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Union WA 98592
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Union WA 98592
Daily Devotion January 2020
Good morning, Faith Walkers.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/x0-eljXhRMM
Complete the Verse and Name the Book: For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that . . . (completion at the end)
Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman gave a lecture on “Judgment Against Israel” based on Amos 2:6-16, Amos 3, to Amos 4:1-13. This is the eighth judgment against Israel. It is a longer and more specific judgment. The Northern Kingdom is the target audience.
There are sins against the poor. Amos 2:6b-7a says, “They sell honorable people for silver and poor people for a pair of sandals. They trample helpless people in the dust and shove the oppressed out of the way.” Justice could be bought by the rich for next to nothing. Justice for the poor is not being upheld. They were not a people of God’s justice. The rich were getting richer, and the poor were getting poorer. They no longer reflected who God is. They were no longer morally upright people; they were morally corrupt.
They were keeping garments of the poor that were taken in pledges. Exodus 22:26-27 says, “If you take your neighbor’s cloak as security for a loan, you must return it before sunset. This coat may be the only blanket your neighbor has. How can a person sleep without it? If you do not return it and your neighbor cries out to me for help, then I will hear, for I am merciful.” They no longer cared about the needs of others.
Verse 8b says, “In the house of their gods, they drink wine bought with unjust fines.” In just this one act, they were committing three sins:
· No regard for justice.
· No regard for morality.
· No regard for the needs of others.
In verses Amos 2:9-16, we see God protected them, saved them, provided for them, supported them, spoke to them, and set them apart as His special covenant people. But they spurned God; they rejected Him. Therefore, God is against them in judgment. God will crush them and no one will escape—not even the strongest and swiftest warrior.
In Amos 3:1-15, Amos tells the people of Israel to hear the word the LORD has spoken against the whole family. God chose them out of all the families of the earth. There is a messagefor us, too. God chose us to join His family. The invitation is open to all people to join His family.
There is a pattern of spiritual discipline:
1. Accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
2. Turn away from Jesus.
3. Grieve the Holy Spirit.
4. Receive discipline from God.
5. The opportunity to return to Jesus is extended.
6. We have a choice.
They did not live up to their privileged position. They forgot that with privilege comes responsibility.
There are seven rhetorical questions that involve cause and effect. God is against them because of their own actions. Amos begins with general questions and then moves to more specific questions in his series of questions.
In verses 7 and 8 they are told that God has spoken, and it will happen. Israel should know the words of God, but they got rid of the prophets so now they do not hear God any more. That has an effect on Israel. The nations are called to witness Israel’s downfall and judgment. Israel no longer knows how to do right. The destruction of their nation is at hand.
1 Kings 1 discusses the horns of the altar. It was a safe place when one was holding on to the horns of the altar. But now there will be no safe place from God’s punishment and wrath. Their wealth will not save them.
Amos 4 is about the hardness of their heart. The cows of Bashan are referred to. Bashan was well known for its excellent cattle. (see Psalms 22:12) There were crimes of oppressing the poor and drunkenness. They will be taken away into exile. Their mighty walls and many riches will not be able to save them.
Their hardness of heart has consequences:
· Crop failure due to drought
· Vegetables and vineyards struck with blight, disease, and locusts
· Plagues against the nation
· Defeat in war
· Plagues of fire
Who is this God to be feared? He forms the mountains. He creates the wind. He knows the thoughts of mankind. He causes the sun to rise and set. He is sovereign. He is the LORD God Almighty (the highest designation of God).
God, the Almighty, the One who walks on the highest peaks of the earth, the One who is sovereign over the universe, He is the One who speaks to us, who wants to reveal His thoughts to us.
· You are the one He wants a relationship with.
· You are the one He has called unto Himself.
· You are His special possession! We don’t seem to recognize this. Know who you are before God and in Christ.
· Set aside time and space with God!
· Hear Him, commune with Him, know Him.
· We have the privilege of a relationship with God.
· We have the responsibility of a relationship with God.
Luke 12:47-48 says, “And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” Do not neglect the privilege and purpose of God.
We are here on earth to tell others about Jesus and bring glory to His name.
Completion of the Verse: . . . you through his poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9
Good morning, Praise Singers.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/FtpcWMXHMDc
Complete the Verse and Name the Book: “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not . . . (completion at the end)
This past weekend Pastor Michael and Val Wedman led a “Spiritual Growth Seminar.” Today, I’d like to cover one small part that was discussed in the booklet The Steps to Freedom in Christ by Neil T. Anderson. The topic is who we are in Christ, and today the focus in on having significance in Christ. As forgiven Christians, we are not worthless, inadequate, helpless, or hopeless.
· “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:13-14) We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
· “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1,5) We are the branches of the true vine, Jesus. We are a channel of His love to others.
· “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.” (John 15:16) We have been chosen by God. We have been appointed by God to bear fruit.
· “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) We are personal, Spirit-empowered witnesses of Jesus.
· Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16) We are temples of God.
· This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21) We are ministers of reconciliation for God.
· As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. (2 Corinthians 6:1) We are fellow workers with God.
· For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6) We are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms.
· For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10) We are God’s workmanship, created for good works.
· Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. (Ephesians 3:12) We may approach God with freedom and confidence.
· For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13) There’s nothing we can’t accomplish in God’s strength.
Satan will tell you you are worthless. He will tell you you are inadequate. He will tell you you can’t be helped. He will tell you you have no hope. When this happens, remind the devil of who he is—the father of lies. Satan has always hated the truth, because there’s no truth in him. When he lies, it’s consistent with his character. (see John 8:44) We have significance in Christ. We are His children. We are part of His family. We are children of the King of kings and Lord of lords. We are God’s masterpiece. Praise be to God!
Completion of the Verse: . . . do what I say? Luke 6:46 (NASB)
Good morning, Disciples of Jesus.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/ctc3GqWaV3U
Complete the Verse and Name the Book: I did not come to judge the world, but to . . . (completion at the end)
This past weekend Pastor Michael and Val Wedman led a “Spiritual Growth Seminar.” Today, I’d like to cover one small part that was discussed in the booklet The Steps to Freedom in Christ by Neil T. Anderson. The topic is who we are in Christ, and today the focus in on being secure in Christ. As forgiven Christians, we are not guilty, unprotected, alone, or abandoned.
· So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the lifegiving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. (Romans 8:1-2) We are free from condemnation.
· And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28) God can bring good out of bad. We don’t need to focus on our circumstances; we need to focus on the one who is in control of our circumstances and can work them for good.
· What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. (Romans 8:31-34) We are free of any condemning charges against us.
· Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39) We cannot be separated from the love of God.
· It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22) We are established, anointed, and sealed by God.
· And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.(Philippians 1:6) God will perfect the good work He has started in us.
· But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. (Philippians 3:20) We are citizens of heaven.
· For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.(Colossians 3:3) Our life is contained within Christ. We are alive in Christ and dead to the world. We want to know more about God and draw closer to Him in relationship. The things of this world do not appeal to us any longer.
· For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7) We are not fearful any longer. We have the spirit of power, love, and self-control.
· So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (Hebrews 4:16) God’s grace and mercy will be there to help us through times of great need.
· We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them. (I John 5:18) We are born of God, and the evil one cannot touch us.
Satan is going to tell you you are guilty. He’s going to tell you you are no longer under the protection of God. He’s going to tell you you are on your own; God has abandoned you. You are all alone. When this happens, remind the devil of who he is—the father of lies. Satan has always hated the truth, because there’s no truth in him. When he lies, it’s consistent with his character. (see John 8:44) We are secure in Christ. Praise the Lord!
Completed Verse: . . . save the world. John 12:47b (NASB)
Good morning, Child of the King.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/zL20ETnYnjw
Complete the Verse and Name the Book: This is the message you heard from the beginning: . . . (completion at the end)
This past weekend Pastor Michael and Val Wedman led a “Spiritual Growth Seminar.” For the next three days, I’d like to cover one small part that was discussed in the booklet The Steps to Freedom in Christ by Neil T. Anderson. The topic is who we are in Christ, and today the focus in on being accepted. As Christians, we are not rejected, unloved, or shamed people; we are accepted by Christ.
· But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12) We are God’s children.
· “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) We are closely connected to God.
· Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. (Romans 5:1) We have been justified (made right in God’s sight).
· But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him. (I Corinthians 6:17) We are united with Jesus; we are one in spirit with Jesus.
· Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) We have been bought with the blood of Jesus. He loves us so much He chose to take our place on the cross. We were the guilty ones stained by sin, but the sinless one chose to die in our place. Since we have been bought with the blood of Jesus, we now belong to God. We must be valuable to God, because He was willing to pay the highest price possible for us. God would not let us go for any amount of money offered for us.
· All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. (1 Corinthians 12:27) We are a part of Christ’s body.
· This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 1:1) We are holy people; we are saints.
· God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:5) We have been adopted into God’s family. We are now sons and daughters.
· Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. (Ephesians 2:18) We have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to Jesus.
· For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. (Colossians 1:13-14) Jesus redeemed us from the kingdom of darkness and forgave us of our sins.
· So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. (Colossians 2:10) We are complete in Christ. We don’t need anything else. He is more than sufficient—more than adequate for all our needs.
As Christians, we are accepted by God. Remind Satan of that the next time he says you are a reject, nobody would ever love you, and you should be ashamed of yourself. As a child of the King, Jesus takes you into His arms just the way you are.
Completion of the Verse: . . . We should love one another. I John 3:11 (NIV)
Good morning, Followers of the Living Lord.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/-H9SXqzs0oI
Complete the Verse and Name the Book: Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him; since He always . . .
Yesterday, Pastor Michael spoke on Matthew 11:1-19 with his sermon “What Did You Expect?” As a child, Pastor Michael used to hear his grandmother say, “Blessed are those who expect nothing for they will not be disappointed.” What she was saying was to be careful of what your expectations are, because you’re going to be disappointed. Don’t base your hopes and happiness on the fulfillment of your expectations, because to the degree you base your hopes and happiness on the fulfillment of your expectations, will be the degree to which you will be disappointed.
When Jesus had finished giving these instructions to his twelve disciples, he went out to teach and preach in towns throughout the region.
John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” (Matthew 11:1-3)
John knew Jesus was the Messiah. He baptized Jesus and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.” (Luke 3:22) However, John’s expectations of the Messiah confused him. He knew Jesus was the Messiah, but Jesus wasn’t fulfilling John’s expectations of the Messiah. Isaiah 35:4-6 says,
Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.”
And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland.
Isaiah 61:1 says, The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
John’s first expectation of Jesus is He would come in power and rule. John needed to alter his expectations and see Jesus as the anointed one who was bringing good news to the poor. Matthew 11:4-6 says,
Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”
We have expectations of Jesus in our life. We expect Jesus to do certain things for us, and when He doesn’t, we’re confused. We wonder if Jesus even cares about us. We have to remember that we don’t control Jesus. We don’t know how Jesus is going to show up. His timing and methods might be far different than our expectations.
Not only John had expectations, but the crowds did as well. Matthew 11:7-10 says,
As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces. Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say, ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.’
Jesus was telling the crowds that John the Baptist wasn’t just a prophet; he was THE prophet. He was the last of the Old Testament prophets. Malachi 3:1 says, “Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.” Malachi prophesied the coming of John the Baptist and Jesus over 400 years before they actually came.
Matthew 11:11-15 says,
“I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is! And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it. For before John came, all the prophets and the law of Moses looked forward to this present time. And if you are willing to accept what I say, he is Elijah, the one the prophets said would come. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!”
John the Baptist is the one prophesied about in Malachi 4:5-6:
“Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.”
Jesus is THE Messiah, and He showed up in His way. Ponder who Jesus really is; He’s THE Messiah. He’s far beyond any of our expectations. Get rid of your personal expectations of who Jesus is. You can’t put Him in a box. We try to control Jesus by our expectations, but it doesn’t work.
Matthew 11:16-19 says,
“To what can I compare this generation? It is like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends, ‘We played wedding songs, and you didn’t dance, so we played funeral songs, and you didn’t mourn.’ For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.”
The Pharisees said, “Don’t pay attention to someone who hangs out with sinners.” Jesus wasn’t meeting their expectations. John came from God and he was labeled a demon. Jesus, who knew no sin, was labeled a sinner. Why were these labels given? Because John and Jesus didn’t meet their expectations. We do the same today. We get angry and confused when God doesn’t do what we expect Him to do.
Our prayer: “Father, forgive us for playing God. Do what You want to do. We have no expectations; all we seek is a relationship with You.”
Completed Verse: . . . lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25 (NASB)
Good morning, Joyful Singers.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/h-FJZmJEjGQ
Complete the Verse and Name the Book: You will be hated by all on account of My name, but it is the one who has . . . (completion at the end)
What does true repentance look like? One illustration is found in the story of Joseph. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. He ended up in Egypt, and God saw to it that he was second in command; only Pharaoh was ahead of him in power. When the drought hit, Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt for food. It was Joseph’s job to dispense the food.
On the brothers’ second trip to Egypt, Joseph saw to it that the money paid for food was returned to the brothers by putting the money in their food sacks. He also saw to it that his personal silver cup was placed in Benjamin’s sack.
After the brothers left for home, Joseph instructed the palace manager to pursue them, search their bags, and find the silver cup. When it was found in Benjamin’s sack, all the brothers returned to Joseph. Let’s pick up the story as Judah speaks to Joseph:
Judah answered, “Oh, my lord, what can we say to you? How can we explain this? How can we prove our innocence? God is punishing us for our sins. My lord, we have all returned to be your slaves—all of us, not just our brother who had your cup in his sack.”
“No,” Joseph said. “I would never do such a thing! Only the man who stole the cup will be my slave. The rest of you may go back to your father in peace.”
Then Judah stepped forward and said, “Please, my lord, let your servant say just one word to you. Please, do not be angry with me, even though you are as powerful as Pharaoh himself.
“My lord, previously you asked us, your servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ And we responded, ‘Yes, my lord, we have a father who is an old man, and his youngest son is a child of his old age. His full brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him very much.’
“And you said to us, ‘Bring him here so I can see him with my own eyes.’ But we said to you, ‘My lord, the boy cannot leave his father, for his father would die.’ But you told us, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes with you, you will never see my face again.’
“So we returned to your servant, our father, and told him what you had said. Later, when he said, ‘Go back again and buy us more food,’ we replied, ‘We can’t go unless you let our youngest brother go with us. We’ll never get to see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’
“Then my father said to us, ‘As you know, my wife had two sons, and one of them went away and never returned. Doubtless he was torn to pieces by some wild animal. I have never seen him since. Now if you take his brother away from me, and any harm comes to him, you will send this grieving, white-haired man to his grave.’
“And now, my lord, I cannot go back to my father without the boy. Our father’s life is bound up in the boy’s life. If he sees that the boy is not with us, our father will die. We, your servants, will indeed be responsible for sending that grieving, white-haired man to his grave. My lord, I guaranteed to my father that I would take care of the boy. I told him, ‘If I don’t bring him back to you, I will bear the blame forever.’
“So please, my lord, let me stay here as a slave instead of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. For how can I return to my father if the boy is not with me? I couldn’t bear to see the anguish this would cause my father!” (Genesis 44:16-34)
That’s what true repentance looks like. It’s a total change of heart. It’s doing a 180 degree turn. It’s a costly decision. In this case, it’s a heart that is willing to be a slave in order to set his brother free and save his father more heartache that would likely take his life.
What would repentance look like that wasn’t true repentance? Had Judah said he would be willing to be Joseph’s slave for a week or two, that wouldn’t be true repentance. True repentance costs us everything! We no longer care about our desires and what we want; all we care about is that the wrongs cease and righteousness prevails at any cost.
When we come to Jesus in true repentance, we approach Him in the same way Judah approached Joseph. We no longer care about our desires; all we care about is what Jesus wants of us. We are willing to pay whatever price He asks, because we are truly repentant. Jesus gave His life for us, and in gratitude for the forgiveness He gave us, we desire to give our lives back to Him as a living sacrifice.
What would partial repentance to Jesus look like? It would be like the kid who stole a cookie out of the cookie jar and got caught. He repents and tells his parents he won’t do it again, knowing full well he will if the opportunity presents itself. However, he will take steps to make sure he doesn’t get caught the next time. There’s really little to no cost involved with this kind of repentance. However, if the kid asked his parents to hide the cookie jar so he wouldn’t be tempted, his repentance has just cost him something. He no longer is able to have what he wants. He wants to please his parents more than he wants to please himself.
When we repent of our sins to Jesus, let’s be like Judah and come in true repentance.
Why would Dr. Moody refer to Bob Dylan in a devotional? Read to find out: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/genesis-46-47-home/
Completion of the Verse: . . . endured to the end who will be saved. Matthew 10:22 (NASB)
Good morning, Fellow Believers.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/NM14VZVu0og
Complete the Verse and Name the Book: Not that I speak from want; for I have learned . . . (completion at the end)
Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman gave a lecture on “The God of the Nations” based on Amos 1:3-15 to Amos 2:1-5. For a background, Jeroboam II was king of Israel and Uzziah was king of Judah. Both kingdoms were experiencing wealth and prosperity. Both kingdoms were strong nations. But, internally, they were both falling apart morally and spiritually. Israel has forsaken God. Justice is only for the rich while the poor are exploited.
This is when Amos appears on the scene. He was likely preaching from Bethel in the Northern Kingdom (see Amos 7:10). God roars like a lion and thunders against Israel and their moral and spiritual corruption.
Amos gave “his” judgment speeches largely in a poetic language. He was the first prophet to apply judgment speeches against nations as a whole. They follow a pattern of: “Thus says Yahweh,” followed by a general accusation, a specific accusation, a specific announcement of judgment, an elaboration of the specific judgment, and a conclusion of, “Thus says Yahweh.”
There are eight judgements against the nations:
Take note of the following:
1. Amos speaks to the nations around Israel and then to Israel.
2. He says “for three sins of . . . even for four” to indicate repeated violations. There is a denunciation of the many and continual sins of the nation. “Even for four” is saying that this is the last straw.
3. Amos says, “I will not relent.” In other words, enough is enough. No more warnings; now comes judgment.
4. The nations that are named are historically enemies of Israel.
5. How would this message be received by the hearers in Israel? At first, the message was received with enthusiasm as Amos condemned the nations around Israel. However, when Amos condemned Israel, his message was received with disdain.
The oracle against Damascus is found in Amos 1:3-5:
· There is an image of threshing grain to separate out the chaff.
· There’s a picture of the cruelty of Syria against its enemies—see 2 Kings 13:7
· This is fulfilled by Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria.
The oracle against Gaza is found in Amos 1:6-8:
· Gaza was a great trade center—the door of Asia.
· Gaza was known for its military strength.
· It was the mightiest of all the Philistine cities.
· It was the southernmost city of Philistia.
· It was three miles from the Mediterranean.
The oracle against Tyre is found in Amos 1:9-10:
· Tyre was a wealthy and powerful city state on the Mediterranean Sea.
· It was divided into two parts: the mainland and an island.
· It was known for its slave trade. God has always been against slavery where people were abused and treated inhumanely. God has always been against slavery when slavery is used as a moneymaker.
· There is judgment against Tyre.
o Destruction—see Ezekiel 28.
o Fulfillment was by Alexander the Great in 322 B.C. The way he conquered the island was by filling in the land between the mainland and the island.
o Ironically, 30,000 of its inhabitants were sold as slaves.
The oracle against Edom is found in Amos 1:11-12:
· Edom was south and east of the Dead Sea.
· The people there were descendants of Esau—see Genesis 25:19-26.
· Edom’s violent emotions were out of control.
· There is judgment against Edom:
o Teman is the center of wisdom.
o Bozrah is the capital city.
o It is fulfilled by Tigleath-Pileser III of Assyria.
o Later in the 5th century, they were evicted from their land by the Nabateans who invaded.
The oracle against Amon is found in verses Amos 1:13-15:
· Amon is east of the Jordan River.
· The origin is from Ammon—see Genesis 19:30-38. From Ammon we get the Ammonites; from Moab we get the Moabites.
· Amon invaded Israelite towns and ripped open the wombs of pregnant women in order to eradicate the next generation.
The oracle against Moab is found in Amos 2:1-3:
· Moab is east of the Dead Sea between Edom and Ammon.
· The origin is from Moab—see Genesis 19:30-38.
· The Moabites opposed the Israelites on the way to the promised land—see Numbers 22:25.
· The Moabites were excluded from the assembly of Israel—see Deuteronomy 23:3-4. The law in Israel was an Israelite could never marry a Moabite woman. If a man did, he was cut off from Israel.
· There were crimes against kings—see 2 Kings 9:3-4.
· Note: Edom, Judah, and Israel were joined in war against Moab—see 2 Kings 3:6-9.
· There is judgment against Moab:
o Moab is conquered by Tiglath Pileser III in 734 B.C.
o They rebelled and were conquered by Sennacherib.
o They were conquered again by Nebuchadnezzar in 598.
The oracle against Judah is found in Amos 2:4-5:
· There is judgment against Judah, but it’s not against treaty breaking or the inhumane treatment of people; it’s for failure to follow the law—breaking the covenant with Yahweh.
· They broke the most sacred of treaties, the covenant between God and them.
· They knew God, but rejected God. Consequently, God rejected them.
Nothing happens outside the knowledge of God. God is sovereign over all the nations. We say, “We determine our own path.” When it comes to politics, we tend to say, “The sky is falling.” When we look at the little picture, it may look like we are in control, but when we look at the big picture, we see that God is in control. No authority on Earth is allowed to be there without God allowing it to be there. God is sovereign over us and the nations. Our job is to do what is just, right, and fair, and PRAY!
Read what Dr. Moody has to say about quarreling: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/genesis-44-45-do-not-quarrel-on-the-way/
Completion of Verse: . . . to be content in whatever circumstances I am. Philippians 4:11 (NASB)
Good morning, Soldiers. Don’t forget to put on your armor (Ephesians 6:10-17).
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/N8FKZIz97AU
Complete the Verse and Name the Book: The things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those . . . (completion at the end)
Father God, your word shows us forgiveness is a wonderful thing. Jacob was afraid Esau would kill him for taking Esau’s birthright and blessing, but your word says, “Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.” May I be like Esau and have a forgiving spirit for any wrongs that have been done to me. You have forgiven me of everything wrong I have done, and I want to pass on that spirit of forgiveness to everyone else. Mend any broken relationships due to unforgiveness.
Jacob’s life seemed to have a lot of deceit in it, and it’s interesting how his sons were deceitful toward Shechem and Hamor. Children learn from their parents. Help our kids and grandkids to see you in us. Fill us with your Holy Spirit so we show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control toward our family and others.
The covenant you gave to Abraham and Isaac was passed on to Jacob. What you said you would do, you did. Your word can be trusted. You are faithful.
Jacob’s mother, Rebekah, loved him more than Esau. Jacob’s dad, Isaac, loved Esau more than Jacob. When Jacob had children, he also had favorites (Joseph and Benjamin). Having favorites created serious problems within the family. Guard us against having favorites in the family. Give us unconditional love so we love all our children the same.
Joseph’s dreams seemed absurd to his brothers and even his parents, but the dream was from you and was prophetic. Joseph would end up ruling over all of them. We know every prophecy you’re behind will come true 100% of the time. Even those we can’t understand will someday happen as your word is fulfilled. Lord, we trust you and believe in you. You are truth. All your words are truth. We believe all you say in your word.
Some of Joseph’s brothers wanted to kill him, but, God, you intervened and would not allow it as you had other plans for Joseph. Help us not to worry about our lives because if your plan involves sickness, hardship, persecution, or death, we know we will be able to travel that road because of the strength you give us. If your plans for us are for health and prosperity, we will gladly accept the blessings. What happens to us is not what’s most important; a close relationship with you is what’s most important. May be get our priorities in the right order.
You used Reuben and Judah to save Joseph’s life. We can rest in you because you have everything in control. Nothing happens out of your will. You are never surprised by what happens. Nothing catches you off guard. Our faith rests wholly in you, Father.
Jesus, you have shown us there’s no middle area with you. There’s no fence we can walk. Either we are with you or against you. Either we cooperate and gather with you, or we fight against you and scatter. You know which we are. We want to be with you. We want to help you gather. Keep us next to you at all times. Don’t allow us to stray from you. We want to be with you through all eternity.
Our mouths reveal what’s in our hearts. Make our hearts pure so the words we speak are full of love. We know we will give an account of all we have said on the day of judgment. Our words will either justify us or condemn us. Guard our mouths carefully, Lord Jesus.
When people hear the word of the kingdom, one of four things will happen:
1. The evil one will snatch it away before it’s understood.
2. The news will be heard with joy, but it will only be temporary. When persecution comes, the person will fall away.
3. The word is heard but worries and the deceitfulness of riches will choke out the word.
4. The word will be heard, understood, and the person will bear fruit.
Lord, we want to fall in the fourth group. Help us to spend time in your word. Give us a hungering and thirsting for your word. May we hear you, Holy Spirit, as you speak to us through your word and help us understand it and apply it to our lives. May we be motivated to share the good news of your gospel with others.
We ask this all in the name of Jesus, amen.
Read what Dr. Moody has to say about God’s providence: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/genesis-42-43-he-lives/
Completion of Verse: . . . defile the man. Matthew 15:18 (NASB)
Good morning, Soldiers of the Cross.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/e3RRU25dpPg
Complete the Verse and Name the Book: It is appointed for men to die once, . . . (see end for completion)
Was Jesus a teacher? Yes, John 3:1-2 says, “There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.” John 1:38 says, “Jesus looked around and saw [John and two of his disciples] following. “What do you want?” he asked them.
They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
Mark 4:2 says, “[Jesus] taught them by telling many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:”
There are many other Scripture references that refer to Jesus as a teacher.
Was Jesus a prophet? Yes, Matthew 21:10-11 says, The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as [Jesus] entered. “Who is this?” they asked.
And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Matthew 16:13-14 says, When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
“Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
As two of Jesus’ followers were discussing the events surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus, Jesus walked up and asked them what things they were discussing. The followers answered, “The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people.” (Luke 24:19)
There are other Scripture references that point to Jesus as being a prophet. So, clearly, Jesus was a teacher and a prophet. There are those living today who would like to limit Jesus to being a great teacher and prophet. If we only see Jesus in that capacity, we have missed the most important point of Jesus coming to Earth.
Let’s take a look at Matthew 14:22-33:
Immediately after [the feeding of the 5,000], Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.
The disciples got it! They knew who Jesus really was—the Son of God! He was divine. He was God in the form of a man. He was the Messiah the prophets in the Old Testament said would come to Israel. He was the Savior of the world. John puts it this way in the first five verses of his book:
In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
Jesus is the Word! It’s critical that we see this and acknowledge Jesus as God. If we only see Jesus as a great teacher or prophet, we’ve missed the boat. Paul said in Romans 10:9-10: “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.”
Only Jesus can save. Only Jesus is worthy to be praised and worshiped for He is God incarnate. No other teacher or prophet comes close to Jesus. No other teacher or prophet is deity.
Here is an excellent testimony of healing that will strengthen your faith: https://www.facebook.com/mennenmarieminerva.adela/videos/10211392535902200/
Completion of Verse: . . . and after this comes judgment. Hebrews 9:27b
Good morning, Priests.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/DoPLgOwg4tY
Complete the Verse and Name the Book: Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker . . . (answer at the end)
What’s the difference between compassion, empathy, and pity? The Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines them:
· Compassion: sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviated it.
o 1. The imaginative projection of a subjective state into an object so that the object appears to be infused with it
o 2. The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicate in an objectively explicit manner
· Pity: a sympathetic sorrow for one suffering, distressed, or unhappy
John 14 records the death of John the Baptist. For a little background, Herodias was Herod’s wife and the former wife of Herod’s brother Philip. At Herod’s birthday party, Herodias’s daughter danced for Herod. It pleased him so much he promised her she could have anything she wanted. She didn’t ask for a shopping spree at Nordstrom; she asked for the head of John the Baptist on a tray (after conferring with Herodias). Later, John’s disciples came for John’s body and buried it.
Matthew 14:13-14 records what happened next:
As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
Notice what followed the compassion of Jesus—action! He didn’t just feel bad for the people, He did something about it; He healed their sick. I want to be more like Jesus. Far too often, I feel compassion for another person, but I don’t do anything about it. Jesus had the power to heal. As far as I know, I have not been given that gift, so I can’t look at a sick person with compassion and heal the person like Jesus did. So what can I do?
2 Corinthians 1:3-7 says,
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.
I may not be able to heal, but I can comfort others in a similar manner in which God has comforted me. When I see someone who is suffering something I have experienced, I can offer the comfort God showed me when I was suffering. Romans 12:15 tell us to “be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.”
Zechariah 7:9 says, “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.’ ” Notice that it doesn’t say feel compassion for one another, it says to show compassion. Compassion can’t be shown without action. We have to do something about what we are experiencing.
Psalm 103:13 says, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.” As a child, would you like your father to just feel compassion for you when you are hurting, or would you prefer some action to accompany the compassion? Even if it was just a hug, that might be all that is needed. It’s not something huge, but it meets the need. When we feel compassion for others, there may be something small that we can do for them that will be just what is needed. The Holy Spirit can prompt us as to what that small action might be. Let’s be open and sensitive to His prompting.
By the way, did you notice the timing of what happened to Jesus in Matthew 14:13-14? He had just received the word about John the Baptist being beheaded. He wanted some time in solitude to grieve and think through what had happened to this special person of whom Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist.” (Matthew 11:11a) Did he get the time of reflection? No, there was a huge crowd, and he felt compassion for them and ministered to them. I would have sent the crowd away telling them that I was grieving over the loss of the dearest of friends, but not Jesus. He didn’t put his own needs and desires above the needs of others. I want to grow to be more like Jesus each day.
Dr. Josh Moody writes about the sovereignty of God: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/genesis-41-glorious-sovereignty/
Good morning, Fishers of Men.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/Afz0q0cQjlI
Memory Verse for the Week: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. Ecclesiastes 12:13
Yesterday, Pastor Michael preached on Matthew 10 with a sermon titled “Discipleship: Your Turn.” When you’re in an internship, you are learning a job under supervision. The internship is preparing you to do a job you can do on your own at some point. After being on your own for some time, eventually, the time will come when you are able to be the mentor for someone else who is desiring to learn in an internship.
The twelve disciples have been in an intensive internship with Jesus, and now the time had come for them to have their turn leading. As we look at this chapter, we find six words about discipleship from Jesus:
1. Authority. The first thing Jesus does is give them His authority—“go in the name of Jesus.” They are not to go in their own name. They represent Jesus, so their words carry the authority of Jesus.
Jesus called his twelve disciples together and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness. Here are the names of the twelve apostles: first Simon (also called Peter), then Andrew (Peter’s brother), James (son of Zebedee), John (James’s brother), Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew (the tax collector), James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon (the zealot), Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him). Matthew 10:1-4
We tend to go in our own authority and power, but we need to go in God’s authority and power. Jesus gives us all authority; He’s the head. Matthew 28:18-20 says, Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
2. Procedure. Jesus told them what they were to do—spread the gospel message of Jesus Christ:
· All have sinned. Romans 3:23: For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
· We are headed for death. Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
· Christ died for us. Romans 5:8: But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
· You can be saved. Romans 10:9-10, Romans 10:13 If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”
· We are not saved by good works. Ephesians 2:8-9: God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
The disciples were to start the procedure at home before branching out to the ends of the world.
God is trustworthy. God would provide for their needs. They were to rely on Jesus, not themselves. Their focus was not to be on material
things but on the harvest—bringing lost souls to Jesus.
Matthew 10:5-11 says, Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: “Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but only to the people of Israel—God’s lost sheep. Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!
“Don’t take any money in your money belts—no gold, silver, or even copper coins. Don’t carry a traveler’s bag with a change of clothes and sandals or even a walking stick. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve to be fed.
3. Persecution. Jesus told the disciples that they and their message would be rejected by many. They could expect rejection and persecution. Not all people are people of peace. They would be able to tell what kind of people they were dealing with by their fruit. There would be people of power, prestige, and position. They would be in opposition to the gospel. They were told to be wise and understanding and to keep the message about Jesus.
As a harvester, you want to concentrate on the harvest. Don’t get bogged down in the weeds. The weeds need your attention but not your focus. Titus 3:9-11 says, Do not get involved in foolish discussions about spiritual pedigrees or in quarrels and fights about obedience to Jewish laws. These things are useless and a waste of time. If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that have nothing more to do with them. For people like that have turned away from the truth, and their own sins condemn them.
As you are harvesting, people will want to get rid of you. Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people. (Romans 16:19)
Matthew 10:12-20 says, “When you enter the home, give it your blessing. If it turns out to be a worthy home, let your blessing stand; if it is not, take back the blessing. If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave. I tell you the truth, the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah will be better off than such a town on the judgment day.
Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
If you speak for Jesus, Jesus will speak for you.
4. Fear. Betrayal will come from friends, family, and church attenders. Matthew 10:21-25 says, “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, the Son of an will return before you have reached all the towns of Israel.
Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master. Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of my household will be called by even worse names!
You will be hated by others. Do you follow Jesus just enough to get to heaven? Don’t be afraid of people; be afraid of God.
Matthew 10:26-33 says, “But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!
“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
Never disown Jesus.
5. Division. The message of Jesus is a message of peace to those who receive Him, but a message of division for those who don’t accept Jesus. Matthew 10:34-39 says, “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword. ‘I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be right in your own household!’
“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it, but it you give up your life for me, you will find it.”
The message of Jesus is a message of division. It is a message that divides right and wrong; divides truth from lies; divides black from white; divides God from Satan. Not all roads lead to Rome. There is one way to heaven—through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Some people say, “I know what they are doing is wrong, but they’re my friends, so I have to stay with them.” If that is true, then you have chosen against Jesus—you have said, “Jesus, I disown you.” If you have friends who lead you away from Jesus, drop your “friends.” True friends don’t lead you away from God; they draw you closer to God. There is no greater authority than Jesus.
6. Reward. Matthew 10:40-42 says, “Anyone who receives you receives me, and anyone who receives me receives the Father who sent me. If you receive a prophet as one who speaks for God, you will be given the same reward as a prophet. And if you receive righteous people because of their righteousness, you will be given a reward like theirs. And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”
Even a cup of water is rewarded. There are earthly rewards and there are heavenly rewards.
So what can we expect? We can expect to be hated by people but rewarded by God. Be a harvester. Look around; the harvest is ready. Demonstrate that God is #1 in your life.
Good morning, Heaven Bound.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/1pBeDoSlUnU
Memory Verse for the Week: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. Ecclesiastes 12:13
If you were asked, “What does your religion require of you?” how would you answer the question? A short answer could be taken from Micah 6:8b: “This is what [the LORD] requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Let’s back up a couple of verses and get some context:
What can we bring to the LORD? Should we bring him burnt offerings? Should we bow before God Most High with offerings of yearling calves? Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins?
No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:6-8
Like many today, the people of Judah were trying to earn God’s favor by performing external duties. They were willing to do whatever God required of them as long as it didn’t involve reforming their lives. The people of Judah were like the Pharisees criticized by Jesus in Matthew 23:23: What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. God was more concerned about their spirit than their substance. He cared more about their hearts than their sacrifices.
It’s easy for us to complicate religion, but Micah simplifies it to doing three things God asks of us: doing what’s right, being merciful, and walking humbly with God. It’s not out of our reach. Deuteronomy 30:11-14 says, “This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you, and it is not beyond your reach. It is not kept in heaven, so distant that you must ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven and bring it down so we can hear it and obey?’ It is not kept beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to bring it to us so we can hear it and obey?’ No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it.”
Because of Jesus coming to Earth in the form of a man, we are more fully aware of God’s will than the people in Micah’s time. There are many voices out there telling us what God demands, but we have the very words of Jesus to guide us. Jesus made our duties simple and plain, so everyone can understand what is expected of us.
The Word of God is the basis and final authority for our faith. We do not consult ourselves; we go to God’s Word to see what He has to say to us. The Holy Spirit makes God’s Word clear to us. He will speak our language until we are able to speak His. When someone is not acquainted with their duty toward God, it’s likely because of negligence or obstinacy, because God’s Word is readily available to most people.
When the verse tells us to do what is right, that message is repeated in other Scriptures:
· The LORD is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices. Proverbs 21:3
· Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living. Amos 5:23-24
· But this is what you must do: Tell the truth to each other. Render verdicts in your courts that are just and that lead to peace. Don’t scheme against each other. Stop your love of telling lies that you swear are the truth. I hate all these things, says the LORD. Zechariah 8:16-17
Micah tells us to love mercy. Mercy is a higher quality than justice. Justice has to do with giving people what is due them. Mercy implies kindness, compassion, and love to people we don’t owe anything to. Mercy includes helping the poor, the oppressed, the disabled, and the underprivileged. However, mercy goes beyond giving possessions; it involves giving of ourselves to lift and redeem those who need it. We can expect God to show us mercy in proportion to how much mercy we show to others. James 2:13 says, “There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.”
Even higher than the other two is God’s requirement to walk humbly with your God. It starts with us acknowledging our own iniquity and insufficiency. Every thought we have needs to be brought into submission to God’s will. We need to stop fighting God and trying to make Him follow us; we need to surrender our will to His, and walk with Him as He leads. Amos 3:3 says, “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” Our walk with God is based on faith and demonstrated by our love.
This triple command to do what is right, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, cannot be dismembered. It’s possible to do what’s right without showing mercy. It’s possible to be merciful without doing what is right. For example, Pablo Escobar (a drug lord) gained money through the sale of illegal drugs and then gave money to the poor. It’s also possible to claim to follow Christ and yet not do what is right and show little to no mercy to others. The three commands are tied together and must not be separated; it’s a package deal.
Samuel Chadwick said, “The solution to our modern problems, as those of Micah’s day, will not be found in legislation or machinery, but in realizing the sufficiency of God. No great and permanent solution of social problems has ever been reached without religious influence. The only way is to get back to God, to go to the house of the Lord and there find the power to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. Then will be found the true bond of brotherhood.”
Another way to answer the question, “What does your religion require of you?” is to quote the words of Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40:
“ ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Good morning, Finders of The Way.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/KLTu1xv2-Us
Memory Verse for the Week: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. Ecclesiastes 12:13
Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman continued with his study of the minor prophets. He gave an introduction to the book of Amos with a lecture titled “A Message about Falsehood and Injustice.”
This message was given to Amos, a shepherd from the town of Tekoa in Judah. He received this message in visions two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam II, the son of Jehoash, was king of Israel.
This is what he saw and heard: “The LORD’S voice will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem! The lush pastures of the shepherds will dry up; the grass on Mount Carmel will wither and die.” Amos 1:1-2 (see also Amos 7:10-17)
This roar and thunder from the LORD is not a happy roar or pleasing thunder. God is angry with what is happening.
Tekoa is 12 miles south of Jerusalem. The elevation is 2700’. The wilderness of Tekoa sank 4000’ into the Dead Sea (below sea level). As Amos tended his flocks, food was sparse in the wilderness. It was mostly desert, rocks, and hills with little grass and vegetation. Today the annual rainfall is 1.6” and the average temperature is 64 degrees F.
Amos was not a prophet or the son of a prophet. He didn’t hold the office of a prophet; he wasn’t trained as a prophet. He was not trying to make a living off of prophecy like Elijah, Elisha, Moses, and other prophets. In Bible times, prophets were paid so the leaders and people could hear what they wanted to hear; they didn’t want to hear the truth. Amos didn’t tell the people what they wanted to hear; he told them that God was against them.
Amos lived in the southern kingdom yet prophesied to the northern kingdom. He was not welcomed because of his message and the fact that he was a “foreigner.”
He was a shepherd and caretaker of sycamore-fig trees. The fruit of these trees is bitter and only the poor ate the fruit. He had an orchard of sorts.
Amos appeared two years before the significant earthquake mentioned in Zechariah 14:5. Exact dating is difficult because of the mindset of the Israelites who liked word pictures. The Greeks were more detail oriented and liked working with numbers. The estimated dates for Uzziah are 783-742 and Jeroboam II 786-746. Amos likely prophesied around 745. He was a contemporary of Hosea.
This was a time of unusual prosperity for the northern kingdom. King Jeroboam II was the leader. There was unrest in the Middle East. Assyria defeated Syria but then entered into decline due to internal conflict.
Israel firmly believed they were blessed by God because of the prosperity and wealth they enjoyed. They believed they were God’s chosen people and were untouchable. Obviously, they believed prosperity equaled God’s blessing. Even today we confuse wealth and prosperity with God. Wealth and prosperity becomes god, and we walk away from the true God. Amos was telling the people to wake up, because God is going to curse them. It’s time to get right with God.
The response of the people was negative. They didn’t want to hear about the gospel, sin, and what they were doing wrong. They wanted to hear how well they were doing--how great they were. They didn’t want to hear anything that would force them to change their ways. Amos was telling the people they were pretending they were alive on the outside, but they were dead on the inside.
Here is an outline of the book of Amos:
· Introduction— Amos1:1-2
· Salvation promises— Amos 9:11-15
The message of Amos is to hear the roaring of the LORD. God is not happy with Israel. He is rousing himself to take action—and not for blessing. The land is going to experience drought and destruction. The top of Mount Carmel withers. It used to be a place of lushness and refreshment; a place where there was God’s presence.
All is not well in Israel. There is great falsehood; no place for justice. People are not doing what is right, just, and fair. The people need to learn that righteousness does not equal blessing. God cannot be put in a box. We tend to believe only good things happen to good people. The end times have people not loving God and not loving others.
The outside looks good, but the inside is dead and decaying. This is similar to the message of Jesus to the Pharisees. It’s similar to the message of Jesus to the churches in Revelation.
· Is the message of Amos like the message of Jesus to us today?
· How has our wealth and prosperity affected our relationship with God? With others?
· Are we people of righteousness and justice?
Good morning, Freed by Christ.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/tg551q9wt1o
Dear Heavenly Father, your word is truth. You have said what we sow we will also reap. Jacob sowed deceit with his brother, Esau. When Jacob wanted to marry Rachel, he was told by her father, Laban, that Jacob would have to give him seven years of labor for Rachel. Jacob agreed and at the end of seven years, Laban deceived Jacob and gave him his other daughter, Leah, instead of Rachel. Lord, you will not be mocked; what a man sows he also reaps. Jacob sowed and reaped deceit.
God, help us to sow good seed so our harvests will be good. Give us love for each other so we go about doing good to others.
Father God, you told Jacob to leave Laban and return to the place of Jacob’s birth. This was after Jacob served Laban for 20 years (14 for Rachel and Leah and six for the flocks) and had his wages changed ten times.
Jacob deceived Laban by not telling Laban he was going to Gilead with all he had including his two daughters. Deception seemed to follow Jacob wherever he went. Lord, help us to put away those sins that follow us through the years and keep reoccurring. Holy Spirit, fill us with you, so we don’t have any room for sin in our lives.
Laban told Jacob “. . . although no man is with us, see, God is witness between you and me.” God, that’s good for me to remember—even if no one else is around, you see my every step. There is no such thing as a hidden sin with you, because you see everything including what’s inside my heart. Purify my heart. May I be a person of integrity that does the right thing even when nobody else is around.
Jacob was earnest with you, and you blessed him. May we be earnest with you about important things such as sin in our lives. May we not let you go until the matter is settled.
Jesus, John wanted to know if you were the Messiah. You affirmed you were by saying, “the blind receive sight and the lame walk, he lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” Lord Jesus, you are the Messiah, and we worship you!
Jesus, you said, “the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” We know we may have to suffer violence for you. May we consider it an honor should it happen to us. You died a horrible death on a cross for us. You deserve the same level of commitment from us.
You taught us to repent of our sins and turn away from them. May we not be proud people, but, rather, obedient people.
Thank you for your word that tells us you give rest to the weary and heavy-laden. You are gentle and humble in heart and give rest to our souls. Your yoke is easy and your load is light. You will not give us more than we can bear. You give us strength to meet the challenges that come our way. Thank you, Jesus!
It’s easy for me to get caught up in legalism and think I am being godly when I am following manmade rules. You said you want compassion and not sacrifice. If I am not treating my fellow man with love, my offerings to you mean nothing. If what I do for you and others is motivated by self-promotion, I’m far off-base. Purify my heart!
In the name of Jesus, amen.
Good morning, Disciples of Christ.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/8LROdxlGUoA
Father in heaven, in your word you show us what we should do and what we shouldn’t do; who we should emulate and who we shouldn’t. Help us to not be deceitful like Jacob and Rebekah who lied to Isaac and even lied about you when Jacob said to his father that he was able to get the game quickly because you caused it to happen. One lie led to another. Jacob stole Esau’s blessing, and the result was Esau bore a grudge and planned on killing his brother.
Sin has consequences. Give us wisdom to think ahead to possible consequences to our actions before we sin. May we treat our family and others with love rather than deceit.
Someday, what has been covered up by people will be revealed. Help us to not try and cover any sins but, rather, confess them to you, repent, and do a 180.
Give us courage to not fear those who can kill the body; they can’t kill the soul. Only you can destroy the soul and body in hell. It’s you we should fear, revere, honor, and pay homage to.
Jesus, you have said that if we confess you before others, you will confess us before the Father in heaven. If we deny you, you will deny us before the Father. Give us courage to confess you to others. May we be bold but full of compassion at the same time.
Lord, we want to love you more than anything else, including family. Help us to take up our cross and follow you pledging our allegiance to you even to the point of death. If my life is wrapped up in this world, I have lost my life with you. Lord, I choose you! My allegiance is with you. This world is not my permanent home; I’m just a traveler on my way to be with you through eternity.
When we are kind and do nice things for others, may it be as if we are doing them for you. I prove my love for you when I love others as I love myself. Fill me with love for others. Open my eyes to see others the way you see them and act accordingly.
In the name of Jesus, amen.
Good morning, Sanctified Believer.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/B4NRo-csK7A
Everything “bad” that happens to us is not necessarily something bad. In Matthew 10:16-20, Jesus is talking to His disciples:
“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
Being brought into court, getting flogged with whips, and standing trial before governors and kings is something I would classify as being BAD! It would be something I would try to avoid to the best of my ability. But here is Jesus saying this is a time of opportunity. You’ve heard the adage, “When opportunity knocks, open the door.” Opportunity is something good—it looks to a better future. However, getting flogged doesn’t sound like opportunity knocking on my door. Yet Jesus says it is; it’s an opportunity to tell rulers and other unbelievers about Jesus, and that’s always a good thing!
When seemingly “bad” things happen in our lives, they may be opportunities for good to happen. This was certainly the case with Joseph when he was sold into slavery by his brothers. This event was an opportunity for God to open doors for Joseph and bring about good. Abraham’s obedience to God provided God an opportunity to save Abraham’s son from death. Esther had an opportunity to intercede for the Jews who were going to be killed, but by doing so, Esther put her own life in danger. Nevertheless, she did it and the Jews were spared. Rahab had an opportunity to help Joshua’s men spy out the land, and she took it even though it meant possible death for her.
If any of the following things happened to me, my first reaction would be, “This is BAD!”:
· Put in prison
· Whipped times without number
· Faced death again and again
· Received 39 lashes on five different occasions
· Beaten with rods on three different occasions
· Shipwrecked on three different occasions
· Spent a whole night and day adrift at sea
· Faced danger from rivers
· Faced danger from robbers and other people who meant to do harm to me
· Spent many sleepless nights
· Was hungry and thirsty
· Shivered in the cold without enough clothing to keep warm
· Lowered in a basket through a window in a city wall in order to escape guards who wanted to capture me
If just one of these bulleted items happened to me, I would think I was in a bad place. I wouldn’t see the event as an opportunity for good to come from it. Yet this is exactly what happened with Paul. Every single bulleted item happened to him! (see 2 Corinthians 11:16-33)
God is sovereign. Nothing catches Him by surprise. The events that happen in our lives can be used by God to bring about good. It just might happen that someone comes to know Jesus, because the “bad” thing that happened to us opened up the door of opportunity to share Jesus with rulers and other unbelievers.
The next time something “bad” happens to us, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to see the opportunity that can bring good out of it.
Good morning, Family of God.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/QmY3jSugNBU
Memory Verse for the Week: He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20
Yesterday, Ray gave a sermon titled “Becoming More Holy” with a text from John 17:1-19—the great prayer of Jesus. This sermon is based on a sermon of Dr. Josh Moody, pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL.
In His prayer, Jesus makes three requests of God the Father:
· First of all, in verse one, that His name be glorified. Right here is evidence that Jesus believes He is God. Earlier Jesus taught us to pray, “Hallowed be thy name,” but here He is saying, “Glorify me,” because He is indeed God, and He wants to reflect that glory back to God the Father.
· The second request is found in verses 11 and 15—that we will be kept. Jesus is saying, “Keep them, Lord; protect them; guard them; they are vulnerable.” Jesus is sending us out among wolves, and He wants us kept, protected, preserved—in the world but not of the world. You might be going through a difficult time in your life and wondering how you’re going to carry on, but here is Jesus praying that God would keep you, protect you, guard you—and He will. He will keep you for His prayer is answered.
· The third request is found in verse 17—that we will be sanctified. What does sanctified mean? It means to become more holy. What does holy mean? There are a variety of things that can be holy:
o A day can be holy: Genesis 2:3 says, “And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.”
o A mountain can be holy. Isaiah 56:7 says, “these I will bring to my holy mountain.”
o We have our Holy Bible.
o People can be holy. 1 Peter 1:15-16 says, But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Holy means to be set apart for God’s service. It’s about being distinct and different, but with a purpose—for God’s service. The greatest example of what it means to be set apart for God’s service is Jesus. Jesus is praying that we will become more like Him. Ultimately, to be holy is to be more like Jesus—set apart for God’s service.
The matter of holiness is the most important topic facing the church today. You don’t have to read far to discover scandals going on in churches. We are desperately in need of a fresh desire for holiness—a distinction; being Christ-like. If you are a Christian, you are going to want to be more holy. You are going to want to be more like Jesus. There may be some sin you want to defeat. There may be some character trait you want to develop more; you want to become more holy. As you grow spiritually and draw closer to God, your heart’s desire is to become more like Him.
How do we become more like Jesus? There are two categories regarding the teaching of holiness:
· One category is that it’s all about the external. There’s the monastic theory practiced by monks and others. It is felt that the way to become more holy is to literally separate oneself from the world. Why? Because one is going to be contaminated by the world if he isn’t separated from the world. This teaching emphasizes the external.
· The other approach to the teaching of holiness is the internal. We are taught we are to be in the world but not of the world. This is the approach Jesus took, the Bible takes, and the evangelical church has historically taken.
Look at it like this medical analogy: One approach says the way to avoid catching the contamination of unholiness is to not even get close to an infection—be separate; be a long ways away from it. The other approach supports a strong immune system—antibodies so you can be in the world but not of the world. This is the approach Jesus is teaching here, and it’s the approach He used in His own life. Jesus hung out with sinners; He hung out with prostitutes, tax collectors—the hated people of His age, and yet He was not of the world. He was distinct; He was different. And that is what Jesus is asking us to become.
Jesus was praying here that they be in the world but not of the world. Jesus was asking God to sanctify them so they would shine like a light in a dark place. That is the great prayer of Jesus—that we would be like that.
In this prayer of Jesus, we see five elements of being sanctified:
First of all, it’s something God must do. Jesus prayed, “Father, sanctify them.” He’s praying that God would do it.
We at NCCU have the following purpose statement: “We exist to promote and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation and sanctification of all people.” It is by the power of God with the Holy Spirit working in us that makes it possible for us to accomplish this mission. In order for this to happen, we must be sanctified—made to become like Christ. It’s something God must do.
Second of all, it’s something we must do. Jesus said, “Sanctify them in the truth.” We must apply the truth. It is something we must do. Paul says in Philippians 2:12, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (NIV) Work out what God is working within you. That is the call to the Christian.
When Paul tells the thief to not steal, he doesn’t say for the thief to think about what he’s doing and pray about it. In Ephesians 4:28 Paul says, “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.”
Paul is saying, “Stop it!” Why? Because if you’re a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit within you, and, therefore, you can obey Christ. Granted, sanctification is a lifelong process, and none of us become perfect until we’re in glorified in heaven. We’ll always be struggling with indwelling sin; it’s part of the nature of a Christian.
Because we have the Holy Spirit, we can fight, and we must. Stop sinning—like Paul said in Ephesians 4:28. Stealing may not be your sin, but fill in Ephesians 4:28 with your sin: “He who has been gossiping, must gossip no longer. He who has been prideful, must be prideful no longer.”
Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Apply the whole truth of the gospel: that God made us, that we’re sinners, that Jesus died for us, that He loves us, that He has a purpose for us, that He’s going to justify us, that He’s going to sanctify us, We put on the armor of God so we can stand against the devil and say no to sin.
We must apply the truth. We have to do it ourselves, but we are able to because we have the Holy Spirit. Every single day of our lives we must fight against indwelling sin.
The third element is about the word. In verse six it says, “they have obeyed your word.” Verse eight says, “For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them.” The words of Jesus reflect the words of God the Father. The teachings of Jesus are a reflection of the teachings of God. Jesus treated the Old Testament as God’s word. Jesus quoted from 24 books in the Old Testament.
When Jesus said, “Your word is truth,” He was talking about the Bible. Once that becomes clear, are we surprised that the church at large is struggling with issues like Christ-likeness, character, and holiness? It’s because there’s so little Bible! The Bible is our hallmark. It’s what we’re about at every level of the church. How are we doing with God’s word? We’re bombarded with other messages every day of the week with our phones, TV, movies . . . but it is His word that is truth. And that’s how we’re going to become more like Jesus.
The fourth element is mission. Verse 18 says, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” Jesus was sent to seek and save the lost, and we Christians, similarly, have been sent into the world to seek and save the lost. He’s sending us into the world to seek and save the lost. Evangelism and holiness go together.
Paul prays in his letter to Philemon (verse 6), “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” As someone shares their faith, they realize more and more all that they have in the Lord Jesus Christ and they are so grateful. God’s plan is for a holy people to be on a mission. Remember, holiness means set apart for God’s service.
God is sending us into the world as holy people—set apart for God’s service. As Jesus was sent, so we are sent.
The fifth element is in verse 19: “And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.” We are giving ourselves to God as a holy sacrifice.
Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient. He was born as a man—set apart for God’s service. He came to seek and save the lost—you and me. His death, His resurrection, His sinless life was for our sake—that we might be sanctified. That is the end goal of salvation--that we would be holy as He is holy—set apart for God’s service.
As a holy people, let’s honor Him; let’s declare His praises; let’s be committed to obedience by the power Christ has given us through His Holy Spirit. Let’s be a holy people whose lives bring praise and glory to God.
Good morning, People of Thanksgiving.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/k5w7MgTgVVs
Memory Verse for the Week: He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20
Genesis 24 is the story of how Abraham found a wife for his son, Isaac. Abraham didn’t want Isaac to marry a Canaanite woman. Therefore, his servant went to Aram-naharaim to find a wife for Isaac. He prayed he would find the right lady for Isaac. Let’s pick the story up at verse 12:
“O LORD, God of my master, Abraham,” he prayed. “Please give me success today, and show unfailing love to my master, Abraham. See, I am standing here beside this spring, and the young women of the town are coming out to draw water. This is my request. I will ask one of them, ‘Please give me a drink from your jug.’ If she says, ‘Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!’—let her be the one you have selected as Isaac’s wife. This is how I will know that you have shown unfailing love to my master.”
Before he had finished praying, he saw a young woman named Rebekah coming out with her water jug on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel, who was the son of Abraham’s brother Nahor and his wife, Milcah. Rebekah was very beautiful and old enough to be married, but she was still a virgin. She went down to the spring, filled her jug, and came up again. Running over to her, the servant said, “Please give me a little drink of water from your jug.”
“Yes, my lord,” she answered, “have a drink.” And she quickly lowered her jug from her shoulder and gave him a drink. When she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels, too, until they have had enough to drink.” So she quickly emptied her jug into the watering trough and ran back to the well to draw water for all his camels.
Don’t you wish your prayers were answered that quickly? While the servant was in the process of praying for the answer to his prayer, in walked the answer to his prayer!
Rebekah was clearly the wife for Isaac. Now all that had to be worked out were the details. Let’s pick the story up at verse 55 with Rebekah’s brother, Laban, saying, “But we want Rebekah to stay with us at least ten days,” her brother and mother said. “Then she can go.”
But [the servant] said, “Don’t delay me. The LORD has made my mission successful; now send me back so I can return to my master.”
“Well,” they said, “we’ll call Rebekah and ask her what she thinks.” So they called Rebekah. “Are you willing to go with this man?” they asked her.
And she replied, “Yes, I will go.”
God was clearly at work in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Rebekah.
This story reminds me of two other stories—“modern day” stories. The first one took place in the 1940s. It centers around my mom. She had just graduated from high school, and even though she attended church, she wasn’t a follower of Christ.
One day my aunt from Pasadena, CA, was visiting my mom’s family in Duncannon, PA. Her visit was drawing to an end, and my aunt (who was a committed Christian) said to my mom, “Why don’t you come back with me to California tomorrow? You can ride along with me. It would be a great adventure, and I’ll see what I can do about getting you started at college in Pasadena.”
My mom replied, “Oh, no. I’m not interested in doing anything like that. I have a boyfriend here, and going to California just doesn’t appeal to me.”
My aunt prayed through the night, and the next morning my mom said to her, “You know what? I’ve changed my mind! I’ve decided I do want to go to California with you today.”
That decision totally changed my mom’s life! She found Jesus as her personal Savior, went to a Christian college in Pasadena, met and married my dad, and they ended up being missionaries in the Philippines for 35 years.
Come to think of it, that was a fairly fast answer to my aunt’s prayer, too!
The other “modern day” story took place in the 1970s. Peter Jenkins decided to walk across America and discover the real country. He started off in Alfred, NY, and ended up in Florence, OR, by way of the Deep South. While in Mobile, AL, he attended a revival and gave his heart to Jesus. Later, he fell madly in love with a student at a seminary in New Orleans, LA. They got engaged, and we’re looking forward to marriage when Peter’s girlfriend started to realize how her life would drastically change if she married Peter. She began to have second thoughts. On numerous occasions, she broke up with Peter, and then got back with him. Finally, she said to him, “I just can’t take this torture of not knowing what I should do any longer. I’ve decided to go to church with you one last time. If we don’t get a sign, or if something doesn’t happen, then everything between us is over—for good.”
They did go to the church they regularly attended, and there was a guest speaker—80+ year old Mom Beall from Detroit who would speak from her wheelchair. She told the story of Abraham finding a wife for Isaac. Let’s have Peter tell the story in his own words as he describes that church service:
“The next day,” Mom [Beall] told us, “Rebekah’s family called her to them because the servant was ready to ask her and give her gifts.” At this point Mom paused, ready to emphasize a point as dramatic as any I had ever heard. Her pause was long and over a thousand people were totally silent.
Although Mom was over eighty she now looked shot full of the most powerful energy in life. A radiant glow circled her entire body. She pounded the arm of her wheelchair with her right fist and half yelled and half quivered, “Will you go with this man?”
The simple phrase, one of thousands in the Bible, burst through me with a surging power; it echoed and shot through my body like holy electricity. This was Barbara’s sign! I knew it as I glanced over at her for the first time since Mom’s story had begun.
Again, with fantastic power, Mom shouted those words from Genesis: “Will you go with this man?”
The impact of that message pushed Barbara back into her cushioned chair. She was sort of slumped down, her eyes staring nowhere. She had prayed all night, yet this direct message from God seemed to shock her.
“Will you go with this man?” Mom’s lily-white hand banged the wheelchair, emphasizing each and every word. Barbara gasped as though each word hit her heart with the force of a sledgehammer pounding on iron. She sat up straighter, blood flushed her pretty face and her hair seemed to stand out fuller than before.
One last time, Mom cried, “Will you go with this man?” I couldn’t believe this was happening. I looked over at Barbara again. She knew that I knew. Her eyes were wide and clear except for the crystal tears that gathered in the corners. She leaned close to me and whispered, “Peter, I’ll go with you.”
Note: You can read the whole story in Peter Jenkin’s book A Walk Across Americaand Peter and Barbara Jenkin’s book The Walk West.
Good morning, Growing in Grace.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/9Kuo3lg-LBU
Memory Verse for the Week: He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20
The seventh chapter of Matthew has some sobering words from Jesus. Verses 13-14 say,"You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it."This is not what the world says. It's not unusual to hear, "There are many paths that lead to heaven. Christianity is one of the ways, Buddhism is another path, Shintoism still another, and so on." That sounds like a broad highway, but Jesus said that road leads to hell. These two beliefs are in total contradiction to each other. Which are you going to believe? Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me." John 14:6
So how can we tell if we are on the narrow road? For one thing, it's difficult to travel on that road. There are other paths that are difficult, too, but they don't lead to heaven. Just because a person suffers, that doesn't mean they are on the right path. It's when we suffer for the sake of Jesus that we know we're on the right path—when we won't back down from our faith in Jesus even if it means pain and suffering on our part. We don't back down no matter how difficult it gets. Not very many people are willing to be that committed to Jesus, and that's why Jesus said,"only a few ever find it."
Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:8-12,16-18:We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in ourbodies.
Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
Another way we can tell which road we're on is by our fruit. Right after talking about the narrow gate, Jesus talked about fruit—our actions. Matthew 7:35-20 says,
"Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes fromthorn bushes or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can't produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can't produce good fruit. So every tree thatdoes not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions."
Jesus made another statement that shows the world is mistaken when it says all roads lead to heaven. In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus said,"Not everyone who calls out to me, 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, 'Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' But I will reply, 'I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God's laws.' " Do you see what I mean by sobering words? We can't afford to become lackadaisical as followers of Jesus. What we do and don't do have eternal consequences. Our hearts must be right with God. Lip service with Him doesn't cut it. Let's ask God to search our hearts, reveal to us what He finds, and then let's respond accordingly.
Good morning, Friend of God.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/2PlgN0ta6E8
Years ago I made an observation after older relatives visited me or I went to visit elderly relatives—old people have to have something to worry about. I would see them very concerned over things that to me weren't worth worryingabout. Now that I'm old, I find myself worrying about the same stuff my aging relatives worried about! It is said that 85% of what we worry about never happens. That's a fairly high percentage. I guess a different way of saying that would be, "15% of what you worry about is going to happen."
Let's take a look at what the Bible has to say about worrying. A lot of what we worry about centers around money:
Is the refrigerator going to give out? What about my other appliances?
What would I do if the stock market crashed?
How much longer will my roof keep water out of my house?
What if someone sued me for millions of dollars?
What if my house burned down?
What if there was an earthquake that destroyed the foundation of my house?
What if one of my trees blew over and hurt someone?
What if my septic system quit on me?
What would happen if it was discovered that mold was growing in my walls? What if all the siding on my house had to be replaced?
What if Social Security runs out?
What if I lost my job and couldn't pay bills?
Hopefully, I haven't given you some new things to worry about!
Since we worry so much about finances, it's not surprising that Jesus had some things to say about money:
"Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rustcannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
"Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!
"No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.
"That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
"And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
"So don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?' These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
"So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today."Matthew 6:19-34
Jesus puts things into perspective; worrying about tomorrow is a big waste of time. God will give us everything we need. Instead of asking for an increase in things, we should we asking for an increase in faith. Don't worry; be happy . . . as you put your trust in God.
Good morning, Anchored in God's Love.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/IrDwO0TQWjM
What do you know about the Trinity? It's complicated, isn't it? A lot of what we believe is clearly laid out for us by God using different authors in the Bible. However, the wordtrinityis not even used once anywhere in the 66 books. Nevertheless, the doctrine of the Trinity is in the Bible, and these articles I'm attaching do a great job of explaining the Trinity. I hope you will find them helpful and of benefit to you. Perhaps some of the references will be useful as you share God's word with others. The articles are taken from the January 2020 issue of TableTalk Magazine and are used with permission.
Good morning, Proclaimers of Good News.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/CYDCIAQc8Ms
The church at Thessalonica was one of the healthiest churches in the New Testament. Paul said in I Thessalonians 1:2-7:
We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly. As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people. For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you. So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord. As a result, you have become an example to all the believers in Greece—throughout both Macedonia and Achaia.
And now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere, even beyond Macedonia and Achaia, for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don't need to tell them about it, for they keep talking about the wonderful welcome you gave us and how you turned away from idols to serve the living and true God. And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God's Son from heaven—Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment.
Why was this such an influential church? Because they"received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought" them. Affliction and joy don't seem to go together, but on December 29, Pastor Michael spoke to us about Paul and Silas being beaten and placed in the inner part of the prison. What did they do there? They sang songs of praise. The Christians in Thessalonica were able to be joyful in spite of severe suffering.
I don't like suffering. I like for things to run smoothly—no conflict, no stress, no hatred, nothing lacking, no sickness, no death. I like to be where everyone is happy, there's peace, quiet (except for music and powerful engines), calmness. But which environment provides an opportunity to grow in the Lord? I'm afraid it's where there is suffering. Suffering is necessary for us to grow individually and as a church.
When we are joyful in suffering, we are a powerful testimony to the world around us. When Laurie lost her son a year ago, she was definitely saddened by the loss, but she wasn't angry with God. She was joyful that her son could be in a better place than this world. Her faith was strong enough to weather the storm, and she came out stronger on the other end. She's been able to witness to others who have experienced similar losses, and share her faith with them. God can bring good out of any bad that happens to us. He can even give us joy in our sorrow! He did it for Paul and Silas, He did it for the Thessalonians, He did it for Laurie, and he can do it for you. Let suffering be a time of growth in your life.
Be patient, though, as growth takes time. You don't go from an infant to a toddler in a day. In fact, it's difficult to detect any growth on a daily basis. However, after a year or so has gone by, it's easy to see the growth that has taken place. Are you growing spiritually? Take a look at where you were spiritually a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago? Do you see growth? If not, maybe you should start praying for suffering.
II Thessalonians 1:4-5 says,
We proudly tell God's other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering. And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering.
Sometimes we suffer because of our bad choices. Sometimes we suffer because we have broken God's laws, and we are simply suffering the consequences for that. That's not the kind of suffering being spoken of here. It's suffering because of our faith—ridiculed by nonbelievers, standing for what is truth in God's word and being given a hard time for it, ostracized for being counter-culture.
As a church, let's strive to be like the Thessalonians. As individuals, let's strive to be like the Christians in Thessalonica.
Good morning, Servers of God.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/2ZpzCxDYOlk
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: https://godcenteredlife.org/broadcast/the-prayer-of-jesus-the-great-missing-ingredient/
Good morning, Son Worshipers.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/A3IUqz10ARE
Memory Verse for the Week: For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20
On Thursday, we were taking a look in Leviticus and Malachi concerning giving God our best. As I was reading in Genesis today, the same theme appeared.
When [Cain and Abel] grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the LORD. Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The LORD accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.
"Why are you so angry?" the LORD asked Cain. "Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin in crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master."(Genesis 4:2b-7)
Giving God what He deserves—our best—is what God expects from us. Evidently, Abel understood this and gave God his best. Cain also gave, but it wasn't his best. What would you think of me if I threw my dog a cheap treat right after he saved my life while I sat eating prime steak (my dog's absolute favorite)? Jesus died on the cross we should have been hanging on. The sinless died for the sinful. The perfect died for the imperfect. Jesus does deserve our best.
Notice that last part when God said to Cain,"You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master."Whose responsibility is it not to sin? Is it God's responsibility to keep us from sinning? No, it's our responsibility. There are things we can do to prevent sin from entering our lives. Think back to the last time you fell into temptation and sin. Was there something you could have done to prevent it from happening? Sin doesn't blindside us. It's like an approaching storm; there are signs that a storm is on its way—dark clouds, wind, possible change in temperature, a change in the barometric pressure, the weather forecast. If we ignore all the signs, and decide to go on a long hike, there's a good chance a storm is going to pounce on us and have us saying, "What happened? I was just walking along and—WHAM!" There were signs, but we chose to ignore them. Sin is like that, too. There are warning signs that appear. It's our responsibility to pay attention to those signs and head for shelter—the arms of Jesus. We make the decision to turn away from the temptation, and Jesus is there with open arms welcoming us into them.
We cannot afford to have sin be our master. The result is death. We must subdue sin and be its master. The Holy Spirit is there to support us every step of the way. We're not alone as we resist sin, but we have to make the decision to be the master over sin rather than let sin be the master over us. Turn from temptation, and run to Jesus. He is our shelter in the storm.
Good morning, Yahweh Worshipers.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/YqKcNwknGsA
Memory Verse for the Week: For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20
Dear Father in Heaven, Esau did a very foolish thing when he sold his birthright to Jacob for some bread and lentil stew. Esau was living for the moment rather than looking ahead to the time he would receive a double share of his father's inheritance. Help us to learn from the mistake of Esau and closely guard that which is of great value. Lord, your love to us has the greatest value—it cost you your life. May we be grateful people who treasure your love more than anything else. May we love you in return with that same degree of intensity and offer up our lives to you as living sacrifices. If called upon, may we be prepared to die for you. May we begin to show you how much we love you by following your commandments.
Thank you for blessing Isaac as your blessed Abraham. We know the blessings we receive come from you, and we are grateful! Help us not to take any blessings for granted.
Give us more love for our fellow man so we will go and tell him, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." You have given freely to us; may we give freely to others. We don't want to hold on to anything too tightly as we know we won't be taking any of it with us to the grave. Help me to be a generous person.
When it comes time to witness for you, help us not to stress over it because you have said the Spirit will speak through us. Holy Spirit, you know just what should be said, and we ask you to guard our mouths at all times so we only say what you give us to say. May our words flow from a heart filled with love.
May we not be surprised when worldly people hate us. Give us the strength to stand firm in you and endure to the end. In the name of Jesus, amen.
Good morning, Family of God.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/GgBB863p2vw
Memory Verse for the Week: For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20
When our church had its annual Thanksgiving dinner with donations given to the Food Bank, I had the job of collecting the food that was brought in. During my shift, I saw a wide variety of food that was donated. It looked like some of the food was collected from the back of the cupboards where it had been for a LONG while. Some of the cans were rusted, others dented in. Some of the things inside the cans I had never heard of before, and I'd have no idea of how to use them. On the other hand, some of the food looked like it had just been purchased. It looked very appealing, and it looked to me like the donator had gone through the cupboard and chosen the very best to donate.
When we give to God, do we give God our leftovers (our old, rusted, dented cans and food we'll never miss having), or do we give Him our very best (what we'd like to keep for ourselves)? Concerning offerings to God, Leviticus 22:20-22 says:
"Do not present an animal with defects, because the LORD will not accept it on your behalf.
"If you present a peace offering to the LORD from the herd or the flock, whether it is to fulfill a vow or is a voluntary offering, you must offer a perfect animal. It may have no defect of any kind. You must not offer an animal that is blind, crippled, or injured, or that has a wart, a skin sore, or scabs. Such animals must never be offered on the altar as special gifts to the LORD.
Just a quick reminder here—Jesus was the perfect sacrifice. He was God's best. He was sinless. God sacrificed Him, because Jesus was the only one eligible to take away sins.
Malachi 1:8-9, 13b-14; 2:8b-12 says:
When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn't that wrong? And isn't it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!" says the LORD of Heaven's Armies.
"Think of it! Animals that are stolen and crippled and sick are being presented as offerings! Should I accept from you such offerings as these?" asks the LORD.
"You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies, "I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fail from the vine before they are ripe," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies.
I know I don't always give God my best, but I want to do better this year. Here is my prayer, "Lord, you gave your best for me, and I want to give my best to you. When I am tempted to think of myself and my desires, may I think of you and your desires instead. In the name of Jesus, amen."
Good morning, Jesus Worshipers. Happy New Year!
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/IRLxugEtqx8
Today is the start of a brand new year. If you struggle with reading the word of God consistently, I would encourage you to use a plan. I don't do well when it's left up to "me" to choose where to read in the Bible each day. My personal preference is to have a plan where I read from the Old Testament and the New Testament each day, rather than starting in Genesis and going straight through to Revelation. I am attaching a plan that will take you through the Bible in a year. It's the one I use.
If you find that is too much reading at this time in your life, you might want to try reading the Bible on a three-year plan. I'm attaching that as well. There are other ways to read the Bible, too. This website provides many options:https://www.ligonier.org/blog/bible-reading-plans/
Another way to read the Bible is to choose a chapter of the Bible and read it each day for a week, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to you as you hear those same words over and over. Whatever works for you is great; the important thing is that you are hearing from God each day. It's easy to start thinking the way the world thinks when we are constantly bombarded with messages from the world. We daily need to hear truth, and truth is found in the Bible—in Jesus our Lord and Savior.
Several years ago I prayed for the Lord to give me a hungering and thirsting for His word, and he answered my prayer.
Father in heaven, in my trouble I cried to you, and you answered me. My help comes from you who made heaven and earth. You are able to keep me, because you never slumber. You protect me from evil; you keep my soul. You guard my going out and my coming in from this time forth and forever.
When I am wronged, help me to not seek punishment for the one who wronged me. Instead, may I remember that I, too, have wronged others. May I show mercy to others as you have shown mercy to me.
May I do those things that are profitable. May I remember my body is a member of you; it is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in me. I have been bought with a price—your blood on the cross. Therefore, I am not my own. May I glorify you in my body and flee immorality. In the name of Jesus, amen.
Wise Christians do not go on legalistic religious rants on social media, leaving people feeling guilty. They do not dump theological truth on discussion threads with their friends, burying them in an avalanche of spiritual jargon. What should Christians do? Listen to this audio of Dr. Josh Moody: https://godcenteredlife.org/broadcast/making-the-holidays-holy-days-5-part-2/