Daily Devotion August 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/YqHjjZz1Syg

Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to . . . (completion at the end)

Today we will continue a recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon “The Spiritual Weapons of the Church”.

Besides the belt of truth, another part of our armor for spiritual warfare is the breastplate of righteousness. A breastplate covers the lungs and the heart, two vital organs. Today, instead of saying a breastplate, we might say a Kevlar vest or a bulletproof vest. 

Proverbs 4:23 says: Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Everything we do comes from the heart. The heart motivates us to do the things we do. 

Matthew 12:33-35 contains the following words of Jesus: “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”

What’s in your heart always comes out, so guard your heart. As we wear the breastplate of righteousness, we do what is right, just, and fair. Proverbs 1:1-3 tells us:

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair.

Solomon is writing the book of proverbs so people can understand what righteousness is all about so people can pursue what is right, just, and fair in God’s eyes. 

In addition to putting on the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness, we need to be putting on shoes of the gospel of peace. Where we go makes a difference in our lives. Satan tries to get our feet to go to dark and wicked places that will lead us to do wicked things.

The gospel of peace connects people to God. The gospel of peace says that salvation is by faith alone through grace. It’s a gift of God. We can’t do works that will gain us salvation. As followers of Christ, we need to take the gospel of peace with us wherever we go, and share it with others. We are to be peace makers rather than people of conflict, strife, division, gossip, revenge, or deception. 

Romans 10:13-15 says:

for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” 

Where we go makes a difference in our lives. Let’s go to places where the gospel of peace can be spread. 

Isaiah 52:7 says: How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

We’re to be people who bring peace into people’s lives as we share the gospel with them. We’re not to be people who bring destruction, confusion, chaos, gossip, slander, conflict, or disunity into people’s lives. Instead, we bring peace—God’s peace—that results in reconciliation with God and reconciliation with others. 

1 Corinthians 6:7 says: But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers! The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?

Instead of bringing lawsuits against one another, we need to be bringing the gospel of peace. It’s difficult to be a person of peace, because we have to give up our way and follow Christ’s way. Christ’s way will often cost us something. Are we willing to pay what it cost?

Not only do we put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the shoes of the gospel of peace, we also take up the shield of faith. Satan is constantly shooting flaming arrows at us. He isn’t shooting them at us to give us a little owie; he’s shooting them at us to kill us, to take us out of the battle. Satan desires to destroy your relationship with Christ. Satan is all about conflict, not peace. 

It’s our shield of faith that protects us from the flaming arrows Satan shoots at us. Satan is constantly trying to destroy our faith in Christ. Satan keeps using on us the same line he used on Eve in the Garden of Eden: “Did God really say . . . “ It worked on Eve, and if we don’t have our shield of faith in place, it can work on us. After Satan attempts to get us to doubt God’s words, he follows up with opposing God’s words. Genesis 3:1-5 tells us what took place in the garden:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”

You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 

You can read more of the devil’s techniques in Luke 4:1-13 when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. Twice the devil attempted to get Jesus to doubt God’s words when the devil said, “If you are the Son of God . . .” He attempted to get Jesus to go against God when the devil said, “If you worship me . . .”  Satan was attempting to get Jesus to doubt that the Father really loved him perfectly and had a perfect plan that included protection to insure that plan was carried out to its completion. God always provides protection for us so we can do the job he has called us to do. God always provides all we need to carry out his will. 

We need to keep the shield of faith in our hand at all times, and use it to defend ourselves against all those flaming arrows that come our way. Our trust is in God alone.

Tomorrow we will conclude this recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon.

Verse Completion. . . those who obey Him. Acts 5:32 (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/YqHjjZz1Syg

Complete the Verse & Name the Bookthen the Lord knows how to rescue . . .(completion at the end)

Today we will continue a recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon “The Spiritual Weapons of the Church”.

Let’s take a look at the weapons we need by reading Ephesians 6:14-18:

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

God has given us armor for the war we are in. One piece of armor is the belt of truth. What does a belt do? It keeps everything together, and it’s located in the central part of the body. When these words were written, tunics were being worn. A belt held the tunic in place. When it was necessary to run or be active, the tunic could be tucked around their belt. The belt was central to the functioning of who they were. 

A carpenter wears a toolbelt. It’s central to who he is. A carpenter would not show up to a worksite without his toolbelt.

A Christian wears a belt of truth. Truth is central to who we are. John 8:37-47 says: 

“I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father. ”

“Abraham is our father,” they answered. 

“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father.” 

“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

We are to be people of truth—people of God’s truth, not our own truth. We are not to be people who deceive others. All lies and deceptions come from Satan, the father of lies. When we lie we lose the battle we are fighting. That doesn’t mean the war has been lost, but it means a battle was lost. 

Acts 5:1-11 tells a story that illustrates the importance of telling the truth:

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” 

“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

When we lie we speak the language of Satan. When we lie to people, we are lying to God at the same time. As followers of Christ, we are to be people of the truth. If we’re not truthful, we can’t stand. 

Tomorrow we will continue this recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon.

Verse Completion. . . the godly from temptation 2 Peter 2:9a (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/I4vwGdkJUAM

Complete the Verse & Name the BookHe who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday Pastor Michael spoke on “The Spiritual Weapons of the Church”. Every disciple of Christ is in a war that has Satan as the enemy. We know Satan will not win the war, but that knowledge does not remove us from the war and give us an easy life. Nevertheless, it’s encouraging to know we win in the end. 1 John 4:4 tells us: You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

2 Timothy 1:12 tells us: That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that dayJesus has our back. He fights the battle for us. 

Revelation 19:11-21 says: 

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.”

Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

This is how the story ends. Jesus returns to Earth riding on his white horse with his army. The words of Jesus destroy Satan and his forces. Followers of Jesus are ushered into heaven to spend all eternity with the one who died for our sins—Jesus. God wins; Satan loses; we gain. We will gain later from the war we are in now. 

We have salvation, but we don’t get to experience the fullness of our salvation while we live here on earth. We have to wait for its completion.

While we are on the earth, we are engaged in a war, a spiritual war. Like any war, we need to have weapons of war in order to not be overrun. God knows what weapons we need, and he has provided those weapons for us. Let’s look at Ephesians 6:10-13:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Our struggle here on Earth is not just against flesh and blood; it’s against spiritual forces that we can’t see that are behind the flesh and blood that we do see. Satan uses people against the Church. We have an enemy that is trying to prevent people from knowing Christ. Our enemy is also trying to take those who know Christ away from Christ. 

We are in a war that will last your lifetime. Every day that you wake up to is a day of war. Since we can’t escape the war, we need to be armed. You can’t stand against an enemy if you don’t have any weapons at your disposal. 

Tomorrow we will continue this recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon.

Verse Completion. . . gather with Me scatters. Matthew 12:30 (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/5I5DakfBBdA

Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd it was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He . . . (completion at the end)

Some large churches have large staffs that include multiple pastors, numerous ministry leaders, grounds keepers, secretaries, counselors, and so forth. We have Pastor Michael, Dan Washburn (in charge of our music ministry, sound, website, and videos), Brenda Washburn (secretary), and Michael Moore (office assistant). They give of themselves to God and the building of his kingdom more than we’ll ever know. Let’s pray for them basing our prayer on Scripture:

     Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for the strong faith our staff has in you. I thank you for the strong love they have for your people everywhere. We cannot stop thanking you enough for them. God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we ask you to give our staff spiritual wisdom and insight so that they will grow in the knowledge of you. We pray their hearts will be flooded with light so they can understand the confident hope you have given to your holy people who are your rich and glorious inheritance.

We also pray that our staff will understand the incredible greatness of your power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at your right hand in the heavenly realms. Jesus, you are above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. You have put all things under the authority of Christ and have made him head over all things for the benefit of the church—including our staff. The church is your body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself. Fill our staff with you.(Ephesians 1:15-23)

May our staff be strong in you and in your mighty power.(Ephesians 6:10)May they stand their ground putting on the belt of truth, the body armor of your righteousness, shoes of peace that come from the Good News, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil, put on the helmet of salvation, and take the sword of the Spirit which is your word. (Ephesians 6:14-17)

We pray that from your glorious, unlimited resources you will empower our staff with inner strength through your Spirit. Make your home in their hearts as they trust you. May our staff's roots grow down into your love, and keep them strong. Give them the power to understand how wide, how long, how high, and how deep your love is. May they experience your love. Make them complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from you.(Ephesians 3:16-19)

May our church staff be on guard and stand firm in the faith. Make them courageous and strong. May they do everything with love.(I Corinthians 16:13-14)May they work hard to show the results of their salvation, obeying you with deep reverence and fear. Work in them, giving them the desire and power to do what pleases you. May they do everything without complaining or arguing. May they live clean, innocent lives as your children, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. (Philippians 2:12b-15)

Remind our staff that it's not by force or by strength that great things are accomplished, but it's by your Spirit.(Zechariah 4:6)

Father God, we thank you for our staff. We appreciate all they do to further your kingdom. Bless them and keep them; make your face shine on them and be gracious to them; turn your face toward them and give them peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

 In the name of Jesus, amen.

Verse Completion. . . spent the whole night in prayer to God. Luke 6:12 (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/rOz4trRzxwk

Complete the Verse & Name the BookListen, my beloved brethren; did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and . . . (completion at the end)

In order for a church to function properly, there must be leadership that looks to God for wisdom and direction. Leadership includes the pastor, ministry leaders, the worship team, elders, ushers, the governing board, and all others who serve in a church. The Bible has quite a bit to say about leadership in the church. 

1 Timothy 3:1-5 says: This is a trustworthy saying, "If someone aspires to be a church leader, he desires an honorable position." So a church leader must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money. He must manage his own family well having children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God's church? Pray that our leaders will have and maintain these qualities.

Jesus taught His disciples about leadership in Matthew 20:25: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." Pray that our leaders will have servants' hearts.

Paul offers some advice concerning leaders in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13:Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord's work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other.The writer to the Hebrews wrote in Hebrews 13:7 and 17: Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith. 

Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.

Here is a prayer for our leaders based on Scripture:

Dear Heavenly Father, we pray our leaders will keep you as their shepherd. You are all they need. Let them rest in green meadows; lead them beside peaceful streams. Renew their strength. Guide them along right paths, and may they bring honor to your name. When they walk through the darkest valley, may they feel you close beside them and not be afraid.(Psalm 23:1-4a)

May our leaders be strong in you and in your mighty power(Ephesians 6:10).May they stand their ground putting on the belt of truth, the body armor of your righteousness, shoes of peace that comes from the Good News, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil, put on the helmet of salvation, and take the sword of the Spirit which is your word (Ephesians 6:14-17).

We pray that from your glorious, unlimited resources you will empower our leaders with inner strength through your Spirit. Make your home in their hearts as they trust you. May our leaders' roots grow down into your love, and keep them strong. Give them the power to understand how wide, how long, how high, and how deep your love is. May they experience your love. Make them complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from you(Ephesians 3:16-19).

May our leaders be on guard and stand firm in the faith. Cause them to be courageous and strong. May they do everything with love(1 Corinthians 16:13-14).May they work hard to show the results of their salvation, obeying you with deep reverence and fear. Work in them, giving them the desire and power to do what pleases you. May they do everything without complaining or arguing. May they live clean, innocent lives as your children, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people (Philippians 2:12b-15).

Remind our leaders that it's not by force or by strength that great things are accomplished, but it's by your Spirit(Zechariah 4:6).

In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Verse Completion. . . heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? James 2:5 (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/X3cLuPrei50

Complete the Verse & Name the BookThen Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for those who take up the sword . . . (completion at the end)

NCCU has a shepherd, and his name is Michael Wedman. It's not easy being a pastor of a church, and in our modern world, it's extremely difficult. Ninety-six churches a week close their doors for good. Currently, if our church is the average church, we have the potential to reach 35% of the people in our community. That means 65% will never come to our church. What some pastors do to get people to come is they compromise the truths in the Bible and have the church look more like the world. We are so blessed to have a pastor who will not compromise the truths of the Bible. People are searching for truth, not half-truths. In John 14:6 we find,Jesus told [Thomas],"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me."

We are blessed to have a pastor who follows the Purpose Statement of our church:We exist to promote and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation and sanctification of all people.Pastor Michael desires that many souls will be saved and mature in Christ. He wants all of us to personally know Jesus—to build a relationship with Him. It's not good enough to know about Him, we need to personally know Him, and that takes time with Him, because building a relationship takes time. So many times Pastor Michael has encouraged us and tried to inspire us to follow hard after God. When dealing with eternal matters, casual doesn't cut it.

God is giving Pastor Michael a vision for the future of our church. We need to catch that vision as well. Matthew 16:13-18 says,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." God is going to build his church right here in Union, and nothing will stop Almighty God. Jeremiah 3:15 says, "And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will guide you with knowledge and understanding." God has given us a shepherd to lead the flock here in Union, and he is a man after God's own heart. He is guiding us with knowledge and understanding. We are truly blessed here in Union!

Ephesians 4:11-16 says,Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and thepastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won't be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Pastor Michael is doing a great job of equipping us to do God's work and build up the church, the body of Christ. He is working to mature us in our faith and knowledge of Jesus so we can be all God wants us to be.

As we strengthen and encourage others with our words, let's not forget to do the same for our pastor:

I Thessalonians 5:11: "So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing."

Acts 13:15b "Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, come and give it."

Acts 16:40b "There [Paul and Silas] met with the believers and encouraged them once more. Then they left town."

Acts 20:1-2a "When the uproar was over, Paul sent for the believers and encouraged them. Then he said good-bye and left for Macedonia. While there, he encouraged the believers in all the towns he passed through."

We can also encourage our pastor by our actions. One way to do this is by faithful church attendance. Hebrews 10:24-25 says,"Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near."

In addition, we can encourage our pastor by loving him. Based on 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, that would include:

Being patient with him

Being kind to him

Not being jealous of him

Not boasting to him 

Not being rude to him

Not demanding our own way

Not being irritable to the pastor

Not keeping a record of his wrongs

Rejoicing with our pastor when truth wins out

Never giving up on our pastor

Never losing faith in our pastor

Always being hopeful for our pastor

Enduring with Pastor Michael through every circumstance

Let's pray for ourshepherd, Pastor Michael, and ask God what we can do to encourage him.

Verse Completion. . . shall perish by the sword.”  Matthew 26:52 (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/VcEcjm_JEcI

Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must . . . (completion at the end)

Today we will conclude a recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon titled “Spiritual Warfare in the Church”

False religions are prevalent. Only Jesus could pay the penalty of sin and give eternal life. When we say that, we are accused of being exclusive. How are we being exclusive? We say that Jesus died for all (see 2 Corinthians 5:14 and Revelation 3:20).

Some people come to church so they can work to destroy the church. Let’s go back to Acts 20 and read verses 28-31: Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own numbermen will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.

We need to protect the flock from savage wolves. Satan desires to kill and destroy. 

In Matthew 16:21-23 we read: 

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Peter was saying to Jesus, “You’re talking nonsense when you talk about being killed. You don’t have to die. We’re not going to let it happen.” But Jesus recognized that Peter was being used by Satan. Peter, who’s in the inner circle, is being used of Satan! Jesus knew God’s will, and it was for him to be killed. Jesus recognized Peter’s words were from Satan, because they contradicted God’s words. 

It would be easy to find comfort in Peter’s words if they weren’t recognized as being from Satan. We have to be discerning, even with those who are close to us. Anytime someone says you don’t have to follow God—his words, his will, his way—they are being used of Satan. Satan uses people from within the church to destroy the church. Paul recognized this, and that’s why he said, “. . . savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!” 

Not everyone who comes to church is there because they want to know Jesus. They might be there because they want to destroy Jesus. We are either building the kingdom of God, or we are building the kingdom of Satan. 

Another way Satan tries to destroy the church is through unconfessed sin and undealt-with anger. Ephesians 4:25-5:2 says: 

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin” : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Unconfessed sin is a way Satan gets a foothold in your life. Satan uses people in the church to destroy the church. Satan tells people, “You have a right to be angry. You have a right to get revenge. You have a right to speak poorly of other people. You have a right to say those things, because they hurt you.” That way of thinking works to destroy the kingdom of God. 

We have an enemy, and that enemy is Satan who is working to destroy followers of Christ. Satan uses forces from within and forces from without. We are in a constant war with Satan. It’s a spiritual war, and it’s not going away until Jesus returns.

The good news is we have God on our side if we are a true follower of Christ. His power far exceeds any power Satan has. God created Satan; Satan is a created being. God is not a created being. God is the Creator of the universe, the creator of all there is. 1 John 4:4-6 says:

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

We recognize truth when we recognize Jesus is the Messiah, and recognize his words as truth. We have the power of God in us. Use that power to build his kingdom. 

Verse Completion. . . be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.  2 Timothy 2:24 (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/hD9-1ZQctV4

Complete the Verse & Name the BookBe diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does . . . (completion at the end)

Today we will continue with a recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon titled “Spiritual Warfare in the Church”

As we read Acts 20:17-27, we see that Paul had flesh and blood opponents. Satan uses people to war against the Church, the people of God. The spiritual realms use people. Paul recognizes that his enemies came in the form of Jewish leaders. Paul was about building the kingdom of God while Satan is about destroying the kingdom of God. Paul was determined to continue building God’s kingdom in spite of the opposition and persecution that came his way. 

Satan uses people outside the church and inside the church to destroy the church—to destroy people’s faith in Jesus. As Paul attempted to promote and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, Satan was right there trying to destroy Paul. 

We are in a war, and our enemy is Satan. He uses people and circumstances against us, and he gets a big thrill out of using false teachers. 2 Peter 2:1-3 tells us: But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

There are many false teachers in the world today. There are many false religions. There are false teachers who say: salvation isn’t through Jesus alone; salvation is through works; there is no truth—everyone has their own truth; enlightenment comes through philosophy; everyone goes to heaven. Satan causes people to believe falsehood is truth. Satan promotes false teaching because he is the father of lies. Jesus said, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

Satan blames natural disasters, sickness, disease, ill health, and a host of other things, on God. Satan is very skilled at making falsehood sound like truth. When we are emotionally unstable, Satan moves in and attempts to convince us that falsehood is truth. Satan doesn’t want us to know Jesus, because Jesus is truth.

In 1 Timothy 4:1-14 we read: 

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. 

In 2 Timothy 4:1-5 we read:

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 

False religions are prevalent. Only Jesus could pay the penalty of sin and give eternal life. 

Tomorrow we will conclude this recap of Pastor Michael’s message.

Verse Completion. . . not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (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/jFJY-1fty9w

Complete the Verse & Name the BookThat is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For . . .(completion at the end)

Yesterday Pastor Michael spoke on “Spiritual Warfare in the Church”. We are well aware of the war going on in Ukraine, but there are other wars going on in the world as well. There are at least ten significant wars happening as I speak. Here in America we don’t hear bombs going off, see or hear missiles being fired, or see war planes or tanks in action. Nevertheless, we are in a war—a spiritual war. We’re in a war that has much greater consequences than where a land boundary line will be drawn. The war we’re in has eternal consequences for all of us. We have an enemy, and that enemy is Satan. 

1 Peter 5:8 says: Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

A lion is a top predator. Lions stalk and kill. They don’t want to hurt their prey; they want to kill their prey. They don’t want to maim their prey; they want to permanently disable their prey by killing it. That’s what the devil wants to do to you! He wants you dead. He wants you permanently out of the game. He wants to destroy your faith in Christ. He wants to destroy the kingdom of God. He wants to destroy the Church, and to accomplish his goal he will do anything necessary to destroy every single disciple of Christ. He will do all he can to pull you away from Christ. It’s an all-out war! 

In Matthew 16:13-18, we read: 

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

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

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

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

Peter got it right; Jesus was the Messiah. Satan can work day in and day out to destroy the kingdom of God, but God’s kingdom is indestructible. 

In the Lord of the Rings movie, there’s a part where the Gates of Mordor are opened and out come swarms of enemies. It appears as if evil can not be stopped because there are so many of them. That’s the picture we have here. Satan has his minions. Behind the gates of hell are swarms of enemies bent on destroying followers of Christ. As the gates of hell are opened, those determined to destroy God’s people and God’s kingdom even enter the church. 

We are in a spiritual war! We have an enemy. His name is Satan, and he has a kingdom—the kingdom of hell. Satan has demons and soldiers with orders to destroy us. 

Paul wrote about the war we’re in in Ephesians 6:10-12

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 

Why do we need armor if we’re not in a war? Even though our spiritual war is not against flesh and blood, Satan uses flesh and blood against us. Acts 20:17-27 says: 

From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents. You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

“Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.

Paul had flesh and blood opponents. Satan uses people to war against the Church, the people of God.

Tomorrow we will continue this recap of Pastor Michael’s message.

Verse Completion. . . when I am weak, then am I strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10 (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/CUBBIddm_rM

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask . . . (completion at the end)

Let’s think about the global mission of the Church. Jesus gave us “The Great Commission” in Matthew 28:18-20 when he said to his disciples,“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Everyone deserves to hear the gospel message from our neighbors to the people on the other side of the earth from us. People in other lands are no different from us; we all need Jesus! We are to spread the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone

Romans 10:13-15 says,For "Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved."

But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, "How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!"

Wherever we find ourselves, we are to be a light for Jesus that dispels the darkness. What's important is that the whole world knows that Jesus died for our sins, and he's theonly onewho can save us from the death penalty that accompanies sin. Union is part of the world, and we can be missionaries here. China is part of the world, and they need to know about Jesus, too. All we have to do is listen to the voice of God telling us where he wants us and then follow through.

Those of us who don't travel to other nations can pray for those who do go. A broad, sweeping prayer for all missionaries is okay, but if we know specific missionaries, we can pray for them specifically.

I grew up with a missionary's kid named Colleen. She met Bob Skinner when she was in college in Nampa, Idaho, and ended up marrying him. They became second generation missionaries to the Philippines. From there they went to Kazakhstan, Poland, and Ukraine.

A few years ago, I heard Bob Skinner speak in Bremerton and tell how they left Kazakhstan and went to Poland. Here is a link to a video of that service. Bob gives a moving message that's worth the time it takes to listen to. I would suggest you start at 12:25 where Bob starts to speak. By the end you will know Bob and Colleen Skinner and be able to pray for them specifically as missionaries. 


Dr. Daniel Timmer is a professor at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He said, “Those of us not living under persecution should make a special point of praying for those who suffer for their faith. Hebrews 13:3 says: Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.

When we pray for the world, we are praying that God would be glorified by those who currently refuse to do so. If they continue to refuse, the consequences can be severe. Romans 1:28 says: And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. As we pray for them, we need to remember we were just as they are: And such were some of you. 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 (1 Corinthians 6:11). 

Since the world was created for God’s glory, we may pray with boldness for God to receive the worldwide worship he is due. Psalm 67:3-5 says: 

Let the peoples praise you, O God;

let all the peoples praise you!

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,

for youjudge the peoples with equity

and guide the nations upon earth. 

Let the peoples praise you, O God;

let all the peoples praise you!

Revelation 4:11 says:

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things,

andby your will they existed and were created.”

Whatever the form and intensity of the world’s opposition, God is King, and nothing can hinder his plans or resist his power. See the following Psalms: 2, 24, 96-99.

Our prayers for the progress of the gospel and for the removal of all obstacles to it should be filled with compassion for the lost, and for wisdom, love, and trust in the power of the gospel as we bear witness to Christ in the world. 1 Peter 3:14-17 says: But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.

Verse Completion. . . whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. John 15:7 (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/UkGurx7vA3A

Complete the Verse & Name the BookBut the fruit of the Spirit is love, . . .(completion at the end)

Have you given much thought to how you fit into the church body? Romans 12:1-19 says,And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning. Don't think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ's body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

In his grace, God has given different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God's people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you. Don't curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don't be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don't think you know it all!

Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 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.

I Corinthians 12:12-31 points out the importance of each person in the body of Christ:The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, "I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand," that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, "I am not part of the body because I am not an eye," would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?

But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, "I don't need you." The head can't say to the feet, "I don't need you."

In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.

All of you together are Christ's body and each of you is a part of it. Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church: first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages.

Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts.

But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all.At this point, Paul writes about love.

God has his hand on your life (read Psalm 139). You have a place in his body, and it's an important place. If you've found that place, pray that the Lord would help you serve well. If you haven't found that place, start looking for opportunities to serve. Ask God where he would like you in his body. Listen to people saying to you, "You're really good at _________.” God has given you a gift that should be shared with others.

All the parts of an engine are important. When all the parts are in place and functioning as they should, the engine purrs. When one part is not functioning well, the whole engine is affected. Pistons are important, but so is the tiny little jet in the carburetor! We can have a wonderful engine with all the right parts, but if we don't have any gasoline, what good is it? If we don't have the Holy Spirit working in us, what good are we?

Let's all pray that God would show us where we fit in the engine. Once we know what part we are and what function that part plays in the engine, we need to be joyful in that role and do our part well as we are led by the Holy Spirit. 

God is tuning up the engine at NCCU. Anything out of balance will be brought into balance for a smooth operating machine that can accomplish God’s will and bring glory to his name.

Verse Completion. . . joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (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 BookMany deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is . . . (completion at the end)

How’s your personal walk with our Savior, Jesus Christ? John 10:27 says,My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

As we listen for the voice of God, it's good to remember when God spoke to Elijah in I Kings 19:11-13a:"Go out and stand before me on the mountain," the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

We have to be still, and know that I am God! (Psalm 46:10a) This is just the opposite of how the world gets our attention. There's a reason commercials on TV have a louder volume than the regular program; they want our attention. 

God is always present; we just have to listen to him. Acts 17: 24-27 says,“He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn't live in man-made temples, and human hands can't serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.

"His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.

Jeremiah 29:13 contains the words of the LORD,"If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me."Around us, there are a lot of voices clamoring to be heard. If we're not careful, we'll miss the voice of God. "Be still, and know that I am God!" (Psalm 46:10a)

I know my wife's voice; I can pick it out of a crowd. The reason is I hear it often. Daily we communicate with each other. Sometimes she is talking; sometimes I'm talking. I'm not saying it's 50/50, but there is still listening and speaking. It's the same with God; in order to know his voice, we have to communicate daily with him. Part of the time we are talking, and part of the time we are listening. Hopefully, we're listening more than we’re speaking.

Mother Teresa had an interesting perspective on prayer. Skye Jethani tells about it in his bookWith:

While Jesus certainly prayed vocally both in private and public, these utterances did not encompass the fullness of his relationship with his Father. A fuller reading of the Gospels shows that Jesus lived in constant communionwith the Father even when no words were used. This fuller understanding of prayer is often perplexing to those who have only known prayer as communication.

For example, in the 1980s Dan Rather interviewed Mother Teresa. The CBS anchor asked her, "When you pray, what do you say to God?"

"I don't say anything," she replied. "I listen."

"Okay," Rather said, taking another shot at it. "When God speaks to you, then, what does he say?"

"He doesn't say anything. He listens."

Rather didn't know how to continue. He was baffled.

"And if you don't understand that," Mother Teresa added, "I can't explain it to you."

This communion view of prayer is what Paul meant when he commanded Christians to "pray without ceasing." Paul was calling us to live as Jesus did—in constant connection with God even when no words are exchanged. This is made possible by the presence of God's Spirit within us.

The Bible is God's living word. Reading it and meditating on it is a vitally important way to hear from God. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says:"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work."

1 Thessalonians 2:11 says: "Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn't think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe."

Let's spend time today reading his word, meditating, pondering, praying, and communing with God as we seek a deeper relationship with him.

Verse Completion. . . the deceiver and the antichrist. 2 John 1:7 (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/TqzbBiGVnf8

Complete the Verse & Name the BookSo then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, . . . (completion at the end)

Today we will conclude a recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon on “The Design and Order of the Church”

There’s order and design in the human body. There’s order and design in the universe. There’s order and design in our culture and society. There’s also order and design in the church. The church has authority. There are chains of command in the church. As followers of Christ, we use our talents, abilities, and time with order and design with the purpose of maximum impact for God. 

Hebrews 13:17 says: Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. 

There are lines of authority in the church. There’s order and design in the church. Some people have leadership roles while others do not.

In Acts 15 we read about a dispute that took place. Some believers said salvation was by faith alone and not by works, while others were saying works, such as circumcision, were necessary for salvation. To settle the dispute, they turned to the apostles. They recognized the apostles had authority to make decisions and give direction to the church. They recognized the design and order in the church. They recognized that God has set up authority in the church in order to lead people closer to Christ so spiritual growth, spiritual health, and spiritual well-being can take place.

In 1 Timothy 3:14-15 Paul tells us: Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

Paul is saying there’s design and order for the church. There’s a right way and a wrong way for people to conduct themselves in the church. God has called leaders and given them authority to help run the church effectively so there will be maximum impact for the kingdom of God. 

2 Thessalonians 3:11-15 says: We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good. Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer.

Clearly, there are lines of authority in the church, but not everyone believes those lines of authority, and not everyone follows those lines of authority. There are people who come to church who do not follow Jesus as Lord and Commander of their lives. They want to live their lives their own way. 3 John 1:9-11 says: I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.

Diotrephes did not recognize the authority of John that God had given him. Diotrephes wanted to be the authority. He wanted power, control, and influence. Some people in church do evil things because they’re not following the design and order of God.

Christ is the head of the church. The pastor at NCCU is not the head of the church. The elder team is not the head. The governing board is not the head. The church staff are not the head. Ministry leaders are not the head. Christ is the head of the church. Leaders at NCCU look to Jesus for direction and guidance. Leaders at NCCU say, “Jesus, we will do whatever you tell us to do.” 

If the leadership goes off the rails and teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and godly teaching (see 1 Timothy 6:3), then we don’t follow that leadership regardless of who they are. 

With authority comes accountability. Authority that causes chaos or places attention on themselves rather than God should not be in authority. Ephesians 5:21 gives balance to authority: Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.Because we have reverence for Christ, we submit to others. 

We are all in this together. We are one big team working together to further God’s kingdom. We are many parts but one body. No one part is more important than another part. Let’s work together so we can have maximum impact for the kingdom of God. 

Verse Completion. . . not to unbelievers, but to those who believe. 1 Corinthians 14:22 (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/_9PO1o8Okyk

Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon on “The Design and Order of the Church”. God clearly made the human body with design and order as all the systems of the body work together to produce a well-functioning body. The universe clearly screams out design and order with the stars, planets, and everything else created by God.

There’s design and order to our society. God has designed the way in which human beings live. Romans 13:1-7 tells us:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Disciples of Christ are folks who obey authority. They submit to God’s order in society. Paul was writing during the Roman Empire when Christians were being persecuted, and yet Paul says to be people of design, order, and peace—not people of chaos and confusion. God’s kingdom is never built by chaos, confusion, and corruption. 

Any government that rules by chaos, confusion, and/or corruption is not ruling how God has asked them to rule. Not all authority recognizes that their authority comes from God. We are to submit to human authority except when that authority goes against God’s word, will, or ways. For example, Daniel refused to follow the edict that said “anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to King Darius, shall be thrown into the lions’ den.” When Daniel heard the edict, he opened his windows toward Jerusalem, got down on his knees and prayed to God three times a day (see Daniel 6). God’s order always trumps any other order. 

Another example of not following the authority of man is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. An order had gone out that said: “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace” (Daniel 3:4b-6). Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the furnace when they refused to submit to the governing authorities. They loyalty was to God and not King Nebuchadnezzar.  

In the New Testament we read of Peter and John refusing to obey the Sanhedrin—the highest court of justice and the supreme council in ancient Jerusalem. Acts 4:18-20 says: 

Then [the Sanhedrin] called [Peter and John] in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” 

We read about another time in Acts 5:27-29: The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!

Authority in society is by God’s design, and we are to obey that authority. However, when that authority steps beyond its bounds and goes against God’s words, will, and ways, then we are to follow God’s words, will, and ways and not man’s. 

In 1 Peter 2:13-17 we read:

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. 

We are always to follow human authority when it doesn’t go against God’s authority. Christians are not to be bringing chaos, confusion, and corruption into the world. We are the fullness of Christ. Christ is about design, order, and peace. 

Verse Completion. . . God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16 (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/z-j_1e13qlE

Complete the Verse & Name the BookIn the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know how we ought to pray, but the Spirit himself . . .(completion at the end)

Yesterday Pastor Michael spoke on “The Design and Order of the Church”. Paul was always praying for the Church. He prayed that we would know Jesus better and thereby know the hope to which we’re called—eternal life. When we know Jesus, we know the power of God for living today. Paul prayed we would understand who we are in Christ.

The purpose of the Church is to bring the fullness of Christ to the world. NCCU’s purpose statement is: We exist to promote and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation and sanctification of all people. 

We need to have a plan for accomplishing our purpose. God does have a plan for the Church. The purpose of the church is not accomplished by guess or by gosh. God has given design and order for the way in which the Church carries out its purpose in the world. We find part of that plan in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27:

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

Clearly God has given design and order to the physical body, and Paul compares the Church to the human body. There are many systems in the human body, and they all work together so the body functions well. Our bodies were made by God’s design. They didn’t come about by chance or some evolutionary, accidental process. The human body is the most sophisticated piece of engineering the world has ever seen. 

God has given design and order to the body, and he’s given design and order to the universe. The orbits of the planets around the sun are by design and order. They didn’t fall into place by accident. It’s by God’s design that the earth spins on its axis. It’s by design and order that the stars were placed where they are found. We can count on the laws of the universe because God designed them. The Earth doesn’t take 24 hours to complete a full rotation one day and then 21 hours to complete it the next day. We can depend on it being consistent, because it was designed by God. The gravitational pull we feel is consistent because it was designed by God. 

Tomorrow we will continue with this recap of Pastor Michael’s message.

Verse Completion. . . intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Romans 8:26 (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/3FDTfHMwQcI

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, . . . (completion at the end)

How much thought have you given to the sovereignty of God? Genesis 1:1 says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Since Almighty God created everything, he certainly has the right to be the supreme ruler over all his creation. He has the right to call all the shots. That means we are subject to him; we are under his rule. It is our job to follow his lead. He is God; we are not.

Psalm 24 is a beautiful psalm that acknowledges the sovereignty of God. I encourage you to read the entire psalm. Here are the first 13 verses to get you started:

Let all that I am praise the LORD. O LORD my God, how great you are! You are robed with honor and majesty. You are dressed in a robe of light. You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens; you lay out the rafters of your home in the rain clouds. You make the clouds your chariot; you ride upon the wings of the wind. The winds are your messengers; flames of fire are your servants.

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. Then you 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. They provide water for all the animals, and the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds nest beside the streams and sing among the branches of the trees. You send rain on the mountains from your heavenly home, and you fill the earth with the fruit of your labor.

God spoke to Job and here is part of what he said,"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

"Who kept the sea inside its boundaries as it burst from the womb, and as I clothed it with clouds and wrapped it in thick darkness? For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores. I said, 'This far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!'

"Have you ever commanded the morning to appear and caused the dawn to rise in the east? Have you made the daylight spread to the ends of the earth, to bring an end to the night's wickedness? As the light approaches, the earth takes shape like clay pressed beneath a seal; it is robed in brilliant colors. The light disturbs the wicked and stops the arm that is raised in violence.(Job 38:4-15)

Not only is God sovereign over nature, but he's sovereign over people and their activities as well."The LORD directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?"(Proverbs 20:24) 

"You can make many plans, but the LORD'S purpose will prevail." (Proverbs 19:21)

 Look here, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit." How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it's here a little while, then it's gone. What you ought to say is, "If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that." (James 4:13-15) 

Then the LORD asked Moses, "Who makes a person's mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the LORD? (Exodus 4:11) 

[God] makes everything work out according to his plan. (Ephesians 1:11b) 

Job said to God, "I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you."(Job 42:2) 

When the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, he enabled her to have children, but Rachel could not conceive. (Genesis 29:31)

God is sovereign over life and death.Look now; I myself am he! There is no other god but me! I am the one who kills and gives life; I am the one who wounds and heals; no one can be rescued from my powerful hand!(Deuteronomy 32:39) 

The LORD gives both death and life; he brings some down to the grave but raises others up. (1 Samuel 2:6)

God is sovereign over ALL! Let's acknowledge that fact and give praise to him as we enter his throne in prayer.

Verse Completion. . . but those who are ill. Matthew 9:12 (NASB) See also Mark 2:17 and Luke 5:31-32


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)