Daily Devotion February 2020

2/29/20

Good morning, Child of the King.

Song for the Day: I Am Not Alone

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: I have been crucified with Christ and . . . (completion at the end)

Pastor Kevin Ulmet is the lead pastor of Nashville First Church of the Nazarene in Nashville, Tennessee. I was sent the following blog and thought I would pass it on to you. I like what he has to say:

NO REASON BUT LOVE

Karen and I were staying in a hotel recently. A breakfast buffet was offered, and we discovered much to her disappointment that there were no grits on the buffet. This is a major issue for my grits-loving Alabama girl, so I asked the server, who informed me that it was a "corporate decision" to remove grits from the breakfast bar menu. She apologized profusely, then said "let me check on something." She returned in a few minutes with news: "Our cook found some in the back. She's making them now. It'll be just a few minutes."

I had two reactions: my first was to say "Oh no, don't go to that trouble - this isn't that big of a deal!" She would not be talked out of her kind gesture. My second was to think to myself "these won't be any good - especially in these circumstances."

A few minutes later two huge bowls of steaming grits appeared. Perfectly prepared, by someone who obviously knew what they were doing. Wow. Some further information: with our frequent lodging status we weren't paying for the buffet. No one was making any money on this gesture. Also, "corporate" had made the decision - there was no earthly reason to go to this extra effort for a couple of free-loading customers, EXCEPT...someone cared, someone wanted to go the extra mile, someone was focused and concerned about...US!

As we enter the Lenten season, and take the journey once again through the Gospels to the last supper, the cross, and then...Easter - remember a few things. There was no earthly reason for God to design the plan of salvation, and for Jesus to willingly submit to it. Only love! There was nothing in it for Him, except suffering and death. It was all for us. No other way to describe it, no explanation makes any sense at all, except...well - here we were, unable to save ourselves, and someone cared enough about us, yes, loved us enough, to do this.

Every person is totally free, endowed with free choice and free will from our Creator, to decide how we respond to this gift of grace. Lent is our season to once again remember what those choices are, and why we choose to receive it: love. Only love. There's no other reason.

“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. John 3:16-17 (NLT)

Pastor Ulmet

If you would like to read more of his blogs, you may go to the following website. Today’s blog is the first one listed (2/27/20):

Pastor Ulmet Blog


Verse Completion: . . . I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 (NIV)

2/28/20

Good morning, Praise Singers.

Song for the Day: Revelation Song

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman gave a lecture on “Desolation and Exultation” based on Micah 3-5. The message of Micah is in three parts:

· A summons to hear

· An oracle of doom

· A statement of hope

Chapters 3-5 are predominantly Messianic. Chapter 3 is about the desolation of Israel. Chapter 4 deals with the salvation of Israel. The rule of the King of David is found in Chapter 5.

Chapter 3

The poetic device used here is the strophe which is like a stanza. There are three strophes that are four verses long each. A summons to hear and an oracle of doom are found in each of the three strophes. The statement of hope is found in chapters four and five. Micah continues to address the leadership about their sin.

1. Strophe 1: A message to the princes in the first four verses.

o This is addressed specifically to the leaders. They are taking advantage of the people through their corrupt courts. They don’t care about true justice.

o God will not answer them in the days that they seek justice from God. God will treat them as they treated His people. God will hide His face from them because of their evil—see Numbers 6:22-26. To be blessed by God is to have God look at you—to have His presence. When God hides His face from you, darkness comes upon you.

§ It’s skinkin’ thinkin’ to think that every time you sin God is going to strike you down. God waits for you to repent and turn from your sin. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “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.”

§ When God has given you ample time to repent, and the sin continues with no repentance and turning from sin, that’s when one is in danger of consequences.

§ Was Jesus really bad and that is why He was hung on a cross? Of course not! Sometimes we suffer because we are good and do the right things.

2. Strophe 2: A message to the false prophets is found in verses 5-8.

o The false prophets prophecy for money. They prophecy whatever the money pays them to prophecy. They are not seeking God’s word for the people. 1 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.”

§ There is parallelism in this poetry—the same message is repeated but using different words. With parallelism, the author could compare and contrast.

o The seers will no longer “see.” The light of God’s words will no longer shine for them. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”

o God will no longer speak His words to them. The people are more afraid of what man can take away from them than they are afraid of what God can take away from them. This is one reason we don’t witness to others.

o In verse eight, we see Micah contrasting true prophecy from false prophecy. A true prophet is filled with the Holy Spirit. A true prophet knows the justice of God. A true prophet declares sin.

3. Strophe 3: A message to the princes, priests, and prophets in verses 9-12.

o All three levels of leadership are addressed. They all despise and distort justice for their own gain. They all take bribes and do what money asks of them.

o They still believe God will look after them. They tell others that God is their support. But God is against them. The whole nation will be destroyed because they led in the way of evil.

o There is accountability before God when you are a leader. False prophets asked people what they wanted. True prophets asked God what Hewanted. Are we true or false leaders?

Chapter 4

This begins a lengthy section of the Statement of Hope. It is divided into two sections: verses 1-5 and 6-13. In the last days is a reference to the coming of the Messiah. Hosea 3:5 says, “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.” Often this writing is apocalyptic in nature—denoting the end times.

The temple on Mount Zion will be rebuilt. The nations will come from all over the world to hear the words of God. They will want to know how to receive salvation. The Messiah will restore true justice to the nations. There will be no more wars. This is a great promise of hope. Everyone will recognize who God is.

The weapons of war will be turned into instruments of peace. This is in contrast to Joel 3:10 which says, “Hammer your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Train even your weaklings to be warriors.” Israel will be committed to walking with God.

When reading prophecy, keep in mind there is near fulfillment (“soon” to take place) and far fulfillment (to take place in the “far” off future).

Verses 6-8 indicate that in that day God will bring back a remnant from exile. God will rule over the remnant. God will restore the kingship to Israel. The first will be last and the last first.

Verses 9-10 are back to the current day of the prophecy of doom. It brings to focus the short-comings of the earthly king. It promises the coming of the true king to redeem them—the Messiah.

Verses 11-13 show that the nations believe they are in control and the ones who will do the plundering. However, it is God who is really in control, and He will once again raise up His people to plunder and rule the nations.

Chapter 5

Verses 1-3: A ruler will arise—the Messiah! See Matthew 2:1-6. The Messiah will come to save His people.

Verses 4-6: The Messiah will be a shepherd for His people. John 10:11 says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.” The Messiah will be peace for His people:

· Isaiah 9:6: For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

· Romans 5:1: Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.

The Messiah will lead His people into victory over their enemies. See Revelation 19:11-16.

Verses 7-9: The remnant of Israel will be a blessing to the people of the nations. They will be rulers among the nations.

Verses 10-15: On that day, every strength that Israel trusts in will be taken away so they trust only in God. Their trust is in weapons of war—horses and chariots (see Deut. 17:16 and Isaiah 2:7). Their trust is in their walled and fortified cities. Their trust is in their diviners and sorcerers. They trust in the idols they have made for themselves. They trust in the idols of the other nations. God will take away all the idols that they replace their faith in God with. God will destroy the nations who have not put their faith in Him. (See Rev. 19:11-16 again)

Conclusion

God’s people will suffer loss now because of their disobedience to God. The suffering of loss is so they learn to trust in God alone. Only their faith in God will save them. God will restore them by raising up the Messiah in the last days. The Messiah will rule the nations with His people ruling with Him.

When we’re being refined, it hurts.

2 Peter 1:20-21: Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.

Dr. Moody discusses positive and negative consequences for behavior: Covenant Fidelity


Verse Completion: . . . compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.Colossians 3:12 (NASB)

2/27/20

Good morning, Prayer Warriors.

Song for the Day: Surrounded (Fight My Battles)

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: When any one hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom . . . (completion at the end)

What comes to your mind when you hear faith healer? It could be you think of the enthusiastic preacher/healer who tells his followers that all they need to be healed is faith. “What you believe is what you will receive. If you believe God can heal you of your disease, then you will be healed.” Verses such as Matthew 9:29-30a are often quoted: Then [Jesus] touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith, it will happen.” Then their eyes were opened, and they could see! When someone is not healed by the modern day faith healer, they are told it’s because of their lack of faith.

As is often the case with lies, there is some truth mixed in with the lies. There is certainly truth in faith being an important part of the Christian life:

· And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. Hebrews 11:6

· For we live by believing and not by seeing. 2 Corinthians 5:7

· For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)

· If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. James 1:5-8

· Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.Romans 12:3

· Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” John 8:23-24

· “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” Mark 9:23

· Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.” Matthew 21:21-22

· I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

· “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.” Galatians 2:16

· I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

· The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.” Luke 17:5

What we don’t want to do is lift isolated verses out of context and make sweeping applications. For example, we don’t want to say, “The Bible says in Mark 11:24: ‘I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.’ And these are the words of Jesus, so I’m praying for a new Lamborghini sportscar.” As you read the rest of the Bible, do you read where people asked God for extravagant material goods and God faithfully handed them out like a rich uncle? If there were cases like that throughout the Bible, then that argument could be used to make a point. But that’s not what we find. There are other verses that talk of Christians being hated by others, persecuted, put in prison, insulted, excluded, rejected, falsely accused of all kinds of evil, pursued by enemies, and worse. Paul said in Philippians 3:10b, “I want to suffer with [Jesus], sharing in his death.”

We have to know God’s word in order to identify that which is not true; that which does not line up with His word. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 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.

Matthew 24:23-25 says,

“Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. See, I have warned you about this ahead of time.”

I don’t think you are going to hear these verses quoted by faith healers:

· Is there no medicine in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why is there no healing for the wounds of my people? Jeremiah 8:22

· We hoped for peace, but no peace came. We hoped for a time of healing, but found only terror. Jeremiah 8:15

· Why do you protest your punishment—this wound that has no cure? I have had to punish you because your sins are many and your guilt is great. Jeremiah 30:15

· [God] said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the LORD who heals you.” Exodus 15:26

· Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

· Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:16

· Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. Acts 10:38b

· One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, he saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!” Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!Luke 13:10-13

· And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment.Hebrews 9:27

· [God] will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. Revelation 21:4

Did Lazarus die because he didn’t have enough faith to be healed?

God cannot be manipulated or controlled. There’s no formula to follow for healing by God. God is God. He will do as He pleases. If we desire healing, we should go to Him as the Great Physician who made us and understands how everything should work. God is certainly capable of healing anyone of anything, but that doesn’t mean He will. We can ask Him in faith to heal us, but He hasn’t guaranteed us He will heal us in this lifetime. We can rest in the fact that He is sovereign. He may choose to heal us. He may choose to delay healing until He returns to Earth and the resurrection of our dead bodies place.

What in the Bible could be compared to a lady wearing a wedding dress while gardening? Dr. Moody explains: Atonement


Verse Completion: . . . seed was sown beside the road. Matthew 13:19 (NASB). See also Mark 4:14-15 and Luke 8:11-12.

2/26/20

Good morning, Followers of Jesus.

Song for the Day: Day's of Elijah

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who . . . (completion at the end)

Many years ago I had an idea for a newspaper column. I would read the “Dear Abby” column that had people writing in about relationship concerns. I thought it would be great to have people write in about their jobs—especially the tough ones. What gave me the idea was several times I thought to myself, “I must have the worst job in the world.” I would think these thoughts as I was working on a B-52 bomber on the flight line in Spokane at night with the wind blowing and it being below zero in temperature. I would think that same thought when I was getting sprayed with toxic chemicals from a crop duster flying just a few feet above me as I marked his path to spray with my flashlight at night after all the bees were in. What I conceived of was something similar to Mike Rowe’s “Dirty Jobs” except people would write in about their experiences. I thought maybe by reading a column like that people’s spirits would be lifted as they read about jobs worse than their own.

There’s one person’s job I wouldn’t have wanted, and that’s the job of Moses leading over two million people through the desert. They weren’t very happy campers either! Of course, the person to blame when anything went “wrong” was Moses. One complaint the people had was the manna from God. They were tired of it. They longed for the fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic they used to have in Egypt. Let’s pick up the story in Numbers 11:10-15:

Moses heard all the families standing in the doorways of their tents whining, and the LORD became extremely angry. Moses was also very aggravated. And Moses said to the LORD, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people? Did I give birth to them? Did I bring them into the world? Why did you tell me to carry them in my arms like a mother carries a nursing baby? How can I carry them to the land you swore to give their ancestors? Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people? They keep whining to me, saying, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy! If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery!”

It sounds like Moses was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (just like Alexander in Judith Viorst’s book). We’ve all had days like that, and it’s nice to know we can go to God and tell Him just how we feel. God knew just how Moses felt. He felt the same way about the Israelites except to a stronger degree.

Some time later, God had Moses send twelve men (leaders of the 12 tribes) into Canaan to explore the land. Two men, Joshua and Caleb, returned with a good report of a land flowing with milk and honey. However, the other ten returned with a negative report of the people living in Canaan being powerful with large, fortified towns and even giants living there. They said next to the Canaanites, they were like grasshoppers, and the Canaanites looked at the Israelites as if they were such.

Numbers 14:1-12 records what happened next:

Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they complained. “Why is the LORD taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” Then they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!”

Then Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground before the whole community of Israel. Two of the men who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, tore their clothing. They said to all the people of Israel, “The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the LORD is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. Do not rebel against the LORD, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the LORD is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!”

But the whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the LORD appeared to all the Israelites at the Tabernacle. And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them? I will disown them and destroy them with a plague. Then I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they are!”

Notice how the people felt deserted by God, and then the glorious presence of the LORD appeared to all the Israelites at the Tabernacle. We go through times of trial and tribulation in our lives. Part of it is because God is testing our faith and stretching our faith. He hasn’t deserted us; He’s been there the whole time—we just couldn’t feel His presence. Then God gives us seasons of refreshing.

In this particular case, God was very angry with the Israelites to the point of destroying them with a plague, and he said to Moses, “Then I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they are!” What would you have done if you were Moses? I probably would have said, “It’s about time. You’ve given them way too many chances. It’s time for You and me to part our ways with the Israelites. Thank you for your word to make me into a nation greater and mightier than them. You can count on me; I won’t disappoint You like they did!” Is that what Moses said? Verse 19 records what Moses said:

“In keeping with your magnificent, unfailing love, please pardon the sins of this people, just as you have forgiven them ever since they left Egypt.”

No wonder Moses was such a great prophet! Acts 13:22a 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.’” I can’t help but wonder if Moses wasn’t a man after God’s own heart, too. What made Moses a man who stood out from others? I think a clue if found in Numbers 12:3:

(Now Moses was very humble—more humble than any other person on earth.)

Moses had one of the worse jobs on the planet, but he was a servant of the LORD, and that’s what made him such an outstanding person. Today, let’s concentrate on being humble people; people God can use in His kingdom.

Love Your Children and Your Spouse page 1

Love Your Children and Your Spouse page 2


Verse Completion: . . . worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name. Revelation 14:11 (NIV)

2/25/20

Good morning, Readers of the Word.

Song for the Day: Is He Worthy

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: And Pilate wrote an inscription also, and put it on the cross. And it was written, . . . (completion at the end)

Today we continue with the second half of Dr. Ireland’s sermon “Our Eyesight Is Determined by our Insight.” The text has been 2 Kings 6:8-23.

When Jesus was ministering on this earth He exposed the ruthless warfare of Satan upon human beings and defeated Satan. Let’s take a look at Mark 1:23-27:

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

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

Amazement gripped the audience, and they began to discuss what had happened. “What sort of new teaching is this?” they asked excitedly. “It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!”

Disciples of Jesus Christ must remember that our eyesight is determined by our insight. 2 Kings 6:16-17 says:

“Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!” The LORD opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.

When Elisha’s servant in terror informed him that they were surrounded by the enemy and as good as dead, the old prophet declared, “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (6:16). This is the pivotal truth in this story: Do not be afraid! Why? Because those who are with us are more than those with them.

Elisha then prayed and asked the Lord to open his servant’s eyes that he might see into the heart of reality. The Lord did just that and when the young man looked at the mountains surrounding Dothan, they were filled with horses and chariots of fire. God had sent a heavenly army to protect his prophet and servant.

The Scripture then informs us that the Syrian army was blinded and led into Samaria where they could have been destroyed except Elisha treated them with kindness and turned an enemy into a friend.

Those who identify themselves, as disciples of Jesus Christ must remember the truth that “our eyesight is determined by our insight.” In other words, how, we look out at the world and interpret it is determined by the inner grid we each have within our minds.

Is your inner grid secular and worldly? If your inner grid is secular then you will interpret the world through eyes that are blind to spiritual realities. You are blind to your own spiritual blindness. Is your inner grid spiritual? If so, then you will interpret the world through a Biblical viewpoint. Is your inner grid basically spiritual but compromised with dirt and dust like you would see on a dirty cabin filter from your car? If so then you will interpret the world through a split vision of being a worldly Christian.

The antidote to not falling away from the Living Lord or into depression over the victories of Satan in our world is to constantly keep our inner grid clean and pure so we can see with spiritual eyes that “greater is He that is within us than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4).

These six strategies facilitate the inner cleansing of the grid:

1. Daily Bible reading

2. Daily listening and communicating with the Living Lord through prayer

3. Attending worship services

4. Participation in a small group of believers

5. Serving others

6. Supporting God’s mission with money.

These sound so elementary, but if you don’t do them, you are opening your life up for spiritual discouragement and defeat.

When I think of the elementary acts that disciples of Jesus need to do and redo to keep spiritually fit, I am reminded of the famed football coach Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers. In the 1960’s he led his team to five N.F.L. championships in seven years. After a game in which his team was badly beaten, he gathered the men in the locker room and declared that they needed to go back to the basics and then held up a football and said, “Gentleman this is a football!”

Philip Ryken, President of Wheaton College, told this story. About twenty years ago he received a newsletter from a medical missionary who was serving in a small field hospital in Africa. The missionary told how about every two weeks he would have to travel to a city to get medical supplies. The normal pattern of the trip was to camp one night in the jungle and then arrive at the city the following day.

The missionary was in the city and had already gone to the bank for money and purchased the drugs and supplies he needed for the hospital when a man approached him. The missionary recognized him as a patient he had treated earlier. The man told him that he knew that the missionary carried money and drugs back to the field hospital. So, he recruited his friends and they planned to follow him into the jungle and when he set up camp and fell asleep they were going to kill him and steal the drugs and money.

However, when he was asleep and they were about to move in for the kill, they saw armed guards all around him. The missionary laughed and told him that there were certainly no traveling guards with him. But the young man pressed the point and told him that he was not the only one to see the guards. His five friends also saw more that 20 guards and so they were afraid to attack and left him alone. It was then that the missionary knew that the Living Lord had sent His angels to protect him from death.

But wait that is not the end of the story. Later when the missionary was in America and moving to various churches to raise money for his support, a man came up to him and told how the Lord laid on his heart that he needed to intercede for him. He told the missionary the date and pressed him to remember where he was at. After reflection the missionary told him that he was in the jungle sleeping when the man was praying in America.

Disciples of Jesus Christ living in America are increasingly coming under attack from our society and Satan and his minions. It is easy to give way to discouragement and fear, but we need to hear the words of the prophet again: “Do not fear, because those who are with us are more that those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16). 


Verse Completion: . . . “Jesus the Nazarene, The King of the Jews.” John 19:19 (NASB)

2/24/20

Good morning, Children of the King.

Song for the Day: Draw Me Close to You

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that . . . (completion at the end)

For today and tomorrow, I’d like us to “hear” a sermon from my brother-in-law, Dr. Herb Ireland, a retired minister from the Pacific Northwest. The title of his sermon is “Our Eyesight Is Determined by our Insight.” Here is the first part of his sermon:

I must confess that from time to time as I look out at the world I have been discouraged. It just seems that Satan and those the Apostle Paul describes in Ephesians 6:12 as “rulers, authorities, the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” are winning.

Take for instance, while the Roman Catholic Church in the country of Ireland is dominate yet the population voted to repeal the law banning abortion.

Another stinging defeat for the Christian faith came when the Communist Party in China declared that the Church of Jesus Christ would now come under their control. On March 22, 2018, the Chinese Communist Party announced that all "religious affairs" in China would henceforth be supervised by a shadowy Party office called the "United Front Department." Why? Because the Communist Party sees the Church as a direct threat to their rule of the country. The Chinese Communist government has observed that the nation has a case of “Christianity Fever.”*

The suicide rate in the United States has surged to the highest levels with increases in all age groups except older adults. For instance, T.V. celebrity and chef Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade committed suicide. In these tragic suicides Satan and his demons win.

Facing this reality what are disciples of Jesus Christ to do when they look out and the world seems so dark and discouraging? First, we must remember that God is Sovereign over the entire universe and our world in particular. Nothing happens unless He allows it. Next, we have to squarely face the fact that Scripture refers to Satan as the “god of this age” (II Corinthians 4:4) and “that the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (I John 5:19).

With these depressing facts before us, let’s turn to God’s Word for some good news. Let’s think about the fact that our eyesight is determined by our insight. II Kings 6:8-23 says:

When the king of Aram was at war with Israel, he would confer with his officers and say, “We will mobilize our forces at such and such a place.”

But immediately Elisha, the man of God, would warn the king of Israel, “Do not go near that place, for the Arameans are planning to mobilize their troops there.” So the king of Israel would send word to the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he would be on the alert there.

The king of Aram became very upset over this. He called his officers together and demanded, “Which of you is the traitor? Who has been informing the king of Israel of my plans?”

“It’s not us, my lord the king,” one of the officers replied. “Elisha, the prophet in Israel, tells the king of Israel even the words you speak in the privacy of your bedroom!”

“Go and find out where he is,” the king commanded, “so I can send troops to seize him.”

And the report came back: “Elisha is at Dothan.” So one night the king of Aram sent a great army with many chariots and horses to surround the city.

When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha.

“Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!” The LORD opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.

As the Aramean army advanced toward him, Elisha prayed, “O LORD, please make them blind.” So the LORD struck them with blindness as Elisha had asked.

Then Elisha went out and told them, “You have come the wrong way! This isn’t the right city! Follow me, and I will take you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to the city of Samaria.

As soon as they had entered Samaria, Elisha prayed, “O LORD, now open their eyes and let them see.” So the LORD opened their eyes, and they discovered that they were in the middle of Samaria.

When the king of Israel saw them, he shouted to Elisha, “My father, should I kill them? Should I kill them?”

“Of course not!” Elisha replied. “Do we kill prisoners of war? Give them food and drink and send them home again to their master.”

So the king made a great feast for them and then sent them home to their master. After that, the Aramean raiders stayed away from the land of Israel.

In this story the king of Aram (Syria) was waging war against Israel. If this sounds familiar to you, remember that President Bashir Assad of present-day Syria is still waging war with Israel through its proxy Iran.

In the Biblical story, the king of Syria became quite agitated because when he would set up his strategy to attack Israel he found that his military plans were countered again and again by Israel.

Finally, the king of Syria lashed out at his military commanders and accused one of them of being a traitor in league with Israel.

However, one of his servants informed him that no one in his inner circle was a traitor but it was the work of Elisha the prophet in Israel who informs his king of his military plans and even what he talks about in his bedroom.

With this information the Syrian king sent out a reconnaissance party to find his enemy Elisha. The report came back that he was residing in Dothan. This was the break he was looking for and he sent a large army by night to surround the city.

The next morning when the servant of Elisha arose early to make coffee and breakfast for him he looked out at his world and terror gripped his heart. The large Syrian army surrounded the city and he knew he and Elisha were as good as dead.

Followers of the Living Lord face a dangerous enemy who is bent on destroying our faith in God. The Apostle Peter declared: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8).

In the first chapter of the book of Job we find that the angels of God came to present themselves to the LORD and Satan came with them. God asked Satan what he had been up to and he responded: “Roaming back and forth throughout the earth.” In other words, Satan was looking for his next victim.

In third-world countries Satan is often recognized for his destructive power whether it is through voodoo or witch doctors. However, Satan shifts his strategy depending upon which culture and country he is working in. For instance, in America he deceives people so they think he does not even exist. The closest thing the majority of Americans equate Satan with is a Halloween costume of a person dressed up with a grotesque mask and holding a pitchfork. With this deception that there is no Evil One working in our world, we are unguarded and easy pickings for him to destroy.

*Alan Hunter and Kim-Kwon Chan, Protestantism in Contemporary China (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 1993), 4.

Tomorrow we will continue with Dr. Ireland’s sermon.


Verse Completion: . . . Jesus is the Son of God. Acts 9:19b-20 (NIV)

2/22/20

Good morning, Heaven Bound.

Song for the Day: My Redeemer Lives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s be people of integrity and faithfulness.

Engaging Our Fears page 1

Engaging Our Fears page 2


Verse Completion: . . . deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22 (NIV)

2/21/20

Good morning, Vine Implants.

Song for the Day: Chain Breaker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The message of Micah is in three sections:

1. 1:1-2:13

2. 3:1-5:15

3. 6:1-7:20

There are three parts to the message:

1. A summons to hear

2. An oracle of doom

3. A statement of hope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This section ends with a reference to King David:

· “cave of Adullum” in verse 15

· David fled there to hide from King Saul.

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

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

David’s mourning

Five cities

LORD

Five cities

David’s hiding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep short accounts with God. Confess and repent daily.


Verse Completion: . . . those who obey Him. Acts 532 (NASB)

2/20/20

Good morning, Kindness Spreaders.

Song for the Day: Raise a Hallelujah

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

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

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

· Level One:

     o Punishment—level one

     o Sudden terrors

          § Wasting diseases

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

     o Enemies will eat the crops you have grown

     o Defeated by enemies because God has turned against you

     o Ruled by those who hate you

     o You will run even when no one is chasing you

· Level Two:

     o Punishment—seven times over

     o Make the skies as unyielding as iron

     o Make the earth as hard as bronze

     o Proud spirit will be broken

     o Land will yield no crops

     o Trees will bear no fruit

· Level Three:

     o Disaster seven times over

     o Wild animals will rob you of your children

     o Wild animals will destroy your livestock

     o Your numbers will dwindle

     o Your roads will be deserted

· Level Four:

     o God Himself will be hostile towards you

     o God will personally strike you with calamity seven times over

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

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

     o You’ll be handed over to your enemies

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

· Level Five:

     o God will give full vent to His hostility

     o God Himself will punish you seven times over

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

     o Pagan shrines will be destroyed

     o Your places of worship will be knocked down

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

     o You will be despised by God

     o Cities will be made desolate

     o God will take no pleasure in your offerings

     o God Himself will devastate your land

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

     o You will be scattered among the nations

     o God’s sword will be used against you

     o Land will become desolate

     o Cities will lie in ruin

· Level Six (for survivors):

     o You will be demoralized in the land of your enemies

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

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

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

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

     o You’ll die in foreign nations

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

     o You’ll waste away in your enemies’ lands


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

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

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

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

Become a Grown-up page 1

Become a Grown-up page 2


Verse Completion: . . . gather with Me scatters. Matthew 12:30 (NASB)

2/19/20

Good morning, Light of the Earth.

Song for the Day:  Yahweh

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

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

a) Mohammad Ali

b) The CEO of a thriving, successful business

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

d) The pastor of a megachurch

e) A child

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

· Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and I will forgive their sins and restore their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s work on being humble people today.

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


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

2/18/20

Good morning, Reborn.

Song for the Day:  Holy Hiway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Present With Us page 1

Be Present With Us page 2


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

2/17/20

Good morning, Reborn.

Song for the Day: The Blood Will Never Lose it's Power

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take Sin Seriously page 1

Take Sin Seriously page 2


Verse Completion: . . . shall perish by the sword. Matthew 26:52 (NASB)

2/15/20

Good morning, Seed Sowers.

Song for the Day: Low Down the Chariot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Verse Completion: . . . be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 2 Timothy 2:24 (NIV)

2/14/20

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

Song for the Day: Beautiful One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. The LORD standing by the altar. This is the most terrible vision yet. The righteous judge is standing by the altar ready to mete out justice. They know what is true righteousness and justice. People like to quote Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” However, the question we need to ask ourselves is, “Are we in a position for God to fulfill this in our lives?”

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

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

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


Verse Completion: . . . not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (NASB)

2/13/20

Good morning, Friend.

Song for the Day: The Wonder of it All

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

2/12/20

Good morning, Redeemed of the Lord.

Song for the Day: Open Heaven (River Wild)

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

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

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

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

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

· “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

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

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

· Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. Psalm 23:4

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

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

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

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

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

“Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

2/11/20

Good morning, Heaven Bound.

Song for the Day: Jerusalem

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

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

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

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

Romans 8:9-10 says, “But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.”

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

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

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

Hebrews 10:11-22 says:

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

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

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

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

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


Completion of Verses: . . . joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

2/10/20

Good morning, Travelers on the Narrow Road.

Song for the Day: There is a Fountain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Verse Completion: . . . the deceiver and the antichrist. 2 John 7 (NIV)

2/8/20

Good morning, Grace Receivers.

Song for the Day: Amazing Grace

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

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

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

1 John 5:1-3 says,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Verse Completion: . . . God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16 (NASB)

2/7/20

Good morning, Followers of The Way.

Song for the Day: The Heart of Worship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is another call to repentance.

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

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

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

Seek me and live

Bethel

Gilgal

Beersheba

Gilgal

Bethel

Seek the Lord and live

Verses 1-17 form another chiasm:

Lamentation as announcement (verses 1-3)

Admonition (verses 4-6)

Accusation (verse 7)

Hymn (verse 8a)

The Lord (verse 8b)

Hymn (verse 9)

Accusation (verses 10-13)

Admonition (verses 14-15)

Lamentation as announcement (verses 16-17)

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion/Summary: God, the sovereign Lord, expects His words to be listened to. He expects His people to reflect who He is in their actions and character. He will not be taken for granted. God will not be mocked. Galatians 6:7-10 says, “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.”

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

Let My People Go


Completed Verse: . . . intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.Romans 8:26 (NIV)

2/6/20

Good morning, Servers of God.

Song for the Day: The God I Serve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Verse Completion: . . . but those who are ill. Matthew 9:12 (NASB) Note: This verse is also found in Mark 2:17 and Luke 5:31-32. 

2/5/20

Good morning, Siblings in God’s Family.

Song for the Day: The Old Gospel Ship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2/4/20

Good morning, Sinners Saved by Grace.

Song for the Day: Sinner Saved by Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Completed Verse: . . . rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Revelation 3:19

2/3/20

Good morning, Builders on the Rock.

Song for the Day: Build My Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have a choice. We can be wise in our own eyes or humble ourselves before God. Don’t value science over faith. Salvation is by grace through faith. Ephesians 2:8-9 says:

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

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

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

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

Jesus is the only one who can save you. He’s the only one who can make you good enough to get into heaven. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus is the one who carries the load. He is the one who gives us rest for our soul. Are you tired of trying to impress God? Romans 5:21 says, “So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

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

Dear God,

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

In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Be Patient and Pray page 1

Be Patient and Pray page 2


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

2/1/20

Good morning, Grace Receivers.

Song for the Day: Your Grace is Enough

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Patient with Us page 1

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

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