Daily Devotion

2/22/20

Good morning, Heaven Bound.

 

Song for the Day:  My Redeemer Lives

 

Complete the Verse & Name the BookDo not merely listen to the word, and so . . . (completion at the end)

 

     You may have heard it said, “Everyone has their price.” In other words, everyone can be persuaded to do what you want if they are offered a large enough amount of money. Do you believe that? There are certainly no shortage of people who are willing to do what is wrong in order to gain financially. But does everyone have their price? Absolutely not! My father is one who could never be bought. There’s no amount of money a person could have paid him to do something he knew was against God’s will. His treasures were not here on Earth; they were in heaven. Money is part of earthly treasures. It’s here one day and gone the next. There’s no security in money at all. However, treasures in heaven are secure. A crash in the stock market, a decline in health, an accident, a depression in the economy, inflation, thieves,  . . . nothing can take away treasures stored up in heaven.

     Habakkuk was another person who could never be bought. In Habakkuk 3:17-19, we find his prayer to God:

 

     Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.

 

     Habakkuk’s faith was not grounded in circumstances. Good times and bad times are all part of life. It didn’t matter how bad the bad times got Habakkuk was going to rejoice in the LORD. Nothing could take the LORD away from him. Everything else might be taken away from him, but nothing could take the joy of his salvation away from him. 

     God spoke to Habakkuk and said, “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.” (2:4) If a faithful person to God was asked to do something against His will, there’s no amount of money that could make the faithful servant turn unfaithful.

     Job was another person who would never compromise his faith in God. He had it all, and then he lost it all. After losing it all, Job said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!” (Job 1:21) Circumstances did not affect Job’s relationship with God. Job didn’t have a price. The very next verse says, “In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.”

     How far are you willing to go to do what is right? In the movie that was shown at church last night, Courageous, there was a character who would not compromise his beliefs. He desperately needed a good job. He was offered a great position in a company as long as he was willing to do some shady business that was customary practice for the company. If he turned this high position down, his family wouldn’t have an income. He struggled over the decision, but in the end, he proved he couldn’t be bought. He turned the position down. As it turned out, he did get the job—the “shady business” was just a guise to see if he was an honest person. The company was looking for a man of integrity, and they found their man.

     We were bought with the blood of Jesus. There’s no higher price that could be paid for us. 1 Peter 1:18-19 says, “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” There’s no amount of money that could ever equal that price. 1 Corinthians 6:19b-20a says, “You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price.” We’ve been bought with such a high price; why would we ever sell ourselves for anything less? The richest billionaire couldn’t buy us back from Jesus, because there’s no amount of money that equals what Jesus paid. If someone tried to buy you (through doing something shady, something sinful, something that wouldn’t honor God) for $100,000, that should be such an insult to you after what God paid for you. A person of integrity can’t be bought for any monetary price.

     Let’s be people of integrity and faithfulness.

Engaging Our Fears page 1

Engaging Our Fears page 2

2/21/20

Good morning, Vine Implants.

 

Song for the Day:  Chain Breaker

 

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

 

     Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman gave a lecture on “Judgment and Warning” based on Micah 1 and 2.  He started with a background of the times. In 782-740 B.C., Israel and Judah were strong and thriving outwardly, but they were decaying inwardly—spiritually and morally. These nations were led by Jeroboam II and Uzziah. The prophets Hosea, Amos, Isaiah, and likely Joel prophesied to Israel to repent.

     Around 745-727, Assyria was becoming a great nation through Tiglath-pileser. The prophet Jonah prophesied to Assyria that they needed to repent, and they did! There was also the Syro-Ephraimite war where Syria and Israel tried to force Judah to join them in opposing Assyria. 

     King Ahaz of Judah resisted Israel and Syria and asked Tiglath—pileser for help. Isaiah encouraged Ahaz to trust God alone (see Isaiah 7). Ahaz turned to Tiglath-pileser for help (see 1 Kings 16).

     In 727-722, Shalmaneser V occupied Israel and laid siege against Samaria. In 722, Sargon II destroyed Samaria and sent the Israelites into exile.

     With the Northern Kingdom of Israel destroyed, the Assyrians turned to capturing the Southern Kingdom. King Hezekiah sought God’s help (see 1 Kings 18-19). King Sennacherib turned back and was assassinated. Isaiah 37:33-38 provides some details of what took place: “And this is what the LORD says about the king of Assyria: “’His armies will not enter Jerusalem. They will not even shoot an arrow at it. They will not march outside its gates with their shields nor build banks of earth against its walls. The king will return to his own country by the same road on which he came. He will not enter this city,’ says the LORD. ‘For my own honor and for the sake of my servant David, I will defend this city and protect it.’”

     That night the angel of the LORD went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. Then King Senacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there.

     One day while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with their swords. They then escaped to the land of Ararat, and another son, Esarhaddon, became the next king of Assyria.

     This is the beginning of the decline of the Assyrians. They never set foot in Jerusalem after this. It was the Babylonians who set foot in Jerusalem later on.

     Let’s continue the background information and look at the man Micah. Micah is short for “Micaiah” which means, “Who is like Yahweh?” He was from Moresheth on the plains of Judah. This place was referred to as Moresheth-Gath (see 1:14). It is identified by the larger city. It would be like saying Seattle-Renton. Moresheth was 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem and 5 miles west of Gath.

     Micah prophesied about the Northern and Southern kingdoms, but mostly about the Southern Kingdom. The Northern Kingdom’s fate had largely been sealed by this time. Micah was to confirm it. Micah sought to turn his people of Judah back to seeking God.

     Micah prophesied during the reigns of Jotham (a 16 year reign—see 2 Kings 15:3ff), Ahaz (also a 16 year reign—see 2 Kings 16), and Hezekiah (a 25 year reign—see 2 Kings 18). This was during the time of Isaiah.

     Now let’s look at the uniqueness of Micah. Micah sought to bring repentance to his nation of Judah during the time of the destruction of the Northern Kingdom. Micah’s message resulted in revival! The people did repent of their sins and turned back to God. Micah is mentioned in Jeremiah 26:17-19 (see Micah 3:12). The prophecies of Micah resulted in repentance and revival in the kingdom of Judah. This is why Judah lasted another 150 years.

     The message of Micah is in three sections:

1.   1:1-2:13

2.   3:1-5:15

3.   6:1-7:20

     There are three parts to the message:

1.   A summons to hear

2.   An oracle of doom

3.   A statement of hope

     In verses 2-5, we have a summons to hear. Micah declares the  Sovereign LORD is making accusations against the people. He is speaking from His holy Temple. Like Amos, there is a description of the power and might of God. God is coming in judgment because of the sin of Israel and Judah. 

     In verses 1:6-2:11, there is the oracle of doom. Verses 6-7 are an oracle against Samaria. This briefly touches on the Northern Kingdom. Verses 8-16 is the response of Micah. He is grieved to see judgment on his people. His heart reflects the heart of God—desiring salvation and repentance.

     In his oracle of doom, Micah mentions 12 cities. Of these cities, 10 of them have a play on words or a pun. It’s an example of poetry. It’s likely that all the cities have been attacked by Assyria in his campaign against Jerusalem.

     Here are the play on words that Micah uses as he refers to the cities:

1.   Beth Ophrah means “house of dust” and Micah tells them they will roll in the dust.

2.   Shaphir means “beautiful, fair, pleasant” and Micah tells them they will experience the opposite of beautiful, fair, and pleasant.

3.   Zaanan means “to exit or come out” and Micah tells them they will not come out.

4.   Beth Ezel means “the nearby city” or “the standing city” and Micah tells them their city will no longer stand to protect.

5.   Maroth sounds like the word for bitterness in Hebrew. Micah tells them they will writhe in pain and bitterness.

6.   Lachish is a military city where the horses and chariots are kept for war. Micah tells the people they will flee like horses and chariots.

7.   Moresheth Gath sounds like “betrothed” in Hebrew. Micah tells them no gifts will be given to the betrothed couple.

8.   Aczib sounds like the word in Hebrew that means “to be deceptive.” It is used to describe a stream that has dried up. Micah tells the people the town will be useless in the time of war; it is deceptive in its power and strength.

9.   Mareshah is related to the word that means “possessor” or “heir.” Micah is telling the people they will be possessed by another.

     In the original Hebrew language, every word was made up of three consonants. Using context, readers would know what vowels to add to form the word needed. As time went on, the Hebrew language evolved into something very different. Vowels with dots and marks were added to the consonants. The dots and marks indicate how the vowel is pronounced—for example, a short e or long e sound. A person fluent in Hebrew today would not be able to read the Hebrew that the Bible was written in unless they studied the original Hebrew which is no longer used.

     This section of Scripture began with a reference to King David:

·      “Tell it not in Gath, weep not at all” in verse 10

·      See 2 Samuel 1:19-20—a eulogy over King Saul and Jonathan.

     This section ends with a reference to King David:

·      “cave of Adullum” in verse 15

·      David fled there to hide from King Saul.

     The whole poem is a dark and foreboding prophecy that Israel will go into hiding and will themselves be the object of the eulogy. It is an emotional warning to Israel to recall dark times and to avoid them by repentance.

     Ten cities are mentioned—a number of fullness. References to David bookmark the 10 cities. In the middle is a statement that the disaster has come from God. The form of poetry called a chiasm is used here by Micah as it was by Amos:

 

David’s mourning

          Five cities

                    LORD

          Five cities

David’s hiding

 

     The message of the poem is to put God at the center of your life. If you do, God will be for you instead of against you.

     There is an oracle against the wealthy in 2:1-5. They plot evil by using their power and position to increase their wealth. They take advantage of the poor and powerless. Consequently, they will become the powerless and oppressed.

     There is an oracle against the false prophets in 2:6-11. They prophecy only good and happy things. They say, “Sin all you want; God still loves you.” It’s a message of health and wealth. They say whatever will make the people feel good. They give the people what they want to hear: the gains of following God instead of the cost of following God. They do not warn the people of God’s judgments but preach only blessing. Because of this the people spiral down into sin and wickedness. They no longer act as God’s people. The false prophets cause a famine of the Word of God. The people welcome the false prophets who condone what they want to do. 2 Timothy 4:1-5 says:

 

     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 want 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 others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.

 

     In Micah 2:12-13, we find a statement of hope. There is a promise of God’s covenant presence for Israel once again. The King will be established once again with Yahweh leading the nation as He once did before.

     In conclusion, God has a case against Israel (the blank can with your name), because they have sinned against Him and have broken the covenant. The judgment of God is at hand. Repentance leads to salvation. God will once again lead in victory if we repent.

     Keep short accounts with God. Confess and repent daily.


2/20/20

Good morning, Kindness Spreaders.

 

Song for the Day: Raise a Hallelujah

 

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

 

     Parents and teachers are accustomed to laying down rules for kids and having consequences for the breaking of those rules. When Pastor Michael was teaching about Amos, he related how God was similar to parent or teacher in that the consequences would start out rather mild and progress to severe punishment if necessary.

     In Leviticus 26, God laid out consequences for breaking His covenant by rejecting His decrees and treating His regulations with contempt, and refusing to obey His commands. These consequences appear to be in levels of punishment that progressively intensify:

·      Level One

o  Punishment—level one

o  Sudden terrors

§  Wasting diseases

§  Burning fevers that cause eyes to fail and life to ebb away

o  Enemies will eat the crops you have grown

o  Defeated by enemies because God has turned against you

o  Ruled by those who hate you

o  You will run even when no one is chasing you

·      Level Two:

o  Punishment—seven times over

o  Make the skies as unyielding as iron

o  Make the earth as hard as bronze

o  Proud spirit will be broken

o  Land will yield no crops

o  Trees will bear no fruit

·      Level Three:

o  Disaster seven times over

o  Wild animals will rob you of your children

o  Wild animals will destroy your livestock

o  Your numbers will dwindle

o  Your roads will be deserted

·      Level Four:

o  God Himself will be hostile towards you

o  God will personally strike you with calamity seven times over

o  Armies will be sent against you to carry out the curse of the covenant you have broken

o  When you run to other towns for safety, a plague will destroy you there

o  You’ll be handed over to your enemies

o  Your food supply will be destroyed. The bread of ten women will fit in one oven. 

·      Level Five:

o  God will give full vent to His hostility

o  God Himself will punish you seven times over

o  You will eat the flesh of your own sons and daughters

o  Pagan shrines will be destroyed

o  Your places of worship will be knocked down

o  Your dead bodies will be piled on top of your lifeless idols

o  You will be despised by God

o  Cities will be made desolate

o  God will take no pleasure in your offerings

o  God Himself will devastate your land

o  Enemies who come to occupy your land will be appalled at what they see

o  You will be scattered among the nations

o  God’s sword will be used against you

o  Land will become desolate

o  Cities will lie in ruin

·      Level Six (for survivors):

o  You will be demoralized in the land of your enemies

o  You will live in such fear that the sound of a leaf blowing in the wind will send you fleeing

o  You will flee as if someone is chasing you with a sword, and you will fall even though no one is pursuing you

o  As you flee from no one, you will stumble over each other

o  You’ll have no power to stand up against your enemies

o  You’ll die in foreign nations 

o  You’ll be devoured in the land of your enemies

o  You’ll waste away in your enemies’ lands

 

     Which level is most appealing to you? Don’t you wonder why anyone would even consider entering even the first level of consequences? We can look at the Israelites and think how foolish it would be to do anything that would displease God, especially when he is “Yahweh! The LORD! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.” (Exodus 34:6b-7a)

     Fortunately, anywhere along the path of consequences, God made provision for repentance (see verses 40-46). There are also many blessings associated with obedience (see verses 1-13). The blessings included seasonal rains, land that will yield its crops, trees that produce fruit, eat your fill, live securely in your own land, peace in your land, sleep without being in fear, surplus of crops, God will live among you, and He will walk with you and be your God.

     Titus 1:15-16 says it this way, “Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted. Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good.”

     A little later in 3:3-7, Titus says, “Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient {just like the Israelites}. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” This calls for a time of praise, thanksgiving, and celebration!

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2/19/20

Good morning, Light of the Earth.

 

Song for the Day:  Yahweh

 

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

 

     It’s time for a test. No worries, it’s only one question: Who is the greatest?

a)   Mohammad Ali

b)   The CEO of a thriving, successful business

c)   A politician who is able to bring about much good

d)   The pastor of a megachurch

e)   A child

 

     If you were thinking of the self-proclaimed greatest, it would be Mohammad Ali. If you were thinking of a person who had no money worries, it would probably be the CEO. If you were thinking of a person who could help the most people, it might be the politician. If you were thinking of a single person who could bring the most people to Jesus, it might be the megachurch pastor. However, Jesus didn’t pick any of them. Jesus chose a child. Matthew 18:1-6 says, 

 

     About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”

     Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

     “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

 

     Jesus values humility. The definition of humility is a modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness. It’s the opposite of pride and arrogance. My wife and I were watching American Idol on Sunday, and there was a contestant who had a lot of ability and talent as a singer. He was a repeat contestant. He progressed quite far the previous year, but was let go. The judges were hard on him. They said the reason he was washed out was because of his lack of humility. He was cocky, and that didn’t sit well with the judges. It didn’t look like he had learned anything the past year, so the judges lectured him on his arrogance. They told him that a dose of humility would greatly help him advance his dream of a singing career. Fortunately, he seemed to be very open to their critique, and he accepted their advice with a humble attitude. He was given another chance.

     Because Jesus valued humility, so should we. You’ve heard the adage: You attract more bees with honey than vinegar. Altering that just a bit we end up with: You attract more people with humility than arrogance. 

     The importance of being humble is stressed throughout the Bible. Let’s take a look at some verses:

·      And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.(1 Peter 5:5b-6) Notice how it says “under the mighty power of God.” We aren’t humble people naturally; we need supernatural help and that help is available to us in the mighty power of God.

·      Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3-8)

·      “The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:11-12)

·      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 I will forgive their sins and restore their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

·      If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am.(2 Corinthians 11:30)

·      Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)

·      No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

·      Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall. Better to live humbly with the poor than to share plunder with the proud.  (Proverbs 16:18-19

·      My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine. I, the LORD, have spoken! “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word. (Isaiah 66:2) Contrite means feeling or expressing remorse or penitence.

·      Fear of the LORD teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor. (Proverbs 15:33)

·      Let someone else praise you, not your own moutha stranger, not your own lips. (Proverbs 27:2)

·      Seek the LORD, all who are humble, and follow his commandsSeek to do what is right and to live humbly. Perhaps even yet the LORD will protect you—protect you from his anger on that day of destruction. (Zephaniah 2:3)

·      On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom. (Hezekiah 1:1) You might want to look this one up.

 

     Let’s work on being humble people today.

 

 

Can we learn anything from Leviticus that applies to our life today? Dr. Moody finds four applications in just three chapters: Sin and Sacrifice

2/18/20

Good morning, Reborn.

 

Song for the Day:  Holy Highway

 

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

 

     When will Jesus return to Earth? When will the rapture take place? Nobody knows. What we know for sure is Jesus is coming back for His followers; we just don’t know when. Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:31: “And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.” A few verses later Jesus said, “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son Himself. Only the Father knows.

     “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.” (verses 36-39)

     Paul said something similar in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3: Now concerning how and when all this will happen, dear brothers and sisters, we don’t really need to write you. For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape.

     Paul also explained in a little more detail what will take place at the return of Jesus in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18:

 

     And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.

     We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.

 

     We know Jesus will return, but we shouldn’t be concerning ourselves as to whenit will happen. That’s not what’s important. What is critical is that we are ready for His return. Matthew 25:1-13 says:

 

     “Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

     “At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’

     “All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’

     “But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’

     “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’

     “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’

     “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.”

 

     The door of opportunity is open for us right now. We don’t know when it will be too late, but the day is coming when it will be too late. The moment of our death or the moment of Christ’s return will mark the moment when the door of opportunity will be closed never to be opened again. 2 Corinthians 6:2b says, Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.

     All the words shared from the Bible today should strike terror in the hearts of unbelievers but comfort and encouragement to believers. The good news for the unbeliever is the door for knowing Jesus now and forever is wide open. Jesus invites all to enter. Mercy is extended to all today. Once the door is closed, judgment follows for all who are on the outside of the door.

Be Present With Us page 1

Be Present With Us page 2

2/17/20

Good morning, Reborn.

 

Song for the DayThe Blood Will Never Lose its Power

 

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

 

     Yesterday, Pastor Michael shared his sermon “Mercy and Sacrifice” based on Matthew 12:1-21. When Matthew wrote his book, he had one main goal—he wanted the Jews and everyone else to know Jesus, the Messiah, the Savior of the world. He wanted them to realize Jesus was God with skin on. Many did not believe, but unbelief doesn’t change truth.

     At about that time Jesus was walking through some grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, so they began breaking off some heads of grain and eating them. But some Pharisees saw them do it and protested, “Look, your disciples are breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath.” (verses 1-2)

     The Pharisees were legalistic; they were all about their own law. They had a law that on the Sabbath people were only allowed a certain number of steps. Anything beyond the allowed steps was breaking the law. There were many manmade laws they passed off as God’s laws.

     Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the house of God, and he and his companions broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests were allowed to eat. And haven’t you read in the law of Moses that the priests on duty in the Temple may work on the Sabbath? I tell you, there is one here who is even greater than the Temple! But you would not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For the Son of Man is Lord even over the Sabbath!” (verses 3-8)

     Jesus defended his disciples. He told the Pharisees His disciples were innocent; they hadn’t broken God’s laws. The Pharisees believed their goodness would get them to heaven. The Pharisees liked to have the attention on them. They liked being the big fish in a small pond. 

     Legalistic people condemn others for what they think is wrong. They were angry with the disciples for “harvesting” on the Sabbath, but they didn’t care that they were in the presence of God. Legalists are good at picking out the bad in others. They want to be the best person in the room. 

     Matthew 9:13 says, Then [Jesus] added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” The Pharisees thought they were right with God, but they were far from God. 

     Hosea 6:6 says, “I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.” When Hosea wrote this, the Israelites were far from God, but they were going through the motions. They were pretenders. Outwardly, they looked good, but their heart was bad. They were treating others unjustly. They served and loved themselves. Legalistic people are self-serving, religious people. But it’s not about religion; it’s about relationship.

     Micah 6:6-8 says, “What can we bring to the LORD? Should we bring him burnt offerings? Should we bow before God Most High with offerings of yearling calves? Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins? No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

     God is asking us to be the opposite of legalists. We need to be repentant. Life isn’t lived in black and white; life is lived in color. In Matthew 12: 5, Jesus reminded the Pharisees that the law of Moses allowed priests to work on the Sabbath. 

     Then Jesus went over to their synagogue, where he noticed a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath? (They were hoping he would say yes, so they could bring charges against him.)

     And he answered, “If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course you would. And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.”(verses 9-12)

     The Pharisees said it was okay to work on the Sabbath to save possessions but not people. The Pharisees used people and love things. Jesus loved people and used things. 

     Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored, just like the other one! Then the Pharisees called a meeting to plot how to kill Jesus. (verses 13-14) Jesus celebrated people, because that’s God’s heart. The Pharisees came to celebrate the law, not celebrate Jesus. A right relationship is God-centered; Religion/legalism is self-centered.

     But Jesus knew what they were planning. So he left that area, and many people followed him. He healed all the sick among them, but he warned them not to reveal who he was. This fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah concerning him: “Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, who pleases me. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not fight or shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally he will cause justice to be victorious. And his name will be the hope of all the world.” (verses 15-21)

     Matthew is very clearly saying that Jesus is the Messiah. Wrapped up in the word justice is mercy. God desires mercy, not judgment. Justice without mercy is judgment—not justice. There’s no such thing as justice without mercy, because mercy values people. Judgment alone values law above people. Legalistic people are the first to cry out, “That’s not fair!” while they are treating others unfairly. 

     We need to value Jesus above the law. Don’t put your hope in the law. Don’t put your hope in legalism. Don’t put your hope in good works, in morals, or in religious work. Put your hope in the Savior of the world—Jesus. We are to be people who reflect the heart of Jesus who is merciful, kind, and just. Proverbs 1:3 tells us to do what is right, just, and fair.

     Jesus values you. Let’s value Jesus in our lives, and value mercy, true justice, and love. We need to devalue the trophy case of what we have done for Jesus.

Take Sin Seriously page 1

Take Sin Seriously page 2

2/15/20

Good morning, Seed Sowers.

 

Song for the Day:  Low Down the Chariot

 

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

 

     Did Jesus ever become stressed out? Let’s take a look at Matthew 26:36-46:

 

     Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

     He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me.”

     Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

     Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.

     So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

 

     Jesus became anguished and distressed. Anguish is severe mental or physical pain or suffering. Distress is extreme anxiety, sorrow, or pain. Jesus was facing death. He knew it was going to be an extremely difficult death. It’s easy to understand why Jesus was stressed out.

     Sometimes we stress out about things that we shouldn’t stress out about. In the grand scheme of things, they are no big deal, but we make them out to be big deals. Those irritants we can bring to the Lord and turn them over to Him. A lot of the time that’s all we have to do. Go to a quiet place, share your concern with Jesus, and be done with it.

     On the other hand, sometimes there are stressors in our life that are much more than minor irritants. Sometimes events in our life cause us great anguish and distress. I think of those who have traveled down the lonely and difficult road with a spouse who had a terminal disease. Like Jesus, their soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Extremely difficult times! Times when it seems like there’s no strength to carry on. It almost seems like a dead end. 

     What do you do when you’ve come to that point of desperation? Jesus gathered His friends around Him, or at least He tried to gather His friends around Him and have them comfort Him with their presence and concern. I think Jesus was wanting His friends to pray with Him and for Him. However, His friends were too tired.

     Jesus prayed by Himself. He prayed for possible deliverance. When we face “unbearable” pain and suffering, we, too, look for deliverance. 

We want God to step into our world and save our loved one from the pain and impending death predicted by the doctors. There’s nothing wrong with praying that prayer of deliverance! Jesus is able to heal anyone of anything. There’s no disease out of range of His healing. But notice how Jesus continued with, “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” This is where faith and trust comes in. We surrender what we want to what God wants. It wasn’t easy for Jesus, and it’s not easy for us when we’re in the midst of the storm. Isaiah 41:10 says, “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.” God doesn’t promise us we won’t lose a loved one. God doesn’t promise us He will heal us of our disease, but He does promise to strengthen us, help us, and hold us up with His hand. Matthew 28:20b has the words of Jesus before He ascended to heaven, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Can life be stressful for a Christian? You bet it can! But Jesus will never leave us. His Holy Spirit lives in us. You can’t get any closer to God than that!

     Notice how Jesus prayed the same prayer three times. It’s okay to be repetitious in our prayers. We don’t want to be like the old codger whose wife complained that he never said he loved her. He responded with, “I told you 40 years ago, ‘I love you.’ If anything changes, I’ll let you know.” We can pray the same prayers over and over as long as those prayers are from our heart. God hears each prayer.

     Jesus couldn’t have been any closer to God, and yet things didn’t turn out well for Him . . . at least for a period of time. He went through a lot of suffering before His day of resurrection. We may be called on to go through a lot, too, before our day of resurrection. As Christians, no matter what happens, the end couldn’t be any better. (As an unbeliever, things will go from bad to worse.) Meanwhile, as we are faced with difficult situations, we can’t lose sight of the future. Whatever is happening now will “soon” be past. What we do for God will last. Let’s get busy in those harvest fields.

 

 

What is the access point for people to encounter the living God? Dr. Moody answers: Instructions

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2/14/20

Good morning, Lovers of Jesus & Others. Happy Valentine’s Day! 

 

Song for the Day:  Beautiful One

 

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

 

     Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman gave a lecture on Amos 7-9 titled “Destruction and Restoration.” As we look at the book of Amos, we can see a parallel of how parents deal with their kids and teachers deal with their students. The rules are clearly laid out, and that is followed by a violation. What follows is a review of the rules and a reminder of the necessity to follow those rules. That is Chapters 1-2 of Amos. In Chapters 3-6, we see more violations of the rules followed by even sterner warnings. There are some “mild” consequences (a parent may send a child to his/her room to think about the bad behavior). The opportunity for repentance is still open. In Chapters 7-9, the climate changes. The “parent” is done counting and giving chances to change behavior. The opportunity to repent has expired. Consequences are now going to be put into effect. It’s time to lower the boom!

     In these three chapters, we have the “Five Visions of Amos:”

 

1. Locusts—7:1-3. There are two harvests. The first is in early spring. It’s a smaller harvest. The crop is given to the king for taxes. The second harvest is in late summer, and it’s the main harvest. Amos petitioned God for mercy. God relented and did not bring the locusts.

 

2. Fire—7:4-6. Obviously, this is a significant fire that would lay waste the whole land. This would be a fire sent from God. Amos petitioned God for mercy. God relented and didn’t bring the fire.

 

     What purpose do these two visions serve? The answer is found in Exodus 32:7-14. Moses sees that it’s not all about him; it’s all about God. We see here the importance of intercession. Moses intercedes on the part of the Israelites. 

     As parents we intercede for our children—we ask God for His mercy on our children. We want justice and mercy rather than justice and anger. We need to intercede for each other. We need to pray for each other.

 

3. Plumb line—7:7-9. The plumb line is used to determine if a building is true and straight. God’s word is our plumb line. It is what is used to determine if His people are living true and upright before Him. Israel is not true; they are crooked. They have moved away from truth. Amos does not ask God for mercy. God does not relent of His judgment.

 

Why does Amos not ask for God to relent of His judgment and show mercy this time around? The answer is found in 1 Chronicles 21:1-16, 27-28. It is better to fall into the hands of God rather than the hands of men.

 

4. Basket of ripe fruit—8:1-14. Israel is ripe for judgment. God has come; there is no further delay. There is a play on words going on in Hebrew in verse 2: fruit (quyits) and end (qets). What do you see, Amos? I see ripe fruit. God sees the end. The end has come because of a failure to live uprightly and justly (see 4-10). Note in verse 11 that there will be a famine of God’s words. Why is this a problem? It’s because God’s words are the only words that save and transform lives. Only God’s words can save the soul. The success and longevity of a nation depends upon the adherence to the words of God.

 

5. The LORD standing by the altar. This is the most terrible vision yet. The righteous judge is standing by the altar ready to mete out justice. They know what is true righteousness and justice. People like to quote 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.” However, the question we need to ask ourselves is, “Are we in a position for God to fulfill this in our lives?”

     

The Restoration of Israel: Israel does not end in total destruction. God desires the restoration of His people! God’s will is not to destroy but to save. Even when we are crooked and unjust, God always remains true and just. God acts upon His righteousness and justice. God wants us restored. He is a merciful God.

 

Conclusion: God desires that our story ends with mercy and grace, just like the story of Amos.

 

 

Although Dr. Moody is not teaching from Amos, do you see a similar message in Amos and Exodus?  Unveiled

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2/13/20

Good morning, Friend.

 

Song for the Day:  The Wonder of it All

 

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

 

     After reading Genesis 44-45 and Matthew 15:1-20, the following prayer was prayed:

     Dear Heavenly Father, help me to be more like Judah. He was the brother of Joseph who took Benjamin to see the Pharaoh and Joseph and promised his dad he would be surety for Benjamin. Judah said if he didn’t bring Benjamin back home, he would bear the blame forever. Reuben told his father he could put his two sons to death if Benjamin wasn’t returned.

     Judah pleaded with Joseph to let Benjamin return home and Judah would stay behind and be Joseph’s slave. Judah’s love for his father and Benjamin moved him to take action that could have dire consequences for himself—slavery in a foreign country. That’s the kind of love I want to have for you, Jesus. That’s the kind of love I want for my family, my friends, my neighbors, and even my enemies. Judah was a man of integrity, and that’s what I want to be. Give me strength. Fill me with love by the power of the Holy Spirit.

     Jesus, may I be as forgiving as Joseph was to his brothers who sold him as a slave. Joseph said to his brothers, “God sent me before you to preserve life . . . it was not you who sent me here, but God.” No condemnation; just forgiveness. May I be like that to those who intend evil against me.

     Jesus, I see how the Pharisees and scribes invalidated your words for the sake of tradition. I want to be very careful to never quote tradition as if it is you speaking. That is a terrible sin. You have told me what you like and what you don’t like, and I should never add or subtract from that list. Washing my hands before I eat is good hygiene, but it’s not a sin if I don’t do it. May I clearly see the difference between sin and what is not a sin.

     What you care about is the state of my heart. You don’t like it when I honor you with my words but have a heart that is far away from you. My words and my heart need to always be in sync with each other and with you. An evil heart produces evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witnesses, and slander. You are the one who makes hearts pure. Purify my heart so it is full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Holy Spirit, come inside my heart and produce these fruits. May the words I say reflect these fruits. In the name of Jesus, amen.

 

 

How long have relativistic pluralists been around? Dr. Moody explains:  Golden Calf

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2/12/20

Good morning, Redeemed of the Lord.

 

Song for the Day:  Open Heaven (River Wild)

 

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

 

     Recently, I was watching the program “The First 48” on TV. Detectives try to solve a murder (or at least get some leads) within the first 48 hours, because they know to strike while the iron is hot. It’s more difficult to get leads after 48 hours. I found it interesting how witnesses to the murder “saw nothing.” It’s very difficult to get witnesses to talk about what they saw and for good reason—snitches end up dead.

     What does the Bible say about this matter? Leviticus 5:1 says, “If you are called to testify about something you have seen or that you know about, it is sinful to refuse to testify, and you will be punished for your sin.” That’s quite clear, isn’t it? It’s doing what’s right. Doing what’s right often isn’t easy. Sometimes there are consequences—severe consequences. Sometimes doing what’s right can cost a person his/her life. 

     To do what’s right takes courage. Let’s take a look at a few verses:

·      Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8

·      “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.” Joshua 1:9

·      Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love. 1 Corinthians 16:13

·      For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

·      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. Psalm 23:4

·      So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the LORD! Psalm 31:24

     Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a popular radio talk show host. When I’ve heard her, she always signs off at the end of her broadcast with, “Now go and do the right thing.” A lot of times the advice she would give the caller would be to do something very difficult. No doubt there would be consequences from what they were asked to do, but Dr. Laura believed that the action she recommended would take care of the issue they were facing. Doing the right thing takes courage.

     What else does Leviticus tell us to do? If we make a foolish vow of any kind, whether its purpose is for good or for bad, we are to admit our guilt and confess our sin. (5:4-5)

     Leviticus 6:1-5a: Then the LORD said to Moses, “Suppose one of you sins against your associate and is unfaithful to the LORD. Suppose you cheat in a deal involving a security deposit, or you steal or commit fraud, or you find lost property and lie about it, or you lie while swearing to tell the truth, or you commit any other such sin. If you have sinned in any of these ways, you are guilty. You must give back whatever you stole, or the money you took by extortion, or the security deposit, or the lost property you found, or anything obtained by swearing falsely. You must make restitution by paying the full price plus an additional 20 percent to the person you have harmed.

     Leviticus 19:15-18: Do not twist justice in legal matters by favoring the poor or being partial to the rich and powerful. Always judge people fairly.

     “Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people.

     “Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is threatened. I am the LORD.

     “Do not nurse hatred in your heart for any of your relatives. Confront people directly so you will not be held guilty for their sin.

     “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

     Leviticus 19:33-35a: “Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.

     “Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight, or volume. Your scales and weights must be accurate. Your containers for measuring dry materials or liquids must be accurate.”

     In His word, God has told us what is right and what is wrong. They both might have negative consequences, but He’s commanded us to do right. Let’s be bright lights in a dark world. Our lights will shine brightly as we are courageous and do the right thing.

 

 

Do you have questions concerning slavery in the Bible. Dr. Moody may answer your question:  Law and Promise

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2/11/20

Good morning, Heaven Bound.

 

Song for the Day:  Jerusalem

 

Complete the Verses and Name the Book: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, . . . (completion at the end)

 

     Today, let’s take a look at the close connection there is between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The New Testament is a continuation of God’s story started in the Old Testament. Let’s go as far back as Exodus. In this book, God speaks from the mountain. In Leviticus He speaks from the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle is the place where God has chosen to dwell among the Israelites. 

     Where does God dwell in the New Testament and in 2020? Acts 7:46-50 says, “David found favor with God and asked for the privilege of building a permanent Temple for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who actually built it. However, the Most High doesn’t live in temples made by human hands. As the prophet says, ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you build me a temple as good as that?’ asks the LORD. ‘Could you build me such a resting place? Didn’t my hands make both heaven and earth?’”

     1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” 

     Romans 8:9-10 says, “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.”

     In the first seven chapters of Leviticus, we find a manual for worship. Worship is not an option for the Israelites; it’s an obligation. Worship began with a sacrifice. It was assumed that when people came to worship God, they didn’t come empty-handed. There was always an offering. As Christian believers, we don’t come to worship with empty hands either. The Israelites came with their own gifts, but we come to worship with God’s own Gift, His Son. Jesus is the basis for our approach to God and the worship of Him.

     Leviticus 1:3-4 says, “If the animal you present as a burnt offering is from the herd, it must be a male with no defects. Bring it to the entrance of the Tabernacle so you may be accepted by the LORD. Lay your hand on the animal’s head, and the LORD will accept its death in your place to purify you, making you right with him.”

     God determined what was an acceptable sacrifice. Notice here it is a male with no defects. Jesus was a male with no defect; He had no sin. God demanded perfection, and Jesus was the only one who qualified as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Because of the death of Jesus (His sacrifice), we are made acceptable to the LORD. God accepts the death of Jesus in our place to purify us and make us right with Him.

     Hebrews 10:11-22 says:

 

     Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy. And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says, “This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the LORD: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”

     Then he says, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.

     And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

 

     When we see what the Israelites went through with all their sacrifices, we can better appreciate the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross. We can also see the need of a Savior who was able to save us from our sins. Jesus was the only one qualified to make that sacrifice, and He loving obeyed God the Father. We have much to be grateful for!

 

 

Put the following in their proper order according to the pattern demonstrated in Scripture: works, obedience, grace, rescue. Check to see if you’re right:  Eagles Wings

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2/10/20

Good morning, Travelers on the Narrow Road.

 

Song for the Day:  There is a Fountain

 

Complete the Verse and Name the Book: Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is . . . (completion at the end)

 

     Today, I’d like to share part of a sermon from my brother-in-law, Dr. Herb Ireland, who is a retired minister living in Wheaton, Illinois. Here is his sermon “The Pendulum-Principle:”

 

     How did Jesus, who was fully human, handle the same things we face? A close reading of the Gospels will reveal the pendulum-principle at work in the life of Jesus. His entire ministry had a rhythm to it like the rhythm of sleeping and waking, rest and work, and a constant pattern of withdrawal and return. 

     I want us to consider two examples of the pendulum-principle in the life of Jesus. The first is found in Mark 1:21-39:

 

     Jesus and his companions went to the town of Capernaum. When the Sabbath day came, he went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike the teachers of religious law.

     Suddenly, a man in the synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, “Why are you interfering with us. Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

     But Jesus reprimanded him. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. At that, the evil spirit screamed, threw the man into a convulsion, and then came out of him.

     Amazement gripped the audience and they began to discuss what had happened. “What sort of new teaching is this?” they asked excitedly. “It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!” The news about Jesus spread quickly throughout the entire region of Galilee.

     After Jesus left the synagogue with James and John, they went to Simon and Andrew’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. They told Jesus about her right away. So he went to her bedside, took her by the hand, and helped her sit up. Then the fever left her, and she prepared a meal for them.

     That evening after sunset, many sick and demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. The whole town gathered at the door to watch. So Jesus healed many people who were sick with various diseases, and he cast out many demons. But because the demons knew who he was, he did not allow them to speak.

     Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.”

     But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons.

 

     On the Jewish Sabbath Jesus began his day by teaching with such authority that the attenders were shocked and delighted with His fresh approach to the Torah. Then a man with an impure spirit was confronted and the demon was cast out of him. As soon as the service was over, Jesus along with James and John made their way to the home of Simon and Andrew to enjoy a kosher meal together. However, they found that the cook, Simon’s mother-in-law, was sick in bed with a fever. Jesus then took her feverish hand and healed her. We don’t know if Jesus took a nap like some of us do after Sunday dinner, but we do know when the sun set Jesus was inundated with people who were sick and demon-possessed. Mark declares, “The whole town gathered at the door.” At the end of this day Jesus was rung out and felt exhausted and depleted, just like we often do after a full day of work.

     Please consider how sleep alone does not restore his depleted energy and equip Him for another demanding day. While deep REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is essential for recovery it is not enough. Jesus quietly withdraws in the early morning, while it was still dark, to a solitary place to pray to His heavenly Father. He needed prayer in order to replenish His strength, recreate His enthusiasm, and restore His perspective. If Jesus needed to do this as a regular rhythm of work and withdrawal how much more do we need it? 

     Another example is found in Mark 9:2-29. Here is a portion of that passage:

 

     Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make him. Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus. (verses 2-4)

     When they returned to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd surrounding them, and some teachers of religious law were arguing with them. When the crowd saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with awe, and they ran to greet him.

     “What is all this arguing about?” Jesus asked.

     One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”

     Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” (verses 14-19) 

 

     In this story Jesus deliberately leaves a crowd of needy people in the valley to ascend a mountain with Peter, James and John to withdraw and pray. He senses the need to draw close to His Father and the inner three of His disciples. While on the mountain please note the Scripture says, “They were all alone.” In this atmosphere Jesus is transfigured before the three disciples. The inner purity and majesty of His being fully God shines through His clothes. It is then that Elijah, representing the prophets and Moses representing the Law appears to talk to Jesus about His final mission of death and resurrection for the redemption of mankind. Once again we see Jesus using the pendulum-principle of withdrawing to renew his physical, emotional, mental and spiritual strength before descending into the valley of human needs that surrounded Him. 

 

Conclusion: If we are going to have a real impact for the Living Lord, we must follow the pendulum-principle that Jesus followed during his three years of ministry on earth. A careful reading of His life will reveal deep involvement of ministering and caring for people and then withdrawing to have His spiritual, emotional and physical batteries recharged. The times of solitude, silence, and prayer in the presence of His Father kept Him from burn out and depression. If this was His strategy, shouldn’t it be ours, too?

According to Dr. Moody, there’s something you can do to lighten your burdens and chase the clouds away:  Crossing the Red Sea

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2/8/20

Good morning, Grace Receivers.

 

Song for the Day:  Amazing Grace

 

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

 

     Are laws burdensome or helpful? I imagine it depends on what laws one is talking about. If it’s God’s laws, those who follow them from the heart and not out of obligation or for show will find them helpful. God’s laws were written for our own good. 

     When our first daughter was old enough to play outdoors by herself, we told her the road was off limits. The sidewalk was fine, but noting past the sidewalk and into the street was allowed. That was the law! One day she decided to test the boundaries, and she got a spanking for it. The next time she was outdoors, we watched as she approached the road. She stood on the sidewalk, looked out at the road, shook her head “no” several times, and did not go into the road. She might have been a little too young to understand that the law we had given her was for her own good. Even the discipline we had handed out was for her own good. We handed out the law and the disciplinary action for breaking the law because we loved our daughter, and we didn’t want anything harmful to happen to her.

     1 John 5:1-3 says,

 

     Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. (NLT) 

 

     Our former pastor in Beaverton, Ron Mehl, wrote a book titled The Ten(der) Commandments. Here are some different passages from the book:

 

     Have you ever heard the Ten Commandments described as a love letter . . . a tender, heartfelt message from the very hand of God? Perhaps not. Yet I’ve become convinced it is one of the most powerful expressions of God’s love in all of Scripture. And you don’t need to read between the lines! It’s all there. He doesn’t leave anything out. These ten statements are all-encompassing, touching virtually every part of our lives. They are the parameters to live by—the truths He knows are going to provide blessing and strength, a future and a hope.

 

     Some people, of course, imagine it to be the exact opposite. They don’t hear love in these statements at all. What do they hear? They hear the clank of chains and the rattle of padlocks. They hear God saying, “You mess with Me, you step out of bounds, and I’ll fry you like a bug landing on a transformer.”

     All of this, of course, plays right into Satan’s master plan—the one he’s had from the beginning. (Why change if it still works?) “God is a prude. God is a killjoy. God is a harsh old grandfather with a long, gray beard and bushy eyebrows who doesn’t want anyone to have any fun—ever.” 

     No, it’s not a very original line of reasoning. The enemy began it with Eve back at the dawn of creation when he said, “Has God really forbidden you this lovely fruit? Oh my. What a pity. What a shame. He knows that if you ever tasted from this tree, you’d be like a god. Nothing could hold you back. You think the Garden of Eden is nice now? You ain’t seen nothin’. God wants to keep you from the tang and sweetness of life. True freedom means freedom from confining restrictions such as these.”

     Is he right? Are the Ten Commandments harsh and negative . . . narrow and legalistic . . . cold and confining? Could there be a brighter, warmer, more passionate side to this familiar portion of Scripture we may have missed through the years? Is it possible we’ve misunderstood the first few pages of God’s love letter, the very words that set the Ten Commandments in context?

 

     One of my fondest memories was getting up one morning when Joyce [Ron’s wife] had left for a women’s retreat and finding little yellow Post-it notes from her just about everywhere I looked. I found one on the bathroom mirror that said, “Have a nice day. I love you very much.” There was another on the refrigerator door, another on the toaster, another on my briefcase, and another in my briefcase. There was one on the steering wheel of my car, on the chair in my office, and on my study table. It seemed that wherever I went that day I’d find a little yellow tab with a simple reminder of her love for me.

     What a great feeling! I was surrounded by messages of this woman’s love. They were low and high. They were on my left and on my right. They reached me coming in and going out.

     Maybe Israel didn’t see those little sticky notes from God, but the truth is, He posted them everywhere. They were on the sand where they knelt to drink from the cool stream God caused to bubble up right out of the arid desert. They were on the desert floor in the morning when they gathered the fresh manna, sweet as honey. They were on the empty helmets of the Egyptian soldiers, tossed up on the sand by the waves. Deliverance! Release! Protection! Provision!

 

     Everything we have and everything we enjoy are because of Him and are blessings from His hand. We, too, were headed south one day. There was nothing between us and an eternal abyss but empty space and a long, long way to fall. As Paul put it, we were “without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12, NIV).

     But what happened? In Christ, the Lord swooped down and picked us up and gave us everything that we have. And now He sustains us and keeps us every day of our lives.

     If we lose sight of that, we can’t see anything at all.

     Yes, there may be times when you feel abandoned like an eaglet in the wide, empty sky . . . but the Lord will always come. If you will trust Him and put your faith in Him, then He’s guaranteed that He will always show up, and it will always be at the right time. If He seems “late” from your perspective, it’s because He’s letting you see something and learn something that you need to see and learn.

 

     And God our Father—so much more than me, an imperfect human father—yearns for us to avoid destructive paths. So He gave us His Word, and specifically, He gave us the Ten Commandments.

     He did it out of a heart of love, wanting to remove confusion from our lives . . . wanting to keep us from the traps and snares of the Destroyer . . . wanting to spare us from the wasting, life-sapping ravages of sin . . . wanting us to find our destiny as His own sons and daughters.

     God knows that these truths are extremely important to our future. There are times when we become greatly confused about what is right and what is wrong, and about what we should and shouldn’t do. This blurring of the lines is becoming more and more pronounced through our whole culture as the time of the Lord’s coming draws near. What did Paul call these last days? “Perilous times” (2 Timothy 3:1). Terrible times. Difficult times. Grievous times. Dangerous times. And when we watch the news on TV or pick up a newspaper it should not surprise us that no one seems to know what is right and ethical and moral anymore.

 

     When God wrote the Scriptures He knew very well what kind of world you and I and our children would be living in right now. It’s no surprise to Him at all. He isn’t shocked by any of it. He’s omniscient. He knows exactly what we need to survive in this fast-changing, high-tech, low-morality culture we live in.

     With the Ten Commandments, the Lord said, “Please . . . let me remove all confusion.” In virtually every one of these commands, I find something of God’s great protection and affection toward you and me. God says, “I know what is best for us, for you, for Me, for our relationship. There are some parameters here—ten of them—that are literally matters of life and death.”

 

     Let’s thank God for His law. Let’s show our love and respect for Him today by following His Word. Jesus said, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” (John 14:15)

 

 

Who was it that said God is not a tame lion? It wasn’t Dr. Moody, but it’s probably someone you know. Read to find out who: Bricks Without Straw

2/7/20

Good morning, Followers of The Way.

 

Song for the Day: The Heart of Worship

 

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

 

     Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman gave a lecture on “Righteousness and Justice” based on Amos 5 and 6. The first 17 verses of Chapter 5 are a lament from Amos. This is his third judgment speech. Verse 1 says, “Listen, you people of Israel! Listen to this funeral song I am singing:”

Notice how 3:1, 4:1, and 5:1 start out in a similar fashion. However, this time it’s different from the other two because this is a lament.

     A lament is used for mourning at funerals. It’s a passionate expression of grief and sorrow. It’s also used by the prophets to picture tragic reversals of nations or leaders (for example, from strong to weak or rich to poor). The literary use of a lament would seem highly out of place at this time in Israel. Israel is not yet dead. It is a strong, wealthy, and powerful nation. It is a time of celebration—not a lament or dirge.

     It’s interesting to note that the previous stanza of Amos was a hymn to the power and glory of God (see 4:13). Now Amos transitions to the lament of the loss of Israel. Verse 2 says, “The virgin Israel has fallen, never to rise again! She lies abandoned on the ground, with no one to help her up.” Fallen? How can Amos say that? Virgin Israel is a picture of youth, hope, and dreams yet to be fulfilled. The land is the promise of God’s presence to bring them to and keep them in the land.

     Verse 3The Sovereign LORD says: “When a city sends a thousand men to battle, only a hundred will return. When a town sends a hundred, only ten will come back alive.” This is a reference to Deut. 28:25.

     Verse 4Now this is what the LORD says to the family of Israel: “Come back to me and live!” This is a call to repentance. What does Israel need to repent of? The people would have said, “We’re wealthy, prosperous, and strong. Obviously, we have God’s blessing. We are not in need of repentance.” 

     Verses 5-7Don’t worship at the pagan altars at Bethel; don’t go to the shrines at Gilgal or Beersheba. For the people of Gilgal will be dragged off into exile, and the people of Bethel will be reduced to nothing.” Come back to the LORD and live! Otherwise, he will roar through Israel like a fire, devouring you completely. Your gods in Bethel won’t be able to quench the flames. You twist justice, making it a bitter pill for the oppressed. You treat the righteous like dirt.

     Israel needs to repent of their religiosity: their empty words, false words, and false actions. Their words don’t match their actions. They are simply giving lip service to God, but their hearts are far from Him. They claim to serve God yet they serve other gods at Bethel, Gilgal, and Beersheba. They are not in a right relationship with God. They serve self rather than God. They wanted God to be their lucky charm. Amos is telling them to stop abusing God and humble themselves before God. They need to start practicing justice and righteousness, because they are not doing it now.

     Verses 8-9: It is the LORD who created the stars, the Pleiades and Orion. He turns darkness into morning and day into night. He draws up water from the oceans and pours it down as rain on the land. The LORD is his name! With blinding speed and power he destroys the strong, crushing all their defenses.

     This is a hymn to the sovereignty of God (see 4:13). Note how this hymn appears in the middle of his lament.

     Verses 10-13How you hate honest judges! How you despise people who tell the truth! You trample the poor, stealing their grain through taxes and unfair rent. Therefore, though you build beautiful stone houses, you will never live in them. Though you plant lush vineyards, you will never drink wine from them. For I know the vast number of your sins and the depth of your rebellions. You oppress good people by taking bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts. So those who are smart keep their mouths shut, for it is an evil time.

     Here is a further comment on injustice and unrighteousness. There are more specifics of their actions. The poor were even being taxed on the straw they collected. Their courts were so corrupt that it didn’t pay to tell the truth.

     Verses 14-15Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live! Then the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have claimed. Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies will have mercy on the remnant of his people.

     Here is another call to repentance.

     Verses 16-17Therefore, this is what the Lord, the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies, says: “There will be crying in all the public squares and mourning in every street. Call for the farmers to weep with you, and summon professional mourners to wail. There will be wailing in every vineyard, for I will destroy them all,” says the LORD.

     Notice the wailing, anguish, and mourning; Amos is back to the lament.

     The form of poetry Amos is using in verses 5-6 is called a chiasm:

 

Seek me and live

     Bethel

          Gilgal

               Beersheba

          Gilgal

     Bethel

Seek the Lord and live

 

     Verses 1-17 form another chiasm:

 

Lamentation as announcement (verses 1-3)

     Admonition (verses 4-6)

          Accusation (verse 7)

               Hymn (verse 8a)

                    The Lord (verse 8b)

               Hymn (verse 9)

          Accusation (verses 10-13)

     Admonition (verses 14-15)

Lamentation as announcement (verses 16-17)

 

     Scripture was not given as dictation by the Holy Spirit. There was room for the individual styles of the authors. 2 Peter 1:20 says, “Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.”

     There are two woes. The first woe is found in Amos 5:18-27. The second is found in Chapter 6. They give the people a warning of the coming judgment. Amos says, “Woe to those who long for the Day of the Lord.” Why is that a woe? Isn’t the Day of the Lord a good day? The Day of the Lord is not a good day for those who do not serve God. Israel has not practiced justice and righteousness. It has pretended with God. Israel’s character does not reflect God!

     Churches can be socially active but lack the Holy Spirit. The works done without the Holy Spirit draw attention to the person rather than to God. It makes the person look good rather than make God look good.

     God’s response to Israel is, “I hate your religious festivals. I will not accept your offerings. Your songs of worship are noise to me and not a joyful noise.” God no longer has any regard for them. They have disregarded God by their actions and character.

     The second woe is found in Amos 6:1-14. It is against the wealthy in particular. They disregard the poor, and there is no justice. They enjoy a life of unrighteousness. Their wealth is gained from injustice and unrighteousness. God is against the people. They are marked for destruction. The name of the Lord will be feared. God will bring a nation against them to destroy them.

Conclusion/Summary: God, the sovereign Lord, expects His words to be listened to. He expects His people to reflect who He is in their actions and character. He will not be taken for granted. God will not be mocked. 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.”

 

 

According to Dr. Moody, one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible is found in Exodus. 

Let My People Go

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2/6/20

Good morning, Servers of God.

 

Song for the Day: The God I Serve

 

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

 

     In Pastor Michael’s sermons, he has warned us against wandering out to the border of God’s will. He’s asked us why we would want to get as far away from Jesus as we can and still be “good.” He has encouraged us to draw close to God; get as close to Jesus as we can possibly get. Build a personal relationship with Him. Relationships cost time, so spend time with Him in His word and in talking to Him in prayer. Move into the very center of His will. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide our every step.

     Looking at Revelation 13 we see the importance of having a strong relationship with Jesus. If we don’t develop that relationship now, when persecution comes (and it is coming), we will likely forsake our God in lieu of avoiding persecution or saving our life. Remember what Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 16:24-26:

 

     “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

 

     Let’s take a look of what is coming our way:

 

     Then I saw a beast rising up out of the sea. It had seven heads and ten horns, with ten crowns on its horns. And written on each head were names that blasphemed God. This beast looked like a leopard, but it had the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion! And the dragon gave the beast his own power and throne and great authority.

     I saw that one of the heads of the beast seemed wounded beyond recovery—but the fatal wound was healed! The whole world marveled at this miracle and gave allegiance to the beast. They worshiped the dragon for giving the beast such power, and they also worshiped the beast. “Who is as great as the beast?” they exclaimed. “Who is able to fight against him?”

     Then the beast was allowed to speak great blasphemies against God. And he was given authority to do whatever he wanted for forty-two months. And he spoke terrible words of blasphemy against God, slandering his name and his dwelling—that is, those who dwell in heaven. And the beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation. And all the people who belong to this world worshiped the beast. They are the ones whose names were not written in the Book of Life that belongs to the Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made. 

     Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand. Anyone who is destined for prison will be taken to prison. Anyone destined to die by the sword will die by the sword. This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently and remain faithful. (Revelation 13:1-10)

 

     This passage was about the beast of the sea. You can finish the chapter and read about the beast of the earth. Both passages tell of persecution that’s coming for Christians. I would caution you about being overly concerned about when this will all happen. It’s easy to get distracted from what God is telling us here. We need to be diligent about our faith so when persecution comes we don’t drop off into the abyss because we were hanging out on the periphery of God’s will. And what’s God’s will? 1 Thessalonians 4:3a says, “God’s will is for you to be holy.” Holy means set apart for God’s service—being sanctified. When we are holy, we are distinct; we stand out from the crowd. We’re different from the masses. That difference should be obvious to others. We will stick out like a sore thumb. When we’re called on because of our faith, we need to stand strong for Jesus. We don’t want to be like Peter before Pentecost and deny our Savior. We want to be like Peter after Pentecost and be bold about our faith and be willing to die for it like he did. 

     It’s important to read Scripture like this in Revelation, because it helps us evaluate ourselves and see where we stand with Jesus. If we don’t have any hesitation about facing persecution for our faith in Jesus even to the point of death, hopefully that’s an accurate evaluation and we are in the center of His will. 

     If we have doubts about it because we feel like we’re probably somewhere on the periphery, it’s not too late to do something about it. Have an honest talk with God. Tell Him where you are, and tell Him where you want to be, and ask for His help to get you to the point where you should be. He is faithful to us, so let’s be faithful to Him.

 

 

Could there be a missing ingredient in the Lord’s prayer in John 17? Listen to Dr. Josh Moody explain what that missing ingredient is: The Prayer of Jesus the Great Missing Ingredient 

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2/5/20

Good morning, Siblings in God’s Family.

 

Song for the Day: The Old Gospel Ship

 

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

 

     After reading Genesis 41-43 and Matthew 14, the following prayer was prayed:

     Father God, your timing is not always my timing. I’m sure Joseph would have liked to have been released from the dungeon long before it happened. However, your timing is always best. Help me to be patient and rest in your will as it unfolds in your time.

     Joseph was quick to give you the credit for the interpretations of the dreams. Help me to be quick to give you the credit for all the good things that happen in my life.

     You raised Joseph from the dungeon and brought him to the position of leadership just under Pharaoh. You are God. Anything is possible with you. My job isn’t to manipulate promotions; my job is to love you with my whole heart, soul, mind and strength. When I do that, I am doing your will. If you think I need a promotion, you will make that happen. I can trust you and rest in you knowing you have everything under control.

     You raised Joseph up to keep a nation from starving during a famine. Raise up godly people today to be used by you to save our nation from a downward spiritual spiral. May I be obedient to you when you call on me with an assignment.

     When Joseph had his dream where his brothers bowed down to him, he had no idea what it all meant and how the events would transpire. However, when all of his brothers bowed down before him when they came to get food, since there was a famine in Canaan, the dream came true, and everything in the dream now made sense. Everything you say will happen does happen; it’s just a matter of time. You are faithful to your word, and you can be trusted. It’s you who I put my faith in.

     John the Baptist was a significant person in your life, Jesus. Like Joseph, he was in prison for doing what was right. However, the outcome for John was very different than it was for Joseph; John’s head was delivered to Herodias’ daughter on a platter. I don’t serve you so you can bless me and make me prosperous; I serve you because I love you. Whatever you decide to do with me is fine with me. Use me in your kingdom the way you see fit. I know it might mean prosperity, or it might mean death. I’m all in either way.

     Jesus, you showed us you are God many times when you were on Earth. You walked on the Sea of Galilee during a storm and invited Peter to walk with you on the water. He was successful until he started to doubt. Consequently, he began to sink into the sea. Only you are able to defy the physical laws of nature because you are the one who put them into operation. Jesus, I declare you are God. You are God the Son, the second person in the Trinity. I worship you because you are worthy to be worshiped.

     Jesus, you demonstrated that you are God when you healed people who just touched the fringe of your cloak. Doctors are helpful, but they can’t heal. Only you are able to heal us—physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. We look to you who made us to fix us when we are broken. Thank you for the touch of your healing hand. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Just Do Something page 1

Just Do Something page 2

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2/4/20

Good morning, Sinners Saved by Grace.

 

Song for the Day: Sinner Saved by Grace

 

Complete the Verse and Name the Book: Those whom I love I . . . (completion at the end)

 

     Fair or unfair? Sensitive or unsensitive? Kind or unkind? What do you think of the landowner and vineyard workers in the parable Jesus shared that is recorded in Matthew 20:1-16? Let’s take a look at it:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

     Would you rather have been the first guy hired or the last guy hired? We might say the last guy was very fortunate, but all the workers were fortunate—they all got paid for their work. Nobody got underpaid according to what was agreed. 

     Let’s say someone comes to Christ at a “young” age and is a follower until death at an old age. On the other hand, there might be someone who lived unto himself his whole life and then saw the Light at the end of his life and came to Christ. They both get paid the same—eternal life. Is the second guy elated? Yes! What a gift! What undeserved grace! (However, he probably would regret not living his whole life for Christ.) The seasoned follower of Christ should be just as elated with his gift of eternal life! One lived his “whole” life as a follower of Christ and the other just a matter of days, but they both get the same reward. 

     If the seasoned follower of Christ became jealous over the short-timer, one would wonder about the maturity of the seasoned saint. A mature Christian would be thrilled for the person who made a decision for Christ in his later years. There wouldn’t be any jealousy at all.

     Notice the words of the landowner, “Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?” Kindness carries a lot of weight. We need to be people of kindness, too. We need to rejoice with the people to whom kindness is shown rather than be jealous of them. When others get a promotion at work, we can rejoice with them. If they don’t deserve the promotion and some dirty politics is going on, let God sort that all out. Our job is to rejoice with the one who was shown kindness. 

     If a wealthy father buys his son a new car or pays for his college, should I be jealous? No way! I should rejoice with the son. The father was kind to his son, and I should be happy for the son. Romans 12:15 says, “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.” I may never receive the gift of a new car or have my college paid for, but God will provide for all my needs. Paul said in Philippians 4:11-13:

 

     Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

 

     When we are content with what we have, we never have to worry about being jealous of others. We can be content with the talents and abilities God has given us, even if it’s less than what was given to another. One person may have to spend years and years learning how to play a musical instrument. Another person might pick it up in just a few months. One person may study an hour for a test and another person study ten hours, and the person who studied an hour could get the higher grade. One person may not be able to do any maintenance on a vehicle, and another may be able to do all the maintenance on a vehicle. One person may sing beautifully and another not be able to carry a tune. 

     Our job is to be content with what we have been given and not be jealous of others. Our job is also not to squander the talents and abilities we do have. We don’t want to be like the servant in Matthew 25:14-30 who took the little that was given to him and buried it. No effort was made to expand the talents given him. His talents didn’t do him or anyone else any good. Instead, we need to be like the one who was given many talents, and develop those talents even more. Little is much when God is in it. Much is even more when God is in it. Give your talents to God, and let Him use them. You have your part, and God has His part. Together, there’s no limit to what is possible.

     This parable also addresses those being first and last. When we look at others, it might look like one person is far ahead of another (sort of like the story The Hare and the Tortoise. The hare was first and the tortoise last as the race progressed, but in the end, the tortoise was first and the hare last). You see people that seem to be in first place here on Earth—they have wealth, position, family, etc. You also see those who look to be in last place—struggling financially, no job or a job with little or no prestige, a dysfunctional family, etc. On Judgment Day, it’s completely possible that the one who looked to be in last place here on Earth is now in first place in heaven. Likewise, the first could be last. It’s not our position to judge who will go to heaven and who will go to hell, because only God knows the heart. We know God will make a just decision as to who is first and last and sort accordingly. There will be no jealousy in heaven, so we might as well start preparing for it now.

Mentor Us page 1

Mentor Us page 2

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2/3/20

Good morning, Builders on the Rock.

 

Song for the Day: Build My Life

 

Complete the Verse and Name the Book: The one who does not love does not know God, for . . . (completion at the end)

 

     Yesterday, Pastor Michael gave the sermon “Rejecting and Receiving” based on Matthew 11:20-30. Jesus and John were preaching the same message: “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” (Matthew 3:2 and 4:17) They were telling the people not to put their self-gospel above the true gospel. 

 

     Then Jesus began to denounce the towns where he had done so many of his miracles, because they hadn’t repented of their sins and turned to God.

 

     The people wanted God to fit their beliefs rather than conform their beliefs to what God showed them. They were not interested in truth. 

 

     “What sorrow awaits you, Korazin and Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have repented of their sins long ago, clothing themselves in burlap and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse. I tell you, Tyre and Sidon will be better off on judgment day than you.” (verses 21-22)

 

     Tyre was a wealthy and prosperous place. Slave trade was flourishing there. Ezekiel 26:1-6 says:

 

     On February 3, during the twelfth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, this message came to me from the LORD: “Son of man, Tyre has rejoiced over the fall of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Ha! She who was the gateway to the rich trade routes to the east has been broken, and I am the heir! Because she has been made desolate, I will become wealthy!’

     “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am your enemy, O Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the waves of the sea crashing against your shoreline. They will destroy the walls of Tyre and tear down its towers. I will scrape away its soil and make it a bare rock! It will be just a rock in the sea, a place for fishermen to spread their nets, for I have spoken, says the Sovereign LORD. Tyre will become the prey of many nations, and its mainland villages will be destroyed by the sword. Then they will know that I am the LORD.

 

     Tyre was not a place that pleased God. Korazin and Bethsaida are no better. Amos 1:9-10 says:

 

     This is what the LORD says: “The people of Tyre have sinned again and again, and I will not let them go unpunished! They broke their treaty of brotherhood with Israel, selling whole villages as slaves to Edom. So I will send down fire on the walls of Tyre, and all its fortresses will be destroyed.”

 

     Sodom was as far away from God as a place could get. Korazin and Bethsaida are no better because they won’t repent.

     The gospel of Jesus Christ changes lives; it changes eternal destinies. It changes cities, too. However, Korazin and Bethsaida have rejected God. The people live unto themselves. They were telling God, “Your words don’t make me feel happy and nice. I’m a good person—chosen by God.” The people were seeking favor from God by their works and wisdom rather than seeking favor from God by His grace. They were telling God, “We want our ways more than your ways.”

     The Israelites had every opportunity to change, but they said, “No!” Like the Israelites, we in America have had many opportunities, too. We’ve been given much but haven’t responded much. Luke 12:47-48 says:

 

     “And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.”

 

     America is a lot like Israel. Both believe salvation is gained by wisdom and works rather than by grace alone. Matthew 11:25-27 says:

 

     At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way!

     “My father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

 

     We value knowledge, technology, science, independence, overcomers; we devalue the gospel. 1 Corinthians 1:18-21 says:

 

     The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”

     So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.

 

     We have a choice. We can be wise in our own eyes or humble ourselves before God. Don’t value science over faith. Salvation is by grace through faith. 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 God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

 

     Peter, referring to Jesus, said,  “There is salvation in on one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

 

     Do you want wisdom? Do you want salvation? Come to Jesus. Matthew 11:28-30 says:

 

     Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

 

     Jesus is the only one who can save you. He’s the only one who can make you good enough to get into heaven.  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.” Jesus is the one who carries the load. He is the one who gives us rest for our soul. Are you tired of trying to impress God? Romans 5:21 says, “So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

     The gift of salvation is extended to all. The only reason we are able to enter heaven is by the grace of God. To accept God’s free gift of salvation, pray a simple but sincere prayer:

 

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.

Be Patient and Pray page 1

Be Patient and Pray page 2

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2/1/20

Good morning, Grace Receivers.

 

Song for the Day: Your Grace is Enough

 

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

 

     This past weekend Pastor Michael and Val Wedman led a “Spiritual Growth Seminar.” Today, I’d like to cover one small part that was discussed in the booklet The Steps to Freedom in Christ by Neil T. Anderson. The topic is forgiveness.

     Luke 6:35-36 reminds us we are to be merciful to others: “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”

     Ephesians 4:31-32 tells us to forgive others: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

     2 Corinthians 2:10-11 tells us that when we forgive others, Satan is unable to take advantage of us: “When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive whatever needs to be forgiven, I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit, so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.”

     Forgiveness is NOT forgetting. Forgetting can’t be done. When God said He will remember our sins no more, He’s saying He will not use the past against us. That’s what we need to do for others, too. Once we choose to forgive someone, then Christ can begin to heal our wounds. 

     Forgiveness is a choice. It’s a decision of the will. We don’t need to take revenge; leave that to God. Romans 12:19 says, Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say: “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD. If you refuse to forgive someone, you stay hooked to that person. Forgiveness frees you from the person. It lets the person off your hook, but the person is still not off God’s hook. Trust that God will deal with the person justly and fairly. Let God deal with the person His way, not your way. Forgiveness sets the captive free. When we don’t forgive, we are being held captive. We are bound by bitterness. Picture yourself being tied up with the strong rope of bitterness. You struggle to break free, but you can’t. However, as soon as you forgive, you are free of all those ropes that held you captive.

     Forgive from your heart. Let God bring emotions to the surface you have had buried deep inside of you, so He can begin to heal those damaged emotions.

     Choose not to hold someone’s sin against him/her any longer. Don’t bring it up. When you bring it up, you may be wanting the person who offended you to feel as bad as you do. However, we have to let go of the past and choose to do away with any form of revenge. If there is abuse involved, you need to set up boundaries that will stop further abuse.

     Don’t wait until you feel like forgiving. Make the hard choice to forgive even if you don’t feel like it. It’s not excusing the offender’s behavior, it’s forgiving their behavior. Don’t pray, “Lord, help me to forgive,” or “Lord, I want to forgive.” Instead, pray,“Lord, I choose to forgive _________ for ______________________, because it made me feel ________________________. I choose not to hold on to my resentment. I relinquish my right to seek revenge and ask you to heal my damaged emotions. Thank you for setting me free from the bondage of my bitterness. Bless ___________ who hurt me.

Be Patient with Us page 1

Be Patient with Us page 2

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1/31/20

Good morning, Faith Walkers.

 

Song for the Day: I Walk by Faith

 

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

 

     Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman gave a lecture on “Judgment Against Israel” based on Amos 2:6 – 4:13. This is the eighth judgment against Israel. It is a longer and more specific judgment. The Northern Kingdom is the target audience. 

     There are sins against the poor. Amos 2:6b-7a says, “They sell honorable people for silver and poor people for a pair of sandals. They trample helpless people in the dust and shove the oppressed out of the way.” Justice could be bought by the rich for next to nothing. Justice for the poor is not being upheld. They were not a people of God’s justice. The rich were getting richer, and the poor were getting poorer. They no longer reflected who God is. They were no longer morally upright people; they were morally corrupt.

     They were keeping garments of the poor that were taken in pledges. Exodus 22:26-27 says, “If you take your neighbor’s cloak as security for a loan, you must return it before sunset. This coat may be the only blanket your neighbor has. How can a person sleep without it? If you do not return it and your neighbor cries out to me for help, then I will hear, for I am merciful.” They no longer cared about the needs of others.

     Verse 8b says, “In the house of their gods, they drink wine bought with unjust fines.” In just this one act, they were committing three sins:

·      No regard for justice.

·      No regard for morality.

·      No regard for the needs of others.

     In verses 9-16, we see God protected them, saved them, provided for them, supported them, spoke to them, and set them apart as His special covenant people. But they spurned God; they rejected Him. Therefore, God is against them in judgment. God will crush them and no one will escape—not even the strongest and swiftest warrior.

    In 3:1-15 Amos tells the people of Israel to hear the word the LORD has spoken against the whole family. God chose them out of all the families of the earth. There is a message for us, too. God chose us to join His family. The invitation is open to all people to join His family.

     There is a pattern of spiritual discipline:

1.   Accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.

2.   Turn away from Jesus.

3.   Grieve the Holy Spirit.

4.   Receive discipline from God.

5.   The opportunity to return to Jesus is extended.

6.   We have a choice.

     They did not live up to their privileged position. They forgot that with privilege comes responsibility.

     There are seven rhetorical questions that involve cause and effect. God is against them because of their own actions. Amos begins with general questions and then moves to more specific questions in his series of questions.

     In verses 7 and 8 they are told that God has spoken, and it will happen. Israel should know the words of God, but they got rid of the prophets so now they do not hear God any more. That has an effect on Israel. The nations are called to witness Israel’s downfall and judgment. Israel no longer knows how to do right. The destruction of their nation is at hand.

     1 Kings 1 discusses the horns of the altar. It was a safe place when one was holding on to the horns of the altar. But now there will be no safe place from God’s punishment and wrath. Their wealth will not save them.

          Chapter 4 is about the hardness of their heart. The cows of Bashan are referred to. Bashan was well known for its excellent cattle. (see Psalm 22:12) There were crimes of oppressing the poor and drunkenness. They will be taken away into exile. Their mighty walls and many riches will not be able to save them.

     Their hardness of heart has consequences:

·      Famine

·      Crop failure due to drought

·      Vegetables and vineyards struck with blight, disease, and locusts

·      Plagues against the nation

·      Defeat in war

·      Plagues of fire

     Who is this God to be feared? He forms the mountains. He creates the wind. He knows the thoughts of mankind. He causes the sun to rise and set. He is sovereign. He is the LORD God Almighty (the highest designation of God).

CONCLUSION:

     God, the Almighty, the One who walks on the highest peaks of the earth, the One who is sovereign over the universe, He is the One who speaks to us, who wants to reveal His thoughts to us.

·      You are the one He wants a relationship with.

·      You are the one He has called unto Himself.

·      You are His special possession! We don’t seem to recognize this. Know who you are before God and in Christ.

·      Set aside time and space with God!

·      Hear Him, commune with Him, know Him.

·      We have the privilege of a relationship with God.

·      We have the responsibility of a relationship with God.

Luke 12:47-48 says, “And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” Do not neglect the privilege and purpose of God.

     We are here on earth to tell others about Jesus and bring glory to His name.

 The Divorce of Generations

1/30/20

Good morning, Praise Singers.

 

Song for the Day:  Going Up Yonder

 

Complete the Verse and Name the Book: “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not . . . (completion at the end)

 

          This past weekend Pastor Michael and Val Wedman led a “Spiritual Growth Seminar.” Today, I’d like to cover one small part that was discussed in the booklet The Steps to Freedom in Christ by Neil T. Anderson. The topic is who we are in Christ, and today the focus in on having significance in Christ. As forgiven Christians, we are not worthless, inadequate, helpless, or hopeless. 

·      “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:13-14) We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

·      “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1,5) We are the branches of the true vine, Jesus. We are a channel of His love to others.

·      “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.” (John 15:16) We have been chosen by God. We have been appointed by God to bear fruit.

·      “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) We are personal, Spirit-empowered witnesses of Jesus.

·      Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16) We are temples of God.

·      This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21) We are ministers of reconciliation for God.

·      As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. (2 Corinthians 6:1) We are fellow workers with God.

·      For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6) We are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms.

·      For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10) We are God’s workmanship, created for good works.

·      Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. (Ephesians 3:12) We may approach God with freedom and confidence.

·      For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13) There’s nothing we can’t accomplish in God’s strength.

 

Satan will tell you you are worthless. He will tell you you are inadequate. He will tell you you can’t be helped. He will tell you you have no hope. When this happens, remind the devil of who he is—the father of lies. Satan has always hated the truth, because there’s no truth in him. When he lies, it’s consistent with his character. (see John 8:44) We have significance in Christ. We are His children. We are part of His family. We are children of the King of kings and Lord of lords. We are God’s masterpiece. Praise be to God!

Artaxerxes Sends Ezra To Judah

1/29/20

Good morning, Disciples of Jesus.

 

Song for the Day: Shout to the North

 

Complete the Verse and Name the Book: I did not come to judge the world, but to . . . (completion at the end)

 

     This past weekend Pastor Michael and Val Wedman led a “Spiritual Growth Seminar.” Today, I’d like to cover one small part that was discussed in the booklet The Steps to Freedom in Christ by Neil T. Anderson. The topic is who we are in Christ, and today the focus in on being secure in Christ. As forgiven Christians, we are not guilty, unprotected, alone, or abandoned. 

 

·      So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the lifegiving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. (Romans 8:1-2) We are free from condemnation.

·      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. (Romans 8:28) God can bring good out of bad. We don’t need to focus on our circumstances; we need to focus on the one who is in control of our circumstances and can work them for good.

·      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. (Romans 8:31-34) We are free of any condemning charges against 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. (Romans 8:35-39) We cannot be separated from the love of God.

·      It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22) We are established, anointed, and sealed by God.

·      And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.(Philippians 1:6) God will perfect the good work He has started in us.

·      But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. (Philippians 3:20) We are citizens of heaven.

·      For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.(Colossians 3:3) Our life is contained within Christ. We are alive in Christ and dead to the world. We want to know more about God and draw closer to Him in relationship. The things of this world do not appeal to us any longer.

·      For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7) We are not fearful any longer. We have the spirit of power, love, and self-control.

·      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. (Hebrews 4:16) God’s grace and mercy will be there to help us through times of great need.

·      We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them. (I John 5:18) We are born of God, and the evil one cannot touch us.

 

Satan is going to tell you you are guilty. He’s going to tell you you are no longer under the protection of God. He’s going to tell you you are on your own; God has abandoned you. You are all alone. When this happens, remind the devil of who he is—the father of lies. Satan has always hated the truth, because there’s no truth in him. When he lies, it’s consistent with his character. (see John 8:44) We are secure in Christ. Praise the Lord!

Darius Supports the Jews

1/28/20

Good morning, Child of the King.

 

Song for the Day:  Child of the King

 

Complete the Verse and Name the Book: This is the message you heard from the beginning: . . . (completion at the end)

 

     This past weekend Pastor Michael and Val Wedman led a “Spiritual Growth Seminar.” For the next three days, I’d like to cover one small part that was discussed in the booklet The Steps to Freedom in Christ by Neil T. Anderson. The topic is who we are in Christ, and today the focus in on being accepted. As Christians, we are not rejected, unloved, or shamed people; we are accepted by Christ.

·      But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12) We are God’s children.

·      “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) We are closely connected to God.

·      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. (Romans 5:1) We have been justified (made right in God’s sight).

·      But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him. (I Corinthians 6:17) We are united with Jesus; we are one in spirit with Jesus.

·      Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. (I Corinthians 6:19-20) We have been bought with the blood of Jesus. He loves us so much He chose to take our place on the cross. We were the guilty ones stained by sin, but the sinless one chose to die in our place. Since we have been bought with the blood of Jesus, we now belong to God. We must be valuable to God, because He was willing to pay the highest price possible for us. God would not let us go for any amount of money offered for us.

·      All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. (I Corinthians 12:27) We are a part of Christ’s body.

·      This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 1:1) We are holy people; we are saints.

·      God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:5) We have been adopted into God’s family. We are now sons and daughters.

·      Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. (Ephesians 2:18) We have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to Jesus.

·      For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. (Colossians 1:13-14) Jesus redeemed us from the kingdom of darkness and forgave us of our sins.

·      So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. (Colossians 2:10) We are complete in Christ. We don’t need anything else. He is more than sufficient—more than adequate for all our needs.

As Christians, we are accepted by God. Remind Satan of that the next time he says you are a reject, nobody would ever love you, and you should be ashamed of yourself. As a child of the King, Jesus takes you into His arms just the way you are.


A new day for God's people

1/27/20

Good morning, Followers of the Living Lord.

 

Song for the Day:  Higher

 

Complete the Verse and Name the Book: Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him; since He always . . .

 

     Yesterday, Pastor Michael spoke on Matthew 11:1-19 with his sermon “What Did You Expect?” As a child, Pastor Michael used to hear his grandmother say, “Blessed are those who expect nothing for they will not be disappointed.” What she was saying was to be careful of what your expectations are, because you’re going to be disappointed. Don’t base your hopes and happiness on the fulfillment of your expectations, because to the degree you base your hopes and happiness on the fulfillment of your expectations, will be the degree to which you will be disappointed.

      

     When Jesus had finished giving these instructions to his twelve disciples, he went out to teach and preach in towns throughout the region.

     John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” (Matthew 11:1-3)

 

     John knew Jesus was the Messiah. He baptized Jesus and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.” (Luke 3:22) However, John’s expectations of the Messiah confused him. He knew Jesus was the Messiah, but Jesus wasn’t fulfilling John’s expectations of the Messiah. Isaiah 35:4-6 says,

 

     Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.”

     And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland.

 

     Isaiah 61:1 says, The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.

 

     John’s first expectation of Jesus is He would come in power and rule. John needed to alter his expectations and see Jesus as the anointed one who was bringing good news to the poor. Matthew 11:4-6 says,

 

     Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”

 

     We have expectations of Jesus in our life. We expect Jesus to do certain things for us, and when He doesn’t, we’re confused. We wonder if Jesus even cares about us. We have to remember that we don’t control Jesus. We don’t know how Jesus is going to show up. His timing and methods might be far different than our expectations.

     Not only John had expectations, but the crowds did as well. Matthew 11:7-10 says,

 

     As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces. Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say, ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.’

 

     Jesus was telling the crowds that John the Baptist wasn’t just a prophet; he was THE prophet. He was the last of the Old Testament prophets. Malachi 3:1 says, “Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.” Malachi prophesied the coming of John the Baptist and Jesus over 400 years before they actually came. 

     Matthew 11:11-15 says,

 

     “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is! And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it. For before John came, all the prophets and the law of Moses looked forward to this present time. And if you are willing to accept what I say, he is Elijah, the one the prophets said would come. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!”

 

     John the Baptist is the one prophesied about in Malachi 4:5-6:

 

     “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

 

     Jesus is THE Messiah, and He showed up in His way. Ponder who Jesus really is; He’s THE Messiah. He’s far beyond any of our expectations. Get rid of your personal expectations of who Jesus is. You can’t put Him in a box. We try to control Jesus by our expectations, but it doesn’t work.

 

     Matthew 11:16-19 says,

 

     “To what can I compare this generation? It is like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends, ‘We played wedding songs, and you didn’t dance, so we played funeral songs, and you didn’t mourn.’ For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.”

 

     The Pharisees said, “Don’t pay attention to someone who hangs out with sinners.” Jesus wasn’t meeting their expectations. John came from God and he was labeled a demon. Jesus, who knew no sin, was labeled a sinner. Why were these labels given? Because John and Jesus didn’t meet their expectations. We do the same today. We get angry and confused when God doesn’t do what we expect Him to do.

     Our prayer: “Father, forgive us for playing God. Do what You want to do. We have no expectations; all we seek is a relationship with You.”

1/25/20

Good morning, Joyful Singers.

 

Song for the Day: Sing for Joy

 

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

 

     What does true repentance look like? One illustration is found in the story of Joseph. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. He ended up in Egypt, and God saw to it that he was second in command; only Pharaoh was ahead of him in power. When the drought hit, Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt for food. It was Joseph’s job to dispense the food. 

     On the brothers’ second trip to Egypt, Joseph saw to it that the money paid for food was returned to the brothers by putting the money in their food sacks. He also saw to it that his personal silver cup was placed in Benjamin’s sack.

     After the brothers left for home, Joseph instructed the palace manager to pursue them, search their bags, and find the silver cup. When it was found in Benjamin’s sack, all the brothers returned to Joseph. Let’s pick up the story as Judah speaks to Joseph:

 

     Judah answered, “Oh, my lord, what can we say to you? How can we explain this? How can we prove our innocence? God is punishing us for our sins. My lord, we have all returned to be your slaves—all of us, not just our brother who had your cup in his sack.”

     “No,” Joseph said. “I would never do such a thing! Only the man who stole the cup will be my slave. The rest of you may go back to your father in peace.”

     Then Judah stepped forward and said, “Please, my lord, let your servant say just one word to you. Please, do not be angry with me, even though you are as powerful as Pharaoh himself.

     “My lord, previously you asked us, your servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ And we responded, ‘Yes, my lord, we have a father who is an old man, and his youngest son is a child of his old age. His full brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him very much.’

     “And you said to us, ‘Bring him here so I can see him with my own eyes.’ But we said to you, ‘My lord, the boy cannot leave his father, for his father would die.’ But you told us, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes with you, you will never see my face again.’

     “So we returned to your servant, our father, and told him what you had said. Later, when he said, ‘Go back again and buy us more food,’ we replied, ‘We can’t go unless you let our youngest brother go with us. We’ll never get to see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’

     “Then my father said to us, ‘As you know, my wife had two sons, and one of them went away and never returned. Doubtless he was torn to pieces by some wild animal. I have never seen him since. Now if you take his brother away from me, and any harm comes to him, you will send this grieving, white-haired man to his grave.’

     “And now, my lord, I cannot go back to my father without the boy. Our father’s life is bound up in the boy’s life. If he sees that the boy is not with us, our father will die. We, your servants, will indeed be responsible for sending that grieving, white-haired man to his grave. My lord, I guaranteed to my father that I would take care of the boy. I told him, ‘If I don’t bring him back to you, I will bear the blame forever.’

     “So please, my lord, let me stay here as a slave instead of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. For how can I return to my father if the boy is not with me? I couldn’t bear to see the anguish this would cause my father!” (Genesis 44:16-34)

 

     That’s what true repentance looks like. It’s a total change of heart. It’s doing a 180 degree turn. It’s a costly decision. In this case, it’s a heart that is willing to be a slave in order to set his brother free and save his father more heartache that would likely take his life.

     What would repentance look like that wasn’t true repentance? Had Judah said he would be willing to be Joseph’s slave for a week or two, that wouldn’t be true repentance. True repentance costs us everything! We no longer care about our desires and what we want; all we care about is that the wrongs cease and righteousness prevails at any cost.

     When we come to Jesus in true repentance, we approach Him in the same way Judah approached Joseph. We no longer care about our desires; all we care about is what Jesus wants of us. We are willing to pay whatever price He asks, because we are truly repentant. Jesus gave His life for us, and in gratitude for the forgiveness He gave us, we desire to give our lives back to Him as a living sacrifice.

     What would partial repentance to Jesus look like? It would be like the kid who stole a cookie out of the cookie jar and got caught. He repents and tells his parents he won’t do it again, knowing full well he will if the opportunity presents itself. However, he will take steps to make sure he doesn’t get caught the next time. There’s really little to no cost involved with this kind of repentance. However, if the kid asked his parents to hide the cookie jar so he wouldn’t be tempted, his repentance has just cost him something. He no longer is able to have what he wants. He wants to please his parents more than he wants to please himself. 

     When we repent of our sins to Jesus, let’s be like Judah and come in true repentance.

 

 

Why would Dr. Moody refer to Bob Dylan in a devotional? Read to find out

1/24/20

Good morning, Fellow Believers.

 

Song for the Day: You Never Let Go

 

Complete the Verse and Name the Book: Not that I speak from want; for I have learned . . . (completion at the end)

 

     Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman gave a lecture on “The God of the Nations” based on Amos 1:3-2:5. For a background, Jeroboam II was king of Israel and Uzziah was king of Judah. Both kingdoms were experiencing wealth and prosperity. Both kingdoms were strong nations. But, internally, they were both falling apart morally and spiritually. Israel has forsaken God. Justice is only for the rich while the poor are exploited.

     This is when Amos appears on the scene. He was likely preaching from Bethel in the Northern Kingdom (see 7:10). God roars like a lion and thunders against Israel and their moral and spiritual corruption.

     Amos gave “his” judgment speeches largely in a poetic language. He was the first prophet to apply judgment speeches against nations as a whole. They follow a pattern of: “Thus says Yahweh,” followed by a general accusation, a specific accusation, a specific announcement of judgment, an elaboration of the specific judgment, and a conclusion of, “Thus says Yahweh.”

There are eight judgements against the nations:

1.   Damascus—Syria

2.   Philistia

3.   Tyre—Phoenicia

4.   Edom

5.   Ammon

6.   Moab

7.   Judah

8.   Israel

Take note of the following:

1.   Amos speaks to the nations around Israel and then to Israel.

2.   He says “for three sins of . . . even for four” to indicate repeated violations. There is a denunciation of the many and continual sins of the nation. “Even for four” is saying that this is the last straw.

3.   Amos says, “I will not relent.” In other words, enough is enough. No more warnings; now comes judgment.

4.   The nations that are named are historically enemies of Israel.

5.   How would this message be received by the hearers in Israel? At first, the message was received with enthusiasm as Amos condemned the nations around Israel. However, when Amos condemned Israel, his message was received with disdain.

The oracle against Damascus is found in 1:3-5:

·      There is an image of threshing grain to separate out the chaff.

·      There’s a picture of the cruelty of Syria against its enemies—see II Kings 13:7

·      Judgment includes the destruction of Damascus and Syria because they were slave traders. God sent them away as slaves—see verse 5 and 9:7.

·      This is fulfilled by Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria.

The oracle against Gaza is found in 1:6-8:

·      Gaza was a great trade center—the door of Asia.

·      Gaza was known for its military strength.

·      It was the mightiest of all the Philistine cities.

·      It was the southernmost city of Philistia.

·      It was three miles from the Mediterranean.

The oracle against Tyre is found in 1:9-10:

·      Tyre was a wealthy and powerful city state on the Mediterranean Sea.

·      It was divided into two parts: the mainland and an island.

·      It was known for its slave trade. God has always been against slavery where people were abused and treated inhumanely. God has always been against slavery when slavery is used as a moneymaker. 

·      There is judgment against Tyre.

o  Destruction—see Ezekiel 28.

o  Fulfillment was by Alexander the Great in 322 B.C. The way he conquered the island was by filling in the land between the mainland and the island.

o  Ironically, 30,000 of its inhabitants were sold as slaves.

The oracle against Edom is found in 1:11-12:

·      Edom was south and east of the Dead Sea.

·      The people there were descendants of Esau—see Genesis 25:19-26.

·      They fought battles against Israel—see II Samuel 8:13-14; I Kings 11:14-15; II Kings 14:22.

·      Edom’s violent emotions were out of control.

·      There is judgment against Edom:

o  Edom is condemned for cruelty shown against his brother nation—see Numbers 28:4; Deuteronomy 2:4, 23:7, Obadiah verses 10 and 27.

o  Teman is the center of wisdom.

o  Bozrah is the capital city.

o  It is fulfilled by Tigleath-Pileser III of Assyria.

o  Later in the 5th century, they were evicted from their land by the Nabateans who invaded.

The oracle against Amon is found in verses 13-15:

·      Amon is east of the Jordan River.

·      The origin is from Ammon—see Genesis 19:30-38. From Ammon we get the Ammonites; from Moab we get the Moabites.

·      Amon invaded Israelite towns and ripped open the wombs of pregnant women in order to eradicate the next generation.

The oracle against Moab is found in 2:1-3:

·      Moab is east of the Dead Sea between Edom and Ammon.

·      The origin is from Moab—see Genesis 19:30-38. 

·      The Moabites opposed the Israelites on the way to the promised land—see Numbers 22:25.

·      The Moabites were excluded from the assembly of Israel—see Deut. 23:3-4. The law in Israel was an Israelite could never marry a Moabite woman. If a man did, he was cut off from Israel. 

·      There were crimes against kings—see II Kings 9:3-4.

·      Note: Edom, Judah, and Israel were joined in war against Moab—see II Kings 3:6-9.

·      There is judgment against Moab:

o  Moab is conquered by Tiglath Pileser III in 734 B.C.

o  They rebelled and were conquered by Sennacherib.

o  They were conquered again by Nebuchadnezzar in 598.

The oracle against Judah is found in 2:4-5:

·      There is judgment against Judah, but it’s not against treaty breaking or the inhumane treatment of people; it’s for failure to follow the law—breaking the covenant with Yahweh.

·      They broke the most sacred of treaties, the covenant between God and them.

·      They knew God, but rejected God. Consequently, God rejected them.

Conclusion/Summary

     Nothing happens outside the knowledge of God. God is sovereign over all the nations. We say, “We determine our own path.” When it comes to politics, we tend to say, “The sky is falling.” When we look at the little picture, it may look like we are in control, but when we look at the big picture, we see that God is in control. No authority on Earth is allowed to be there without God allowing it to be there. God is sovereign over us and the nations. Our job is to do what is just, right, and fair, and PRAY!     

 

 

Read what Dr. Moody has to say about quarreling

1/23/20

Good morning, Soldiers. Don’t forget to put on your armor (Eph. 6:10-17).

 

Song for the Day: Raise a Hallelujah

 

Complete the Verse and Name the Book: The things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those . . . (completion at the end)

 

     After reading Genesis 33-37 and Matthew 12:22-13:23, the following prayer was written and prayed:

 

     Father God, your word shows us forgiveness is a wonderful thing. Jacob was afraid Esau would kill him for taking Esau’s birthright and blessing, but your word says, “Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.” May I be like Esau and have a forgiving spirit for any wrongs that have been done to me. You have forgiven me of everything wrong I have done, and I want to pass on that spirit of forgiveness to everyone else. Mend any broken relationships due to unforgiveness.

     Jacob’s life seemed to have a lot of deceit in it, and it’s interesting how his sons were deceitful toward Shechem and Hamor. Children learn from their parents. Help our kids and grandkids to see you in us. Fill us with your Holy Spirit so we show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control toward our family and others.

     The covenant you gave to Abraham and Isaac was passed on to Jacob. What you said you would do, you did. Your word can be trusted. You are faithful.

     Jacob’s mother, Rebekah, loved him more than Esau. Jacob’s dad, Isaac, loved Esau more than Jacob. When Jacob had children, he also had favorites (Joseph and Benjamin). Having favorites created serious problems within the family. Guard us against having favorites in the family. Give us unconditional love so we love all our children the same.

     Joseph’s dreams seemed absurd to his brothers and even his parents, but the dream was from you and was prophetic. Joseph would end up ruling over all of them. We know every prophecy you’re behind will come true 100% of the time. Even those we can’t understand will someday happen as your word is fulfilled. Lord, we trust you and believe in you. You are truth. All your words are truth. We believe all you say in your word.

     Some of Joseph’s brothers wanted to kill him, but, God, you intervened and would not allow it as you had other plans for Joseph. Help us not to worry about our lives because if your plan involves sickness, hardship, persecution, or death, we know we will be able to travel that road because of the strength you give us. If your plans for us are for health and prosperity, we will gladly accept the blessings. What happens to us is not what’s most important; a close relationship with you is what’s most important. May be get our priorities in the right order.

     You used Reuben and Judah to save Joseph’s life. We can rest in you because you have everything in control. Nothing happens out of your will. You are never surprised by what happens. Nothing catches you off guard. Our faith rests wholly in you, Father.

     Jesus, you have shown us there’s no middle area with you. There’s no fence we can walk. Either we are with you or against you. Either we cooperate and gather with you, or we fight against you and scatter. You know which we are. We want to be with you. We want to help you gather. Keep us next to you at all times. Don’t allow us to stray from you. We want to be with you through all eternity.

     Our mouths reveal what’s in our hearts. Make our hearts pure so the words we speak are full of love. We know we will give an account of all we have said on the day of judgment. Our words will either justify us or condemn us. Guard our mouths carefully, Lord Jesus.

     When people hear the word of the kingdom, one of four things will happen:

1.   The evil one will snatch it away before it’s understood.

2.   The news will be heard with joy, but it will only be temporary. When persecution comes, the person will fall away.

3.   The word is heard but worries and the deceitfulness of riches will choke out the word.

4.   The word will be heard, understood, and the person will bear fruit.

Lord, we want to fall in the fourth group. Help us to spend time in your word. Give us a hungering and thirsting for your word. May we hear you, Holy Spirit, as you speak to us through your word and help us understand it and apply it to our lives. May we be motivated to share the good news of your gospel with others.

     We ask this all in the name of Jesus, amen.

 

 

Read what Dr. Moody has to say about God’s providence

1/22/20

Good morning, Soldiers of the Cross.

 

Song for the Day:  Raise A Hallelujah


 

Complete the Verse and Name the Book: It is appointed for men to die once, . . . (see end for completion)

 

     Was Jesus a teacher? Yes, John 3:1-2 says, “There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.” John 1:38 says, “Jesus looked around and saw [John and two of his disciples] following. “What do you want?” he asked them.

     They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

     Mark 4:2 says, “[Jesus] taught them by telling many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:”

     There are many other Scripture references that refer to Jesus as a teacher.

     Was Jesus a prophet? Yes, Matthew 21:10-11 says, The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as [Jesus] entered. “Who is this?” they asked.

     And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” 

     Matthew 16:13-14 says, When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

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

     As two of Jesus’ followers were discussing the events surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus, Jesus walked up and asked them what things they were discussing. The followers answered, “The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people.” (Luke 24:19)

     There are other Scripture references that point to Jesus as being a prophet. So, clearly, Jesus was a teacher and a prophet. There are those living today who would like to limit Jesus to being a great teacher and prophet. If we only see Jesus in that capacity, we have missed the most important point of Jesus coming to Earth.

     Let’s take a look at Matthew 14:22-33:

 

     Immediately after [the feeding of the 5,000], Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.

     Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

     But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”

     Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

     “Yes, come,” Jesus said.

     So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

     Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

     When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

     The disciples got it! They knew who Jesus really was—the Son of God! He was divine. He was God in the form of a man. He was the Messiah the prophets in the Old Testament said would come to Israel. He was the Savior of the world. John puts it this way in the first five verses of his book:

 

     In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

 

     Jesus is the Word! It’s critical that we see this and acknowledge Jesus as God. If we only see Jesus as a great teacher or prophet, we’ve missed the boat. Paul said in Romans 10:9-10: “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.”

      Only Jesus can save. Only Jesus is worthy to be praised and worshiped for He is God incarnate. No other teacher or prophet comes close to Jesus. No other teacher or prophet is deity.

 

Here is an excellent testimony of healing that will strengthen your faith:  Testimony

1/21/20
Good morning, Priests.
 
Song for the Day: We Believe
 
Complete the Verse and Name the Book: Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker . . . (answer at the end)
 
     What’s the difference between compassionempathy, and pity? The Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines them: 
·      Compassion: sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviated it.
·      Empathy
o  1. The imaginative projection of a subjective state into an object so that the object appears to be infused with it
o  2. The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicate in an objectively explicit manner
·      Pity: a sympathetic sorrow for one suffering, distressed, or unhappy
 
     John 14 records the death of John the Baptist. For a little background, Herodias was Herod’s wife and the former wife of Herod’s brother Philip. At Herod’s birthday party, Herodias’s daughter danced for Herod. It pleased him so much he promised her she could have anything she wanted. She didn’t ask for a shopping spree at Nordstrom; she asked for the head of John the Baptist on a tray (after conferring with Herodias). Later, John’s disciples came for John’s body and buried it.
     Matthew 14:13-14 records what happened next:
 
     As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
 
     Notice what followed the compassion of Jesus—action! He didn’t just feel bad for the people, He did something about it; He healed their sick. I want to be more like Jesus. Far too often, I feel compassion for another person, but I don’t do anything about it. Jesus had the power to heal. As far as I know, I have not been given that gift, so I can’t look at a sick person with compassion and heal the person like Jesus did. So what can I do?
     2 Corinthians 1:3-7 says,
 
     All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.
 
     I may not be able to heal, but I can comfort others in a similar manner in which God has comforted me. When I see someone who is suffering something I have experienced, I can offer the comfort God showed me when I was suffering. Romans 12:15 tell us to “be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.”
     Zechariah 7:9 says, “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.’ ” Notice that it doesn’t say feel compassion for one another, it says to show compassion. Compassion can’t be shown without action. We have to do something about what we are experiencing. 
     Psalm 103:13 says, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.” As a child, would you like your father to just feel compassion for you when you are hurting, or would you prefer some action to accompany the compassion? Even if it was just a hug, that might be all that is needed. It’s not something huge, but it meets the need. When we feel compassion for others, there may be something small that we can do for them that will be just what is needed. The Holy Spirit can prompt us as to what that small action might be. Let’s be open and sensitive to His prompting.
     By the way, did you notice the timing of what happened to Jesus in Matthew 14:13-14? He had just received the word about John the Baptist being beheaded. He wanted some time in solitude to grieve and think through what had happened to this special person of whom Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist.” (Matthew 11:11a) Did he get the time of reflection? No, there was a huge crowd, and he felt compassion for them and ministered to them. I would have sent the crowd away telling them that I was grieving over the loss of the dearest of friends, but not Jesus. He didn’t put his own needs and desires above the needs of others. I want to grow to be more like Jesus each day. 
 
 
Dr. Josh Moody writes about the sovereignty of God: Click Here

1/20/20
Good morning, Fishers of Men.
 
Song for the Day: Thy Word
 
Memory Verse for the Week: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. Ecclesiastes 12:13
 
     Yesterday, Pastor Michael preached on Matthew 10:1-42 with a sermon titled “Discipleship: Your Turn.” When you’re in an internship, you are learning a job under supervision. The internship is preparing you to do a job you can do on your own at some point. After being on your own for some time, eventually, the time will come when you are able to be the mentor for someone else who is desiring to learn in an internship.
     The twelve disciples have been in an intensive internship with Jesus, and now the time had come for them to have their turn leading. As we look at this chapter, we find six words about discipleship from Jesus:
 
1. Authority. The first thing Jesus does is give them His authority—“go in the name of Jesus.” They are not to go in their own name. They represent Jesus, so their words carry the authority of Jesus.
 
     Jesus called his twelve disciples together and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness. Here are the names of the twelve apostles: first Simon (also called Peter), then Andrew (Peter’s brother), James (son of Zebedee), John (James’s brother), Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew (the tax collector), James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon (the zealot), Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him). Matthew 10:1-4
 
     We tend to go in our own authority and power, but we need to go in God’s authority and power. Jesus gives us all authority; He’s the head. Matthew 28:18-20 says, Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, 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.”
 
2. Procedure. Jesus told them what they were to do—spread the gospel message of Jesus Christ:
·      All have sinned. Romans 3:23: For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
·      We are headed for death. Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
·      Christ died for us. Romans 5:8: But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
·      You can be saved. Romans 10:9-10, 13: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”
·      We are not saved by good works. Ephesians 2:8-9: God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
 
     The disciples were to start the procedure at home before branching out to the ends of the world.
     God is trustworthy. God would provide for their needs. They were to rely on Jesus, not themselves. Their focus was not to be on material
 things but on the harvest—bringing lost souls to Jesus.
     Matthew 10:5-11 says, Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: “Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but only to the people of Israel—God’s lost sheep. Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!
     “Don’t take any money in your money belts—no gold, silver, or even copper coins. Don’t carry a traveler’s bag with a change of clothes and sandals or even a walking stick. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve to be fed.
     “Whenever you enter a city or village, search for a worthy person and stay in his home until you leave town.”
 
3. Persecution. Jesus told the disciples that they and their message would be rejected by many. They could expect rejection and persecution. Not all people are people of peace. They would be able to tell what kind of people they were dealing with by their fruit. There would be people of power, prestige, and position. They would be in opposition to the gospel. They were told to be wise and understanding and to keep the message about Jesus.
     As a harvester, you want to concentrate on the harvest. Don’t get bogged down in the weeds. The weeds need your attention but not your focus. Titus 3:9-11 says, Do not get involved in foolish discussions about spiritual pedigrees or in quarrels and fights about obedience to Jewish laws. These things are useless and a waste of time. If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that have nothing more to do with them. For people like that have turned away from the truth, and their own sins condemn them.
     As you are harvesting, people will want to get rid of you. Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people. (Romans 16:19)
     Matthew 10:12-20 says, “When you enter the home, give it your blessing. If it turns out to be a worthy home, let your blessing stand; if it is not, take back the blessing. If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave. I tell you the truth, the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah will be better off than such a town on the judgment day.
     Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
     If you speak for Jesus, Jesus will speak for you.
 
4. Fear. Betrayal will come from friends, family, and church attenders. Matthew 10:21-25 says, “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, the Son of an will return before you have reached all the towns of Israel. 
     Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master. Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of my household will be called by even worse names!
     You will be hated by others. Do you follow Jesus just enough to get to heaven? Don’t be afraid of people; be afraid of God. 
     Matthew 10:26-33 says, “But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!
     “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. 
     “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.”
Never disown Jesus. 
 
5. Division. The message of Jesus is a message of peace to those who receive Him, but a message of division for those who don’t accept Jesus. Matthew 10:34-39 says, “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword. ‘I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be right in your own household!’
     “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it, but it you give up your life for me, you will find it.”
     The message of Jesus is a message of division. It is a message that divides right and wrong; divides truth from lies; divides black from white; divides God from Satan. Not all roads lead to Rome. There is one way to heaven—through the Lord Jesus Christ. 
     Some people say, “I know what they are doing is wrong, but they’re my friends, so I have to stay with them.” If that is true, then you have chosen against Jesus—you have said, “Jesus, I disown you.” If you have friends who lead you away from Jesus, drop your “friends.” True friends don’t lead you away from God; they draw you closer to God. There is no greater authority than Jesus.
 
6. Reward. Matthew 10:40-42 says, “Anyone who receives you receives me, and anyone who receives me receives the Father who sent me. If you receive a prophet as one who speaks for God, you will be given the same reward as a prophet. And if you receive righteous people because of their righteousness, you will be given a reward like theirs. And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”
     Even a cup of water is rewarded. There are earthly rewards and there are heavenly rewards.
 
     So what can we expect? We can expect to be hated by people but rewarded by God. Be a harvester. Look around; the harvest is ready. Demonstrate that God is #1 in your life.

1/18/20
Good morning, Heaven Bound.
 
Song for the Day: Is He Worthy
 
Memory Verse for the Week: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. Ecclesiastes 12:13
 
     If you were asked, “What does your religion require of you?” how would you answer the question? A short answer could be taken from Micah 6:8b: “This is what [the LORD] requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
     Let’s back up a couple of verses and get some context:
 
     What can we bring to the LORD? Should we bring him burnt offerings? Should we bow before God Most High with offerings of yearling calves? Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins?
     No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:6-8
 
     Like many today, the people of Judah were trying to earn God’s favor by performing external duties. They were willing to do whatever God required of them as long as it didn’t involve reforming their lives. The people of Judah were like the Pharisees criticized by Jesus in Matthew 23:23: What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. God was more concerned about their spirit than their substance. He cared more about their hearts than their sacrifices.
     It’s easy for us to complicate religion, but Micah simplifies it to doing three things God asks of us: doing what’s right, being merciful, and walking humbly with God. It’s not out of our reach. Deuteronomy 30:11-14 says, “This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you, and it is not beyond your reach. It is not kept in heaven, so distant that you must ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven and bring it down so we can hear it and obey?’ It is not kept beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to bring it to us so we can hear it and obey?’ No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it.”
     Because of Jesus coming to Earth in the form of a man, we are more fully aware of God’s will than the people in Micah’s time. There are many voices out there telling us what God demands, but we have the very words of Jesus to guide us. Jesus made our duties simple and plain, so everyone can understand what is expected of us.
     The Word of God is the basis and final authority for our faith. We do not consult ourselves; we go to God’s Word to see what He has to say to us. The Holy Spirit makes God’s Word clear to us. He will speak our language until we are able to speak His. When someone is not acquainted with their duty toward God, it’s likely because of negligence or obstinacy, because God’s Word is readily available to most people.
     When the verse tells us to do what is right, that message is repeated in other Scriptures:
·      The LORD is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices. Proverbs 21:3
·      Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living. Amos 5:23-24
·      But this is what you must do: Tell the truth to each other. Render verdicts in your courts that are just and that lead to peace. Don’t scheme against each other. Stop your love of telling lies that you swear are the truth. I hate all these things, says the LORD. Zechariah 8:16-17
     Micah tells us to love mercy. Mercy is a higher quality than justice. Justice has to do with giving people what is due them. Mercy implies kindness, compassion, and love to people we don’t owe anything to. Mercy includes helping the poor, the oppressed, the disabled, and the underprivileged. However, mercy goes beyond giving possessions; it involves giving of ourselves to lift and redeem those who need it. We can expect God to show us mercy in proportion to how much mercy we show to others. James 2:13 says, “There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.”
     Even higher than the other two is God’s requirement to walk humbly with your God. It starts with us acknowledging our own iniquity and insufficiency. Every thought we have needs to be brought into submission to God’s will. We need to stop fighting God and trying to make Him follow us; we need to surrender our will to His, and walk with Him as He leads. Amos 3:3 says, “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” Our walk with God is based on faith and demonstrated by our love.
     This triple command to do what is right, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, cannot be dismembered. It’s possible to do what’s right without showing mercy. It’s possible to be merciful without doing what is right. For example, Pablo Escobar (a drug lord) gained money through the sale of illegal drugs and then gave money to the poor. It’s also possible to claim to follow Christ and yet not do what is right and show little to no mercy to others. The three commands are tied together and must not be separated; it’s a package deal.
     Samuel Chadwick said, “The solution to our modern problems, as those of Micah’s day, will not be found in legislation or machinery, but in realizing the sufficiency of God. No great and permanent solution of social problems has ever been reached without religious influence. The only way is to get back to God, to go to the house of the Lord and there find the power to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. Then will be found the true bond of brotherhood.”  
     Another way to answer the question, “What does your religion require of you?” is to quote the words of Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40:
 
     “ ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Contrition

1/17/20
Good morning, Finders of The Way.
 
Song for the Day: Oh, The Deep Love of Jesus

 
Memory Verse for the Week: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. Ecclesiastes 12:13
 
     Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman continued with his study of the minor prophets. He gave an introduction to the book of Amos with a lecture titled “A Message about Falsehood and Injustice.”
     This message was given to Amos, a shepherd from the town of Tekoa in Judah. He received this message in visions two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam II, the son of Jehoash, was king of Israel.
     This is what he saw and heard: “The LORD’S voice will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem! The lush pastures of the shepherds will dry up; the grass on Mount Carmel will wither and die.” Amos 1:1-2 (see also 7:10-17)
     This roar and thunder from the LORD is not a happy roar or pleasing thunder. God is angry with what is happening.
     Tekoa is 12 miles south of Jerusalem. The elevation is 2700’. The wilderness of Tekoa sank 4000’ into the Dead Sea (below sea level). As Amos tended his flocks, food was sparse in the wilderness. It was mostly desert, rocks, and hills with little grass and vegetation. Today the annual rainfall is 1.6” and the average temperature is 64 degrees F.
     Amos was not a prophet or the son of a prophet. He didn’t hold the office of a prophet; he wasn’t trained as a prophet. He was not trying to make a living off of prophecy like Elijah, Elisha, Moses, and other prophets. In Bible times, prophets were paid so the leaders and people could hear what they wanted to hear; they didn’t want to hear the truth. Amos didn’t tell the people what they wanted to hear; he told them that God was against them.
     Amos lived in the southern kingdom yet prophesied to the northern kingdom. He was not welcomed because of his message and the fact that he was a “foreigner.” 
     He was a shepherd and caretaker of sycamore-fig trees. The fruit of these trees is bitter and only the poor ate the fruit. He had an orchard of sorts.
     Amos appeared two years before the significant earthquake mentioned in Zech. 14:5. Exact dating is difficult because of the mindset of the Israelites who liked word pictures. The Greeks were more detail oriented and liked working with numbers. The estimated dates for Uzziah are 783-742 and Jeroboam II 786-746. Amos likely prophesied around 745. He was a contemporary of Hosea.
     This was a time of unusual prosperity for the northern kingdom. King Jeroboam II was the leader. There was unrest in the Middle East. Assyria defeated Syria but then entered into decline due to internal conflict.
     Israel firmly believed they were blessed by God because of the prosperity and wealth they enjoyed. They believed they were God’s chosen people and were untouchable. Obviously, they believed prosperity equaled God’s blessing. Even today we confuse wealth and prosperity with God. Wealth and prosperity becomes god, and we walk away from the true God. Amos was telling the people to wake up, because God is going to curse them. It’s time to get right with God.
     The response of the people was negative. They didn’t want to hear about the gospel, sin, and what they were doing wrong. They wanted to hear how well they were doing--how great they were. They didn’t want to hear anything that would force them to change their ways. Amos was telling the people they were pretending they were alive on the outside, but they were dead on the inside.
     Here is an outline of the book of Amos:
·      Introduction—1:1-2
·      Judgment speeches against the nations—1:3-2:16
·      Judgment speeches against Israel—3:1-6:14
·      Vision reports—7:1-9:10
·      Salvation promises—9:11-15
     The message of Amos is to hear the roaring of the LORD. God is not happy with Israel. He is rousing himself to take action—and not for blessing. The land is going to experience drought and destruction. The top of Mount Carmel withers. It used to be a place of lushness and refreshment; a place where there was God’s presence.
     All is not well in Israel. There is great falsehood; no place for justice. People are not doing what is right, just, and fair. The people need to learn that righteousness does not equal blessing. God cannot be put in a box. We tend to believe only good things happen to good people. The end times have people not loving God and not loving others.
     The outside looks good, but the inside is dead and decaying. This is similar to the message of Jesus to the Pharisees. It’s similar to the message of Jesus to the churches in Revelation. 
·      Is the message of Amos like the message of Jesus to us today?
·      How has our wealth and prosperity affected our relationship with God? With others?
·      Are we people of righteousness and justice?
Whom Our Sin Offends

1/16/20
Good morning, Freed by Christ.
 
Song for the DayI'm Free
 
Memory Verse for the Week: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. Ecclesiastes 12:13
 
     After reading Genesis 29-32 and Matthew 11-12:21, the following prayer was prayed:
 
     Dear Heavenly Father, your word is truth. You have said what we sow we will also reap. Jacob sowed deceit with his brother, Esau. When Jacob wanted to marry Rachel, he was told by her father, Laban, that Jacob would have to give him seven years of labor for Rachel. Jacob agreed and at the end of seven years, Laban deceived Jacob and gave him his other daughter, Leah, instead of Rachel. Lord, you will not be mocked; what a man sows he also reaps. Jacob sowed and reaped deceit. 
     God, help us to sow good seed so our harvests will be good. Give us love for each other so we go about doing good to others. 
     Father God, you told Jacob to leave Laban and return to the place of Jacob’s birth. This was after Jacob served Laban for 20 years (14 for Rachel and Leah and six for the flocks) and had his wages changed ten times. 
     Jacob deceived Laban by not telling Laban he was going to Gilead with all he had including his two daughters. Deception seemed to follow Jacob wherever he went. Lord, help us to put away those sins that follow us through the years and keep reoccurring. Holy Spirit, fill us with you, so we don’t have any room for sin in our lives.
     Laban told Jacob “. . . although no man is with us, see, God is witness between you and me.” God, that’s good for me to remember—even if no one else is around, you see my every step. There is no such thing as a hidden sin with you, because you see everything including what’s inside my heart. Purify my heart. May I be a person of integrity that does the right thing even when nobody else is around.
     Jacob was earnest with you, and you blessed him. May we be earnest with you about important things such as sin in our lives. May we not let you go until the matter is settled.
     Jesus, John wanted to know if you were the Messiah. You affirmed you were by saying, “the blind receive sight and the lame walk, he lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” Lord Jesus, you are the Messiah, and we worship you!
     Jesus, you said, “the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” We know we may have to suffer violence for you. May we consider it an honor should it happen to us. You died a horrible death on a cross for us. You deserve the same level of commitment from us.
     You taught us to repent of our sins and turn away from them. May we not be proud people, but, rather, obedient people.
     Thank you for your word that tells us you give rest to the weary and heavy-laden. You are gentle and humble in heart and give rest to our souls. Your yoke is easy and your load is light. You will not give us more than we can bear. You give us strength to meet the challenges that come our way. Thank you, Jesus!
     It’s easy for me to get caught up in legalism and think I am being godly when I am following manmade rules. You said you want compassion and not sacrifice. If I am not treating my fellow man with love, my offerings to you mean nothing. If what I do for you and others is motivated by self-promotion, I’m far off-base. Purify my heart!
     In the name of Jesus, amen.
Repentance Required

1/15/20
Good morning, Disciples of Christ.
 
Song for the Day: Soul on Fire
 
Memory Verse for the Week: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. Ecclesiastes 12:13
 
     After reading Genesis 27-28 and Matthew 10:26-42, the following prayer was prayed:
 
     Father in heaven, in your word you show us what we should do and what we shouldn’t do; who we should emulate and who we shouldn’t. Help us to not be deceitful like Jacob and Rebekah who lied to Isaac and even lied about you when Jacob said to his father that he was able to get the game quickly because you caused it to happen. One lie led to another. Jacob stole Esau’s blessing, and the result was Esau bore a grudge and planned on killing his brother. 
     Sin has consequences. Give us wisdom to think ahead to possible consequences to our actions before we sin. May we treat our family and others with love rather than deceit.
     Someday, what has been covered up by people will be revealed. Help us to not try and cover any sins but, rather, confess them to you, repent, and do a 180.
     Give us courage to not fear those who can kill the body; they can’t kill the soul. Only you can destroy the soul and body in hell. It’s you we should fear, revere, honor, and pay homage to.
     Jesus, you have said that if we confess you before others, you will confess us before the Father in heaven. If we deny you, you will deny us before the Father. Give us courage to confess you to others. May we be bold but full of compassion at the same time.
     Lord, we want to love you more than anything else, including family. Help us to take up our cross and follow you pledging our allegiance to you even to the point of death. If my life is wrapped up in this world, I have lost my life with you. Lord, I choose you! My allegiance is with you. This world is not my permanent home; I’m just a traveler on my way to be with you through eternity.
     When we are kind and do nice things for others, may it be as if we are doing them for you. I prove my love for you when I love others as I love myself. Fill me with love for others. Open my eyes to see others the way you see them and act accordingly.
     In the name of Jesus, amen.
Opportunism & Partiality

1/14/20
Good morning, Sanctified Believer.
 
Song for the Day:  Give Me Jesus

 Memory Verse for the Week: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. Ecclesiastes 12:13
 
     Everything “bad” that happens to us is not necessarily something bad. In Matthew 10:16-20, Jesus is talking to His disciples: 
 
     “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
 
     Being brought into court, getting flogged with whips, and standing trial before governors and kings is something I would classify as being BAD! It would be something I would try to avoid to the best of my ability. But here is Jesus saying this is a time of opportunity. You’ve heard the adage, “When opportunity knocks, open the door.” Opportunity is something good—it looks to a better future. However, getting flogged doesn’t sound like opportunity knocking on my door. Yet Jesus says it is; it’s an opportunity to tell rulers and other unbelievers about Jesus, and that’s always a good thing!
     When seemingly “bad” things happen in our lives, they may be opportunities for good to happen. This was certainly the case with Joseph when he was sold into slavery by his brothers. This event was an opportunity for God to open doors for Joseph and bring about good. Abraham’s obedience to God provided God an opportunity to save Abraham’s son from death. Esther had an opportunity to intercede for the Jews who were going to be killed, but by doing so, Esther put her own life in danger. Nevertheless, she did it and the Jews were spared. Rahab had an opportunity to help Joshua’s men spy out the land, and she took it even though it meant possible death for her.
     If any of the following things happened to me, my first reaction would be, “This is BAD!”:
·      Put in prison
·      Whipped times without number
·      Faced death again and again
·      Received 39 lashes on five different occasions
·      Beaten with rods on three different occasions
·      Stoned
·      Shipwrecked on three different occasions
·      Spent a whole night and day adrift at sea
·      Faced danger from rivers
·      Faced danger from robbers and other people who meant to do harm to me
·      Spent many sleepless nights
·      Was hungry and thirsty
·      Shivered in the cold without enough clothing to keep warm
·      Lowered in a basket through a window in a city wall in order to escape guards who wanted to capture me
If just one of these bulleted items happened to me, I would think I was in a bad place. I wouldn’t see the event as an opportunity for good to come from it. Yet this is exactly what happened with Paul. Every single bulleted item happened to him! (see 2 Corinthians 16-33)
     God is sovereign. Nothing catches Him by surprise. The events that happen in our lives can be used by God to bring about good. It just might happen that someone comes to know Jesus, because the “bad” thing that happened to us opened up the door of opportunity to share Jesus with rulers and other unbelievers. 
     The next time something “bad” happens to us, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to see the opportunity that can bring good out of it.
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1/13/20

Good morning, Family of God.

 

Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/QmY3jSugNBU

 

Memory Verse for the Week: He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20

 

     Yesterday, Ray gave a sermon titled “Becoming More Holy” with a text from John 17:1-19—the great prayer of Jesus. This sermon is based on a sermon of Dr. Josh Moody, pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL.

     In His prayer, Jesus makes three requests of God the Father:

·      First of all, in verse one, that His name be glorified. Right here is evidence that Jesus believes He is God. Earlier Jesus taught us to pray, “Hallowed be thy name,”  but here He is saying, “Glorify me,” because He is indeed God, and He wants to reflect that glory back to God the Father.

·      The second request is found in verses 11 and 15—that we will be kept. Jesus is saying, “Keep them, Lord; protect them; guard them; they are vulnerable.” Jesus is sending us out among wolves, and He wants us kept, protected, preserved—in the world but not of the world. You might be going through a difficult time in your life and wondering how you’re going to carry on, but here is Jesus praying that God would keep you, protect you, guard you—and He will. He will keep you for His prayer is answered.

·      The third request is found in verse 17—that we will be sanctified. What does sanctified mean? It means to become more holy. What does holy mean? There are a variety of things that can be holy:

o  A day can be holy: Genesis 2:3 says, “And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.”

o  A mountain can be holy. Isaiah 56:7 says, “these I will bring to my holy mountain.”

o  We have our Holy Bible.

o  People can be holy. I Peter 1:15-16 says, But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

     Holy means to be set apart for God’s service. It’s about being distinct and different, but with a purpose—for God’s service. The greatest example of what it means to be set apart for God’s service is Jesus. Jesus is praying that we will become more like Him. Ultimately, to be holy is to be more like Jesus—set apart for God’s service.

     The matter of holiness is the most important topic facing the church today. You don’t have to read far to discover scandals going on in churches. We are desperately in need of a fresh desire for holiness—a distinction; being Christ-like. If you are a Christian, you are going to want to be more holy. You are going to want to be more like Jesus. There may be some sin you want to defeat. There may be some character trait you want to develop more; you want to become more holy. As you grow spiritually and draw closer to God, your heart’s desire is to become more like Him.

     How do we become more like Jesus? There are two categories regarding the teaching of holiness:

·      One category is that it’s all about the external. There’s the monastic theory practiced by monks and others. It is felt that the way to become more holy is to literally separate oneself from the world. Why? Because one is going to be contaminated by the world if he isn’t separated from the world. This teaching emphasizes the external. 

·      The other approach to the teaching of holiness is the internal. We are taught we are to be in the world but not of the world. This is the approach Jesus took, the Bible takes, and the evangelical church has historically taken.

     Look at it like this medical analogy: One approach says the way to avoid catching the contamination of unholiness is to not even get close to an infection—be separate; be a long ways away from it. The other approach supports a strong immune system—antibodies so you can be in the world but not of the world. This is the approach Jesus is teaching here, and it’s the approach He used in His own life. Jesus hung out with sinners; He hung out with prostitutes, tax collectors—the hated people of His age, and yet He was not of the world. He was distinct; He was different. And that is what Jesus is asking us to become. 

     Jesus was praying here that they be in the world but not of the world. Jesus was asking God to sanctify them so they would shine like a light in a dark place. That is the great prayer of Jesus—that we would be like that.

     In this prayer of Jesus, we see five elements of being sanctified:

     First of all, it’s something God must do. Jesus prayed, “Father, sanctify them.” He’s praying that God would do it. 

     We at NCCU have the following purpose statement: “We exist to promote and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation and sanctification of all people.” It is by the power of God with the Holy Spirit working in us that makes it possible for us to accomplish this mission. In order for this to happen, we must be sanctified—made to become like Christ. It’s something God must do.

     Second of all, it’s something we must do. Jesus said, “Sanctify them in the truth.” We must apply the truth. It is something we must do. Paul says in Philippians 2:12, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (NIV) Work out what God is working within you. That is the call to the Christian.   

      When Paul tells the thief to not steal, he doesn’t say for the thief to think about what he’s doing and pray about it. In Ephesians 4:28 Paul says, “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.”

     Paul is saying, “Stop it!” Why? Because if you’re a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit within you, and, therefore, you can obey Christ. Granted, sanctification is a lifelong process, and none of us become perfect until we’re in glorified in heaven. We’ll always be struggling with indwelling sin; it’s part of the nature of a Christian. 

     Because we have the Holy Spirit, we can fight, and we must. Stop sinning—like Paul said in Ephesians 4:28. Stealing may not be your sin, but fill in Ephesians 4:28 with your sin: “He who has been gossiping, must gossip no longer. He who has been prideful, must be prideful no longer.” 

     Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Apply the whole truth of the gospel: that God made us, that we’re sinners, that Jesus died for us, that He loves us, that He has a purpose for us, that He’s going to justify us, that He’s going to sanctify us, We put on the armor of God so we can stand against the devil and say no to sin.   

     We must apply the truth. We have to do it ourselves, but we are able to because we have the Holy Spirit. Every single day of our lives we must fight against indwelling sin. 

     The third element is about the word. In verse six it says, “they have obeyed your word.” Verse eight says, “For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them.” The words of Jesus reflect the words of God the Father. The teachings of Jesus are a reflection of the teachings of God. Jesus treated the Old Testament as God’s word. Jesus quoted from 24 books in the Old Testament. 

     When Jesus said, “Your word is truth,” He was talking about the Bible. Once that becomes clear, are we surprised that the church at large is struggling with issues like Christ-likeness, character, and holiness? It’s because there’s so little Bible! The Bible is our hallmark. It’s what we’re about at every level of the church. How are we doing with God’s word? We’re bombarded with other messages every day of the week with our phones, TV, movies . . . but it is His word that is truth. And that’s how we’re going to become more like Jesus. 

     The fourth element is mission. Verse 18 says, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” Jesus was sent to seek and save the lost, and we Christians, similarly, have been sent into the world to seek and save the lost. He’s sending us into the world to seek and save the lost. Evangelism and holiness go together.

     Paul prays in his letter to Philemon (verse 6), “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” As someone shares their faith, they realize more and more all that they have in the Lord Jesus Christ and they are so grateful. God’s plan is for a holy people to be on a mission. Remember, holiness means set apart for God’s service. 

     God is sending us into the world as holy people—set apart for God’s service. As Jesus was sent, so we are sent.

     The fifth element is in verse 19: “And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.” We are giving ourselves to God as a holy sacrifice. 

     Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient. He was born as a man—set apart for God’s service. He came to seek and save the lost—you and me. His death, His resurrection, His sinless life was for our sake—that we might be sanctified. That is the end goal of salvation--that we would be holy as He is holy—set apart for God’s service. 

     As a holy people, let’s honor Him; let’s declare His praises; let’s be committed to obedience by the power Christ has given us through His Holy Spirit. Let’s be a holy people whose lives bring praise and glory to God. 


1/11/20

Good morning, People of Thanksgiving.

 

Song for the Dayhttps://www.youtube.com/k5w7MgTgVVs


Memory Verse for the Week: He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20

 

     Genesis 24 is the story of how Abraham found a wife for his son, Isaac. Abraham didn’t want Isaac to marry a Canaanite woman. Therefore, his servant went to Aram-naharaim to find a wife for Isaac. He prayed he would find the right lady for Isaac. Let’s pick the story up at verse 12:

     “O LORD, God of my master, Abraham,” he prayed. “Please give me success today, and show unfailing love to my master, Abraham. See, I am standing here beside this spring, and the young women of the town are coming out to draw water. This is my request. I will ask one of them, ‘Please give me a drink from your jug.’ If she says, ‘Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!’—let her be the one you have selected as Isaac’s wife. This is how I will know that you have shown unfailing love to my master.”

     Before he had finished praying, he saw a young woman named Rebekah coming out with her water jug on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel, who was the son of Abraham’s brother Nahor and his wife, Milcah. Rebekah was very beautiful and old enough to be married, but she was still a virgin. She went down to the spring, filled her jug, and came up again. Running over to her, the servant said, “Please give me a little drink of water from your jug.”

     “Yes, my lord,” she answered, “have a drink.” And she quickly lowered her jug from her shoulder and gave him a drink. When she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels, too, until they have had enough to drink.” So she quickly emptied her jug into the watering trough and ran back to the well to draw water for all his camels.

     Don’t you wish your prayers were answered that quickly? While the servant was in the process of praying for the answer to his prayer, in walked the answer to his prayer! 

     Rebekah was clearly the wife for Isaac. Now all that had to be worked out were the details. Let’s pick the story up at verse 55 with Rebekah’s brother, Laban, saying, “But we want Rebekah to stay with us at least ten days,” her brother and mother said. “Then she can go.” 

     But [the servant] said, “Don’t delay me. The LORD has made my mission successful; now send me back so I can return to my master.”

     “Well,” they said, “we’ll call Rebekah and ask her what she thinks.” So they called Rebekah. “Are you willing to go with this man?” they asked her.

     And she replied, “Yes, I will go.”

     God was clearly at work in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Rebekah. 

     This story reminds me of two other stories—“modern day” stories. The first one took place in the 1940s. It centers around my mom. She had just graduated from high school, and even though she attended church, she wasn’t a follower of Christ. 

     One day my aunt from Pasadena, CA, was visiting my mom’s family in Duncannon, PA. Her visit was drawing to an end, and my aunt (who was a committed Christian) said to my mom, “Why don’t you come back with me to California tomorrow? You can ride along with me. It would be a great adventure, and I’ll see what I can do about getting you started at college in Pasadena.”

     My mom replied, “Oh, no. I’m not interested in doing anything like that. I have a boyfriend here, and going to California just doesn’t appeal to me.”

     My aunt prayed through the night, and the next morning my mom said to her, “You know what? I’ve changed my mind! I’ve decided I do want to go to California with you today.”

     That decision totally changed my mom’s life! She found Jesus as her personal Savior, went to a Christian college in Pasadena, met and married my dad, and they ended up being missionaries in the Philippines for 35 years.

     Come to think of it, that was a fairly fast answer to my aunt’s prayer, too!

     The other “modern day” story took place in the 1970s. Peter Jenkins decided to walk across America and discover the real country. He started off in Alfred, NY, and ended up in Florence, OR, by way of the Deep South. While in Mobile, AL, he attended a revival and gave his heart to Jesus. Later, he fell madly in love with a student at a seminary in New Orleans, LA. They got engaged, and we’re looking forward to marriage when Peter’s girlfriend started to realize how her life would drastically change if she married Peter. She began to have second thoughts. On numerous occasions, she broke up with Peter, and then got back with him. Finally, she said to him, “I just can’t take this torture of not knowing what I should do any longer. I’ve decided to go to church with you one last time. If we don’t get a sign, or if something doesn’t happen, then everything between us is over—for good.”

     They did go to the church they regularly attended, and there was a guest speaker—80+ year old Mom Beall from Detroit who would speak from her wheelchair. She told the story of Abraham finding a wife for Isaac. Let’s have Peter tell the story in his own words as he describes that church service:

 

     “The next day,” Mom [Beall] told us, “Rebekah’s family called her to them because the servant was ready to ask her and give her gifts.” At this point Mom paused, ready to emphasize a point as dramatic as any I had ever heard. Her pause was long and over a thousand people were totally silent.

     Although Mom was over eighty she now looked shot full of the most powerful energy in life. A radiant glow circled her entire body. She pounded the arm of her wheelchair with her right fist and half yelled and half quivered, “Will you go with this man?”

     The simple phrase, one of thousands in the Bible, burst through me with a surging power; it echoed and shot through my body like holy electricity. This was Barbara’s sign! I knew it as I glanced over at her for the first time since Mom’s story had begun.

     Again, with fantastic power, Mom shouted those words from Genesis: “Will you go with this man?”

     The impact of that message pushed Barbara back into her cushioned chair. She was sort of slumped down, her eyes staring nowhere. She had prayed all night, yet this direct message from God seemed to shock her.

     “Will you go with this man?” Mom’s lily-white hand banged the wheelchair, emphasizing each and every word. Barbara gasped as though each word hit her heart with the force of a sledgehammer pounding on iron. She sat up straighter, blood flushed her pretty face and her hair seemed to stand out fuller than before.

     One last time, Mom cried, “Will you go with this man?” I couldn’t believe this was happening. I looked over at Barbara again. She knew that I knew. Her eyes were wide and clear except for the crystal tears that gathered in the corners. She leaned close to me and whispered, “Peter, I’ll go with you.”

 

Note: You can read the whole story in Peter Jenkin’s book A Walk Across Americaand Peter and Barbara Jenkin’s book The Walk West.

1/10/20

Good morning, Growing in Grace.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/9Kuo3lg-LBU


Memory Verse for the Week: He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20


   The seventh chapter of Matthew has some sobering words from Jesus. Verses 13-14 say, "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." This is not what the world says. It's not unusual to hear, "There are many paths that lead to heaven. Christianity is one of the ways, Buddhism is another path, Shintoism still another, and so on." That sounds like a broad highway, but Jesus said that road leads to hell. These two beliefs are in total contradiction to each other. Which are you going to believe? Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me." John 14:6

   So how can we tell if we are on the narrow road? For one thing, it's difficult to travel on that road. There are other paths that are difficult, too, but they don't lead to heaven. Just because a person suffers, that doesn't mean they are on the right path. It's when we suffer for the sake of Jesus that we know we're on the right path—when we won't back down from our faith in Jesus even if it means pain and suffering on our part. We don't back down no matter how difficult it gets. Not very many people are willing to be that committed to Jesus, and that's why Jesus said, "only a few ever find it."

   Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:8-12,16-18: We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

   Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.

   That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

   Another way we can tell which road we're on is by our fruit. Right after talking about the narrow gate, Jesus talked about fruit—our actions. Matthew 7:35-20 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."

   Jesus made another statement that shows the world is mistaken when it says all roads lead to heaven. In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus said, "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.' " Do you see what I mean by sobering words? We can't afford to become lackadaisical as followers of Jesus. What we do and don't do have eternal consequences. Our hearts must be right with God. Lip service with Him doesn't cut it. Let's ask God to search our hearts, reveal to us what He finds, and then let's respond accordingly. 

1/9/20

Good morning, Friend of God.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/2PlgN0ta6E8


Memory Verse for the Week: He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20


   Years ago I made an observation after older relatives visited me or I went to visit elderly relatives—old people have to have something to worry about. I would see them very concerned over things that to me weren't worth worrying about. Now that I'm old, I find myself worrying about the same stuff my aging relatives worried about! It is said that 85% of what we worry about never happens. That's a fairly high percentage. I guess a different way of saying that would be, "15% of what you worry about is going to happen." 

   Let's take a look at what the Bible has to say about worrying. A lot of what we worry about centers around money:

  • Is the refrigerator going to give out? What about my other appliances?
  • What would I do if the stock market crashed?
  • How much longer will my roof keep water out of my house?
  • What if someone sued me for millions of dollars?
  • What if my house burned down?
  • What if there was an earthquake that destroyed the foundation of my house?
  • What if one of my trees blew over and hurt someone?
  • What if my septic system quit on me?
  • What would happen if it was discovered that mold was growing in my walls? What if all the siding on my house had to be replaced?
  • What if Social Security runs out?
  • What if I lost my job and couldn't pay bills?

   Hopefully, I haven't given you some new things to worry about!

   Since we worry so much about finances, it's not surprising that Jesus had some things to say about money:


   "Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

   "Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

   "No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.

   "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

   "And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

   "So don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?' These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 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." Matthew 6:19-34


   Jesus puts things into perspective; worrying about tomorrow is a big waste of time. God will give us everything we need. Instead of asking for an increase in things, we should we asking for an increase in faith. Don't worry; be happy . . . as you put your trust in God.



1/8/20

Good morning, Anchored in God's Love.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/IrDwO0TQWjM


Memory Verse for the Week: He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20


Note: We've been having trouble with some of the devotionals going to spam or being blocked. Just know that the devotional does go out Monday through Saturday. If you don't receive it, it's not because it wasn't sent out. Technology doesn't always work the way we want it to, does it?! I'm not sure how to correct the problem. Any ideas?


   What do you know about the Trinity? It's complicated, isn't it? A lot of what we believe is clearly laid out for us by God using different authors in the Bible. However, the word trinity is not even used once anywhere in the 66 books. Nevertheless, the doctrine of the Trinity is in the Bible, and these articles I'm attaching do a great job of explaining the Trinity. I hope you will find them helpful and of benefit to you. Perhaps some of the references will be useful as you share God's word with others. The articles are taken from the January 2020 issue of TableTalk Magazine and are used with permission.

https://files.logoscdn.com/v1/files/41002962/?signature=JdCDQ22KxgNsmemjwU4TItEzdFU

https://files.logoscdn.com/v1/files/41002967/?signature=n7nMtUDUW2j2m_mzJXbBaG_RnSM

https://files.logoscdn.com/v1/files/41002972/?signature=Kj13yC73VjWVZs1L_p30XCqvQ-s

https://files.logoscdn.com/v1/files/41002981/?signature=6LOZ-3zeoJIVEHHecNlzmMaps7g

https://files.logoscdn.com/v1/files/41002986/?signature=9GFh2Iuf5qQhCHqPr2QQRLO2S3w

1/7/20

Good morning, Proclaimers of Good News.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/CYDCIAQc8Ms


Memory Verse for the Week: He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20


   The church at Thessalonica was one of the healthiest churches in the New Testament. Paul said in I Thessalonians 1:2-7:


   We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly. As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.

   We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people. For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you. So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord. As a result, you have become an example to all the believers in Greece—throughout both Macedonia and Achaia.

   And now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere, even beyond Macedonia and Achaia, for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don't need to tell them about it, for they keep talking about the wonderful welcome you gave us and how you turned away from idols to serve the living and true God. And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God's Son from heaven—Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment.


   Why was this such an influential church? Because they "received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought" them. Affliction and joy don't seem to go together, but on December 29, Pastor Michael spoke to us about Paul and Silas being beaten and placed in the inner part of the prison. What did they do there? They sang songs of praise. The Christians in Thessalonica were able to be joyful in spite of severe suffering.

   I don't like suffering. I like for things to run smoothly—no conflict, no stress, no hatred, nothing lacking, no sickness, no death. I like to be where everyone is happy, there's peace, quiet (except for music and powerful engines), calmness. But which environment provides an opportunity to grow in the Lord? I'm afraid it's where there is suffering. Suffering is necessary for us to grow individually and as a church. 

   When we are joyful in suffering, we are a powerful testimony to the world around us. When Laurie lost her son a year ago, she was definitely saddened by the loss, but she wasn't angry with God. She was joyful that her son could be in a better place than this world. Her faith was strong enough to weather the storm, and she came out stronger on the other end. She's been able to witness to others who have experienced similar losses, and share her faith with them. God can bring good out of any bad that happens to us. He can even give us joy in our sorrow! He did it for Paul and Silas, He did it for the Thessalonians, He did it for Laurie, and he can do it for you. Let suffering be a time of growth in your life. 

   Be patient, though, as growth takes time. You don't go from an infant to a toddler in a day. In fact, it's difficult to detect any growth on a daily basis. However, after a year or so has gone by, it's easy to see the growth that has taken place. Are you growing spiritually? Take a look at where you were spiritually a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago? Do you see growth? If not, maybe you should start praying for suffering. 

   II Thessalonians 1:4-5 says, 


   We proudly tell God's other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering. And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering.


   Sometimes we suffer because of our bad choices. Sometimes we suffer because we have broken God's laws, and we are simply suffering the consequences for that. That's not the kind of suffering being spoken of here. It's suffering because of our faith—ridiculed by nonbelievers, standing for what is truth in God's word and being given a hard time for it, ostracized for being counter-culture. 

   As a church, let's strive to be like the Thessalonians. As individuals, let's strive to be like the Christians in Thessalonica.

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1/4/20

Good morning, Son Worshipers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/A3IUqz10ARE


Memory Verse for the Week: For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20


   On Thursday, we were taking a look in Leviticus and Malachi concerning giving God our best. As I was reading in Genesis today, the same theme appeared. 

    When [Cain and Abel] grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the LORD. Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The LORD accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.

   "Why are you so angry?" the LORD asked Cain. "Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin in crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master." (Genesis 4:2b-7)

   Giving God what He deserves—our best—is what God expects from us. Evidently, Abel understood this and gave God his best. Cain also gave, but it wasn't his best. What would you think of me if I threw my dog a cheap treat right after he saved my life while I sat eating prime steak (my dog's absolute favorite)? Jesus died on the cross we should have been hanging on. The sinless died for the sinful. The perfect died for the imperfect. Jesus does deserve our best.

   Notice that last part when God said to Cain, "You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master." Whose responsibility is it not to sin? Is it God's responsibility to keep us from sinning? No, it's our responsibility. There are things we can do to prevent sin from entering our lives. Think back to the last time you fell into temptation and sin. Was there something you could have done to prevent it from happening? Sin doesn't blindside us. It's like an approaching storm; there are signs that a storm is on its way—dark clouds, wind, possible change in temperature, a change in the barometric pressure, the weather forecast. If we ignore all the signs, and decide to go on a long hike, there's a good chance a storm is going to pounce on us and have us saying, "What happened? I was just walking along and—WHAM!" There were signs, but we chose to ignore them. Sin is like that, too. There are warning signs that appear. It's our responsibility to pay attention to those signs and head for shelter—the arms of Jesus. We make the decision to turn away from the temptation, and Jesus is there with open arms welcoming us into them.

   We cannot afford to have sin be our master. The result is death. We must subdue sin and be its master. The Holy Spirit is there to support us every step of the way. We're not alone as we resist sin, but we have to make the decision to be the master over sin rather than let sin be the master over us. Turn from temptation, and run to Jesus. He is our shelter in the storm.

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1/3/20

Good morning, Yahweh Worshipers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/YqKcNwknGsA


Memory Verse for the Week: For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20


   After reading Genesis 25-26 and Matthew 10:1-25, the following prayer was prayed:

   Dear Father in Heaven, Esau did a very foolish thing when he sold his birthright to Jacob for some bread and lentil stew. Esau was living for the moment rather than looking ahead to the time he would receive a double share of his father's inheritance. Help us to learn from the mistake of Esau and closely guard that which is of great value. Lord, your love to us has the greatest value—it cost you your life. May we be grateful people who treasure your love more than anything else. May we love you in return with that same degree of intensity and offer up our lives to you as living sacrifices. If called upon, may we be prepared to die for you. May we begin to show you how much we love you by following your commandments.

   Thank you for blessing Isaac as your blessed Abraham. We know the blessings we receive come from you, and we are grateful! Help us not to take any blessings for granted.

   Give us more love for our fellow man so we will go and tell him, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." You have given freely to us; may we give freely to others. We don't want to hold on to anything too tightly as we know we won't be taking any of it with us to the grave. Help me to be a generous person.

   When it comes time to witness for you, help us not to stress over it because you have said the Spirit will speak through us. Holy Spirit, you know just what should be said, and we ask you to guard our mouths at all times so we only say what you give us to say. May our words flow from a heart filled with love.

   May we not be surprised when worldly people hate us. Give us the strength to stand firm in you and endure to the end. In the name of Jesus, amen.

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1/2/20

Good morning, Family of God.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/GgBB863p2vw


Memory Verse for the Week: For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20


   When our church had its annual Thanksgiving dinner with donations given to the Food Bank, I had the job of collecting the food that was brought in. During my shift, I saw a wide variety of food that was donated. It looked like some of the food was collected from the back of the cupboards where it had been for a LONG while. Some of the cans were rusted, others dented in. Some of the things inside the cans I had never heard of before, and I'd have no idea of how to use them. On the other hand, some of the food looked like it had just been purchased. It looked very appealing, and it looked to me like the donator had gone through the cupboard and chosen the very best to donate. 

   When we give to God, do we give God our leftovers (our old, rusted, dented cans and food we'll never miss having), or do we give Him our very best (what we'd like to keep for ourselves)? Concerning offerings to God, Leviticus 22:20-22 says:

    "Do not present an animal with defects, because the LORD will not accept it on your behalf.

   "If you present a peace offering to the LORD from the herd or the flock, whether it is to fulfill a vow or is a voluntary offering, you must offer a perfect animal. It may have no defect of any kind. You must not offer an animal that is blind, crippled, or injured, or that has a wart, a skin sore, or scabs. Such animals must never be offered on the altar as special gifts to the LORD.

   Just a quick reminder here—Jesus was the perfect sacrifice. He was God's best. He was sinless. God sacrificed Him, because Jesus was the only one eligible to take away sins.

   Malachi 1:8-9, 13b-14; 2:8b-12 says:

   When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn't that wrong? And isn't it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!" says the LORD of Heaven's Armies.

   "Think of it! Animals that are stolen and crippled and sick are being presented as offerings! Should I accept from you such offerings as these?" asks the LORD.

   "You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies, "I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fail from the vine before they are ripe," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies.

   I know I don't always give God my best, but I want to do better this year. Here is my prayer, "Lord, you gave your best for me, and I want to give my best to you. When I am tempted to think of myself and my desires, may I think of you and your desires instead. In the name of Jesus, amen."

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1/1/20

Good morning, Jesus Worshipers. Happy New Year!


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/IRLxugEtqx8


Memory Verse for the Week: For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20


   Today is the start of a brand new year. If you struggle with reading the word of God consistently, I would encourage you to use a plan. I don't do well when it's left up to "me" to choose where to read in the Bible each day. My personal preference is to have a plan where I read from the Old Testament and the New Testament each day, rather than starting in Genesis and going straight through to Revelation. I am attaching a plan that will take you through the Bible in a year. It's the one I use. 

   If you find that is too much reading at this time in your life, you might want to try reading the Bible on a three-year plan. I'm attaching that as well. There are other ways to read the Bible, too. This website provides many options: https://ligonier.org/blog/bible-reading-plans

   Another way to read the Bible is to choose a chapter of the Bible and read it each day for a week, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to you as you hear those same words over and over. Whatever works for you is great; the important thing is that you are hearing from God each day. It's easy to start thinking the way the world thinks when we are constantly bombarded with messages from the world. We daily need to hear truth, and truth is found in the Bible—in Jesus our Lord and Savior.

   Several years ago I prayed for the Lord to give me a hungering and thirsting for His word, and he answered my prayer. 

   After reading Psalms 120-123 and I Corinthians 6, the following prayer was prayed:

   Father in heaven, in my trouble I cried to you, and you answered me. My help comes from you who made heaven and earth. You are able to keep me, because you never slumber. You protect me from evil; you keep my soul. You guard my going out and my coming in from this time forth and forever.

   When I am wronged, help me to not seek punishment for the one who wronged me. Instead, may I remember that I, too, have wronged others. May I show mercy to others as you have shown mercy to me.

   May I do those things that are profitable. May I remember my body is a member of you; it is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in me. I have been bought with a price—your blood on the cross. Therefore, I am not my own. May I glorify you in my body and flee immorality. In the name of Jesus, amen.


Wise Christians do not go on legalistic religious rants on social media, leaving people feeling guilty. They do not dump theological truth on discussion threads with their friends, burying them in an avalanche of spiritual jargon. What should Christians do? Listen to this audio of Dr. Josh Moody: https://www.godcenteredlife.org/broadcast/making-the-holidays-holy-days-5-part-2/


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12/30/19

Good morning, Praise Singers.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/5AASqVtF2A8


Memory Verse for the Week: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10


   Yesterday, Pastor Michael led us in a service of "Celebration." We celebrated Jesus for who He is by singing songs of praise and worship to Him. Pastor Michael read from Acts 16:16-34:


    One day as we [Paul and Silas] were going down to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit that enabled her to tell the future. She earned a lot of money for her masters by telling fortunes. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved."

   This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And instantly it left her.

   Her masters' hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before their authorities at the marketplace. "The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!" they shouted to the city officials. "They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice."

   A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn't escape. So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.

   Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, "Stop! Don't kill yourself! We are all here!"

   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." And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household rejoiced because they all believed in God.

   

Note: The "Song of the Day" above tells this story. I would encourage you to listen to it.


   When life's circumstances are awful, we might not feel like singing, but Paul and Silas sang songs and worshiped their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. They did this not because the circumstances encouraged singing, but because God is God. No matter what happens in our lives, God is still God. He is God in, over, and through our circumstances. He is sovereign.

   Paul and Silas were in the darkest spot they could be in, but when they sang songs and praised and worshiped God, God broke into their world. As a result, the jailer wanted to know God. Let the chains that are binding you fall off. Let God open the prison doors of your life. Let's begin to sing songs of praise and worship to our God:


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12/28/19

Good morning, Truth Spreaders.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/zbA0hdPZh0c


Memory Verse for the Week: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10


   We have taken this week to ponder the topic of gratitude or gratefulness. I am sharing an article from the November 2019 issue of TableTalk Magazine. This article is used with permission.

   Today's article is "Gratefulness and Complaining."

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12/23/19

Good morning, Prayer Warriors.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/ISY2hOJ9v_E


Memory Verse for the Week: And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. Revelation 22:17


   Yesterday, Pastor Michael gave the sermon "Immanuel" based on Isaiah 7:14: "All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means 'God is with us')."

   We live in an amazing world with trees, color, amazing sights and sounds, taste buds, technology, and each other (family, friends, and others). But, at the same time, we live in a world that is dishearteningly troubled with wars, politics, earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, relationship friction and discord, and stress. 

   We live in a world of contrasts. Life is always changing. We wonder, "What's coming next?" We simply don't know what's next. We do know that no one is immune from trouble in this life. How do we deal with trouble? How do we walk through this life when there's a diagnosis of cancer, dementia, or there's the death of a loved one?

   Our answer lies in Christmas . . . Jesus (which means Savior). There are other names for Jesus: Immanuel (God with us), Christ (Messiah), and more. When we use Immanuel for the name of Jesus, we are saying he is with us personally. Immanuel is relational. It means you are not alone. It means Jesus is your source of help; He is your comfort; He is your strength. It means Jesus provides guidance for your life; He is your hope.

   Walk with Immanuel. God is with us always—through the good times and the bad times. II Corinthians 4:8-10 says, "We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies."

   I Peter 5:6-11 says, Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand 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.

   Suffering is part of life. Jesus wept (see John 11:35). He wept because He cares. When you hurt, God hurts; when you cry, He cries. We need Immanuel! Remember you are not alone; God is with you. Call out his name—Immanuel!


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In Revelation 19, Jesus is depicted as the great conquering hero riding on a white horse. What weapon does Jesus use? Dr. Josh Moody explains: https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/revelation-19-king-of-kings-and-lord-of-lords/

12/21/19

Good morning, Followers of Yahweh.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/Pa-kaUWSbvo


Memory Verse for the Week: And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. Revelation 22:17


   When we read Revelation, we should be more concerned about interpreting the past rather than predicting the future. Ignore end time timelines proposed by people. We are not to know when these things will take place, we're just to know they will take place. The birth of Jesus was prophesied around 700 years before the event took place. It wasn't foretold when the birth of the Messiah would take place; it was just told the event would happen. What the Scriptures foretell, will take place; we can be sure of that. When they take place is not for us to know, and we shouldn't waste our time trying to figure it out. Matthew 24:35-39 says:

   Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.

   However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.

   When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah's day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn't realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.

   Let's take a look at some things that will happen before Jesus returns. Revelation 11 says,


    Then I was given a measuring stick and I was told, "Go and measure the Temple of God and the altar, and count the number of worshipers. But do not measure the outer courtyard, for it has been turned over to the nations. They will trample the holy city for 42 months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will be clothed in burlap and will prophesy during those 1,260 days."

   These two prophets are the two olive trees and the two lamp stands that stand before the Lord of all the earth. If anyone tries to harm them, fire flashes from their mouths and consumes their enemies. This is how anyone who tries to harm them must die. They have power to shut the sky so that no rain will fall for as long as they prophesy. And they have the power to turn the rivers and oceans into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they wish.


   My sister lives in South Africa, and a year ago they experienced a bad drought. Everyone was limited to the amount of water they were allowed to use. Toward the end of the drought, there was talk that there would be no water for people to use, and people would have to go to stations where water would be handed out to them. Fortunately, the rains came before this had to go into effect. Can you imagine how lives would be disrupted if these two witnesses cut off all precipitation and contaminated the rivers and oceans? 

   In a study of the minor prophets, Pastor Michael described a locust invasion that took place in 1915 in the area in and around Jerusalem. There were 60,000 locusts in one square meter of ground. They would advance at the rate of 400-600 feet per day destroying every bit of vegetation in their path. When they were done with an area, it would look as if a fire had moved through—total devastation. That's an example of one kind of plague.


    When they complete their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the bottomless pit will declare war against them, and he will conquer them and kill them. And their bodies will lie in the main street of Jerusalem, the city that is figuratively called "Sodom" and "Egypt," the city where their Lord was crucified. And for three and a half days, all peoples, tribes, languages, and nations will stare at their bodies. No one will be allowed to bury them. All the people who belong to the world will gloat over them and give presents to each other to celebrate the death of the two prophets who had tormented them.


   Can't you just see this being broadcast on TV worldwide? People are happy and celebrating the death of these two prophets. Satan is claiming victory.


   But after three and a half days, God breathed life into them, and they stood up! Terror struck all who were staring at them. Then a loud voice from heaven called to the two prophets, "Come up here!" And they rose to heaven in a cloud as their enemies watched.


   I hope the TV cameras catch all this!


    At the same time there was a terrible earthquake that destroyed a tenth of the city. Seven thousand people died in that earthquake, and everyone else was terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

   The second terror is past, but look, the third terror is coming quickly.

   Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were long voices shouting in heaven: "The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever." 

   The twenty-four elders sitting on their thrones before God fell with their faces to the ground and worshiped him. And they said, "We give thanks to you, Lord God, the Almighty, the one who is and who always was, for now you have assumed your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were filled with wrath, but now the time of your wrath has come. It is time to judge the dead and reward your servants the prophets, as well as your holy people, and all who fear your name, from the least to the greatest. It is time to destroy all who have caused destruction on the earth."

   Then, in heaven, the Temple of God was opened and the Ark of his covenant could be seen inside the Temple. Lightning flashed, thunder crashed and roared, and there was an earthquake and a terrible hailstorm.


   It's going to be a grand and glorious day for Christians when Jesus returns. We know that day is coming; we just don't know when. Meanwhile, we have the opportunity to work for Jesus and do what we can to bring others into the fold. It's a good thing Jesus is not returning this instant as more can come to know Him as Lord and Savior. When He does return, it will be too late to become a follower of Christ. Therefore, now is the opportune time to come to know Jesus; now is the day of salvation.

https://files.logoscdn.com/v1/files/40829186/?signature=gGRoURH6v3mR5hNtaoR6GXhm2Go

https://files.logoscdn.com/v1/files/40829191/?signature=Ckt7MbcctTgnTWcgdZEyhNEee8M



12/20/19

Good morning, Forgiven and Forgivers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/hBPnKTpS8BE


Memory Verse for the Week: And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. Revelation 22:17


   Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman gave a lecture on the book of Jonah. Here is a background on the book:

  • It is more of a narrative than a prophecy. The word of the LORD came to Jonah. Was Jonah a real person and were the events recorded here real events that actually took place?
  • See II Kings 14:25. Jonah was the son of Amittai and lived in Gath Hepher in Zebulun. 
  • See Matthew 12:38-41. Jesus speaks of Jonah as a real person living in real space and time.
  • Jonah likely lived just before the reign of King Jeroboam II (793-753)
  • Jonah was after Elisha and was a contemporary with Hosea, Amos, and Isaiah.
  • He likely visited Nineveh around 760 B.C.
  • The Assyrian Empire was the dominant world power from 900-700 B.C. They were cruel and ruthless people who were world renown for their cruel treatment of their enemies.
  • During the early to mid 700's, the Assyrian Empire descended into confusion and chaos due to three rulers who followed after the Great Shalmaneser III. 
  • King Jehu of Judah (841-814), was appointed by Elisha (I Kings 9:3ff.) and visited Shalmaneser III to pay tribute to him.
  • There were two plagues in 765 and 759 and a solar eclipse in 763 that may have also prepared the people of Nineveh for Jonah's message of repentance.

   Jonah 1:1-17 deals with Jonah running away (bad prophet). There weren't any passenger ships at this time, so passengers had to board cargo ships to travel. When the storm hit, hardened sailors were afraid. They ran to their gods for help but to no avail. In desperation and fear of sinking, the sailors tossed the cargo overboard. However, Jonah was found sleeping through the storm. Joan didn't appear to care about what was going on. When he was sleeping, he didn't have to deal with hearing from God.

   What was a prophet of God doing running away from Him? The sailors were terrified. Jonah said to throw him overboard. He didn't care about anything at this point. He didn't want to commit suicide, but he wanted to die. He was thrown overboard and the storm stopped. The sailors realized Jonah's God was the true God. At that point, a large fish swallowed Jonah and he was in the fish for three days.

   Chapter 2 records Jonah's prayer while inside the fish and tells of the fish spitting Jonah out onto a beach.

   Chapter 3 tells of Jonah obeying God this time and going to Nineveh. He probably wasn't passionate in his message to the people of Nineveh, but he did give the message God had told him to share with the people there. The people believed him and repented of their horrific sins. The king heard the truth from God. The whole kingdom is repentant.

   Chapter 4 records Jonah becoming angry when the king and the people repented. He was a bad prophet. He knew God would save the people, and Jonah wanted the people destroyed. Jonah was not happy about their repentance. 

   Jonah enjoyed the shade of the plant God provided for him. He was able to get some relief from the scorching heat. God provided a worm to eat the plant. Jonah wished he was dead.

   God has concern for the 120,000 people of Nineveh and the animals, but Jonah had no love for the ruthless Assyrians. He didn't feel like they should have salvation—they didn't deserve it. Why should the enemy of Jonah receive salvation?

   Here is the conclusion: God cares about ALL people. God wants ALL people to come unto salvation—even the worst ones. God sends us to our enemies for their salvation. Luke 6:27-36 tells us to love our enemies. Our character is to reflect the character of God—grace and mercy to all. Jonah is us when God tells us to do something, and we don't do it. The point of Jonah is God loves ALL people, and we are to love ALL people.


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The seven churches in Revelation had a choice. We have that same choice today. What is that choice? Dr. Moody explains: 

https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/revelation-14-heaven-is-coming

12/19/19

Good morning, Family.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/QP0TGh6c-Ss

Memory Verse for the Week: And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. Revelation 22:17


   Does God ever change His mind? Let's take a look at some Scriptures. The first is II Kings 20:1-6:


    About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill, and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to visit him. He gave the king this message: "This is what the LORD says: Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness."

   When Hezekiah heard this, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, "Remember, O LORD, how I have always been faithful to you and have served you single-mindedly, always doing what pleases you." Then he broke down and wept bitterly.

   But before Isaiah had left the middle courtyard, this message came to him from the LORD: "Go back to Hezekiah, the leader of my people. Tell him, 'This is what the LORD, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you, and three days from now you will get out of bed and go to the Temple of the LORD. I will add fifteen years to your life, and I will rescue you and this city from the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my own honor and for the sake of my servant David.' "


   God changed His mind; He told Hezekiah to set his affairs in order because he was going to die. Why would a person be told that if death wasn't imminent? Therefore, God had planned for Hezekiah to die soon, but He changed His mind and gave him another fifteen years.

   Let's take a look at Jeremiah 18:1-12:

  

   The LORD gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, "Go down to the potter's shop, and I will speak to you there." So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.

   Then the LORD gave me this message: "O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand. If I announce that a certain nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down, and destroyed, but then that nation renounces its evil ways, I will not destroy it as I had planned. And if I announce that I will plant and build up a certain nation or kingdom, but then that nation turns to evil, and refuses to obey me, I will not bless it as I said I would.

   Therefore, Jeremiah, go and warn all Judah and Jerusalem. Say to them, "This is what the LORD says: I am planning disaster for you instead of good. So turn from your evil ways, each of you, and do what is right.' "

   But the people replied, "Don't waste your breath. We will continue to live as we want to, stubbornly following our own evil desires."


   A few chapters later we find these words:


   Then Jeremiah spoke to the officials and the people in his own defense. "The LORD sent me to prophesy against this Temple and this city," he said. "The LORD gave me every word that I have spoken. But if you stop your sinning and begin to obey the LORD your God, he will change his mind about this disaster that he has announced against you." (26:12-13)


   Then there's the story found in Jonah 3:10-4:3:


   When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.

   This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. So he complained to the LORD about it: "Didn't I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, LORD! I'd rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen."


   Again, we see where God changed His mind. Hezekiah was elated when God changed His mind. Jonah was angry when God changed His mind. 

   What I've discovered in my lifetime is to accept God's plan as He sees fit. I have wanted certain things to happen and prayed to those ends, but later I was thankful they didn't happen. Time allowed me to get the big picture, where God had the big picture all along. God's plan is always best. I've learned to pray, "Lord, if it's your will . . ." I've been disappointed when things didn't go "my way," but I'm learning to rest in God. When I do, there is an inner peace even when things on the outside might not be peaceful.

   By the way, I wonder if Hezekiah wouldn't have been better off if he'd just gone along with God's original plan. When the envoys from Babylon arrived, Hezekiah pridefully showed them everything he owned—all of his royal treasuries. Isaiah told Hezekiah that Babylon would be taking all those treasures to Babylon. In addition, some of Hezekiah's sons would be taken into exile and become eunuchs serving in the palace of the Babylon king.

   What was Hezekiah's response? Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "This message you have given me from the LORD is good." For the king was thinking, "At least there will be peace and security during my lifetime." (II Kings 20:19) Hezekiah cared only about himself—not his family or those in his kingdom! I think Hezekiah would have been better off accepting God's original plan of death and setting his things in order. I don't see that the additional fifteen years did him any good.

   God's plans for our lives are always best, even when death is involved.


———————————

What does the number 666 mean in Revelation? Dr. Moody explains: 

https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/revelation-13-the-number-of-the-beast/

12/18/19

Good morning, Joyful Christian.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/zp2gCXZTwgY


Memory Verse for the Week: And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. Revelation 22:17


   It is said that dynamite comes in small packages. The book of Jude comes in a small package—not even long enough to divide into chapters. However, it has a lot to say:

   Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else; urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God's marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

   But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ predicted. They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God's Spirit in them. 

   But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God's love.

   And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. (Jude 3-4, 17-23)

   So what does God's word say about morality? Let's take a look at what it says about the gay lifestyle:

  • Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin. Leviticus 18:22
  • If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense. Leviticus 20:13
  • 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. Romans 1:24-27
  • Don't you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don't fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. I Corinthians 6:9-11

   So is the gay lifestyle something that can be swept under the rug? . . . capital offense . . . detestable sin . . . vile and degrading . . . shameful . . . none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. God's word is very clear in this regard. Gray areas are not described with these words. Nevertheless, some churches have allowed their leaders to be practicing homosexuals. This includes (but is not limited to) the following:

  • The Community of Christ
  • The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America—allows for LGBTQ+ marriage and ordination of the LGBTQ+ clergy
  • Church of Sweden
  • The Church of Iceland
  • The Church of Denmark
  • The United Protestant Church of France
  • The United Protestant Church of Belgium
  • The Moravian Church
  • The Presbyterian Church
  • The United Church of Canada
  • The Uniting Church in Australia 
  • The United Reformed Church in United Kingdom
  • The Swiss Reformed Church
  • The Reformed Church in America
  • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
  • Church of God
  • Church of England
  • Church of Scotland
  • Episcopal Church
  • United Methodist Church  

   Are we anchored in God's word? Ephesians 4:14-15 says, "Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won't be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church." 

   The Bible is clear about the gay lifestyle being a sin, but what about heterosexual couples living together outside of marriage? It's just a few days until 2020, and the world today is a much different place than it was 70 or more years ago. Surely, the church is in step with the times. Well, let's take a look at God's word (our plumb line):

  • Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery. (Hebrews 13:4)
  • Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators . . . shall inherit the kingdom of God. I Corinthians 6:9-10 NASB The dictionary defines fornicators as two people not married to each other who have sexual intercourse.
  • Drink water from your own well—share your love only with your wife. Why spill the water of your springs in the streets, having sex with just anyone? Proverbs 5:15-16 
  • Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. I Corinthians 6:18-20
  • "But 'God made them male and female' from the beginning of creation. This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are unite into one. Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together." Mark 10:6-9
  • 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. I Thessalonians 4:3-8
  • And then he added, "It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person's heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you." Mark 7:20-23
  • "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." Matthew 5:27-28

   We need to be sure we are in step with God, and most of the time, that means we are out of step with our culture. Proverbs 16:25 says, "There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death." It behooves each one of us to choose the path that leads to everlasting life with Jesus, our Lord and Savior.


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Why is the devil at war with God's people? Dr. Moody explains: 

https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/revelation-12-the-woman-and-the-dragon/

12/17/19

Good morning, Followers of Christ.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/yFoFOZmSIfY


Memory Verse for the Week: And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. Revelation 22:17


   Awhile back, I asked for you to send in your testimonies of how you came to follow Jesus. Today, I received a testimony from a five year old through my sister in South Africa. Her grandson was visiting . . . well, let my sister tell the story: 


   I wanted to share about this past Tuesday when Oliver came to stay for three days while Lisa & David were working still (schools got out at the beginning of Dec). Anyway, he was saying "I love God" and talking about how God is so great, and of course I agreed and said that I'm so glad that he understands that at five years of age. Then we got the nativity set down (I hadn't got any Christmas decorations up yet), and he enjoyed setting it up. I read a Christmas story book, and he acted it out with Mary & Joseph slowly walking to Bethlehem and finding the stable, the angel appearing to the shepherds, and then later the wise men coming with gifts. It was easy to talk about how amazing it is that God sent Jesus, a king, to be born in such a humble setting, etc. Somehow he was talking about wanting to love Jesus forever, and so I shared how we can just ask Him to come live in us and to forgive us (he understands how Adam & Eve disobeyed God and that we all have that sinful nature) and to help us to live our lives with Jesus helping us to be more like him. I asked if he would like to ask Jesus to do that for him, and he was happy to repeat a prayer after me. Afterwards, he said, "Now I'm a Scritchen" when I said, "You mean a Christian?" He said, "Yes, Christian." I explained that it means one who follows Christ.  

   I love the faith of a child, and we pray that we can encourage his faith to grow.

   Praise the Lord! Olly is excited that the angels are also happy that he has asked Jesus to live in him. :)


   Isn't that a great testimony?! It's what this season is all about . . . finding Jesus—having Him be Lord and Savior of our lives whether we're five or ninety-five!

   In the study of the minor prophets, Pastor Michael has been telling us about the faithfulness of God. In the Sinai Covenant given in Deuteronomy 28, God promised blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. God was faithful to both. Included in the blessings were:

   "You will experience all these blessings if you obey the LORD your God: Your towns and fields will be blessed. Your children and your crops will be blessed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed." (verses 2-6) And there is more: The LORD will conquer your enemies when they attack you. The LORD will establish you as his holy people. The LORD will give you prosperity in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, blessing you with many children, numerous livestock, and abundant crops. The LORD will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work you do. You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them. (See verses 7-14)

   Included in the curses were:

   "But if you refuse to listen to the LORD your God and do not obey all the commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come and overwhelm you: Your towns and your fields will be cursed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be cursed. Your children and your crops will be cursed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be cursed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be cursed." (verses 15-19) And there's more: "The LORD himself will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in everything you do, until at last you are completely destroyed for doing evil and abandoning me. The LORD will afflict you with diseases . . . scorching heat and drought and with blight and mildew. The skies above will be as unyielding as bronze, and the earth beneath will be as hard as iron . . . The LORD will cause you to be defeated by your enemies . . . The LORD will afflict you with boils, tumor, scurvy and the itch . . . madness, blindness, and panic . . . You will be oppressed and robbed continually . . . You will be engaged to a woman, but another man will sleep with her. You will build a house, but someone else will live in it . . . (See verses 20-68)

   Hosea and Joel reminded the Israelites of the Sinai Covenant. Unfortunately, they had to remind them of how they had failed to keep their end of the covenant. The only way back to blessing was through repentance. We are unfaithful to God, but He is always faithful to us. His words can be counted on; what He says He will do—both the blessings and the curses.

   Amos delivered the following message from the LORD God of Heaven's Armies to the people of Israel:

    "I hate all your show and pretense—the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won't even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living." (Amos 5:21-24)

   Amos 7:8 records the following dialogue:

    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." A plumb line tells if a wall is straight up and down. God's word is our plumb line. It shows us how far we are leaning to the right or left away from His will for our lives.

   What were the Israelites doing that showed they didn't line up with the plumb line? Amos told them:

    Listen to this, you who rob the poor and trample down the needy! You can't wait for the Sabbath day to be over and the religious festivals to end so you can get back to cheating the helpless You measure out grain with dishonest measures and cheat the buyer with dishonest scales. And you mix the grain you sell with chaff swept from the floor. Then you enslave poor people for one piece of silver or a pair of sandals. (Amos 8:4-6)

   Then we find some very sobering words from God:

   "The time is surely coming," says the Sovereign LORD, "when I will send a famine on the land—not a famine of bread or water but of hearing the words of the LORD. People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from border to border searching for the word of the LORD, but they will not find it. Beautiful girls and strong young men will grow faint in that day, thirsting for the LORD'S word." (Joel 8:11-13)

   Jesus said, "If you love me, obey my commandments." (John 14:15) Sound familiar? God expected obedience to His word back in the days of the prophets, and He expects obedience today. Wouldn't a famine of His word be tragic? Let's not take it for granted and seek to follow His word with the Spirit's help. When we fall off the path, let's quickly repent and get back on it. If we don't, the consequences can be severe!


————————

Today's topic was faithfulness, and Dr. Josh Moody's topic is also faithfulness, but taken from the book of Revelation: 

https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/revelation-11-he-will-reign-for-ever-and-ever/


Week 48, p.1.pdf

Week 48, p.2.pdf

Week 48, p.3.pdf

Week 48, p.4.pdf

Week 48, p.5.pdf

12/16/19

Good morning, Praise Singers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/2k7jUTHGsTU


Memory Verse for the Week: And they sang a new song saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation." Revelation 5:9


   Yesterday, Pastor Michael shared the Christmas story as recorded in Mark 1-2:40.


   Today, I'd like to share more of the wisdom of E. Stanley Jones from his book A Song of Ascents: A Spiritual Autobiography written when he was 83 years of age. This will be the conclusion of what will be shared from his book.

  • There is a moral universe which we do not produce through codes of religion, but which we discover, written into the nature of things. The universe is not indifferent to your virtue and your vice: it takes sides. It is a universe where you get results or consequences. If you work with the moral universe, you get results; it will back you, sustain you, and further you; you will have cosmic backing for your way of life. You will get results. But if you go against the moral universe, you get consequences; you will be up against reality; you will be frustrated. Some people go through life getting results. Others get consequences. You are free to choose, but you are not free to choose the results or consequences of your choices; they are in hands not your own. You do not break these laws written into the nature of things; you break yourselves on them. These laws are class-blind, color-blind, race-blind, religion-blind; break them and you get broken. This is true of the individual and of the nation.
  • Religions are man's search for God; hence there are many religions. The gospel is God's search for man; hence there is but one gospel. Is not the Christian faith religion among the many? No, Jesus never used the word "religion," and never visualized what he was bringing as a religion to set alongside other religions. He came to set himself over against all human need, whether in this religion, that religion, or no religion—the answer to that need. He is God's redemptive offer to man.
  • The distinctive thing, the thing that sets the Christian faith apart from all others is the Word become flesh. In all religions it is the Word become word—a philosophy or a moralism. In the gospel it is the Word become flesh—the divine idea become fact.
  • Jesus did not come merely to disclose God's character. He came to make it possible to be remade in the likeness of that character. He came to redeem us from what we are and to remake us in the likeness of what he is. He is not merely a teacher, a doer—he is a redeemer.
  • Peter said to the council: "This Jesus" has made this man well and whole. So, it is "this Jesus," not merely "that Jesus," who makes me well and whole and sends my happy soul singing its way down the years. I call him a Savior because he saves; a Redeemer because he redeems me. From what—hell? I am not interested in hell now. To heaven? I am not interested in heaven now. But I want to be saved from myself, my sins, my conflicts, my futility, my emptiness now. And he saves me from all these and more and saves me now. He is alive—now.
  • To find the gift of the Holy Spirit demands a self-surrender, my all for his all. If I am a believer, it is my birthright to receive and know the gift of the Holy Spirit. I do not have to make the Holy Spirit willing by doing this or that; I have only to allow him to come: "Let the Holy Spirit fill you" (Ephesians 5:18). The initiation is his; the consent is ours, "Let."
  • I am made in my inner structure and outer relationships by Christ and for Christ; and when I find him, I find myself. And I find my brother. I find how to live as an individual and as a member of society. I am made for Christ as the eye is made for light. I can no more live without him than the eye can live without light. Here are the Scriptures that sustain this conclusion: "Without him [Christ] was not anything made that was made" (John 1:3); "through whom he [Christ] created all orders of existence" (Hebrews 1:3); "in him [Christ] everything in heaven and on earth was created, not only things visible but also the invisible . . . the whole universe has been created through him and for him" (Col.1:16); "there is one God, the Father, from whom all being comes, towards whom we move; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came to be, and we, through him" (I Corinthians 8:6).
  • When I say to an audience just before lunchtime, "Go to lunch," is that command burdensome? No, for their stomachs say the same thing. What Jesus commands our inmost nature commends. It isn't hard to be a Christian; it is hard not to be a Christian.
  • There is a principle and power at the heart of the church, the person of Jesus Christ, who revives it and regenerates it when it sags and becomes irrelevant and ineffective. That revival comes through dedicated individuals or groups who become a leaven to bring the church back to the person of Christ.
  • When Professor William Mallard tells us that as a church historian he had come to the conclusion that the study of church history is no different from the study of secular history, and so turned to the "God is dead" movement, I can disagree with his conclusion. This divine person, Jesus Christ, is at work in the church in a way he is not allowed to work in secular history. But Mallard was wrong when he concentrated his attention on the church—he gazed at the church and glanced at Jesus. If you do that, you'll come to vast doubts. But if you gaze at Jesus and glance at the church, you come to vast confidence and faith. I have come to the conclusion that two thirds of the people in the churches need conversion. Only one third know at firsthand what conversion really is. It is that one third that keep the soul of the church alive. The two thirds then are a field for evangelism instead of a force for evangelism. I have therefore spent more than half of my life in trying to convert unconverted church members.
  • [Jesus] saved me from self-preoccupation. He saved me from myself, the biggest salvation of all. The moment I met him, I was interested in others; and the more I know of him, the more I am interested in others.
  • I don't know what it is to have a blue hour or a discouraged one; I haven't had any, say, for forty years. Not that I haven't had shocks and sorrow, but note that I say a "blue hour"—within an hour I've been able by his grace to surrender the shock or sorrow into the hands of Christ and get release and victory. An hour should be par. But, says someone, you've made a lot of sacrifices for Christ; don't they give you pain? Sacrifices? What sacrifices for Christ have I ever made? I have never made a sacrifice for Christ in all my life. I flung at his feet a tangled up and worthless life, and he gave me back a freed and worthful life and sent my happy soul singing its way down the years. The sacrifice would be to tear from my heart this wonderful thing he brought me when he brought himself. That would leave me empty and songless. Jesus has given me power to turn every sorrow into a song, every hurt into a hallelujah. So I believe in miracles, for I am a miracle—a miracle of grace!
  • It is a good thing to get a good look at yourself, but you mustn't look too long, nor too intently, for, I repeat, whatever gets your attention gets you. If you look too long at your failures, they will get you; you will be a failure. Too much introspection will result in being what you look at—a failure. Then again, don't look too long at the failures of others. You cannot get out of what you are by looking at what other people are. Peter said of John: "Lord, and what shall this man do?" And Jesus replied: "What is that to thee? Follow thou me" (John 21:21-22)

Anger and the Christian Life, p.1.pdf

Anger and the Christian Life, p.2.pdf

12/14/19

Good morning, Transformed Hearts.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/Vn1wR17MMNo


Memory Verse for the Week: And they sang a new song saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation." Revelation 5:9


   Today, I'd like to share more of the wisdom of E. Stanley Jones from his book A Song of Ascents: A Spiritual Autobiography written when he was 83 years of age.

  • I know that there are certain mental and emotional and moral and spiritual attitudes that are anti-health: anger, resentments, fear, worry, desire to dominate, self-preoccupation, guilts, sexual impurity, jealousy, a lack of creative activity, inferiorities, a lack of love. These are the twelve apostles of ill health. So in prayer I've learned to surrender these things to Jesus Christ as they appear. I once asked Dr. Kagawa: "What is prayer?" and he answered: "Prayer is self-surrender." I agree. It is primarily self-surrender, a blanket surrender of the self with no strings attached. But is is also a problem surrender, day by day. It is all we know and all we don't know. "All we don't know" covers the unfolding future and involves problems as they arise. So in prayer if any of these twelve things arise, and they do arise, for no one is free from the suggestion of any of them, I've learned how to deal with them: not to fight them, but to surrender them to Jesus Christ and say, "Now, Lord, you have this. I surrender this into your hands. Tell me what to do about it." I say: "Not to fight them," for to fight them is self-defeating. For "whatever gets your attention gets you"—even to give a fighting attention to evils will mean they will get you. So I surrender them to Jesus. He gets my attention, and I ask for his direction, so he gets me.
  • The greatest medicine for health is conversion. The greatest tonic for the toning up of the whole system is the Holy Spirit, and the greatest vitamin known is love. The greatest physical therapy is creative work. We are made by the Creator for creation. When we cease to create, we degenerate; when we don't create, others cremate. So don't retire, change your occupation. And don't ask to be released from responsibility. To assume responsibility is to match you against a task. This rubbing of responsibility upon you is burnishing powder to give brightness to your mind, your soul, your body. Without it you get dull.
  • A continuous flow of happy laughter is the most health-giving exercise you can take. It tones up the whole system.
  • Christian joy is joy with its sleeves rolled up, ready to go anywhere, to do anything, suffer anything to help a suffering humanity and help it to sing.
  • Jesus is Lord in every situation he is in. And he is in every situation.
  • Jesus cleanses the past, but more, he controls the present. He gives power over the pressures and demands of the present.
  • When someone asked me what was the secret of my life, I have replied: "If there is anything secret, then it is perhaps in this: First, I have kept up my prayer life daily. So I do not face life alone. My little loaves and fishes in my hands are very inadequate; but in his hands, surrendered to him, they have been adequate to feed the hungry multitudes I have faced around the world, with something left over for others to use. Second, I've always had a task that I couldn't do; it was always beyond me. So I've had to depend on grace. My verse: 'In Him who strengthens me, I am able for anything' " (Phil. 4:13). "In Him"—not in me; "who strengthens me"—he doesn't do everything; he "strengthens me." So I can do them by his grace and power: "I am able for anything." "Able for anything"—my motto. I repeat it to myself again and again and again. And I repeat it as the years come and go: "I am able for anything"—anything he calls me to do. For his calls are his enablements. "Without him, not one step over the threshold; with him, anywhere." So at my age I have almost exactly the same program I had at forty-three. My program: six months in America and six months in the rest of the world, mostly in the East, particularly in India, spent in evangelistic meetings and Ashrams, traveling all the time and writing books in-between daily local engagements. Secret? This: "Anyone who enters God's rest, rests from his own work as God did from his." (Hebrews 4:11) By full surrender to God, once and for all, and continuous daily surrender, you enter "God's rest." When you rest from your own works, you are not fussily trying to achieve, you surrender and receive, you are "poor" enough to receive, so the "Kingdom of heaven is yours"—all its resources yours for the asking and taking. You work effortlessly, without strain and without drain. You enter God's creative "rest." You cease from your "own works" and watch God work through you.
  • But you cannot take his power and his creative "rest" unless you take his morality as your working code. My code is a character, not a set of rules, a code of conduct, but an embodied Code—the character of Jesus. Since that character is fixed in history and continuously unfolding, I have something that is static and yet dynamic and something that is never outgrown, always unfolding, always beyond me. There is something fixed: "You have learned that they were told, 'Do not commit adultery.' But what I tell you is this: If a man looks on a woman with a lustful eye, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Here not only the act of adultery was forbidden, but the thought of adultery was also forbidden; adultery was set back from the deed to the thought. The "new morality" says that adultery is allowable in deed and thought if you love the person concerned. This, as has been said, is not the "new morality" but the old immorality come back as the "new morality." What of those professing to follow Jesus who advocate the legitimacy of sexual intercourse outside marriage? They must give up Jesus or give up their advocacy of immorality. And if they advocate sexual intercourse outside marriage, they will be forgotten. They will be buried and forgotten along with a sex-prone age. Their "light turned to darkness."
  • "But we want our freedom." Freedom? Freedom to tie yourself in knots, to become a problem to yourself and others. Jesus was the freest man that ever walked through human history. He is my freedom—the symbol and embodiment of freedom. When I follow him, I'm free. I repeat: I walk the earth a conqueror, afraid of nothing; the sum total of reality is behind me; I have cosmic backing.

It's not too late to send in your words of thanksgiving. Remember, there's no right or wrong way of expressing your gratitude to God for all He's done in your life.

The Miracles of Elisha.pdf

12/13/19

Good morning, Followers of our Living Lord.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/lFBZJGSgyVQ


Memory Verse for the Week: And they sang a new song saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation." Revelation 5:9


   Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman gave a lecture on Joel 2:18-3:21 called "The Return of God's Favor." To recap where we've been, Chapter 1 was about the great locust plague and devastation of the land. Chapter 2 was the warning of the great day of the LORD and the call to repentance (see Joel 2:12).

   Verses 18-27 is the heart of the book. This is God being faithful to His covenant and His covenant people. Though they broke the covenant, God remains faithful to His word (see Leviticus 26:40-45).

Verse 18Then the LORD will pity his people and jealously guard the honor of his land. God is jealous for His land and His people. God is not pleased with its devastation and wants to see it flowing with blessing again. God is not pleased with His people in exile and wants to see them as objects of blessing again. God's character is faithfulness.

Verse 19The LORD will reply, "Look! I am sending you grain and new wine and olive oil, enough to satisfy your needs. You will no longer be an object of mockery among the surrounding nations. The restoration of the olive oil and new wine—these are a sign of God's blessing. God will be for them, not against them.

Verse 20I will drive away these armies from the north. I will send them into the parched wastelands. Those in the front will be driven into the Dead Sea, and those at the rear into the Mediterranean. The stench of their rotting bodies will rise over the land." Surely the LORD has done great things! The locusts will be driven from the land. This is likely a prophecy about Assyria and the end times.

Verses 21-24Don't be afraid, O land. Be glad now and rejoice, for the LORD has done great things. Don't be afraid, you animals of the field, for the wilderness pastures will soon be green. The trees will again be filled with fruit; fig trees and grapevines will be loaded down once more. Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the LORD your God! For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring. The threshing floors will again be piled high with grain, and the presses will overflow with new wine and olive oil. God's restoration of provision: rains in their proper season, crops that flourish and mature, oil and wine to be used for making sacrifices to God once again.

Verses 25-27The LORD says, "I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts. It was I who sent this great destroying army against you. Once again you will have all the food you want, and you will praise the LORD your God, who does these miracles for you. Never again will my people be disgraced. Then you will know that I am among my people Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and there is no other. Never again will my people be disgraced. God's promise is to restore the wasted time (years)—to make up for the times of curse due to sin. It is often the case that our later years are more profitable and abundant in fruitfulness to God. It is repentance that moves God to restore us to Himself and to bring spiritual fruitfulness and abundance to our life. Restored to being God's people, God's possession, God's chosen instruments. This is the special covenant agreement we have with God.

Verses 28-32Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike. And I will cause wonders in the heavens and on the earth—blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and terrible day of the LORD arrives. But everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved, for some on Mount Zion in Jerusalem will escape, just as the LORD has said. These will be among the survivors whom the LORD has called. 

   Quoted by Peter (see Acts 2:1-21). Pentecost is the fulfillment. There's also an apocalyptic sense of the day of the LORD (see Revelation 19:11-21). There is a filling of the Holy Spirit. See Numbers 11:29; Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2. The fullness of the Holy Spirit results in the promotion of the Gospel (see Acts 1:8). All believers are filled with the Holy Spirit. Being filled is for the promotion of the gospel.


Chapter 3

   The first 21 verses are a prophecy of both near and far. We begin to see more apocalyptic language—the day of the LORD, the great battle, gathering of the nations, the valley of decision.

Verse 1—"At the time of those events," says the LORD, "when I restore the prosperity of Judah and Jerusalem . . . Here is another promise of restoration for Israel.

Verses 2-8I will gather the armies of the world into the valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will judge them for harming my people, my special possession, for scattering my people among the nations, and for dividing up my land. They threw dice to decide which of my people would be their slaves. They traded boys to obtain prostitutes and sold girls for enough wine to get drunk. 

   "What do you have against me, Tyre and Sidon and you cities of Philistia? Are you trying to take revenge on me? If you are, then watch out! I will strike swiftly and pay you back for everything you have done. You have taken my silver and gold and all my precious treasures, and have carried them off to your pagan temples. You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, so they could come take them far from their homeland.

   "But I will bring them back from all the places to which you sold them, and I will pay you back for everything you have done. I will sell your sons and daughters to the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the people of Arabia, a nation far away. I, the LORD, have spoken!"

   There is punishment upon the nations who mistreated Israel. Though God used these nations, they were cruel and harsh in their treatment of Israel. They became proud and did not recognize God at work in them.

Verses 9-16aSay to the nations far and wide: "Get ready for war! Call out your best warriors. Let all your fighting men advance for the attack. Hammer your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Train even your weaklings to be warriors. Come quickly, all you nations everywhere. Gather together in the valley."      And now, O LORD, call out your warriors!

   "Let the nations be called to arms. Let them march to the valley of Jehoshaphat. There I, the LORD, will sit to pronounce judgment on them all. Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread the grapes, for the winepress is full. The storage vats are overflowing with the wickedness of these people."

   Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. There the day of the LORD will soon arrive. The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will no longer shine. The LORD'S voice will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth will shake.

   The nations are called to war by God. God is calling them out. Plowshares into swords is opposite of Isaiah 2:1-5 and Micah 4:1-5.

   The Valley of Jehoshaphat is where the LORD judges. This is also referred to as the valley of decision. Swing the sickle (see Revelation 14:14-20). In the valley of decision, repent while He may be found. Now is the time for repentance.

   The sun and moon are darkened (see Matthew 24:29; Joel 3:15). Roar like a lion (see Amos 1:2). The LORD will protect and guard His people. They will know that God is God. They will walk with God and know Him personally in a relationship. The land will be flowing with milk and honey once again. Note the fountain flowing from the house of the LORD. See Ezekiel 47:1-12; Zechariah 14:8.


Conclusion/Summary

   God will bring punishment upon all who are against Him. God will once again bless those who return and repent before Him. God desires that we repent and be saved. His very presence will be with us and in us—His shekinah glory.


It's not too late to send in your words of thanksgiving. Remember, there's no right or wrong way of expressing your gratitude to God for all He's done in your life.

Elisha Begins his Ministry.pdf

12/12/19

Good morning, Followers of The Way.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/jGg7KdN19rs


Memory Verse for the Week: And they sang a new song saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation." Revelation 5:9


   Today, I'd like to share more of the wisdom of E. Stanley Jones from his book A Song of Ascents: A Spiritual Autobiography written when he was 83 years of age.

·     The modern man is trying to be free through the broad road of self-expression, regardless of morality. It is ending exactly as Jesus said: in "destruction." The modern man is in harmony with chaos, a problem to himself and others. He is problem-centered, and he is a problem.

·     The deepest conviction of my life is this: Self-surrender is the way to self-expression. You realize yourself only as you renounce yourself. You find God when you renounce yourself as God. The self is trying to play God, trying to organize life around itself as God, and it simply doesn't work. The universe doesn't back it. None of your sums add up, except to nonsense. You have to lose your life to find it. You have to lose your life in a higher will and work out that will, and then you find your life again.

·     The center of Christian discipline is this: "The love of Christ constrains me," or "narrows me." The difference between a swamp and a river is that a river has banks, and a swamp has none--it spreads over everything. Civilizations have organized themselves around rivers, not swamps. Some people are rivers; they know where they want to go, and they confine themselves to the banks that lead to that goal. But some people are swamps; they spread over everything; their minds are so open they cannot hold a conviction; they are everything and nothing. They are not only Mr. Facing-Both-Ways, but they are Mr. Facing-Many-Ways; and they wring their own necks in the process. Paul could say, "This one thing I do." They can say, "These forty things I dabble in." Paul left a mark; they leave a blur.

·     So I decided since I belonged to Christ, I would let the love of Christ constrain me. I would do everything for the love of Christ, if the love of Christ would constrain me, narrow me. A Hindu said one day in a public meeting: "Stanley Jones is so broad and liberal." I replied: "My brother, I am perhaps the narrowest man you have ever seen. I am a man of one book, one Person, one message, and one intention--to give that message." In marginal things I can afford to be liberal; in central things I'm narrow. A man happily married can afford to treat all women with respect, since he treats one woman with devotion.

·     I had a friend who in our Indian Ashram at Sat Tal never took his Bible with him to group prayers. He would meditate--he drew waters out of his own well. His life well ran dry; he is empty of everything, except words. I decided I would drink of the waters Jesus gave, not those I possessed. If we are to be spiritual, we have to be scriptural. Neglect the Scriptures and you neglect to grow, to be alive.

·     The next habit I fixed was a habit of prayer. I spend about an hour and a half a day in prayer, usually asking for nothing, but himself. An hour of that hour and a half I spend, usually from five to six in the evening, pacing up and down outside where possible, inside when necessary. I pace and pray. I get exercise for my total being. 

·     I know that prayer is my lifeline--I'm better or worse as I pray more or less. If I pray, I'm like a bulb put into a socket--full of light and power; if I don't pray, then I'm like that same bulb pulled out of the socket--no light, no power. It is as simple as that. Prayer is not trying to bend God's will to my will; it is aligning my will to his will. I find myself praying less and less for things and praying more and more for him; for when I have him, I have everything.

·     Why are they cynical? They have lost the Divine Yes and have succumbed to the human No. "Whatever gets your attention gets you"--if No gets your attention, it will get you. You'll be a No, a negation. A prominent pastor preached ten sermons on "How to Avoid a Nervous Breakdown" and ended up with one. A nervous breakdown got his attention for ten weeks, and it got him. If he had preached on the Divine Yes, had fixed the eyes of himself and his audience on Christ's power and grace, and then incidentally had shown that with your eyes on Jesus and his power and grace, nervous breakdowns don't arise--he would not have had one.

·     The center of all emotional, mental, and spiritual conflicts is self-centeredness.

·     I do not believe that physical healing should be made central in the Christian movement. If you do that, that makes you the center. God heals you, keeps you in repair, he serves you. But anything that leaves you at the center is off-center. God is the center and we serve him. So reconciliation to God is our first and chief emphasis.


It's not too late to send in your words of thanksgiving. Remember, there's no right or wrong way of expressing your gratitude to God for all He's done in your life.

Seeking the Wrong God.pdf

12/11/19

Good morning, Son Worshipers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/DjPrIVKlvsM


Memory Verse for the Week: And they sang a new song saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation." Revelation 5:9


   Today, I'd like to share more of the wisdom of E. Stanley Jones from his book A Song of Ascents: A Spiritual Autobiography written when he was 83 years of age.

  • Dr. George Washington Carver was the son of slaves. He contributed an estimated seventy million dollars to the agriculture of the South by his discoveries of the possibilities in the peanut and the sweet potato—150 commercial products out of the lowly sweet potato and 300 commercial products out of the peanut. I asked him how he ever got started, and he said: "I put a peanut in my hand and I said, 'Mr. Creator, what's in that peanut?' And the Creator answered, 'You've got brains; go and find out.' " That was a wonderful answer for the Creator to give—he would create creators who would create!
  • I thought my book Mahatma Gandhi, an Interpretation was a failure. It did not seem to dent the Western world with its emphasis on armaments. But when I saw Dr. Martin Luther King, he said: "It was your book on Gandhi that gave me my first inkling of non-violent noncooperation. Here, I said to myself, is he way for the Negro to achieve his freedom. We will turn this whole movement from violence to nonviolence. We will match our capacity to suffer against the other's capacity to inflict the suffering, our soul force against his physical force; and we will wear our opponents down with goodwill." 
  • Come in as you are; sound your note as God has given it to you. For out of the very diversity will come a larger harmony. A Lutheran bishop from Scandinavia speaking in America said: "I have tried to play skillfully and well the instrument of Lutheranism, for I love its notes. But I would like to play my instrument of Lutheranism in harmony with other and different instruments so that out of their very differences might come a symphony of God." "A Symphony of God"—that's it! But you cannot have a symphony out of one instrument—all violins or all bass drums. It takes many different instruments to make a symphony. But there is one standard note—Jesus Christ. Out of tune with him, and you're out of tune with the rest.
  • The center of our harmony and of our unity is Jesus Christ. If we organize Christian unity predominantly around bishops, or baptism, or whatnot, it will be divisive. If I ask, "What do you believe?" we will go apart, no two believing exactly alike. If I ask, "Whom do you trust?" we will come together, one name upon our lips, one loyalty in our hearts. "In him all things cohere," including church union. Outside him—in this doctrine, that practice—all things fly apart and become incoherent and divisive. Nor can we identify Jesus with our denomination. A little girl said: "Mother, I hear them talking about John the Baptist; why don't they talk about Jesus the Presbyterian?"
  • As I look back over the years to see the denominational source of the ideas and persons who have contributed most to my spiritual development, I find I am indebted to almost all of them. Apparently, no denomination has a corner on the saints; they are about equally distributed among them. Apparently, God takes little or no cognizance of the denominational affiliation in the distribution of his grace and gifts. He gives his grace and gifts to those surrendered to and obedient to Jesus Christ without regard to labels. 
  • Some people are sensitized only to themselves. They live in a state of self-reference. "How will that affect me?" is their first reaction. In a railway wreck, when they were pulling out the dead and dying, a woman sat on her suitcase, swaying back and forth in agony, and saying, "Oh, my ten-dollar pair of shoes. I'll make the railway pay for them." She didn't know it, but she revealed she was low down in the scale of existence—her mind was on her shoes. Then there are those who are sensitized to their family; they live in a state of family reference. Anything that touches their family is important, but what touches another family is not important. A little higher in the scale of existence but not much. Some are sensitized to their class; they live in a state of class reference. In the period of the British occupation in India, I ran into a shop in Naini Tal during the monsoon rains and happened to overhear two Englishwomen talking. One said, "Look at that poor sergeant out there; he is getting soaked." The other lifted herself up in high disdain and said, "But he is only a sergeant." She didn't know it, but she revealed to me how high she had risen in the scale of existence. Had the sergeant been a commissioned officer, he would have got terribly wet; but, being a noncommissioned officer, he couldn't get wet. She was sensitive to class wetness, not to human wetness. She revealed her level of development. Then there are those who are sensitized to their race. They feel race pain, not human pain. Bishop Warne, a saintly bishop of India, described his being in a leper asylum in India. Amid the brown lepers there was a little white boy, in a loincloth and bare feet. The bishop called him and said: "My lad, what are you doing here?" And the boy hesitatingly lifted up his foot and showed the dreaded spot of leprosy. The tears rolled down the face of the bishop, and my eyes grew moist too. But since then I've been ashamed of those tears. Why should my eyes grow moist over a white leper boy instead of a leper boy? Was I more sensitized to my color than to my Christ?
  • Then there are those who are sensitized to a person as a person—apart from race and birth and color and class. In the highest realm of human living there are those who are sensitized even to their enemies. Now, to be christianized is to be sensitized: Christians are people who care. No one, anywhere, can come into authentic contact with Jesus Christ in personal surrender and obedience without beginning to care. It was the first reaction I felt when I arose from my knees in the hour of conversion. I felt as though I wanted to put my arms around the world and share this with everybody.
  • This same impulse to care comes out in every race and class when they get in touch with Jesus Christ. I was holding evangelistic meetings among the outcaste Christians of Central India. They were poor, living in mud huts with thatched roofs. They heard that there was a flood in the Ohio Valley and people were homeless. They took up a collection of 150 rupees and sent it across the seas to the homeless. People in mud huts couldn't bear the idea of homeless people. Why? They were Christians—and Christians are people who care.
  • I stood beside the graves of three people in Foochow, China. It was a most sacred hour for me. For behind those graves were stories of people who cared. Two of the graves contained martyrs for Christ, missionaries, husband and wife, who were killed in the Vegetarian Riots. The four sons escaped. They met together in their homeland in America and decided what their "revenge" would be; they would all go through college and then go back to China to serve the people who had murdered their father and mother. They were true to that "revenge"; all four came back to China and spent their lives in loving service to the people who had deprived them of their parents. Why? They had to, for Christians are people who care—care for everybody, even enemies. The third grave was that of a mother from Australia whose daughter had also been killed in the Vegetarian Riots. When the mother heard that her daughter had been killed, she said: "Well, I have no more children to give. I will go myself." So at sixty-two she sold everything and went to China, learned the language, took up the work of her daughter, had charge of a school for twenty years, and died at eighty-two. Why did the four sons and the mother of the girl give themselves in loving service to the people who had wronged them? They had to, not by compulsion but by impulsion, for they were Christians; and Christians are people who care.
  • Jesus put it in these words: "He that would be great among you shall be the servant of all." The great are not those who have the greatest number of servants, but those who serve the greatest number. The catch is in that word "all." Many are willing to be servants of some—my family, my class, my race, my party, but that doesn't make you great except a great snob. It is only as you serve "all" that you serve him.
  • So my development in Ascents is a development in caring—in extent and in depth. As I develop in caring, I develop in singing. I sing as I care. As I care, I see—see infinite worth in those for whom I care. I have something to sing about, in people. As I begin to care, I begin to share, and as I begin to share, I begin to love. So I'm back at that Christian word "love." So the greatest development in life is a development in caring, in sharing, in loving.

It's not too late to send in your words of thanksgiving. Remember, there's no right or wrong way of expressing your gratitude to God for all He's done in your life.


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What verse in Revelation does Dr. Moody encourage you to memorize? https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/revelation-4-he-is-worthy/

12/10/19

Good morning, Jesus Followers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/HR7ZdtWQAfE


Memory Verse for the Week: And they sang a new song saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation." Revelation 5:9


   Today, I'd like to share more of the wisdom of E. Stanley Jones from his book A Song of Ascents: A Spiritual Autobiography written when he was 83 years of age.

  • I choose the Christian way: I must work as if the whole thing depends on me and trust as if the whole thing depends on God.
  • As I arose [to speak at a public meeting], I said to myself: "Stanley Jones, are you bringing good views, or good news? And my reply: "If it is Jesus Christ, it is good news." So I joyfully bring my good news to everybody, everywhere.
  • We worked out a method of coming to corporate decisions: In deciding matters, instead of placing the matter before the group, discussing it, and then taking a majority vote—the usual procedure—we tried to come to group conclusions; the other method always left a minority who felt disgruntled because their viewpoint had no place in the decision. So the insistence was that we would come to a common mind, if possible. We would begin by silent prayer, after the matter to be decided had been presented, asking what was the mind of God on the matter. Then, instead of throwing it open for discussion—which would mean that the most vocal would express their views and soon we would be discussing their views instead of trying to come to a common mind—instead of that, we would go round the circle and ask each person to tell what he thought should be done, beginning at the least vocal. Note: "what he thought should be done" instead of arguing what should be done; he would simply state his judgment instead of arguing it.
  • If I were to pick out two phrases necessary for spiritual growth, I would pick out these: "I don't know" and "I am sorry."
  • The Christian is not in the business of winning arguments, but of winning people. So I tore up the reply and said, "Lord, you'll have to take care of my reputation." A few weeks later I received a letter from the man saying: "This is New Year's Day, and I'd like to clean up my life. I'm sorry for what I said about you in the paper. Please forgive me." Now, I am sure my letter would never have produced that result. Two stiff letters never made a love affair But I could never have seen that except through the eyes of a disciplined group.
  • The Kingdom is color-blind and class-blind; it sees a person as a person for whom Christ died. So we will not go where all races and all classes cannot come together on the basis of complete equality. Then, we get down the barriers that titles bring. Those who have titles are high caste, and those who don't are low caste. So we leave all titles at the door. There are no more bishops, professors, doctors, judges—there is simply "Brother Stanley" or "Sister Premi."
  • Then we get down the barriers between those who work with their hands and those who do not. Those who do not work with their hands are supposedly high caste, and those who do are supposedly low caste. So we get down that barrier by having a Work Period each day, when everybody works with his or her hands.
  • We begin with ourselves for that is the only place we can begin, the only place we can change—now. We begin with ourselves and then work out to the problems of society.
  • After lunch we have the Family Meeting in which we meet as an Ashram Family and ask the group to bring up any constructive suggestions for change—what can we do better? We remind them that if they do not bring up criticisms at the Family Meeting, they should not bring them up anywhere else, so that there will be no secret criticism.
  • We are not absolutists in regard to healing. By absolutist I mean those who take the position that all diseases must be cured in this life or else there is sin or lack of faith. This leaves a lot of wreckage behind among people who are not healed by prayer or medicine or surgery. We explain that this is a mortal world and we are not supposed to be immortal in a mortal world: the body breaks down sometime, so that death is a part of life. Some diseases must await the final cure in the resurrection when we get our immortal bodies. So God will heal us now or give us power to use the infirmity—not bear it but use it—until the final cure when we get the immortal body.
  • How does God heal? In many ways. First, through the physician or the surgeon. They do not heal; they simply clear away obstructions to allow nature or God to heal. "All the healing forces are laid up in the body ready to go into operation when needed," says Dr. Walter Bradford Cannon, the great physiologist. So that healing through the physician or the surgeon is divine healing. "I attended him, but God healed him," said one doctor. "I can cut, but I can't heal," said one surgeon. Second, God heals through mental suggestion—you can create a climate of disease or health around you by your thinking. A prominent pastor always had his fingers on his pulse to see whether there wasn't something the matter with him; and there usually was. I said to him: "I'm going over to the Pyramids today." He looked at me and said, "Will your heart and your arteries stand it?" To which I replied: "I haven't asked them, and I don't intend to." I knew what they would say: "Go on. We've been with you a long time, and we will see you through to the end of God's will for you here." Third, he heals through surrendering of fears, resentments, self-preoccupation, guilt which produce disease. Fourth, he heals by the direct touch of the Spirit of God upon our bodies. Fifth, he heals through the final cure in the resurrection when we get our immortal bodies. Death is but an anesthetic which God gives in changing bodies. In the meantime he gives us power to use bodily infirmity.
  • Not who you are, but whose you are, is the central question in any person's life.
  • To try to cultivate the spiritual life around an unsurrendered self is like trying to keep healthy around a malignant cancer.
  • A Hindu said to me one day: "I've read the Acts of the Apostles. The apostles had a strange power in their lives. Have you this power in your life—the power of the Holy Spirit? I had to be able to say, "Yes, but through no goodness of my own. The Holy Spirit is a gift of grace. I emptied my hands and took that gift."
  • Bring everything to Jesus—don't struggle with your problems, don't push them into the subconscious mind, don't go from person to person for solution, but "bring everything," especially your self and its problems, "to Jesus." He has the solution, for he is the solution.

It's not too late to send in your words of thanksgiving. Remember, there's no right or wrong way of expressing your gratitude to God for all He's done in your life.


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Is Christianity an institution or a movement? Do you agree with this statement: "The glory of God and the power of God is available to a community (people in church) in a way that is not available individually"? Hear what Timothy Keller has to say about it: 

https://www.youtube.com/pyrND8PKtOo

Week 47, p.1.pdf

Week 47, p.2.pdf

Week 47, p.3.pdf

Week 47, p.4.pdf

Week 47, p.5.pdf

12/9/19

Good morning, Forgiven and Forgivers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/u_ZWEO36jok


Memory Verse for the Week: "In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name." Matthew 6:9


   Yesterday, Pastor Michael gave the message "Feelings, Forgiveness, and Me" centered around Hebrews 12:1: 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.

   In 1845, the Franklin Expedition left England to find the NW Passage. The ships got stuck in ice. On board the ships was a 1200 volume library, fine China, crystal, Sterling Silver Silverware, but only 12 days of extra coal. It was decided that the crew should break up into teams and go different directions. Two officers loaded up a sled and made it 65 miles. When their dead bodies were found, their sled was found too—loaded down with the Sterling Silver Silverware.

   Do we carry around extra baggage—baggage we don't need? We can get bogged down with extra baggage such as unforgiveness. I John 1:8-10 says, 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.

   God's forgiveness requires our repentance and willingness to forgive others. How do we forgive? There are two aspects: forgiving others and forgiving ourselves.

   When we forgive others, we have to:

  1. Acknowledge the hurt and pain—we have to admit to our hurt and pain.
  2. Identify the hurt and pain—we have to be able to name our hurt and pain. We have to be specific.
  3. Evaluate the hurt and pain—give it the proper value. On a scale of one to ten, where does this hurt rank? We tend to make mountains out of molehills. To help evaluate, ask these questions:
  • How badly am I hurt?
  • What difference does this make in my life?
  • Was it just because I didn't get my way?
  • Am I truly wounded or do I just want to be wounded? Do I just want to play the part of a victim?
  • Am I more inconvenienced than hurt?
  • Am I really at the center of the universe and the ultimate authority on all things?
  • Example 1: Temper Tantrums—the behavior doesn't fit what's happening. In adults it's passive aggressive behavior that might include gossip, lawsuits, improper judging of others, often the words "you offended me."
  • Example 2: Sports—recreational sports should be played with the idea of having fun and being able to go to work the next day. However, there's always someone who takes it too seriously. We have to give sports its proper value.

There are three options to hurt and pain:


1. Revenge—not an action of a disciple of Christ. Romans 12:17-21 says: Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, "I will take revenge; I will pay them back," says the LORD. Instead, "If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads." Don't let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

  • Revenge is the way of the world. It is a desire to hurt back. It's an attitude that says, "They will pay for this" or "I don't get mad, I get even."
  • Romans 12:17-21 tells us:
  • Do not repay evil with evil
  • Bless, and do not curse
  • Do what is right
  • Live at peace with everyone (as much as it is your responsibility)
  • Do not take revenge
  • Leave them in God's hands to discipline
  • Reflect the character of Jesus to your enemies
  • Overcome evil with good

2. Forget it and stuff it away.

  • It seems easier to not deal with it and wall it off in our hearts and minds, but it always comes out and rises to the surface. This is not a healthy, Christ-centered option.

3. Forgive it and heal from it. 

  • Forgiveness is NOT tolerating the wrong.
  • Forgiveness is NOT forgetting the wrong and pain.
  • Forgiveness is NOT excusing the person from blame.
  • Forgiveness is NOT justifying the wrong done to us. We don't say, "I understand why you did that."
  • Forgiveness IS FOR the person forgiving. It is for our own heart and health. It takes time. It's a process. It's a journey with God.
  • Forgiveness IS FOR allowing God's healing to enter into our woundedness and pain.

Lewis Smedes said, "The person who hurt us should not be the person who decides whether or when we should recover from the pain he/she brought us." (The Art of Forgiveness)


When we forgive ourselves:

  1. We recognize that we are torn apart by our own guilt and shame—we require forgiveness
  2. We can only forgive what we did, not who we are. Do not confuse or equate actions with self-worth. We don't say things like, "I am so stupid" or "I am such an idiot."
  3. We accept that God finds us of ultimate worth; He died for us!
  4. We know the difference between:
  • self judgment—we receive God's forgiving grace
  • self rejection—we receive God's accepting grace

When filling out a "Forgiveness Card," be specific, repeat filling it out as many times as is necessary, and celebrate. 


It's not too late to send in your words of thanksgiving. Remember, there's no right or wrong way of expressing your gratitude to God for all He's done in your life.

12/7/19

Good morning, Mountain Movers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/Po8qDVlvFgo


Memory Verse for the Week: "In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name." Matthew 6:9


  Today, I'd like to share more of the wisdom of E. Stanley Jones from his book A Song of Ascents: A Spiritual Autobiography written when he was 83 years of age.

  • I, who have my roots in Methodism, seem now to be preaching predestination, a Presbyterian doctrine! But I do. An African chief said before an audience: "I am doomed to be a saint." I think he meant "destined"; everyone, everywhere by his makeup is destined to belong to Christ, for he is made by Christ and for Christ. Christ is his home. All coming to Christ has the feeling of a homecoming upon it. All going away from Christ has the feeling of estrangement, of orphanage, of going away from home upon it. 
  • But while she got results by aligning herself to Christ, the country club group she was associated with, who did not align themselves to anything beyond themselves, got consequences. Ten of the couples were divorced, two persons committed suicide, three became alcoholics, two went to mental institutions; only two marriages held together, one her own, the other shaky. That was the affluent but moral "mess" out of which she came. She was a part of that mess; now she is a message—the only real survivor out of that rich, respectable society of moral decay. People don't break God's laws written into the nature of reality; they break themselves on them. The surgeon was right: "The right thing morally, the Christian thing, is always the healthy thing physically." And conversely, the wrong thing morally, the unchristian thing, is the unhealthy thing physically, economically, politically.
  • Dr. MacLaughlin of the Woman's College, Philadelphia, says: "From 60 to 85 percent of all diseases of the body are rooted in the mental and spiritual; 99 percent of all headaches; 75 percent of gastric troubles; 75 percent of asthma and skin diseases." A heart specialist told me that 85 percent of all heart ailments are not structural, but mental and spiritual. Five million people in America have all the symptoms of heart disease but have perfectly good hearts structurally; they are upsetting their hearts with their wrong mental and spiritual attitudes. This is the point: Every mental and moral and spiritual attitude that upsets the health and rhythm of the body is unchristian. Not one single authentic Christian attitude interferes with or upsets the body.
  • In the book of Revelation are these words: "It was in my mouth sweet as honey; and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter" (Rev. 10:10). Is that the total picture of sin? In the mouth it is sweet as honey, in the beginning sin tastes good, seems good; but when life tries to assimilate it, it can't—it turns bitter. For life does not and cannot assimilate or digest sin; sin and the body are not made for each other—they are allergic to each other.
  • Many take the Muslim answer when calamity strikes: "It is the will of God." Or the Old Testament answer: "The righteous ought to be exempt." And they are filled with dismay when they are not. A professor walked across the streets of Chicago and was knocked down by a truck, his leg broken. After many weeks in the hospital he came back to the university chapel service and said: "I no longer believe in a personal God. If there had been a personal God, he would have whispered to me when he saw me in that danger; but he didn't whisper to me, so when my leg was broken my faith was broken too." He felt if you were only righteous, trucks would not knock you down. Suppose the righteous would be exempt; then what kind of world would we soon have? A very chaotic one! If a righteous man leaned too far over a parapet of a tall building, the law of gravitation would be suspended; but if a bad man leaned over too far, the law of gravitation would be in operation. You wouldn't know whether the law of gravitation would be under suspension or in operation, for you wouldn't know the character of the person concerned. Now when I lean over the parapet of a tall building, I know that the law of gravitation won't ask whether I'm good, bad, or indifferent. It will pull me down. Again, suppose the righteous would be exempt from being knocked down by trucks. What would happen to the character of the righteous? They would become the champion jaywalkers of the world. They would roam around amid the traffic meditating—and vegetating. That exemption would be their elimination. That quickness of decision which comes from a world of chance and circumstances would be taken away. Now when I cross the street, I know that if I don't belong to the quick, I will soon belong to the dead. It sharpens my wits. It's a hard school, but I know the rules, and the purpose of those rules is to produce character. How could a faith which has a cross at its heart promise exemption, when the noblest and purest heart that ever beat was not exempt from unmerited suffering? Five classes stood around the cross and said, "Now let God take him down, and then we will believe on him." But God didn't take him down. He dropped his head on his pulseless bosom and died. Then where is the answer? I believe it's right there in that cross. Jesus took the worst thing that could happen to him, namely, the cross, and turned it into the best thing that could happen to humanity, namely, its redemption. He didn't bear the cross, he used it. The cross was sin, and he turned it into the healing of sin; the cross was hate, and he turned it into a revelation of loved, the cross was man at his worst, and Jesus turned it into God at his redemptive best.
  • Don't bear trouble, use it. Take whatever happens—justice and injustice, pleasure and pain, compliment and criticism—take it up into the purpose of your life and make something out of it. Turn it into a testimony. Don't explain evil; exploit evil; make it serve you. Just as the lotus flower reaches down and takes up the mud and mire into the purposes of its life and produces the lotus flower out of them, so you are to take whatever happens and make something out of it.
  • When German missionaries in India lost their only daughter through leprosy, did they cry out in anguish, "My God, why?" No, out of that bereavement they produced an achievement —they set up what has become the greatest leper home in India. Not what happens to you, but what you do with it after it does happen determines the result.
  • If you find anything good in me, put that down to Jesus Christ; if you find any bad in me, put that down to me.

It's not too late to send in your words of thanksgiving. Remember, there's no right or wrong way of expressing your gratitude to God for all He's done in your life.

A Lying Spirit from the Lord.pdf

12/6/19

Good morning, Followers of Christ.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/xDZZ0-F5EKk


Memory Verse for the Week: "In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name." Matthew 6:9


   Dr. Michael Wedman started a lecture of Joel with "Pests and Promises" from Joel 1-2:17. Joel means "Jehovah is God." Joel lived and prophesied in the southern Kingdom; Hosea did the same in the northern Kingdom. (See 2:32; 3:1, 17-18, 20)

   The temple was built on Mt. Zion. The book is difficult to date, but scholars place it between 800 and 400 B.C. It was written during the great plague of locusts.


Chapter 1

Verse 1The LORD gave this message to Joel son of Pethuel. 

  This is the Word of the LORD.

Verses 2-3Hear this, you leaders of the people. Listen all who live in the land. In all your history, has anything like this happened before? Tell your children about it in the years to come, and let your children tell their children. Pass the story down from generation to generation.

   The elders are addressed—the aged or elderly. Nothing like this has ever happened in their lifetime. They need to pay attention and be sure to pass it on to their family members. (See Exodus 10:1-7). What we hold tightly spiritually, will be held loosely by our children, and not at all by our grandchildren, if we aren't diligent in passing on to them the truths of Scripture.

   Why is the plague of locusts important to pay attention to and pass on? God is at work; God is doing something to get our attention. We need to learn what it is that God is saying and what we are supposed to do in response. We need to learn the spiritual truth and teach others. It was C.S. Lewis who said, "Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world."

Verses 4-20After the cutting locusts finished eating the crops, the swarming locusts took what was left! After them came the hopping locusts, and then the stripping locusts, too! Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you wine-drinkers! All the grapes are ruined, and all your sweet wine is gone. A vast army of locusts has invaded my land, a terrible army too numerous to count. Its teeth are like lions' teeth, its fangs like those of a lioness. It has destroyed my grapevines and ruined my fig trees, stripping their bark and destroying it, leaving the branches white and bare.

   Weep like a bride dressed in black, mourning the death of her husband. For there is no grain or wine to offer at the Temple of the LORD. So the priests are in mourning. The ministers of the LORD are weeping. The fields are ruined, the land is stripped bare. The grain is destroyed, the grapes have shriveled, and the olive oil is gone.

   Despair, all you farmers! Wail, all you vine growers! Weep, because the wheat and barley—all the crops of the field—are ruined. The grapevines have dried up, and the fig trees have withered. The pomegranate trees, palm trees, and apple trees—all the fruit trees—have dried up. And the people's joy has dried up with them.

   Dress yourselves in burlap and weep, you priests! Wail, you who serve before the altar! Come, spend the night in burlap, you ministers of my God. For there is no grain or wine to offer at the Temple of your God. Announce a time of fasting; call the people together for a solemn meeting. Bring the leaders and all the people of the land into the Temple of of the LORD your God, and cry out to him there. The day of the LORD is near, the day when destruction comes from the Almighty. How terrible that day will be!

   Our food disappears before our very eyes. No joyful celebrations are held in the house of our God. The seeds die in the parched ground, and the grain crops fail. The barns stand empty, and granaries are abandoned. How the animals moan with hunger! The herds of cattle wander about confused, because they have no pasture. The flocks of sheep and goats bleat in misery.

   LORD, help us! The fire has consumed the wilderness pastures, and flames have burned up all the trees. Even the wild animals cry out to you because the streams have dried up, and fire has consumed the wilderness pastures.

   The great hordes of locusts—these are real locusts—not symbolic or allegorical. National Geographic covered the locust invasion of 1915 that hit Jerusalem and the surrounding area. The locusts flew in darkening the sun. They laid eggs. The eggs hatched producing locusts that crawled along the ground. They molted once, and then molted again and flew off. There were 60,000 locusts in one square meter of land! They moved 400-600 feet per day. They could not be stopped from eating the vegetation. When they were done, it looked like a fire had gone through the land. There was nothing left but devastation. 

   God's favor has been removed from Israel—just as He promised in the covenant. God is enacting His covenant promise because of Israel's unfaithfulness. (See Deuteronomy 28:38) If you only give God lip service, He will get your attention with pain and suffering.

   There are four groups mentioned here:

  • The elders—they need to remember the covenant and listen to God once again. They need to remind and call the young to faithfulness to God.
  • The immoral—they have ignored a relationship with God and now need to sober up before Him. They need to wake up from their stupor of sin.
  • The farmer—the land is God's and all it produces. They are helpless to do anything without God. They need to be desperate for God.
  • The priests—they need to recognize God's hand in this. God is faithful which is why this is happening. He has not forgotten His covenant and He sees the unfaithfulness of Israel. They need to repent and return to God.

   We tend to think of God's faithfulness when good things happen, but He is just as faithful when bad things happen to get our attention back on Him.

   Joel uses the locusts as a sign that the Day of the Lord is coming. This is apocalyptic language—verse 15, 2:1, 11, 31.


Chapter 2

Verses 1-11Sound the trumpet in Jerusalem! Raise the alarm on my holy mountain! Let everyone tremble in fear because the day of the LORD is upon us. It is a day of darkness and gloom, a day of thick clouds and deep blackness. Suddenly, like dawn spreading across the mountains, a great and mighty army appears. Nothing like it has been seen before or will ever be seen again.

   Fire burns in front of them, and flames follow after them. Ahead of them the land lies as beautiful as the Garden of Eden. Behind them is nothing but desolation; not one thing escapes. They look like horses; they charge forward like warhorses. Look at them as they leap along the mountaintops. Listen to the noise they make—like the rumbling of chariots, like the roar of fire sweeping across a field of stubble, or like a mighty army moving into battle.

   Fear grips all the people, every face grows pale with terror. The attackers march like warriors and scale city walls like soldiers. Straight forward they march, never breaking rank. They never jostle each other; each moves in exactly the right position. They break through defenses without missing a step. They swarm over the city and run along its walls. They enter all the houses, climbing like thieves through the windows. The earth quakes as they advance, and the heavens tremble. The sun and moon grow dark, and the stars no longer shine.

   The LORD is at the head of the column. He leads them with a shout. This is his mighty army, and they follow his orders. The day of the LORD is an awesome, terrible thing. Who can possibly survive?

   The plague of locusts is an apocalyptic image. See Revelation 9:1-7. Compare Joel 2:4 with Revelation 9:4. Compare Joel 2:5 with Revelation 9:7.

Verses 12-17That is why the LORD says, "Turn to me now while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting; weeping; and mourning. Don't tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead." Return to the LORD your God for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish. Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of this curse. Perhaps you will be able to offer grain and wine to the LORD your God as before.

   Blow the ram's horn in Jerusalem! Announce a time of fasting; all the people together for a solemn meeting. Gather all the people—the elders, the children, and even the babies. Call the bridegroom from his quarters and the bride from her private room. Let the priests, who minister in the LORD'S presence, stand and weep between the entry room to the Temple and the altar. Let them pray, "Spare your people, LORD! Don't let your special possession become an object of mockery. Don't let them become a joke for unbelieving foreigners who say, 'Has the God of Israel left them?' "

   There's a call to repentance. Repentance is the purpose of prophetic writing and preaching. "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near." (see Matthew 3:2; 4:17) The purpose of all Scripture is a call to repentance. God is breaking into our world. Don't wait to repent. Make haste to God while you have a chance. Repentance is encouraged "even now." 

   The whole nation was called to repent—men, women, children. No one was to be absent—no excuses. See II Chronicles 15:9-15.


Conclusion:

   God often breaks into our world to show us His faithfulness to us. He is faithful in keeping His promise that He wants all people to come unto salvation. He gets our attention so we can get salvation.

   God is in our pain; He's faithful. Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 says, "Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies—so the living should take this to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time."

   Lean into your suffering and find God.


It's not too late to send in your words of thanksgiving. Remember, there's no right or wrong way of expressing your gratitude to God for all He's done in your life.

Naboth's Vineyard.pdf

12/5/19

Good morning, Light Shiners.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/3p8THfJihuc


Memory Verse for the Week: "In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name." Matthew 6:9


   Today, I'd like to share more of the wisdom of E. Stanley Jones from his book A Song of Ascents A Spiritual Autobiography written when he was 83 years of age.

  • Jesus is not merely the founder of our faith; he is the foundation.
  • If I were to pick out two verses that are to me the most important in Scripture, I would pick out these: "And the Word became flesh" (John 1:14) and "This Jesus" (Acts 4:12). The uniqueness lies in these two verses.
  • This Word become word and this Word become flesh—here is the profound and decisive difference between the Christian faith and all others. It separates them not in degree but in kind. All other faiths are philosophies or moralisms—man's search upward. The gospel is God's search downward. Religions are man's search for God; the gospel is God's search for man. There are many religions, but one gospel.
  • Philosophies and moralisms, however good they may be, are powerless to change character and life. They may influence character and life marginally, but cannot change them.
  • In any battle of ideas, the victory must go to those ideas which are guaranteed by the facts. All the ideas of the Christian faith are guaranteed by the fact of Christ. They have taken shoes and walked. We not only hear them—we see them.
  • I challenge anyone, anywhere, to expose his inner life to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith and obedience, and I will tell what will happen—tell with an almost mathematical precision. Such a person will be changed, profoundly changed, in character and life, and he will know it in every fiber of his being.
  • I am free, for I don't have to defend Jesus. I have to present him, and he is his own defense. You don't have to organize a society for the defense of the sun because someone throws mud at it. The sun shines—that is its defense. Jesus defends himself, for he appeals to the soul as light appeals to the eye, as love fits the heart.
  • Venugopal went into the government railways of India and went to the top, became a member of the railway board with the finances of all the railways in India in his hands. He became a witnessing Christian right at the heart of government. He called his clerks and higher officials together when he took over his office in New Delhi and said, "I'm a Christian, but I want you to help me to be a better one. If you see me depart from the high standards of Christianity, you come and tell me about it—it will help me." Some time later two Hindu clerks came to him and said, "Mr. Venugopal, you seem down and not in a very good humor today. What's the matter, didn't you have your quiet time this morning?" He thanked them! When the partition came between India and Pakistan, the railways were cut. Pakistan had records that India needed, and India had records that Pakistan needed. Venugopal was sent to Lahore in Pakistan to get records India needed and to give to Pakistan their records. "Give one record for one record," was the government instruction. It was dangerous for Venugopal to go to Pakistan with his Hindu name, for thousands of people had been killed on both sides of the rioting between Hindus and Muslims after the division. He got guidance from God and took all his records. In conference he said, "Here are your records—all of them, with no strings attached. If you want to give us our records, well and good, but here are yours." The Muslims, used to bargaining, were aghast, went into private conference, and said: "We can't let those Hindus be better than we are, so we will give more records than they gave." When it came to a financial settlement, they asked Mr. Venugopal how much Pakistan owed India. "Twenty-two lakhs of rupees," he replied. "It must be checked up," said a Moslem. "No," said the Pakistani chairman, "if Mr. Venugopal says it's twenty-two lakhs, it is twenty-two lakhs. Write him out a check." So he came back with more records than he took and with a check for twenty-two lakhs. "How did you do it?" asked the government. "Simple: the Sermon on the Mount, going the second mile, and loving your enemies," he replied. And yet I've come from a pastors' conference where one of the leaders said: "The Sermon on the Mount is not practical for today." It is practical if you practice it!
  • If I had combed India and the world, I couldn't have found a better man. [Venugopal] is one of the very few Christians who have stayed in Brahmin homes after being converted. His father, a devout Hindu, went to Burma with Venugopal, when he was in the railways there, and stayed for two years with his son—on purpose to see if this conversion was real. He came back to the family and reported, "Venu has found God, and we have not."
  • Venugopal is dynamic and creates a quiet revolution wherever he goes. Burma got her independence from Britain and from India, but sent a request to the government of India: "Please lend us the services of Venugopal to straighten out relations in the Burma railway. We want Venugopal and no other." A labor union official in a conference between labor and the railways said, "It is impossible to hate while Mr. Venugopal is present." A quiet revolution—but dynamic and transforming. It all began in conversion: "I knew that Jesus Christ and I belonged to each other forever."
  • A blind African woman of seventy asked the missionary to underline in red John 3:16 in her French Bible. She sat before the boys' school, and when school was over, she asked the boys if they could read French. Proud that they could, she asked them to read the passage. "What does it mean?" she would ask, and when they would say they didn't know, she would tell them. Ten assistant pastors have come out of her work. Blind and seventy and illiterate—now creative and a real person. They called her "Madam." She was worthy of the name.
  • A chief in requesting a revival for his tribe said, "We are grateful for the leaves and fruit of Christianity—education and hospitals—but what we really want is the root—change of moral character." That is worthy of a place on the walls of every religious center in the world. And that from a chief just emerging from paganism.
  • Mahatma Gandhi was trying to find God through attainment, a disciplined attainment. I found God through obtainment—through grace. One is self-salvation; the other is God-salvation. Those who come through grace find; those who come through works are always on the way. They are never certain they have found. (see Ephesians 2:8)
  • When God offers me forgiveness in a nail-pierced hand, I know it costs God something—and deeply—to offer that forgiveness. It is not cheap; it is costly to God, and to us. I say "to us" for Paul puts the meaning of the cross thus: "His purpose in dying for all was that men, while still in life, should cease to live for themselves" (II Corinthians 5:15). The purpose in dying was that "men . . . should cease to live for themselves." It was to break the tyranny of the sin of self-centeredness, of making themselves God.
  • But men do want and do need freedom. How do they do it? The aviator is free to fly provided he obeys every moment the laws of flying. Freedom through obedience. Then total freedom is through total obedience to the total order—the Kingdom.

It's not too late to send in your words of thanksgiving. Remember, there's no right or wrong way of expressing your gratitude to God for all He's done in your life.


Elijah and Horeb.pdf

12/4/19

Good morning, Faith Holders.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/XRW-jr_PnbQ


Memory Verse for the Week: "In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name." Matthew 6:9


A Prayer of Thanksgiving and Gratitude

 

            Father in Heaven, I have so much to be thankful for! Today, I'm just going to scratch the surface of my gratitude to you for all your many blessings.

            First and foremost, I want to thank you for salvation; for sending Jesus to me to save me from my sins. Jesus, you died for my sins. I should have been on the cross dying for the many sins I have committed, but you chose to die there in my place. I thank you for that kind of love--the deepest love there is. I don't deserve it, but I'm grateful for it. Thank you for adopting me into your family. The day I was adopted into your family is the greatest event of my entire life.

            God, I want to thank you for your faithfulness through the years. Although I have been unfaithful to you at times, you have remained 100% faithful to me. You have proven yourself to be trustworthy. You are truth. Thank you for this anchor.

            I am so thankful for your word that reveals yourself to us. Thank you for words of truth that provide guidance and navigate me through this life. Thank you for inspiring characters in the Bible: Moses, Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Job, Joshua, David, Ruth, Esther, Elisha, Elijah, Ezekiel, Matthew, Peter, Paul, Mary & Joseph, Stephen, and so many more.

            Next, I want to thank you for the family I was born into. The father and mother you gave me were perfect for me. They weren't too lenient and they weren't too strict. They were exactly what I needed. They didn't hesitate to discipline me when I needed it. They showed me the path to you and lived lives that were wonderful examples for me to follow. I can't thank you enough for them. They provided the strong foundation of a faith in you that I needed to see and experience. I am so thankful they started each day with a Bible story and prayer. I also want to thank you for two great sisters who have been exemplary examples of how to show love to others. And, Lord, thank you for sparing the lives of my older sister and our mother when we were in that terrible car accident in the Philippines. Thank you for using the doctors at Clark AFB to save my sister's life when she was a senior in high school. She's been such a blessing to me my whole life!

            Thank you for my wife, Laurie. What a blessing! I know she's the one you picked out for me. She had a similar upbringing--being raised in a pastor's home. We have the same priorities, interests, and we both love to laugh. You gave me a wife with such a sweet disposition. It's heaven on earth living with her. She has taught me so much about giving to others and putting others first. The message comes through so strongly when it's given by example. I could never thank you enough for sparing Laurie's life when she was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer 12 years ago! Oh, and thank you for my wife's amazing memory; you knew I was going to need it.

            I want to thank you so much for the blessing of three precious daughters. All three have brought so much joy to our family. I thank you for making all three so different from each other, but all so easy to love. Thank you that they were such good teenagers and didn't rebel against you in high school. Thank you that they grew to become responsible, self-supporting adults. You blessed me big time with my three daughters.

            When I married Laurie, you blessed me with two grown sons. Thank you for so many fine qualities in these men--polite, thoughtful, generous, always thinking of others--qualities inspired by their mother. I want to thank you for the tremendous work ethic Phillip has--again, inspired by his mom.

            I also want to thank you, God, for the healthy bodies you have given to all our kids and grandkids. And I can't forget the blessings of our responsible and loving sons-in-law and daughter-in-law.

            Father, thank you for Aunt Jane and Uncle Bob who opened up their house to me (and both of my sisters, at different times) to live in as we made the transition from high school in the Philippines to college life in America. They treated us just like we were their own kids. Ex-Marine Uncle Bob was there to help me transition into the Air Force, too. Thank you for his prayers for me.

            Thank you for the friends I've had through my life. You've always provided a close friend that made life enjoyable. You used my aunt and uncle to arrange for an extraordinary roommate for me in college. Nobody made me laugh more than Ron. I couldn't have found a more perfect roommate, and I know your hand was in that. 

            Thank you for the men friends I have in my life now that I'm retired. I didn't have much time for male friends when I was working and raising a family, but now you have blessed me with so many fine, Christian men friends who love you and desire to live lives that glorify you. This was an unexpected blessing, and I want you to know I am grateful.

            Father, I want to thank you for some godly pastors I have had in the churches I have attended. In particular, I want to thank you for: Charles Higgins, Ron Mehl, Randy Remington, and Michael Wedman. Thank you for men like this who were/are sold out to you--men who have kept a relationship with you as their top priority, and men who have worked to get the people in their churches to come to know you and grow to know you more. I also want to thank you for all the Christian role models you have placed in my life--starting with my father.

            Thank you for your creation: mountains, trees, rivers, lakes, oceans, animals, plants, stars, planets . . . it's all beyond my comprehension how you accomplished such a feat. I stand in awe and wonder as I consider you, the Creator, that's behind all this. Nothing man has "created" comes close to what you have done!

            For the food I am blessed with each day, I want to give you thanks. I have never had to go hungry because there was no food where I've been. What a gift! I never want to take this for granted. You have provided safe water for me to drink, too. I never want to take this for granted. And I want to thank you for the nice clothes you have provided for me to wear. I feel very fortunate!

            Thank you for the rain you so faithfully send. It keeps everything so lush and beautiful. It also prevents droughts and fires. Thank you for the rain, and I love the snow you send, too.

            You blessed me with the opportunity to grow up in the Philippines. What a beautiful country with kind, happy people. You showed me that people can be happy with little to no possessions. You provided the opportunity for me to appreciate another culture and observe, firsthand, the growth of your kingdom there. You created some of the best fruits in the world and placed them there.

            Father, thank you for not making me rich when I was young. You easily could have, but you chose to keep me reliant on you. Thank you for doing that. Had you made me "rich," I might have wandered away from you, and that would have been tragic. You know exactly what's best for me, and I rest in knowing that.

            Thank you for music. I can't imagine a world without music. I want to thank you for my sense of hearing that allows me to enjoy the songs you have gifted musicians to write. I also want to thank you for gifted artists who have taken your beauty to canvas.

            I feel so blessed to have had such good health. There are so many things that can go wrong (back, neck, shoulders, eyes, ears, hips, bones, mind, etc.), but so few have. I give you the praise. Thank you for the good report after my surgery for melanoma cancer.

            Thank you for the opportunity to be a student of some caring, gifted, and inspiring teachers: Angie Brunemeier, Lorena Lani Mortenson, Josephina Ruff, Rafael Rodriguez, Shirley Dean, Helen Wilson, Bartlett McKay, Irving Laird, and Prof. Miller (to name a few).

            Thank you for your hand in my career of teaching. It was the perfect job for me. I realized you gave me strong abilities in many areas, but you didn't give me exceptional ability in any one area. Therefore, teaching fit the gifts you gave me. Thank you for my college roommate who encouraged me to pursue teaching as a career. Thank you for giving me the courage to read the Bible in a public school, and letting me find out many years later that the reading sparked an interest in your word that led to a student becoming a disciple of yours and entering full-time ministry. Thank you for a great career and Beaverton School District.

            I want to thank you for how you specifically worked out details for me when I moved across state to take my first teaching job in Forks. I was busy with college and didn't think about the cost of moving to my first job. It all happened so quickly, and I realized my family needed moving expenses, and there was no money to draw from. You arranged for a check to be there for us--a check from my parents in the Philippines who didn't know I needed any money, but you prompted them to send the check that was exactly the amount we needed to pay for the move. Before I even realized I needed the money, you had that check in the mail that would arrive about a week later--the exact time I needed the money. Thank you for taking care of my needs. You have always provided for my needs, and I give you the glory.

            God, you always know what's best. When I was working on moving from Forks to Beaverton, I interviewed twice at schools where I didn't get the job. I couldn't understand why you didn't allow that to happen. In the one job interview, the principal and I clicked so well; I couldn't wait to work for her. But I didn't get the job. Then you provided another interview at a different school, and I was hired. Years later, when I looked back on what happened, I saw that the job I was offered was a perfectmatch rather than a good match. You are an amazing God! You blessed me by keeping me at that excellent school for 21 years. Thank you!

            I want you to know I appreciate each and every summer job you provided for me when I was teaching: logging, teaching driver's education, and United Van Lines. Thank you for your hand of protection on me when I was logging--particularly that day when I narrowly missed losing my hand and life. Thank you for protecting us from a possible fatality when a student driver confused the gas and brake and ran us up on a sidewalk (usually with students on it) hitting a building. I'll never forget how you provided for my future son-in-law (Mike), giving him so much beautiful furniture to place in his recently purchased, bare house. I know you arranged for me to be on the job that day when a couple moving to San Francisco had to get rid of a lot of furniture from their huge house in the Portland area. Free is a very good price!

            Thank you for the life lessons I learned while working in the trailer factory in Idaho. Thank you for skills I learned that would come in handy my whole life. Thank you for the life lessons I learned in the Air Force and the financial blessing of the G.I. Bill when I was attending college. You used the Air Force to mature me, and I know I needed maturing.

            Father, I can't thank you enough for providing that first house for our family. You orchestrated events so I would be able to buy a brand new house and only pay closing costs. When I didn't have enough money for the closing costs on the $24,000 house, you provided it. That huge blessing got us into the housing market and allowed us the opportunity to live in beautiful houses while growing our money as housing prices increased. Thank you!

            I also want to thank you for how you provided automobiles for our family. Twice, when we had vehicles that were no longer able to be driven, you provided a car. Thank you for giving us a car to drive that wasn't even a year old when you prompted my sister to let us drive it while she went to Africa as a missionary nurse for two years. That was such a spirit lifter! And thank you for the blessing of being able to drive dependable cars in retirement.

            Lord, you know how I've enjoyed riding motorcycles. I want to thank you for each and every motorcycle you let me own. Riding them brought so much joy and happiness to me. I want to thank you for keeping me safe for over 50 years as I rode. There were some close calls, but you didn't allow any injuries. Thank you for a healthy body to enjoy other sports and activities: hiking, skiing, swimming, basketball, tennis, racquetball, golfing.

            Thank you for the perfect retirement house that is able to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Thank you for the opportunity to live in such a beautiful place that is so peaceful and relaxing.

            Thank you for having me born in the United States. There is no other place I would rather be.

            I also want to thank you for my divorce--not because that is what you wanted for our family, but you used the worst experience of my life to draw me closer to you, and then you blessed me with the best wife there could ever be for me--Laurie! Thank you for bringing good out of bad.

            Thank you for the persecution of Christians, because it makes us stronger and more committed to you. Thank you for each event in my life that has brought me closer to you. And thank you for disciplining me when I needed it. If you let me go, I would be lost, but you pursue me with discipline, and I want to thank you for that. You let me know I am loved.

            Father, I want to remember the many blessings you have poured out on me, but I never would have enough time or space to tell of everything. This short prayer just scratches the surface of all I'm thankful for. And never forget, Lord, you are at the very top of my list, the very bottom of my list, and everywhere in between. Thank you, Jesus, for EVERYTHING! Amen.

                                    -Ray


It's not too late to send in your words of thanksgiving. Remember, there's no right or wrong way of expressing your gratitude to God for all He's done in your life.


---------------------------------------

Why do we need the book of Revelation? Dr. Moody answers that question and looks at the first eight verses of the book. 

https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/revelation-11-8-the-book-of-revelation/

12/3/19

Good morning, Receivers of Amazing Grace.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/cgsbaBIaoVc


Memory Verse for the Week: "In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name." Matthew 6:9









   Today, we are blessed to hear from two of our kids in Sunday School who have written a prayer of thanksgiving to God for all He's done in their lives:


It's not too late to send in your words of thanksgiving. Remember, there's no right or wrong way of expressing your gratitude to God for all He's done in your life.

Week 46, p.1.pdf

Week 46, p.2.pdf

Week 46, p.3.pdf

Week 46, p.4.pdf

Week 46, p.5.pdf

12/2/19

Good morning, Prayer Partners.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/CoxopsRSfdU


Memory Verse for the Week: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. Exodus 20:2-3


   Yesterday, we heard Pastor Michael give the sermon "Guilt, Forgiveness, and God" based on Exodus 34:6-7a:


    The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out, "Yahweh! The LORD! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin."


   We are all guilty; all of us have guilt. There are two types of guilt:

  • Objective guilt—based on the law. It is always right or true. We may or may not feel guilty about objective truth. For example, if we break the speed limit by one or two miles an hour, we may not feel any guilt, but we are still guilty of breaking the law.
  • Subjective guilt—based on feeling. It is often a false guilt. True guilt says, "I did something wrong." False guilt says, "I feel like I did something wrong."

   The conscience is the place in our psyche that condemns or justifies; it discerns between right and wrong. Romans 2:15 says, "They demonstrate that God's law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right." Romans 13:5 says, "So you must submit to [governing authorities], not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience."

   The conscience is not always a good guide to what is right and wrong. Our conscience can be seared or cauterized :

  • sealed up; not allow fluid to come out
  • not allowing our conscience to reveal what is right and wrong
  • I Timothy 4:2 says, "These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead."
  • When we ignore our conscience, we begin to make up our own truth. Read the book People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck, MD.

   Our conscience is not objective truth. God determines objective truth. I Corinthians 4:4 says, "My conscience is clear, but that doesn't prove I'm right. It is the Lord himself who will examine men and decide."

   II Corinthians 7:8-13a says,

    I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There's no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.

   Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right. My purpose then, was not to write about who did the wrong or who was wronged. I wrote to you so that in the sight of God you could see for yourselves how loyal you are to us. We have been greatly encouraged by this.

   Worldly sorrow is false sorrow; it's sorrow for getting caught doing wrong. Godly sorrow is true sorrow that leads to repentance and forgiveness. It admits the wrong to God and others.

   Forgiveness from God requires two conditions:

  • Repentance
  • Willingness to forgive others

   God is just, and sin has a penalty. I John 1:8-10 says, "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 if 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."

   There's an example of repentance found in II Samuel 12 when Nathan rebukes David for the death of Uriah and taking Uriah's wife. The fictitious story Nathan told David opened David's eyes to his very real and horrible sins. Verse 13 says, "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."

   We must admit to our own sins. There must be an intention to change our character. A poor apology would be, "If I've done anything wrong, forgive me." This is not owning up one's actions. A valid apology might sound like this: "I was wrong. I hurt you, and I'd like for you to forgive me." When praying, it might sound like this: "God, I have wronged you, and I have hurt others."

   We have to determine to not repeat that sin. We must make a sincere attempt to do His will and follow His ways as best we can—with our heart, soul, and mind.

   Repentance always leads to forgiveness from God. (see Exodus 34:1-7) Forgiveness is who God is; it's His character. Psalm 103:12 says, "He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west." We can't do anything to earn favor from God.

    Forgiveness:

  • is a willingness to forgive (see Matthew 6:14-15; 18:21-35) Because the character of God is to forgive, He expects us to forgive others.
  • We do not always want to forgive nor do we always feel like forgiving
  • Forgiveness begins with a choice to forgive
  • We always need God's Spirit to help us forgive. Forgiveness is a journey. Deep wounds can trip us up. We may want to take revenge, but Romans 12:19 says, Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, "I will take revenge; I will pay them back," says the LORD.
  • When we forgive, we walk together with our forgiving God.
  • The first person to benefit from forgiving is the one who does it. 
  • There are no paybacks in forgiveness. We need to reflect God's character of abounding love, grace, and forgiveness.
  • Don't make feelings the engine of your train; make feelings the caboose. 

   Here's a quote worth remembering: "The ultimate solution to guilt and guilt feelings is to admit our sin, sufferings, failures, and guilt; to confess sin to Christ and, at times, to other human beings; to pray for forgiveness and a sincere desire to repent and change behavior, and then to believe with divine help we are forgiven and accepted by the God of the universe. It is He who in turn helps us to accept love and forgive both ourselves and others."

   Remember, there's nothing that is unforgivable with God.


It's not too late to send in your words of thanksgiving. Remember, there's no right or wrong way of expressing your gratitude to God for all He's done in your life.

Elijah and the Prophets of Baal.pdf

11/30/19

Good morning, Praise Singers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/egIB7tYW80M


Memory Verse for the Week: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. Exodus 20:2-3


   Today we continue with words of thanksgiving. We are honored to hear from two brothers in our church:


I am thankful that I have Jesus in my heart. I'm also thankful for:

  • Our beautiful church and what it stands for
  • Getting to know Jesus better is a goal of mine; He is difficult to understand at times, but he knows the truth of true love.
  • I am blessed to have my family of NCCU; they love me and care about me as I do them!
  • I was blessed to have Thanksgiving with Dan and Brenda and Neil and his wonderful wife!
  • We are all blessed to have a wonderful Pastor and his beautiful family.
  • So fortunate to have Brothers and Sisters like Reverend Ray, Laurie, Ted, Nancy, Lola and so many more.
  • I Love my Church!
  • I love our congregation .
  • I love how everyone stood beside me when Pam went to heaven! I miss her so much!

Bless all of you!

                                  —Lee


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I just turned 70 this week and I am thankful God has kept me alive this long. I was in the Army in 1969 and did multiple tours in Vietnam and many times I came close to being killed by incoming, being in the wrong place at the right time, and all the other things that happen in combat which you have zero control over. I am thankful I did not become a Heroin drug addict like so many others during and after the war. I am thankful that I was raised in church and grounded in biblical principles which I have run away from at times over my life, but God always sought me out and returned me to the fold. I have a wonderful Spirit Filled wife, Jane, whom God gave me as a loving, caring woman to walk with me in this temporary world. The body of believers in our church continues to amaze me as we grow closer to God and become disciples together. Lifting each other up in both the good times and the tough stuff. Love Leads the Way. I have learned to be thankful for both suffering and good days. Praising God starts my day, everyday, no matter the circumstances, God is in it all! I am very thankful for our shepherd, teacher, rabbi , Michael Wedman, who challenges us into a deeper understanding of the Word and for his fun family. I love and cherish each one of them. 


When you give a child the assignment to write down all they are thankful for, they ask for more paper. As adult believers we may find it hard to fill even one page. Let's have thanksgiving in our hearts for each other and the world so that they may see Christ through us, and run toward the His good news.


                                  —marshall


Christian Amnesia.pdf

11/29/19

Good morning, Grateful Alive.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/d-3BJrG79IA


Memory Verse for the Week: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. Exodus 20:2-3


   Today we continue with words of thanksgiving. We get to hear from the sweetest wife in the world—Laurie!


   My heart is overflowing with thanksgiving first to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His faithfulness to me as His daughter, is unfathomable. My God has never left me and is my constant companion, and I’m so thankful for His daily presence in my life. 

   Next I am so thankful for the godly husband I’ve been blessed with. My husband’s love for Jesus and his love for me is evident. Thank you, Lord, for Ray and the personal relationship Ray has for You! 

   As a mother and grandmother, I’m so thankful for my grown children, their spouses, and my grandchildren. They all bring me such great joy! 

   I’m thankful for my church family and our shepherd, Dr. Michael Wedman. Thank you, Pastor Michael, for preaching the truth from the word of God. Thank you, Pastor, for shepherding this sheep and pointing me towards Jesus.

                                    —Laurie


It's not too late to send in your words of thanksgiving. Remember, there's no right or wrong way of expressing your gratitude to God for all He's done in your life.

How to Avoid Spiritual Decline.pdf

11/28/19

Good morning, Family. Happy Thanksgiving!


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/3pXzge4uhVs


Memory Verse for the Week: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.Exodus 20:2-3


      Today we continue with words of thanksgiving that have been sent in. We are fortunate to have two locals share with us today. I know you will be blessed with their words.


Here are my thankful thoughts this year.

For our pastor who preaches God’s word and for his family! God gave us a warrior who has withstood the enemy with his shield of armor given to him by God.

For a closer church family.

I thank God that he has given me a husband who stands by me thru thick and thin.

I thank God that he sent his son to die for me and give me salvation.

I thank God for our health and to be able to travel this year.

I thank God for putting Ray and Lori into our lives. I thank God for leading Ray to give out devotionals every day. It is a blessing to read each day.

Thank-you Jesus for each and every day that you give us!

                             -Jolene McArthur

Grasping for Power.pdf

11/27/19

Good morning, Followers of Christ.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/8uDuHdoHNSA


Memory Verse for the Week: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.Exodus 20:2-3


   Today we continue with words of thanksgiving that have been sent in. This particular recollection of gratitude is close to my heart, because it comes from my youngest daughter who lives in Santa Rosa, CA. 


Happy Thanksgiving!

 

         I am thankful for so many things this year.  Here is my list--not necessarily in the right order.  It seems like my heart is bubbling over with gratitude when I think about how fortunate I am.  

         I'm thankful for Jesus because he saves!  He also reminds me of the difference between needs and wants. :) 

         I am grateful for my daughter, my step daughter and step sons, peace in our home, a good school for my daughter (and I'm not even paying for private school ha ha), a house that I can turn heat on in chilly weather, fresh water for drinking, a safe neighborhood and nice neighbors, the convenience of grocery stores to buy food, a car, my health, Wifi (oh come on--you are too!).

         There's one unexpected blessing I received this year, and that's a love for mountain biking that opened up a whole new world for me. Coupled with that blessing is my husband who is also my bike mechanic and coach who spends hours making sure I have a safe bike and insuring that I learn the skills that I need to have fun and still be safe.  I'm thankful for my husband who spends hours teaching my daughter biking skills and encouraging her and towing her up the steepest hills so she can ride down.  

         Also on my list are: my parents who have been solid Christ examples, my sisters (Sarah and Chris), my step brother (Philip), protection from the fires that have been close to where I live, my Australian Shepard who doesn't leave my side, a good church to be involved in, a place to live that has sunny weather (this feels like bragging, but I'm from WA so....), a friend who recently rededicated her life to Christ and for God's never ending love and patience with me!

         On Sunday, our pastor included Psalm 139:16 in his sermon and it struck me.  "Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."  It's a reminder that God has a plan for my life, that He's in control, and I don't have to know the "whys" of everything, but I can be grateful for my life that He created for His own purpose.

                                         -Jen


Please email your thankfulness writing to me if you don't mind it being shared. It encourages me to see God at work in the lives of others, and I hope it does you as well.

The Most Precious Recipe.pdf

11/26/19

Good morning, Thankful People.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/BFtAcY5Ro3I


Memory Verse for the Week: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. Exodus 20:2-3


   Today we start a time of thanksgiving. We remember what blessed people we are to be a part of the family of God. We remember what God has done in the past and what He's doing now. If you choose to share what you have written, please remember there's no right or wrong way to share your thoughts. Your way of sharing your thankfulness might look a lot different from some other person. That's totally fine. What's important is that we show God that we are thankful people; we are people who haven't forgotten His many blessings to us.

   We will start the week with a writing from a dear friend who lives in Beaverton. Laurie and I used to teach Sunday School with her and her husband in the first and second grade department of our church there.


-The hope of heaven because Jesus died for my sins.

-God knows me, loves me, and cares about me. He is patient. He is my shelter—my rock in the midst of the storm.

-God is willing and eager to give me wisdom and direction.

-The best husband, parents, sons, DILs, and grandsons I could ever hope for.

-A church that focuses on loving Jesus and loving others.

-Being able to share Jesus with 1st graders every Sunday.

-Seeing how God has continued to move in the lives of former Sunday School kids and how they are serving now at church (e.g. Jonah, Charlie).

-A wonderful sister-in-law in Kathy with whom I care share ups/downs and that we can pray for each other.

-Our wonderful Life Group that cares so well for each other.

-My health. Access to doctors, hospitals. The availability of meds for my thyroid problem.

-Comfortable house, heat, food, water, clothes.

-The access I had to education, and a job I enjoyed for many years.

-A Bible I am able to read without fear of persecution/imprisonment.

-The many freedoms in our country.

-Waterfalls, fall leaves, rivers with the water going over rocks, flowers of every color and variety.

-Fresh air.

-Water on tap, showers, toilets.

-Technology. The ability to FaceTime with my grandkids.

-Josh’s hearing aids. Thankful his hearing loss was discovered before he started school.

-The ability to see, hear, move.

-Healing we’ve seen for Rick, Tyler, Dale, Kathy G., Cathy D.

-A decrease in Brad’s anxieties.

-Joy of giving money and gifts.

-Retirement. Ability to travel.

-Ability to read and write.

-Ability and time to create (e.g. crocheting, photography)

-A husband who is caring, loving, faithful, constant, kind.

                 -Lois



Please email your thankfulness writing to me if you don't mind it being shared. It encourages me to see God at work in the lives of others, and I hope it does you as well.

Week 45, p.1.pdf

Week 45, p.2.pdf

Week 45, p.3.pdf

Week 45, p.4.pdf

Week 45, p.5.pdf

Week 45, p.6.pdf

Week 45, p.7.pdf

11/25/19

Good morning, Family.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/3jNJ59o4QgE


Memory Verse for the Week: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14


   Prior to a healing time, Pastor Michael delivered the sermon "Authority to Heal" based on James 5:13-16.

   There is healing by God today, but it doesn't seem to be with the same consistency and intensity as when Jesus walked on the earth and healed people. Sometimes, it can be confusing as to why some people are healed in current times and others are not. We have to remember God is not a vending machine, and He's not a magic wand.

   There are many recordings of healings in the Bible. Here are a few:

1. Old Testament

  • Elijah—raised a widow's son (see I Kings 17)
  • Elisha—raised a widow's son (see II Kings 4), healed the poisoned prophets (see II Kings 4), and healed Naaman (see II Kings 5)
  • King Hezekiah—healed from a disease and given 15 more years of life (see II Kings 20)
  • God has been healing since time began.

2. Healings of Jesus

  • He healed every disease.
  • Matthew 9:35: Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness.
  • Healing is always for the glory of God.
  • Jesus came to heal.
  • Isaiah 53:4-5: Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.
  • Matthew 8:16-17: That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil spirits with a simple command, and he healed all the sick. This fulfilled the word of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, who said, "He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases."
  • I Peter 2:24: [Jesus] personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.

3. Healing of the disciples

  • Matthew10:7-8: Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!
  • Acts 8:6-7: Crowds listened intently to Philip because they were eager to hear his message and see the miraculous signs he did. Many evil spirits were cast out, screaming as they left their victims. And many who had been paralyzed or lame were healed.

4. Healing today is done by the gift of the Holy Spirit.

  • I Corinthians 12:7-11: A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice, to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability too prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.
  • Our bodies are important to God; we are His temple. 
  • I Corinthians 6:13: You say, "Food was made for the stomach, and the stomach for food." (This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them.) But you can't say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies.
  • 19-20: Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

5. Healing today through His disciples.

  • John 14:12: I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. 
  • Hebrews 12:13: Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

6. Healing today through the elders.

  • James 5:13-16: Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
  • Elders are NOT the Holy Spirit; they are simply conduits of the Holy Spirit. They have been given the responsibility to care for people in an attitude of humility and a right relationship with God. The sick have the responsibility to come to God in humility and in a right relationship with Him when they seek healing.
  • Are you in trouble? Go to God.
  • Are things going well for you? Go to God.
  • Are you sick? Go to God.
  • When you come to the elders for healing, be prepared to answer this question: "What do you want God to do for you?"
  • Oil is used as a symbol (a sign; a picture) of the Holy Spirit. Attention is on the Holy Spirit, not the oil or anything else.
  • Faith is not an emotional high. It's not something you conjure up. Faith is from Jesus. Jesus gives us faith to go forward for healing.
  • Sometimes healing is instantaneous; sometimes it is over a period of time; sometimes it is through medicine; sometimes it's a combination. Sometimes we are not healed at all. Sometimes we are given the ultimate healing which is death. 
  • Unconfessed sin can prevent healing. Unconfessed sin separates us from God.
  • God can be glorified in your healing, and God can be glorified in your sickness.

Hopefully, you have completed writing down what you are thankful for. Keep what you have written to review from time to time. God tells us to remember what He has done. Keep it to use for additions as God gives you new things to be thankful for and for adding former things that come to your mind. If you would like to share your thankfulness with others, please email it to me today or as soon as possible. Thank you.


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Josh Moody makes the following statement: To encourage us to contend for the faith, Jude here teaches us about the essentially conservative nature of Christian truth, the morally rebellious nature of heresy, and the eternally serious consequences of false teaching. Read on as he explains: https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/jude-1-7-contend-for-the-faith/

11/23/19

Good morning, Praise Singers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/DfW2mkkMTAg


Memory Verse for the Week: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14


   Today, I'd like to share more of the wisdom of E. Stanley Jones from his book A Song of Ascents A Spiritual Autobiography written when he was 83 years of age.

  • I have never wanted for a thing I've needed. [God] has undertaken to supply "all your needs"—not all your greeds, but all your needs. There are two ways to be rich: one in the abundance of your possessions and the other in the fewness of your wants. I could always be rich in the fewness of my wants, so I could always be rich. And have been!
  • Ezekiel said he went "in the heat and bitterness of my spirit" to the captives by the river, to tell them their sins. But instead, for ten days, "I sat where they sat." Ezekiel went through what they were going through. Now when he spoke, it was out of sympathy—the sympathy of experience. Now the people listened, for "wounds were answering wounds." Deep was speaking to deep.
  • I once traveled, during my formative evangelistic years, with a very great man. When he was on Christ, he was the most effective man I knew. I learned much from him. But when his emphasis shifted from Christ to varying emphasis—antiwar programs, social justice, birth control, spiritualism—he was less than effective; he was a blur. He would exhaust these emphases in a year or two and have to shift to a new one. But you do not exhaust Christ—he is the inexhaustible. Events come and go, the Event remains unchanged amid the changeable. 
  • Without that note of willingness to confess to being wrong, there is—and cannot be—any progress. People who are always right are always wrong—wrong by their very attitude of being always right.
  • "Stanley Jones, you're a very happy man, aren't you?" I replied, "Yes, I am." And then the vital question: "How did you get this way?" And my reply: "I don't know. It is all a surprise to me, a growing surprise. I walked across a field one day, and I stubbed my toe against the edge of a treasure chest, jutting out of the earth. 'It's treasure,' I cried. Ran off and sold all I had, including myself, and bought that field; and I've been hugging myself ever since that I had sense enough to do it."
  • I don't know how you can be happy without Christ. Can the railway train be happy without the rails, the eye without light, the lungs without air, the heart without love?
  • Just as an airplane always rises from an airport, not with the wind, but in the face of the wind, so I would make oppositions send me up, not down. 
  • It fixed the pattern of the future: I would glance at men and gaze at God.
  • Knowing that Jesus accepted me with all my imperfections made it easier to accept others with all their imperfections. 
  • But while I am not a fundamentalist or a modernist, only a Christian-in-the-making, I do love this Book, for these words take me beyond the words to the Word. A famous scientist, professor of astronomy at one of our leading universities, was asked by some skeptical professors at another university: "What do you think of Christ? What do you think of the Bible?" He replied: "Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, and the Bible is the book which tells me of him."
  • Oppositions break or solidify a man. I determined they would solidify me. I wouldn't bear things; I would use them. As a radiant woman said, "My cheeks have been slapped so much they are quite rosy."
  • I saw I was in a controversy with God, so I closed the book, dropped on my knees beside my bed, and said: "Now, Lord, what shall I do?" And he replied: "Will you give me your all?" And after a moment's hesitation I replied: "Yes, Lord, of course I will. I will give you my all, all I know and all I don't know." Then he replied: "Then take my all, take the Holy Spirit." I paused for a moment: my all for his all; my all was myself, his all was himself, the Holy Spirit. I saw as in a flash the offer. I eagerly replied: "I will take the Holy Spirit." I arose from my knees, with no evidence, save his word. I walked out on the naked promise of that Word. His character was behind that Word. I could trust him with my all and I could trust him to give me his all. I walked around the room repeating my acceptance. The doubts began to close in on me. I did what Abraham did when the birds came to scatter his sacrifice—he shooed them away. I walked around the room pushing away with my hands the menacing doubts. When suddenly I was filled—filled with the Holy Spirit. Wave after wave of the Spirit seemed to be going through me as a cleansing fire. I could only walk the floor with the tears of joy flowing down my cheeks. I could do nothing but praise him—and did. I knew this was no passing emotion; the Holy Spirit had come to abide with me forever.
  • I became interested, passionately interested, in the Second Coming . . . Then I found a subtle change taking place in my emphasis. I was living on expectancy, expectancy of the coming Christ, instead of living on experience—experience of the present Christ. I saw that the first coming was the working center of the gospel, the Incarnation, the Atonement, the coming of the Holy Spirit, the evangelization of the world. The Second Coming was marginal and not my area now: "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons . . . But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8) My area of emphasis was the first coming.
  • Philosophy reasons; moralism demands; music and art please; witnessing shares—shares at the depths. It is deep speaking to deep.
  • Concerning the parable of the four soils, Jones had this to say: "Three out of the four efforts to get a harvest would be lost. It was a sobering prospect to feel that 75 percent of all your effort to produce permanent changed character would be lost. But the last soil, where the seed fell "into" good ground, brought forth thirtyfold, sixtyfold, and a hundred fold. Thirtyfold is 3,000 percent, sixtyfold is 6,000 percent, a hundredfold is 10,000 percent, on the investment. Large returns? Exaggerated? No, fact. You touch one, and he becomes changed by the power of Christ; he touches another, and he another, and it goes on in geometrical progression endlessly. So this investment in changed human character is the one bank that will not break, and it brings large dividends.
  • Almost on arrival in India I had to go to the mountains to recuperate. Back from furlough of a year, the first thing I had to think about was my own health. I came down from the mountains and had to go back again. When I came down the second time, I knew the game was up—I would have to leave the mission field and my work and try to regain my shattered health. It was gone. In that dark hour I was in the Central Methodist Church in Lucknow. The Rev. Tamil David was in charge of the evangelistic services. I was at the back of the church kneeling in prayer, not for myself but for others, when God said to me: "Are you yourself ready for the work to which I have called you?" My reply: "No, Lord. I'm done for. I've reached the end of my resources and I can't go on." "If you'll turn that problem over to me and not worry about it, I'll take care of it." My eager reply: "Lord, I close the bargain right here." I arose from my knees knowing I was a well man. I walked home with a group of missionaries along Cantonment Road. They knew nothing of what was happening within me. But I scarcely touched the earth as I walked along. I was possessed with life and health and peace . . . This was more than a physical touch. It involved the total person. I was made well and whole—body, mind, and spirit. I was flooded with a sense of energy, of peace, of power, of adequacy. And I knew this was no wave of passing emotion that would recede and leave me with nothing but my own resources. God was not playing hide and seek, coming and going. This was being taken possession of by the Holy Spirit, the "Spirit of Truth" who should "abide forever." Without that total rescuing from weakness to strength, from confusion to certainty, from inner conflict to unity, from myself to his Self, I doubt whether I would have had the nerve to undertake this work to which I had been called. It was too demanding, too baffling, too overwhelmingly difficult to match it with bare human resources. But now I saw my resources. I saw I could take all I needed for body, mind, and spirit in any situation, anywhere, at any time. I saw my resources, and they have not failed! The years have done nothing but corroborate and confirm them. They have been, and are, completely dependable. 

   I hope your faith has been strengthened, encouraged, and inspired by this man of faith. God can use all of us to further His kingdom. Let us hear His voice today as He speaks to us.


Note: Keep writing down what you are thankful to God for. Try to finish up this week so you can share next week if you so desire.

Rich in Christ, p.1.pdf

Rich in Christ, p.2.pdf

Rich in Christ, p.3.pdf

Rich in Christ, p.4.pdf

11/22/19

Good morning, Fellow Repenters.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/BbZVRjjMTcc


Memory Verse for the Week: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14


   Yesterday, in his lecture series on the minor prophets, Dr. Wedman shared "An Offer of Redemption" from Hosea 13 and 14.

CHAPTER 13

    Verses 1-3When the tribe of Ephraim spoke, the people shook with fear, for that tribe was important in Israel. But the people of Ephraim sinned by worshiping Baal and thus sealed their destruction. Now they continue to sin by making silver idols, images shaped skillfully with human hands. "Sacrifice to these," they cry, "and kiss the calf idols!" Therefore, they will disappear like the morning mist, like dew in the morning sun, like chaff blown by the wind, like smoke from a chimney.

   God calls attention to the fallenness of Israel. They have disobeyed God and become faithless. It has been a slow but constant divergence from the known will of God that started with Jeroboam I and intensified with Jezebel and Ahab.

   When a person falls away from God, it's usually a slow and steady process. Unlike a blowout, it's like a slow and steady leak in a tire. You don't even notice it at first. You compare it with the other tires, and it still looks good. Even if it's a little low, what's a few pounds of air? We're still good.

   That slow and steady departure from God's way resulted in:

  • Israel even sacrificing their children
  • the kissing of Baal was part of the Baal worship (see I Kings 19:18)
  • becoming spiritually empty and useless (same as 6:4)
  • having no future. They will disappear—like mist, chaff, smoke.

   How could Israel fall so far away from God?

   Verses 4-6"I have been the LORD your God ever since I brought you out of Egypt. You must acknowledge no God but me, for there is no other savior. I took care of you in the wilderness, in that dry and thirsty land. But when you had eaten and were satisfied, you became proud and forgot me.

   God reminds them of who He is and who they were. God is their God and Savior. This was the foundation of the Covenant, and they left it. God fed, watered, and protected them. He was with them as their shepherd. 

   It's important to make out-loud commitments—plant flags that you can look back at. 

   A person's faith may change, but the tenets of faith should never change; the foundation of faith is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

   To answer, "How could Israel fall so far away from God?"

  • They took God for granted.
  • They did not recognize who God is and what He does.
  • They weren't thankful.
  • They became proud of who they thought they were. They had trophy cases of accomplishments.
  • They forgot God.

Now all the air in their tires was gone, and they were stuck going nowhere.

   Verses 7-8So now I will attack you like a lion, like a leopard that lurks along the road. Like a bear whose cubs have been taken away, I will tear out your heart. I will devour you like a hungry lioness and mangle you like a wild animal.

   God is now against them. God is faithful to his Sinai Covenant. He is faithful to His character. See Deuteronomy 28 for the blessings for obedience and the curses for disobedience. There are four metaphors to show the intensity of God's opposition (lion, leopard, bear, and lioness). God is no longer their shepherd who protects them from the wild beasts. God becomes the wild beasts tearing Israel apart. The sin of Israel brought God's opposition. God is always against sin. He is holy. He is perfect. There are no flaws in God. He is faithful to His word. See Romans 6:23.

    Verses 9-13"You are about to be destroyed, O Israel—yes, by me, your only helper. Now where is your king? Let him save you! Where are all the leaders of the land, the king and the officials you demanded of me? In my anger I gave you kings, and in my fury I took them away. 

   "Ephraim's guilt has been collected, and his sin has been stored up for punishment. Pain has come to the people like the pain of childbirth, but they are like a child who resists being born. The moment of birth has arrived, but they stay in the womb!

   The destruction of Israel is promised. The terms of the covenant are being enacted against them. It is too late to prevent the coming destruction. Their unfaithfulness and rejection of God has come to completion. Why? Because they were against their helper! The only one who could help, they rejected. Their kings, priests, and rulers could not help. (See I Samuel 8:6) The sins of Israel are kept on record; they are not forgiven. Why? Because there is no repentance. We must repent of our sins. Consequently, their future is one of suffering and pain. They are an unwise child whose life does not come to fruition because of rebellion. 

   Verse 14"Should I ransom them from the grave? Should I redeem them from death? O death, bring on your terrors! O grave, bring on your plagues! For I will not take pity on them.

   God will let them go to the grave. But God can redeem them from death—both physical and spiritual. (See I Corinthians 15:55) There is a future hope.

   There is no temptation in heaven. It will be better than the Garden of Eden.

   Verses 15-16Ephraim was the most fruitful of all his brothers, but the east wind—a blast from the LORD—will arise in the desert. All their flowing springs will run dry, and all their wells will disappear. Every precious thing they own will be plundered and carried away. The people of Samaria must bear the consequences of their guilt because they rebelled against their God. They will be killed by an invading army, their little ones dashed to death against the ground, their pregnant women ripped open by swords."

   In the short term—punishment and destruction.

  • The East wind—Assyrians
  • Shortage of water, food, wealth
  • Rebellion against God never succeeds—see Galatians 6:7-8.

CHAPTER 14

   Verses 1-3Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, for your sins have brought you down. Bring your confessions, and return to the LORD. Say to him, "Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us, so that we may offer you our praises. Assyria cannot save us, nor can our warhorses. Never again will we say to the idols we have made, 'You are our gods.' No, in you alone do the orphans find mercy."

   God gives Israel a chance to return to Him after their punishment. How to return?

  • recognize and admit sin
  • with words of repentance—seeking forgiveness
  • with an attitude of humility—no more pride
  • acknowledgment of a need for God
  • with a renewed commitment to following God

   Verses 4-7The LORD says, "Then I will heal you of your faithlessness; my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever. I will be to Israel like a refreshing dew from heaven. Israel will blossom like the lily; it will send roots deep into the soil like the cedars in Lebanon. It's branches will spread out like beautiful olive trees, as fragrant as the cedars of Lebanon. My people will again live under my shade. They will flourish like grain and blossom like grapevines. They will be as fragrant as the wines of Lebanon.

   God will restore and redeem them—see Leviticus 26:40-45. This is the third part of the covenant. God is a God of grace, redemption, and restoration. They will once again be His people. They will glory in God once again. 

   Verse 8"O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me."

   God will be done with idols. There will be no more patience with those serving idols. Israel will learn through suffering to seek God once again.

   Verse 9Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the LORD are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.

   Do you want wisdom? Learn from the apostasy of Israel. Acknowledge God. Know God. Walk in "hesed" love with God and others.

CONCLUSION

   God offers us His "hesed" love and desires that we reflect this love back to Him and to others around us. Desire to know God. He is our shepherd—seek no other.


Note: Keep writing down what you are thankful to God for. Try to finish up this week so you can share next week if you so desire.


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What gives you joy? How important is doctrine? Dr. Moody discusses both topics: https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/2-john-1-13-joy-request-and-warning/

11/21/19

Good morning, Gospel Receivers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/dsiDukXIeVY


Memory Verse for the Week: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14


   Is there any room for favoring people in the kingdom of God? Are people to be treated differently because of their ethnicity, social status, or position? Let's take a look at James 2:1-9:


    My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?

   For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, "You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor"—well, doesn't this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?

   Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn't God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren't they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? But you dishonor the poor! Isn't it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? Aren't they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear?

   Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: "Love your neighbor as yourself." But if you favor some people over others, you are committing sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.


   Jesus prayed to God the Father and said these words recorded in John 17:20-23:


   I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.


   Paul said in I Corinthians 12:13:


   Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.


   It's this Spirit that unites us; this Spirit that breaks down all walls that would make us think we are better than someone else—that we are somehow more valuable to God than someone else.


   When we are united with Christ, we are united with our fellow man. Ephesians 2:13-16 puts it this way:


   But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.

   For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.


   Fill in the two groups mentioned above with what you see around you: blacks/whites, rich/poor, common/royalty, educated/uneducated . . . whatever would separate us into groupings or classifications, God has put to death. He wants us all united—with Him and others.

   I John 4:20-21 says,


    If someone says, "I love God," but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don't love people we can see, how can we love God whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.


   Matthew quotes Jesus in Matthew 22: 37-40:


    " 'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments."


   Romans 13:8-10 says,


    Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor you will fulfill the requirements of God's law. For the commandments say, "You must not commit adultery,. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet." These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God's law.


   Bill McCartney said, "Until a man hurts as his brother hurts, they don't really know each other. How can you pray for someone when you don't know his deepest pain? When you do know his pain, you have real relationship." To understand where a person is coming from, we have to spend time getting to know their world. We have to make it all about them—not us.

   E. Stanley Jones, missionary to India, wrote a great book called A Song of Ascents A Spiritual Autobiography. He actually wrote the book three times. The first time is was a "regular" autobiography. When he was done, he scrapped it. It wasn't what he wanted to say. He started again and wrote a second manuscript that took him two years to write. It was more of a spiritual autobiography that ended up 560 pages long. He scrapped that one, too! He said, "It wasn't good enough, because I found I had been working from events to the Event. Christ has been, and is, to me the Event. Everything started with him. An African, after he was converted, changed his name, calling himself "After." Everything happened "After" he met Christ. It was so with me. But while Christ is to me the Event, I found in my spiritual autobiography I was too much events-centered instead of Event-centered." So at the age of 83, he wrote the book a third time! This is the one he published.

   In the dedication he says, "I looked into the face of the Son of Man and then looked into the faces of the sons of men, and I have spent my life trying to bring them together."

   I wanted to share with you a couple of passages from the book that deal with the topic at hand. Here's the first:


    I was holding a series of lectures to the students of St. Stephens College, Delhi, and Principal Rudra said: "Mr. Gandhi is upstairs. Would you like to see him?" Would I? I went straight to the point: "You are perhaps the leading Hindu of India. Could you tell me what you think we as Christians should do to make Christianity more naturalized in India, not a foreign thing, identified with a foreign government, but a part of a national life—something which contributes its power to India's uplift and redemption? He immediately replied: "I would suggest four things: First, that all you Christians, missionaries, and all, must begin to live more like Jesus Christ. Second, that you practice your religion without adulterating it, or toning it down. Third, that you emphasize love and make it your working force, for love is central in Christianity. Read the book for the fourth and more.

   One last quote I want to leave you with:


   "We hate to admit it, but Jesus is conquering us in spite of ourselves," said a Hindu to me.

   But Mahatma Gandhi never became a Christian. He made his decision not to be a Christian while in South Africa. He could not see Jesus as a person for the cloud of racism enveloping the type of Christianity in South Africa. But he was a deeply christianized Hindu, more christianized than most Christians. The greatest things in his life were Christian.

   In a letter to Gandhi, Jones said, "You've grasped the principles [of Christianity], but you've missed the Person. May I suggest that you penetrate through the principles to the Person and then come back and tell us what you have found."


Note: Keep writing down what you are thankful to God for. Try to finish up this week so you can share next week if you so desire.

Being Quick to Hear, p.1.pdf

Being Quick to Hear, p.2.pdf

11/20/19

Good morning, All In.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/oAaQ5EEXidc


Memory Verse for the Week: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14


   How well do you know the first chapter of James? Let's take a little quiz.

   1. What can be a positive result of your faith being tested?

           a) your prayers become stronger

        b) your faith has a chance to grow

        c) you able able to believe things you formerly could not accept

        d) your endurance has a chance to grow


Verses 2-4 say: Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. So the last option was the best choice on this one. Would you have answered the following question correctly? When will you be perfect and complete, needing nothing?

-----------------------

   2. God will not rebuke us for asking for something. What is it?

        a) wisdom

        b) faith

        c) food and clothing

        d) love


Verses 5-8 say: If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. So the first choice was the best here.

   When we ask for wisdom, let's ask that God will keep us 100% loyal to Him only--with no loyalty to the world. It's so easy for the world to influence us in how we think and act, so we have to guard against it by filling our minds with Him: meditating on His word, going to church to hear the words God has given our pastor to share with the congregation, listening to songs that praise our Lord.

------------------------

   3. What should the rich boast about?

        a) their generosity 

        b) they have an opportunity to give to the poor

        c) that God has humbled them

        d) that their money can be used to build the kingdom of God


Verses 9-11 say: Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements. The third choice is the one you should have bit on. God is reminding us that riches are only temporary. Riches are not where we put our security, because they riches never secure. They can be here one day and gone the next. What we invest in heaven is secure.

--------------------------

   4. Where do temptations come from?

        a) God

        b) our own desires

        c) Satan

        d) inside and outside


Verses 12-15 say: God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, "God is tempting me." God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. If you chose the third distractor, you may have been thinking about Matthew 4:1 where it says, "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil." But remember we are in James 1, so the best choice was the second answer.

   Before we sin, we are tempted. We need to nip "sin" in the bud when it's still in the temptation stage. If we don't take care of it there, we can fall into sin. When that happens, we need to repent. If we don't repent and do a 180 degree turn, sin will grow and eventually, lead to death.

   Notice how sin is enticing. Sin is not something we look at and go, "Yuck!" Sin is something that's beautiful on the outside, but garbage on the inside. It's death wrapped up in box of See's candy—an empty box of See's candy.

-----------------------------------  

   5. What is a gift that comes to us from God our Father?

        a) whatever is good and perfect

        b) wisdom

        c) patience

        d) blessings untold


Verses 16-18 say: So don't be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession. It looks like the first choice wins.

   When good things come our way, consider them gifts from God, because that's what they are. When bad things come our way, don't blame God. Instead, trust Him to be able to take the bad and bring good out of it. I've seen Him do it over and over. Even something as bad as a loved one dying—God is able to bring good out of it. Pray to that end. God can always be trusted; He never changes.

---------------------------------

   6. What are we to do in addition to listening to God's word?

        a) pray

        b) write God's word on our hearts

        c) share it with others

        d) do what it says


Verses 19-25 say: Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.

   But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don't obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. Hopefully, you chose the last one.

   On a scale from 1 - 10, how would you rate yourself on:

  • quick to listen ______
  • slow to speak ______
  • slow to get angry ______

How would others who know you well rate you on these traits? How would God rate you?

   How well would it work if you listened well to your wife, but never did anything she asked of you? What if you listened well, but only did 20% of what she asked? What if you did 100% of what your wife asked you to do, you did it quickly, and with a good attitude? How would your wife respond to you? How well does it work with God when we listen well to what he has to say, but only do 50% of what He asks? How would God respond to us if we did 100% of what He asked out of our strong love for Him?

------------------------------

   7. Your religion is worthless when . . .

        a) it's all about Baal

        b) you don't control your tongue

        c) you don't love your neighbor

        d) you refuse to give to the poor

        e) all these things

   

Verses 26-27 say: If you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. Hopefully, you remembered you are dealing with James 1, so instead of choosing "e" you chose "b". 

   Let's not forget the call to care for the orphans here and abroad and watch out for the widows who are struggling to make ends meet. Let's not let the world corrupt us with its luring ways—ways that seem right but end in destruction. Proverbs 14:12 says, "There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death."

   How you did on the quiz doesn't matter. How you live your life before God does matter. Let's live lives that bring glory and honor to God.


Note: Keep writing down what you are thankful to God for. Try to finish up this week so you can share next week if you so desire.

Thinking of Ourselves Rightly, p.1.pdf

Thinking of Ourselves Rightly, p.2.pdf

11/19/19

Good morning, Son Worshipers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/6lBhvTAfmIk


Memory Verse for the Week: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14


   Have you ever heard someone say, "The Lord told me . . ."? Are we supposed to stop the discussion at that point and accept whatever that person has said as being from God? Definitely not! We are to observe how those words line up with the word of God. If they don't line up with the word of God, then what was said by the person is an untruth. There are a lot of things being said these days that don't line up with God's word, and we know those words are not from God.

   This isn't a new problem. Over 2,600 years ago, Jeremiah wrote about something similar. It's found in Jeremiah 23:25-32:


   "I have heard these prophets say, 'Listen to the dream I had from 

God last night.' And then they proceed to tell lies in my name. How long will this go on? If they are prophets, they are prophets of deceit, inventing everything they say. By telling these false dreams, they are trying to get my people to forget me, just as their ancestors did by worshiping the idols of Baal.

   "Let these false prophets tell their dreams, but let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word. There is a difference between straw and grain! Does not my word burn like fire?" says the LORD. "Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces?

   "Therefore," says the LORD, "I am against these prophets who steal messages from each other and claim they are from me. I am against these smooth-tongued prophets who say, 'This prophecy is from the LORD!' I am against these false prophets. Their imaginary dreams are flagrant lies that lead my people into sin. I did not send or appoint them, and they have no message at all for my people. I, the LORD, have spoken!"


   Then there's Ezekiel 13:1-16:


   Then this message came to me from the LORD: "Son of man, prophesy against the false prophets of Israel who are inventing their own prophecies. Say to them, 'Listen to the word of the LORD. This is what the Sovereign LORD says: What sorrow awaits the false prophets who are following their own imaginations and have seen nothing at all!'

   "O people of Israel, these prophets of yours are like jackals digging in the ruins. They have done nothing to repair the breaks in the walls around the nation. They have not helped it to stand firm in battle on the day of the LORD. Instead, they have told lies and made false predictions. They say, 'This message is from the LORD,' even though the LORD never sent them. And yet they expect him to fulfill their prophecies! Can your visions be anything but false if you claim, 'This message is from the LORD,' when I have not even spoken to you?

   "Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because what you say is false and your visions are a lie, I will stand against you, says the Sovereign LORD. I will raise my fist against all the prophets who see false visions and make lying predictions, and they will be banished from the community of Israel. I will blot their names from Israel's record books, and they will never again set foot in their own land. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD.

   "This will happen because these evil prophets deceive my people by saying, 'All is peaceful' when there is no peace at all! It's as if the people have built a flimsy wall, and these prophets are trying to reinforce it by covering it with whitewash! Tell these whitewashers that their wall will soon fall down. A heavy rainstorm will undermine it; great hailstones and mighty winds will knock it down. And when the wall falls, the people will cry out, 'What happened to your whitewash?'

   "Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will sweep away your whitewashed wall with a storm of indignation; with a great flood of anger, and with hailstones of fury. I will break down your wall right to its foundation, and when it falls, it will crush you. Then you will know that I am the LORD. At last my anger against the wall and those who covered it with whitewash will be satisfied. Then I will say to you: 'The wall and those who whitewashed it are both gone. They were lying prophets who claimed peace would come to Jerusalem when there was no peace. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!' "


   I'm not saying that when you hear "The Lord told me . . ." that it's not from the Lord. What I'm saying is when you hear those words, your ears should perk up, and you should be alert. It's possible the line is being used to shut down any arguments against what's being said. Be cautious. Consider the source. The true prophets of old were known as true prophets. Generally, they were not liked because they were delivering true words from God, and those words made the people feel uncomfortable because the words from God didn't line up well with how they were living their lives or what they wanted to see happen. 

   We also want to make sure that if we ever use the phrase "The Lord told me . . ." that there is no doubt we have heard from the Lord. It's possible it's just an idea that popped in our mind that may be a good idea, but not something the Lord said. Let's be careful with our words. We want everything we say to bring glory to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! If we say a word is from the Lord, and it's not, we are not bringing glory to God.


Note: Keep writing down what you are thankful to God for. Try to finish up this week so you can share next week if you so desire.

Week 44, p.1.pdf

Week 44, p.2.pdf

Week 44, p.3.pdf

Week 44, p.4.pdf

11/18/19

Good morning, Not of this World.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/x0-eljXhRMM


Memory Verse for the Week: He who walks with integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known. Proverbs 10:9


   Is it our faith that heals us? Pastor Michael answered this question in his sermon "Jesus, the Healer" based on Matthew 9:27-34.

   The miracles found in this passage are the ninth and tenth miracles recorded in Matthew. Ten is a number of completeness. Matthew wrote this book to show that Jesus is the Messiah.

    After Jesus left the girl's home, two blind men followed along behind him, shouting, "Son of David, have mercy on us!" It's likely these two blind men were beggars, but they had heard all about Jesus. The Scriptures had foretold the Messiah would be from the line of David. The men recognized Him as the "Son of David"—the Messiah. These men believed that the Messiah would sit on the throne of Israel and rule ALL the nations. Rome would be under His rule. They believed Jesus to be a revolutionary leader, and they wanted in on the revolution.

    They went right into the house where he was staying, and Jesus asked them, "Do you believe I can make you see?" 

   "Yes, Lord," they told him, "we do."

   Why did Jesus go indoors? Jesus was drawing out their intentions, convictions, and faith. (see Acts 3:1-11) The blind men were emboldened by Jesus to believe.

   Then he touched their eyes and said, "Because of your faith, it will happen."

   Touching is a sign of caring. Never believe someone who tells you, "You were not healed because of your lack of faith." It's not YOUR faith that heals you; it's GOD'S faith that heals you. We don't need to conjure up faith, because it's not our faith that heals us. Jesus heals us. Jesus isn't a "faith healer." Jesus is the Messiah who heals. He's the Son of God who heals.

    Then their eyes were opened, and they could see! Jesus sternly warned them, "Don't tell anyone about this." But instead, they went out and spread his fame all over the region.

   Jesus didn't want the two men going out and telling and giving false information as to who Jesus was. He didn't want them to leave and share what wasn't true—that Jesus was a revolutionary leader who would overthrow Rome. Jesus is God with skin on! He is the Savior of the world! He is the Messiah!

    When they left, a demon-possessed man who couldn't speak was brought to Jesus. He couldn't talk because of being demon-possessed.

   So Jesus cast out the demon, and then the man began to speak. The crowds were amazed. "Nothing like this has ever happened in Israel!" they exclaimed.

   Your faith is not what heals. It's all about God. It's up to Him to decide whether there is healing or not. As Matthew is read, there is no pattern to the healings . . . profess faith then be healed or no profession of faith followed by healing. Jesus is much more than the crowd ever imagined.

    But the Pharisees said, "He can cast out demons because he is empowered by the prince of demons."

   Not everybody who follows Jesus is for Jesus. The Pharisees were not for Jesus. Jesus didn't follow the rules—He didn't fast according to the rules. Jesus did what the Pharisees could not do—heal the blind and demon-possessed. 

   Sadly, the healed blind men spread the untruth Jesus told them not to spread. We deny God's actions when we refuse to follow Jesus when it doesn't look like something we'd like to see happen.

   Let God peel back the layers of your heart and give you peace. God is calling us to go deeper with Him. Follow Jesus indoors (as the blind men did) so you can know Him better.

   Do you want God for what you can get, or do you want God for what you can give? Let God be Lord of your life and bring healing. Let God refine you to make you more like Him.


Note: Keep writing down what you are thankful to God for. Try to finish up this week so you can share next week if you so desire.


—————————————————

How do we discern what is truly the work of the Spirit of God and what is counterfeit? Dr. Moody does an excellent job of answering this question!  https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/1-john-41-6-how-to-test-the-spirits/

11/16/19

Good morning, Strong and Courageous.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/MA_cSFdUMqk


Memory Verse for the Week: He who walks with integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known. Proverbs 10:9


   When you have memorized Bible verses, my guess is you didn't memorize Hebrews 10:36a: Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. Such a short half of a verse, and yet it seems like it is vital to life today. 

  • Have you been stuck in traffic recently? Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. 
  • Are you faced with physical limitations? Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will.
  • Have you received word of a life-threatening health issue? Patience endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. 
  • Have you lost a loved one? Patience endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. 
  • Are you in the process of losing a loved one? Patience endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God'd will. 
  • Do you have a family member that has wandered away from the faith? Patience endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. 
  • Are there long lines at the grocery store and you are in the slowest moving line of all? Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. 
  • Is there something you have been praying about for a long time, and it seems like God isn't listening? Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. 
  • Have you come close to flinging your electronics into the trash? Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will.
  • Is your transportation unreliable? Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will.
  • Do you find it difficult to deal with a particular brother or sister in Christ? Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will.
  • Do you count the minutes until the little kids will be gone from where you are? Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will.
  • Are you persecuted for your faith? Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will.

   We, as Americans, are not known for our patience. However, we, as Christians, are called to stand out from the world. We should act differently from the world. People should be able to tell there's something different about us (besides the Christian T-shirt), and that is Jesus living inside us. Jesus within us produces patience.

   Let's take a look at the context in which this verse was used. Hebrews 10:19-39:

    And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven's Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God's house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ's blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

   Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

   Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God's judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God's mercy to us. For we know the one who said, "I will take revenge. I will pay them back." He also said, "The LORD will judge his own people." It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

   Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever.

   So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. "For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away." But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.

   When we are faced with things that try our patience, we need to remember the perspective of this passage—there are much better things right around the corner. These things are going to last forever. What's concerning us right now is temporary. In a few seconds/hours/days/years, these things that are so important to us now will no longer matter. In time, we will be with Christ, our Lord and Savior for all eternity. Meanwhile, let's support and encourage each other with these words.


Note: Keep writing down what you are thankful to God for. It's important to remember all He's done in our lives, so we can give Him the praise and glory He deserves.


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Do you sometimes doubt your salvation? Dr. Moody gives us four ways to be sure about our salvation: https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/1-john-319-24-four-ways-to-be-sure-about-our-salvation/

11/15/19

Good morning, Believers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/E00j5xGeDm8


Memory Verse for the Week: He who walks with integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known. Proverbs 10:9


   Yesterday, Dr. Wedman continued his study of the minor prophets. "A Lesson in Faithfulness" covers Chapters 11 and 12 of Hosea.

   The events in these chapters are occurring around 725 B.C. Hoshea is the last king of Israel. Shalmaneser V is the king of Assyria. The northern kingdom is corrupt and immoral. Covenants with other nations have been made, including Assyria. Hoshea has broken the covenant with Assyria and entered into a covenant with Egypt. The nation of Israel has walked away from God and is empty spiritually. They still practice religion, but it's to gain blessings from God.


Chapter 11

   "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and I called my son out of Egypt.

   This love is "hesed" love—His covenant love; it's faithful, loving kindness. (see II Timothy 2:11-13) Called means chosen by God for a special relationship with Him. (see I Peter 1:1-2) I Peter 2:9-10 says, "But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God's very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light." As chosen ones, we are to be obedient, sanctified people.

   In Matthew 2:13-23, we find the words, That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod's death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: "I called my Son out of Egypt." Jesus is the perfect example and fulfillment of Israel's covenant keeping.

    But the more I called to him, the farther he moved from me, offering sacrifices to the images of Baal and burning incense to idols.

   Israel has walked away from God—His love and His calling. They heard His voice and chose to ignore it.

    I myself taught Israel how to walk, leading him along by the hand. But he doesn't know or even care that it was I who took care of him. I led Israel along with my ropes of kindness and love. I lifted the yoke from his neck, and I myself stooped to feed him.

   God raised Israel as His own. He helped them learn to walk (like parents help their babies). He helped them when they were sick and diseased. He cuddled them and held them close. He fed them. God poured Himself out for them when they were hopeless. In the New Testament, Jesus is the one who poured Himself out for us.

    "But since my people refuse to return to me, they will return to Egypt and will be forced to serve Assyria. War will swirl through their cities; their enemies will crash through their gates. They will destroy them, trapping them in their own evil plans. For my people are determined to desert me. They call me the Most High, but they don't truly honor me.

   Israel rejected God and went their own way. Israel refused to repent. There was no change of heart before God. They only paid lip-service to God. As a result, Israel would find themselves back in Egypt (a reversal of the exodus). The blessings of the covenant would no longer be theirs to enjoy. They will experience the curses of breaking covenant with the Almighty God.

    "Oh, how can I give you up, Israel? How can I let you go? How can I destroy you like Admah or demolish you like Zeboiim? My heart is torn within me, and my compassion overflows. No, I will not unleash my fierce anger. I will hot completely destroy Israel, for I am God and not a mere mortal. I am the Holy One living among you, and I will not come to destroy. For someday the people will follow me. I, the LORD, will roar like a lion. And when I roar, my people will return trembling from the west. Like a flock of birds, they will come from Egypt. Trembling like doves, they will return from Assyria. And I will bring them home again," says the LORD.

   God would not give up on them. He will not break His covenant with them. He will remain faithful to His word. (See Deuteronomy 29:23) The curses of the covenant will be enacted, yet they will not be completely destroyed. God will not give up on them. Why won't He give up on them? It's because God doesn't act like us. God is holy. God's holiness means a guarantee of His faithfulness toward us in both word and action. He cannot be anything other than perfectly faithful and true. God's holiness guarantees His character.

   Our lives are secure in Jesus. There are no imperfections in Jesus. He is holy. God's holiness means His judgments are not about revenge. He desires all people to come unto salvation. (See I Timothy 2:4; II Peter 3:9)

    Israel surrounds me with lies and deceit, but Judah still obeys God and is faithful to the Holy One.


Chapter 12

   This is the beginning of the last section of Hosea. 

    The people of Israel feed on the wind; they chase after the east wind all day long. They pile up lies and violence; they are making an alliance with Assyria while sending olive oil to buy support from Egypt. Now the LORD is bringing charges against Judah. He is about to punish Jacob for all his deceitful ways, and pay him back for all he has done.

   The charge against Israel—see 4:1; 5:1; 8:1. They are full of lies and deceit. They have refused to come under the guidance of God. They pursue vanity. (See 8:7) They trust in man's strength rather than God's strength.

   Even in the womb, Jacob struggled with his brother; when he became a man, he even fought with God. Yes, he wrestled with the angel and won. He wept and pleaded for a blessing from him. There at Bethel he met God face to face, and God spoke to him—the LORD God of Heaven's Armies, the LORD is his name!

   Here we find a short history lesson. There was the choosing of Jacob (see Genesis 25:26). Jacob wrestled with God (see Genesis 32:24-30). There was the ladder to heaven at Bethel (see Genesis 35:1-15).

   So now, come back to your God. Act with love and justice, and always depend on him.

   Here is how to gain a blessing: return to God and repent of sins. Practice "hesed" love toward others. Practice justice toward others. Wait on Him.

    But no, the people are like crafty merchants selling from dishonest scales—they love to cheat. Israel boasts, "I am rich! I've made a fortune all by myself! No one has caught me cheating! My record is spotless!"

   Israel does not practice love and justice. Israel does not acknowledge their sin and repent. Israel does not wait for God. Instead, they move in their own strength.

    "But I am the LORD your God, who rescued you from slavery in Egypt. And I will make you live in tents again, as you do each year at the Festival of Shelters. I sent my prophets to warn you with many visions and parables."

   But the people of Gilead are worthless because of their idol worship. And in Gilgal, too, they sacrifice bulls; their altars are lined up like the heaps of stone along the edges of a plowed field.

   God responds. He tells them He is God and that fact cannot be changed even if it is denied. He tells them He is their God. There's a covenantal connection, a personal connection. He tells them walking away from Him means judgment of the covenant through the curses, exile from the land—the promised land—the land of the covenant. They and all they hold dear will be destroyed.

    Jacob fled to the land of Aram, and there he earned a wife by tending sheep. Then by a prophet the LORD brought Jacob's descendants out of Egypt; and by that prophet they were protected. 

   Here is another short history lesson. Jacob and Laban, Rachel and Leah. God's grace is shown to undeserving Jacob. There's the exodus from Egypt. God's grace is shown to undeserving Israel. God's grace is shown to undeserving us.

    But the people of Israel have bitterly provoked the LORD, so their Lord will now sentence them to death in payment for their sins.

   Israel ignored the grace of God. Israel rejected the grace of God. Israel will suffer the consequences of breaking the covenant with God—destruction and exile.


Conclusion

   Israel was called and loved by God to be His own. Israel rejected God's call and His love. God continues to offer His faithful covenant love. Israel continues to reject His faithful love. God remains faithful to His covenant word. God's holiness leads to Israel's destruction and exile. BUT . . . it doesn't end there. There's more to the story. Next week we'll look at Chapters 13 and 14.


Note: Keep writing down what you are thankful to God for. It's important to remember all He's done in our lives, so we can give Him the praise and glory He deserves.


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What does love in action and truth look like? Dr. Moody discusses this: 

https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/1-john-311-18-love-in-action-and-in-truth/

11/14/19

Good morning, Mountain Movers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/JrlHGO_4Nc0&list=RDJrlHGO_4Nc0


Memory Verse for the Week: He who walks with integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known. Proverbs 10:9


   How many of you go to the end of a book and read the ending first? Are you the same ones who open Christmas presents early and then rewrap them?  The New Testament is the climax to God's story, but one misses so much if only the New Testament is read. The Old Testament helps us understand and appreciate the New Testament.

   Within the New Testament, there is a short summary of how the two testaments complement each other. It's a great passage to share with unbelievers who are seeking to understand why Jesus came to the earth. It's also a great passage to strengthen our gratitude to Jesus for all He's done for us. That passage is Hebrews 9-10:22:

   That first covenant between God and Israel had regulations for worship and a place of worship here on earth. There were two rooms in that Tabernacle. In the first room were a lamp stand, a table, and sacred loaves of bread on the table. This room was called the Holy Place. Then there was a curtain, and behind the curtain was the second room called the Most Holy Place. In that room were a gold incense altar and a wooden chest called the Ark of the Covenant, which was covered with gold on all sides. Inside the Ark were a gold jar containing manna, Aaron's staff that sprouted leaves, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the Ark were the cherubim of divine glory, whose wings stretched out over the Ark's cover, the place of atonement. But we cannot explain these things in detail now.

   When these things were all in place, the priests regularly entered the first room as they performed their religious duties. But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. By these regulations the Holy Spirit revealed that the entrance to the Most Holy Place was not freely open as long as the Tabernacle and the system it represented were still in use.

   This is an illustration pointing to the present time. For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them. For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies—physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established.

   So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.

   Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people's bodies from ceremonial impurity. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.

   Now when someone leaves a will, it is necessary to prove that the person who made it is dead. The will goes into effect only after the person's death. While the person who made it is still alive, the will cannot be put into effect.

   That is why even the first covenant was put into effect with the blood of an animal. For after Moses had read each of God's commandments to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, along with water, and sprinkled both the book of God's law and all the people, using hyssop branches and scarlet wool. Then he said, "This blood confirms the covenant God has made with you." And in the same way, he sprinkled blood on the Tabernacle and on everything used for worship. In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.

   That is why the Tabernacle and everything in it, which were copies of things in heaven, had to be purified by the blood of animals. But the real things in heaven had to be purified with far better sacrifices than the blood of animals.

   For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.

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

   The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. f they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared.

   But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God, "You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given me a body to offer. You were not pleased with burnt offerings or other offerings for sin. Then I said, "Look, I have come to do your will, O God—as is written about me in the Scriptures." First, Christ said, "You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them" (though they are required by the law of Moses). Then he said, "Look, I have come to do your will." He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect. For God's will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.

   Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God's right hand. There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.

   And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says, "This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the LORD: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." Then he says, "I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds." And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.

   And so dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven's Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God's house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ's blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

   Thank you, Jesus!


Note: Keep writing down what you are thankful to God for. It's important to remember all He's done in our lives, so we can give Him the praise and glory He deserves.


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Did you ever think of sin as being an offense against God personally? Dr. Moody discusses this and more: https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/1-john-31-10-how-and-why-be-holy/

11/13/19

Good morning, Spiritually Gifted.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/-LwBqG7uXbY


Memory Verse for the Week: He who walks with integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known. Proverbs 10:9


   After reading Genesis 18-22 and Matthew 8, the following prayer was written:

   Lord, I see that nothing is impossible with you; nothing is too difficult for you. You moved in the lives of Abraham and Sarah, who were well beyond the childbearing years, and You gave them a son, Isaac. Help me to remember this when I'm faced with "impossible" situations of my own. If it's your will, it will happen. Guide my prayers to be in line with your will.

   I see that it's okay to plead my case to you as Abraham did when he asked you to not destroy Sodom if 50 righteous people were found within the city. Abraham pleaded his concern down to 10 righteous, and, God, you agreed. I know you hear my righteous prayers and are able to respond in ways I thought were impossible.

   Thank you for the example of Abraham who loved and trusted you more than anything else. He was willing to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, to you in obedience and reverence knowing you know best.

   In the New Testament we are shown again and again that nothing is impossible with you. You touched the leper and said, "Be cleansed," and he was cleansed. Immediately, the leprosy left him.

   Jesus, you told the centurion with the paralyzed servant, "Go your way; let it be done to you as you have believed." You didn't have to physically be where the servant was, and yet the servant was healed. May my faith increase to become stronger like that of the centurion.

   Jesus, when you were in the boat with your disciples, a terrible storm arose that covered the boat with waves. The disciples were terrified and said, "You spoke to the wind and sea, and it became perfectly calm." Only the Creator of the universe could do something like that. I bow and worship you, Lord Jesus. 

   I praise you for your power to remove demons that possessed people. I look forward to the day when in heaven there will be no disease, no demon possession, no terrible storms—nothing bad. I look forward to that day when I can praise you and give you glory forever. You alone are worthy of our praise.


   The following prayer was written after reading Genesis 23-24 and Matthew 9:

   Father God, thank you for directing a wife for Isaac. You had everything under control. Abraham and his servant only needed to have faith that you would indicate who Isaac's wife should be. Stretch my faith in you to be that of Abraham and his servant. I know I can trust you to lead me in the way I should go. I pray that my every step will be ordered by you. Keep me from wandering to the right or the left of your perfect will. I want your will to be done in my life. Thank you for having your servants write down your will in the Bible. May I spend time in your word learning the right path to follow—the path that's so often the opposite of the culture I live in. Empower me by your Spirit to follow your path when the alternate path entices me to change paths. Light your path for me to see clearly and may I hear you say, "This is the path; walk in it." Fill me with courage to stay on your path when I am ridiculed for doing so. 

   Jesus, you told the paralytic his sins were forgiven. No one but you, God, can forgive sins. By your statement, you showed us you are God. You backed up your words by saying, "Rise, take up your bed, and go home." Jesus, I acknowledge you as God. You were there when the world was created. You have always been; there never was a time when you were not. You are the promised Messiah, and I bow before you and worship you. Jesus, when I worship you, I am worshiping God and the Holy Spirit simultaneously.

   Jesus, you mingled with sinners because you said they needed a physician. I pray you will find me mingling with sinners, showing them The Way. Everyone needs you in this life and the life to come. Use me to further your kingdom.

   Thank you for the faith of the hemorrhaging lady who believed she would be healed if she could just touch your garment. May my faith be that strong.

   Jesus, you proved you are the resurrection and the life when you raised the dead girl back to life. I know you can resurrect me back to life after I die. 

   Thank you for healing the blind, the demon possessed, and the dumb. Nothing is too difficult for you.

   Lord, send workers into your harvest fields. There are many who don't know you, and unless I say something, they might never know you. Help me to be sensitive to your still, small voice prompting me to say something to the person whose heart you have prepared to receive a word from you through me.


Note: Keep writing down what you are thankful to God for. It's important to remember all He's done in our lives, so we can give Him the praise and glory He deserves.


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Do you know how to resist false teaching? Dr. Moody gives some pointers taken from I John: 

https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/1-john-224-29-three-ways-to-resist-false-teaching/

11/12/19

Good morning, Jesus Worshipers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/_54ECo6s2M8


Memory Verse for the Week: He who walks with integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known. Proverbs 10:9


   Life has its ups and downs. There are times when everything seems to be rolling along smoothly, and then we get hit by a freight train. As a former pastor used to say, "You're either heading into a storm; in a storm, or coming out of a storm." When I heard him say this, he was in a storm of leukemia. That storm lasted many years and finally took his life. It was a rough storm for sure, but it was a storm that drew him so close to Jesus! Laurie and I both said he was the closest man to Jesus we'd ever met. His name was Ron Mehl, and he has quite a story!

   Jeremiah had some storms in his life, too. Lamentations 3:1-20 says:

   I am the one who has seen the afflictions that come from the rod of the LORD'S anger. He has led me into darkness shutting out all light. He has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long. He has made my skin and flesh grow old. He has broken my bones. He has besieged and surrounded me with anguish and distress. He has buried me in a dark place, like those long dead.

   He has walled me in, and I cannot escape. He has bound me in heavy chains. And though I cry and shout, he has shut out my prayers. He has blocked my way with a high stone wall; he has made my road crooked.

   He has hidden like a bear or a lion, waiting to attack me. He has dragged me off the path and torn me in pieces, leaving me helpless and devastated. He has drawn his bow and made me the target for his arrows.

   He shot his arrows deep into my heart. My own people laugh at me. All day long they sing their mocking songs. He has filled me with bitterness and given me a bitter cup of sorrow to drink. He has made me chew on gravel. He has rolled me in the dust. Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is. I cry out, "My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the LORD is lost!"

   The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. 


   Have you ever felt like God was having you chew on gravel? Have you ever felt rolled in the dust? I think we've all been there. Sometimes when we think we are being rolled in the dust, we find out later what we were experiencing was a just a mild dust storm.

   Fortunately, Jeremiah is not done. In verses 21-39, he has this to say:

    Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:

   The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, "The LORD is my inheritance, therefore, I will hope in him!"

   The LORD is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the LORD. And it is good for people to submit at an early age to the yoke of his discipline: Let them sit along in silence beneath the LORD's demands. Let them lie face down in the dust, for there may be hope at last. Let them turn the other cheek to those who strike them and accept the insults of their enemies.

   For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love. For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow.

   If people crush underfoot all the prisoners of the land, if they deprive others of their rights in defiance of the Most High, if they twist justice in the courts—doesn't the Lord see all these things?

   Who can command things to happen without the Lord's permission? Does not the Most High send both calamity and good? Then why should we, mere humans, complain when we are punished for our sins?

   

   At the start of this passage, Jeremiah said he had hope when he remembered the faithful love of God. That's what I'd like us to focus on the next two weeks writing down what we remember about the faithful love of God. When those storms come our way, and the devil says, "Did God really say . . ." trying to make us doubt God, we can pull out our sheet that has what we are thankful for, and begin praising God for all He's done in our lives. When we praise God, the devil flees.

   The paper of thanksgiving/praise is for your personal use. You do not need to share it on this devotional. However, I think it would be an encouragement to others so see how God has worked in your life.

   I've started my sheet, and I hope you will start your sheet today if you haven't already. Just add a little each day. It will bring to God the glory He deserves.


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Dr. Moody reminds us that in Christ we can overcome the evil one. 

https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/1-john-212-17-the-world-and-its-desires/

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11/11/19

Good morning, Soldiers of the Cross.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/FRpUgRkSI1M


Memory Verse for the Week: We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. II Corinthians 5:20


   Thank a Veteran for his/her service today. Some Veterans were in the thick of it all and fought bravely for freedom. We appreciate what they have done to protect our country and preserve our freedom and the freedom of others.

   My sister sent me more information on the man from Togo (see Thursday's devotional if you missed it). Here is the email she received from her missionary friend in Togo. Note: My sister and Susie attended Faith Academy together in the Philippines. They were in the dorm together. 


Dear Praying Friends,

I (Susie) have been thinking of many emails to you in my head these past weeks, sharing what God has been doing in Togo!  But let me share an exciting thing the Holy Spirit did just last night.

I visited a young Muslim man, recovering from surgery in the cuisine (housing area for families and patients needing daily wound care and follow-up appointments). He had just finished watching the “Jesus” film, and I asked him what he thought of it.  He was almost speechless, obviously overcome with emotion.

“It touches me deeply…that Jesus died for me…he let people drive nails in his hands…he did this for me…I am overwhelmed he did this…” he whispered.

He went on to share more about the crucifixion, often pausing to again express his awe that “Jesus did this…suffered so…for my sins…”   

And he questioned, “Why did he do this?  Why did he let people kill him?”

We talked for 20 minutes or so, and he told me he would like to read the Bible.  (Wonderfully, he reads French well.)  So I brought him a NT, designed especially for Muslims, with the text in both French and Arabic, along with a similarly formatted tract.  He eagerly accepted both, with great thanks; when leaving the cuisine later, I saw he was still reading! 

We just stand in awe of what God the Holy Spirit does through God the Son and His Word, because of God the Father’s incomprehensible love for us!!

There really are no words for this front-row seat to the mystery and miracle of salvation…this… unmerited privilege…but am hoping this invites you into it a bit…our praying and giving friends.  How thankful we are for you.  How God is using you from afar!!

Keep praying for this young man.  

With grateful hearts,

John and Susie Briggs

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   We will continue to look at some Scripture verses that deal with having thankful hearts toward God:

  • Give thanks to the LORD, for he is goodHis faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to him who alone does mighty miracles. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to him who made the heavens so skillfully. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to him who placed the earth among the waters. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to him who made the heavenly lights—His faithful love endures forever. the sun to rule the day, His faithful love endures forever. and the moon and stars to rule the night. His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 136:1-9
  • All of your works will thank you, LORD, and your faithful followers will praise you. They will speak of the glory of your kingdom; they will give examples of your power. They will tell about your mighty deeds and about the majesty and glory of your reign. For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. You rule throughout all generations. The LORD always keeps his promises; he is gracious in all he does. Psalm 145:10-13
  • And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20
  • Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6
  • I will tell of the LORD'S unfailing love. I will praise the LORD for all he has done. Isaiah 63:7
  • Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory." But God says to the wicked: "Why bother reciting my decrees and pretending to obey my covenant? For you refuse my discipline and treat my words like trash. When you see thieves, you approve of them, and you spend your time with adulterers. Your mouth is filled with wickedness, and your tongue is full of lies. You sit around and slander your brother—your own mother's son. While you did all this, I remained silent, and you thought I didn't care. But now I will rebuke you, listing all my charges against you. Repent, all of you who forget me, or I will tear you apart, and no one will help you. But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God." Psalm 50:14-23
  • And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17
  • Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. Hebrews 12:28
  • Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer. I Timothy 4:5
  • We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God's grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. II Corinthians 4:14-15

Reminder: Write down what you are thankful for so you can see there is much to give God thanks for. Those who wish to may share with others starting the last week of November.

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How do we rectify the idea that we are enabled by the power of the Spirit not to sin and yet we still sin? Dr. Moody shares his thoughts: https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/1-john-21-11-love-and-obedience/

11/9/19

Good morning, Thankful People.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/NPWq8eM4lu8


Memory Verse for the Week: We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. II Corinthians 5:20


   November is the month we celebrate Thanksgiving. As Christians, we have more to be thankful for than others! I thought it might be an encouragement to each other if we shared what we are thankful for. God tells us to be thankful and remember what He has done in our lives. I think it would be profitable for each one of us to write down what we are thankful for. I would suggest that starting today, as you think of things you are thankful for, you jot them down on a sheet of paper. Add to the list each day as more things come to mind. Then starting the last week of November, we can share what we have come up with. If you would rather not share, that's fine, too. Nevertheless, I think there's added value when we write things down that are important to us. 

   Here are some verses from Scripture that remind us to be thankful people:

  • As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with him. But Jesus said, "No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been." So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed at what he told them. Mark 5:18-20
  • It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to the Most High. It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening, accompanied by a ten-stringed instrument, a harp, and the melody of a lyre. You thrill me, LORD, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done. O LORD, what great works you do! And how deep are your thoughts. Psalm 92:1-5
  • Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. Psalm 95:2
  • Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation. Psalm 100:4-5
  • Let all that I am praise the LORD; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle's! The LORD gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated unfairly. Psalm 103:1-6
  • The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is a great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. Psalm 103:8-13
  • But the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear him. His salvation extends to the children's children of those who are faithful to his covenant, of those who obey his commandments! Psalm 103:17-18
  • Praise the LORD, you angels, you mighty ones who carry out his plans, listening for each of his commands. Yes, praise the LORD, you armies of angels who serve him and do his will! Praise the LORD, everything he has created, everything in all his kingdom. Let all that I am praise the LORD. Psalm 103:20-22
  • I will sing to the LORD as long as I live. I will praise my God to my last breath! Psalm 104:33
  • Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:18
  • Praise the LORD! Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Who can list the glorious miracles of the LORD? Who can ever praise him enough? Psalm 106:1-2
  • Let them praise the LORD for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. Psalm 107:8
  • Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and sing joyfully about his glorious acts. Psalm 107:22
  • I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD. Psalm 116:17
  • Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Let all Israel repeat: "His faithful love endures forever." Let Aaron's descendants, the priests, repeat, "His faithful love endures forever." Let all who fear the LORD repeat: "His faithful love endures forever." Psalm 118:1-4
  • Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly. The strong right arm of the LORD has done glorious things! Psalm 118:15
  • Open for me the gates where the righteous enter, and I will go in and thank the LORD. Psalm 118:19

   We will continue with the theme of thanksgiving next time. Remember to write down what you are thankful for.


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What is gnosticism? Dr. Moody explains: https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/1-john-1-if-we-claim-to-be-without-sin/

11/8/19

Good morning, Washed in the Blood.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/h9oW91Iv8D8


Memory Verse for the Week: We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. II Corinthians 5:20


   Awhile back, testimonies of what God had done were shared by several people. They were a source of encouragement to me as I see how God had His hand on the person's life and brought them to a climactic point when a decision was made to become a follower of Jesus.

   My younger sister lives in Cape Town, South Africa. She wrote and told about how a Muslim in Togo watched the Jesus Film https://jesusfilm.org/watch/jesus.html/english.html. When the film was over, the man was overwhelmed and asked why Jesus had to die. He said, "Why would he die for me?"

   Then she shared a testimony of what God was doing right in the church she attends. Here is what she wrote:


   We have been rejoicing the past six weeks since a lady was miraculously saved! She is Brazilian but married to a South African and grew up Catholic. She was always seeking God but got involved in some group (I can't remember the name of that mixes Brazilian and African traditions). She completed all the courses the group had to offer, and the leaders said it was time for her to become a priestess (basically a witch doctor). So, she was keen on the idea, and the leader was explaining that there would be an animal sacrifice done for her and then some other things. In culmination, she would have to sacrifice an animal.  

   At that point, a silent voice spoke to her so clearly and said, "Why do you need to sacrifice an animal when I sacrificed my life for you?" She was shocked and knew it was Jesus, so she went home and was troubled. She asked Jesus what she should do.  

   A day or two later, she woke up extra early. She was asking Jesus to show her what to do. She opened her computer, and the first thing she saw on Facebook was a prayer put up on our Kommetjie Christian Church page (some friend of hers must have shared it). So, she looked up the website and got the phone number and called our pastor. She told him straight, "I need to talk to you about God" so they arranged for the next a.m. at 9:00.  

   There was no small talk -- just deep confession and putting her trust in Jesus. Our pastor sensed that God was telling him not to say too much as the Holy Spirit was working with her. She and her partner were at church the next Sunday and have been there every week since.  

   She has also been meeting regularly with our pastor. The second time she came, she told him that she had burned everything to do with witchcraft (books, etc.). He never told her that she needed to do that.  

   She was reading the Word and letting the Lord do the work in her. She asked Him, "What else must I do?" and He said to be baptized. She said YES! She's so enthusiastic! If you look up Kommetjie Christian Church on FB, you will see a little video clip of her baptism. She gave a powerful testimony before she went to the water and she was just so overwhelmed when she came up. 

   As she was getting dressed after, she told our pastor's wife that she has seen much darkness but now she knows she is filled with Light. Praise the Lord!!  

   She has also been sharing with our pastor how she is going through such grief for the 20 years she wasted. We trust that she will be a light to MANY, and we pray for spiritual protection for her as the forces of darkness (and her old friends) are NOT happy! God can truly use a life set free in powerful ways! 

   God is great and greatly to be praised!


Here is a link to see the baptism: https://facebook.com/kommetjiechristianchurch/videos/884332415294595/


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Josh Moody writes about the return of Jesus: https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/2-peter-310-18-the-return-of-jesus/

11/7/19

Good morning, Valued Vessels of God.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/i7lv9oMjv_0


Memory Verse for the Week: We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. II Corinthians 5:20


   What we see on the outside does not necessarily reflect what's on the inside. A geode might look like this on the outside:

and look like this on the inside:

When we look on the outside of the Taj Mahal, this is what we find:

When we look inside the Taj Mahal, at its very core we find this:

The bones of the dead. 

   Have you ever had the misfortune of buying a used car that looked great on the outside, but hidden inside the engine or transmission there were some serious problems?

   Jehoiakim thought that building a magnificent palace would reflect back on how magnificent he was as the king of Judah. Jeremiah 22:13-17 says:

    And the LORD says, "What sorrow awaits Jehoiakim, who builds his palace with forced labor. He builds injustice into its walls, for he makes his neighbors work for nothing. He does not pay them for their labor. He says, 'I will build a magnificent palace with huge rooms and many windows. I will panel it throughout with fragrant cedar and paint it a lovely red.' But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king! Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink. But he was just and right in all his dealings. That is why God blessed him. He gave justice and help to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him. Isn't that what it means to know me?" says the LORD. "But you! You have eyes only for greed and dishonesty! You murder the innocent, oppress the poor, and reign ruthlessly."

   Therefore, this is what the LORD says about Jehoiakim, son of King Josiah: "The people will not mourn for him, crying to one another, 'Alas, my brother! Alas, my sister!' His subjects will not mourn for him, crying, 'Alas, our master is dead! Alas, his splendor is gone!' He will be buried like a dead donkey—dragged out of Jerusalem and dumped outside the gates! Weep for your allies in Lebanon. Shout for them in Bashan. Search for them in the regions east of the river. See, they are all destroyed. Not one is left to help you. I warned you when you were prosperous but you replied, 'Don't bother me.' You have been that way since childhood—you simply will not obey me! And now the wind will blow away your allies. All your friends will be taken away as captives. Surely then you will see your wickedness and be ashamed. It may be nice to live in a beautiful palace paneled with wood from the cedars of Lebanon, but soon you will groan with the pangs of anguish—anguish like that of a woman in labor."

   Jehoiakim pictured himself living in a luxurious palace with huge rooms and many windows. Nothing but the best for him! He probably envisioned people walking by his palace and saying, "Somebody of great importance lives there. A mighty ruler resides there. He must be the wealthiest man around!" He looked good on the outside! However, God saw inside the palace and saw a greedy, dishonest man who murdered the innocent, oppressed the poor, and reigned ruthlessly. Jehoiakim was like the Taj Mahal—beautiful on the outside, but full of dead bones on the inside.

   God told Samuel to select a new king for Israel from the sons of Jesse. He would replace Saul as king. I Samuel 16:6-7 says,

   When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, "Surely this is the LORD'S anointed!"

   But the LORD said to Samuel, "Don't judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

   Acts 13:22 says, "But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, 'I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.' "

   Proverbs 16:2 says, "People may be pure in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their motives." 

   Jeremiah 17:9-10 says, "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve."

   I Chronicles 28:9 says, "And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever."

   Psalm 44:20-21 says, "If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread our hands in prayer to foreign gods, God would surely have known it, for he knows the secrets of every heart."

   In Matthew 12:33-37, Jesus tells us how we can see what's in the heart: "A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you."

   Let's be like the geode—perhaps a bit rough around the edges and not much to look at but beautiful on the inside because of a pure heart that loves the LORD with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and a heart that loves others as ourselves.


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How can we identify false teaching? Dr. Moody gives us five things to look for: 

https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/2-peter-217-22-five-more-characteristics-of-false-teaching/

11/6/19

Good morning, Disciples of Christ.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/VXIBP2BdYR8


Memory Verse for the Week: We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. II Corinthians 5:20


   At an apologetics conference about a week ago, we heard Dr. Frank Turek give a lecture on "Why Biblical Sexuality?"

   Part of World War II coming to an end included the surrender of the Japanese on September 2, 1945. However, years later, there was still a group of Japanese soldiers on Lubang Island in the Philippines who wouldn't believe the war was over. They did not believe the Japanese would ever surrender, and they continued to defend themselves. Numerous attempts were made to let them know the war was over including dropping pamphlets (written in Japanese) from planes that said the war was over. This group of soldiers felt it was propaganda and a way to trick the Japanese soldiers into surrendering, and they weren't going to have any part of it. The leader of the group had been given orders by his commanding officer to fight until he returned to them. Finally, in 1974, the commanding officer himself went to the island southwest of Manila, Philippines, and told his loyal leader that the war was indeed over. Only then, did the soldier leave Lubang.

   Who is your commanding officer? Is it Jesus or the culture? Does the culture know more about morality than Jesus?

   Where did it all this morality mess begin? It started in the Garden of Eden when the serpent said to Eve, "Did God really say . . .?" Why do Christians fall for the same lie Eve fell for? It's because evil is sold as good. II Corinthians 11:13-15 says,

   These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.

   The Bible reads us. We have deceitful and wicked hearts. We suppress the truth to go our own way. Romans 1:18-20 says,

    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 was 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.

   Mark 7:20-23 says,

    And then [Jesus] added, "It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person's heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you."

   Sexual immorality is a category for all sexual sins outside of a man/woman marriage (fornication, homosexuality, incest, bestiality, etc.) 

   Matthew 19:4-6 says,

    "Haven't you read the Scriptures?" Jesus replied. "They record that from the beginning 'God made them male and female.' " And he said, " 'This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.' Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together."

   There are two basic religions in the world—one where you worship the Creator, and the other where you worship creation. Everyone worships something. What's the "new" religion in America? It's the religion of sex.

   What good would a compass be if the needle was stuck on north, so it said north was whatever direction you turned? What good is a moral compass that always points to us? Do we discover what's right or do we determine what's right? What was considered wrong a few years ago is no longer considered wrong. Could that mean pedophilia that is considered wrong today will be acceptable years from now? Pedophiles could say, "We were born this way."

   Sex is not just physical; it's emotional, psychological, and spiritual. There's no such thing as free sex. People are not objects to be used and discarded. John 15:12-14 says,

   "This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command."

   Love does not necessarily mean approval. Love always protects. We must stand in the way of evil or we are not loving.

   Michael Monsoor was a United States Navy SEAL who intentionally fell on a hand grenade thrown by an insurgent. In doing so, he saved the lives of two of his Navy SEAL buddies who were on either side of the grenade (likely saving other lives as well). Michael Monsoor was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Bush.

   Michael Monsoor is a hero, but he didn't give his life for you. However, Jesus did die for you. He suffered an excruciating death on a cross, so you wouldn't have to die for your sins. He took your place on the cross.

   At the funeral of Michael Monsoor, Navy SEALs imbedded their prized special warfare insignia, their SEAL Trident, into Michael's coffin:


   

   They gave up their identity to honor Michael. Our identity needs to be in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and nothing else.

   Think back to Lubang Island. Jesus is our commanding officer and He has given us orders: "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) Follow His orders until He returns.

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There was a Q&A time with Dr. Turek. Here are some things that were said:

   When discussing your faith with an unbeliever, some questions you might use are:

  1. How does that show there is no God?
  2. What do you mean by that?
  3. How did you come to that conclusion?
  4. Have you ever considered the Bible?

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Just because God knows doesn't mean He causes. We still have free will. Love requires free will. God has His will done through our free will.

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Why would God send someone to hell? God gives us the desires of our heart. When a person desires separation from God, God is not going to force them to go to heaven. See Romans 1:18-32.

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When people ask you about when Jesus will return, you can say, "I'm on the welcoming committee not the planning committee."

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When a person says, "There is no truth." respond with, "Is that true?" Turn the claim on itself.

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If the universe had a beginning, then it must have had a beginner. You don't get something from nothing. Nothing is what rocks dream about.

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Ask, "If Christianity is true, would you become a Christian?"

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   This concludes what I will be sharing from the apologetics conference. If you would like to explore further, and I hope you will, there are many books on the subject and countless videos on YouTube. You can Google the keynote speakers or look them up on YouTube and other places:

  • J.P. Moreland
  • Frank Turek
  • Phil Fernandes

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The following video is of Dr. Frank Turek lecturing on "Was Jesus Intolerant?": https://www.youtube.com/kESK1KSMPgQ

11/5/19

Good morning, Ambassadors for Christ.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/h-FJZmJEjGQ


Memory Verse for the Week: We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. II Corinthians 5:20


   At the apologetics conference we attended about a week ago, we heard Dr. J.P. Moreland give a lecture on "Why Jesus?" Here is part of what he said:

   Suppose you said to a friend of yours, "Let's play Monopoly. The way I play is there are no rules." The game begins and after several turns you decide to take a wad of cash from the bank. Why not? There are no rules. You play a little longer and decide to put hotels on property where you don't have a monopoly. 

   After awhile your friend says, "So how do you win this game?"

   You reply, "We're not playing to win. Nobody ever wins; we're just playing the game."

   Playing the game of Monopoly in this fashion leaves the game with no purpose. The individual moves made during the game don't matter. Are our lives like this fictitious Monopoly game? Does this game of life we're in have no purpose? If so, then our individual moves made during the game don't matter. This is what the atheist would have us believe.

   All the religions of the world can't be true, because they contradict each other. We can be sincere about our religion and be sincerely wrong. Some people look at religion as a buffet—they choose a little of this from one religion and a little of that from a different religion. The result of this is projection—the religion ends up looking just like the person who is going through the buffet line.

   Let's take a look at some arguments for monotheism. There's a need for a supernatural cause to bring the universe into existence. Fine tuning involves the precision found within the universe. For example, if gravity was just a minuscule bit stronger or weaker, life could not exist. Everything would fall apart.

   There's the moral argument. If someone says they don't believe in morality (they don't believe in absolutes), find something they care about in their life and treat it as if it is relative. For example, if there was a person who cared deeply about the environment, you could say something like, "Three of my buddies and I like to play a game we enjoy a lot. We each chip $1000 into a kitty. We take a barrel full of hydrochloric acid, put it on a boat, get away from shore and dump it into the water. Then we guess how many dead fish will rise to the surface. The person closest to the correct number of dead fish wins the kitty minus the cost of the acid. It's so much fun!" You will find this person is a selective absolutist. There are no relativists. 

   When we consider the human condition, five things are true:

  1. We all experience three-fold alienation:
  • From God
  • From one another
  • From ourselves (we don't measure up to what we expect of ourselves)
  1. We all experience shame and guilt
  2. We all have a desire for personal life after death
  3. We all want empowerment to live as we ought
  4. We all desire to be attached to God—to have an intimate relationship with God

   Christianity best addresses all five. Christianity is a religion whose origin is best explained by the supernatural:

  1. The historical reliability of the New Testament documents
  2. Fulfilled prophesy—Isaiah 53 accurately describes Jesus
  3. Continued miracles—healings

   When choosing a religion, chose one that gives all of Jesus instead of a distorted part of Him (as you find in Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism). When choosing a religion, do an experiment:

  1. Attend a Bible-believing church
  2. Read the Bible
  3. Pray—ask God to reveal Himself to you 
  4. Begin seeking

See what God does when you do these things.

   There was a short Q&A time. One of the questions was, "Should gays be allowed in churches?" The answer given was, "Yes, gays should be allowed to attend church. They should be given an opportunity to hear the truth presented. They should be given ample time to mature in Christ. If they are still promoting the gay lifestyle after this period of growth time, someone needs to approach them in love (not in anger or in a mean-spirited manner), and say something like, 'We flourish best when we follow the teachings of Jesus. I want you to flourish. I want what's best for you. Let's look at some Scriptures together and see what God's word tells us.' "

   One of the statements made during the Q&A time concerned how our country is experiencing a loss of the freedom of speech and thought. These are fundamental rights each one of us has.

   When witnessing, don't forget to share answers to prayer—your own or someone else's. One way to break the ice when wanting to witness is to say something like, "Do you have a view of what life is all about?"

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Here is a 13-minute video of J.P. Moreland discussing, "Has science made faith in God obsolete?" https://www.youtube.com/AyaXJL0HY2c

https://files.logoscdn.com/v1/files/38826088/content.html?signature=-QkQNqwzH3Sg_gcY8CrKnohH9ro

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https://files.logoscdn.com/v1/files/38826054/content.html?signature=4_ojRxW17QGzyXGtXlgaM5bUuuQ

11/4/19

Good morning, New Life Receivers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/nWmjpF613y4


Memory Verse for the Week: And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Matthew 27:46


   Rules or relationship—which takes precedence over the other? Pastor Michael answered this question in his sermon "Jesus, the Life Giver" based on Matthew 9:18-26. 

   Matthew wrote to let people (particularly the Jews) know that Jesus is the Messiah; He is God with skin. Jesus is the new Moses giving us the new law—a law not about rules but about knowing God in a relationship.

   Matthew 9:18-19 says, 

    As Jesus was saying this, the leader of the synagogue came and knelt before him. "My daughter has just died," he said, "but you can bring her back to life again if you just come and lay your hand on her."

   So Jesus and his disciples got up and went with him.

   Jesus is at Matthew's house, the tax collector (the sinner beyond hope according to the Pharisees). Jairus was the leader of the synagogue. It was an elected position. It was his job to make sure all the religious laws were followed. He had power and authority given to him by the Pharisees (his boss). 

   Whle Jairus was on his way to tell Jesus about his daughter's serious condition, he received the news that his daughter had died. He was encouraged to return back home. But he didn't turn around, he continued on to see Jesus. Jairus had heard of the miracles Jesus had done for others, and now Jairus needed a miracle done in his life. He knew Jesus was the only one who could do anything for his daughter. Certainly, the Pharisees couldn't help him! He also knew that by going to Jesus, he would likely lose his job as the synagogue leader, because the Pharisees hated Jesus. 

    Verses 20-22:

Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe, for she thought, "If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed."

   Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, "Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well." And the woman was healed at that moment.

   This lady had spent all her income to become well, but nobody could help her. For twelve years she had not been allowed into the synagogue, because she was considered unclean. The synagogue leader would have turned her away. She was unclean and undesirable. This lady pressed through the crowd so she could touch his cloak. Immediately, she was healed. The best medical help available could not help her over a twelve year period, and yet Jesus was able to heal her in an instant.

   Why did Jesus call her daughter? Jairus would have been standing right beside Jesus, and Jairus has just lost his daughter. Perhaps for the first time in his life Jairus realized people are more important than rules. 

   Verses 23-24:

   When Jesus arrived at the official's home, he saw the noisy crowd and heard the funeral music. "Get out!" he hold them. "The girl isn't dead; she's only asleep." But the crowd laughed at him.

   Professional mourners were hired to wail, cry, and carry on. Flutes were instruments of mourning. The crowd would be whipped up into joining the professional mourners. This is what Jesus would have seen and heard as he approached Jairus' home.

   Verses 25-26:

    After the crowd was put outside, however, Jesus went in and took the girl by the hand, and she stood up! The report of this miracle swept through the entire countryside.

   Jesus wanted Jairus, the leader of the synagogue, to know who He was—God in the flesh. Note: The girl who was healed was 12 years old, and the lady who was healed had suffered for 12 years. 

   Jesus is the God of relationships. Jesus is the Savior of the world. Following Jesus will cost you something. Jairus was willing to pay whatever it cost. He was serious about this person, Jesus. Matthew, Jairus, and the woman risked everything to get close to Jesus. Matthew wants us to know Jesus is worth it all. Jesus isn't here to make life comfortable for us. Will you risk it all for Jesus, even when it gets hard?


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When we read the Bible, are we reading the thoughts of men or the very words of God? Read Dr. Moody's devotional: https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/2-peter-112-21-remember/

11/2/19

Good morning, New Lifers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/k5w7MgTgVVs


Memory Verse for the Week: And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Matthew 27:46


   Today, we will continue to look at information shared at the apologetics conference we attended a week ago. Frank Turek was one of the speakers. He was an aviator in the U.S. Navy. He has a master's degree from George Washington University and a doctorate from Southern Evangelical Seminary. He is president of CrossExamined.org. He has debated several prominent atheists including Christopher Hitchens and David Silverman, president of American Atheists. Dr. Turek gave a lecture "Why Trust the Bible?" 

   All laws legislate morality. If there is no God . . . 

  1. The Nazis were not wrong.
  2. Love is no better than rape.
  3. There are no human rights.
  4. Religious crusaders are not wrong.
  5. Tolerance is no better than intolerance.
  6. You can't complain about the problem of evil.

   Religion does not "poison" everything; everything poisons religion.

   C.S. Lewis said, “Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It's like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can't trust my own thinking, of course I can't trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”

   Are miracles possible? The greatest miracle is Genesis 1:1: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

   You believe in a lot of things you haven't seen: justice, gravity, thoughts. We see a lot of the effects of gravity, but we can't see gravity itself. We see the effects of God, but we can't see God. Do you believe in George Washington even though you haven't seen him?  

   Miracles are not necessary for Christianity to be true. Miracles have to be rare to be effective (to get our attention).

   There is a great deal of evidence that the New Testament writers were telling the truth:

  1. Early sources
  2. Eyewitness details
  3. Embarrassing stories
  4. Excruciating deaths
  5. Embedded confirmation
  6. Expected predictions
  7. Extra-Biblical writers
  8. Explosive growth

   Let's explore two of these. Who would include embarrassing stories in a record if they weren't true? Some examples are:

  1. David and Bathsheba
  2. Peter called Satan by Jesus
  3. When Jesus was taken away to be crucified, the disciples ran away while the women stayed. 
  4. The women were the first witnesses to the resurrection. This would be very embarrassing to the men of this culture.
  5. Some believed and some doubted after Jesus was resurrected. Who would say "some doubted" when you were building a case for Jesus that had credibility? Wouldn't you leave that part out?
  6. Jesus' own brothers didn't believe in him. (see John 7:1-5)
  7. Rahab and Tamar were prostitutes that were included in the bloodline of Jesus. Wouldn't you leave that out of the story if you were writing it—unless it was true?

   Then there's the excruciating deaths. If you were inviting people to be part of a "new religion," why would you include parts where followers were beaten, tortured, and killed? Those who witnessed the resurrection had every motive to say it didn't happen. 

   There are three reasons for murders: sex, money, or power. Why would someone die for a lie when they knew it was a lie? Nobody would do that. People have died for a lie before, but they thought it was the truth. 

   Christianity is true even without the Bible. Christianity didn't originate with a book but with an event—the resurrection. The New Testament writers did not create the resurrection; the resurrection created the New Testament writers.

   On a lighter note, Frank shared his organization is on YouTube, Twitter, and FaceBook. They are on other media too, but these are the main three. His organization decided to combine the main three into one, and that is what they have done. They call it "YouTwitFace."


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Here is a short nine-minute video where Frank Turek answers an atheist's three objections to Christianity: https://www.youtube.com/XjHhtWL_3Og

11/1/19

Good morning, Renewed Mind.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/LWlijlbq76M


Memory Verse for the Week: And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Matthew 27:46


   What are the major themes of the book of Hosea? Pastor Michael reminded us they are "hesed" love, faithfulness, and the knowledge of God. Yesterday, Dr. Wedman continued the study of the minor prophets by taking a look at Chapters 8-10, "The Judgments of Hosea."

   Israel is no longer reflecting God's character. The people are faithless, unloving, and have disregarded the importance of knowing God. They are, therefore, receiving the judgment of God.

   Chapter 8, Verses 1-3:

    "Sound the alarm! The enemy descends like an eagle on the people of the LORD, for they have broken my covenant and revolted against my law. Now Israel pleads with me, 'Help us, for you are our God!' But it is too late. The people of Israel have rejected what is good, and now their enemies will chase after them.

   The sounding of the trumpet announces another incident of war approaching. The eagle is symbolic of Assyria (currently the area of Iraq and Iran), and it represents power and strength. This was around 732 B.C.; Israel was destroyed in 722 B.C. The people have broken the covenant with God. Though they pretend to acknowledge God, they do not know God. There is no relationship with God. Their words do not match their actions. Therefore, they receive the promises of breaking the covenant (see Deuteronomy 28:49-52).

    Verses 4-6:

    "The people have appointed kings without my consent, and princes without my approval. By making idols for themselves from their silver and gold, they have brought about their own destruction.

    "O Samaria, I reject this calf—this idol you have made. My fury burns against you. How long will you be incapable of innocence? This calf you worship, O Israel, was crafted by your own hands! It is not God! Therefore, it must be smashed to bits.

   God has not been consulted nor sought after for leadership of the nation. Idols have been set up—particularly the calf idols at Dan and Bethel (see I Kings 12:25-30; II Kings 10:29). The calf was the symbol of strength and fertility. Often, the image of a calf was used for the base or platform that held the god they worshiped. 

   Verses 7-10:

    "They have planted the wind and will harvest the whirlwind. The stalks of grain wither and produce nothing to eat. And even if there is any grain, foreigners will eat it. The people of Israel have been swallowed up; they lie among the nations like an old discarded pot. Like a wild donkey looking for a mate, they have gone up to Assyria. The people of Israel have sold themselves—sold themselves to many lovers. But though they have sold themselves to many allies, I will now gather them together for judgment. Then they will writhe under the burden of the great king.

   Israel has sown the wind (sin) and now are reaping the whirlwind (God's judgment). They have sought after vanity and now God's judgments are coming. Reaping the whirlwind includes no enjoyment of the crops (see Deuteronomy 28:38-42), becoming useless and discarded (see Jeremiah 1:8), and they depend upon man's strength rather than God's strength for protection (see Deuteronomy 28:13-14).

    Verses 11-14:

    "Israel has built many altars to take away sin, but these very altars became places for sinning! Even though I gave them all my laws, they act as if those laws don't apply to them. The people love to offer sacrifices to me, feasting on the meat, but I do not accept their sacrifices. I will hold my people accountable for their sins, and I will punish them. They will return to Egypt. Israel has forgotten its Maker and built great palaces, and Judah has fortified its cities. Therefore, I will send down fire on their cities and will burn up their fortresses."

   Their idolatry has increased. They have rejected the words of God to follow their own way. Worship is empty and useless. The judgment of God includes a return to Egypt—a reversal of God's covenant blessings (see Deuteronomy 28:68). Their cities will be destroyed by fire.

    Chapter 9

   The theme of Israel's prostitution is continued and intensified. The key word in this chapter is "unfaithful." The wickedness of the people will now be visited upon them. The judgment of God is now at hand.

    Verse 1:

    O people of Israel, do not rejoice as other nations do. For you have been unfaithful to your God, hiring yourselves out like prostitutes, worshiping other gods on every threshing floor.

   Israel is unfaithful—just like Hosea's wife, Gomer. They have broken the covenant which results in:

   Verses 2-4:

    So now your harvests will be too small to feed you. There will be no grapes for making new wine. You may no longer stay here in the LORD'S land. Instead, you will return to Egypt, and in Assyria you will eat food that is ceremonially unclean. There you will make no offerings of wine to the LORD.

   Their crops and vines will fail them, they will be removed from the land, and their worship is not accepted by God.

   Verses 5-7a:

   What then will you do on festival days? How will you observe the LORD'S festivals? Even if you escape destruction from Assyria, Egypt will conquer you, and Memphis will bury you. Nettles will take over your treasures of silver; thistles will invade your ruined homes.

   The time of Israel's punishment has come; the day of payment is here. Soon Israel will know this all too well.

   See Leviticus 23 regarding appointed festivals. Their sin and wickedness has caused God to be against them.

    Verses 7b-9:

    Because of your great sin and hostility, you say, "The prophets are crazy and the inspired men are fools!" The prophet is a watchman over Israel for my God, yet traps are laid for him wherever he goes. He faces hostility even in the house of God. The things my people do are as depraved as what they did in Gibeah long ago. God will not forget. He will surely punish them for their sins.

   They have rejected the words of God. More so, they are against those who are proclaiming the words of God. Sin is running rampant. They have sunk deep into depravity. Only God's words are able to change and transform the heart and bring peace. Gibeah (Judges 19-20) is an example of the depravity.

   Verses10-13

   The LORD says, "O Israel, when I first found you, it was like finding fresh grapes in the desert. When I saw your ancestors, it was like seeing the first ripe figs of the season. But then they deserted me for Baal-peor, giving themselves to that shameful idol. Soon they became vile, as vile as the god they worshiped. The glory of Israel will fly away like a bird, for your children will not be born or grow in the womb or even be conceived. Even if you do have children who grow up, I will take them from you. It will be a terrible day when I turn away and leave you alone. I have watched Israel become as beautiful as Tyre. But now Israel will bring out her children for slaughter."

   Grapes would be an unusual and delightful surprise in a desert. Early figs ripened in June. Regular figs ripened in August. 

   Baal-peor equates immorality and idolatry (see Numbers 25:3-18). 

   "Woe to them" is language found in Revelation.

   God will turn away from them. They have become objects of His wrath instead of His love.

   Verses 14-17:

    O LORD, what should I request for your people? I will ask for wombs that don't give birth and breasts that give no milk.

   The LORD says, "All their wickedness began at Gilgal; there I began to hate them. I will drive them from my land because of their evil actions. I will love them no more because all their leaders are rebels. The people of Israel are struck down. Their roots are dried up, and they will bear no more fruit. And if they give birth, I will slaughter their beloved children."

   My God will reject the people of Israel because they will not listen or obey. They will be wanderers, homeless among the nations.

   Gilgal is the center of false worship. It was once a center of teaching about God. Now they are exiled from God.

   Chapter 10, Verses 1-4

    How prosperous Israel is—a luxuriant vine loaded with fruit. But the richer the people get, the more pagan altars they build. The more bountiful their harvests, the more beautiful their sacred pillars. The hearts of the people are fickle; they are guilty and must be punished. The LORD will break down their altars and smash their sacred pillars. Then they will say, "We have no king because we didn't fear the LORD. But even if we had a king, what could he do for us anyway?" They spout empty words and make covenants they don't intend to keep. So injustice springs up among them like poisonous weeds in a farmer's field.

   Israel's prosperity led them away from God. They attributed their prosperity to false gods rather than to the One and True God. Their hearts deceived them away from God. Our hearts can be so deceptive. We can justify almost anything. We reject people who want to correct us. The people of Israel did not seek God for their leadership. Kings were useless for protecting and leading.

   Verses 5-6

    The people of Samaria tremble in fear for their calf idol at Beth-aven, and they mourn for it. Though its priests rejoice over it, its glory will be stripped away. This idol will be carted away to Assyria, a gift to the great king there. Ephraim will be ridiculed and Israel will be shamed, because its people have trusted in this idol.

   Their false idols will let them down and will be carried off. Their beloved calf idol of Beth-aven will be carried away to Assyria. They will mourn its loss.

   Verses 7-10:

    Samaria and its king will be cut off; they will float away like driftwood on an ocean wave. And the pagan shrines of Aven, the place of Israel's sin, will crumble. Thorns and thistles will grow up around their altars. They will beg the mountains, "Bury is!" and plead with the hills, "Fall on us!"

   The LORD says, "O Israel, ever since Gibeah, there has been only sin and more sin! You have made no progress whatsoever. Was it not right that the wicked men of Gibeah were attacked? Now whenever it fits my plan, I will attack you, too. I will call out the armies of the nations to punish you for your multiplied sins.

   Their own king will be like debris upon the water that floats away with the current. They are helpless to do anything against Assyria. They will desire the mountains to fall on them just like in Revelation 6:16.

   See Judges 19 and 20 concerning Gibeah.

    Verses 11-15:

   "Israel is like a trained heifer treading out the grain—an easy job she loves. But I will put a heavy yoke on her tender neck. I will force Judah to pull the plow and Israel to break up the hard ground. I said, 'Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.'

   "But you have cultivated wickedness and harvested a thriving crop of sins. You have eaten the fruit of lies—trusting in your military might, believing that great armies could make your nation safe. Now the terrors of war will rise among your people. All your fortifications will fall, just as when Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel. Even mothers and children were dashed to death there. You will share that fate, Bethel, because of your great wickedness. When the day of judgment dawns, the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.

   The key verse here is 12. God appeals to them to come back—repent. But they do not. They remain self-deceived and dependent upon human strength and wisdom. 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."

   The days of battle are coming and Israel will be destroyed.

    Conclusion/Summary

   The breaking of the covenant, combined with ignoring and even rejecting God, has led them to be objects of God's wrath. Their nation will be completely destroyed because of their refusal to acknowledge God and His truth. There is no repentance.

https://files.logoscdn.com/v1/files/38532770/content.html?signature=M5T2BYEMc1itjMg-amgJWjxWJ8s

10/31/19

Good morning, Child of the King.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/gUH_NzfRmbs


Memory Verse for the Week: And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Matthew 27:46


   Today, we will continue with information presented at the apologetics conference this past weekend. J.P. Moreland's credentials were provided on Monday. The information that follows is from his lecture "Why Science Needs Faith."

   We are becoming a secular culture. The church is a stabilizer to our culture. The church is salt and light to our culture.

   There has been a decrease in the belief that there is life after death. In the predominant culture of today, those who hold there is life after death say that life after death can be anything you want it to be. We are going to take a look at how to show this is nonsense. 

   Scientism is a view that says the only reality comes from the hard sciences (chemistry, physics, math). The strong form of this view holds to anything that can be tested in a lab. They say that knowledge comes from science.The problem is it's self-refuting—it makes itself false. An example of something that is self-refuting would be the following statement: "No sentence is longer than three words." Here is a statement whose falsehood is a logical consequence of the act or situation that holds it to be true. This statement doesn't live up to its own standard. We often hear statements that can't be tested in a lab. They are statements about science, not science itself. 

   The weak form of scientism holds there may be some validity outside of the strong form of scientism. In other words they hold there might be some knowledge outside of science. 

   Scientism is wrong because:

  1. It doesn't allow for the stating and defending of the assumptions of science. For example, the existence of a real world. If you don't believe in God, then evolution makes sense. 
  2. If everything is physical, we don't need truth.
  3. There are moral duties. Scientists would agree that findings should be reported factually.
  4. Our senses don't show that logic is true. They are grasped by the mind.
  5. The laws of math and logic are true. God couldn't change the truth that 2+2=4.
  6. Some knowledge outside of science is more certain than the knowledge in science. There are lots of ways of knowing things: art, science, theology, etc.

   Ninety-five percent of science is irrelevant to Christianity. Of the 5% left, 3% of scientific discoveries support Christianity, and only 2% cause problems with Christianity. Science can't explain where the laws of nature come from. Science can't explain the origin of consciousness (thoughts, feelings, desires). You can't get something out of nothing.

   The areas of problems are not with Jesus, His resurrection, Jesus being the Son of God, etc. The areas of problems involve Genesis 1-11 and the inerrancy of Scripture. 

    Note: The lecture moved quickly. I have tried to be 100% accurate with the information presented. However, I may have inadvertently misconstrued something. If I did, just know it was not intentional.


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J.P. Moreland gives a 35 minute lecture on "The Proof for God without the Bible": https://www.youtube.com/e2POKRJD2Qk

10/30/19

Good morning, Truth Spreaders.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/_dR0H0tAYT8


Memory Verse for the Week: And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Matthew 27:46


   Today, I will continue to share information that was presented at the apologetics conference in Shelton this past weekend. Dr. Phil Fernandes spoke on "The Problem of Evil and Human Suffering." Dr. Fernandes is the president of the Institute of Biblical Defense, which he founded in 1990 to teach Christians how to defend the Christian faith. He is also the pastor of Trinity Bible Fellowship in Silverdale, WA. He teaches philosophy, world religions, theology, and apologetics for CrossPoint Academy and the Imago Dei Institute. Dr. Fernandes has a Ph.D. in philosophy of religion from Greenwich University, an M.A. in religion from Liberty University, and a Bachelor of Theology from Columbia Evangelical Seminary. 

   When unbelievers argue the origin of evil, they often use the following reasoning:

  1. God created everything that exists.
  2. Evil is something that exists.
  3. Therefore, God created evil.

   The Christian response to this should be:

  1. God created everything that exists in itself.
  2. Evil is something that exists in something good.
  3. Therefore, evil is a corruption or a perversion of something that was originally created good.
  4. Hence, God created the possibility for evil (free will), not evil itself.
  5. We actualized the possibility of evil by disobeying God.
  6. Evil is a privation (a lack of a good that should be there).

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   When considering the continuing existence of evil, unbelievers will argue:

  1. An all-good God would not want evil to exist.
  2. An all-powerful God is able to prevent evil from existing.
  3. But, evil exists.
  4. Therefore, no all-good, all-powerful God exists.

   The Christian response to this should be:

  1. An all-good God would not want evil to exist except for the purposes of a greater good.
  2. An all-powerful God is able to prevent evil from existing.
  3. But, evil exists.
  4. Therefore, God allows evil to exist for purposes of a greater good. The most unjust event in all of history was when God sent His Son to us, and we killed Him! But God brought good out of it. God can bring good out of the bad in your life.

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   Some other general responses to the problem of evil include the following:

  1. True love cannot be forced on others.
  2. God's ways and thoughts are far above ours.
  3. Atheism doesn't define evil or guarantee it will be defeated. If atheism is true, then evil wins.
  4. Many people turn to God through suffering.
  5. God often uses suffering to test us and help us grow spiritually.

   Here are a few more things to consider:

  • David had a problem bigger than himself (Goliath), but he knew someone bigger than him.
  • We place an unnecessary time limit on God. God will defeat evil through the incarnation (God became flesh in Jesus), the death of Jesus on a cross, the resurrection of Jesus, and the return of Jesus.
  • This may not be the greatest possible world, but it may be the greatest possible way to achieve the greatest possible world—heaven.
  • The proper response to suffering is worship. Job 1:20-21 says, Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. He said, "I came naked from my mother's womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!" Also see Psalm 73.
  • Christianity is in decline in affluent societies but growing rapidly in third world countries.
  • Evil is a real problem. It's not just a philosophical problem.
  • Jesus is the ultimate answer to the problem of evil. Revelation 5:4-5 says, Then I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and read it. But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, "Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David's throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals."

   On Friday, we will take a look at "Why Science Needs Faith" presented by Dr. J.P. Moreland.


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Why do so many innocent people suffer. Why are children allowed to suffer? Ravi Zacharias takes about five minutes to answer this question in the following video: https://www.youtube.com/GA7MlL0h1go

10/29/19

Good morning, Friends of God.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/9rZ8k9m2hwo


Memory Verse for the Week: And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Matthew 27:46


   This past weekend, my wife and I had the privilege of attending an apologetics conference called "Illuminate 2019." The speakers were excellent! I wish each of you could have attended it. Your faith would have grown. For the next few days, I would like to share some of what we heard.

   The first speaker was J.P. Moreland. He is a professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. He received a B.S. degree in physical chemistry from the University of Missouri, a Th.M. in theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, an M.A. in philosophy from the University of California at Riverside, and a Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Southern California.

   Dr. Moreland spoke on the topic of "Why Apologetics?" We are currently the most divided country we have been since the Civil War. The cause of this division is a difference in worldview held by the people. There is division over what people believe about life's most important questions (Is there a God? Why am I here on Earth? Does my life have a purpose?) There's division about what's real and what's not real.

   There are three major worldviews fighting for our minds:

  1. Scientific Naturalism—the most predominant. It holds that anything worth believing can be proven using science. It holds that this physical world is all there is.
  2. Post-modern Relativism—whatever is true to you is true. Nobody is wrong. This dominates the entertainment industry, our universities, and sociology. It shapes how we see life.
  3. Ethical Monotheism—our Creator gave us a moral law. This worldview is held by Evangelical Christianity. The first two agree that there is no such thing as reality outside of the natural sciences.

   Our struggle is over truth. According to Barna, millennials give six reasons for leaving the church:

  1. Isolationism. One-fourth of 18 to 29 year olds say the church demonizes everything outside the church: music, movies, culture, technology. These things define their generation.
  2. Shallowness. One-third call church boring; one-fourth say faith is irrelevant and Bible teaching is unclear. One-fifth say God is absent from their church experience.
  3. Anti-science. One-third say the church is out of step on scientific developments and debate.
  4. Sex. The church is perceived as simplistic and judgmental. About a fifth say the "just say no" philosophy is insufficient in a techno-porno world. Young Christian singles are as sexually active as their non-churched friends, and many say they feel judged.
  5. Exclusivity. Three in ten say the church is too exclusive in this pluralistic and multi-cultural age. The same number feel forced to choose between their faith and their friends.
  6. Doubters. One-third say the church is not a safe place to express doubts. One-fourth say they have serious doubts they'd like to discuss.

   The millennials feel the church has not kept up with the times. There's a crisis of credibility. The teaching of Jesus is considered immoral—He is against sexual preference and against women (according to them).

   We don't have any problem with a dentist looking all around the inside of our mouth and poking and prodding in it. However, nobody else is welcome to do that! Why? Because we accept that the dentist knows what he's doing; he is knowledgeable. We need to be knowledgeable about our faith.

   The definition of apologetics is—the ministry of caring for people by overcoming obstacles and doubts that keep them from becoming believers. It's giving reasons for believing what we believe, so we can answer questions.

   Truth is defined as a matching between a thought or belief and reality. We can't see, hear, smell, touch, or taste truth.

   There are three kinds of knowledge:

  1. Knowledge acquired by direct awareness. This goes beyond the five senses. Mathematical truths would fall under this category. Another example would be an awareness that goes beyond the senses: being aware of angels, demons, God's presence. 
  2. True belief based on adequate reasons. When you add what to why, you have knowledge. Knowledge does not require certainty. Knowledge is based on adequate reason. Doubting and questioning are okay. 
  3. Know a skill knowledge. The Bible teaches about skills. Wisdom is an example. We can know and still have doubts.

   Faith is confidence or trust based on what we know. II Corinthians 10:3-5 says,

   We are human, but we don't wage war as humans do. We use God's mighty weapons, not worldly weapons , to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

   Strongholds are ideas or theories (Darwin's Theory of Evolution, sexual preference, choice of gender, etc.). Thoughts exist in our minds; they are unseen. They can be positive or negative; they can build up or tear down. Thoughts have an impact on people. It's our job to show people what's wrong with their ideas. 

   Spiritual warfare is real! Ephesians 6:12 says,

    For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

   Matthew 22:37-39 says,

    Jesus replied, " 'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' "

   The Pharisees and Sadducees were scholars. Jesus was "uneducated," and yet He knew how to handle difficult questions. We need to learn how to handle difficult questions, too.

   Tomorrow we will take a look at the problem of evil and human suffering.


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I would encourage you to take the time to watch this video of Dr. Josh Moody giving the stirring sermon "Can I Know God Personally?" : https://www.college-church.org/av_item.php?avid=1428

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10/28/19

Good morning, Followers of Christ.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/TIlnCfbaznE


Memory Verse for the Week: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8


   In today's song, Lauren Daigle sings about losing her religion. But isn't religion a good thing? Pastor Michael brings clarity to the subject in his sermon "Jesus, the Irreligious" based on Matthew 9:9-17.

   Verse 9As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector's booth. "Follow me and be my disciple," Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.

   In Chapter 8, there was the healing of the man with leprosy, the healing of the Roman officer's servant, and the healing of Peter's mother-in-law who had a high fever. What follows the three healings is a talk by Jesus on the cost of following Him. Then Jesus calms the storm on the lake, heals the two demon-possessed men, and heals the paralyzed man. The next part is verse nine where Jesus tells Matthew to follow Him. Do you see a pattern here—three miracles followed by something said about following Jesus? Matthew's literary style is striking.

   Being a tax collector made Matthew very unpopular. He was an Israelite working for the Romans. The Jews despised the Romans. In order to become a tax collector, one would have to put in a bid to the Romans. The person who put in the highest bid got the job. Once the tax collector paid the Romans what the bid was, the rest of the money that was collected from taxes was his to keep for his own. Tax collectors were known for making up taxes in order to generate revenue. Tax collectors were known for their dishonesty and deceit. They were not allowed in the Temple. They were counted among the worst of sinners.

   The Pharisees were considered the good and right people. They had a lot of worth in their society. They had religion, and their religion said they were good. 

   When Jesus called Matthew, it was the first time Matthew felt valued and worth something. 

   Verses 10-11Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with such scum?"

   Why were the Pharisees (those who believed one gets to heaven by good works) there? They were stalkers. Jesus welcomed them into his space. 

   Verses 12-13: When Jesus heard this, he said, "Healthy people don't need a doctor—sick people do." Then he added, "Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: 'I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.' For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners."

   Jesus came for those who recognized they were sinners. Hosea 6:6 says, I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings. God desires mercy. He wants faithful, loving-kindness. The Pharisees were not acquainted with this "hesed" love; they just knew the rules for what one should do and not do. They were quick to condemn others. Religion always condemn and complains. Relationship never condemns and complains. Religion repels people from repentance. Jesus wants relationship; not religion. Relationship releases people to repent.

   Verses 14-15One day the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked him, "Why don't your disciples fast like we do and the Pharisees do?

   Jesus replied, "Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast."

   People don't fast at a wedding feast. A wedding is a time to celebrate, not fast. It's about relationship; you wouldn't tell a wedding host that you were fasting. That wouldn't build relationship. In a relationship, people are first. In a religion, rules are first. 

   Verses 16-17"Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before. 

   "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved."

   Jesus was telling everyone that times were changing. It's not about the rules but, rather, it's about relationship. Jesus came to do something new. Jesus is the new religion being poured out in the world. Ephesians 2:8-10 says, God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. We are saved by grace, not works. 

   Jesus died for sinful people; He died for us. Religion says, "I'm better than him." Relationship says, "You're better than me." Philippians 2:3-4 says, "Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too."

   Matthew entered into a relationship with Jesus; the Pharisees did not. Nothing in this world compares to Jesus.

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10/26/19

Good morning, Followers of The Way.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/oOGOMFwM0Qo


Memory Verse for the Week: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8


   It's that time of year when sickness seems to be prevalent. Recently, I had a bout with a cold, sore throat, etc. My wife is currently experiencing the same thing. I wonder where she picked it up.

   When we feel we are sick, we take our temperature to see how sick we really are. The thermometer doesn't lie—it provides a fact as to what our body temperature is. Unfortunately, it doesn't provide a factual indication of how we are feeling. I've felt terrible before and yet my temperature was normal. Did any of you do what I did as a child to get the bad feeling and the body temperature to more closely align with each other by holding the thermometer up to the old school light bulb that generated heat? That will get Mom's attention!

   The normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (set by a German doctor in the 19th century). If we vary too many degrees from that temperature, our lives could be threatened. If our temperature goes up to 105 or down to 90, we have some serious concerns. 

   What about our spiritual temperature? Are we at a normal level, or are we deviating from what God wants and creating some serious concerns? Let's take our spiritual temperature today. God has given us some markers that will help us determine if we are in the normal range or not. 

  • Where is our heart and mind? 
  • Mark 12: 30—"And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength."
  • Matthew 6:21—"Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be."
  • Proverbs 3:5—Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 
  • Proverbs 4:23—Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
  • Proverbs 23:26—O my son, give me your heart. May your eyes take delight in following my ways.
  • Romans 12:2—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.
  • Psalm 51:10—Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.
  • Philippians 4:7—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—"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."
  • Psalm 9:1—I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.
  • Psalm 26:2—Put me on trial, LORD, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart.
  • Matthew 5:8—"God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God."
  • Mark 6:51-52—Then [Jesus] climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. [The disciples] were totally amazed, for they still didn't understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.
  • 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.
  • Are we humble people?
  • Ephesians 4:2—Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love.
  • James 4:6-8—And [God] gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
  • I Peter 5:6—So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.
  • 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.
  • Micah 6:8b—O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
  • Proverbs 11:2—Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
  • Proverbs 15:33—Fear of the LORD teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor.
  • Proverbs 22:4—True humility and fear of the LORD lead to riches, honor, and long life.
  • Psalm 25:9—He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way.
  • Romans 12:16—Live in harmony with each other. Don't be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don't think you know it all!
  • Philippians 2:3-8—Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on a cross.
  • Do we love others?
  • John 15:12-14—"This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends You are my friends if you do what I command."
  • John 13:10—Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God's law. 
  • James 1:27—Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
  • Luke 6:27-37—"But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don't try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full refund. Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just was your Father is compassionate. Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven."
  • Galatians 5:13-15—For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don't use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: "Love your neighbors as yourself." But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.
  • I John 4:7-11—Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.
  • I Corinthians 13:3-7—If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it, but if I didn't love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
  • Galatians 6:1-3—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.
  • Romans 12:9-10—Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
  • I John 4:16b-21—God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. If someone says, "I love God," but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don't love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.
  • Deuteronomy 15:10—Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do.
  • Hebrews 13:1-3—Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.

   The entire Bible is our thermometer that can be used to take our spiritual temperature. Today, we have just taken a sampling in three areas, but it may be enough to give us a fairly accurate reading. If your temperature reveals you are sick, you are fortunate. You are in the presence of the best doctor there is—the Holy Spirit! He will guide you into all the truth (John 16:13) and help you remember everything Jesus taught us (John 14:26). Jesus said, "Healthy people don't need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners." (Mark 2:17)


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What are Peter's final instructions to Christians living in a world that is hostile toward followers of Christ? https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/1-peter-58-14-stand/

10/25/19

Good morning, Yahweh Worshipers. 


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/1Ben2wwGyOk


Memory Verse for the Week: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8


   So much of what was happening in Hosea's time (around 2700 years ago) is happening around us today. Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman continued his study of the minor prophets with "An Empty, Religious Israel" based on Hosea 6:4-7:16.

   There is a deepening of God's indictments against Israel:

  • Dealing falsely—compare 6:7 with 5:7
  • Condemnation of priests—compare 6:9 with 5:1
  • Defilement of Ephraim—compare 6:10 with 5:3
  • Harlotry metaphor—compare 6:10 with 5:4

Hosea was a prophet for 50 years, so the comparisons were likely made during different time periods.


God's Response to Breaking the Covenant

  • Their love is like the morning mist; it disappears; it is short-lived.
  • Israel is empty of any true worship of God.
  • There is no heart change before God.
  • Their love is thin and insubstantial. They want God to commit to them, but they don't want to commit to God. There's no heart change.
  • A key verse is 6:6. "I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings." 
  • There is no "hesed" love; there's no faithful loving-kindness.
  • There's no knowledge of God.
  • Israel is merely religious. 
  • Their spirituality is empty. They have forgotten that it is relationship (not religion) that gets us right with God. They forgot how they needed to reflect God's character.
  • Sacrifices without love for God is useless.
  • There is no life transformation. If our lives don't change after coming in contact with Jesus, we don't know Jesus. See Amos 5:21-24; Isaiah 1:11-17; Psalm 51:16-17. Hosea and Isaiah were prophesying at the same time in history. 
  • Repentance is necessary or there will be consequences. 
  • Deuteronomy 30:19-20a says, "Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live. You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life."

A Catalogue of Crimes—verses 7-10

  • They have broken the covenant. They are unfaithful, evil doers, wicked schemers, and given to prostitution (physically and spiritually).
  • Some places are mentioned:
  • Adam—Joshua 3:16
  • Gilead—II Kings 15:23-25
  • Shechem—Joshua 20:7; Deuteronomy 19. A city of refuge was where one could go if he/she killed someone accidentally. The person would go before the priests, and if they determined the killing was truly an accident, the person was given protection while living in the city of refuge. The irony was the priests were evil schemers who killed people for their possessions. 
  • Judah is implicated in these crimes as well. God still desires to heal and redeem His people. He is faithful. (See II Timothy 2:11-13)
  • There are more crimes—verses 6:11-7:8
  • Sin keeps them from healing and renewal.
  • They practice deceit.
  • They break into houses.
  • They rob people in the streets.
  • There are crimes committed by leaders—7:3-7
  • Kings and princes are delighted by evil and even join in.
  • They are adulterers. There is the imagery of the oven—passion to sin burns like an oven. They are burning to sin; they're anxious for it. They can't wait for the next opportunity to sin. They hold festivals in order to enjoy sin. They are purveyors of deceit and intrigue. 
  • There are assassinations of the royal household—II Kings 15:23-25. Their sin has not gone unnoticed. Numbers 32:23 says, "But if you fail to keep your word, then you will have sinned against the LORD, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out."
  • See 6:10; 7:2.
  • God sees their sin and takes note of it. Breaking the covenant results in judgment—Leviticus 26:27-33.
  • Sin has a penalty.

Breaking Covenant—Foreign Policy—7:8-16

  • There are three images
  • Baked bread: a flat loaf that is not turned over (like on a BBQ) is worthless—overcooked on one side and undercooked on the other side.
  • Grey hair: near the end
  • Dove/birds
  • Covenants with other nations: Egypt (II Kings 17:1-6) and Assyria (King Hoshea)

God's Judgment upon Israel

  • They don't seek God anymore, even when He still offers His "hesed" love.
  • God's promise of destruction will come to pass (Leviticus 26:27-33; Deuteronomy 28:64-68)
  • The people are too far gone; they won't repent. Only life is found in Jesus. If we reject Him, life will go downhill. 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."
  • Joshua 24:15 says, "But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD."

Conclusion

  • God desires that we live in relationship with Him, not in religion.
  • God offers His "hesed" love to us, asking that we reflect that "hesed" love back to Him—no pretending.
  • We have a choice to make: how will we live? In loving-kindness and faithfulness? Or will we break covenant with God?
  • Be strong and courageous.

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Today, Dr. Josh Moody discusses what a healthy church looks like: 

https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/1-peter-51-7-a-healthy-church-in-a-time-of-exile/

10/24/19

Good morning, People of Hope.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/0OBRvxrzhqs


Memory Verse for the Week: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8


   What would happen if we spent our lives in the pursuit of gaining knowledge and wisdom? We'd probably die knowing a lot. What would happen if we spent our lives pursuing pleasure that included lots of laughter and alcohol? We'd die fools. What would happen if we spent our lives building huge houses and gaining many possessions? We'd die leaving everything to someone else. What if we spent our lives married to our jobs, working long hours and being under constant stress? We'd probably die before our time, and the perks of our job would be enjoyed by someone else. What if we spent our lives in the pursuit of fine foods? We'd die with full stomachs. What is we were motivated to succeed because we were envious of our neighbors? We'd die envious people. What if we pursue a political career? Another generation will grow up and reject us. What if we pursue money? We'll die not having quite enough. (See Ecclesiastes 1-5)

   On the other hand, what if we spend our lives as disciples of Christ? We will be blessed. What if we are poor and realize our need of God? The Kingdom of Heaven is ours. What if we mourn? We'll be comforted. What if we are humble? We'll inherit the whole earth. What if we hunger and thirst for justice? We will be satisfied. What if we are merciful? We will be shown mercy. What if our hearts are pure? We will see God. What if we work for peace? We will be called the children of God. What if we are persecuted for doing right? The Kingdom of Heaven is ours. (See Matthew 5:3-10)

   So how should we live our lives? First John 2:15-17 says,


   Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.


   First Corinthians 10:31 says,


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


   Colossians 3:16-17 says,


    Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.


   What happens to believers when they die? That's when they start to really live! When a person graduates from high school, they might attend a graduation or a commencement ceremony. When I graduated from high school, I thought it should be called a culmination ceremony. It felt like the end of a long journey to me, not the beginning of something. Maybe funerals should be called commencement services for believers, since it's the beginning of a new life with Christ where there will no longer be any sin to mess things up. This is the hope we have as Christians—a hope with a solid foundation that started with the resurrection of Jesus. First Thessalonians 4:13-18 says,


   And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.

   We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.


   Be encouraged, my friend! The best is yet to come. Invest your life in things eternal.


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How should we live in this world and culture that is not friendly towards the gospel we embrace? Dr. Moody gives three principles: https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/1-peter-412-19-three-principles-for-christians-facing-persecutions/

10/23/19

Good morning, Justified by Jesus.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/Z7CFr8w9z38


Memory Verse for the Week: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8


   Today we will continue to look at Isaiah 53 that was written about 680 years before Christ was born, but so clearly describes Jesus. Let's take a look at verses 7-9:


   He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man's grave.


   This passage starts out with the events of Good Friday. Matthew 27:12-14 says, 


    But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent. "Don't you hear all these charges they are bringing against you?" Pilate demanded. But Jesus made no response to any of the charges, much to the governor's surprise.


   Jesus humbled himself. He allowed himself to be afflicted. He didn't say anything because he didn't need to defend himself—no valid accusation had been made against him. In addition, his trial was a judicial farce. His accusers were hypocrites who were violating the Jewish laws of jurisprudence. However, when Jesus was asked a question about his deity, he responded. Matthew 26:62-64 says,


   Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, "Well, aren't you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself? But Jesus remained silent. Then the high priest said to him, "I demand in the name of the living God—tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God."

   Jesus replied, "You have said it. And in the future you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God's right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven."


   The death of Jesus was predetermined before any hearing or trial. He suffered the same fate as a sacrificial lamb. Nobody seemed to care what happened to Jesus. The public was apathetic. The judges just wanted Jesus out of their hair. They didn't care that he was an innocent man who did not deserve to die.

   Joseph of Arimathaea was a rich man. He had a newly carved out tomb that was used to place the dead body of Jesus.

    Verses 10-12 say,


    But it was the LORD'S good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD'S good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.


   God allowed this outrage to occur, and Jesus laid down his life as an offering for sin. But in his death, Jesus lives. John 12:23-25 says,


    Jesus replied, "Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in their world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in their world will keep it for eternity."


   The Lord's purpose is accomplished. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, the cross became his throne, and he rules the ages. By his death, salvation is possible for mankind. When people come to know the Redeemer personally, they are saved. Jesus doesn't save people by their enlightenment but by his deed of atoning sacrifice. By faith we come to know Jesus as our personal Savior. Because Jesus submitted to God's will, he is able to impart his righteousness on us. Jesus was righteous and made it possible for us to be righteous, too—through him. I Peter 3:18 says,


   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.


   Jesus bore our guilt, and he tells us how we can become great in Mark 10:42-45:


    So Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many."


   Because Jesus was obedient to God, Jesus now enjoys the honors of a victorious soldier. Philippians 2:5-11 says,


    You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on a cross.

   Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


   Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice possible—he gave his life for us. Our response should be one of gratitude and adoration. 

   Jesus allowed himself to be counted as one of the rebels, but it was us who were the rebels. 

   Jesus was the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy in Chapter 53 down to the smallest detail. May your faith be strengthened today.


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What are the two focal points we as Christians should have in order to live in a world that is hostile to the Christian faith? Dr. Moody answers this, today: https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/1-peter-41-11-two-focal-points/

10/22/19

Good morning, Good News Spreaders.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/MCdWc5-EHsg


Memory Verse for the Week: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8


   Approximately 680 years before the birth of Christ, Isaiah prophesied about the life of Jesus. The U.S. has been a country for 243 years. Can you imagine someone living in 1776 and describing someone's life who is alive today and getting it right with 100% accuracy? Hard to imagine, isn't it? And yet that's what Isaiah did with Jesus close to three times that length of time. Let's see what Isaiah said about Jesus in Isaiah 53.

   Verses 1-3Who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm? My servant grew up in the LORD'S presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.

   When this was written, the idea of a suffering Messiah was absurd. Who would believe anything that incredible? Greatness and suffering did not belong together. But when God intervenes in the affairs of men, anything is possible.

   Isaiah 11:1 says, "Out of the stump of David's family will grow a shoot—yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root." In 53:2, Isaiah mentions a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. God's plants show up and grow in some unlikely places. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, one of the most insignificant places in Judea. Jesus grew up in Nazareth in humble and lowly circumstances. John 1:45-46 says, Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, "We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth."

   "Nazareth!" exclaimed Nathanael. "Can anything good come from Nazareth?"

   "Come and see for yourself," Philip replied.

   People didn't see any majestic kingliness in Jesus. There was no glamour found in this Nazarene. In fact, Jesus was despised and rejected by rulers, crowds of people, and even His own disciples. 

   Jesus experienced pain and sickness just as we do. 

   People looked at Jesus as being insignificant—an "out there" fanatic. There was no reason to sympathize with Him.

   The first three verses dealt with the humanity of Jesus. Verses four through six deal with the divinity of Jesus:

   Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.

   Each one of us loaded Jesus down with our own weaknesses and sorrows. Sorrows would include our sicknesses and diseases.

   We thought Jesus was the guilty one, but it turned out we were the guilty ones. We were the ones who rebelled—not Him. The sins were ours, but the pain was His as He was pierced or nailed to the cross for our sins. Rebellion is found in all sin.

   Healing for us was accomplished through Jesus being whipped.

   All of us have wondered off God's course and gotten into trouble. We have been compared to sheep. Sheep are always straying, and, consequently, are no longer under the protection of the shepherd. They are defenseless and lost. Mankind prefers their own way to God's way. The bottom line is people are selfish and want a self-contained life.

   The good news for us is Jesus bore on Himself all of our sins. God accepts the suffering of Jesus for the wicked. Mark 10:45 has the following words of Jesus, "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many."

   Tomorrow we will take a look at the rest of the chapter.


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Today, Dr. Moody gives three key principles of Christian behavior when in exile: https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/1-peter-313-22-three-key-principles/

10/21/19

Good morning, Ameners. 


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/T9ifzzMD7zk


Memory Verse for the Week: Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works. (NLT) James 2:26


   Yesterday, Pastor Michael delivered a comforting sermon "Jesus, the Ultimate Cosmic Authority" based on Matthew 8:23-9:8. As a child, Pastor Michael looked at Superman as the ultimate cosmic hero—surpassing even Spiderman. 

   Matthew 8:23-27 says, Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"

   Jesus responded, "Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!" Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.

   The disciples were amazed. "Who is this man?" they asked. "Even the winds and waves obey him!"

   The Sea of Galilee is 13 miles long at its longest point and eight miles wide at its widest point. By comparison, it's not a huge lake, but it has some ferocious storms. The disciples feared for their lives, but Jesus slept during a seismic, violent storm. 

   Have you ever been rebuked by your parents? Have you heard them say, "STOP THAT RIGHT NOW!"? You stop because they have authority over you. Jesus rebuked the storm, and it stopped its fury immediately because Jesus had authority over it.

   Verses 28-34 say, When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gadarenes, two men who were possessed by demons met him. They came out of the tombs and were so violent that no one could go through that area.

   They began screaming at him, "Why are you interfering with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before God's appointed time?"

   There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding in the distance. So the demons begged, "If you cast us out, send us into that herd of pigs."

    "All right, go!" Jesus commanded them. So the demons came out of the men and entered the pigs, and the whole herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.

   The herdsmen fled to the nearby town, telling everyone what happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the entire town came out to meet Jesus, but they begged him to go away and leave them alone.

   Jesus and the disciples went from experiencing one form of violence to experiencing a different form of violence. Demon-possessed people are typically violent, loud, and naked. However, when Jesus spoke, the demons recognized the authority of Jesus, and they begged Him to enter the pigs. 

   What's the deal with the pigs? At this time, demon-possession was a death sentence. There was no help available. There was no way to get out of it. The pigs proved that the demons were gone from the men. People believed demons couldn't survive in water. Note how the herdsmen were more concerned about the pigs than the two men. 

   Jesus showed He has ultimate, cosmic authority.

   Matthew 9:1-2 says, Jesus climbed into a boat and went back across the lake to his own town. Some people brought to him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, "Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven."

   The man was likely a paraplegic—helpless, hopeless, with no chance of a cure. Why did Jesus start with, "Your sins are forgiven." instead of starting with healing? At this time, people believed their sickness was the result of sins they committed. It was felt that if the person repented of their sins, they would be healed of their sickness. Since this man had probably asked for forgiveness of his sins many times and still wasn't healed, his sins must be unforgivable. 

   Notice how Jesus called him child (or son). Jesus was showing a relationship. Jesus was saying to the man, "You are not beyond God's forgiveness." Jesus came to forgive sins, and no one is beyond His forgiveness.

   The Pharisees felt they were the authorities, but Jesus proved His authority to forgive sins by healing the paralyzed man. Nobody could deny what happened because they saw it with their own eyes.

   Jesus is the ultimate, cosmic authority in the universe—then and now! Jesus is in your boat with you. There's nothing Jesus can't do. Nothing is beyond Him—He is able to forgive sins. What are you afraid of? What do you need Him to do? Talk to Him. Thank Him for being in your boat with you.


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What kind of life does God bless? Dr. Moody answers that question: https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/1-peter-38-12-return-evil-with-blessing/

10/19/19

Good morning, Brothers in Christ.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/z4iFfkRaqto


Memory Verse for the Week: Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works. (NLT) James 2:26


   My wife is a good packer. Sometimes, when we have gone on trips, she has been the one to pack the car and has done a superb job. Sometimes, when we have returned from the grocery store with frozen goods, I've thought to myself, "There's no way she's going to be able to pack all that into our small freezer that's already full." I'm always amazed when she finds a way. She can pack a lot into a small area!

   Paul was a good packer, too. It's amazing how much content he can pack into just a few verses. Take, for example, Colossians 3:12-15:


    Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.


   Right there is enough to keep me busy for the rest of my life! Let's break it down and see what it takes to be the holy people God chose us to be:

  • Have tenderhearted mercy for others. Mercy is when we don't give others what they deserve for the wrong they have done. When we deal with these people who have wronged us, we have tender hearts toward them. Words that come out of our mouths are tender, not harsh.
  • Have kindness toward others. The Golden Rule comes into play here: "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." (Matthew 7:12) When I taught in an elementary school, we had signs posted throughout the school that said, "Is it kind? Is it safe? If not, don't do it." Kindness covers a lot of ground! If people were kind to each other, would we need prisons? If married couples were kind to each other, would there be divorces? If kids were kind to each other, would there be bullying in schools?
  • Have humility. Humility stems from being humble. Humble means showing a modest or low estimate of one's own importance. When we contemplate the grandeur and holiness of God, we are humbled. There's no place for any pride. Philippians 2:3 says, "Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves."
  • Being gentle with others. Have you ever seen a parent NOT be gentle with a young child in public? Doesn't it make you very uncomfortable? I wonder if God becomes uncomfortable when He sees His followers not being gentle with others. We need to be gentle with our words and actions.
  • Be patient with others. Perhaps the most patient people in the world are kindergarten teachers. I'm married to one, and I have seen her be very patient. However, I have seen her be very impatient, too. She does not like to be delayed by anyone when she is going somewhere (in a car or otherwise). When I point a finger at her, three fingers are pointing back at me. I become very impatient when I'm working on an automobile, and it's "impossible" to reach a part that needs to be reached. My list goes on and on. Yet, on the patience spectrum, both my wife and I would probably be rated as very patient people. Nevertheless, we both have lots of room for growth in this area. Is patient American an oxymoron?
  • Be forgiving of others. It's not easy to forgive, and yet it's essential to our salvation. Matthew 6:14-15 says, "If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins." Matthew 18:21-22 says, Then Peter came to him and asked, "Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?"
    "No, not seven times," Jesus replied, "but seventy times seven!"
  • Love others. One reason for loving others is found in I Peter 4:8: Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. As a teenager, I would become frustrated with my parents over little things. However, I knew my parents loved me with a deep love, and it was easy for me to overlook their perceived shortcomings. I Corinthians 13:1-3 says, If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn't love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God's secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn't love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it, but if I didn't love others, I would have gained nothing.
  • Let Christ's peace rule in your hearts. If people were to rank 10 things they want for the world, do you think peace would be towards the top? We want peace—peace in the world, peace in our families, peace at the workplace, peace in our church, peace in the political arena. 
  • Jesus said, "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." (John 14:27-28a) 
  • Romans 12:18 says, Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. 
  • Romans 14:19 says, So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. 
  • Psalm 85:8 says, I listen carefully to what God the LORD is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people. But let them not return to their foolish ways. 
  • Psalm 119:165 says, Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble.
  • Isaiah 26:12 says, LORD, you will grant us peace; all we have accomplished is really from you.
  • John 16:33 says, "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."
  • II Thessalonians 3:16 says, Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.
  • Be thankful. Let's start writing down all those things we are thankful for, and in November, let's share them with each other.

   Do you see Paul as a great packer? In these four verses, he's given me plenty to think about and plenty to do—today, tomorrow, and for the rest of my life. 


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What is the right response to unjust suffering? Dr. Moody answers this question: https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/1-peter-218-25-suffering-for-the-cause-of-christ/

10/18/19

Good morning, Repentant Sinners.


Song of the Day: https://www.youtube.com/oZuIyrwSqHY


Memory Verse for the Week: Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works. (NLT) James 2:26


   Dr. Michael Wedman continued his study of the minor prophets with "The Depravity of Israel" from Hosea 5-6:3. In order to better understand what the prophet Hosea is saying, one must be familiar with the Sinai Covenant found in Leviticus 28 and Deuteronomy 28, 30, and 32. 

Verses 1 and 2:

   Hosea is addressing everyone: the priest, the people, and the royal family (see Jeremiah 22:1-9). They are no longer seeking God. Rulers are not ruling with justice, wisdom, and the righteousness of God. Both the rulers and the people have "gone deep into depravity" (no longer is anything good found in them). They are all intentionally pursuing sin with all their heart. They have become a snare and a net—words for hunters, not shepherds. All Israel have become hunters—destroying one another for the sake of personal gain. It was all about themselves, and they no longer cared about others. Psalm 119:110 says, "The wicked have set their traps for me, but I will not turn from your commandments." Psalm 140:5 says, "The proud have set a trap to catch me; they have stretched out a net; they have placed traps all along the way." Snares and nets are associated with the wicked—not the righteous. The arrogant are those who are opposed to God.

   The problem is located in Tabor (north) and Mizpah (south) which were the places of assembly for religious purposes. In other words, depravity was found from the north to the south. It was everywhere.

Verses 3-7:

   God knows what they are doing; nothing is hidden from Him. They do not know God, but He knows them. There's no hide-and-seek with God. It doesn't work when people say, "My eyes are closed to God, so God can't see me," like toddlers do with their parents when they play hide-and-seek.

   They have turned to prostitution—physically and spiritually. Israel is successful on the outside, but on the inside they are falling apart. Their deeds do not permit them to turn to God. They have turned away from God and have turned to false spirits. They have rejected God as the only one and true God. They love sin more than they love God. Romans 1:28-32 says, "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."

   There is no one to call them to repentance. There is no one who believes that repentance is needed. They do not recognize sin as sin. Truth has become what they decide it is.

   They are arrogant before God. They do not consider God as the utmost in importance. As a result, they stumble along in sin—they are no longer on the path of God.

   They are pretending to worship God. They go out with a display or show of worship. This is not real worship of God; it is all a show of religion. If one's heart is not right with God, it's all show.

   How do we know it's false worship? By looking at their actions between times of worship. God can't be fooled.

Verses 8-12:

   Blow the horn. Perhaps this was a trumpet call to war (see II Kings 16:5-10). Gibeon, Ramah, and Beth-Aven were towns on the border of North and South Israel. It is implied that there is war going on between the North and the South. God promises destruction. A day of reckoning from God is coming for breaking the Covenant. The leaders practice deceit (moving boundary stones). God has become an annoyance to these people.

Verses 13-15:

   Israel made a covenant with Assyria. They sought salvation and help from man rather than God. They made pacts with King Menahem (II Kings 15:19-20) and King Hosea (II Kings 17:1-6). God promises exile based on the Sinai Covenant. God is clearly against them as He shows Himself as a lion against Israel.

Hosea 6:1-3:

   God offers to bring them back. It is up to Israel to ask and seek after God.

Conclusion:

   God is against the Israelites because they have broken and ignored the Covenant. The promises of God for breaking the covenant are going to happen. Yet, God wants His people to seek and know Him once again. He always extends His grace.


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When the culture is not Christian, how are we to live? Dr. Josh Moody explores the answer to this question in today's devotional: https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/1-peter-29-17-two-key-components/

10/17/19

Good morning, Justified in Jesus.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/du0il6d-DAk


Memory Verse for the Week: Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works. (NLT) James 2:26


   Have you ever been irritated or upset with God? Have you ever become all-out enraged with God? On Sunday, Del McKenzie said it is very difficult to not get angry with God when we are in the midst of suffering. Some of our suffering is completely out of our control. We didn't do anything to bring on the suffering. Nevertheless, Del said suffering is no excuse to be angry with God. After all, we have a hope that extends beyond this life. We can handle the suffering because we have the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, living in us. The Holy Spirit reminds us of what's ahead.

   Isaiah had something to say regarding the topic of arguing with God. It is found in Isaiah 45:1-13. Cyrus was the king of Persia, and the LORD'S chosen one.


   This is what the LORD says to Cyrus, his anointed one, whose right hand he will empower. Before him, mighty kings will be paralyzed with fear. Their fortress gates will be opened, never to shut again. This is what the LORD says:

   "I will go before you, Cyrus, and level the mountains. I will smash down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.

   "And why have I called you for this work? Why did I call you by name when you did not know me? It is for the sake of Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one. I am the LORD; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don't even know me, so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the LORD, and there is no other. I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the LORD, am the one who does these things.

   "Open up, O heavens, and pour out your righteousness. Let the earth open wide so salvation and righteousness can sprout up together. I, the LORD, created them.

   "What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, 'Stop, you're doing it wrong!' Does the pot exclaim, 'How clumsy can you be?' How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father, 'Why was I born?' or if it said to its mother, 'Why did you make me this way?' "

   This is what the LORD says—the Holy One of Israel and your Creator: "Do you question what I do for my children? Do you give me orders about the work of my hands? I am the one who made the earth and created people to live on it. With my hands I stretched out the heavens. All the stars are at my command. I will raise up Cyrus to fulfill my righteous purpose, and I will guide his actions. He will restore my city and free my captive people—without seeking a reward! I, the LORD of Heaven's Armies, have spoken!"


   I've been in the trenches, and I've been in leadership. Sometimes the decisions made by those in leadership make no sense to those in the trenches. When I was in the Air Force, it was popular to quote Alfred Lord Tennyson, "Ours not to reason why, ours but to do and die." I imagine that attitude taken by those in the trenches is what works best for those calling the shots. Sometimes military officials have to make some difficult calls that they know will result in the loss of many lives, but in the end, it will result in victory (hopefully) and will save more lives in the long run. I can understand why some in the trenches would question those in authority, because sometimes the wrong call is made and the result can be disastrous.

   When God makes a call, He's always right—100% of the time. He's never made a wrong call. He can be trusted with your life. He is sovereign. He knows the big plan, and we're part of it. We see a small part of that plan right in front of us, and it doesn't make any sense at times. However, the LORD of Heaven's Armies can be trusted. 

   Isaiah 29:15-16 says, What sorrow awaits those who try to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their evil deeds in the dark! "The LORD can't see us," they say. "He doesn't know what's going on!" How foolish can you be? He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, "He didn't make me"? Does a jar ever say, "The potter who made me is stupid"?

   Romans 9:18-24 says, So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen.

   Well then, you might say, "Why does God blame people for not responding? Haven't they simply done what he makes them do?"

   No, don't say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, "Why have you made me like this?" When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn't he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction. He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory. And we are among those whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles.

   When God allows suffering in our lives, He provides strength to accompany that suffering. Whatever we are going through, God sees and cares. Let's show God our faith is genuine by how we rely on Him for strength. 

   Let's lift up those who are suffering by praying for them. Let's encourage them in the Lord.

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Find out what Dr. Josh Moody has to say about negative, nasty, malicious attitudes and speech: https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/1-peter-21-8-how-then-should-we-live/

10/16/19

Good morning, Citizens of Heaven.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/CYDCIAQc8Ms


Memory Verse for the Week: Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works. (NLT) James 2:26


   Do you know who Euodia and Syntyche are? They're in the Bible. Unfortunately, they're not in the Bible for their deep walk with Jesus. They're not in the Bible because of their deep love for others. They're not in the Bible because of how they helped the poor. They are in the Bible because of a disagreement! Philippians 4:2-3 says,


    Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life.


   What disagreement could be so important that neither one of them was able to settle it? Was the issue very important? Evidently, to them it was. But in the grand scheme of things, was it important? No! Maybe one of them was completely in the right, and the other person was completely in the wrong. Maybe the person in the right was sticking to her guns and couldn't be persuaded otherwise. She wasn't about to budge from her position. Maybe the person in the wrong didn't see what she did as being wrong. 

   Maybe it wasn't about right and wrong. Perhaps it was simple miscommunication. Maybe what one heard wasn't the truth, but she believed it to be true. There's a chance that what was said hit a nerve that hadn't healed (not even related to this person). I wonder if the intentions of the other person were judged. 

   We don't know the details of the disagreement, and they really don't matter. The disagreement isn't what's important; what's done after the disagreement is what's important. Did Euodia avoid Syntyche and share with others her side of the disagreement, but not go and talk to Syntyche? Did Syntyche harbor ill feelings toward Euodia and decide she was an evil person? We don't know what they did, but we know whatever they did or didn't do did not solve the disagreement. 

   I know someone who had a disagreement with his wife. It centered around going to a performance of The Nutcracker in San Francisco. The wife wanted to bring sack lunches and eat them in front of the fancy opera house at intermission. The husband didn't feel that was appropriate for the occasion and had other plans for lunch. They were not coming to an agreement. Then I saw the husband leave the room to go pray about it. He returned with a complete change of attitude; his demeanor was calm, quiet, and positive. He said it would be fine to have the sack lunches, so that's what was done. 

   When it came time to have lunch close to the opera house, the husband had a positive attitude and made the best of it. He had given up his desire for his wife's desire. I never heard him bring the topic up again. 

   How he handled that situation has stuck with me for many years. There was nothing in his attitude that said, "Okay, I'm giving you your way this time, but you owe me big time!" Nothing in his attitude said, "We're doing it your way, but it's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of." What I picked up was an attitude of, "Lord, I've prayed this through, and I'm changing my desire to that of my wife's desire. I love her and want to honor her with my words and actions." It was such a "small thing" he did, but it really impacted my life. I saw that I needed to be more like him.

   What if Euodia or Syntyche had had the attitude of the husband I described above? My guess is this disagreement wouldn't have been in the Bible, because it would have been settled. One person swallowing their pride makes all the difference. 

   It strikes me how these ladies were not "troublemakers." They worked hard with Paul in telling others the Good News. They were followers of Christ. They worked closely with other Christians, too. My guess is they were fine ladies. However, Satan knows where we are most vulnerable, and he attacks us there. Rather than going to another room to pray, it sounds like they brooded over their situation and each saw themselves as being right, and neither was willing to back down for the good of everyone involved. Their position took precedence over relationship. Sad isn't it? And yet I have acted just like Euodia and Syntyche numerous times.

   In the very next verses, Paul says some things that might have been a suggestion to Euodia and Syntyche (and the other people in Philippi who belonged to Jesus) for how they they should be:


   Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

   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

   And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:4-8)


   Wouldn't it be embarrassing to have your name in the Bible for not being able to settle a disagreement like Euodia and Syntyche? Let's not be known for our rightness, but rather be known for taking everything to God in prayer and experiencing God's peace (just like I saw the husband do in the illustration above).


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Dr. Josh Moody gives four reasons for being faithful: https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/1-peter-117-25-four-reasons-to-be-faithful/

10/15/19

Good morning, More than Conquerors.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/7-8IIugGdxg


Memory Verse for the Week: Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works. (NLT) James 2:26


   Today, we will complete our look at what's inside "A Field Guide from the Abyss." If you haven't read the first page, be sure to read it so you know what's going on. If you have read it, proceed to the Conclusion.


These articles from the September 2019 issue of TableTalk Magazine were used with permission.

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What does Dr. Josh Moody say is absent so often in our lives? Find out by reading his devotional: https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/1-peter-110-16-wonder-and-holiness/

10/14/19

Good morning, Friend of God.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/2fTO10iFNrI


Memory Verse for the Week: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4


   Eighty-two year old Del McKenzie was the pastor who married Pastor Michael and Val. He has been a mentor to Pastor Michael for many years. Del grew up in Montana. At the age of seven, he began to follow Christ. He has been a minister for over 60 years. He is currently the senior pastor of a church in Moses Lake. We were blessed to have him speak at our church Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday, his topic was "The Deeper Life and Suffering" based on I Peter 1:3-9.

   Praise means commend; recognize; value; give credit to. When we praise God, we are commending Him, recognizing Him for who He is (Almighty God, Transcendent God, Savior . . .), valuing Him, giving Him credit for all He has done.

   In I Peter 1:3-9, we find some reasons to praise God:

  1. Praise God for His mercy and grace. (see Psalm 103) Mercy is when God doesn't give us what we deserve. Grace is when God gives us what we don't deserve.
  2. Praise God for new birth (regeneration). The Holy Spirit puts life in us. Have you been born again? Are you a new creation?
  3. Praise God for an inheritance. We have an inheritance that will never perish; it won't spoil; it won't fade. It's an inheritance kept secure in heaven. We have eternal life.
  4. Praise God for His shield of protection. He will protect us by His power.
  5. Praise God for His salvation. He has made us his children.

   So we need to rejoice. We need to be full with the joy of the Lord though this deeper life includes suffering. There's nothing said about the cause of the suffering; suffering is just a fact of life. In our suffering, it's still possible to praise God.

   Ten years ago, Del's wife was diagnosed with a form of dementia that resulted in the following:

  • False accusations
  • Hallucinations: seeing elephants in the house, seeing a huge sink hole in the backyard, seeing people spying in on them so the windows needed to be covered
  • Locks had to be changed
  • Blindness
  • Del's wife calling 9-1-1 and telling the police a murder had been committed upstairs.

   About a year and a half ago, she fell, broke her shoulder, and had to be placed in a home. She told Del, "If you loved me, you would take me home." It is very difficult to go through something like this, but it's no excuse to be angry with God. We have a hope that extends beyond this life. The difficult times can be handled because of the faith we have in Christ Jesus.

   In the deeper life in Christ, we don't get a pass that gets us out of suffering. Del has spent a lot of time walking and praying (around 30,000 steps per day). 

   God has given us gifts:

  • His creation
  • His revelation
  • His incarnation
  • Jesus becoming our substitute 
  • His ascension 
  • Personal blessings—wonderful things He has done for us

   Faith and trust in Jesus are the most valuable things in the world. Sufferings prove our faith is genuine. We have an inexpressible and glorious joy in Jesus. What is your level of joy today?

   Philippians 4:6-7 says,

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


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The prayer of faith is the topic of Josh Moody's devotional today: https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/james-513-20-the-prayer-of-faith/

10/12/19

Good morning, God Imitators.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/LICDBT9LF_Y


Memory Verse for the Week: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4


   Today, we will continue to look at what's inside "A Field Guide from the Abyss." If you haven't read the first page, be sure to read it so you know what's going on. If you have read it, proceed to Sections 15 and 16.




These articles from the September 2019 issue of TableTalk Magazine were used with permission.

Do you struggle with patience? Today, Josh Moody reveals six ways to be patient in suffering: 

https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/james-57-12-6-ways-to-be-patient-in-suffering/

10/11/19

Good morning, Receivers of Amazing Grace.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/cgsbaBIaoVc


Memory Verse for the Week: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4


   Dr. Michael Wedman continued his study of the minor prophets yesterday. Here is a recap of "An Indictment Against Israel" from Hosea, Chapter 4:

   This is the start of the second part of the book of Hosea. Chapters 4-14 are a collection of prophesies given by Hosea over a long period of time. The long period of time explains why there is often repetition of what has been said in this book and other books of the Bible.

   Hosea was a prophet for about 50 years. The first three verses are an introduction to this chapter and likely the rest of the book:

    Hear the word of the LORD, O people of Israel! The LORD has brought charges against you, saying, "There is no faithfulness, no kindness, no knowledge of God in your land. You make vows and break them; you kill and steal and commit adultery. There is violence everywhere—one murder after another. That is why your land is in mourning, and everyone is wasting away. Even the wild animals, the birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea are disappearing.

   God is presenting His case against Israel—a formal complaint based on the Sinai Covenant (see Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28, 30, 32). These formal charges against Israel are divided into sins of omission (things Israel should be doing but are not doing) and sins of commission (things Israel shouldn't be doing but are doing).


Sins of omission:

  1. No faithfulness
  2. No steadfast love (the loving kindness that God always shows)
  3. No knowledge of God (not acknowledging God for who He is)

God is faithful and shows loving kindness to Israel, but Israel's character was not God's character. Israel wasn't being a witness to other nations.

   Israel has failed in her fidelity to God. The people no longer "know" God, but they "know" other gods (see Hosea 2:8, 20; 4:6; 11:3; Romans 1:21-32). 


Sins of commission:

  1. Cursing or swearing
  2. Lying
  3. Murder
  4. Stealing
  5. Adultery

This is the moral depravity that comes out because of their character. Moral depravity is the result of not knowing God and His truth.

   They break all bounds (see Exodus 19:22-24; II Samuel 5:20). There are vigorous and aggressive acts of sin. The attitude of "I can do whatever I want" is prevalent. Israel's character is the opposite of God's character.

   The result of breaking God's covenant is the land is negatively affected and suffers (see Isaiah 24:4-6; Genesis 6:11-17; Romans 8:19-22). Our relationship with God is tied to the earth's well being. We take care of the earth, because God created it.


The Case Against the Priests (see verses 4-14):

   The priests have failed in their task to represent God to the people and to represent the people to God. The people have become like the priests—not knowing God. There's a principle here: People become like their leaders.

   Verse 5—the people stumble by day. It's normal to stumble at night, but not normal to stumble when it's light. (see Leviticus 26:37)

   Verse 6—the people are destroyed by a lack of knowledge.

   Verse 7—the addition of priests just added to their sin.

   Verse 8—priests were personally profiting from the sin of the people. The priests were feeding on sins rather than the food stipulated for them in the covenant.

   Verse 9—like people; like priest (see I Timothy 4:11-12)

   Verse 10—consequences from breaking the covenant

   Verses 11-14—show the depth of the immorality and depravity of the nation

   I Peter 2:9 says, "But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God's very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light."

   II Timothy 4:3 says, "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 want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths."

   Romans 1:25 says, "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."

   The church needs to be the pillar and foundation of truth.


The Case Against the Nation—verses 15-19

   The people are not innocent—they made their choice to follow the priests into sin. Beth-Aven means "house of wickedness." Bethel means "house of God." Gilgal is the place where the Israelites crossed over the Jordan into the promised land.


Conclusion:

  • God is against the nation because they have chosen to ignore God and did not deem His words as something to be knowledgeable about.
  • The priests have ignored God and encouraged the nation to sin.
  • The people chose to sin and enjoyed their "freedom" to do so.


Josh Moody's topic today is money: 

https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/james-51-6-wealth-and-injustice/

10/10/19

Good morning, Good News Spreaders.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/05Y-Px39cm4


Memory Verse for the Week: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4


   Today, we will continue to look at what's inside "A Field Guide from the Abyss." If you haven't read the first page, be sure to read it so you know what's going on. If you have read it, proceed to Sections 13 and 14


These articles from the September 2019 issue of TableTalk Magazine were used with permission.

When we slander another person, is that a form of judgment? Josh Moody answers that question today: 

https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/james-411-17-slander-and-boasting/

10/9/19

Good morning, Thrivers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/qQ71RWJhS_M


Memory Verse for the Week: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4


   Today, we will continue to look at what's inside "A Field Guide from the Abyss." If you haven't read the first page, be sure to read it so you know what's going on. If you have read it, proceed to Sections 8 and 9.


These articles from the September 2019 issue of TableTalk Magazine were used with permission.

What is at the heart of all the polarization and disunity we see all around us? That is the topic for today's devotional from Josh Moody: https://www.mailchi.mp/godcenteredlife.org/at-the-center-with-god-centered-life-october

10/8/19

Good morning, Praise Singers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/ZzEkhTwiODc


Memory Verse for the Week: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4


   Today, we will continue to look at what's inside "A Field Guide from the Abyss." If you haven't read the first page, be sure to read it so you know what's going on. If you have read it, proceed to Sections 5 and 6.





These articles from the September 2019 issue of TableTalk Magazine were used with permission.

10/7/19

Good morning, Amazed by Jesus.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/ue8ZCAc9xQ8


Memory Verse for the Week: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23


   How amazing is Jesus? When Pastor Michael was a young boy in Canada, he used to walk close to a mile to get to school. School was only canceled when the temperature got below -40 degrees. In those days, the wind chill factor wasn't even a consideration. In the winter, there would be a considerable amount of snow to contend with. 

   Every day, Michael would walk home for the hour long lunch period that was given to all the students at school. He couldn't wait to get home so he could watch "The Amazing Spiderman" show on TV. The difficulties encountered with the deep snow, the extreme cold, and the wind were worth it to see the amazing Spiderman perform his amazing feats. 

   In his sermon "Jesus, the Healer," Pastor Michael expounded on Matthew 7:28-8:22. In verses 28 and 29 we find an epilogue to "The Sermon on the Mount" or "A Discourse on Discipleship" (a conclusion to what Jesus said) and an introduction to what Jesus did.

   When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.

   What amazes you? We've been amazed by fax machines, emails, Tesla automobiles that can drive themselves, but it was Jesus who had the words that changed the world; words that gave everlasting life to those who heeded them. Jesus spoke with authority because He had authority.

   Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. "Lord," the man said, "if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean."

   Jesus reached out and touched him. "I am willing," he said. "Be healed!" And instantly the leprosy disappeared. Then Jesus said to him, "Don't tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed."

   At this time in history, leprosy was a death sentence. Limbs were lost because nerve endings didn't function, and a person could have a limb in the fire and not feel anything. It was illegal to greet a leper. A person was not to get any closer than six feet from a leper if there was no wind. With a wind, that distance extended to 900 feet. Lepers were to live outside of the city so they would be away from everyone else. Yet, Jesus touched the leper! The untouchable received human touch from Jesus. Jesus had authority to heal, and that included lepers.

    When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, "Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain."

   Jesus said, "I will come and heal him."

   But the officer said, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, 'Go,' and they go, or 'Come,' and they come. And if I say to my slaves, 'Do this,' they do it."

   When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, "I tell you the truth, I haven't seen faith like this in all Israel! And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

   Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, "Go back home. Because you believed, it has happened." And the young servant was healed that same hour.

   A legion was 6,000 soldiers. A centurion was in charge of 100 soldiers. He had authority over 100 men and was the backbone of the army. When he asked for help from Jesus, the centurion recognized that Jesus had more authority than he had. He knew Jesus had the words of truth.

    When Jesus arrived at Peter's house, Peter's mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. But when Jesus touched her hand, the fever left her. Then she got up and prepared a meal for him.

   That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil spirits with a simple command, and he healed all the sick. This fulfilled the word of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, who said, "He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases."

   Fever could likely kill a person in these days. Jesus touched her and the fever was gone.

   Demon-possessed people have demons residing in them. The demons do not want to leave the person. Yet, Jesus drove out the evil spirits with a word.

   When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he instructed his disciples to cross to the other side of the lake.

   Then one of the teachers of religious law said to him, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go."

   But Jesus replied, "Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head."

   Another of his disciples said, "Lord, first let me return home and bury my father."

   But Jesus told him, "Follow me now. Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead."

   Following Jesus in not about what you can get from Him. It's not about having an "in" with Jesus. I Timothy 6:5 says, These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth. To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy.

   Acts 8:18-21 says, When Simon saw that the Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on people, he offered them money to buy this power. "Let me have this power, too," he exclaimed, "so that when I lay my hands on people, they will receive the Holy Spirit!"

   But Peter replied, "May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God's gift can be bought! You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God."

   We are to follow Jesus for what we can give to Him, not what we can get from Him. We can't put any other person or relationship ahead of Jesus. Even family and friends don't come before Jesus. Matthew 10:37 says, "If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine."

   In India, when a person becomes a Christian, the family will often hate, disown, and may even try to kill their newly converted family member. 

   If friends keep you from following Jesus, get rid of your "friends." Friends are not the authority—Jesus is! Follow Jesus and Jesus only. Is Jesus THE AUTHORITY in your life? Friends may lead an alcoholic person away from Jesus with gifts of alcohol. Friends may lead a person away from Jesus with gossip. 

   When Pastor Michael was a child, he was willing to walk through any winter storm in Edmonton in order to see the fictitious, amazing Spiderman. Will we do any less for the real, truly amazing, Jesus?


What is the right way to respond to suffering? This question is answered by Josh Moody: 

https://www.godcenteredlife.org/devotional/james-11-11-how-to-deal-with-suffering/