfollowed the LORD completely. I will give to him and his descendants some of the very land he explored during his scouting mission.

Later on, in Joshua 14:14, there’s a record of what happened: Hebron still belongs to the descendants of Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite because he wholeheartedly followed the LORD, the God of Israel.

What about Joseph? Genesis 39:6b-12 says:Joseph was a very handsome and well-built young man, and Potiphar’s wife soon began to look at him lustfully. “Come and sleep with me,” she demanded.

But Joseph refused. “Look,” he told her, “my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.”

She kept putting pressure on Joseph day after day, but he refused to sleep with her, and he kept out of her way as much as possible. One day, however, no one else was around when he went in to do his work. She came and grabbed him by his cloak, demanding, “Come on, sleep with me!” Joseph tore himself away, but he left his cloak in her hand as he ran from the house.

The immediate consequence of wholeheartedly following God was Joseph ended up in prison. However, Galatians 6:9 says: “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”Joseph eventually got out of prison, became a mighty leader, and saved many from starvation including his own family.

What about Naaman? He was the commander of King Aram’s army and a mighty warrior. He had leprosy and went to Elisha the prophet to be healed. II Kings 5:10 says, “But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.” Leaving out some of the details, verse 14 says, “So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child, and he was healed!” Naaman ended up wholeheartedly following what God said he needed to do, and he was completely healed of leprosy.

There are so many more examples of those who followed after God wholeheartedly, and they were blessed and used by God to accomplish great things. Jesus made a blanket statement concerning those who follow hard after God in Matthew 19:29: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.”

Verse Completion. . . do what I say? Luke 6:46 (NASB) 


Good morning! 

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/g84C902JFYM

Complete the Verse & Name the BookI did not come to judge the world, but to . . . (completion at the end)

Do you like stories with a happy endings? If so, you might enjoy watching the Hallmark Channel on TV.Even though I don't watch it (my wife does), I like stories with happy endings.

I love the story of Chesley Sullenberger who safely landed an Airbus A320 on the Hudson River after some geese were ingested into the engines causing an emergency landing with no power. All 155 people aboard escaped the plane safely.

There's the story of Joseph who was sold by his brothers into slavery. He rose to become an influential leader who was used to save a nation and surrounding nations from starvation.

There's no shortage of stories with happy endings. But not all stories end this way. One is the story of Achan.Joshua had led the Israelites in following God's plan to destroy the city of Jericho. It had fallen so easily. Joshua was not concerned when shortly after that some spies he had sent to Ai returned with optimism saying taking Ai would be a piece of cake compared to Jericho. Joshua 7:4 tells what happened:

Soapproximately 3,000 warriors were sent, but they were roundly defeated. The men of Ai chased the Israelites from the town gate as far as the quarries, and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope. The Israelites were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events, and their courage melted away.

Verses 10-12 tell the reason for the defeat:But the LORD said to Joshua, "Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen someof the things that I commanded must be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings. That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat. For now Israel itself has been set apart for destruction. I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction.

Verses 20-23 tell what happen next:Achan replied, "It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. Among the plunder I saw a beautiful robe from Babylon, 200 silver coins, and a bar of gold weighing more than a pound. I wanted them so much that I took them. They are hidden in the ground beneath my tent, with the silver buried deeper than the rest."

So Joshua sent some men to make a search. They ran to the tent and found the stolen goods hidden there, just as Achan had said, with the silver buried beneath the rest. They took the things from the tent and brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites. Then they laid them on the ground in the presence of the LORD.

As a result of this sin, Achan and his family were killed. Not a happy ending to their story! They were killed because Achan was disobedient. In Joshua 6:18-19, Joshua had said,"Do not take any of the things set apart for destruction, or you yourselves will be completely destroyed, and you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel. Everything made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron is sacred to the LORD and must be brought into his treasury."

When I look at myself and others in 2022, I don't see us being killed fordisobeying and lying like Achan. Does that mean it's permissible to steal and tell lies now? Not at all! The only reason we are not dead from the sins we havecommitted is the grace and mercy of God. Imagine yourself in Achan's place about ready to be stoned to death, and Jesus stepping in and saying, "Achan, go and sin no more. Let me die in your place." Now that would be a happy ending for Achan! 

That's exactly what Jesus has done for us. Because of his death on the cross, our lives can have a happy ending. When we choose to follow Jesus, he insures our life will end with a happy ending—united with him for all eternity.

Verse Completion. . . save the world. John 12:47b (NASB) 


Good morning! 

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/K2j5uq0rYXA

Complete the Verse & Name the BookThis is the message you heard from the beginning: . . . (completion at the end)

Today we will conclude Wayne Elling’s sermon titled “Finishing the Course: Strategies for the Back Nine of Your Life” based on John 6:1-12 and Matthew 25:14-30.

As we read this passage in Matthew, the take aways from this passage that I see are:  

The talents that you have are God’s.

When a servant invests God’s talents, that investment is multiplied.

If you use your talent, it will grow.

If you sit on it, it won’t grow.

The talent represents something of value; some translations say bags of gold.

God has provided all we need to finish well. God has given each of us the opportunity for purpose until our final breath, and without purpose we are spiritually dead.

Before he started his sabbatical, our pastor finished his series about the future of NCCU—new opportunities and possibilities. We don’t know what God has in mind, but he has a plan that includes you and me. As the future unfolds, will you say, “Here I am, Lord, use me?” Each of us needs to be examining our hearts and asking God to show us where and when to say “Here I am, Lord, use me,” and then be willing to step out of our comfort zone.

The object in golf is to shoot a lower score. You might  think to yourself, “I know that I can shoot under 120.” When that happens, you might say, “I bet I can break 100.” Then it becomes, “I think I can shoot in the 90s.” Then you start to dream about the 80s. As golf becomes a passion, you might find yourself golfing two, three, and then five or more times a week. Sometimes in your sleep at night you find yourself playing the perfect round of golf in your head.

In life, our goal is to know God and satisfy his desires. Knowing God is our ultimate passion. There’s a proverb that says: “As a man thinketh so is he.”

As our shepherd, our pastor’s job is not to make us feel good about ourselves, to make the tithers happy, to pay off the church’s mortgage, or to keep from offending anyone. Our pastor’s job is to mature us in Christ.

God has given us the opportunity to have purpose until our final breath. He has given us the opportunity to finish the course well. Our purpose is to know him and to share the gospel.

What’s your passion? I don’t want the end of my life to be a valley of dry bones, a lifeless expression of what was once alive. In his messages about NCCU, our pastor asked, “What is our shared calling? Why are we here?”

What is our strategy for the back nine of our lives? If you aren’t there yet, what’s your strategy for the front nine? How are you going to live that out?

Verse Completion. . . We should love one another. 1 John 3:11 (NIV) 


Good morning! 

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/1kBvpS3z9Qo

Complete the Verse & Name the BookHence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always . . . (completion at the end)

Today we continue with Wayne Elling’s sermon titled “Finishing the Course: Strategies for the Back Nine of Your Life” based on John 6:1-12 and Matthew 25:14-30.

As the ministry here at NCCU grows and we move into the future, Jesus already knows what he’s going to do. He has packed your lunch, and it may be just loaves and fishes or a peanut butter sandwich. But whatever it is that you bring it will be more than enough with his blessing! He knows that you are here. He knows what gifts, time, and talents are in your lunch bag. You are here, and he sees you. 

In Genesis 16:13 there is a great story about Hagar where she gave God another name, “the God who sees me”. Genesis 16:13 tells us, “Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are God Who Sees”; for she said, “Have I not even here [in the wilderness] remained alive after seeing Him [who sees me with understanding and compassion]?”

What is unknown is your willingness to give those gifts to Jesus. It doesn’t matter how meager you think those gifts are. If you give them to Jesus, he can bless them and make them more than enough to feed a multitude. It’s all about our individual hearts saying, “Here I am, use me. Take what I’ve got, what you’ve given me, and use it for your glory.” 

Both in golf and in life it’s about our heart and our willingness to get in the game and say, “Here I am, Lord, use me for your glory.” At NCCU, as we move into what God has planned for us, what do you have? What time or talent do you have that God can bless?

I’ve golfed in a foursome with Jerry, Walley and Mike and have watched their tee shots disappear off into the horizon going down the middle of the fairway. Let me tell you, speaking from experience, that it’s easy to get discouraged when your drive ricochets off someone’s house and you are feeling fortunate that you didn’t break a window. To play the game well and to finish well, you need a game plan that includes practice and focusing on execution. It’s the same with your spiritual life.

Matthew 25:14-30 is a parable about investing talents—Investing what you’ve been given—and watching what that investment will provide in return. Let’s read “The Parable of the Bags of Gold”:

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid (what you asked was outside of my comfort zone) and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So, you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned, I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Verse Completion. . . lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25 (NASB)


Good morning! 

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

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

Complete the Verse & Name the BookYou will be hated by all on account of My name, but it is the one who has . . . (completion at the end)

Today we continue with Wayne Elling’s sermon titled “Finishing the Course: Strategies for the Back Nine of Your Life” based on John 6:1-12 and Matthew 25:14-30.

The gospel is not an I’m ok and you’re ok message. The truth is, I have sin in my life, and you have sin in your life. God loves us so much he doesn’t want to leave us in that state. This side of heaven we won’t be perfect, but we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

After analyzing your swing, a golf instructor may provide corrective input that stretches you to new positions that feel awkward in order to improve your game. Our pastor’s teaching causes us to examine ourselves and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal our hearts to us. Sin has no grey areas; sin is sin. 

As we open our hearts to God, our prayer becomes Psalm 139:23 and 24:

” Search me, God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,

and lead mein the way everlasting”

I love our Pastor. I trust him. He speaks honestly into our lives. A golf instructor will correct your swing based on what he sees, not on what you feel. A golf instructor will ask you do to do things that at first feel awkward, but if you do them your game will improve. 

At NCCU we hear how sin affects our lives and how the Holy Spirit nudges us and says, “That’s you. Pay attention to this.” We need to be corrected, it’s a sign of son-ship.

Hebrews 12:5 and 6 tells us:  And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”

Our Pastor will also sometimes ask us to do things that we feel uncomfortable doing—praying in a church service, serving on council, being an elder, or speaking on a Sunday that he’s not here. If we lean into what we are being asked to do, we will grow through that experience

Often, we accept new challenges based whether they are in our comfort zone or not. Speaking this morning is not in my comfort zone.

You may find yourself on the back nine of your life, wondering how that happened so fast. Well, we are here whether we like it or not,  and it’s time to finish well.

When golfing you can’t let the feeling of inadequacy control you, or you’ll never play the game or finish a round. Living on the 15th fairway, I always see golfers who are more skilled than I am. They make the game look easy, but golf is not easy! To become a better golfer, you need to show up and bring what skills you have and invest them in the game. I watch golfers like Jerry and Wally, and they make the game look so easy. I find encouragement in the story of the feeding of the 5,000 in John 6:1-12:

Sometime after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs, he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.

5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”

Verse 6, says that Jesus already had in mind what he was going to do. He knew the boy was going to be there. He knew the boy was bringing the loaves and fishes. He knew the boy had a willing heart to share what he had brought with him. It didn’t matter what the magnitude of the gift was compared to the need. There was more than enough and nothing was wasted.

Verse Completion. . . endured to the end who will be saved. Matthew 10:22 (NASB) 


Good morning! Welcome to August!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

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

Complete the Verse & Name the BookNot that I speak from want; for I have learned . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday, Wayne Elling gave a sermon titled “Finishing the Course: Strategies for the Back Nine of Your Life” based on John 6:1-12 and Matthew 25:14-30. Over the next four days his message will be shared here.

We live on one of our pastor’s nightly walking paths. Occasionally, as he strolls by, I join him. On one of those walks he asked me if I’d share on one of the Sundays that he’d be gone. My first thought was, “Are you crazy? I’ve recently had a stroke, and I can barely string the words of a sentence together,” but I said I’d pray about it. I did and here I am.

I enjoy devotional books that relate to golf because there so many parallels between our daily life and golf. I often purchase extra copies of the ones that speak to me and give them to my golfing friends. Over the years have collected a number of them. 

My wife is always looking for ways to encourage me, and recently she bought me a book called, Finishing the Course STRATEGIES for the Back Nine of YOUR LIFE.I haven’t read it yet but the title resonated with me was the inspiration for what I want to share with you today.

I don’t exactly know when I hit the back nine; I can’t tell where the turn came, but I know I’m there.

Both in golf and life you want to start out well. The first drive of the round can set the tone for the game if you let it. 

During the six months that our house was being built, we prayed that God would show us his purpose for us being in Union—how we fit into his plan. We prayed the Lord would plant us in a good church where we could serve.

When your last shot didn’t go as expected, you remind yourself that the next swing of the club is a fresh start. 

My stroke was like one of those moments like when you’ve struck the ball and have no idea where it went and what went wrong. You ask,  “Why?”

In life sometimes we ask why? Why did that happen? Why did he or she get sick?  Why did my loved one need to die? Joyce and lost a baby midway through the pregnancy. We had prayed the prayer of faith and we were confident that God had heard our prayers. Why did we lose our baby?

Often, we don’t know why. I picked up the following quote from Garris Elkins’ post on Face Book:

“In every healthy and enduring example of faith, the presence of mystery will always be with us. We are not provided with answers to all of our questions. At some point we must move beyond the need for answers to why things happen and embrace mystery. To experience a peace that goes beyond understanding, we must give up our right to understand. This is the value of God’s presence. His presence keeps us moving forward when tragedy visits and we ask why…It is an act of profound worship to surrender our need to know why something happened as a sacrifice to God. At the point of surrender we step into the wide-open space of mystery where the deepest forms of freedom exist, freedoms not experienced until surrender takes place.”

Golf will quickly show you what’s in your heart, and it will show others, too, if you are not careful.

In golf and life, we need good teachers and encouragers. We need  someone to say, “Nice putt” when we sink a long putt just to save a quadruple bogey. It’s difficult to learn to golf on your own, and it’s easy to get discouraged.

We are happy that we found NCCU with the well-rounded Bible-based teaching we receive here and the church family.

Just like life, golf is best when it’s played by the rules. When you cheat it not only ruins the game, but it also reveals a character flaw.

In golf and life, you need a teacher. Golf is a very difficult game to learn on your own. You need to know what you are doing right in order to build on it as well as what you are doing wrong in order to correct it, unless you are Bubba Watson who never had a golf lesson and yet was  ranked the #2 golfer in the world.

You won’t improve your golf swing if your coach only strokes your ego. You’ll never draw closer to God if all you hear is feel-good messages.

Verse Completion. . . to be content in whatever circumstances I am. Philippians 4:11 (NASB)