Daily Devotion

9/14/19

Good morning, Shrewd as Snakes. (see Matthew 10:16)


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6bYmYK517w


Memory Verse for the Week:"Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two." Matthew 5:41


   Before we take a look at some of the words of wisdom found in Proverbs 17-20, let's take a pretest to see how much we already know.


  1. What is better than a house filled with feasting—and conflict?  a) no conflict  b) a dry crust eaten in peace  c) a feast with friends who can be trusted  d) a meal served with candlelight and soothing music
  2. Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but what does the LORD test?  a) our fruit  b) our actions  c) our comings and goings  d) the heart
  3. What is the crowning glory of the aged?  a) heaven  b) gray hair  c) grandchildren  d) houses and lands
  4. What is good medicine?  a) medicine approved by the FDA  b) medicine approved by The Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER)  c) a cheerful heart  d) acts of kindness  e) exercise
  5. Who are thought wise when they keep silent?  a) kings  b) children c) leaders  d) fools
  6. Who care only about themselves?  a) unfriendly people  b) selfish people  c) those moving up the corporate ladder  d) young children
  7. A man who finds a wife finds a  a) helpmate  b) supporter  c) treasure  d) chore assigner
  8. There are certain people whom if you rescue them once, you will have to rescue them again. Who are they?  a) hot-tempered people  b) borrowers  c) neighbors  d) lazy people
  9. Alcohol leads to  a) poverty  b) addiction  c) brawls  d) poor judgment
  10. What is not a blessing in the end?  a) an inheritance obtained too early in life  b) wealth obtained through trickery  c) good health  d) the rich foods of kings

   Now let's explore Proverbs 17-20:

  • Better a dry crust eaten in peace than a house filled with feasting—and conflict. (17:1)
  • Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the LORD tests the heart. (17:3)
  • Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; those who rejoice in the misfortune of others will be punished. (17:5)
  • Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged; parents are the pride of their children. (17:6)
  • It's poor judgment to guarantee another person's debt or put up security for a friend. (17:18)
  • A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person's strength. (17:22)
  • A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. (17:27)
  • Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent. (17:28)
  • Unfriendly people care only about themselves; they lash out at common sense. (18:1)
  • It is not right to acquit the guilty or deny justice to the innocent. (18:5)
  • The mouths of fools are their ruin; they trap themselves with their lips. (18:7)
  • Haughtiness goes before destruction; humility precedes honor. (18:12)
  • Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge. (18:15)
  • Giving a gift can open doors; it gives access to important people. (18:16)
  • An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars. (18:19)
  • The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the LORD. (18:22)
  • There are "friends" who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. (18:24)
  • Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good; haste makes mistakes. (19:2)
  • People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the LORD. (19:3)
  • Wealth makes many "friends"; poverty drives them all away. (19:4)
  • Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs. (19:11)
  • If you help the poor, you are lending to the LORD—and he will repay you! (19:17)
  • Discipline your children while there is hope. Otherwise you will ruin their lives. (19:18)
  • Hot-tempered people must pay the penalty. If you rescue them once, you will have to do it again. (19:19)
  • You can make many plans, but the LORD'S purpose will prevail. (19:21)
  • Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls. Those led astray by drink cannot be wise. (20:1)
  • Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling. (20:3)
  • The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them. (20:7)
  • Plans succeed through good counsel; don't go to war without wise advice. (20:18)
  • An inheritance obtained too early in life is not a blessing in the end. (20:21)
  • Don't say, "I will get even for this wrong." Wait for the LORD to handle the matter. (20:22)
  • The LORD'S light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive. (20:27)
  • Physical punishment cleanses away evil; such discipline purifies the heart. (20:30)

Note: All the answers to the pretest are contained above. However, the simplified version is found at the end of this email.


Today Dr. Josh Moody helps us understand modes of thinking in the Bible that might be unfamiliar to us: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/hebrews-71-10-greater-than-abraham/


9/13/19

Good morning, Prayer Warriors.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IV5Vdi_55OU


Memory Verse for the Week:"Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two." Matthew 5:41


   Are love and justice in conflict with each other? This was answered yesterday by Dr. Wedman as he led a study on "The Introduction to the Minor Prophets." The minor prophets are not minor because they are less significant than the major prophets. The minor prophets are simply shorter in length than the major prophets.

   The major prophets are: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel. There are 12 minor prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Each of the major prophets was written on a separate, single scroll. All 12 minor prophets were written on a single scroll. The minor prophets are not chronological in our Bible, but in Jewish writings, they were. The minor prophets occurred between 800 B.C. to 400 B.C.

   The message of the minor prophets is:

  • God exists and has a plan.
  • You are part of that plan, but you have wandered outside of His plan.
  • Get back with the plan because judgment is coming for those outside of His plan.
  • God's grace will again come when we are back in His plan.

This is basically the gospel.

   The minor prophets dramatize the character of God.

  1. The sovereignty of God. At this time in history, people were concerned about how the sovereignty of God was at work in the nations. In contrast, the "we're in charge" attitude came about during the Roman Empire and is still prevalent today. The Bible is more interested in the character of the kings than their accomplishments. Nothing that happens today happens without God saying "yea" or "nay." There are two ways at looking at predestination: the narrow approach (everything is already decided by God; I have no say or choice) and the wide approach (God knows what choices we will make. Nothing surprises Him.). God is omniscient. He knows everything. He knows what decision you will make because He knows you (and God was listening to those who were praying for you to make the right decision). 
  2. The holiness of God. God is holy, and sin is an offense to a holy God. The minor prophets denounce sin. Sin has consequences. There is a call to repentance. We are saved by faith and walk by faith. There is a sense of knee-knocking that should occur in us as we look at God with awe and highest respect. God deserves honor.
  3. The love of God. The love of God is seen through judgment. Love and justice go together; they are not in conflict with each other. God does not want anyone to perish. We have a message of hope. God disciplines us because He loves us just as parents discipline the children they love. God is working to restore creation to Himself. God's sovereignty and holiness compels Him to love us. Sin is destructive and always has a penalty: For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23) Don't sweep sin under the rug; deal with it.

   Timelines of the Bible are difficult. For example, a king might have ruled for four years and two months, but he is recorded as being king for five years. A son and father might reign at the same time for a period of time so there is overlapping periods of reigning.


Note: The next study on the minor prophets will take place on Thursday at 9:30 am at Alderbrook Golf Clubhouse. All are welcome to attend. If you can't attend, you can listen on Facebook.


Today, Dr. Josh Moody discusses God's promise that if we trust in Christ, we will inherit all the blessing of God forever: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/hebrews-613-20-the-promise-of-god/


9/12/19

Good morning, Citizens of Heaven.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZW4_8_zCBE


Memory Verse for the Week:"Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two." Matthew 5:41


     Today we are blessed to have the testimony of our church secretary, Brenda Washburn:


Grief…. Here is the definition of Grief:

 /greef?

Noun

Deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death. “She was overcome by grief”

Synon: sorrow, misery, sadness, anguish, pain, distress, agony, torment, affliction, suffering, heartache, heartbreak, broken heartedness, heaviness of heart, woe, despondency, dejection, despair, angst, mortification;


Grief is often thought of as a destructive intruder, but few realize that grief is one of the most powerful teachers you can learn from. When embraced, grief will teach you how to love God and others much more deeply, how to live a fuller life, and to not take life or ordinary moments for granted. Storms of grief hit and life becomes crystal clear and gives a fresh a brand-new perspective on God, life, and everything else for that matter.


When one goes through grief, the invaluable opportunity to understand, love, know, and experience God more deeply immediately begins. He is the key to creating a more vibrant purposeful life in spite of grief.


We have all experienced grief from a death. Mourning the loss of anyone takes time, but research tells us that it can also be the catalyst for a renewed sense of meaning that offers purpose and direction to life. That is what happened to me.  


This is my testimony. God has always been in my life. I have been going to churches as long as I can remember. My mother always took us to church, though we didn’t have our own church. She believed that one must go to every denomination of church there was and you can pick the one you like when you get older. So, we went to every house of God she could find, anywhere we lived. And I had God!


Through all these years, God has never let go of my hand. I have lived though many situations that would have put other people into turmoil and could make some just give up. I can’t give up; I am the daughter of a Sargent Major in the Marine Corps; so, you never give up. Many of you have heard me say that “God sent me to the desert” And he has done just that. 


In 2014 I had owned a store for 6 years with my then business partner Jerry. Unfortunately, it had to close. When that happened, I lost my income, my business, my home and was recently divorced after 34 years of marriage to the father of my two daughters. I left Union for 20 months to Bellingham to “start over” But I had God! I started my new life, fell in love with my best friend of 12 years, Jerry. We got married, made plans, picked out a new home and 91 days after we married & he died. Once again, I lost everything! But I had God! My husband Jerry before he died told me “you go back to Union and fall in love again”. Yes, I yelled at him, “I will never do this again!” I mean, I was still a newlywed and I was planning my husband of 3-months funeral with him! But never say never. But I still had God! So, I came back to Union, a 58-year-old widow, homeless, with no job, and no money.  I moved back on a Thursday, drove back to Bellingham for Jerry’s funeral Saturday and walked into the doors of the firehall that Sunday. I started going to counseling for myself a few weeks later. I had God and he had me! Six months after I started going to counselling, I asked my counselor how I could help others with grief. I got my degree as a Certified Peer Counselor less than 14 months after losing my husband. I asked God for scripture and this is what he gave to me. 


1 Corinthians 12:27-28

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.


Now let me break this into what I have gotten out of this:


“Now you are the body of Christ and each of us are individual members of it.” Because I am a member of the body of Christ, I must be a functioning member of that body, I can be an “eye”, and “ear”, or a “hand”. As a functioning member, I will give. I will serve. I will minister. I will evangelize. I will study. And I will seek to be a blessing to others… God has made me into who I am here and now. 


Psalm 34:17-18 reads:

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;

He delivers them from all their troubles.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.


Grief, loss, and hardships can leave you feeling resentful, hurt, helpless, and powerless. During life’s tough events, we have only two choices: to resent God and our grief… OR… embrace God and our grief. Grief hurts, it can take the wind from your sails! I can and does make you cry, you hurt and the pain really never goes away. The tears still come, just a bit less often. Grief is universal, it is also very personal, everyone grieves differently. People feel that going to a grief support group is not a fix, but it is a tool. Sometimes all is good and then it hits you unexpectedly right when you think you had come to the end of it. Reality is… you loved someone who is now gone, we are human and therefore selfish, we just want them still with us. So, you think I don’t need a support group, but do you know who are there? Others who hurt just like you, and God brings all of us together, not just to share, but to use the tools of his word, to put all our parts together. Our body of Christ together, to heal, to help, and share. These are our gifts he has given us. We are here in this body to be one together as he wants it. Together we are one body and his body brings such joy to each other and to him!


God cares so much about our grief and He can truly understand each and every teardrop that falls. In fact, He cares so much about you that he has collected EVERY tear you’ve ever cried.


Psalm 56:8 reads:

Record my misery;

List my tears on your scroll,

Are they not in your record?


Trust God today and embrace Him with everything you’ve got! He is watching over you and He will never leave or forsake you! Even when a situation seems hopeless, He always has a plan to see you through… He is there for the entire life-long marathon.


2 Timothy 4:7 reads:

I have fought the good fight,

I have finished the race,

I have kept the faith.


And in closing: There are many grief experiences that can break your heart, but you can always be assured that God has the power to accomplish good through each experience and use it as a powerful testimony to bring those around you to the Cross, saving many lives. As we allow God to build faith and hope into our lives during grief, He in turn will have a much greater capacity to use us for His glory to minister to others!


Brenda Washburn



Today Dr. Josh Moody answers the question, "Is it really possible to say that there are people who have 'shared in the Holy Spirit' and 'tasted the word of God' who are not in the end saved?" https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/hebrews-61-12-stay-faithful/


9/11/19

Good morning, Loved by God.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7lv9oMjv_0


Memory Verse for the Week:"Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two." Matthew 5:41


A common practice of teachers is to give a pretest to the students prior to teaching a unit to see what they know about the subject. Let's take a pretest of Proverbs 12:1-16:33.


  1. In order to learn, what is it we must love?     a) God     b) discipline     c) books     d) to drink from the fountain of knowledge
  2. What brings healing?     a) words of the wise     b) prayer     c) confession     d) acts of kindness
  3. What stands the test of time?     a) a strong foundation     b) character     c) truthful words     d) faith
  4. What cheers a person up?     a) money     b) food     c) new clothes     d) an encouraging word
  5. Who hate their children?     a) those who have too many     b) evil parents     c) those who are selfish     d) those who spare the rod of discipline
  6. What is the path before each person that ends in death?     a) the one that is wide     b) the one that seems right     c) the one that is smooth     d) the one full of darkness
  7. What is like a cancer in the bones?     a) jealousy     b) hatred     c) foolishness     d) laziness
  8. A bowl of ____________ with someone you love is better than ____________ with someone you hate.     a) manna/lamb     b) broccoli/lasagna     c) vegetables/steak     d) lentils/wine
  9. What are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body?     a) exercise     b) wisdom     c) kind words     d) cheerful looks


Now let's look at some of the words of wisdom found in Proverbs 12:1-16:33.

  • To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction. (12:1)
  • Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing. (12:18)
  • Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed. (12:19)
  • Deceit fills hearts that are plotting evil; joy fills hearts that are planning peace! (12:20)
  • The wise don't make a show of their knowledge, but fools broadcast their foolishness. (12:23)
  • Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up. (12:25)
  • Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper. (13:4)
  • Some who are poor pretend to be rich; others who are rich pretend to be poor. (13:7)
  • Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time. (13:11)
  • Wise people think before they act; fools don't—and even brag about their foolishness. (13:16)
  • Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. (13:24)
  • Those who follow the right path fear the LORD; those who take the wrong path despise him. (14:2)
  • There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. (14:12)
  • Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains. (14:13)
  • The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence. (14:16)
  • It is a sin to belittle one's neighbor; blessed are those who help the poor. (14:21)
  • Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty! (14:23)
  • People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness. (14:29)
  • A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones. (14:30)
  • Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but helping the poor honors him. (14:31)
  • A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. (15:1)
  • Better to have little, with fear for the LORD, than to have great treasure and inner turmoil. (15:16)
  • A bowl of vegetables with someone you love is better than steak with someone you hate. (15:17)
  • Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time! (15:23)
  • A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health. (15:30)
  • If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. (15:31)
  • If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding. (15:32)
  • People may be pure in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their motives. (16:2)
  • Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed. (16:3)
  • We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. (16:9)
  • Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall. (16:18)
  • Better to live humbly with the poor than to share plunder with the proud. (16:19)
  • The wise are known for their understanding, and pleasant words are persuasive. (16:21)
  • Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. (16:24)
  • There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. (16:25)
  • We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall. (16:33)



Note: The answers to the pretest are included in the text above. However, if you'd like the simplified version, go to the end of this email.


Are we growing in our spiritual faith or are we still in the nursery? This is the topic of Dr. Josh Moody: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/hebrews-5-meat-or-milk/


9/10/19

Good morning, Hungry and Thirsty (for righteousness).


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJ_b4-W1dSc


Memory Verse for the Week: "Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two." Matthew 5:41


   A common practice of teachers is to give a pretest to the students prior to teaching a unit to see what they know about the subject. Let's take a pretest of Proverbs 10:3-12:16.


  1. Who will the LORD not allow to go hungry?  a) poor  b) godly  c) hard workers  d) givers
  2. What is it that makes up for all offenses?  a) love  b) gifts  c) kindness  d) prayer
  3. What do evil people squander on sin?  a) their lives  b) their time  c) their talents  d) their money
  4. What do the lips of the godly speak?  a) prayers  b) helpful words  c) songs of praise  d) unknown languages
  5. What is it the LORD detests?  a) dishonest scales  b) gossip c) slander  d) false teaching
  6. What is it that won't help on the day of judgment?  a) good works  b) riches  c) position  d) family
  7. To become more wealthy . . .  a) work harder  b) keep company with the wealthy  c) save rather than spend  d) give freely
  8. Who stays calm when insulted?  a) nobody  b) law enforcement  c) a wise person  d) godly people


   Now let's look at some of the words of wisdom found in Proverbs 10:3-12:16.

  • The LORD will not let the godly go hungry, but he refuses to satisfy the craving of the wicked. (10:3)
  • Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich. (10:4)
  • The godly are showered with blessings; the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions. (10:6)
  • The wise are glad to be instructed, but babbling fools fall flat on their faces. (10:8)
  • Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses. (10:12)
  • The earnings of the godly enhance their lives, but evil people squander their money on sin. (10:16)
  • Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. (10:19)
  • Doing wrong is fun for a fool, but living wisely brings pleasure to the sensible. (10:23)
  • When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation. (10:25)
  • The lips of the godly speak helpful words, but the mouth of the wicked speaks perverse words. (10:32)
  • The LORD detests the use of dishonest scales, but he delights in accurate weights. (11:1)
  • Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. (11:2)
  • Riches won't help on the day of judgment, but right living can save you from death. (11:4)
  • A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence. (11:13)
  • Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers. (11:14)
  • Your kindness will reward you, but your cruelty will destroy you. (11:17)
  • Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. (11:24)
  • The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. (11:25)
  • Trust in your money and down you go! But the godly flourish like leaves in spring. (11:28)
  • To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction. (12:1)
  • The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel. (12:10)
  • A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense. (12:11)
  • Wise words bring many benefits, and hard work brings rewards. (12:14)
  • A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted. (12:16)

   Tomorrow we will follow the same pattern as we look at more of Proverbs.


Note: All of the answers to the quiz were provided in the text above. However, the simplified version is available at the very end of today's email.


Do you ever use the word of God as a sword? Do you pray with confidence? Dr. Josh Moody explores these topics: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/hebrews-412-16-bible-and-prayer/


9/9/19

Good morning, Jesus Worshipers.


Song of the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBl84oZxnJ4


Memory Verse for the Week: This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:8


   Are you exclusive or inclusive? Pastor Michael covered this topic in his sermon "The Wide and the Narrow" based on Matthew 7:13-29.

   Have you received an exclusive offer in the mail? The seller is attempting to make you feel like you are special; this offer is only going out to a select few. There are exclusive clubs. When you're one of the exclusive members, you feel honored. However, the ones who are excluded from the club don't feel honored. We don't like the feeling of being excluded.

   Elementary schools are inclusive. Kids' sports are inclusive. Any kid is welcome.

   A driver's license is exclusive (not everyone who wants a license is granted a license). Doctors and pilots are exclusive (only those completing the qualifications are allowed to have the title). House builders are exclusive (not everyone who wants to build a house is allowed to). 

   Jesus was inclusive and exclusive. He was exclusive when he said, "You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it." (Matthew 7:13-14) Not all roads lead to heaven.

   John 14:6 has the following words of Jesus: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me."

   Acts 4:10-12 says, "Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, 'The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.' There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved."

   Acts 16:29-31 says, The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

   They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household."

   Salvation is found in Jesus only.

   Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from GodSalvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it."

   II Peter 3:9 shows us the inclusivity of Jesus: "The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent." Jesus died for everyone. He wants everyone to come to repentance. 

   I Timothy 2:3-5 says, "This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time."

   John 3:16-17 says, "For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him." Jesus paid the penalty for every person's sins.

   Matthew 7:15-20 says, "Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can't produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can't produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions."

   A false gospel will be presented by pastors, Sunday School teachers, elders, and others. The Bible is truth. We have to study the Bible carefully so we will know when falsehood is being presented to us. Those who can identify counterfeit dollar bills spend a lot of time carefully examining genuine dollar bills.

   The character of a false prophet can be seen in his/her actions over a period of time. In the winter, a fruit tree is difficult to identify. In the spring, when leaves first begin to appear, it's still difficult to identify. However, when we wait and give the tree more time to identify itself, in time, it will be very clear as to what kind of tree it is, especially when the fruit appears. We know the character of people over time. Time will reveal who a person really is.

   Matthew 7:21-23 says, "Not everyone who calls out to me, 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, 'Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' But I will reply, 'I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God's laws.' " Some people want to be identified as disciples of Jesus but they are just pretenders. A big red flag should go up when we hear the words, "Look at what I've done for Jesus. Look at me!" Works should be done for Jesus only, not anyone else. What we do outwardly counts for naught; Satan can do miracles. 

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

   Salvation is through Jesus alone. This is foundational to discipleship. Jesus must be our foundation upon which we build. Only Jesus can save—simply Jesus.

   Communion is exclusive and inclusive. It's exclusive in that only believers in Jesus may partake. It's inclusive in that it doesn't matter what church you belong you.


Dr. Josh Moody writes about rest in the following: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/hebrews-41-11-enter-that-rest/


9/7/19

Good morning, Followers of The Way.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6xxWGWpaUQ


Memory Verse for the Week: This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:8


     What is the foundation of wisdom? According to Proverbs 9:10, it's the fear of the LORD. Does it seem to you that fear of the LORD permeates our society? If not, that might explain the lack of wisdom we find around us. The book of Proverbs was primarily written by Solomon, considered by many to be the wisest man who ever lived. Let's spend some time digesting words of wisdom from Proverbs.


     Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. (1:7)

     If a bird sees a trap being set, it knows to stay away. But these people set an ambush for themselves; they are trying to get themselves killed. Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life. (1:17-19)

     For the LORD grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.  He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him. (2:6-8)

     Wisdom will save you from evil people, from those whose words are twisted. These men turn from the right way to walk down dark paths. They take pleasure in doing wrong, and they enjoy the twisted ways of evil. Their actions are crooked, and their ways are wrong.

     Wisdom will save you from the immoral woman, from the seductive words of the promiscuous woman. She has abandoned her husband and ignores the covenant she made before God. Entering her house leads to death; it is the road to the grave. The man who visits her is doomed. He will never reach the paths of life. So follow the steps of the good and stay on the paths of the righteous. (2:6-20)

     Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don't be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.

     Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats with overflow with good wine.

     My child, don't reject the LORD's discipline, and don't be upset when he corrects you. For the LORD corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights. (3:5-12)

     Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it's in your power to help them. If you can help your neighbor now, don't say, "Come back tomorrow, and then I'll help you." (3:27-28)

     The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like total darkness. They have no idea what they are stumbling over. (4:18-19)

     Guard you heart above all else, for it determines the course of you life. Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech. Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don't get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil. (4:23-27)

     For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil. But in the end she is as bitter as poison, as dangerous as a double-edged sword. (5:3-4)

     Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. (5:18)

     Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber. (6:6-11)

     But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys himself. (6:32)

     Choose [wisdom's] instruction rather than silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold. For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it.

     I, Wisdom, live together with good judgment. I know where to discover knowledge and discernment. All who fear the LORD will hate evil. Therefore, I hate pride and arrogance, corruption and perverse speech. Common sense and success belong to me. Insight and strength are mine. (8:10-14)

     Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get an insult in return. Anyone who corrects the wicked will get hurt. So don't bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you. But correct the wise and they will love you. Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous and they will learn even more. (9:7-9)


     And the next verse is what we started with: Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment. (9:10) Let's make sure we have a good foundation of wisdom and then build on it as we follow God's words to us.


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Today Dr. Josh Moody writes about the importance of us listening to God as He speaks to us in Christ: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/hebrews-3-listen/


9/6/19

Good morning, Former Rebels Against God.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiatOIz8h0A


Memory Verse for the Week: This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:8


   What does the Bible say about speaking in tongues? There are several places in the New Testament where tongues are mentioned:

  • Mark 16:15-20
  • Acts 2:1-47
  • Acts 10:44-48
  • Acts 19:1-7
  • I Corinthians 12:7-31
  • I Corinthians 13:1-13
  • I Corinthians 14:1-40

   Let's take a look at I Corinthians 14:1-33, 39-40.

   

   Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy. For if you have the ability to speak in tongues, you will be talking only to God, since people won't be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious. But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them. A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally, but one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church.

   I wish you could all speak in tongues, but even more I wish you could all prophesy. For prophecy is greater than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so that the whole church will be strengthened.

   Dear brothers and sisters, if I should come to you speaking in an unknown language, how would that help you? But if I bring you a revelation or some special knowledge or prophecy or teaching, that will be helpful. Even lifeless instruments like the flute or the harp must play the notes clearly, or no one will recognize the melody. And if the bugler doesn't sound a clear call, how will the soldiers know they are being called to battle?

   It's the same for you. If you speak to people in words they don't understand, how will they know what you are saying? You might as well be talking into empty space.

   There are many different languages in the world, and every language has meaning. But if I don't understand a language, I will be a foreigner to someone who speaks it, and the one who speaks it will be a foreigner to me. And the same is true for you. Since you are so eager to have the special abilities the Spirit gives, seek those that will strengthen the whole church.

   So anyone who speaks in tongues should pray also for the ability to interpret what has been said. For if I pray in tongues, my spirit is praying, but I don't understand what I am saying.

   Well then, what shall I do? I will pray in the spirit, and I will also pray in words I understand. I will sing in the spirit, and I will also sing in words I understand. For if you praise God only in the spirit, how can those who don't understand you praise God along with you? How can they join you in giving thanks when they don't understand what you are saying? You will be giving thanks very well, but it won't strengthen the people who hear you.

   I thank God that I speak in tongues more than any of you. But in a church meeting I would rather speak five understandable words to help others than ten thousand words in an unknown language.

   Dear brothers and sisters, don't be childish in your understanding of these things. Be innocent as babies when it comes to evil, but be mature in understanding matters of this kind. It is written in the Scriptures: "I will speak to my own people through strange languages and through the lips of foreigners. But even then, they will not listen to me," says the LORD. (Isaiah 28:11-12)

   So you see that speaking in tongues is a sign, not for believers, but for unbelievers. Prophecy, however, is for the benefit of believers, not unbelievers. Even so, if unbelievers or people who don't understand these things come into your church meeting and hear everyone speaking in an unknown language, they will think you are crazy. But if all of you are prophesying, and unbelievers or people who don't understand these things come into your meeting, they will be convicted of sin and judged by what you say. As they listen, their secret thoughts will be exposed, and they will fall to their knees and worship God, declaring, "God is truly here among you."

   Well, my brothers and sisters, let's summarize. When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you. 

   No more than two or three should speak in tongues. They must speak one at a time, and someone must interpret what they say. But if no one is present who can interpret, they must be silent in your church meeting and speak in tongues to God privately.

   Let two or three people prophesy, and let the others evaluate what is said. But if someone is prophesying and another person receives a revelation from the Lord, the one who is speaking must stop. In this way, all who prophesy will have a turn to speak, one after the other, so that everyone will learn and be encouraged. Remember that people who prophesy are in control of their spirit and can take turns. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God's holy people.

   So, my dear brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and don't forbid speaking in tongues. But be sure that everything is done properly and in order.


   Now let's take a quick quiz on what we just read (answers at the end):

  1. What should be our highest goal?  a) speaking in tongues  b) the ability to prophesy  c) love  d) faith
  2. Who gives us the ability to prophesy and speak in tongues?
  3. A person who prophesies:  a) strengthens others  b) encourages others  c) comforts others  d) does all these things  e) does none of these things
  4. A person who speaks in tongues strengthens:  a) a weaker brother or sister  b) their faith  c) the entire church  d) himself or herself
  5. Which is greater: prophecy or speaking in tongues?
  6. What is the condition attached to #5? 
  7. What does Paul say is helpful? More than one letter may be chosen.   a) a revelation  b) speaking in tongues  c) some special knowledge  d) prophecy  e) teaching
  8. If someone speaks in tongues, what should they pray for?
  9. When a person prays in tongues, do they understand what they are praying?
  10. Paul said in a church meeting he would rather speak __________ understandable words to help others than __________ words in an unknown language.
  11. Speaking in tongues is a sign for:  a) prophets  b) priests  c) unbelievers  d) believers  e) all of these
  12. Prophecy is for the benefit of: a) prophets  b) priests  c) unbelievers  d) believers  e) all of these
  13. In a church meeting, when will unbelievers say, "God is truly here among you."  a) when they hear prophesying  b) when they hear speaking in tongues  c) when they see the lame walk  d) when they see how much everyone loves each other  e) all of these times
  14. What is the max number of people who should speak in tongues or prophesy during a church meeting?  a) one  b) two  c) three  d) four  e) there is no stipulation
  15. This quiz is:  a) fun  b) a big waste of my time  c) too difficult  d) too easy  e) helpful in clarifying the content of I Corinthians 14  f) confusing

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Answers to today's quiz:

  1. c) love
  2. the Holy Spirit
  3. d) does all these things
  4. d) himself or herself
  5. prophecy 
  6. unless someone interprets what you are saying
  7. everything except b
  8. the ability to interpret what has been said
  9. no
  10. 5; 10,000
  11. c) unbelievers 
  12. d) believers
  13. a) when they hear prophesying 
  14. c) three
  15. You are right!

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Dr. Josh Moody writes an excellent analysis of suffering: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/hebrews-210-18-the-god-with-the-scars-on-his-hands/

9/5/19

Good morning, Faithful Followers of Jesus.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVsRM55_jsE


Memory Verse for the Week: This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:8


   I have asked for testimonies for quite some time and today we are blessed to hear from a retired pastor—my brother-in-law, Dr. Herb Ireland. He recently set up a scholarship of distinction

(https://www.nts.edu/ireland-scholarship) to help ministers financially get through seminary. He was asked to write a bit of his background, and I'd like to share that with you today:



It was a cold winter day as I sat in Dr. Willard Taylor’s class on the New Testament. My feet were especially cold because as I had walked through the snow the cardboard that I had stuffed inside my shoes to cover the holes began to disintegrate and allow the wetness to seep into my shoes. As I listened to his lecture and fought off cold feet, the Holy Spirit asked me a penetrating question: “Will you tithe 20% of your income to me?” I was stunned and shocked by the question. In my mind I answered, “What are you asking me to do? Can’t you see the financial situation we are in? We are so poor and why pick on me?” Yes, I knew the promise of God from Malachi 3:10: “Bring your full tithe to the Temple treasury so there will be ample provisions in my Temple. Test me in this and see if I don’t open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams.” (Message Bible) However, in the financial shape my wife and I were in this seemed a long shot indeed.

After graduating from Pasadena Nazarene College, we owned two lowboy bookcases, a desk and our recent wedding gifts. These items were merged with another couple going to Nazarene Theological Seminary in an old truck they had purchased. Upon arrival in Kansas City the Living Lord led us to rent a furnished house that most importantly had a garden. It was from this garden that we were able to harvest food as our finances were very low. My wife, Carolyn, worked in the youth department and her first paycheck did not come until she had worked for two weeks. It was in this context that the Divine Questioner asked, “Will you tithe 20% of your income to me?” I must admit that my wife of less than a year took many steps of faith to join me in answering, “Yes, we will tithe 20% of our income to you.”

As we ministered in four churches during 35 years, we witnessed again and again God’s provisions for our needs. Upon graduation we were invited to pastor the Hillview Church of the Nazarene in Boise, Idaho. I remember so vividly the day we received a letter from the district superintendent and the offer to come and be their pastor for $70.00 a week and an additional $5 a week if we would do the janitoring. But the greatest blessing was that the present pastor was moving to Kansas City to attend NTS and they left all the furnishing in the parsonage, including curtains. It did not take us long to accept this pastoral call and rejoice in God’s care and provision for our needs. These years of double tithing included careful budgeting, not buying many of the items others were purchasing and carefully saving for putting our two children through Nazarene college. From today’s perspective I must admit that our positive answer to the startling question was pregnant with divine blessing upon blessing.


Are you going through a rough time in your life? If so, I would encourage you to listen to the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulmaUtbayGY

9/4/19

Good morning, Fellow Believers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E00j5xGeDm8


Memory Verse for the Week: This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:8


     What two character traits does the Bible say should be written deep within our hearts? We find the answer in Proverbs 3:1-4:


     My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying. Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.


     It sounds like loyalty and kindness are highly valued characteristics. Let's explore a few people in the Bible and see if we can identify any demonstrations of these characteristics.

  • Noah: God told Noah, "Build a large boat from cypress wood and waterproof it with tar, inside and out. Then construct decks and stalls throughout its interior. Make the boat 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. Leave an 18-inch opening below the roof all the way around the boat. Put the door on the side, and build three decks inside the boat—lower, middle, and upper." (Genesis 6:14-16) Noah did everything God commanded, showing his loyalty. The care he gave all the animals implies his kindness.
  • Abraham and Isaac: God told Abraham, "Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you." (Genesis 22:2) Abraham went to do exactly that but was stopped by an angel. Abraham loved Isaac so much, but he proved his loyalty to God with his act of obedience. Isaac proved his loyalty to his father (who was over 100 years old) by not resisting him. 
  • When there was a dispute over land, Abraham told Lot, "The whole countryside is open to you. Take your choice of any section of the land you want, and we will separate. If you want the land to the left, then I'll take the land on the right. If you prefer the land on the right, then I'll go to the left." (Genesis 13:9) This shows what a kind man Abraham was.
  • Joseph: After Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, when he had the opportunity to punish them for it, he didn't. Genesis 45:1-5 tells this part of the story: Joseph could stand it no longer. There were many people in the room, and he said to his attendants, "Out, all of you!" So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was. Then he broke down and wept. He wept so loudly the Egyptians could hear him, and word of it quickly carried to Pharaoh's palace. "I am Joseph!" he said to his brothers. "Is my father still alive?" But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them. "Please, come closer," he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, "I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don't be upset, and don't be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives." Joseph was loyal to his brothers even when they weren't loyal to him. Joseph extended kindness to his brothers, even though they had sold him to slave traders. 
  • Moses: He announced to Pharaoh nine times the bad news God told him to deliver: plague of blood, plague of frogs, plague of gnats, plague of flies, plague against livestock, plague of boils, plague of hail, plague of locusts, and the death of Egypt's firstborn. He was loyal to God.
  • The kindness of Moses is shown in his plea for the LORD to spare the lives of the Israelites. Exodus 32:9-14 says: Then the LORD said, "I have seen how stubborn and rebellious these people are. Now leave me alone so my fierce anger can blaze against them, and I will destroy them. Then I will make you, Moses, into a great nation." But Moses tried to pacify the LORD his God. "O LORD!" he said. "Why are you so angry with your own people whom you brought from the land of Egypt with such great power and such a strong hand? Why let the Egyptians say, 'Their God rescued them with the evil intention of slaughtering them in the mountains and wiping them from the face of the earth'? Turn away from your fierce anger. Change your mind about this terrible disaster you have threatened against your people! Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You bound yourself with an oath to them, saying, 'I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven. And I will give them all of this land that I have promised to your descendants, and they will possess it forever.' " So the LORD changed his mind about the terrible disaster he had threatened to bring on his people.
  • Ruth: Who could dispute the loyalty of Ruth to her mother-in-law, Naomi? Ruth 1:16-17 reveals the depth of her loyalty: But Ruth replied, "Don't ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!" 
  • The kindness of Ruth is shown in how she labored tirelessly in the harvest fields to provide food for Naomi and her. The kindness returned to her when the owner of the field, Boaz, took notice of her. Let's pick up the story in Ruth 2:10-13: Ruth fell at [Boaz's] feet and thanked him warmly. "What have I done to deserve such kindness?" she asked. "I am only a foreigner."
  • "Yes, I know," Boaz replied. "But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. May the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done."
  • Tabitha: She was a kind person. Acts 9:36 says, "There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha (which in Greek is Dorcas). She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor."

     We have just scratched the surface of people in the Bible who demonstrated the character traits of loyalty and kindness. Who else in the Bible comes to mind when you think of loyalty and kindness?

     What would happen if we started demonstrating more loyalty to God and kindness to others? What would happen in our marriage if we piled loyalty and kindness on our mate? What would happen at work if we were 100% loyal to our employer and immediate boss? What would happen if we showed nothing but kindness to our co-workers? What would happen if loyalty and kindness were demonstrated all the time in our church. What would loyalty and kindness to our pastor look like? 

     Let's work on loyalty and kindness all day today and in the days to come until they are written deep within our hearts.


Dr. Josh Moody has a great devotional today. Please visit this website: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/hebrews-110-14-better/


9/3/19

Good morning, Grafted Branches.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BPoMIQHwpo


Memory Verse for the Week: This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.Joshua 1:8


     Today's devotional has an unusual beginning:


Famous Rock in Brazil

In Brazil, people take spectacular pictures tempting fate by hanging from this famous rock.

Check out these pictures right to the very end to discover just how dangerous it really is!

No, absolutely none, photo shop. These are real pictures : See the last one.


The truth is, the rock is only a few feet above the ground.

All that is required is the proper perspective!

Remember this lesson when you read/view material on the internet.

Sometimes, the truth is a lot different than what it appears.

NOW YOU KNOW WHAT FAKE NEWS REALLY MEANS !

A terrific portrayal of why you should not believe everything you see in pictures.

These are NOT photoshopped.   It is all a matter of perspective!

This was sent to me from a friend, and I couldn't help thinking about its application to our Christian lives. Things aren't always as they appear. Sometimes it may appear that someone means harm to you, but when you go to that person and explain what you heard, you find out something completely different. You looked at the issue from one perspective, but you needed to back off and look at it from a different perspective that showed you the whole issue instead of one small part.

When I first looked at these photos, I was deceived. I based what I saw on my experiences hiking. One time I was in South Africa and hiked up Lion's Head in Cape Town. When we got to the top, I saw this man standing out on this rock:


MOI


There is no deception with this photo; it is over 2,000 feet to the water. The drop off from where this man is standing is probably over 1,000 feet straight down. I hadn't seen anything quite like it. You can see the path he had to take to get to where he stood. I wouldn't have crawled out there! I talked to him after I took the photo, and he said he had grown up around this type of thing, and heights did not frighten him.

     I'm an experienced hiker, but the previous photos deceived me. We have to be on our toes or we can be deceived by Satan. Colossians 2:8-10 says,

     Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

     II Timothy 3:13-17 says,

     But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived.

     But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 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.

     Scripture is our compass that shows us how to navigate through this life and arrive at our final destination—heaven! The best part about heaven is Jesus; seeing the One who died for our sins. Meanwhile, we have to stay alert so we aren't led astray by the evil one. II Peter 2:1-4 says,

     But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed.

     For God did not spare even the angels who sinned. He threw them into hell, in gloomy pits of darkness, where they are being held until the day of judgment.

     I Peter 5:8-11 says,

     Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devourStand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

     In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. All power to him forever! Amen.

     Mail fraud, phone scammers, door-to-door scammers, email scammers, false religious teachers . . . there's no end to those who would attempt to deceive you. Being deceived could cost a person a lot of money, but worse is being deceived by Satan. To keep that from happening, we have to spend time studying the Scriptures which contain nothing but truth. The experts can spot a phony dollar bill because they have spent a lot of time studying the legitimate dollar bill. We will be able to spot lies when we have spent a lot of time studying truth—the word of God.



9/2/19

Good morning, Transformed Thinkers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBvU7arNhQs


Memory Verse for the Week: Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6


   Yesterday, we heard a stirring message from Jim Adams titled "Not Satisfied; Wanting More of God." It centered around I Timothy 1:17: "All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen."

   Before we begin, know that Jim has prayed for Pastor Michael every single day since he entered the ministry. 

   I will use the first person point of view to relay Jim's sermon:

   Who am I? I'm a follower of Jesus Christ. I'm also a medical doctor. I have lived in a variety of places including: Raymond, WA, Spokane, WA, Edmonton, Canada, Russia, Mexico, Laos, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Zambia, Papua New Guinea.

   My spiritual journey started in Raymond, WA. My mom (101 years old and in the service) was my Sunday School teacher. In high school, I was known as the "religious boy." I was active in the Boy Scouts and became an Eagle Scout. When I was in tenth grade, I asked God to prove himself to me. I had to wait ten months for an answer, but God did prove himself to me at track practice. It was then that I knew God was for real.

   When a friend, Gary, was 16 years old, he topped a hill in a car and struck a child on a bicycle killing him. God told me to go talk to Gary. I had no words to say to him, so I just prayed. God pulled Gary out of his depression.

   Do you have an assurance you will go to heaven? What if you were on the outside of heaven and asked, "Why should I allow you into heaven?" How would you answer that question? John 3:16 says, "For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." I knew I had fire insurance, but I wanted to know more of God; I wanted to grow in Christ. 

   I became a physical trainer for a football team. When asked to stay on rather than go to seminary, I put out a fleece. There were four trees I saw as I looked out the window. I asked God to give me a sign: if remaining with the football team was God's will, then God would cause the third tree to blow in the wind, but the other three trees would remain perfectly still. That's exactly what happened. I then asked that the fleece be confirmed with another fleece. Shortly thereafter, a high school kid said to me, "This is where you belong." I became a professional football trainer instead of a seminary student. The training I received for taking care of injured football players, led me to becoming a medical doctor.

   I heard about Scott falling off a roof and breaking his neck. God told me to go see him. I didn't really want to, but I was obedient. After prayer, Scott said he felt bad around his heart. I prayed that the demons in Scott would leave, and three left him. But there were more demons in Scott. Then three angels showed up including Michael. All the demons left Scott, and today Scott is a psychiatrist. 

   World Medical Missions was something I became interested in. I applied, but my wife told me not to go on a mission. I prayed more about it, and decided to fast as well. I asked seven men to fast with me—one for each day of the week. I started fasting on Wednesdays. I eventually got to where I ate nothing and drank nothing for a 24 hour period. My daughter and I eventually went to Kijabe Medical Center in Kenya. A demon told me my daughter would not be safe in Kenya—rapes were common. I told the demon to leave.

   Upon arrival in Kenya, I was placed in obstetrics—something I knew "nothing" about. I had received no special training in this area. I was told that since I was a doctor, I would be given the patients with complications. My first patient was a breech baby (head coming out last instead of first). I prayed and the baby was born easily.

   From there I went to Hermosillo, Mexico, where I was to run a medical clinic. The temperatures ranged from 100-116 degrees every day. I didn't know it then, but I was being groomed for Sudan.

   Mana Methodist Hospital in Kenya was my next place of residence. Matthew 25:21 has the words of Jesus, "The master was full of praise. 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let's celebrate together!' " My experiences caused my faith in God to grow. I wanted even more of God. I wanted to experience him even more than I had in the past.

   My Nicaragua Mission Trip was a very difficult experience, but my Laos Mission Trip was my best experience even though I was part of a ragtag team. There were numerous complications with travel and a demon told me, "You won't make the flight." This was the same demon I had dealt with before, and I told him, "Get out of here!" He has not been back since.

   God told me I could go to heaven now or have one more job. I opted for the job which took me to Galmi Hospital in Niger (the heart of Sudan). I was prayed for prior to going, and a prayer warrior said to me, "God will put a mantle of protection over you." One night, at 1:30 a.m., Satan himself entered my room. He walked around it for several minutes, but God put a wall of protection around me. Satan tried to get to me from every angle, but I had a mantle of protection that completely encompassed me. God protected me from Satan.

    Behind the Veil has stories from experiences in Kapswar Hospital in Kenya. Hell can be seen from heaven. Hell is a very real place. 23 Minutes in Hell by Bill Wiese tells of one man's story about what he saw, heard, and felt in hell.

   I another experience in the Kudjip Hospital in Papua New Guinea. 

   The book/movie, Heaven Is for Real by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent is the astounding story of a little boy's trip to heaven and back. I wanted to have an experience like those I read about in the books. I was taken to heaven and washed in Jesus' blood and made more righteous. I sat on God's lap and danced with him.

   After all these amazing experiences, I could have stopped. But I still wanted more of God! Do you want more of God? Do you want to know God more? Do you want to grow your faith more? Do you desire physical, emotional, or spiritual healing? Come forward and let's pray together.


Note: Jim spoke quickly. I hope I have all the facts correct. I apologize for any errors you might find. I know Jim wanted us to not be satisfied with where we are with Jesus. Jim desires for all of us to want more of God. The closer we draw near to God, the more we will want to draw even closer.


For an additional devotional by Dr. Josh Moody, please visit this website: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/hebrews-11-9-gods-last-word/


8/31/19

Good morning, Laborers for Jesus.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOGOMFwM0Qo


Memory Verse for the Week: Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6


   Here is a prayer written after reading Genesis 6-7 and Matthew 3-4:


   Lord, your word teaches us that it was you sent the flood that destroyed all but Noah's family because people were wicked, corrupt, and intent on evil. The earth was filled with violence. However, Noah found favor in your eyes because he was a righteous man, blameless, and he walked with you. Form us into righteous people, blameless, and disciples who walk with you daily. May we listen to your voice and obey it. The story of Noah shows us you take sin seriously. May we also take sin seriously and remember sin leads to death.

   Your word teaches us to confess our sins and be baptized. May our repentance be genuine and not lip service. May our lives reflect sorrow for our sins and bring forth good fruit so others can see a change of heart in us.

   Not only do we want to be baptized with water, but we want you to baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire. We want all of you: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Fill us with you.

   Lord, we know temptations will come our way just as they came your way. Help us to battle with the sword of the Spirit which is your word. You answered every temptation with a quote from Deuteronomy. May we be faithful servants who daily meditate upon your word so we will be equipped to battle the tempter when he comes our way.

   When you called, Simon Peter and Andrew immediately left their nets and followed you. May we respond the same way when you call us to task.

   May we proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom to those around us just as you did.

   We marvel at your power to heal every kind of disease. Only you are all powerful and we humbly bow before you and worship you. Only you are worthy of worship and praise.

   In the name of Jesus, amen.


   I have shared some popular verses that are often quoted out of context. I John 4:8 is one of those. The following article is taken from TableTalk Magazine, August, 2019, and is used with permission:


Moi1


MOI2


8/30/19

Good morning, Light Shiners.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPWq8eM4lu8


Memory Verse for the Week: Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6


   Is confession difficult for you? It's easier for me now than it was for me when I was kid. I would feel the Holy Spirit convicting me of sin, but I wouldn't confess. Finally, I would surrender to God, and confess my sins. It would be like a huge backpack full of rocks was removed off my shoulders. Then I would wonder what took me so long to confess my sins. God was standing there with open arms, and I was avoiding him. It doesn't make any sense! Yet, I find myself doing it still today. Perhaps it's pride that gets in the way; I don't want to admit I'm a sinner saved only by grace. There's nothing in me that makes me good enough to enter the presence of Jesus. Only his grace and mercy allow me into his presence. 

   I suspect you have had similar experiences, because this is nothing new. David wrote about it in Psalm 32:


    Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.

   Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, "I will confess my rebellion to the LORD." And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.

   Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment. For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory.

   The LORD says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control."

   Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the LORD. So rejoice in the LORD and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!


   I think I just got called a senseless horse or mule. That's actually very accurate—not wanting to be controlled by anyone but me. I've been like the unbroken horse that refuses a bit and bridle. Unfortunately, a life not surrendered to God is a wasted life. Only when I've confessed my sins and surrendered my will to God has my life amounted to anything that counts for eternity.


   I John 1:5-10 illustrates the importance of confession:


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

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


   Proverbs 28:13 says,


   People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.


   Acts 3:19-20 says,


    Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah.


   Let's not add any more rocks to our backpack. Let's confess our sins that times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord!


8/29/19

Good morning, Anchored in Jesus.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSAc5Z2lprk


Memory Verse for the Week: Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6


   How disciplined are you? To be an athlete, a person must be disciplined. The dictionary defines discipline as "training oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way." I define it as "making yourself do what you don't feel like doing."

   Perhaps the epitome of discipline is the Navy Seals. Arline's son, Michael, was a Navy Seal for 20 years. I can't imagine the extreme mental and physical discipline he had to exert to reach that level of excellence. I have always admired highly trained military men and dreamed of being in an elite force like the Navy Seals. However, I knew I'd never be able to complete the training—I'd wash out when it came to sleep deprivation. Nevertheless, I have the utmost respect and admiration for those who are able to rise to the highest levels of discipline like Michael.

   When entering a stress test like the Navy Seals, it doesn't matter how a candidate starts out in training. A guy could start out at the top of his class and never complete the training. All that matters is how a candidate finishes. If he finishes the program and doesn't get washed out in the process, he's in. Finishing is what's critical.

   The Apostle Paul likened our spiritual journey with Jesus to a race. We have to be disciplined, focused, and willing to persevere to the very end no matter how difficult the race becomes. I Corinthians 9:24-27 says,


    Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with a purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.


   One of obstacles that can take us out of the race is falling for false teaching—believing false truths as Pastor Michael talked about on Sunday. In Galatians 5:7-10, Paul said,


   You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn't God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough! I am trusting the Lord to keep you from believing false teachings. God will judge that person, whoever he is, who has been confusing you.


   Satan will put many other obstacles in our pathway as we are running, but Hebrews 12:1-4 tells us what we can do:


   Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people, then you won't become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.


   In the Olympics, when a race is completed, the top three winners of the race are given a medal. The rest receive nothing. In the spiritual race we are running, everyone who finishes receives something far more precious than a gold metal. Paul tells about it in II Timothy 4:1-8:


   I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.

   For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears what to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

   But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don't be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling other the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.

   As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.


   Let's make sure we finish the race, and encourage those running along beside us. If they falter, let's give them a hand. We're all in this race together. Let's discipline ourselves to do what needs to get done so we can finish strong. The race isn't over until we cross the finish line, and only those crossing the finish line collect the prize of eternal life with Jesus.


8/28/19

Good morning, Mountain Movers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrF0UzdyPOM


Memory Verse for the Week: Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6


     Yesterday, I mentioned some Scriptures I was reading that reminded me of Pastor Michael's sermon this past Sunday on false truths. Today I was reading some articles, and two of them reminded me of some of the things mentioned in the sermon. I'd like to share two articles taken from TableTalk Magazine, August, 2019, issue (used with permission):


MOI1


MOI2


MOI3


MOI4



If you have some extra time today, I would encourage you to listen to this audio by Dr. Josh Moody on "The Gospel and Justification":  https://godcenteredlife.org/broadcast/the-gospel-and-justification-part-1/


8/27/19

Good morning, Truth Seekers and Finders.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmY3jSugNBU


Memory Verse for the Week: Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6


     Have you ever had God reinforce a sermon for you? The last two sermons of Pastor Michael have been reinforced with the Scripture passages I have read in my devotions. On Sunday, Pastor Michael talked about false truths. I was reading in Psalm 119:103-105:


     How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey. Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life.

     Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.


     Psalm 119: 128 says,


     Each of your commandments is right. That is why I hate every false way.


     Psalm 119:142-144:


     Your justice is eternal, and your instructions are perfectly true. As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands. Your laws are always right; help me to understand them so I may live.


     Psalm 119:160-163:


     The very essence of your words is truth; all your just regulations will stand forever. 

     Powerful people harass me without cause, but my heart trembles only at your word. I rejoice in your word like one who discovers a great treasure. I hate and abhor all falsehood, but I love your instructions.


     Psalm 120:1-4:


     I took my troubles to the LORD; I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer. Rescue me, O LORD, from liars and from all deceitful people. O deceptive tongue, what will God do to you? How will he increase your punishment? You will be pierced with sharp arrows and burned with glowing coals.


     Psalm 122:1 also caught my attention:


     I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD."


     I am glad I can go to the house of the LORD where truth is spoken. II Timothy 2:15 says, "Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth." We are blessed to have a shepherd who is not ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. 



I would encourage you to read this short article called "Devoted to Doing what Is Good" by Dr. Josh Moody: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/titus-39-15-devoted-to-doing-what-is-good/


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!



8/26/19

Good morning, People of Truth.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgvV_iQW4O0


Memory Verse for the Week: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15


   When was the last time you heard a false truth? It's probably not a week or day ago; it was probably a matter of hours or minutes ago. We live in a world of false truths, and Pastor Michael's sermon "Asking and Finding" addressed this issue and what to do about it.

   We find false truths in the political arena, entertainment (reality TV), and even from fact checkers. Money is behind so many false truths. False truths have been around for a long time—they always sound like the truth. There's a ring of truth in what is said. When Satan deceived Eve, what he said sounded believable. We wouldn't fall for a falsehood, but we do fall for false truths.

   John 8:31-47 says,


   Jesus said to the people who believed in him, "You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

   "But we are descendants of Abraham," they said. "We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, 'You will be set free'?"

   Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there's no room in your hearts for my message. I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father."

   "Our father is Abraham!" they declared.

   "No," Jesus replied, "for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. Instead, you are trying to kill me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. No, you are imitating your real father."

   They replied, "We aren't illegitimate children! God himself is our true Father."

   Jesus told them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. Why can't you understand what I am saying? It's because you can't even hear me! For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lied, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don't believe me! Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don't you believe me? Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don't listen because you don't belong to God."


   We don't know truth, because we don't know Jesus. There is no truth in Satan. Are we pretenders/actors/masqueraders, or are we for real? The Pharisees were actors, and so are we. We believe we are somebody other than who we really are. 


   Matthew 7:7-12 says,


    "Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened o you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

   "You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

   "Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets."


   Don't be an actor:

  • when you pray
  • when you give
  • when you fast
  • when you discuss your spiritual life
  • with your relationship with God (act like you're serving God when you are serving yourself)
  • with your judgments (acting like others are evil and you are not)
  • with your relationship with others

Be people of the truth. We need to be operating in the truth, but we have a sinful nature. There is nothing good in us without Jesus. We are born with a sinful nature. We are evil without Jesus. We are all pretenders. The good news is Jesus doesn't leave us in our sin. Matthew 7:7 says, "Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you."

   Ask Jesus for more of him. We get out of false truths by having more of Jesus. Want the Giver more than the gifts. Seek God for God. Seek God for others (their spiritual well-being). Ask yourself, "Will this help the person know God?" 

   We want more of God in our lives, and we can have more of him if we'll ask, seek, and knock. We need to give up trying to control God or manipulate him and others.

   It's time for reality spirituality. Press forward. Let's not act or put on masks. Let's be people of truth.


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!


8/24/19

Good morning, Holy People.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tz6-IqN2ruc


Memory Verse for the Week: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15


   Who are you? . . . doctor, logger, teacher, server, truck driver, executive? What if that was stripped away from you, then who would you be? . . . mother, father, husband, wife, aunt, uncle? What if that was stripped away, then who would you be? Who are you?

   This question was asked in the excellent movie that my wife and I went to see yesterday. It's called Overcomer and is from the creators of War Room, Courageous, and Fireproof. The star of the movie is a fifteen year old girl named Hannah. When she accepted Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior, she is told she is a new creature. Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun. II Corinthians 5:17b

   Hannah is told to read the first two chapters of Ephesians and write out who she is in Christ. Let's do that today.

   When we join the family of God through faith, we are:

  • holy people
  • blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms
  • united with Christ
  • loved by God
  • chosen by God in Christ
  • without fault in God's eyes
  • adopted into God's family
  • people who have had God's grace poured out on us
  • people whose freedom was purchased with the blood of Jesus because of the kindness and grace of God
  • showered with God's kindness, wisdom, and understanding 
  • people God chose to reveal his mysterious will regarding Christ
  • people who have received an inheritance from God
  • people who bring praise and glory to God
  • God's own
  • given the Holy Spirit
  • purchased by God with the blood of his Son, Jesus
  • God's rich and glorious inheritance
  • God's body made full and complete by Christ
  • given life just as Jesus was given life when God raised him from the dead
  • saved by God's grace, a gift from God
  • seated with God in the heavenly realms
  • examples of the incredible wealth of God's grace and kindness
  • God's masterpiece
  • created anew in Christ Jesus
  • able to do the good things God planned for us long ago
  • brought near to God through the blood of Christ
  • receivers of peace
  • one with all other believers
  • people without hostility toward others
  • no longer strangers and foreigners but citizens of heaven
  • members of God's family
  • part of God's house with the cornerstone being Jesus
  • where God lives by his Spirit

   Who are you? You're all the above in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. Let's never forget who we are!


   I would encourage you to go see Overcomer. Here is a trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGyieGVn4P4


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!


8/23/19

Good morning, Family of God.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bj97unXda6c


Memory Verse for the Week: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15


   Are you adopted? My wife has been adopted twice. The first time she was adopted was in Houston, Texas. She was 36 hours old and was taken in by a very loving family—the Allmans. Her adoptive father was a chaplain in the Air Force at the time. They adopted a total of six kids: three from Korea, one from Alaska, one from Germany, and one from Texas.

   The second time my wife was adopted was at a church camp in Colorado. The invitation to accept Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior was extended to everyone at the camp. Laurie went forward and was adopted a second time—into the family of God.

   Anyone can be adopted into this amazing family of God in a matter of minutes. Our church has a pamphlet called "Steps to Peace with God." In this booklet, the following steps are laid out:

  • Recognize God's purpose: to bring peace and life. 
  • Romans 5:1: Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.
  • John 3:16: "For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."
  • John 10:10: "The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life."
  • Recognize the problem: our separation from God
  • Romans 3:23: For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard.
  • Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Recognize our attempts to reach God: through good works, religion, philosophy, morality.
  • Proverbs 14:12: There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.
  • Isaiah 59:2: It's your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.
  • Recognize our attempts to reach God fall short. There is only one bridge that reaches God: the cross of Jesus
  • I Timothy 2:5: There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. 
  • I Peter 3:18: Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.
  • Romans 5:8: But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
  • Recognize we have a choice: receive Jesus or not.
  • Revelation 3:20: "Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends."
  • John 1:12: But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
  • Romans 10:9: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

   In the booklet, a simple prayer is included:


Dear God, I know that I am a sinner. I want to turn from my sins, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe that Jesus Christ is your Son. I believe he died for my sins and that you raised him to life. I want him to come into my heart and to take control of my life. I want to trust Jesus as my Savior and follow him as my Lord from this day forward. In Jesus' name, amen.


   When this (or any similar prayer of repentance and belief in Jesus) is prayed, the person who prayed this is instantly adopted into the family of God. Ephesians 1:4-5 says,


   Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance toadopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.


   II Corinthians 6:18 says,


   And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.


   John 1:12-13 says,


   But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.


   Galatians 4:4-7 says,


   But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, "Abba, Father." Now you are no longer a slave but God's own child. And since you are his child,God has made you his heir.


   Today, I was reading Psalm 119:63:


   I am a friend to anyone who fears you—anyone who obeys your commandments.


I started thinking about how I have met total strangers who were part of the family of God, and there was an instant bond. It didn't matter what color their skin was, their socioeconomic status, or anything else. "I am a friend to anyone who fears [God]." There's a huge family of God, and it's growing larger each day. We are to see that that happens. 

   So are you adopted? I pray you are!


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!


8/22/19

Good morning, Disciples of Christ.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OBRvxrzhqs


Memory Verse for the Week: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15


     After reading Genesis 1-2 and Matthew 1, here is a prayer that might be offered up to God:


     Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for creating the heavens and the earth. Nothing can compare to your power, might, and creativity. We stand in awe of you and worship you. All credit, all glory, all praise belongs to you. You spoke the universe into existence: the sun, moon, stars, water, beasts, plants . . . everything was made by you, and we give you the glory.

     You created man out of dust, and to dust we will return. In the short time we have left here on earth, may we live lives that honor you and bring glory to your name.

     Thank you for making a helper for men. It would be terribly lonely without a woman. You designed us to be together as man and wife, leaving our father and mother to form our own family. May we highly esteem our wives and love them as much as we love ourselves. Thank you for this tremendous blessing.

     God, you promised us you would send the Messiah through David. Your Word is true and shows just how that took place. Thank you for sending your only son, Jesus, conceived by the Holy Spirit  and born through the virgin Mary. It is through Jesus that we are saved from our sins. We are helpless to save ourselves.

     Thank you for your creating power and saving power. We give you all the glory. In the name of Jesus, Amen.


     After reading Genesis 3-5 and Matthew 2, the following prayer might be said:


     Father God, sin has consequences. When you tell us not to do something, we need to obey. You have our best interests in mind. Fill us with your Holy Spirit that we might be empowered to resist temptation. May we recognize your voice and follow it. Keep us from being deceived by Satan like Eve was. Remind us how Satan is the father of all lies. May we not fall victims to his schemes. Help us to master sin and be victorious over it.

     When we do sin, help us to take responsibility for it and not try to blame others as Adam and Eve did.

     Sin often starts as an attitude like it did with Cain. His attitude of unbelief was not checked, and it led to his brother's death. God, help us to keep our attitudes in check and be quick to repent when they aren't pleasing to you. Help us to nip sin in the bud before it blossoms.

     Thank you for validating your Word. You prophesied, through your prophet Micah, the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem 700 years before it happened . 

     Your Word shows us you are in control of everything, and your will will happen. You warned the magi not to return through Jerusalem so Herod would not harm Jesus. Lord, we rest in you knowing you have everything under control. Our trust is in you alone. It's you and you alone we worship. There is no one like you! In the name of Jesus, Amen.


What does Dr. Moody say is one of the top ten passages to memorize in the New Testament? He provides these verses and elaborates on them in his devotional: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/titus-211-15-grace-applied-and-taught/


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!



8/21/19

Good morning, God Praisers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDXtZAFUBlI


Memory Verse for the Week: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15


   Do you feel like praising God today? If you do, great! If you don't, offer up a sacrifice of praise and see what happens. Does it seem like there's nothing worthy of praise in your life? The Psalms offer suggestions for praise. Let's begin with Psalm 113:


    Praise the LORD! Yes, give praise, O servants of the LORD. Praise the name of the LORD! Blessed be the name of the LORD now and forever. Everywhere—from east to west—praise the name of the LORD. For the LORD is high above the nations; his glory is higher than the heavens.

   Who can be compared with the LORD our God, who is enthroned on high? He stoops to look down on heaven and on earth. He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes, even the princes of his own people! He gives the childless woman a family, making her a happy mother. Praise the LORD!


   Are you getting warmed up? Let's keep the praises rolling with Psalm 115:


   Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness. Why let the nations say, "Where is their God?" Our God is in the heavens, and he does as he wishes. Their idols are merely things of silver and gold, shaped by human hands. They have mouths but cannot speak, and eyes but cannot see. They have ears but cannot hear, and noses but cannot smell. They have hands but cannot feel, and feet but cannot walk, and throats but cannot make a sound. And those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them.

   O Israel, trust the LORD! He is your helper and your shield. O priests, descendants of Aaron, trust the LORD! He is your helper and your shield. All you who fear the LORD, trust the LORD! He is your helper and your shield.

   The LORD remembers us and will bless us. He will bless the people of Israel and bless the priests, the descendants of Aaron. He will bless those who fear the LORD, both great and lowly.

   May the LORD richly bless both you and your children. You may be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth. The heavens belong to the LORD, but he has given the earth to all humanity. The dead cannot sing praises to the LORD, for they have gone into the silence of the grave. But we can praise the LORD both now and forever! Praise the LORD!


   And now Psalm 117:

   

   Praise the LORD, all you nations. Praise him, all you people of the earth. For his unfailing love for us is powerful; the LORD's faithfulness endures forever. Praise the LORD!


   Let's conclude the "formal" praising with Psalm 118:28-29:


   You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you! Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.


   Let's keep the praises flowing all day today. Sing the "Song for the Day" and praise God for who he is, what's he's done in the past (before you were born), what he's done in the past in your life, and what he's going to do in the future. Praise the LORD!



Rather than an attachment today, here is a wonderful devotional from Dr. Josh Moodyhttps://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/2-timothy-31-9-the-real-gospel-and-real-christlikeness/


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!


8/20/19

Good morning, Transformed Thinkers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G689PlEXiXk


Memory Verse for the Week: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15


   When was the last time you were in a storm? One pastor used to say, "You're either in a storm, coming out of a storm, or heading into a storm." Some storms are small; others nearly take us out.

   When I was a kid in the Philippines, we used to take a small boat (maybe around 20 passengers) from Manila and cross the bay to a military base. One day there was a big storm, and the waves were huge. Our family was sitting at the very back of the boat and there was only one other couple on board. Right before we'd head into an extra big wave, the skipper would cut the engine. We seemed to head straight up and then straight down. My dad acted like we were on a thrill ride at the fair. My mom . . . not so much. My dad's lack of fear made me not afraid and even enjoy the excitement. When we arrived safely at the dock, we found out they canceled all other trips due to the storm.

   Psalm 107:23-32 says,


   Some went off to sea in ships, plying the trade routes of the world. They, too, observed the LORD'S power in action, his impressive works on the deepest seas. He spoke, and the winds rose, stirring up the waves. Their ships were tossed to the heavens and plunged again to the depths; the sailors cringed in terror. They reeled and staggered like drunkards and were at their wits' end. "LORD, help!" they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor! Let them praise the LORD for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. Let them exalt him publicly before the congregation and before the leaders of the nation.


   What are some storms you have faced in your life? The biggest storm I ever faced was a divorce. I married for life. My family was the most important thing in my life, and, after twenty-four years, to see it break apart was gut-wrenching. I didn't have my dad next to me to comfort me and assure me everything was going to be okay. The waves got extremely high, and I didn't know if I was going to stay afloat or sink. I turned to God for help and guidance, and He was there every step of the way. A support group of family and friends helped a great deal, too. 

   I changed churches, and even though there was literally over a thousand in attendance, it seemed as though Pastor Mehl was speaking directly to me. The church provided a godly counselor that helped my three daughters and me immensely. I started to see that God was calming the waves. Finally, the storm was over. There was still driftwood and debris piled up on the shore, but the storm was over. God had been faithful to me; he saved me from my distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves.

   Because of the divorce storm I had been through with Jesus next to me, I came out stronger on the other side. When children in my classroom saw their parents going through a divorce, I could now be empathetic. I understood what they were going through. Prior to my divorce, I thought I understood how they felt, but I really had no understanding of how deep the hurt went. When divorce happens, a child's world starts to fall apart. They need stability in their life, and I was able to contribute more than I had prior to my own divorce.

   God can take the bad that happens in our life and turn it into good. Romans 8:28 says,


    And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.


   Another bad storm I faced was melanoma cancer. When I saw what the doctor had done in surgery, I feared the worst. I thought my time here on Earth might come to an end in the near future. I was prepared for the bad report, but was praying for the good report. Praise God, it was a good report. However, if I'd received the bad report, it wouldn't have shaken my faith in God. My faith is not based on circumstances; it's based on a person—Jesus Christ. Circumstances constantly change, but He never changes. He knows what He's doing, and I trust Him completely. Deuteronomy 7:9 says,


    Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.


   Are you in a storm, coming out of a storm, or heading into a storm? There's no storm so bad that God will say, "I'm bailing!" The words of Moses in Deuteronomy 31:6 ring true today:


    "So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you."


   Psalm 118:1 says,


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


   God will see you through the storm you are in or in the one that's on its way. Stick close to His side, and you will come out stronger on the other end. James 4:8a says,


   Come close to God, and God will come close to you.


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!


8/19/19

Good morning, Jesus Worshipers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c94kMA5IgKo


Memory Verse for the Week: Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14


   What do you use to wake up? Sam Uch asked this question in his sermon "God's Wake-up Call" based on II Chronicles 7:14:


    Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.


   We have busy lives, get tired, and want to sleep. We even fall asleep in church. Sometimes we need some wake-up espresso to physically wake us up. But what do we do when we need to be awakened spiritually? We need to be revived by a work of God.

   Who hinders revival? We do. We hinder our relationship with Jesus. We need to reach out to the world that is decaying. It's our responsibility to witness. We tend to stay on the fence, but we need to step out for Christ.

   Christ loves us more than we love our own children. Deuteronomy 11:13-14 says,

 

    "If you carefully obey the commands I am giving you today, and if you love the LORD your God and serve him with all your heart and soul, then he will send the rains in their proper seasons—the early and late rains—so you can bring in your harvests of grain, new wine, and olive oil."


   We need to give God everything. We need to take time to spend in relationship with Jesus. Rejoice in the Lord!

   Lack of obedience is a lack of love for God. Obedience is hard. We don't like to follow the speed limit (even though it is designed for everyone's safety) because we are in a hurry to get to where we're going. We have a hard time being obedient to God too.

   We have a responsibility to do the work God has given us to do. We have to persevere through the hardships that come our way. We have purpose, and it's in Jesus. We have to remember there's a reward in heaven waiting for us.

   We need to humble ourselves as Christ followers. We need to be broken daily. Acknowledge God for who He is. Psalm 51:17 says,


    The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.


   There is no prayer in school, and no prayer in our churches. We need to cling to Jesus, seek Him, desire Him, and don't give up on Him. 

   Being holy in a morally decaying place is not easy. We need to support and encourage each other. When we open our hearts, heaven will open. Ask for divine intervention in your life. There's power in Jesus. All things are possible through Him. 

   God wants to wake you up. What do you need to wake up from?


Revival




For an additional devotional, please go to: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/2-timothy-310-17-encouragement/


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!


8/17/19

Good morning, Servants of the King.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YUPJUJLUkg


Memory Verse for the Week: Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14


   Earlier this week, I mentioned the importance of not isolating an individual verse in the Bible and drawing conclusions that don't fit the context of the verse. The example given was Jeremiah 29:11.

   There's another verse that is sometimes taken out of context and that is Matthew 7:1: "Judge not, that you be not judged." Pastor Michael gave an excellent sermon on this verse, so a lot of what you will read today you heard in the sermon this past Sunday. Pastor Michael's passage he spoke from was Matthew 7:1-6:


   "Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

   "And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye.

   "Don't waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don't throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you."


   The August, 2019, issue of TableTalk Magazine has an excellent article (used with permission) that explores Matthew 7:1:


Moi1


Moi2

Normally, I attach an article for extra reading. For a change, I am going to include a website address that will take you to an short devotional I think you'll enjoy. It reminded me of meeting we had at the Hood Canal School when Pastor Michael was officially declared our shepherd. As Patti Duckworth led us, we repeatedly responded with, "Preach the Word!" That's exactly what Pastor Michael has done. We are truly a blessed congregation. Here's the website: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/2-timothy-41-8-preach-the-word/


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!


8/16/19

Good morning, Praise Singers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsXMRVUG3vU


Memory Verse for the Week: Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14


   Do you pray as you read God's Word? Some chapters lend themselves to prayer more than others, but prayer should always accompany reading the Bible.

   For Psalm 101, I will print the chapter in bold print and a prayer that might accompany it in italics:


   I will sing of your love and justice, LORD. Jesus, you have given me so much love; I'm embarrassed with the amount of love I have returned to you. You loved me so much you gave your life for me. I should have hung on the cross for my sins, but you said, "No, let me die in his place. I love that man so much, I want him to go free, so put me on the cross instead of him." I don't know why you would leave heaven's glories to rescue a sinner like me, but I'm grateful you did! Help me to love others with your kind of love. I will praise you with songs.


Thank you for the cross, Lord

Thank you for the price You paid

Bearing all my sin and shame

In love You came

And gave amazing grace

Thank you for this love, Lord

Thank you for the nail pierced hands

Washed me in Your cleansing flow

Now all I know

Your forgiveness and embrace

Worthy is the Lamb

Seated on the throne

Crown You now with many crowns

You reign victorious

High and lifted up

Jesus Son of God

The Darling of Heaven crucified

Worthy is the Lamb


I will be be careful to live a blameless life—when will you come to help me? I haven't been careful to live a blameless life. I haven't measured up to your expectations of me. I want to live a blameless life; I want to bring glory to your name in all I do, but I know I fall short far too often. I need the Holy Spirit living within me to help me live a blameless life. Holy Spirit fill me. Get rid of the garbage I have allowed into my life. Clean my heart; make it pure. I will lead a life of integrity in my own home. This is what I want to happen. I can't be a witness for you to others until I'm a witness in my own home. May I be the same person to my wife in my home that I am out of the home. May I elevate my wife so others look at her with the honor she deserves. May there be nothing that is hidden from my wife. Make me into a man of integrity. I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar. There are so many things on the Internet that are vile and vulgar. The devil is crafty and makes week old fish in the garbage look and smell like fresh lasagna right out of the oven. May I see vile and vulgar things for what they truly are—putrid garbage wrapped in Christmas paper. Jesus, you are my deliverer. You are the one who sets me free from bondage to worldly lusts. I hate all who deal crookedly; I will have nothing to do with them. Give me the courage to fight crookedness that I see happen. God, you stand for justice. You stand for what is right. May I do the same. May I hate what you hate, and love what you love. I will reject perverse ideas and stay away from every evil. When ideas come into my head that don't align with your will, may I immediately reject them. Don't allow me to ponder them for even a moment. May I choose to dismiss them from my thoughts as quickly as they enter. Help me to stay away from every evil. I know the bad parts of town, and I stay away from them. May I do the same with evils that aren't concentrated in the bad part of town—evils that are right at my door knocking to enter. I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors. When people slander those I know to be upright, may I stand up for truth. Don't let me tolerate any lies. Make me uncomfortable when falsehoods are spoken so I speak out for truth. I will not endure conceit and pride. Don't let me endure conceit and pride in my life. Eradicate any roots you find in my heart. I only want to have humility growing in my heart. 

   I will search for faithful people to be my companions. I know the friends I keep will rub off on me. May I choose friends who are faithful to you. May I choose friends who will help me draw closer to you. May I choose friends who will inspire me to accomplish more for you. Only those who are above reproach will be allowed to serve me. Jesus, I want to serve you, but I can only do that when I am above reproach. You can help me become that. I ask you to form me into a person who is above reproach, so there's no material for criticism. I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house, and liars will not stay in my presence. Deceivers and liars belong in the company of the devil, not you. May there be no deception or lies that come from my mouth. My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked and free the city of the LORD from their grip. Wicked people are people who are in opposition to you and your ways. Don't let them get a grip in the world. Put butter all over their hands so the wicked people's attempts to promote their wicked ways, slip away to nothing.


   Read and pray; pray and read.


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!


8/15/19

Good morning, Followers of The Way.


Song for the day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAaQ5EEXidc


Memory Verse for the Week: Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14


   Have you ever taken a verse out of the context in which it was used? I know I have. If we are not diligent, it's easy to do. The health and wealth preachers do this all the time. They don't look carefully at the context in which the words were spoken that they are using. For example, they might quote Luke 11:9-10 where Jesus said, "And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened."

   Based on this isolated verse, the health and wealth preachers might say, "Do you want a new car? Ask for it and keep on asking. Do you want a boat? Ask for it and keep on asking. After all, Jesus said, 'Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.' "

   However, we need to go to the earlier part in the chapter when Jesus was teaching His disciples how to pray. Nowhere in the prayer did Jesus say to ask God for stuff we don't need. When we pray in a humble manner for God to provide for our needs (like food), He will provide. When we ask for our sins to be forgiven, He will do that. When we ask God to not let us yield to temptation, He will do that. We always need to look at how verses fit in with the rest of Scripture. We can't build our theology on an isolated verse and ignore those that would be in opposition to our misconstrued theology.

   This week I was reading an article on this very topic. The verse illustrated is one you are probably familiar with. Could it be one you have used out of context? Here is the article (used with permission) from TableTalk Magazine, August, 2019:



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Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!

8/14/19

Good morning, Redeemed by the Redeemer.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRW-jr_PnbQ


Memory Verse for the Week: Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14


     Have you ever wanted to know God's will for your life? When I was just out of high school, this was my main question. I wanted God to say to me, "I want you to become a _________," and fill in the blank with what He wanted. I read a book on the subject, and it was helpful. Basically, it said God's will for your life is that you give your life to Jesus. God's will is that you receive the gospel message and share it with others. What you do for a career isn't important in comparison. That was good to know, but I still struggled with choosing a career. As I got different jobs: janitor, farm worker, flagman for a crop-duster, assembling trailer houses, retail clerk, etc., I recognized what I didn't want to do for a career, but I still didn't know what to do. Since I couldn't decide, I determined to join the Air Force for four years as that would give me time to decide, plus I would have benefits after my commitment. That worked well for me.

     Skye Jethani, in his book With (used in Home Teams this past year), said,


     I've learned that when a student asks me, "What should  do with my life?" what he or she really wants to know is, "How can I prove that I am valuable?" . . . when work is pursued without God and not empowered by his presence and love, what was intended to be good and life giving becomes twisted and destructive. And rather than finding our value in God as his beloved children, instead we try to find our value in the mission we are chasing.


     Paul had something to say about learning God's will. Romans 12:1-2 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.


     I Thessalonians 5:15-18 says,


     See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.

     Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.


     I Thessalonians 4:3-8 says,


     God's will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor—not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways. Never harm or cheat a fellow believer in this matter by violating his wife, for the Lord avenges all such sins, as we have solemnly warned you before. God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.


     Proverbs 3:5-6 says,


     Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.


     I Peter 2:15-17 says,


     It is God's will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God's slaves, so don't use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.


     Ephesians 5:15-20 says,


     So be careful how you live. Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don't act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don't be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.


     I Timothy 2:1-6a says,


     I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.


     Hebrews 13:20-21 says,


     Now may the God of peace—who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.


     Jesus said in Matthew 6:33,


     Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.


     Prayer for today: "Father God, we want to do your will. You have shown us your will through your words in the Bible. Speak to us through your words as we read them. And make us doers of the word and not just hearers. In the name of Jesus, Amen."


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!



8/13/19

Good morning, Son Worshipers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSxocnIaN0A


Memory Verse for the Week: Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.Philippians 3:13-14


   Have you watched the news lately? It's easy to despair and allow fear to creep into our lives. Who's ultimately in control? Psalm 93 answers this question:


   The LORD is king! He is robed in majesty. Indeed, the LORD is robed in majesty and armed with strength. The world stands firm and cannot be shaken. Your throne, O LORD, has stood from time immemorial. You yourself are from the everlasting past. The floods have risen up, O LORD. The floods have roared like thunder; the floods have lifted their pounding waves. But mightier than the violent raging of the seas, mightier than the breakers on the shore—the LORD above is mightier than these! Your royal laws cannot be changed. Your reign, O LORD, is holy forever and ever.


   How should we respond to knowing the LORD is king and has everything under control? Psalm 95:1-7a gives an answer:


    Come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. For the LORD is a great God, a great King above all gods. He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. The sea belongs to him, for he made it. His hands formed the dry land, too.

   Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the LORD our maker, for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care.


   When this Psalm said, "The sea belongs to [the LORD]," it reminded me of what I was thinking about just the other day. I was pondering the tides here in the Hood Canal. I started wondering how many gallons of water enter the Hood Canal during a high tide. It's a lot! I started thinking, if we took a five foot wide path straight across the top of the canal water from Alderbrook Resort to the other side at low tide, and somehow were able to stop everything and by hand fill in that five foot path with gallons of water to where it would be at high tide, how many gallons would it take? I can't even imagine how long that would take to accomplish that task, and yet God does that times thousands each day without any special equipment. He just uses his handiwork and accomplishes all that needs to be accomplished. Our God is an awesome God!

   When we start to become fearful, let's remind ourselves who made this universe and who is in complete control. The following verses can be a source of encouragement:

  • Isaiah 41:10—Don't be afraid; for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
  • Psalm 56:4—But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.
  • Philippians 4:6-7—Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
  • John 14:27-28a—"I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again."
  • II Timothy 1:7—For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
  • Isaiah 43:1b—"Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine."
  • Psalm 23:4—Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
  • Joshua 1:9—"This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
  • Matthew 6:33-34—"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today."
  • I Peter 5:7—Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
  • Psalm 27:1—The LORD is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid? The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?
  • Isaiah 41:13—"For I hold you by your right hand—I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, 'Don't be afraid. I am here to help you.' "
  • Psalm 118:6—The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?
  • Proverbs 29:25—Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety.
  • Psalm 34:4—I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!

8/12/19

Good morning, Receivers of Amazing Grace.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgsbaBIaoVc


Memory Verse for the Week: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6


   "We don't like to be judged, but we're good at judging others." This is how Pastor Michael started his sermon on "Judging and Wisdom" based on Matthew 7:1-6. 

   We make judgments all the time—what clothes we will wear, how much time we will allot to an activity, the behavior of our friends. However, Jesus told us, "Do not judge others, and you will not be judged." (Matt. 7:1) Paul said, "It isn't my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning." (I Corinthians 5:12) In the last part of the third verse of this chapter, Paul said, "I have already passed judgment on this man." In "contrast" to Paul, James 4:11-12 says, "Don't speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God's law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?"

   Judgment is based on truth. Amos 7:7-8 says, "Then he showed me another vision. I saw the Lord standing beside a wall that had been built using a plumb line. He was using a plumb line to see if it was still straight. And the LORD said to me, "Amos, what do you see?"

   I answered, "A plumb line."

   And the Lord replied, "I will test my people with this plumb line. I will no longer ignore all their sins."

   God's Word is the plumb line for our lives. There is a right way and a wrong way to judge. 

   Ways to Improperly Judge:

  1. Based solely or partly on your own opinion. We make our feelings our plumb line. We say, "My principles tell me you are wrong." There was a time when denim, long hair on boys, dancing, and other things were not considered appropriate for Christians. This didn't come from the Bible. God's Word needs to be our plumb line.
  2. We attribute motives to others. If you have to fill in the blanks (by saying "they probably . . ." or "they maybe . . ."), then you are judging improperly. When we think we know the motives of others, what follows is gossip, slander, and assumption. 7% of communication is words; 93% is tone, inflections, and body language.
  3. When we do not first judge ourselves. We need to recognize our own sin and sinful nature. Only through the grace of Jesus, I am who I am. "But for the grace of God, there go I." If I'm surprised by another's sin, then I don't recognize my own depravity. I'm no better. Galatians 6:1-3 says, "Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other's burdens and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important."
  4. When judgment is meant for punishment rather than repentance and restoration from sin. Christ died for our sins. Those who sin don't need to be shamed, they need to be shown God's grace.

   Ways to Judge Properly:

  1. The authority to judge comes from the word of God—the Bible.
  2. Judge ourselves first by God's words.
  3. Judge actions, not motives.
  4. To encourage repentance and restoration. To promote spiritual health and well being.

   If we use God's Word to pass judgment, the purpose must be to bring others to repentance and restoration. However, some people will refuse to go to God, repent, and be restored. After awhile, God says they have made their choice; we have to move on to those who will listen. Jesus said in Matthew 7:6, "Don't waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don't throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you."  Some people will not listen to God's words of grace spoken by you. They will attack you, treat you like pigs, and trample under foot the pearl of God's grace. 

   It is not our responsibility to bring others to repentance and salvation; it's our responsibility to bring them God's Word. The gospel is God's judgment on the world unto restoration: we have sinned, Jesus has paid the penalty for that sin, we can now be restored through repentance. 

   It's all about the heart. When you look at people, where's your heart? Are you looking at your own heart? Do you know your own depravity, because if you do, you won't be shocked by anyone else's depravity? 


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!


8/10/19

Good morning, Children of Abba.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsiDukXIeVY


Memory Verse for the Week: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6


   Have you ever planted carrots and harvested potatoes? It will never happen, because what you sow is what you reap. If you sow carrots, you reap carrots. That law works for farmers, but does it work outside of gardening and farming? 

   Galatians 6:7-10 says,


    Don't be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. 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. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.


   What happens when we sow good deeds and bad deeds? We reap good for the good we have done, and we reap bad for the bad we have done. King David did many things right and a few things very wrong, and he reaped accordingly. Since the good outweighed the bad, does that mean the bad was overlooked? Not at all. David faced consequences for his sins. God said to him, 


   "Why, then, have you despised the word of the LORD and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and stolen his wife. From this time on, your family will live by the sword because you have despised me by taking Uriah's wife to be your own.

   "This is what the LORD says: Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man before your very eyes, and he will go to bed with them in public view. You did it secretly, but I will make this happen to you openly in the sight of all Israel."

   Then David confessed to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD."

   Nathan replied, "Yes, but the LORD has forgiven you, and you won't die for this sin. Nevertheless, because you have shown utter contempt for the word of the LORD by doing this, your child will die." (II Samuel 12:9-14)


   Consequences for sin include: guilt, shame, loneliness, confusion, emptiness, losing purpose, and losing rewards. God forgives us our sins when we ask for forgiveness, but that doesn't mean there won't be consequences. There will be. We reap what we sow.

   Adam and Eve had consequences for their sin—separation from God and removal from the Garden of Eden along with many other consequences for them and everyone who followed them—including you and me.

   Moses had a serious consequence for his sin of striking the rock instead of speaking to it as God had told him to do. He was not allowed to enter Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey. (see Numbers 20:8-12)

   Judges 1:1-7 records a short story of reaping what is sown:


    After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the LORD, "Which tribe should go first to attack the Canaanites?"

   The LORD answered, "Judah, for I have given them victory over the land."

   The men of Judah said to their relatives from the tribe of Simeon, "Join with us to fight against the Canaanites living in the territory allotted to us. Then we will help you conquer your territory." So the men of Simeon went with Judah.

   When the men of Judah attacked, the LORD gave them victory over the Canaanites and Perizzites, and they killed 10,000 enemy warriors at the town of Bezek. While at Bezek they encountered King Adoni-bezek and fought against him, and the Canaanites and Perizzites were defeated. Adoni-bezek escaped, but the Israelites soon captured him and cut off his thumbs and big toes.

   Adoini-bezek said, "I once had seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off, eating scraps from under my table. Now God has paid me back for what I did to them." They took him to Jerusalem, and he died there.


   If it seems like some people are not given consequences for their sins, give it time. Sometimes the consequences are immediate, and sometimes they are administered years later. One thing for sure is the consequence for sin is death. However, that's not the end of the story. Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord."

   Let's go back to what we started with and remember, But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. 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. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!


8/9/19

Good morning, Faith Walkers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-SI_HRWooA


Memory Verse for the Week: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6


   Has there ever been a time in your life when God didn't seem to make sense? Just prior to moving here, we were looking at a house in the Lake Cushman area that we liked a lot. It was in a beautiful setting, and the house seemed like it would be perfect for us. The price was amazingly low because it was a repossessed house. The house could be ours if we sold our house in the Portland area. It was a sellers' market at the time in Portland, so we weren't concerned about our house selling fast. We prayed, "Lord, we love that house in Lake Cushman. It's everything we desire. Please help our house to sell quickly so we can get it. However, we want your will above all else. If you don't want us to have the Lake Cushman house, close the necessary doors."

   As time went on, our house didn't sell. Older folks didn't like all the bedrooms being on the second floor. The younger families didn't like the idea of "no" backyard even though there was a side yard. We would have to find just the right buyers.

   Then we found out the house in Lake Cushman was going to be put up for auction. We kept praying the same prayer but with more urgency. The house did go to auction, but no offer came in high enough to sell. We felt our prayers were answered, and now God would sell our house. But it didn't sell. Then the house in Lake Cushman went up for auction again. We prayed the same prayer we'd been praying, but stressed to the Lord how this house was just perfect for us, and we really needed ours to sell. And, oh, if it wasn't God's will, then don't let it happen.

   Again, the house failed to sell with the second auction. We knew the Lord was holding that house for us. The market in our area was heating up, and we had more people looking at our house. Then the rug was pulled out from under us—the house in Lake Cushman sold. God didn't seem to make sense. 

   Earlier this week, I mentioned offering God a sacrifice of praise. I can't say we thanked and praised God that the house sold, but we did tell God we meant it when we said we wanted His will over our will.

   We started expanding our search for a place to live, and God led our realtor to the house we are living in now in Alderbrook. As we look back, the house and location we are in now is truly perfect for us. God's idea of a perfect match is always better than ours.

   Looking back, we see how faith and trust in God is needed to get us through the times when God doesn't seem to make sense. Now it's easy to thank and praise God for the blessing we received, but when the Lake Cushman house finally sold, it wasn't easy. However, that sale didn't affect our faith and trust in God. 

   There are many examples in the Bible of times when God didn't seem to make sense. Here are just four:

  • Judges 7—God started with 32,000 warriors to fight a huge battle, and He whittled it down to 300 warriors. God didn't even have 1% of the warriors He started with to face a large, imposing army. Gideon just had to have faith and trust that God knew what He was doing, even though it didn't seem to make sense.
  • Genesis 40-46—Joseph was sold as a slave by his brothers. That didn't seem to make sense. Then he rose to power only to be wrongfully accused and put in prison. That didn't seem to make sense either. He was restored to power and was instrumental in saving many from starvation, including his own family. Now it all made sense. Joseph had to have faith and trust God in those dark days, and he did.
  • Genesis 22—Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. This doesn't make any sense. Isaac was the one through whom many descendants was promised. Abraham's faith and trust in God was put to the ultimate test.
  • Mark 5—Jairus had a 12 year old daughter who was dying. He asked Jesus to lay His hands on her and heal her. As Jesus was walking, news came that Jairus's daughter had died. That didn't seem to make any sense. If He'd hurried a little more, maybe He could have reached the young girl in time to save her life. Jairus's faith and trust in God was severely tested. Jesus is God, so He had the power to raise the young girl from the dead, and that's exactly what He did.

   When God doesn't seem to make sense, just remember your faith is being tested. Do you truly trust God? The next time God doesn't seem to make sense, remember these verses:

  • Jeremiah 29:11—"For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."
  • Psalm 32:8—The LORD says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you."
  • Psalm 46:10a—"Be still, and know that I am God!"
  • Proverbs 3:5-7—Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
  • Romans 8:28—And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
  • Hebrews 4:14-16—So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
  • I Peter 5:6-7—So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

   Everything God does makes sense to Him. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, "My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the LORD. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." He can see into the future; we cannot. He always knows what's best for us; often we do not. Trust Him! Let's ask Him to increase our faith today.


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!


8/8/19

Good morning, Followers of The Way.


Song of the Day: https://youtu.be/0MtdyRDy4fU


Memory Verse for the Week: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6


   Do you have a favorite chapter in the Bible? I know that's a tough question, because there are so many great chapters in the Bible! If I had to narrow it down to just one, I'd go with Romans 8:


   So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin's control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.

   Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God's laws, and it never will. That's why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

   But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

   Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

   So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God's Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, "Abba, Father." For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God's children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

   Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God's curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don't need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don't yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

   And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don't know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groaning that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God's own willAnd we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

   What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God's right hand, pleading for us.

   Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, "For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.") No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

   And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.


   Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus!


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!


8/7/19

Good morning, Heaven Bound.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctc3GqWaV3U


Memory Verse for the Week: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6


     What do you do when you feel down? When you pray and you don't feel any closer to God, what do you do? Asaph prayed all night to God, but his soul wasn't comforted until he did something. Let's read Psalm 77:1-15 and find out what he did.


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

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

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


     When Asaph was distressed, he started to pull out of it when he recalled the past and all God had done. Asaph remembered God's mighty deeds, and his state of being started to change. After he remembered, he began to give praise to God for what all He had done in his life and the lives of His people. Hebrews 13:15 says, "Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name."  

     When we praise God when everything is going well, that's great. He is deserving of our praise. What about when things are not going so well? What about the times when we don't have enough money to pay the bills? What about those times when we lose a loved one? What about when your boss says he's going to have to lay you off because of a reduction in the work force? If you can still praise God at those times, that is a sacrifice of praise. And Paul tells us that's exactly what we should be doing. By praising God in the bad times, we are telling God we trust Him, and we are demonstrating our loyalty to Him. We are acknowledging He is God, and we are not. 

     Paul and Silas offered up a sacrifice of praise when they were put in the inner dungeon of a prison and had their feet clamped in the stocks. Around midnight they were praying and singing hymns to God while the other prisoners were listening. (see Acts 16:16-40)

     The next time you are feeling anxious, sorrowful, or experiencing pain, try offering a sacrifice of praise. Notice Hebrews 13:15 says we are to do this through Jesus. We can't do it in our own strength; we're not wired that way. However, when we call on Jesus to help us in our distress, He makes it possible for us to offer up a sacrifice of praise.

     The Psalms have many examples of praise. A good place to start is with Psalm 63:1-8. Let's make this our prayer for today:


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

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


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!



8/6/19

Good morning, Faith Walkers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JuhYFvVEc0


Memory Verse for the Week: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6


   On Judgment Day, would you rather be the person who kept 583 of the 613 laws of Judaism but lacked faith in God or the person who kept 241 of the 613 laws but had a strong faith in God? Let Romans 3:5-31 help you decide:


   "But," some might say, "our sinfulness serves a good purpose, for it helps people see how righteous God is. Isn't it unfair, then, for him to punish us?" (This is merely a human point of view.) Of course not! If God were not entirely fair, how would he be qualified to judge the world? "But," someone might still argue, "how can God condemn me as a sinner if my dishonesty highlights his truthfulness and brings him more glory?" And some people even slander us by claiming that we say, "The more we sin, the better it is!" Those who say such things deserve to be condemned.

   Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin. As the Scriptures say, 

   "no one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one."

   "Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies."

   "Snake venom drips from their lips."

   "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness."

   "They rush to commit murder. Destruction and misery always follow them. They don't know where to find peace."

   "They have no fear of God at all."

   Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

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

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

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


   Does this mean on Judgment Day God is going to look at our faith and ignore our record of obeying the law? Let's take a look at the other side of the coin. Let's start with II Corinthians 5:10:


   For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body. 


   Revelation 20:12-15 says,


   I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God's throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.


   What did Jesus say regarding the final judgment when He was here on Earth? Matthew 25:34-46 records His words:


   "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'

   "Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?'

   "And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!"

   "Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, 'Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn't feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn't give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn't invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn't give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn't visit me.'

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

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

   "And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life."


   What do you conclude from these passages? I'm thinking I want to have a strong faith—one that does not waver. I want to have a faith so strong, I wouldn't bat an eye at dying for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I also want to make sure my faith produces many good works—that I do what God has asked me to do; that I take His commandments seriously. Jesus said in John 14:15, "If you love me, obey my commandments."


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire.


8/5/19

Good morning, Redeemed.


Songs for today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05Y-Px39cm4


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSyLqbP8Z4I


Memory Verse for the Week: In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:7


     Today we are blessed with the powerful testimony of Denise Carter. We serve an awesome God!


I know it's long, but needed to be!

9 years ago today, I was sitting in the Kitsap County Jail, drunk again & facing a LOT of felony charges. Bad enough? NO! After sobering up, I learned that I had actually been arrested 12 hours prior in another jurisdiction, with my 4th DUI. My truck impounded for the DUI & my motorcycle totalled in a crash 12 hours later where I picked up all the felony charges, facing 15-20 years in prison. Bad enough? Nope! I had lost all of my friends & worse than all else, I lost my daughter! No, she didn't die or anything. She was done with me & all of the years of drinking, police encounters, mental health issuses & the many, many trips to the hospital, (all alcohol related). She had had enough & I was to blame! My life was an absolute wreck in every way, shape & form! I lost everyone & everything!

But here we are, 9 since all of that insanity & I don't take an ounce of credit for that! Every bit of credit & all praise & glory goes to God! He yanked me out of all of that & didn't just save me, (quite literally!) but he also redeemed me! There's so much that I'm not proud of but the greatest gift is that I don't have to live in all the shame & regrets! Ppl say that they're not religious & neither am I!! I walk with God every single day & I have an incomparable relationship with him! I've given him everything & I keep giving him everything every day! It's not a "religion", it's a relationship with him! If you don't believe it's a personal relationship, I can give you thousands of examples of how it is! But I'll leave you with two!

This morning I was talking to God, thanking & praising him for who he is, what he's done in my life & for changing who I was into who am. When I was done, I turned on the radio & the very 1st song that played was "God With Us" by Mercy Me. It is my most favorite song, one that connects the core of who I am in Christ & how much I love, trust & depend on him wholly & completely! He & he alone broke all of the chains that kept me bound! The 1st part of the lyrics say, 

"Who are we

That You would be mindful of us

What do You see

That's worth looking our way

We are free

In ways that we never should be

Sweet release

From the grip of these chains

Like hinges straining from the weight

My heart no longer can keep from singing

All that is within me cries

For You alone be glorified

Emmanuel

God with us

My heart sings a brand new song

The debt is paid these chains are gone

Emmanuel

God with us

The next song I heard is my 2nd most favorite & soul grabbing song, "Redeemed" by Big Daddy Weave. I know who I was & I know who God has made. I am free not just of all those chains but also from the guilt & regret. Some of the lyrics to "Redeemed" are,

"Seems like all I can see was the struggle

Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past

Bound up in shackles of all my failures

Wondering how long is this gonna last

Then You look at this prisoner and say to me son (daughter)

Stop fighting a fight that's already been won"

I am redeemed, You set me free

So I'll shake off theses heavy chains

And wipe away every stain now I'm not who I used to be

I am redeemed

Because I don't have to be the old man (woman) inside of me

'Cause her day is long dead and gone

Because I've got a new name, a new life I'm not the same

And a hope that will carry me home" 

"Oh God I'm not who I used to be

Jesus I'm not who I used to be

'Cause I am redeemed

Thank God, redeemed"

Does God desire a personal one-on-one relationship with us? Heck yeah! He shows us he does! Like this morning. I was thanking God & praising him for this 9th anniversary of him freeing from all that insanity & all the chains. I was giving him all the glory and, he responded with his love & acknowledgement. He spoke to me very clearly & best of all, personally!!

Out of thousands & thousands of songs played on the radio, what are the chances that:

1. The very 1st song played when I turned the radio on was "God With Us", my most favorite & soul gripping song that says that with all that is in me cries, for HIM to be glorified! That's my soul speaking!

2. The very next song played was "Redeemed" my 2nd most favorite & soul gripping song! It says that I'm not who I used to be. I'm no longer bound by those chains nor the shame & regret that went along with it. I am a new person, I have a new name & I am redeemed!!

Not personal, you say?? Oh yeah!! It's personal! HE'S personal!


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!



8/3/19

Good morning, Faith Walkers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0-eljXhRMM


Memory Verse for the Week: In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:7


   What's more important—faith or works? Let's take a look at Romans , Chapter 4 and see if we can figure it out. 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


   Clearly, faith is more important than works. We are not counted as righteous because of our works, but we are counted as righteous because of our faith. Works are not considered in our salvation, but faith is. As far as our salvation goes, works are not important. However, there is another side to the coin. James 2:14-26 says:


   What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don't show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, "Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well"—but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

   So you see, faith by itself isn't enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

   Now someone may argue, "Some people have faith; others have good deeds." But I say, "How can you show me your faith if you don't have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds."

   You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can't you see that faith without good deeds is useless?

   Don't you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked togetherHis actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: "Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith." He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.

   Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.


   So what do we conclude from all this? True faith in God, the kind of faith Abraham had, will make us right with God and will produce good works. You can't have faith without good works, and you can't have good works (those with God's stamp of approval) unless genuine faith accompanies those good works.

   Prayer for today: Father God, I ask for faith like Abraham, and may my faith produce a bounty of good works that bring glory to You. In the name of Jesus, Amen. 


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!


8/2/19

Good morning, God's Kingdom Builders.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcSWpVKKMcs


Memory Verse for the Week: In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:7


   Have you noticed a theme in Pastor Michael's sermons for the past couple of months or so? See if you can pick it out from this quick review:

  • May 26: The sermon was "Murder and Anger." He said our heart and soul are basically the same. Our emotions, decisions, and thoughts all originate from the heart. Our heart gives us our characteristics and our character. Our heart always comes out in our thoughts, words, and actions. Our words and actions reflect what's going on in the heart. Everything we do or say comes from our heart. Jesus can change our hearts.
  • June 2: The sermon was "Adultery and Divorce." He said sin starts in the heart. We need to take an honest look at what's in our heart.
  • June 9: The sermon was "Vows and Oaths." He said what's in our heart is what makes us trustworthy or not. Oaths hide what's in our heart. What's going on in the heart is what's important. What's in our heart will come out. The mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Make your heart right before God.
  • June 16: The sermon was "Something Ado about Fathers." He said when we give up what's most precious to us, God gives us His heart. When we give God our heart, He gives us His heart.
  • June 23: The sermon was "Rights and Wrongs." He quoted Jesus saying, "If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles." We are to go beyond the law; it's all about the heart. Let's check our heart.
  • July 7: The sermon was "Giving and Praying." He quoted Jesus saying, "When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you." Jesus was saying here that prayer is all about the heart. Nothing we can do impresses God, because He knows us.
  • July 21: The sermon was "Prayer and Righteousness." He said what makes us right before God is our heart.
  • July 28: The sermon was "Treasures and Worry." He said there are two treasures in life: those on earth and those in heaven. Where is our heart? Where our treasure is, that's where our heart is found. What is your heart set on—a relationship with Jesus or earthly goods?

   Today I was reading Romans 2:28-29 where it says,


   For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.


   Psalm 51:10 says,


   Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.


   Let's make that our pray for today and every day.


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!



8/1/19

Good morning, Sorrow Traders. 


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYRc0JeQuC0


Memory Verse for the Week: In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:7


   Have you ever been reading the Bible and been amazed at how accurately it described what's going on currently in our country or around the world even though it was written so long ago? Romans was written in 58 A.D., but the first chapter starts out describing current events in our state/country/world. Verses 18-32 say:


   But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

   Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.

   So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other's bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.

   Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God's justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.


   After I retired from teaching, I subbed for seven years. I had the opportunity to get a pretty good idea of what was happening in the school system as I traveled to most of the 37 elementary schools in the Beaverton School District. Earlier, I quoted "they disobey their parents." When children disobey their parents, that behavior carries over to the schools. Since they don't obey their parents, why would they have to obey their teachers?

   The laws regarding schools became absurd. There was to be no touching of students even when attempting to direct them in a certain direction (for example, it was not okay to gently put a hand on the back of a student and point them to where they were supposed to be). One day I observed a young child (possibly in kindergarten or first grade) having a meltdown right at the entry doors into the school office. There were three adults standing around the child attempting to talk the child into getting up off the floor, so people could enter and leave the office.

   Another time, a fifth grader got under his desk and refused to follow the teacher's directions. Three adults entered the classroom and had the entire class and teacher leave the room and continue their education in a different classroom. The three adults could not persuade the child under the desk to leave the classroom with them, so the class had to remain in the other room until the end of the school day.

   God has told us how to live our lives. When we choose to live them in violation of His ways, we suffer the consequences. When God abandons disobedient people, things go downhill fast. As one Christian, I'm not going to have much success changing the world. However, if I give up and let my light for Jesus go out, darkness will fill in where that light was in an instant. 

   We need to pray for our state/country/world. We can ask God to kick up the candlepower in our lives so darkness has to leave. There's a lot of darkness out there, but the more lights that shine for Jesus, the less darkness there will be. 

   On an encouraging note, the school I taught at for most of my career had numerous Christians who were shining lights. Jesus is our hope!


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!


7/31/19

Good morning, Sojourners. 


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYDCIAQc8Ms


Memory Verse for the Week: In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:7


   What's your favorite verse in the Bible? My mom's was Psalm 19:14: 


    May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.


   My mom always seemed to have something nice to say about other people. I gave her many opportunities, with my bad behavior, to lash out at me and say things she'd regret later, but she never did. She disciplined me, but it was always with love. I knew it was for my good even though I didn't like it at the time. My mother took to heart Hebrews 12:11:


   No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it's painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.


   Sometimes it felt like my mom and older sister were a tag team. My oder sister used to tell me quite often, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." I didn't appreciate those words then, but I grew to see the wisdom of those words later in life.

   Years ago I was reading James 3:1-12, and the Holy Spirit convicted me of some things I was saying. The very next day the Holy Spirit would remind me of these verses when I would be tempted to return to my former way of talking. The Holy Spirit made a permanent change in the way I talked.


   Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

   We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.

   But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

   People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can't draw fresh water from a salty spring.


   Think back to the last time you were "in trouble." Were words involved? No one can tame the tongue. However, the Holy Spirit can! When we pray for the Holy Spirit to fill us, our speech changes.

   What about if we just think the words we want to say and not actually say them? What do you think Jesus would say about this? Jesus said in Matthew 5:27-28,


   "You have heard the commandment that says, 'You must not commit adultery.' But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart."


   In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus said,


   "You have heard that our ancestors were told, 'You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.' But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell."


   In Matthew 15:11, Jesus said,


    "It's not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth."


   Ephesians 4:29 says,


   Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.


   Proverbs 21:23 says,


   Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.


   Proverbs 26:20 says,


    Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.


   Let's join Psalm 141:3 and Psalm 19:14 together to form our prayer for today: Dear heavenly Father, I ask you to take control of what I say today, O LORD, and guard my lips. May every word I say today and everything I think about today be pleasing to you, O LORD, for you are my rock and my redeemer, and it's you I want to honor in all I say and do. Fill me with your Spirit, and may I be sensitive to the Spirit's prompting. In the name of Jesus, Amen.



Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!


7/30/19

Good morning, Friends of God.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcxKRsn-hGc


Memory Verse for the Week: In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:7


   This week we are having VBS (Vacation Bible School), and I thought I would share today's lesson. Whenever Laurie and I teach Sunday School, the Holy Spirit always ministers to us. He often convicts us of what we are doing that's wrong or should be doing that's right. Now for the lesson:


The Spread of Christianity

 

   Is it illegal for Christians to meet together here in America? What about other places in the world? Some countries (like North Korea, Somalia, Maldives, Morocco, Libya, and others) do not allow Bibles. Someone caught reading a Bible could be punished. Christians can be thrown in jail, beaten, or even killed. In those countries, Christians often meet in each other's homes so they won't be found out. These Christians are being persecuted; they are being mistreated because of what they believe. Persecution is just one of the reasons that makes me think the Bible is the truth. If it wasn't true, then who cares? Some people think vampires are real. Do they get persecuted for believing that? Of course not. It's not true, so who cares?

    I want to tell you a real story about someone named Mary Slessor who was persecuted for believing in Jesus. She was a Scottish Presbyterian missionary to Nigeria.

    One day a group of gang members formed a circle around Mary, and the leader said, "We're going to get you now! We don't like you coming here and telling people about Jesus, so we are going to make sure you never want to come back here."

    The gang leader had a rope with a rock tied on one end. He began to spin the rope over his head. He stepped closer and closer to Mary, and said, "Will you stop coming here and talking about Jesus?"

    "No," Mary said, and she refused to move. She stared into the leader's eyes and started praying silently.

    The gang leader yelled, "Go away and never come back!" Still, Mary refused to move. The leader got closer and closer to Mary and finally, the rock hit her forehead causing blood to run down her face. She stayed right where she was and didn't show any fear. Then something amazing happened. The gang leader dropped the rope and said, "You are a brave lady! From now on, you can come down here anytime you want, and we'll make sure nobody bothers you!"

    Mary said, "Thanks! Now I want you to show me how brave you are. Come to my Bible study tomorrow night."

    The next night, all the gang members came to the Bible study and stayed for the whole meeting.

    Mary was pretty amazing, wasn't she? Are you brave enough to talk to other people about Jesus even when they might make fun of you? 

    At the end of this lesson, I'm going to ask you this question, "What kept Peter, John, and Stephen from talking about Jesus?"

    Yesterday, you learned about how God sent His Holy Spirit to give the disciples power to go into all the world and tell others the Good News that Jesus is alive. What happened the first time Peter spoke to a crowd of people about receiving the Holy Spirit? 3,000 people asked Jesus to save them from their sins.

    The disciples were so excited about Jesus, there's was nothing that could stop them from telling others about His love. 

    This candle represents one Christian (me) shining as a light for Jesus and telling others about His love. Let's see what happens when I share Jesus with another person and they become a Christian. Now there are two lights. What happens when those two lights share Jesus? Now there are four lights. What happens when those four lights share Jesus? Now how many lights do we have? 8 . . . 16 . . . 32 . . . 64 . . . 128 . . . 256 . . . 512 . . . 1,024 . . . 2,048 . . . 4,096 . . . 8,192 . . . 16,384 . . . Do you see how fast God's Word can spread when each person does their part? We want every single person in the whole world to know about Jesus. Did you know my parents went to the Philippines for one reason--to share Jesus with the Filipinos there.

    New believers met in the Temple area and in people's houses to praise God and learn more about Jesus. They were excited to tell others how Jesus rose from the dead, and the Holy Spirit gave them power to do this. Every day, more people became Christians.

    The religious leaders didn't believe Jesus was the Son of God and the promised Messiah. They wouldn't believe Jesus rose from the dead after they crucified Him on the cross. They wanted to forget all about Him and wanted everyone else to do the same. The religious leaders thought if they persecuted the Christians, then they would go away (all the lights from the candles would go out). Do you think their plan worked when they started beating Christians? Let's find out.

    One day, Peter and John healed a lame man (couldn't walk). This got a lot of attention, so the religious leaders warned them they would be punished if they didn't stop talking about Jesus. Peter, John, and their friends got together and prayed and asked God to give them courage to keep sharing Jesus with others. As they were praying, the building shook, and the Holy Spirit filled them with courage, so they weren't afraid at all to share Jesus. By the way, this is the same Holy Spirit that can fill us so we will have courage to share Jesus.

    Guess what happened . . . more and more candles were lit (in other words, more and more people became Christians), and this made the religious leaders super mad! They saw the Christians were becoming more popular than them, and that made them very jealous. They decided to arrest the disciples and throw them in jail. 

    While the disciples were in jail, an angel opened the jail doors during the night and told the disciples to go to the Temple in the morning and tell people how they could have a new life in Jesus, and that's exactly what they did.

    The priests had a meeting and asked for the jail officers to bring the prisoners to them. What do you think happened? While the officers were telling about the doors locked but the prisoners gone, a man showed up and said, "The men you are looking for are standing in the Temple courts and preaching about Jesus right this very minute!"

    That made the religious leaders even angrier. They said, "Bring us those troublemakers immediately! This preaching has to stop, even if it means killing them."

    One of the respected religious leaders, Gamaliel, stood up and said, "Think carefully about what you are planning to do. If these men are teaching their own ideas, they will fail. But if it is from God, you won't be able to stop them. Instead, you will find yourselves fighting against God Himself!"

    This made sense to the leaders, so they decided not to kill the disciples. Instead, they beat them and told them to stop talking about Jesus. What do you think the disciples did then? They rejoiced! They were happy they could suffer for Jesus after all the suffering He had done for them. They felt it was an honor to suffer for Jesus. Do you think they stopped telling others about Jesus? No way!

   Stephen was a brave Christian. He spoke so powerfully about Jesus that no one could win an argument with him. The religious leaders became very frustrated, and then they came up with a plan. They got some people to lie about Stephen and say Stephen was saying disrespectful things about God and Moses. This allowed them to have Stephen arrested. The high priest read the charges against Stephen, but Stephen told them they were the ones who were displeasing God. Then he said, "You stiff-necked people, you resist the Holy Spirit just as your fathers did. You're the ones who killed Jesus, the Christ! You have broken God's laws on purpose!"

    The leaders got so mad they clenched their teeth together. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. He told the leaders what he saw. They covered their ears and began yelling. They grabbed Stephen and dragged him outside the city. They started throwing stones at him. As the stones were hitting him, Stephen looked toward heaven and prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Lord, forgive these people for this sin." Then Stephen died.

    After this happened, more people began to persecute Christians. Some Christians went to other cities and countries. This was actually a good thing, because it caused Christianity to spread to other places. One of the last things Jesus told His disciples was, "Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)

    So what's the answer to the question I gave you earlier: "What stopped Peter, John, and Stephen from talking about Jesus?" NOTHING stopped them! Why do you think nothing could stop them? They knew what they said was the truth. God had changed them, and they couldn't help but share their joy with others.

    What are some exciting things God has done in your life? I'll give you an example. God led me to read a great book called The Prodigal God. It's an excellent book, and I'm very thankful God opened doors for me to read it. I'll give you some time to think, and then we'll write your thoughts on the chart paper.

    What happened when the disciples shared exciting things God had done in their lives? What would happen if you shared with others one exciting thing God has done in your life?

    You can't share God in your life if He's not in your life. If you never pray, or read the Bible, or come to church, it would seem like God isn't an important part of your life. If God isn't the most important part of your life, when persecution comes, you probably won't stand up for Jesus, and you'll give in to those who are persecuting you.

    God doesn't promise an easy life to those who follow Him, but He promises to never leave us or forsake us. He hears us when you pray.

    If you aren't excited about Jesus, it might be because you have never told Jesus you are sorry for your sins and invited Jesus into your life. If you'd like to talk to me or any of the other teachers about this, at some point this week, just say, "Could I talk to you for a few minutes?" We would be happy to talk to you about this decision. Who knows what could happen . . . you could be the next candle lit for Jesus and be a light to the world like Jesus wants you to be. This is what VBS is all about . . . getting to know Jesus if you've never known Him and getting closer to Him if you already know Him.

    Let's pray now and ask Jesus to fill us with the Holy Spirit so we will have the courage and power to share Jesus with others just like Peter, John, and Stephen did.


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!

7/29/19

Good morning, Treasured Ones.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2BXeZCDTgA


Memory Verse for the Week: "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." Luke 22:42


   What's the greatest treasure you could ever find? Pastor Michael explored this in his sermon "Treasures and Worry" based on Matthew 6:19-34. 

   Treasure hunts are a lot of fun. It's stimulating to find a treasure. Wages, scholarships, and commissions might be considered treasures. The American Dream is to amass as many earthly treasures as possible. When Jesus spoke of treasures, He was concerned about the heart. He was concerned about how much we treasure our treasures.

   There are two types of treasures in life: those on earth and those in heaven. What are the treasures we value the most? What's in the heart? Jesus said our treasure and heart will be found together. 

   What are treasures in heaven? They are things we can't buy or sell—things that have no value on earth. 

   We take pictures of our treasures because we want to remember them.

   The greatest treasure we have is relationships—with God and with others. Treasures on earth are meaningless compared to relationships. Who would give up all relationships now and in the future to have all the earthly treasures possible? Nobody! Earthly treasures are meaningless. Just ask wise Solomon! Why would we ever trade a relationship with Jesus for earthly treasures?

   Our focus needs to be on what's important. If our eyes aren't focused on treasures in heaven, we're in darkness. If you lose sight of Jesus, you're in darkness. If we focus on the wrong treasures, we start to worry. Treasures on earth don't last. Our focus needs to be on Jesus. Things cause us to worry. The greatest antidote to anxiety are the words of Jesus found in verse 32: "your heavenly Father knows." God knows so all we need to do is know God.

   We need to seek Jesus every day; it's an ongoing relationship. We're either seeking our treasure or God's treasure. We have to humble ourselves to seek God's treasure instead of our own. 

   Everything we have comes from God. What is your heart set on—a relationship with Jesus? What is it I can't live without? Whatever you can't live without, that's your treasure. Seek Jesus first and foremost. When we seek a relationship with Jesus, we become His treasure.


Note: It's never too late for your testimony to be shared with others. Please email it to nccuworship@gmail.com. It can be as short or as long as you desire. Thanks!