Daily Devotion

11/15/19

Good morning, Believers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=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://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/watch?v=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://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/watch?v=-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://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/watch?v=_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://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/watch?v=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://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/watch?v=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://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/watch?v=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://www.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://www.facebook.com/kommetjiechristianchurch/videos/884332415294595/


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Josh Moody writes about the return of Jesus: https://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/watch?v=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:

Geode

and look like this on the inside:

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-geode-blue-green-agate-crystal-cut-base-closeup-image32314896

When we look on the outside of the Taj Mahal, this is what we find:

Taj Mahal

When we look inside the Taj Mahal, at its very core we find this:

Skeleton

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://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/watch?v=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:


United States Navy Special Warfare Insignia   

   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/watch?v=kESK1KSMPgQ


11/5/19

Good morning, Ambassadors for Christ.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=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/watch?v=AyaXJL0HY2c

https://files.logoscdn.com/v1/files/38826088/content.html?signature=-QkQNqwzH3Sg_gcY8CrKnohH9ro

https://files.logoscdn.com/v1/files/38826080/content.html?signature=cnakbDy9RWZ51aWvyAOVb2TMRMs

https://files.logoscdn.com/v1/files/38826073/content.html?signature=7yiP4IK5InCw5dJ07DHrQemF7JU

https://files.logoscdn.com/v1/files/38826066/content.html?signature=KWSoCGmMM-1I9kqZ9BHFFyHnjbM

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/watch?v=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://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/2-peter-112-21-remember/


11/2/19

Good morning, New Lifers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=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/watch?v=XjHhtWL_3Og


11/1/19

Good morning, Renewed Mind.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=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/watch?v=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/watch?v=e2POKRJD2Qk


10/30/19

Good morning, Truth Spreaders.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_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/watch?v=GA7MlL0h1go

10/29/19

Good morning, Friends of God.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=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/watch?v=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/watch?v=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://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/1-peter-58-14-stand/


10/25/19

Good morning, Yahweh Worshipers. 


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=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://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/watch?v=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://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/watch?v=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://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/watch?v=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://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/1-peter-313-22-three-key-principles/


10/21/19

Good morning, Ameners. 


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


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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://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/watch?v=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://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/watch?v=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.


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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://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/watch?v=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://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/watch?v=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

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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://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/james-411-17-slander-and-boasting/

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10/9/19

Good morning, Thrivers.


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


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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://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/watch?v=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.



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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/watch?v=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://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/james-11-11-how-to-deal-with-suffering/


10/5/19

Good morning, Forgiven.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8xiOja_Zd8


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


   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 1 and 4.


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Today, Josh Moody explains why Christians should not be people who are constantly ranting and raving: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/james-119-27-hear-and-obey/

10/4/19

Good morning, Redeemed.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGl2DhiMINs


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


   What has been considered by many Bible scholars to be the greatest chapter in the entire Bible? It's Hosea Chapter 3, and this was the topic of Dr. Michael Wedman's lecture, yesterday, as he continued his study of the minor prophets.

   This entire chapter is only five verses long:


    Then the LORD said to me, "Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the LORD still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them."

   So I bought her back for fifteen pieces of silver and five bushels of barley and a measure of wine. Then I said to her, "You must live in my house for many days and stop your prostitution. During this time, you will not have sexual relations with anyone, not even with me."

   This shows that Israel will go a long time without a king or prince, and without sacrifices, sacred pillars, priests, or even idols! But afterward the people will return and devote themselves to the LORD their God and to David's descendant, their king. In the last days, they will tremble in awe of the LORD and of his goodness.


   The chapter starts with a command for Hosea to love his wife, Gomer. At this time, Gomer was no longer living as Hosea's wife. Gomer has left Hosea and is an adulterer. She has prostituted herself with other men. Yet, God commanded Hosea to love her even though Gomer had become unlovely and unlovable to Hosea.

   How would it be possible for Hosea to love his wife after all she had done? It had been awhile since Hosea had been with Gomer, and it had been awhile since Israel had been with God. God commanded Hosea to buy back his wife. At this point she was probably the slave of another person. She would have become a slave because of her lifestyle that left her with debts. She had no way to pay the debts off herself. At this point she would have been sold into slavery to pay off the debts. Hosea may have bought her back at a slave auction or perhaps she was sold as a concubine or a temple prostitute. Whatever the case, Hosea bought his wife back for 15 pieces of silver, five bushels of barley, and some wine. Now Gomer is owned by Hosea. He can do whatever he wants to her including killing her.

   How does Hosea treat Gomer? He loves her. He doesn't shame her, abuse her, or kill her. He chooses to love her. This is called REDEMPTION. Israel was just like Gomer—unfaithful time after time. We are just like Gomer, too—unfaithful to God time after time. Just like Gomer, we had a debt of sin we could not pay. We prostituted ourselves being unfaithful to God even though we are the bride of Christ (see Revelation 19:7-9; 21:2; Ephesians 5:25-33; Isaiah 54:4-10). We have been the spiritually unfaithful spouse to God, yet He has taken us back time after time.

   This is a story of redemption. Humanity is in debt to Satan. Humanity has become a slave to sin and Satan. Humanity has no way to pay the debt. God bids for humanity—those who were once His. God bids for the bride He loves. God offers the only price that can be enough to buy His people back. 

   Jesus is the kinsmen redeemer. He is the crucified. He is the savior. God bought us back with the blood of Jesus, and now He owns us. Is there any reason why we wouldn't give ourselves fully to this God? Is there any reason why Gomer wouldn't give herself fully to Hosea who bought her back so he could love her? God is our commander, and we are His slaves.

   Deuteronomy 6:4-5 says, "Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength."


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Today, Dr. Josh Moody suggests three things we can do to help deal with suffering: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/james-112-18-more-on-how-to-deal-with-suffering/


10/3/19

Good morning, Christ Followers.


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


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


     Many years ago I read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. One has to stay on their toes when reading this book, because it was written from the perspective of a demon writing to a trainee on how to bring Christians down and put an end to the kingdom of God.

     Last month, TableTalk Magazine did something similar to The Screwtape Letters; they made "A Field Guide from the Abyss." Today, let's take a look at the introduction from the editor, and examine "Section 2: Cultivate Cowardice and Worldliness."



MOI1



MOI2



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These articles from the September 2019 issue of TableTalk Magazine were used with permission.

10/2/19

Good morning, Loved by God.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tv4Qgd3I57c


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


   After reading Genesis 15-17 and Matthew 7, the following prayer was prayed to our Father in heaven:


   Lord, you told Abram to try and count the stars, and you told him his descendants would be impossible to count just like the stars. You told him this when he was an old man in his 80s with no children. Abram believed you and you reckoned it to him as righteousness. We want to be people of faith like Abraham. We want to believe every word you say even when it seems absurd. Every word you say is truth. Lord, we believe you.

   You told Abram his descendants would be strangers in a land that wasn't theirs, and they would be enslaved and oppressed for 400 years! Not every word we hear from you will be what we want to hear, but I pray that we would have open hearts to hear all you have to say to us and accept bad news from you knowing you have everything under control. Nothing ever catches you off guard. May our faith grow with everything that happens in our lives knowing you are sovereign over all.

   A son was born to Abram and Sarai through their maid, Hagar. His name was Ishmael. You said you would bless him and make him a great nation, but your covenant was not with Ishmael. 

   When Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90, a son was born whom they named Isaac. You said your covenant would be established with Isaac. You chose Abraham and Isaac to be your chosen ones. Thank you for including us, your followers, as your chosen ones, too. There's nothing better than being part of your family. We are most grateful! May we act like your children.

   Help us to never judge others. May we leave all judging to you. If we judge others harshly, we will be judged harshly by you. Help us to not judge at all. When we find a speck in someone's eye, remind us there's a log in our own eye we're not seeing.

   Lord, may we remember to ask because you said it would be given to us. Whatever our requests are, we always want what you want for us. We don't want anything you don't want for us. We trust you to know what's best for us.

   Remind us to treat others the way we like to be treated—at home, work, church, or wherever we go.

   You said the road is wide that leads to destruction and narrow that leads to life. The way most people are headed is wrong. Only a few are walking in righteousness. May we be among the wise that choose the narrow way. Place in us a compassion and burden for those on the wide road.

   Thank you for warning us about people who look good and sound good on the outside, but they are actually false prophets. May we look at their fruits to know who they really are. You told us not everyone who calls on you will enter your kingdom of heaven, but only those who do your will. Holy Spirit, fill us today and empower us to do your will. It is through your might we can be conquerors. We don't want to be only hearers of your word, but doers.

   In the name of Jesus, Amen.


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In Dr. Josh Moody's sermon "A Question of Identity," he asks the question, "Who are you, and who are you meant to become?" He includes the following statements in his sermon:

  • What matters is not what you feel is true about yourself at any moment, but what you know is true about God at every moment.
  • If we're to KNOW GOD, we're going to have to spend a lot more time getting to know Him.

When you have 30 minutes, I would encourage you to listen to his sermon: https://www.college-church.org/av_item.php?avid=1794


10/1/19

Good morning, Truth Seekers/Finders.


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


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


   Do you feel like there have been those who have mocked our justice system here in the United States? A person may be able to mock our justice system in America and get away with it, but nobody mocks the justice of God and gets away with it. 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.


   When a farmer plants corn, he reaps corn. When we plant kindness, we reap kindness. When we give our encouraging words, we receive encouraging words. When we build others up, others build us up. When we strengthen others, we are strengthened. On the other hand, if we plant seeds of deceit, we deceive ourselves. When we plant rumors, we reap weeds. There's no such thing as planting corn and harvesting tomatoes. 

   In the justice system of God, there's no such thing as planting seeds that come from our sinful nature and then harvesting blessings from the Spirit. We aren't going to plant things from the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) and harvest death. Rather, we will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.

   God is just, but, fortunately, He's also gracious. It's because of His mercy and grace that we have hope. Hebrews 4:14-16 says,


   So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.


   We will receive grace and mercy when we approach God. Shouldn't others receive grace and mercy from us when they approach us—especially those in the family of faith? Today, let's be generous in throwing seeds of of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control to everyone we come in contact with, and give a double portion to brothers and sisters in Christ.

   Let's put the words of Colossians 4:5-6 into action, too:


    Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.


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Are you stuck? Do you feel trapped? In this video, Josh Moody tells how to get unstuck: https://www.college-church.org/av_item.php?avid=1803


9/30/19

Good morning, More than Conquerors.


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


Memory Verse for the Week: But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8


   Yesterday, Pastor Michael spoke to us about "The Church"—our church. Our church has the following mission statement: We exist to promote and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation and sanctification of all people. Some of what is happening in our church to accomplish our mission include the following:

  • Bylaws Team: This team is made up of six very diverse people but they are all united in the Spirit. This is not a group of "yes" people. Hearing challenges to ideas is common in this group. Prayer occurs an hour before each meeting, and these aren't business meetings; they are God meetings. Jesus is present at each meeting. The work of the Bylaws Team is close to completion. The accomplishments of the team will be presented to the Executive Board and then to the church body. Stay tuned.
  • Youth Group: Sam Uch is leading the newly formed youth group. There's a lot of enthusiasm in this group, and numerous activities are being planned.
  • Mission Team: Plans are currently being formed for a mission trip to another country. Our message is "Simply Jesus."
  • Feed the Hungry: This ministry continues in Shelton.
  • Backpack Ministry: Nancy Johnson is leading this ministry that provides food in backpacks for kids to have during the weekend when they aren't able to eat at school.
  • Women's Ministry: Sabra Rickwartz is currently leading this ministry. When asked to lead this, Sabra prayed about it and was obedient to the Lord.
  • Worship Team: Dan Washburn has led us in unified worship. Each person on the team has had to give up personal preferences in order to make the team coherent.
  • New Ministries: People are being moved by the Spirit to fill needs they see in our church.

   In every ministry, there is unity in the diversity of the people involved. However, that doesn't mean it's all smooth sailing. Every step we take to promote and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation and sanctification of all people is met with resistance from Satan. Satan is determined to destroy us and our church.

   We are not perfect people. Sometimes we fail and everyone in our church has permission to fail. Sometimes we sin, but Christ died for those sins. Our job is to forgive others when they sin.

   There have been false rumors circulating about our church. Do those rumors promote Jesus? Do they come from God? Do they strengthen, build, and encourage others?

   Ephesians 4:1-16 says,


   Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

   There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.

   However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ. That is why the Scriptures say, "When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people." Notice that it says "he ascended." This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world. And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself.

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

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


   Ephesians 6:10-17 says,


    A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 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.

   Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.


   We are to bear persecution in love and keep the unity of the Spirit. We don't have to conjure up anything. We either keep the unity or give it up. 

   Our gifts are diverse, but we are to be unified under Jesus. "Jesus, we want your way, not our way."

   We have to mature and grow in Jesus, submitting to Him instead of demanding our own way.

   Gossip is not truth; it's deceitful and scheming. We need to speak the truth in love. We're all in this together—unified in Jesus. God wants to unify this church. Jesus will build this church and the gates of hell with not prevail against it.


9/28/19

Good morning, Freed in Christ.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0M8XK2w7wmw


Memory Verse for the Week: But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8


   This is the third time this week we will look at our freedom in Christ. Let's take a look at Galatians 5 without any commercial interruptions.


   So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don't get tied up again in slavery to the law.

   Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. I'll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God's grace.

   But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.

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

   Dear brothers and sisters, if I were still preaching that you must be circumcised—as some say I do—why am I still being persecuted? If I were no longer preaching salvation through the cross of Christ, no one would be offended. I just wish that those troublemakers who want to mutilate you by circumcision would mutilate themselves.

   For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don't use your freedom to satisfy your sinful natureInstead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.

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

   When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

   But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

   Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit's leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.


9/27/19

Good morning, Children of Abraham.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=It1XzDf-pFo


Memory Verse for the Week: But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8


   Why would God ask a prophet to marry a prostitute? Dr. Michael Wedman answered this question yesterday in his study of the minor prophets titled "The Message of Hosea." Here is a recap of that lesson:

   The understanding of Hosea depends upon understanding the Sinai Covenant of blessings and curses:

  • Hosea 4:10-11: "They will eat and still be hungry. They will play the prostitute and gain nothing from it, for they have deserted the LORD to worship other gods. Wine has robbed my people of their understanding."
  • Deuteronomy 28:15-19: "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."
  • Deuteronomy 32:24-28

   Hosea's wife was Gomer. She was unfaithful to Hosea just as Israel was unfaithful to God. The church is the bride of Christ. Ephesians 5:25-33 says, For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God's word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body.

   As the Scriptures say, "A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one." This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

   Hosea and Gomer had three children:

   1. Jezreel was the first born son. His name means "scattered." The story of Naboth's vineyard is found in I Kings 21. It's the story of how King Ahab and Queen Jezebel had Naboth killed so they could have his land. As it turns out later, the entire family of Ahab ended up being killed in the Valley of Jezreel. Jezreel stands for bloodshed. It stands for judgment upon the royal household. It stands for a scattering of the royal line and a scattering of Israel. Naming a son Jezreel back then would be like us naming a child "Vietnam" or "9-11" today.

   2. Lo-Ruhama was a daughter whose name means "not pitied." God's compassion and pity toward Israel was coming to an end. This was a message to the whole nation. 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."

   3. Lo-Ammi was a son whose name means "not my people." This was the strongest judgment of all. The people of Israel had broken the covenant, and God was letting them go. They were no longer His people even though the LORD had said, "I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God who has freed you from your oppression in Egypt." (Exodus 6:7) God was giving them over to a lie because they had traded the truth about God for a lie. Today, we have people who say, "God has to forgive me!" in spite of Jesus' words in Matthew 6:14-15: "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." My actions mean something to God. We have to follow Him. We are commanded to be holy. We should live up to what we believe.

   There is a message of salvation in Hosea:

  • 1:7: But I will show love to the people of Judah. I will free them from their enemies—not with weapons and armies or houses and charioteers, but by my power as the LORD their God.
  • 1:10-11: "Yet the time will come when Israel's people will be like the sands of the seashore—too many to count! Then, at the place where they were told, 'You are not my people,' it will be said, 'You are children of the living God.' Then the people of Judah and Israel will unite together. They will choose one leader for themselves, and they will return from exile together. What a day that will be—the day of Jezreel—when God will again plant his people in his land."
  • 2:14-23

   There is a foreshadowing of Jesus found here. Hosea's story is God's story. Hosea sought an unfaithful wife, redeemed her, and brought her home. Unfaithful Gomer is pursued relentlessly by Hosea until she is safely in his arms. That's exactly what God does with us who are unfaithful to Him. In Jesus we find forgiveness of our unfaithfulness.

   The prophet's audience was in no position to hear of hope until they had realized the full and terrible predicament in which they were situated.

   We cannot perceive the ultimate hope of God unless we first perceive the sad estate of the human race. We don't see the need of a Savior until we see our condition as sinners.

   As we look at the message of salvation in Hosea, we find God's love sends His judgment to lead us to His salvation. This is the message of the gospel—God is the God of salvation for all people no matter how far they have walked or run away.

   Systematic theology and academia can be helpful, but they can be harmful as well. When they help us personally know God, they're helpful. When they lead us away from knowing God personally, they're harmful. We are not here to learn about God; we're here to know God personally—to build a relationship with God.


9/26/19

Good morning, Progressing Pilgrims.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYR0xP1j4PY


Memory Verse for the Week: But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8


   Yesterday, we took a look at Galatians 2 where Paul reminds us that we are made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. Sometimes we have to hear some things more than once before it really sinks in. I know I have to be reminded of this fact often. Today, I want us to hear this message another time as we look at Galatians 3 without any commercial interruptions.


   Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ's death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?

   I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.

   In the same way, "Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith." The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God.

   What's more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would make the Gentiles right in his sight because of their faith. God proclaimed this good news to Abraham long ago when he said, "All nations will be blessed through you." So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith.

   But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, "Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God's Book of the Law." So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, "It is through faith that a righteous person has life." This way of faith is very different from the way of law, which says, "It is through obeying the law that a person has life."

   But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.

   Dear brothers and sisters, here's an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or amend an irrevocable agreement, so it is in this case. God gave the promises to Abraham and his child. And notice that the Scripture doesn't say "to his children," as if it meant many descendants. Rather, it says "to his child"—and that, of course, means Christ. This is what I am trying to say: The agreement God made with Abraham could not be canceled 430 years later when God gave the law to Moses. God would be breaking his promise. For if the inheritance could be received by keeping the law, then it would not be the result of accepting God's promise. But God graciously gave it to Abraham as a promise.

    Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave his law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. Now a mediator is helpful if more than one party must reach an agreement. But God, who is one, did not use a mediator when he gave his promise to Abraham.

   Is there a conflict, then, between God's law and God's promises? Absolutely not! If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it. But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God's promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ.

   Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We are kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed.

   Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.

   For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put n Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God's promise to Abraham belongs to you.


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What can we learn from the book of Hebrews? Josh Moody answers that question: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/hebrews-139-25-christ-is-better-than-any-other/


9/25/19

Good morning, Narrow Road Walkers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9TE8D5Vs8k


Memory Verse for the Week: But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8


   Have you ever been wishy-washy in your faith? I guess that's the nice way of putting it. Paul called it hypocrisy when someone was one way around one group of people and another way around a different group of people. This unfolds in Galatians 2:11-21:


   But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn't eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter's hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.


   This tells me it's important for us to know what we believe. It's important to know the truth, and we find the way, the truth, and the life in Jesus. We have to draw close to Him so we aren't drawn away to falsehoods. We know what Jesus said by reading the Bible, and that's one reason it's so important to daily read His words to us. This passage also shows us how our errors can lead others astray. That's a huge responsibility we need to take seriously. Hypocrisy has no place in our lives. What we believe should not waver according to who we are associating with. We shouldn't have one set of beliefs we live by when we are with non-Christians and a different set of beliefs we live by when we are with Christians. We are who we are in Christ no matter where we are or who we come in contact with.

   Let's continue in Galatians:


    When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, "Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions?

   "You and I are Jews by birth, not 'sinners' like the Gentiles. Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law."


   This is counterculture! The majority of people outside of the church I have come in contact with believe that people are made right with God by good works or by obeying a set of rules. If the good you do outweighs the bad you do, you're good with God. Paul certainly doesn't say that. He said, "a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. No one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law." That's pretty clear. When Peter was going along with some friends of James who insisted on the necessity of circumcision, Paul called him out on it. 

   Let's continue on:


   But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not! Rather, I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down. For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.


   I know I have rebuilt the old system of law before, and I sinned when I did it. I have rebuilt manmade laws as if they were God's laws, and that is sin. I want some simple rules to follow, so if I follow them, then I know I'm good with God. That's not God's way! I can never be good enough to keep all the laws, so the laws end up condemning me. I have to come to the point where I stop trying to meet all the requirements of the law. Why? Paul says so I can live for God. We have to crucify our old selves with Christ, so Christ can live in us. 

   Let's pray: Father God, keep me from being hypocritical. May I follow the truth of the gospel message. May it sink in that it's my faith in you that makes me right with you, not following a set of rules. May I live for you. Thank you for loving me and giving yourself to a death on the cross for me. May I not treat your grace as meaningless by trying to keep the law. In the name of Jesus, Amen.


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Today, Josh Moody's topic is "How to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough": https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/hebrews-131-8-how-to-keep-going-when-the-going-gets-tough/


9/24/19

Good morning, Heirs of God.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4Nx2hEhVRE


Memory Verse for the Week: But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8


   I was reading II Corinthians 12 when part of verse 14 jumped out at me. Paul was writing to the Corinthians about his concern for them, and he said, "I don't want what you have—I want you." Later, in verse 19, Paul said, "Everything we do, dear friends, is to strengthen you." Evidently, there were those in Corinth who thought Paul was using them to get what he could from them. They thought he didn't care about them; he cared about what they could do for him. Paul is assuring them that this is not the case. In fact, everything that is done is for their benefit—to strengthen them.

   There's a story in the Bible of a person who experienced being used. It's found in Luke 15:11-32 and is commonly called "The Prodigal Son." Let's pick up the story when the younger son heads away from home with his inheritance.


    "A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything."


   Can't you just imagine how popular this young man was when he arrived in town loaded with money? Who wouldn't want to be one of his friends? Who wouldn't want to hang out with a buddy who always picked up the tab? However, when the inevitable happened and the last penny was spent, only his true friends would still be by his side. How many were there? It sounds like there wasn't a single friend who stayed his friend once the money was gone. Basically, even though they would never say it outright, his friends were saying just the opposite of what Paul was saying. They were saying, "I care about what you have; I don't care about you." That's the world for you. There wasn't a single person around to say, "I don't want what you have—I want you."

   My wife has had a true friend for over 44 years. When they met, they both had very few earthly possessions. They struggled to make ends meet, but that didn't affect their friendship. They were there for each other year after year. About 12 years into the friendship, things changed for my wife's best friend. It's a rags to riches story. She married a fine, upstanding, Christian man who was part of a thriving business. All her financial concerns were over. Not only was there enough money to pay all the bills, there was lots left over. This allowed for vacation houses, numerous vacations each year, a "mansion" to live in, luxury cars, and the like. Of course, with this change in lifestyle came friends wanting to help her enjoy her many blessings. However, there was one friend she could always trust and that was Laurie. Laurie had been her best friend when she had nothing, and Laurie would be her best friend when she had everything. Laurie didn't care about what her best friend had—she cared about her. Should her fate change and she return to rags, Laurie would be there for her. The amount of possessions were not the basis for the friendship. 

   It worked the other way, too. Laurie's friend still cared about Laurie after she went from rags to riches. When Laurie was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer, her friend was right there for her. Laurie had chemo treatments for one and a half years, and her best friend sat right by her side for every treatment. She packed a lunch for Laurie and often brought dinner for her as well. She was there for doctor appointments and surgery. Laurie's friend lived about 45 minutes away, so it wasn't very convenient for her. It was also a sacrifice on the part of her family as she had three children living at home. I suppose Paul's words might still be applicable, "I don't want what you have—I want you." 

   The world uses people, but, as Christians, we don't use people; we love people. We do for them what is best for them—not us. We do for them what will strengthen them. 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."

   To every person we come in contact with today, let's think and act in a way that says, "I don't want what you have—I want you. What can I do to strengthen you?"


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What is the nature of worship in the New Testament church? Dr. Josh Moody answers this question today: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/hebrews-1214-39-a-kingdom-that-cannot-be-shaken/



9/23/19

Good morning, Disciples of Christ.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvagoD8T0u4


Memory Verse for the Week: Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Ruth 1:16


   When we have an emergency, we call 9-1-1. This is how Sam Uch started his sermon titled "Our Rescuer." The text used was John 4:46-54:


   As [Jesus] traveled through Galilee, he came to Cana, where he had turned the water into wine. There was a government official in nearby Capernaum whose son was very sick. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged Jesus to come to Capernaum to heal his son, who was about to die.

   Jesus asked, "Will you never believe in me unless you see miraculous signs and wonders?"

   The official pleaded, "Lord, please come now before my little boy dies."

   Then Jesus told him, "Go back home. Your son will live!" And the man believed what Jesus said and started home.

   While the man was on his way, some of his servants met him with the news that his son was alive and well. He asked them when the boy had begun to get better, and they replied, "Yesterday afternoon at one o'clock his fever suddenly disappeared!" Then the father realized that that was the very time Jesus had told him, "Your son will live." And he and his entire household believed in Jesus. This was the second miraculous sign Jesus did in Galilee after coming from Judea.


   The royal official had it all—power, prestige, servants, health, wealth. However, he lacked one thing—the power to make his son who was close to death well again. The royal official decided to leave his son and travel to Galilee to see Jesus. The official was desperate for help for his son. We're just like him; when we're desperate, we look for Jesus.

   Would the man in a high position lower himself to a carpenter? Yes! He wasn't ashamed to bow down and beg for help. We shouldn't be ashamed of Jesus as we come in contact with the world.

   The official expected Jesus to go to where his son was located. He wanted tangible evidence, but all he had to do was trust and obey the Lord. If the father hadn't gone home, he would have had a dead faith. Faith without action is dead faith. He walked home and was met by his servant with the good news of his son's recovery. It was no coincidence that the time when Jesus said, "Your son lives," was the same time when the servants noticed the fever suddenly disappeared.

   There's a similar story of a poor man living in a refugee camp. His son became very sick and was going in and out of consciousness. God sent a missionary from Canada to help. The missionary drove the man and his son for four to six hours to the hospital. The little boy made a full recovery. That little boy was Sam Uch. God had a plan for his life, and He wasn't going to let Sam die in that refugee camp.

   God works in mysterious ways. He may not be there physically, but He is there spiritually. 

   Jesus rose from the dead and so will we. Let's encourage each other with these words. Let's remember Jesus is our rescuer.


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When you have 30 minutes, I would encourage you to listen to Tim Keller discuss "expressive individualism" in his talk "Our Cultural Tension." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTxJ6HIh0U0

9/21/19

Good morning, Forgiven.


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


Memory Verse for the Week: Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Ruth 1:16


   Sometimes people "quote" the Bible, and the words they say are not found in the Bible. Which of the following is found in the Bible?

  • History merely repeats itself. 
  • There is nothing new under the sun.
  • God helps those who help themselves.

   If you said the first two, you would be correct. They are found in Ecclesiastes 1:9 (the first one taken from the the New Living Translation, and the second from the New International Version).

   The book of Ecclesiastes has a lot of wisdom I can apply to my life. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, "Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed." My wife has definitely helped me succeed in my endeavors, and I hope I have helped her succeed in her endeavors. I am far better off with her than I would be without her. Together we are far stronger than we would be off by ourself without the other. 

   The last part of verse 10 says, "Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken." Of course, this isn't taking about a marriage relationship (and neither was verse nine; I was just relating it to my life). This verse is in conflict with "rugged individualism" or the "I don't need any help" attitude so prevalent today. We really do need each other! When school started this year, even though I'm retired, I still had a "Returning to School" dream. In the dream Laurie and I were both teaching at a new school. The principal had given each grade level a big assignment to complete. I was lost, wasn't sure where my classroom was, and couldn't find any of my teammates. I was feeling a lot of anxiety over the situation so I went to see how Laurie was coming along. Laurie and her teammates had pages and pages of the assignment our principal had given us to do, and all of it was very neatly written out with charts and posters to accompany it. Needless to say, I was extremely relieved when I woke up to find it was just a dream. The dream illustrated the truth of this verse in Ecclesiastes—even though they were a newly formed team, my wife and her teammates were a strong team that couldn't be easily broken. On the other hand, alone and by myself, I was vulnerable to being broken.

   Ecclesiastes 7:3-4 says, "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." I know that the most difficult times in my life have been the times when I've grown the most spiritually. I also know that every funeral/celebration of life I have attended has made me reevaluate my life to see if I'm spending my time and efforts on things that matter for eternity. Thinking about death can have positive results.

   Ecclesiastes 7:14 says, "Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life." When hard times strike (and we know they will), it doesn't mean God has forsaken us. It doesn't necessarily mean God is displeased with us. It's part of life. We will experience good times and difficult times in this life. Enjoy the good times and grow stronger in the difficult times. Nothing is certain in this life. We can plan for retirement, but that doesn't mean things will go as we planned. There were people who lost their entire life savings that was invested in the Enron Corporation—lost it all in a moment. The same could happen to any of us. Nothing is certain. We can and should make plans for the future, but that doesn't mean things will pan out as we anticipate. We can expect good times and bad times in this life. It's nice to know God is sovereign, and nothing catches Him off guard. It's also comforting and encouraging to hear the words of Jesus in John 14:15-18, "If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn't looking for him and doesn't recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you."

   Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, "Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins." I can certainly identify with these words. With the Holy Spirit indwelling me, and with hearing from God (through reading His Word and prayer), sin is not as prevalent as it used to be. I look forward to the day when I will see Jesus and sin will be no more.

   Ecclesiastes 8:11 says, "When a crime is not punished quickly, people feel it is safe to do wrong." I see the truth of that wisdom all around me. Police officers arrest people for crimes, and they are back on the streets in a short time. Evidently, the criminals feel it's safe to do wrong. When I do wrong and feel like God didn't notice, I feel like it's safe to do wrong. 

   Ecclesiastes 9:12 says, "People can never predict when hard times might come. Like fish in a net or birds in a trap, people are caught by sudden tragedy." So often we hear, "I never saw it coming!" Hard times do happen suddenly and catch us unaware. Being forewarned is being forearmed.

   Ecclesiastes 10:4 says, "If your boss is angry at you, don't quit! A quiet spirit can overcome even great mistakes." Have you noticed how a quiet spirit is rarely seen these days? It goes against the attitude of, "Stand up for your rights! Don't let anyone push you around! If anyone tries to mess with you, let them have it!" I'm still working on that quiet spirit myself. Several years ago, I got a letter from the garbage company saying I hadn't paid my bill. I knew I had. I looked it up in my records and saw that the check had cleared my bank. I called up the garbage company and let them have it. I most certainly HAD paid my bill. They needed a better way to keep records because the way they were doing it clearly wasn't working. My tone was certainly not Christ-like! I was a terrible example of a follower of Jesus on that day! In hindsight, what I should have done is prayed a short prayer asking God to help me share the love of Jesus in the phone call I was about to make, and then with a quiet spirit say something like, "I think there might be a mistake on the bill I received in the mail. I checked my records, and I see that I did pay it. Would you mind double-checking your records on this?" I am ashamed of how I handled this situation, and, unfortunately, it's not the only time something like this was done my me. I pray the Lord will place in me a quiet spirit that will be a witness of Christ's love in me.


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What is the means by which Christ saves us today? Josh Moody answers that question in today's devotional: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/hebrews-1117-31-faith/


9/20/19

Good morning, Heaven Bound.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtnE_e1LylY


Memory Verse for the Week: Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Ruth 1:16


     Here is a prayer centered around Genesis 12-14 and Matthew 6:


     Lord, you said you would make Abram a great nation, you would bless him, and bless those who blessed Abram. You also said you would curse those who cursed Abram. You said in Abram all the families of the earth would be blessed. Your word can be trusted. What you say will come about.

     When Abram and Lot shared the same land, the land could not sustain both of them so it became necessary for them to separate. Abram let Lot choose first, and Lot chose the "better" of the two places—the rich valley of the Jordan. Abram settled in Canaan. You are able to bless your people beyond expectations. Canaan turned out to be the better choice. Help me to trust you. You know what's best for me. You know where I need to be and what I should be doing. Increase my faith. May I submit to you wholeheartedly. I want more of you and less of me.

     When we are faced with enemies who want to destroy us, you are able to deliver them into our hands. Help us to keep our eyes on you and not our circumstances. You are able to bring victory.

     May the good things we do for others be done in secret. May we not seek praise from people for our good deeds.

     Lord, may my prayers be humble and from my heart—between you and me and not a showy display of words for others to hear. You taught us to pray like this:


     Our Father who art in heaven,

     Hallowed be Thy Name.

     Thy kingdom come,

     Thy will be done,

     On earth as it is in heaven.

     Give us this day our daily bread,

     And forgive us our debts,

     as we also have forgiven our debtors.

     And do not lead us into temptation,

     but deliver us from evil.

     For Thine is the kingdom,

     and the power,

     and the glory, forever. Amen


     May I always be quick to forgive others. If I don't forgive others, you won't forgive me.

     When I fast, may I do it in secret so only you and I know it's happening.

     May we not lay up treasures on earth where nothing is secure, but rather lay up treasures in heaven where they are secure forever. Remind me often that where my treasure is, that's where my heart can be found. I want my heart to be centered on you. We can't serve two masters: it's either going to be you or money. Help me to choose wisely and choose you. Help me to think long term instead of short term.

     Help us not to stress over food, clothing, or anything else. Help us to seek you and your Kingdom, your righteousness, and to trust you for the rest. Help us not to worry about tomorrow because you have all that under control.

     May I become a person of faith like Abraham.

     In the name of Jesus, Amen.


     Try turning what you read in the Bible today into a prayer.


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It's impossible to please God without something. This is the topic of today's devotional with Dr. Josh Moody: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/hebrews-111-16-a-better-country/


9/19/19

Good morning, Truth Seekers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0gu0nOaFsI


Memory Verse for the Week: Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Ruth 1:16


   Do words written about wealth nearly 3,000 years ago have relevance today? Let's take a look at Ecclesiastes 5:8-20 and see:


   Don't be surprised if you see a poor person being oppressed by the powerful and if justice is being miscarried throughout the land. For every official is under orders from higher up, and matters of justice get lost in red tape and bureaucracy. Even the king milks the land for his own profit!

   Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers!

   People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night's sleep.

   There is another serious problem I have seen under the sun. Hoarding riches harms the saver. Money is put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one's children. We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can't take our riches with us.

   And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.

   Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.


   Every day I try to read from the Old Testament and the New Testament. Today's Scripture reading in the New Testament also had something to say about money. Let's look at II Corinthians 9:6-15:


    Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. "For God loves a person who gives cheerfully." And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, "They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever." For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

   Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.

   As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!


   In Acts 20:33-35, Paul said, "I have never coveted anyone's silver or gold or fine clothes. You know that these hands of mine have worked to supply my own needs and even the needs of those who were with me. And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "


   Psalm 37:21 says, "The wicked borrow and never repay, but the godly are generous givers."


   Luke 12:33-34 has the following words of Jesus: "Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be."


Prayer for today: Lord, may I have your perspective on money. Everything you say about money is true. May I live my life by your words. May I discover the joy of giving. In the name of Jesus, Amen.


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What is worth learning, repeating, and storing away in our minds and hearts? In today's devotional, Dr. Josh Moody answers this question: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/hebrews-911-28-once-for-all/


9/18/19

Good morning, Wisdom Seekers.


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99mqHsBiNtw


Memory Verse for the Week: Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Ruth 1:16


     Today we will finish up this series of pretests on Proverbs as we take a look at the last seven chapters in the book.


  1. Who is like clouds and wind that bring no rain?     a) a boaster     b) politicians     c) a person who promises a gift but doesn't give it     d) a lazy person
  2. What is as harmful as hitting others with an ax?     a) hitting them with a hammer     b) stealing from them     c) only pretending to be their friends     d) telling lies about them
  3. What is like polluting a fountain or muddying a spring?     a) the godly giving in to the wicked     b) gossiping     c) keeping the company of fools     d) mixing the truth with lies
  4. Interfering in someone else's argument is as foolish as:     a) agitating a camel     b) walking blindfolded next to a cliff     c) going into battle without a plan     d) yanking a dog's ears
  5. When do quarrels disappear?     a) when the quarrelers die     b) when they are confronted with the truth     c) when gossip stops d) when the issue is forgotten over time
  6. A loud and cheerful greeting early in the morning:     a) will be taken as a curse     b) will surely arouse those still sleeping     c) will result in many wounds     d) will spread cheer quickly
  7. God detests the prayers of a person:     a) whose heart is far from Him     b) who doesn't love his neighbor     c) who only makes requests     d) who ignores the law
  8. Greedy people try to:     a) lay up treasures on earth     b) follow their heart     c) get rich quick     d) avoid the poor
  9. Never slander a ___________ to the ___________.    a) parent/child     b) worker/employer     c) friend/wicked     d) leader/fool
  10. Alcohol is for:     a) the dying     b) the living     c) those desiring uplifted spirits     d) celebrations

     Now let's explore some of the wisdom found in Proverbs 25-31:

  • When arguing with your neighbor, don't betray another person's secret. (25:9)
  • A person who promises a gift but doesn't give it is like clouds and wind that bring no rain. (25:14)
  • Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an ax, wounding them with a sword, or shooting them with a sharp arrow. (25:18)
  • Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart is like taking someone's coat in cold weather or pouring vinegar in a wound. (25:20)
  • If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them water to drink. (25:21)
  • As surely as a north wind brings rain, so a gossiping tongue causes anger! (25:23)
  • If the godly give in to the wicked, it's like polluting a fountain or muddying a spring. (25:26)
  • A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls. (25:28)
  • Don't answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are. (26:4)
  • Honoring a fool is as foolish as tying a stone to a slingshot. (26:8)
  • Interfering in someone else's argument is as foolish as yanking a dog's ears. (26:17)
  • Just as damaging as a madman shooting a deadly weapon is someone who lies to a friend and then says, "I was only joking." (26:18)
  • Smooth words may hide a wicked heart, just as a pretty glaze covers a clay pot. (26:23)
  • If you set a trap for others, you will get caught in it yourself. (26:27)
  • Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth—a stranger, not your own lips. (27:2)
  • Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. (27:6)
  • A prudent person forces danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. (27:12)
  • When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily. But wise and knowledgeable leaders bring stability. (28:2)
  • Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and rich. (28:6)
  • Young people who obey the law are wise; those with wild friends bring shame to their parents. (28:7)
  • God detests the prayers of a person who ignores the law. (28:9)
  • Rich people may think they are wise, but a poor person with discernment can see right through them. (28:11)
  • People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. (28:13)
  • A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies ends up in poverty. (28:19)
  • The trustworthy person will get a rich reward, but a person who wants quick riches will get into trouble. (28:20)
  • Greedy people try to get rich quick but don't realize they're headed for poverty. (28:22)
  • In the end, people appreciate honest criticism far more than flattery. (28:23)
  • Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed. (28:27)
  • The godly care about the rights of the poor; the wicked don't care at all. (29:7)
  • Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back. (29:11)
  • To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child. (29:15)
  • When the wicked are in authority, sin flourishes, but the godly will live to see their downfall. (29:16)
  • Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety. (29:25)
  • Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection. (30:5)
  • Never slander a worker to the employer, or the person will curse you, and you will pay for it. (30:10)
  • As the beating of cream yields butter and striking the nose causes bleeding, so stirring up anger causes quarrels. (30:33)
  • Alcohol is for the dying, and wine for those in bitter distress. (31:6)
  • Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. (31:8)
  • Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. (31:10-11)
  • Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise! (31:30-31)

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

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In today's devotional, Dr. Josh Moody explores truth in our world and provides a diagnosis, prognosis, and remedy: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/FMfcgxwDrHqVzKzGCXPzzHDdtMgNVzTp


9/17/19

Good morning, Light Seers. 


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kN2Khfy75Kg

Memory Verse for the Week: Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Ruth 1:16


   Before we take a look at some of the words of wisdom found in Proverbs 21-24, let's take a pretest to see how much we already know.

  1. It's better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a ________ ____________ in a lovely home.  a) loud child  b) leaking roof  c) boisterous friend  d) quarrelsome wife
  2. The wise have wealth and luxury, but what do fools do?  a) spend whatever they get  b) steal for what they have  c) sleep  d) covet their neighbors' possessions
  3. What happens when you watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut?  a) you are thought to be wise  b) you increase in wisdom  c) you stay out of trouble  d) you gain friends
  4. The horse is prepared for battle, but who does the victory belong to?  a) the king  b) the LORD  c) the soldiers  d) the negotiators 
  5. What is better to choose than great riches?  a) good friends  b) a good reputation  c) wisdom  d) health
  6. _________ _________ and fear of the LORD lead to riches, honor, and long life.  a) Diligent obedience  b) Genuine integrity  c) Meaningful worship  d) True humility
  7. Who does the LORD defend? Who will the LORD ruin if anyone ruins them?  a) the righteous  b) the poor or needy  c) those whose hearts are right with the LORD  d) those who walk in integrity
  8. What will sprout wings and fly away like an eagle?  a) wealth  b) health  c) your children  d) an unfaithful wife
  9. What bites like a poisonous snake and stings like a viper?  a) the scorpion  b) ill-wrought wealth  c) wine  d) words spoken in haste
  10. What is like a kiss of friendship?  a) an honest answer  b) a helpful hand  c) encouraging words  d) a gift

   Now let's explore some of the wisdom found in Proverbs 21-24:

  • People may be right in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their heart. (21:2)
  • The LORD is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices. (21:3)
  • Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty. (21:5)
  • It's better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home. (21:9)
  • It's better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife. (21:19)
  • The wise have wealth and luxury but fools spend whatever they get. (21:20)
  • Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble. (21:23)
  • Despite their desires, the lazy will come to ruin, for their hands refuse to work. (21:25)
  • Some people are always greedy for more, but the godly love to give! (21:26)
  • The wicked bluff their way through, but the virtuous think before they act. (21:29)
  • The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD. (21:31)
  • Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold. (22:1)
  • A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. (22:3)
  • True humility and fear of the LORD lead to riches, honor, and long life. (22:4)
  • Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. (22:6)
  • Don't rob the poor just because you can, or exploit the needy in court. For the LORD is their defender. He will ruin anyone who ruins them. (22:22-23)
  • Don't wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit. (23:4)
  • In the blink of an eye wealth disappears, for it will sprout wings and fly away like an eagle. (23:5)
  • Don't waste your breath on fools, for they will despise the wisest advice. (23:9)
  • Don't envy sinners, but always continue to fear the LORD. (23:17)
  • The father of godly children has cause for joy. What a pleasure to have children who are wise. (23:24)
  • Don't envy evil people or desire their company. For their hearts plot violence, and their words always stir up trouble. (24:1-2)
  • The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked. (24:16)
  • Don't rejoice when your enemies fall; don't be happy when they stumble. (24:17)
  • An honest answer is like a kiss of friendship. (24:26)
  • Don't testify against your neighbors without cause; don't lie about them. And don't say, "Now I can pay them back for what they've done to me! I'll get even with them!" (24:29)
  • A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber. (24:33-34)

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

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In today's devotional, Dr. Josh Moody explains why Old Testament ceremonies are not necessary: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/hebrews-81-6-jesus-is-better-in-every-way/


9/16/19

Good morning, Harmless as Doves. (see Matthew 10:16)


Song for the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idQ1n3cdgfo


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


   The sermon by Rick Romano (who lived in Shelton but left around 20 years ago) started off with a video that told about the ministry he is involved with in the the Dominican Republic. This video summarizes his work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEEgSOD8dHw

   Rick Romano's text was from James 2:14-26:


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

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

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

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

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

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


   What kind of impact are you making by what you do? The first part of this passage (verses 14-19) talks about faith that is dead. The second part (verses 20-26) talks about faith that is alive and dynamic. This second kind of faith comes with a cost.

   Dead faith is faith that:

  1. Is just talked about. There's nothing said that is backed up by actions.
  2. Has no action even though needs are seen.
  3. Is just believing and nothing more. 

   The Christian faith is not about saying something, feeling something, or believing something. It's about action—acting on what we see. Real faith is something we do. It's alive and dynamic.

   Why do you do what you do?

   Our faith has to be seen. Faith that doesn't change us is dead faith. Matthew 25:35-36, 40 has the following words of Jesus: 'For I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'

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

   These are the pillars of the work in the Dominican Republic:

  1. Providing clean water by handing out water filters that save lives.
  2. Providing sustainable food by raising chickens that produce eggs that can be sold to help build churches. In addition to eggs, papaya and tilapia is also raised.
  3. Dignified healthcare
  4. Vocational training
  5. Dump ministry. Recycled plastics generate money for people who make their living at the dump.
  6. Providing basic shelter. Bible studies are held in the houses provided.
  7. At risk children program
  8. Church planting
  9. Vocational technical school
  10. Juvenile detention center
  11. Youth rehabilitation center
  12. Door-to-door ministry (giving food and asking if there's anything they'd like prayer for)

   You can partner with Mission Twenty Five35 in three ways:

  1. Praying
  2. Giving
  3. Going

   You can read more details about how to partner by going to the following website: http://www.missiontwentyfive35.org


--------------------


Dr. Josh Moody answers the question, "Are pastors priests?" in today's devotional: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/hebrews-711-28-what-we-need/


9/14/19

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


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


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


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


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

   Now let's explore Proverbs 17-20:

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

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


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


9/13/19

Good morning, Prayer Warriors.


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


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


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

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

   The message of the minor prophets is:

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

This is basically the gospel.

   The minor prophets dramatize the character of God.

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

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


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


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


9/12/19

Good morning, Citizens of Heaven.


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


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


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


Grief…. Here is the definition of Grief:

 /greef?

Noun

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


1 Corinthians 12:27-28

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


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


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


Psalm 34:17-18 reads:

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;

He delivers them from all their troubles.

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


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


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


Psalm 56:8 reads:

Record my misery;

List my tears on your scroll,

Are they not in your record?


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


2 Timothy 4:7 reads:

I have fought the good fight,

I have finished the race,

I have kept the faith.


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


Brenda Washburn



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


9/11/19

Good morning, Loved by God.


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


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


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


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


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

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



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


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


9/10/19

Good morning, Hungry and Thirsty (for righteousness).


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


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


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


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


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

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

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


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


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


9/9/19

Good morning, Jesus Worshipers.


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   Salvation is found in Jesus only.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


9/7/19

Good morning, Followers of The Way.


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


———————————


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


9/6/19

Good morning, Former Rebels Against God.


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


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


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

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

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

   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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Answers to today's quiz:

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

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

9/5/19

Good morning, Faithful Followers of Jesus.


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


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


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

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



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

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

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


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

9/4/19

Good morning, Fellow Believers.


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


9/3/19

Good morning, Grafted Branches.


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


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


     Today's devotional has an unusual beginning:


Famous Rock in Brazil

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

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

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


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

All that is required is the proper perspective!

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

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