Daily Devotion July 2020

7/31/2020


Good morning, Treasure Finders.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/kzqrWae5lK4


Complete the Verse & Name the BookSo, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to . . . (completion at the end)


Today I’d like to share Tom Wright’s commentary on Colossians 2:1-7. 

COLOSSIANS 2:1-7

God’s Hidden Treasure—King Jesus!

1 You see, I’d like you to know just what a struggle I am having on behalf of yourselves, and the family in Laodicea, and all the people who don’t know me by sight. 2 I want their hearts to be encouraged as they’re brought together in love. I want them to experience all the wealth of definite understanding, and to come to the knowledge of God’s mystery—the Messiah, the king! 3 He is the place where you’ll find all the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

4 I’m saying this so that nobody will deceive you with plausible words. 5 Though I’m away from you in person, you see, I am present with you in the spirit, and I’m celebrating as I keep an eye on your good order, and the solidity of your faith in the king.

6 So, then, just as you received King Jesus as Lord, you must continue your journey in him. 7 You must put down healthy roots in him, being built up brick by brick in him, and established strongly in the faith, just as you were taught, with overflowing thankfulness.

In many adventure stories such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous Treasure Island, the plot hinges on the discovery of an ancient chart or map. The people who have found it realize that, if only they could understand and follow it, it would lead them to buried treasure that had been hidden for many years, perhaps centuries. They would be rich beyond their wildest imagination.

There are always problems. Some people think the map is imaginary, a fantasy. Others say the hero isn’t reading it right, isn’t understanding its secret codes. Inevitably, there are dangers to be faced, both in the journey to the far-off island and in the threat from other people who want to stop them getting there first. But we know how the story should end. We want the hero to surmount the dangers and difficulties, find the treasure and get it safe back home.

Towards the end of chapter 1 (verses 26-27) Paul speaks of God’s secret plan, a plan that has lain hidden, like a map in a locked and dusty cupboard, for ages and generations. Now, quite suddenly, it has come to light in the events concerning Jesus, the Messiah. Paul is in possession of the map, and is inviting as many people as possible to come with him to find the treasure.

In the present passage he tells them plainly what the treasure is; what dangers they will face as they try to make it their own; and which route they must take to get to it. After what he’s already said, we shouldn’t be surprised that the theme all through is King Jesus, King Jesus, King Jesus. He is the secret plan; he is the treasure; he is the one ‘in whom’ they will be able to ward off danger; he is the one ‘in whom’ they must find their way to the goal. Let’s look at each in turn.

First, Jesus the Messiah, the king, the ‘Christ’, is the heart of God’s secret plan. Nobody, no matter how learned or devout they had been before, could have guessed that, when the one true God unveiled his blueprint for bringing the whole world under his sovereign and saving rule, that blueprint would consist of a man suffering the cruel punishment that the Romans used for rebel slaves and revolutionary leaders—and then rising from the dead three days later. But once these astonishing events had unfolded, Paul and others came to see that this map did indeed make sense.

And the treasure that was hidden, to which the map would lead them, was again Jesus Christ himself. We can’t stress often enough that Paul didn’t see the human plight like so many do today, that people need to have some kind of spiritual experience and that Jesus the Messiah could supply it if they wanted. It was that King Jesus himself was the center of the cosmos, the key to life and the universe, the image of the invisible God, the clue to genuinely human existence.

Christianity, says the old slogan, is Christ. Put him in the middle of your picture of the world, and the world will stop spinning in incomprehensible circles and begin to make sense. Find him, and you’ve got the treasure. It may take you a while to get it all out of the treasure chest and inspect it, but when you do you’ll find—so Paul is saying in verse 3—that all the wisdom and knowledge that ever there was finds its full meaning in him. He is, quite simply, what it’s all about.

This is of course fighting talk for many people in today’s world, who regard Jesus as a curiosity of history, to be safely left behind by people who want to ‘get on’ in our brave new culture. This was actually a threat in the first century as well, and Paul will have more to say about alternative views in the following sections. But already in verse 4 he indicates that people are quite likely to try to deceive the new Christians with arguments that sound plausible but are in fact designed to lead them astray. Just like the treasure-seekers being lured off course by people who are out to stop them finding their goal, Paul knows that young Christians—and not-so-young ones—are liable to face the scorn and the sneering of the wider world.

It may be even harder to deal with the apparently friendly persuasion of people who take pity on them. Fancy being taken in (they will say) by something as peculiar as that! Whoever heard of a crucified Jew being the Lord of the world? After all (they would continue), we’ve already got gods in this town who protect us and guide us. There are plenty of well-known religions about if you want new spiritual experiences. And the Roman emperor himself—well, he’s a god, isn’t he? So surely you can’t be serious?

And such talk would be backed up by the strongly implied hint and threat: people like us don’t do this sort of thing. And people who do, despite this warning, may be making trouble for themselves …

Paul is anxious, since he can’t be personally present with the little churches, that they should be able to line themselves up in battle array against any such attack. The ‘good order’ and ‘solidity’ he speaks of in verse 5 would probably sound like military formation and readiness to defend. They mustn’t be caught off their guard.

In particular, they must go forward in the direction they’ve already begun. Being a Christian is like riding a bicycle; unless you go forward, you’ll fall off. And going forward as a Christian means, once more, nothing more nor less than going forward ‘in Christ’, in the king. You need, Paul says, to be rooted in him, like a tree in good soil. You need to be built up in him, like a solid house going up brick by brick on firm foundations. That’s how you were taught, and that’s how you must do it. At every stage of Christian experience, what you most deeply need is not something other than the king himself. You always need more of him. He is what it’s all about.

And—the same note again, as so often in Colossians—you must have thanksgiving overflowing in your lives. Then you’ll know that you’re on the right track. In addition, your lives will be attractive and delightful to people outside. They will look in puzzlement at these people living a whole new sort of life. That, too, is part of the point of it all. Isn’t that how the gospel is likely to spread?

Verses 6 and 7 sum up the center of what Paul wants to say. Everything that’s come so far—in particular the wonderful poem of 1:15-20—prepares for this. Everything that’s going to come after this leads on from it. It might be a good idea, as you read and pray your way through this letter, to write out these two verses and pin them up somewhere where they can remind you not only of what Paul was talking about, but also of what he might want to say to you today.


Wright, T., 2004. Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Page .  Exported from Logos Bible Software, 4:31 PM June 3, 2020.



Here are six sermons by Dr. Josh Moody. Perhaps you will have time to listen to one this week: https://godcenteredlife.org/broadcasts/


Reminders


·       Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos


·       Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·       You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s study of Philippians at NCCU’s website: https://www.thenccu.org


·       Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·       Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays.


·       Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·       The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos


Verse Completion. . . spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:16 (NIV)


7/30/2020


Good morning, Peacemakers.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/ifCWN5pJGIE


Complete the Verse & Name the BookTherefore, judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose . . . (completion at the end)


Today I’d like to share an article by Trevin Wax that speaks to how Christians should respond to a world of unrest.


A Quiet Life in a World of Unrest


By Trevin Wax on Jun 09, 2020


One of the striking aspects of Paul’s letters to early churches is his choice of familial language to address his readers and the familial images he turns to in order to explain what the Christian life of love, generosity, and compassion is to look like. Within the church, we are to love each other like family.


But Paul is also concerned with how we look to the outside world. Note what he says:


But we encourage you, brothers and sisters, to do this even more, to seek to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business,and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, so that you may behave properly in the presence of outsiders and not be dependent on anyone. (1 Thess. 4:10b-12, CSB)


Paul is still talking about brotherly love, but now he’s showing us what this love looks like outside the church. In the midst of our tumultuous times, Paul gives us instructions on how we are to act towards those around us to seize the opportunity to shine God’s light to the world.


Loving Others to Glorify God


First, Paul says, “do this even more,” meaning — be generous with other believers and continue to share God’s love with others outside the church, not just within the church. Give, share, love, with all people. The love you have for your church family, have also for those around you in the world.


Paul states the purpose of these commands:To behave properly in the presence of outsiders and to not be dependent on anyone; in other words, to shine our light before others, not being a drain to others, that they will see our good deeds and give glory to God.


Your life adds credibility to your witness, especially in times where people feel afraid, or fall prey to cynicism, or can’t see hope beyond the horizon. On the flip side, your life can take away credibility from your witness if you act contrary to the example of Christ.


Paul wants to make sure that we’re not just standing out from the world in a few obvious ways, like how we worship together on Sundays (corporately or, in these days, through streaming). He also wants us to stand out in a way that shows the church to be a place of flourishing and peace and blessing. If we’re living in the manner that Paul lays out here, our presence should not be a drain on the city, but should make our city a better place to live.


A Quiet Life of Faithfulness


Then Paul says we should “seek to lead a quiet life.” What does that mean? Does it mean we never speak up against injustice? Does it mean we never raise our voices? Does it mean we never join protests? Does it mean we never resist or defy unjust orders? The thundering of the prophets throughout the Old Testament sounds anything but “quiet.” But even in all their boldness and truth-telling, the prophets aresettled. And when Paul speaks here of a quiet life, he is not advocating quietism—the view that Christians would never speak truth to power or exercise their civic responsibility. He’s referring to a rootedness, a quietness that does not seek the spotlight or succumb to fruitless anxiety, but works hard at resting in the sovereign goodness of God.


We live faithfully, quietly, restfully, even in the times we join with others in protest. In a time of worry and fear, we have a quiet confidence in the Lord where we know who we are and the family we belong to.


When Paul and Timothy were first trying to plant the church in Thessalonica, a riot broke out. Political unrest resulted when people assumed Paul and his friends were trying to undermine the Roman regime. Perhaps Paul’s admonition here to live a quiet life was part of a larger vision of a church that would transcend the political unrest of the moment—a people who would show by their faithful and humble lives that their ultimate aim is the glory of God and the welfare of others, believers who resist the urge to engage in performative activism that stokes our self-righteousness but leads to little or no lasting change in the communities where justice is most needed.


No Power Without Prayer


In 1 Timothy 2:2, Paul wrote:


I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.


There again, Paul says “a tranquil and quiet life,” and again he’s talking about governments and people in authority.


The greatest thing we have to offer our country in this time is the gospel of Jesus and a demeanor that adorns that gospel— an example of godliness and dignity that expresses love through cries of lament over racism and violence, prayers for our government and leaders, and the channeling of righteous anger into proposals and solutions that spread both personal and public righteousness, so that injustice is rectified and peace will reign.


How is this possible? How do we avoid the danger of a quietism that would lead us to silence when we are called to speak? How do we avoid the danger of an activism that would sweep us into the maelstrom of current events and political fervor? Both dangers mute our witness. Both dangers drown out a distinctive Christian voice—the first because we are silent when we should speak, and the second because we speak but sound just like everyone else.


Surely we need prayer in this moment. How else do we have the wisdom to live faithfully? Prayer for those around us. Prayer for discernment. Prayer for those in leadership. Prayer for those suffering from injustice. When suffering and chaos descend upon the world, Christians are called to enter the places of pain and lift up a broken world to the One we call “Our Father.” Prayer is not the end of our action, but the beginning—the only way we will be able to respond with truth and justice during times of crisis.


Here are six sermons by Dr. Josh Moody. Perhaps you will have time to listen to one this week: https://godcenteredlife.org/broadcasts/


Reminders


·       Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos


·       Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·       You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.


·       Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·       Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays.


·       Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·       The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos


Verse Completion. . . the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. 1 Corinthians 4:5 (NIV)


7/29/2020


Good morning, People of Faith


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/5fW3rGl93Mg


Complete the Verse & Name the Book: We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become . . . (completion at the end)


Today I’d like to share an article by Jared Wilson concerning the topic of faith.


There is No Faith So Little That It Is Not Saving

by Jared C. Wilson


And Zechariah said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." And the angel answered him, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time."—Luke 1:18-20

Gabriel has come to tell the aged Zechariah that his wife Elizabeth will give birth to a son (John the Baptist). You would think that when an angel scares you half to death, you'd believe what he says. But Zechariah doubts.

At this point of doubt, then, you might expect Gabriel to say, "Never mind, then. I'm taking my Baptist and going home." And he does take something away from Zechariah—his voice. But he still gives Zechariah and Elizabeth the baby anyway.

This is a picture of grace. The "good news" (v.19) "will be fulfilled" (v.20).

I notice the interesting contrast between verse 20 and the declaration of Luke 1:6, that this couple was righteous, blameless keepers of the law. That God would call this doubting old man, who won't believe when an angel is right before his face "blameless and righteous" is just further proof that there is no faith so little that it can't be saving, that it's not the strength of the faith that saves, but the strength of the Savior.

And it's also proof that blamelessness and righteousness aren't earned but given. If Zechariah and Elizabeth were given what they deserved and what their circumstances indicated, they'd just keep going through the motions, getting older than old and die. Instead, God blesses them according to his goodness, according to his glory, according to his strength, redeeming their circumstances, redeeming their time. Zechariah's faith might have been little, and at the moment it mattered most, it was practically nonexistent—"you did not believe my words," Gabriel says—but God's saving plan will prevail.

There is no faith so little that it can't be saving.

When we come to the end of this passage in v.25, Elizabeth is holding her pregnant belly and says, "Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people."

All hope seemed lost. For this couple and for Israel. But God would not be hindered by weak faith. Jesus says a faith the size of a mustard seed will move mountains. Despite all their weakness, God has taken away their reproach.

The shame, the accusation, the insults, the derision—taken away by God's grace.

Jesus later calls Zechariah's son "the greatest man born of woman" (Matt. 11:11). John went on to proclaim the Lord's favor and prepare the way for the Messiah's ministry by pointing people to Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. But he had his own moment of doubt at a low moment. (Like father, like son?)

John was in prison, awaiting his execution, and he sends word to ask of Jesus, "Are you really the one we've been waiting for?"

Do you remember that it's in this exact same scene where Jesus calls John the greatest man who ever lived? This guy who just exposed his doubtful question in his moment of fearful weakness—the greatest?

There is no faith so little that it can't be saving. Faith does not have to be strong to be saving, it just has to be realThe smallest faith, if it is real, receives the same strength of Christ in salvation as the strongest faith.

Your little strength is no hindrance for God. In fact, our weakness is God's primary means of demonstrating his power, power that will be revealed gloriously even when our strength gives out totally and we die. For when we die, we will know only his power, which in the end will raise us up.

John the Baptist must have learned this somewhere along the way, maybe from his old dad Zechariah, because he declares in John 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decrease."

No matter your weakness, God is God. And no matter your faith—big and strong or tiny and feeble—if it is true faith, saved is saved.



Here are six sermons by Dr. Josh Moody. Perhaps you will have time to listen to one this week: https://godcenteredlife.org/broadcasts/


Reminders

·       Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @ https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos

·       Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building

·       You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.

·       Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.

·       Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays.

·       Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area

·       The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos



Verse Completion: . . . the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world. 1 Corinthians 4:12-13 (NIV)


7/28/2020


Good morning, Team Member.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/pxZhEcTzn6Q


Complete the Verse & Name the BookWatch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing . . . (completion at the end)


Today I would like to share a reflection by Tom Wright concerning the Holy Spirit. The standard convention for theological writing and publishing now is to not capitalize words like Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so Tom Wright is following standard conventions.


JOHN 14:12–21


Another Helper


12 ‘I’m telling you the solemn truth,’ Jesus continued. ‘Anyone who trusts in me will also do the works that I’m doing. In fact, they will do greater works than these, because I’m going to the father! 13 And whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, so that the father may be glorified in the son. 14 If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.


15 ‘If you love me,’ he went on, ‘you will keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the father, and he will give you another helper, to be with you forever. 17 This other helper is the spirit of truth. The world can’t receive him, because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you know him, because he lives with you, and will be in you.


18 ‘I’m not going to leave you bereft. I am coming to you. 19 Not long from now, the world won’t see me any more; but you will see me. Because I live, you will live too. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my father, and you in me, and I in you.


21 ‘Anyone who has my commandments and keeps them—that’s the person who loves me. Anyone who loves me will be loved by my father, and I will love them and show myself to them.’


‘If only we’d been there when Jesus was around!’ people often say. ‘It would have been so much easier. He would have explained everything to us, and told us what to do. And he’d have been such an encouragement. Whatever we were doing, he’d be positive about it, and we’d want to go on and do even better.’


It’s a common perception, but it’s wrong on two counts.


First, the evidence of the four gospels suggests that the people who were around in Jesus’ day didn’t see it like that themselves. Some of his closest friends betrayed and denied him. Even the beloved disciple ran away in the garden. Most people couldn’t really make him out. He was compelling but puzzling. Many thought he was mad.


Second, in this passage and several others in the next two chapters, we find that Jesus has promised to be ‘around’ with his people from that day to this. In fact, he’s promised that it will be easier, not harder, in this new mode. His people will be able to do things they couldn’t do when he was physically present.


But how will he be ‘around’, now?


He has promised to send us his own spirit, his own breath, his own inner life. Here, and for the next two chapters, he uses a special word to describe the spirit. In verse 16 he says that the father will give us ‘another helper’. This ‘helper’ is the spirit.


But the word I’ve translated ‘helper’ is rich and many-sided. It doesn’t simply mean someone who comes to lend assistance in our various tasks. It certainly does mean that as well: the spirit, as we’ll be seeing, comes to give God’s people the strength and energy to do what they have to do, to live for God and witness to his love in the world. But it means two other things as well.


One word sometimes used is ‘comforter’. Comfort is a strange and wonderful thing. Have you noticed how, when someone is deeply distressed, after a bereavement or a tragedy, the fact of having other people with them, hugging them and being alongside them, gives them strength for the next moment, then the one after that, then the one after that? Outwardly nothing has changed. The tragedy is still a tragedy. The dead person won’t be coming back. But other human support changes our ability to cope with disaster. It gives us strength. When the spirit is spoken of as the ‘comforter’, this kind of extra strength to meet special need is in mind.


But there is something quite different as well. An equally good translation for the word is ‘advocate’. An advocate stands up in a court of law and explains to the judge or jury how things are from his or her client’s point of view. The advocate pleads the case. Jesus assumes that his followers will often find themselves, as he found himself, on the wrong side of official persecution. He saw the situation, as centuries of Jewish tradition had done before him, in terms of the heavenly lawcourt with God as the judge. In that court, his people can rest assured that their case will be heard, that God will constantly be reminded of their plight, because the spirit will plead on their behalf. (Paul says much the same in Romans 8:26-27.)


As a result of this promised spirit, the spirit of Jesus himself, Christians now, remarkable though it may seem, are in a better situation even than the followers of Jesus during his lifetime. They were sometimes able to do remarkable things even then; Jesus gave them the power, in the other gospel accounts, to perform healings like his own (e.g. Luke 9:1-610:17). But mostly they were following him in some perplexity, and when he wasn’t there they couldn’t do very much (e.g. Mark 8:1828-29).


But now, by the spirit, they will be able to do all kinds of things. When Jesus ‘goes to the father’—in other words, when he defeats the power of death through his own death and resurrection—then all sorts of new possibilities will be opened in front of them. The ‘works’ he has been doing, as he says again and again, are the evidence that the father is at work in him. Now he says that the disciples will do even greater works than these!


It’s in that setting, too, that he makes the first of several remarkable promises about prayer. ‘Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it.’ The all-important phrase ‘in my name’ doesn’t, of course, just mean adding ‘in the name of Jesus’ to anything we might think of, however stupid, selfish or hurtful. The ‘name’, after all, as in many cultures, is supposed to reveal the character. Yesterday I looked out of the window and saw some demonstrators protesting against something the government was doing. ‘Not in my name!’ their posters said. What they meant was: ‘You are claiming to represent this country, but I am dissociating myself from what you’re doing! You’re not doing it in my name!’


Praying ‘in Jesus’ name’, then, means that, as we get to know who Jesus is, so we find ourselves drawn into his life and love and sense of purpose. We will then begin to see what needs doing, what we should be aiming at within our sphere of possibilities, and what resources we need to do it. When we then ask, it will be ‘in Jesus’ name’, and to his glory; and, through that, to the glory of the father himself (verse 13). But, when all this is understood, we shouldn’t go soft on that marvelous word anything. He said it, and he means it.


The last three verses of this section present a wonderful circle of promises that are ours because of Jesus’ being with us by the spirit. We will ‘see’ him, plain to the eye of faith. We will live with his new life. We will know the deepest theological knowledge of all: that he and the father are ‘in’ each other, and that we are ‘in’ him and he ‘in’ us. And we will be joined to Jesus and the father by an unbreakable bond of love. This, in turn, leads back where the sequence began. He will show himself to us. All the main themes of the gospel so far are now revealed for what they are: truths about the inner life of the father and son, truths which turn to fire and love and invite us to warm ourselves within their inmost circle.



Wright, T., 2004. John for Everyone, Part 2: Chapters 11-21, London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Page .  Exported from Logos Bible Software, 4:39 PM May 26, 2020.


Here are six sermons by Dr. Josh Moody. Perhaps you will have time to listen to one this week: https://godcenteredlife.org/broadcasts/


Reminders


·       Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos


·       Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·       You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.


·       Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·       Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays.


·       Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·       The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos


Verse Completion. . . but the body is weak. Matthew 26:41 (NIV)


7/27/2020


Good morning, Disciplined Saints.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/zundjUFazfg


Complete the Verse and Name the Book: In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more . . . (completion at the end)


Today I’d like to share an article written by Bill Gaultiere who shares his thoughts on the work of Dallas Willard, “The Spirit of the Disciplines,” taken from the website https://www.soulshepherding.org


Spiritual Disciplines List

Insights and Applications From The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard

This Spiritual Disciplines List features some main disciplines for life in Christ with concise definitions for each. We call these “spiritual disciplines,” but the activities are physical, not spiritual. They are bodily activities that can engage and effect our whole person (Romans 12:1-2). So a more accurate term for the exercises in this list is “disciplines for a spiritual life in Christ.” 

To excel in anything in life discipline is required. This is true for athletes, musicians, plumbers, accountants, and disciples of Jesus. Effective discipline is not drudgery, it is delightful! Of course, training has difficult aspects, but the hard work pays off to facilitate ease and joy of living. Just watch a master pianist and you’ll see that he or she is not straining to do well, but enjoying the music. Hence Richard Foster insists that we’re meant to “celebrate” as we practice disciplines for growth in Christ.  

Dallas Willard insists that more important than our disciplines is the attitude (or spirit) we bring. In other words, why are we doing an exercise? What is our purpose? We need a vision that the risen Christ is before us, inviting us to apprentice ourselves to him and learn how to live our whole lives in the Kingdom of God.

Two Keys to Success: Indirection and Habit

Discipline works by indirection, Dallas Willard teaches. A discipline is something we can do that enables us to do what we haven’t yet been able to do by our own direct effort. Trying is not enough. (“Don’t try — train!” is a way to paraphrase 1 Timothy 4:7.) Our training is connecting us with a power much greater than our own — the Spirit of God that raised Jesus Christ from the dead!

So if you can’t break the power of an addiction to alcohol or pornography, one step to get free (in addition to obvious measures like 12 Step Recovery and psychotherapy) might be to fast from food. With practice you can experience the reality that fasting is feasting: even though you’re not eating you’re sustained in the joy and peace of God by meditating on Scripture and praying. If you can get past headaches and grumpiness when fasting and learn to be sweet and strong without getting the food you need, then you can apply this to resisting your compulsive behavior.

The other reason discipline works is because we’re developing new and healthy habits. You can’t be good at golf without developing a number of specific habits in your body — there are seemingly a hundred aspects to a good golf swing! We can’t even drive our cars safely without habits. Without thinking about it we notice conditions on the road and brake when needed.

The spiritual life works the same way. We need bodily habits that engage our mind and heart with God. We want to get into a position in our daily lives where we find ourselves meditating on Scripture, praying, or blessing the one who curses us without even having intended to do so. Using an intelligently designed course of disciplines over time will do that.

Grow in Grace with Jesus

Studying our Master’s rhythm of life in the Gospels is one of the most important things we can do. Jesus grew in grace (Luke 2:40, 52) and Peter urges us that we must do the same (2 Peter 3:18). Disciplines don’t set aside our need for grace nor do they earn us anything — they simply are means to help us be with Jesus to become like him. As the Son of God abided in the Father’s love so we abide in him and then he and the Father abide in us! (John 15:9-10)

To grow in the grace of our Lord and Savior we need to practice some tried and true disciplines from both major categories of disciplines: abstinence (self-denial) and engagement (connecting relationally with God and others). Using one side without the other will not lead to much growth. Abstinence makes space for deeper engagement with God and others and engagement gives strength to endure the challenges of abstinence.

The Spiritual Disciplines List

What activities belong on a Spiritual Disciplines list? There is no complete list! Any activity that helps you to grow your reliance upon the Spirit of Jesus might make your spiritual disciplines list. I’ve used coming to a full stop at stop signs and celebrating stop lights to practice waiting on God.

Here are some main disciplines of abstinence and engagement that have been helpful to Christ-followers over the centuries.

Disciplines of Abstinence (Self-Denial)

These are ways of denying ourselves something we want or need in order to make space to focus on and connect with God.

Solitude: Refraining from interacting with other people in order to be alone with God and be found by him. (Solitude is completed by silence.)

Silence: Not speaking in a quiet place in order to quiet our minds and whole self and attend to God’s presence. Also, not speaking so that we can listen to others and bless them.

Fasting: Going without food (or something else like media) for a period of intensive prayer — the fast may be complete or partial.

Sabbath: Doing no work to rest in God’s person and provision; praying and playing with God and others. 

Secrecy: Not making our good deeds or qualities known; to let God or others receive attention and to find our sufficiency in God alone (e.g., see Matthew 6).

Submission: Not asserting ourselves in order to come under the authority, wisdom, and power of Jesus Christ as our Lord, King, and Master. (If you think of this as submitting to a person as unto Christ then it’s a discipline of engagement.)

Disciplines of Engagement (Christ in Community)

These are ways of connecting with God and other people, conversing honestly with them in order to love and be loved.

Bible Reading: Trusting the Holy Spirit-inspired words of Scripture as our guide, wisdom, and strength for life. (Related disciplines include Bible study, Scripture meditation, and praying God’s Word.)

Worship: Praising God’s greatness, goodness, and beauty in words, music, ritual, or silence. (We can worship God privately or in community.)

Prayer: Conversing with God about what we’re experiencing and doing together. (As we see in the Lord’s Prayer the main thing we do in prayer is to make requests or intercessions to our Father for one another.)

Soul Friendship: Engaging fellow disciples of Jesus in prayerful conversation or other spiritual practices. (Related spiritual disciplines or practices include small groups, spiritual direction, and mentoring relationships.)

Personal Reflection: Paying attention to our inner self in order to grow in love for God, others, and self. (The Psalms in the Bible model this.)

Service: Humbly serving God by overflowing with his love and compassion to others, especially those in need. (Also tithing and giving.)


Here are six sermons by Dr. Josh Moody. Perhaps you will have time to listen to one this week: https://godcenteredlife.org/broadcasts/


Reminders


·       Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @ https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos


·       Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·       You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.


·       Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·       Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays.


·       Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·       The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/videos



Verse Completion: . . . blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35 (NIV)


7/25/2020


Good morning, Disciples of Christ.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/9B-Jd_qGVBA


Complete the Verse & Name the BookBut God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that . . . (completion at the end)


On July 12th, Pastor Michael gave the sermon “Faults and Forgiveness” based on Matthew 18:15-35. This passage of Scripture is about the spiritual well-being of people. It is about looking to the interests of others so their spiritual life before God is healthy. Jesus wants his disciples to know how to operate in relationships in the Kingdom of Heaven.


“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.

“I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.

“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”


Some manuscripts do not include against you in verse 15. So often we use this verse to say, “That person hurt me. They did something against me, and they need to say ‘sorry’ to me.” We make it about ourselves. It’s not about us; it’s about their sinning against God first and foremost. The reason a person goes and points out their sin to them is because the person wants the sinner to get right with God. 

What is a sin? Who defines sin? God defines sin. Sin is anything that is against the Law or against a relationship with God. Sin is missing the mark. Sin is not being holy. Sin is not being perfect.

We, as disciples of Christ, care about one another. We want others to walk with Jesus, but if they are sinning, they are going in the opposite direction of Jesus. One who is making a lifestyle of sinning is not following Jesus, and if they are no longer following Jesus, they are no longer a follower of Christ, and that’s a dangerous place to be. It’s our responsibility to help our brothers and sisters in the Lord to walk with God. Sin separates people from God and we don’t want to see anyone separated from God. 

When someone is sinning, it is very likely that their sin is affecting others. We never want to see a fellow brother or sister in Christ leading another person into sin. We go to the person privately and open God’s word and show them in love that what they are doing is wrong. We don’t write letters, emails, send a text, Skype, or talk about it with others. We go to the person because this is about relationship. We go because we care about the person and want life’s best for them. 

Sin is always corrected in relationship. What we want is the person to stop heading down the path they are on, turn around, and get back to following Jesus. This is about taking the Word of God, being filled with the Spirit of God, and bringing someone back to the Son of God.

Often, the person will not listen to you when you go to them privately. Deuteronomy 19:15 says: “You must not convict anyone of a crime on the testimony of only one witness. The facts of the case must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” 2 Corinthians 13:1 and 1 Timothy 5:19 also address having two or three witnesses. These witnesses aren’t witnesses to the actual sin; they are witnesses to the word of God. They aren’t witnesses to a person’s word; they are witnesses to God’s word. They are confirming what God’s word says. 

The witnesses are also there to witness repentance or a hardening of the heart. After the witnesses, if the person still refuses to confess, that person has hardened their heart toward God, and the matter is taken before the church. We have taken that to mean going before the governing board of a church and having them decide the fate of the person involved. However, there’s nothing about judgment or disciplining in this passage. It’s all about the spiritual well-being of people. It’s about helping others be followers of Christ. All the brothers and sisters in Christ can encourage the wayward person to return to following Christ. 

If the person still won’t listen when the church is involved, the person is to be treated as a pagan or corrupt tax collector. Some people think this means excommunicating the person from the church. However, how did Jesus treat pagans and tax collectors? He treated them as people who were outside the family but needed to come to the family. He treated them as those who needed salvation. We need to do the same. We need to pray that the person’s eyes would be opened and heart softened. 

We pray that Satan would be forbidden from deceiving the person and we pray to permit their eyes to be opened so they can see truth once again. Prayer is spiritual warfare. People come to salvation because we are spiritually warring for their souls. A person who has walked away from Jesus needs you and me to spiritually warfare for their souls. This is what we are called to do. 

Verses 19 and 20 are about two or three people getting together and doing spiritual warfare for God’s will. God’s will is always that people will come unto salvation. Refer back to the Parable of the Lost Sheep in verses 12-14, where the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep to find the one lost sheep. We are to do all we can to bring the lost sheep back into the fold. If they refuse to return, we can continue to pray for the person.


Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”


Rabbinical law said a person should forgive three or four times. The disciples knew Jesus stood for forgiveness, so Peter doubled the customary number of times to forgive a person. 


“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!


Jesus was saying that as many times as a person sins, that’s how many times you forgive. Forgiveness does not mean that you accept the person’s behavior. Forgiveness does not mean it’s forgotten about. Forgiveness means you get right with God in your heart. Forgiveness is for our own well-being. 


“Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.

“But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.

“But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.

“His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.

“When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.

“That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”


The story of someone sinning is not finished until there is forgiveness. Disciples of Christ are called to forgive. We don’t hold anger and bitterness in our heart toward another person. Matthew 6:12 says: and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. If we are going to receive forgiveness from God, we have to be willing to forgive others.  Verses 14 and 15 say: “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Forgiveness is expected of us; it’s commanded. It’s what disciples of Christ do. 

How do we deal with sin in the church? We don’t ignore it. We deal seriously with it. We deal personally with it in a relationship. We deal with it with forgiveness, mercy, grace, and prayer. We are always wanting salvation and everlasting life for the person who sins. We never deal with it in anger, judgment, or bitterness.



If you have a little time today, you might want to listen to one of Dr. Josh Moody’s recent sermons: https://godcenteredlife.org/broadcasts/


Reminders


·      Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live



Verse Completion. . . while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (NASB)


7/24/2020


Good morning, Scholars.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/9f2FXxDVO6w


Complete the Verse & Name the Book“And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who . . . (completion at the end)


Let’s read six passages from the book of Psalm and let the words sink deeply into our minds and hearts. The first is Psalm 34:1-4:


I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the LORD; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the LORD’S greatness; let us exalt his name together.

I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.


The second is Psalm 34:17-19:


The LORD hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

The righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD comes to the rescue each time.


The third is Psalm 37:35-40:


I have seen wicked and ruthless people flourishing like a tree in its native soil. But when I looked again, they were gone! Though I searched for them, I could not find them!

Look at those who are honest and good, for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace. But the rebellious will be destroyed; they have no future.

The LORD rescues the godly; he is their fortress in times of trouble. The LORD helps them, rescuing them from the wicked. He saves them, and they find shelter in him.


The fourth is Psalm 39:4-7:


“LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.”

We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.


The fifth is Psalm 40:1-3:


I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD.


The sixth and last is Psalm 42:5-6a:


Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!



Now let’s see how well you do at filling in the blanks for the above passages. Don’t look back to check your answers until you have filled in the blanks for one passage. After you have checked one passage, move to the next passage and repeat the process. Good luck.


I will praise the LORD __ ___ _____. I will __________ speak his praises. I will _____ only in the LORD; let all who are helpless take _____. Come, let us tell of the LORD’S _________; let us _____ his name together.

I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my _____.


The second is Psalm 34:17-19:


The LORD hears his people when they call to him ___ ____. He rescues them from all their ________. The LORD is close to the _____________; he rescues those whose spirits are _______.

The righteous person faces many ________, but the LORD comes to the ______ each time.


The third is Psalm 37:35-40:


I have seen wicked and ________ people flourishing like a ____ in its native soil. But when I looked again, they were ____! Though I ________ for them, I could not ____ ____!

Look at those who are ______ and good, for a wonderful future awaits those who love _____. But the rebellious will be destroyed; they have __ ______.

The LORD rescues the godly; he is their ________ in times of trouble. The LORD helps them, rescuing them from the wicked. He _____ them, and they find _______ in him.


The fourth is Psalm 39:4-7:


“LORD, remind me how _____ my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are ________—how ________ my life is. You have made my life no longer than the _____ of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a ______ to you; at best, each of us is but a ______.”

We are merely moving _______, and all our busy rushing ends in _______. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will _____ it. And so, Lord, where do I put my ____? My only ____ is in you.


The fifth is Psalm 40:1-3:


I waited _________ for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard __ ___. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the ___ and the ____. He set my feet on _____ ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a ___ song to sing, a hymn of ______ to our God. Many will see what he has done and be ______. They will put their _____ in the LORD.


The sixth and last is Psalm 42:5-6a:


Why am I ___________? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my ____ in God! I will praise him _____—my ­­­______ and my God!


For an added challenge, keep going through all six until you can get 100%.



If you have a little time today, you might want to listen to one of Dr. Josh Moody’s recent sermons: https://godcenteredlife.org/broadcasts/


Reminders


·      Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live



Verse Completion. . . heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.” Revelation 22:7 (NASB)


7/23/2020


Good morning, Blessed by God.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/kH7uUzWs1u4


Complete the Verse & Name the Bookwalk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and . . . (completion at the end)


David had a good way of describing how the devil operates when he wrote Psalm 36:1:


Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts. They have no fear of God at all.


This is where sin starts—the heart. Notice it starts with just a whisper—hardly even noticeable. But for a second it catches our attention. What we do next makes all the difference. If we turn away from the sin and look to God instead, the seed doesn’t have a chance to develop and blossom. It is snuffed out before it even gets started.

On the other hand, if that whisper intrigues us, and we want to know more, we are throwing fertilizer on the seed and encouraging the sin to start to take root. 

When kids are starting to get too loud in the classroom, one of the techniques used by teachers to quiet the kids down is to start whispering. The kids start to tune in because they naturally want to hear what a whispering person is saying. Inexperienced teachers will often raise their voice when the class starts to get loud, and the kids just get louder.

The devil knows he can get our attention when he whispers. We have to learn to recognize that whisper and turn the other way.



Psalm 37:5 says:


Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you.


As I look for a job, I commit it to God. As I call someone on the phone to talk, I commit the conversation to God. As I prepare a meal, I commit it to God. As I drive to the store, I commit the trip to God. As I gossip with a friend . . . wait a minute! I can’t commit that to God! I guess if I shouldn’t be doing something, I’m going to have trouble committing that to God. Maybe that’s why David said, “Commit everything you do the LORD.” It’s a way we can stay pure. As we put our trust in God, he helps us follow through with our commitment to him. 



Psalm 37:18-19, 25 says:


Day by day the LORD takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever. They will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough.

Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.


There are many examples in the Bible of how God provided for people in need. The story of Joseph and how God provided food for him and his family during the famine is found in Genesis 37-46. The story of how Elijah was fed by ravens is found in 1 Kings 17:1-7. The story of how the poor widow was fed by God through Elijah is found in 1 Kings 17:8-14. God provides for our needs. He is faithful. He’s done it in my life on numerous occasions—I didn’t know where the next meal would come from, but God faithfully provided.



Psalm 38:13-14 says:


But I am deaf to all their threats. I am silent before them as one who cannot speak. I choose to hear nothing, and I make no reply.


The context of this verse is David’s enemies are laying traps for him. They would like to harm him, ruin him, and even kill him. They make treacherous plans against David. Notice how David turns a deaf ear to them. He said that he chose to hear nothing. He had a choice to ignore their words or react in ways that would spur them on. He chose to hear nothing and make no reply. We have that same choice when people say negative things about us and threaten us. We can follow David’s lead and choose to hear nothing, and make no reply. Proverbs 15:1 says:


A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.


Let’s make Psalm 19:14 our prayer for today:


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



If you have a little time today, you might want to listen to one of Dr. Josh Moody’s recent sermons: https://godcenteredlife.org/broadcasts/


Reminders


·      Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live



Verse Completion. . . increasing in the knowledge of God;  Colossians 1:10b (NASB)


7/22/2020


Good morning, Unashamed Followers of Jesus.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/crRs75ZX_nA


Complete the Verses and Name the Book:


·      For there is one God and one mediator between God . . .


·      who gave himself as . . . (completions at the end)



What are you willing to die for? You may want polluting the air and water to stop, but are you willing to die for that cause? If the giving of your life would stop the pandemic, would you be willing to do it? If the giving of your life would cause poverty to cease; would you willing to die to make that happen?

Who are you willing to die for? Is there a political leader you believe in so much that you are willing to die for that person? Is there a professional sports player you would be willing to die for? Is there a family member you would be willing to die for? According to the 1993 best seller, Chicken Soup for the Soul, there was a five year old who was willing to do so for a family member:


Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at Stanford Hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liza who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her five-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes, I’ll do it if it will save Liza.”

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?”


Being young, the boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give her all his blood.


Note: Snopes has given this story a legend rating because there’s not enough information available to make it provable.


In order to die for a cause, one would have to believe very strongly in that cause! In order to be willing to die for someone, one would have to value that person’s life above their own. 

Jesus was willing to give up his life for a cause and a person. The cause was salvation. The person was you and me. Jesus loved us so much he took our place on the cross. We should have been the ones dying for our sins but the sinless one, the only one qualified to do so, took our place.

There are war stories of men who gave their lives for their comrades. One such hero is United States Navy SEAL Michael A. Monsoor who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor after he jumped on a grenade on a rooftop in Ramadi, Iraq. His action took his own life but saved the lives of other SEAL members and Iraqi soldiers.

Michael Monsoor did a heroic deed! His action saved the lives of those around him. He died so others could live. However, Michael didn’t die so others could live forever. Michael’s death postponed the deaths of his comrades so they could live for a longer time on this earth. They will all eventually die, too.

Jesus was the only one whose death allowed others to live forever in heaven. To be loved that much by a person is difficult to understand. He gave so much that it makes a recipient of that love want to give back to him. God’s sacrificial love for us should cause us to want to do the same for him. If someone gave us a new car for Christmas, something wouldn’t seem right if we gave a small box of chocolates in return. When gifts are given to us, it’s natural to want to give back to them even more than they gave us if possible. We can’t give Jesus more than he gave us, but we can give him all we have.

Paul gave Jesus all he had. Acts 21:1-14 says:


After saying farewell to the Ephesian elders, we sailed straight to the island of Cos. The next day we reached Rhodes and then went to Patara. There we boarded a ship sailing for Phoenicia. We sighted the island of Cyprus, passed it on our left, and landed at the harbor of Tyre, in Syria, where the ship was to unload its cargo.

We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week. These believers prophesied through the Holy Spirit that Paul should not go on to Jerusalem. When we returned to the ship at the end of the week, the entire congregation, including women and children, left the city and came down to the shore with us. There we knelt, prayed, and said our farewells. Then we went aboard, and they returned home.

The next stop after leaving Tyre was Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters and stayed for one day. The next day we went on to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven men who had been chosen to distribute food. He had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy.

Several days later a man named Agabus, who also had the gift of prophecy, arrived from Judea. He came over, took Paul’s belt, and bound his own feet and hands with it. Then he said, “The Holy Spirit declares, ‘So shall the owner of this belt be bound by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and turned over to the Gentiles.’“ When we heard this, we and the local believers all begged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.

But he said, “Why all this weeping? You are breaking my heart! I am ready not only to be jailed at Jerusalem but even to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus.” When it was clear that we couldn’t persuade him, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”

Jesus was worth dying for as far as Paul was concerned. Is Jesus worth dying for as far as you are concerned? Some followers of Christ in years past and some followers today have been given an option: deny Jesus and live or be a follower of Christ and die. We need to make that same decision today. If we are just playing church, getting as far away as Jesus as we can but still have “salvation,” we are going to fail the persecution test when it comes our way. If we are determined to stay as close to Jesus as we can possibly get even though it means sacrifices and persecution, we will be willing to die for Jesus because we love him that much. We would consider death a gain at that point.

Let’s join Paul in saying: “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better (Philippians 1:21).”



If you have a little time today, you might want to listen to one of Dr. Josh Moody’s recent sermons: https://godcenteredlife.org/broadcasts/


Reminders


·      Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live



Completions to Verses:


·      . . . and men, the man Christ Jesus,


·      . . . a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NIV)


7/21/2020


Good morning, Family of God.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/-H9SXqzs0oI


Complete the Verse & Name the BookFor it is God’s will that by doing good you should . . . (completion at the end)


Today we have an encouraging word from the Board of General Superintendents of the Church of the Nazarene. The six member board looks after the work of the church around the world.  


A MESSAGE FROM THE BOARD OF GENERAL SUPERINTENDENTS


Today, many people are anxious, worried, and concerned about the future. It seems as if the coronavirus has changed everything. We wonder when or if things will ever get back to normal. In Exodus 3:7, we are reminded that God reveals Himself to us in the time of our greatest need.


We see that the Hebrews had suffered in slavery for 400 years. They were under the strong hand of a king who did not know about Joseph. Their God seemed far away in another country. God speaks to Moses:


“The LORD said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.’” 


God says, I have seen; I have heard; I am concerned. 


Then in verse 8, God says:


“So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey ...”


Dear friends, whatever situation you are facing today, remember that in your time of greatest need, God sees you. God hears your prayers. God is concerned about you. God reveals Himself, and He moves into action on your behalf!


Can you image the joy and excitement that flooded Moses’ mind when he heard these words, “The Living God was going to personally take a hand and deliver the Hebrew people!” Then the Lord made a statement in verse 10 that must have confused Moses. 


“So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”


Wait a minute Lord, I thought you said YOU were going to come down and YOU were going to deliver them? God promises His companionship. 


God had a job for Moses, but in verse 11 Moses cried out, “Who am I?” In verse 12, God replies, “I will be with you.” 


Not only is God with us, but God also reveals His absolute sufficiency. To Moses’ question in verse 13, God gives a remarkable answer in verse 14:


"God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I AM has sent me to you."'"


What did God mean when He revealed Himself as “I am?” He is saying, “Whatever you need, that’s what I am! Whatever you need, that is what I will become for you!” And my friends, God is still the great I AM! He will be whatever you need Him to be.


You need peace?


“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).


“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).


You need courage today?


“So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:6).


You need guidance? 


“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).


You need rest? 


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28-30).


Friends, God is sufficient to meet any need in your life, your family, your ministry, your church, your city, your nation! He is still the great I AM! When you are tempted to get discouraged, just remember — God sees you where you are, He hears your prayers, He is concerned about you, and He moves into action on our behalf — for He is still the great I AM!


--Board of General Superintendents



Dr. Moody has numerous sermons that are available to listen to: https://godcenteredlife.org/broadcasts/


Reminders


·      Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live



Verse Completion:. . . silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.1 Peter 2:15 (NIV)


7/20/2020


Good morning to everyone in relationship with God.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/7RIWWFxXkDs


Complete the Verse & Name the BookInstruct [the rich] to do good, to be rich . . .(completion at the end)


Yesterday, Pastor Michael spoke on “Marriage and Divorce” based on Matthew 19:1-12. This is another difficult passage because Jesus is speaking things that are counter cultural. The kingdom of heaven is different from any other kingdom. 


When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went down to the region of Judea east of the Jordan River. Large crowds followed him there, and he healed their sick.

Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question. “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?”

“Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’” And he said, “ ’This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”

“Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?” they asked.

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended. And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.”

Jesus’ disciples then said to him, “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!”

“Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said. “Only those whom God helps. Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”


They are traveling to Jerusalem. It is less than a month until Jesus will die on the cross for the sins of the world. Large crowds are following Jesus, and he is healing the sick. The Pharisees are part of the crowd. They are not there to be healed; they are there to test Jesus. They want to trip him up and cause him to stumble. They want to trap Jesus and kill him. 

The topic of divorce was contentious. The Pharisees want to drag Jesus into the legalities of divorce. There were two major schools of thought concerning divorce at this time. One said sexual immorality was the only grounds for divorce. The other said there were many reasons a man might divorce his wife: burning the toast, wearing her hair down in public, talking to other men in the marketplace for too long of a time, speaking disrespectfully about the husband’s parents, arguing so loudly that she could be heard outside the home.

In the Jewish society at this time, only the man could divorce his wife; a woman could not divorce her husband (except for unusual circumstances such as the husband getting leprosy). The Pharisees want Jesus to be the judge and make the call as to when divorce can happen. What they don’t realize is Jesus did not come for the Law; he came for relationship. Jesus fulfilled the law through relationship with God the Father because he obeyed him by dying on the cross. When asked what was the greatest law, Jesus answered with relationship: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. Love your neighbor as yourself.”It’s relationships that fulfill the law. 

The Pharisees want Jesus to tell them how far away from God they can get and still be okay. Jesus directs the discussion away from divorce and to marriage. Jesus tells them God’s intent for marriage was one man and one woman for a lifetime of relationship. Marriage is the closest of all relationships, because the two become one. If one believed in evolution, then sexual intercourse would be an evolutionary process, and that would be all there is. However, it is not an evolutionary process. Marriage is designed by God to make two people one. Sex is a God ordained process to bring two people into the closest relationship there is. Jesus said, ”. . .let no one split apart what God has joined together.” The word joined means glued together. It’s like plywood—the layers of wood are glued together, and they are not coming apart without destroying the wood. This is why divorce is so difficult. It’s like trying to separate the layers in plywood. Divorce rips lives apart. 

Jesus talked about what makes marriage right when the Pharisees wanted to talk about what makes divorce right. The Pharisees probably had Deuteronomy 24:1-4 in mind, when they talked about what Moses allowed.


“Suppose a man marries a woman but she does not please him. Having discovered something wrong with her, he writes a document of divorce, hands it to her, and sends her away from his house. When she leaves his house, she is free to marry another man. But if the second husband also turns against her, writes a document of divorce, hands it to her, and sends her away, or if he dies, the first husband may not marry her again, for she has been defiled. That would be detestable to the LORD. You must not bring guilt upon the land the LORD your God is giving you as a special possession.”


What is happening here is the Israelites had become hardhearted toward God. They had closed their heart to a relationship with God, and now it’s all about them. 

The Pharisees tell Jesus that Moses commanded men to give their wives a certificate of divorce. Jesus corrects them and tells them Moses gave it as a concession because they weren’t taking marriage seriously. They were basically wife swapping and saying it was legal. Sexual immorality was rampant because they were hardhearted toward God’s original intent of one man and one woman for a lifetime. Moses was trying to bring back some order to the chaos by telling them that if they divorce someone, they may not return to that person at a later time. The Pharisees want Jesus to make the call as to how much chaos is allowed. They want to know how far they can venture out and still be okay. They aren’t interested in God’s best for their lives. 

Jesus told them, ”. . . whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.” He was saying that divorce is a sin. However, the focus needs to be on marriage, not divorce.

The disciples are blown away when they realize that it takes a relationship with God to make a relationship with another person last a lifetime. That’s a huge commitment. That’s a lot of work.

Marriage is the design of God that can only be entered into by the guidance of God and can only be successful by the power of God. Jesus wants everyone to understand the importance of marriage and to think seriously before getting married. 

Divorce is a sin, but it’s not an unforgiveable sin. The church in the past has beat people up because of divorce. Churches that did this made divorce about legalities rather than relationships. We can never be right before God on legal grounds. The Law does not bring us salvation. The Law does not bring us forgiveness. A relationship with Jesus is what brings us forgiveness and salvation. We are saved through faith by grace. 

Take marriage seriously. God’s intent is one man and one woman for a lifetime. Remember it takes a relationship with God to make a relationship with another person last a lifetime. 



Dr. Moody writes about wisdom and foolishness: https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/2-chronicles-10-12-split/


Reminders


·      Sunday service only online at 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live 


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live



Verse Completion. . . in good works, to be generous and ready to share. 1 Timothy 6:18 (NASB)


7/18/2020


Good morning, Salt & Light.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/DzoxsxsIMCE


Complete the Verse and Name the BookLet no one say when he is tempted, . . .(completion at the end)


Today, we are going to hear from Larry McKain who is the superintendent for Nazarene churches in the Chicago Central District.


OUR VISION OF LIVING CHRISTLIKE IN TODAY’S SOCIETY


You are the salt of the earth…you are the light of the world…a city set on a hill cannot be hid…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).


We believe that over time, it is changed people who will change today’s society. Not everyone believes this today. But everyone does agree we are living in one of the most politically divisive times we can remember in America. Jesus was most likely thinking about this exact kind of environment when “He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough” (Matthew 13:33).


As Christians, we are called to “leaven the whole lump,” living Christlike in a society that no longer embraces Christian values. How we live as individual Christians is really, really important!  As we live out our values as followers of Jesus in our homes, neighborhoods, where we work, etc. we share a vision of a world that is different from our secular neighbors. We share a vision of love for God’s church because Jesus loves the church (Ephesians 5:25). But the Kingdom of God is much bigger than the church.  


God’s desire is that His kingdom values will move outside the four walls of our church buildings and begin to influence and bless all of society! When we think, live and act Christlike throughout today’s society, we become “the salt of the earth…the light of the world… and the city set on a hill that cannot be hid” (Matthew 5:13-14). Jesus teaches that we are to “let our light shine before others, that they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).


Through the Jesus who lives within us (Galatians 2:20), we share a vision of a world that is beyond the natural thinking of a secular person (1 Corinthians 2:14). Christians believe and understand that “in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This Christian perspective should affect the way we see the world and the way we talk about today’s society[it should be WAY BEYOND whether we vote Democrat or Republican!] Secular politics is based on the belief that society must be changed in order to change people. Our vision as Christians is the other way around – we believe that people must be changed in order for society to change.


It is this collective vision of living Christlike in society that gives us tremendous hope!  We “take hold of the hope set before us” and we are “greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:18-19). As we enter secular society as Christians, we acknowledge the authority of Jesus and His Kingdom (Matthew 28:18). The transforming power of the gospel brings a moral standard into our thinking and worldview. We see the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16), and its ability to break the cruel cycle of violence, injustice, self-centeredness and the brokenness that we see all across our country. 


Be visionary, be hope-filled and be encouraged!  This week, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).



Dr. Josh Moody speaks on “The Road Less Traveled.” Here is Part 1: https://godcenteredlife.org/broadcast/the-road-less-travelled-part-1/


Reminders


·      Sunday services: 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live ; 10:30 am in the Worship Center at NCCU


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live



Verse Completion:. . . “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.James 1:13 (NASB)


7/17/2020


Good morning, Meditators on God’s Word.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/zTZtKoAwf0U


Complete the Verse and Name the Book:


·      Do not judge, and . . .


·      Do not condemn, and . . .


·      Forgive, and . . . (completions at the end)



Have you ever noticed how Americans are always in a hurry? We are in a hurry to get to work. We are in a hurry to get to the store. We are in a hurry to get home. We are in a hurry to eat. No matter what we do, we’re in a hurry. That can easily translate to our time spent with God; we can be in a hurry to get our devotions done. We can be in a hurry to get our prayers said. 

I got an early start to being in a hurry. When I was in boarding school in the Philippines, I was always in a hurry in the morning so I could be the first to get to the living room. In our room full of elementary school aged boys, it was always between Tommy Watts and I as to who would be the first one done with chores. Once our dorm parent told us to get up, we had to take down our mosquito net, put it away, get dressed, and make our bed. When we were done, we were allowed to go to the living room and wait for the call to breakfast. I don’t know why Tommy Watts and I were always in such a hurry. All we would do is hurry up and wait. I guess it was good training for the military years that would come later. 

One morning Tommy Watts caught me by surprise. He had awakened early, and he quietly got up, got fully dressed, and climbed back into bed. When the call to get up came, Tommy popped out of bed fully dressed. Naturally, I felt that wasn’t fair, but Tommy had outsmarted me. He took the idea of hurrying to a whole new level. 

God doesn’t want us hurrying as we spend time with him. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who was in a hurry? It’s not very enjoyable is it? I have a feeling it’s not very enjoyable to God when we are in a hurry to get his word read and say a quick prayer. God wants us to meditate on his word, and converse with him. That takes time. Psalm 1:1-2 says:


Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night.


Meditate means to think deeply or carefully about something. Being in a hurry and meditating don’t mix. Notice how it says to meditate day and night. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “never stop praying.” In other words, prayer is not something we compartmentalize. Prayer is something we do throughout the day. Thinking about what we have read from the Bible is something we do throughout the day, too. Joshua 1:8 says:


Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.


Today, let’s meditate on four verses of Scripture. Let’s read these four verses SLOWLY as we let the Holy Spirit reveal to us what he wants us to know. I suggest we read this portion of Scripture at least three times thinking deeply about the content. All day long let’s think about what we read and what the Holy Spirit said to us. Here is Psalm 19:1-4a:


The heavens proclaim the glory of God.

The skies display his craftsmanship.

Day after day they continue to speak;

night after night they make him known.

They speak without a sound or word;

their voice is never heard.

Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,

and their words to all the world.


Reminders


·      Sunday services: 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live ; 10:30 am in the Worship Center at NCCU


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live



Verse Completions:


·      . . . you will not be judged.


·      . . . you will not be condemned.


·      . . . you will be forgiven. Luke 6:37 (NIV)


Faith in the Creator


7/16/2020


Good morning, Fellow Christian.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/ElVC6rfX3Z8


Complete the Verses & Name the Book:


·      When you give alms, do not let . . .


·      that your alms may be in secret; and your . . . (completions at the end)



Do you have difficulty sleeping at night? If I have coffee too late in the day, I sometimes struggle getting to sleep. Other than that, sleep comes easily for me. On the other hand, my wife has had issues with sleep for many years. She seems to go in cycles: periods of great sleep followed by periods of terrible sleep. Sometimes she only gets a few hours, and those few hours are interrupted sleep. After several nights of that, a person is about at wits’ end. It’s difficult to function.

The coronavirus has not helped with sleep. For someone who has concerns about breathing on a normal night, thoughts about COVID-19 are unsettling. It’s easy to become fearful. Yesterday, my wife said to me, “Would you be on the lookout for a Bible verse that I can meditate on when I go to bed?” I assured her I would.

Today, as I was following my regularly scheduled Bible reading, I read Psalm 16:


Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge. I said to the LORD, “You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you.” The godly people in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them! Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods. I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood or even speak the names of their gods.

LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance! 

I will bless the LORD who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.


The LORD is always with us. He doesn’t abandon us at night. He is right beside us. When we are restless, he is right beside us. When we are fearful, he is right beside us. When we fear for our lives, he is right beside us. And, yes, when we are facing death itself (and we all will at some point), he is right beside us. The one who conquered death, is right beside us. We can understand why David said, “No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.” 

Peter quoted these words of David as he addressed the crowd in Jerusalem:


“People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip. King David said this about him:

‘I see that the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave. You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’

“Dear brothers, think about this! You can be sure that the patriarch David wasn’t referring to himself, for he died and was buried, and his tomb is still here among us. But he was a prophet, and he knew God had promised with an oath that one of David’s own descendants would sit on his throne. David was looking into the future and speaking of the Messiah’s resurrection. He was saying that God would not leave him among the dead or allow his body to rot in the grave. 

“God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this. Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today. For David himself never ascended into heaven, yet he said, ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.”’

“So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” (Acts 2:22-36)


Prior to moving to Beaverton, Oregon, from Forks, Washington, I checked out the housing situation in Beaverton. There were many places available to live. A month later, I packed up a U-Haul truck and moved. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a place to live. At first I wasn’t very concerned, but after a full day of looking and finding nothing, I did become concerned. However, my dad called me from Nampa, Idaho, and said he would be there the following day to help me unload the truck. Just knowing my father was going to be by my side the very next day gave me an unexplained sense of rest and peace. I said to myself, “Everything is going to be okay; Dad is coming tomorrow.” I had no idea what he could do to help me find a place because Beaverton was not familiar to him either, but that didn’t matter . . . Dad was going to be there the next day. With Dad by my side, I knew I was going to be fine and everything would work out. It did, too. 

We went to church on Sunday, and we mentioned to the pastor that we were looking for a place to live. The way the pastor prepared for his sermon was he would drive out in the country and go over the sermon as he was driving. He said he had seen a house with a “For Rent” sign out on the lawn. He said he thought he could remember approximately where it was located. So after we had lunch together, we followed him into the country. Sure enough, the place was available, and we ended up renting it. It was close to where I would be working, and our neighbors became lifelong friends.

My earthly father gave me such comfort in my time of need. Unfortunately, my earthly father cannot always be by my side. Fortunately, our heavenly Father can! That’s why David could say, “I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.”

Do you feel shaken about something? It could be the pandemic or it could be something else. Be comforted in knowing your heavenly Father is right beside you. Things might seem out of control, but they aren’t. God is sovereign. He’s got this. We can be glad and rejoice that he is in control. Every good thing we have is from God. Even death is a good thing for believers. David said, “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” Death in this life leads to everlasting life with Jesus. Let’s say with Paul, “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better (Philippians 1:21).” We really have nothing to fear.


Reminders


·      Sunday services: 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live ; 10:30 am in the Worship Center at NCCU


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live



Completions to Verses:


·      . . . your left hand know what your right hand is doing


·      . . . Father who sees in secret will repay you. Matthew 6:3-4 (NASB)


Spiritual Immaturity


7/15/2020


Good morning, Embraced by God.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/l2xhf_Gogjs


Complete the Verses & Name the Book


·      In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, . . . 


·      And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; . . . (completions at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody gave the sermon “How God Embraces the Excluded,” based on Acts 8:26-40, at his home church in Wheaton, Illinois. 

This passage of Scripture is remarkably relevant to what is happening around us. The church in Jerusalem was persecuted, and as God’s people were scattered the gospel was proclaimed wherever they went. A revival broke out in Samaria, but in the midst of the revival there was false teaching and true teaching. 

The theme of this passage is how God embraces the excluded. At first glance, it doesn’t appear that this Ethiopian eunuch is particularly excluded. We see that he is a court official of the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. He is the treasurer of Ethiopia. He was likely a wealthy man who had traveled to Jerusalem with his entourage to worship. He was a person with massive power. He does not seem like a person who would be marginalized, rejected, or excluded. 

We are told this powerful man was an Ethiopian. In ancient times, an Ethiopian did not mean a person specifically from the country of Ethiopia; it referred to anyone from the entire region of Sub-Saharan Africa. Ethiopian means “burnt face.” Ethiopia was considered a despised nation and, by nature, stigmatized. Ethiopians were rejected, stigmatized, and excluded simply by the color of their skin. 

This man was also a eunuch. In ancient times, royal officials would often use eunuchs as high and powerful attendants at the court. The reason for this was eunuchs were considered to be safe and trustworthy people. Eunuchs could be trusted with your wife and family. Officials were sometimes called eunuchs even though they were not physically eunuchs. It was a title given for a trusted position. 

In this instance, the man was physically a eunuch. As he read, “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter. And as a lamb is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. He was humiliated and received no justice. Who can speak of his descendants?” it resonated with him, because he physically was not able to have any children. 

Not only was this man racially, sexually, and physically excluded, he was religiously excluded, too. He had traveled to Jerusalem to worship, but he didn’t get to the Temple. He was not allowed to get to the Temple. Why? The answer is found in Deuteronomy 23:1: “If a man’s testicles are crushed or his penis is cut off, he may not be admitted to the assembly of the LORD.”

Perhaps you feel excluded. Maybe it’s because of your race. Maybe it’s because you have a disability. Maybe you feel excluded because you don’t fit in with the sexually normative patterns around you. It’s been said, “We live in a world where hatred is being stoked and indifference being practiced.”

In this story we see three ways in which God embraces the excluded:


1.   God does it. Notice verse 26 says: As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.” Verse 29 says: The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.” Verse 39 says: “When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away.” This is clearly the work of God. You might ask, “What does that mean?” It means we are driven to our knees in prayer. In the Western church, we always want a man with a plan. We want a strategy. We want bullet points and timelines for how to get everything done. But here we see God does it. We need to call on God. Only he can heal the nations. God must do it. 


2.   It is critically important that we understand Scripture accurately. Philip asked the eunuch if he understood what he was reading, and the eunuch replied, “How can I unless someone instructs me?” Philip then explained the meaning of the Scripture. It is so important today that we understand the Bible and explain it to others accurately. Explaining the Bible is not an intellectual exercise in vain obscurantism; it is a matter of exclusion or embrace—death or life. That’s why it’s so important to understand Scripture so it can be taught and proclaimed accurately. Part of what makes the issue of exclusion and embrace so tricky is down through human history the Bible has been twisted and the medicine of the book turned into poison. President Thomas Jefferson took the Bible and physically cut out the parts he didn’t like. We must rightly understand the Bible. Philip was accurately able to explain Scripture to the eunuch. “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)


3.   Baptism. Why is baptism important? Notice how the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?” What was the sign of inclusion in God’s people in the Old Testament? It was circumcision. The eunuch couldn’t be circumcised, but he could be baptized. Any man, any woman, any eunuch can be baptized. Any person by repentance and faith can be embraced by God. 


The excluded eunuch was in a desert place in the wasteland and he was shown water. The water of Life flowed into that desert. May that be true for each of us.


Reminders


·      Sunday services: 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live ; 10:30 am in the Worship Center at NCCU


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live



Completions to Verses:


·      . . . I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.


·      . . . that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:2-3 (NASB)


7/14/2020


Good morning, Worshipers of a Powerful God.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/sTKJUxl8TL4


Complete the Verses & Name the Book


·      But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accomplished . . .


·      For we have brought nothing into the world, . . .


·      And if we have food and covering, . . .


·      But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which . . .


·      For the love of money . . . (completions at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody gave the sermon “A Persecuted People and a Powerful God” based on Acts 9:1-19 at his home church on the campus of Wheaton College in Illinois.

When we turn on our TVs, we hear bad news on top of bad news, but Luke tells a narrative of good news in the book of Acts. It’s good news because it’s the gospel message that tells about the kingdom of God. This message moves from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. 

There is a particular part of this good news that embraces the excluded. For example, the Ethiopian eunuch was excluded from the temple because of his disability. He was marginalized and ostracized and treated with disdain because of the color of his skin, but God embraces the excluded through the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Ethiopian is baptized and included in the multi-ethnic family of God.

As the gospel is going out to the ends of the earth, there is a problem—a persecutor whose name is Saul. However, in the midst of the persecution, we see a powerful God. Persecution begins in the heart with a hatred for God’s people, and then it is verbalized with name calling, threats, accusations, and discrimination against those who believe in Jesus for salvation. What follows this are actual physical attacks against God’s people and even murder.

Behind the word persecution is the sense of pursuit. Saul is hunting Christians down; he’s a hunter pursuing his prey. He is given permission to persecute through letters written by the high priest. Notice the progression of persecution: hatred in the heart, verbal threats, physical attacks, and legal permission. When a person has legal permission to persecute God’s people, then surely it is okay to do so. At least that’s what Saul thought.

God’s people are being persecuted all around the world today. The twentieth century saw more martyrs for Jesus than any other century in the history of the church, and it has not slowed down since. Dr. Moody has a Christian friend from a country in the Middle East who joined the army of that country. His fellow soldiers caught him with a Bible and they beat him up. He feared for his life and had to flee to another country where he had no citizenship. This is just one example from many. Persecution of Christians is happening right now. 

Here in America we are not in danger of losing our lives for believing in Jesus. However, there are signs of ongoing threats. Many preachers have warned that if the ideology that is at work in some parts of the Western world doesn’t change, persecution is coming. 

There was an ideology that drove Saul and that was the belief that Jesus was a false prophet. Saul believed that following Jesus was a heresy and those following the heresy should be stopped. There’s an ideology today that says that believing there is only one way to God is dangerous; it’s discriminatory. There are many verbal attacks against Bible believing Christians today. Sometimes there are even legal maneuvers to threaten Christians against believing certain things that the Bible teaches. 

There’s an ideology at work today that views anything that claims exclusivity (such as Jesus is the only way to God and there is a right way to live and a wrong way to live) should be stopped. If this ideology is not exposed for the series of lies that it is, it’s not difficult to imagine the day (perhaps in a decade or so) that someone who preaches from the Bible and says that Jesus is the only way to God, that certain moral behavior is wrong, that there is a Judge who will rule the earth, that there is a heaven and there is a hell . . . could be put in prison. We pray that there would be a revival and awakening so this doesn’t happen.

We have persecuted people, but we also have a powerful God! It’s amazing to see what God does with Saul. God’s power is shown in four ways:


1.   Through the conversion of Saul. Saul is utterly changed by the sovereign power of God. Paul doesn’t say to God, “Who are you to talk to me? I have a letter here from the high priest!” He doesn’t try to justify his actions; he knows he’s wrong. He says, “Who are you, lord?” He is confessing his sin. Saul’s conversion is a template for every real conversion:


a.   You are not pursuing Jesus.


b.   Jesus pursues you.


c.    Jesus shows loves to you.


d.   You understand that Jesus has the power to change your heart by his Spirit.


George Whitefield said of conversion, “It made its way like lightning into the minds of the hearers.” This is new birth. This is not religious moralism. This is not “Five New Ways to be a New Person.” This is a total change of life. God’s power is shown through conversion.


2.   Through Ananias. God’s power is shown through the ministry of every single Christian believer. Ananias wasn’t well known. He wasn’t a pastor. He wasn’t an apostle. He wasn’t an elder or deacon. We can all be an Ananias. When God calls us to do something, we can say, “Here I am, Lord.” We can pray for and encourage new believers. A pastor’s job is to equip God’s people to do ministry. Be salt and light where you are. 


3.   Through the bold, sacrificial preaching of the gospel. If you sign up to be a preacher, you are signing up for unusual suffering. We are all called to suffer for Jesus. We are going one way and the world is going another. There will be points of tension. Paul told Timothy, “Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:3) Those who are preachers of the gospel suffer more than others. It’s part of God’s purpose so that in the suffering of his servants, the light and truth and joy of the cross and resurrection power of Jesus might be displayed. This is how God’s power is shown—through the suffering of his servants. 


4.   In whom is persecuted. Verse four has the words of Jesus, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” and in verse five, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!” Notice how Jesus didn’t ask Saul, “Why are you persecuting my believers?” God’s people are the body of Christ of whom Jesus is the head. When you attack the church, you are attacking Jesus. Be very careful. God’s people are God’s people. The body of Christ is Christ’s body. 


There’s another aspect to this. Jesus is not only persecuted by Saul; he is persecuted for Saul. Jesus himself bore our sins in his body on the tree that we might die to sin and live for righteousness. It is by his wounds you are healed. The persecutor who persecutes Jesus is saved through the persecution that is for him, that is in his place, that is a substitute for what he really deserves. Jesus suffered in the place of the persecutor saying, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” 

In all of literature, the story that best encapsulates this is found in the story of Les Misérables. There’s a pivotal turning point in the story when Jean Valjean, the thief, goes to stay with the bishop and Jean Valjean is given hospitality. Jean Valjean has been rejected by everyone else, but he is allowed to stay at the bishop’s house. In the middle of the night, he steals silver from the bishop of the church and escapes. He is caught by the police and is returned to the bishop with the silver in his sack. The police say, “This man claims you gave him this silver.” 

The bishop says, “I did give it to him.” Then the bishop addresses Jean Valjean directly, “I am very angry with you Jean Valjean. Why didn’t you take the candlesticks, too?!” The police are astonished, and they leave. As the bishop puts the valuable candlesticks in the bag, he says, “My brother, with this silver I bought your soul. You are released from evil and wrong. I give you back to God.”

Jesus died for you. He paid the price you deserved that your soul might be given back to God. 


Reminders


·      Sunday services: 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live ; 10:30 am in the Worship Center at NCCU


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live



Completions to Verses:


·      . . . by contentment.


·      . . . so we cannot take anything out of it either.


·      . . . with these we shall be content.


·      . . . plunge men into ruin and destruction.


·      . . . is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang. 1 Timothy 6:6-10 (NASB)


7/13/2020


Good morning, Humble Servants of God.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/CMUplV73baA


Complete the Verse & Name the BookAny of you who does not give up everything he has cannot . . . (completion at the end)


Dr. Josh Moody gave the sermon “What Do You Do When Things Go Wrong?” based on Acts 12. The sermon was given at his home church in Wheaton, Illinois, on the campus of Wheaton College.

The gospel message is relevant today because it is a message of grace and truth and has good news. God uses the message of the gospel to defeat human invented religion: legalism, judgmentalism, self-righteousness. By doing so, God broke down the barriers between different racial groups. 

What do you do when things go wrong? Let’s take a look at this chapter and see what they did when things went wrong for them and see what God did. 

King Herod Agrippa was persecuting believers and even had James killed with a sword. When he saw that this pleased the Jews who were following Judaism, he had Peter arrested and put in prison. This made King Herod’s poll numbers go through the roof. 

Just because we follow God, are faithful in our giving to the church, serve in the church, and so on, it doesn’t mean we are immune from things going wrong. James was killed, and Peter was set free. Why? This is part of the mystery of the providence of God. Sometimes very faithful Christians who love Jesus face times of great difficulty. Sometimes very faithful churches who are doing everything right face times of great difficulty. The revealed things belong to us, but the secret things belong to God. God moves in mysterious ways. 

We, the church in America, are not ready for when things go wrong. For the last 20 to 30 years, the church has been preaching a sales message—a marketing message—a positivity message. We act like we are salesmen of a religious product competing with other religious stores for customers. We always want to accent the positive, but what happens when things go wrong?

The Bible teaches that suffering and difficulty is a result of the fall but not always directly connected to my personal sin. Sometimes I suffer because I’ve done something wrong myself, but at other times I suffer when I have done what is right. The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. We live in a broken world where sometimes things go wrong. 

What was done in Acts 12 when things went wrong? The answer is in verse five: “But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.”Perhaps earnest prayer is the missing ingredient on the part of the church today. In the last decade or so there has been a revived interest in preaching from the Bible, a revived interest in theology, and a revived interest in church health. We need a revived interest in prayer. Ministers are called to a ministry of the word and prayer. 

Why do we find prayer so difficult? Is it because we have bought into the materialism of the world around us? Do we wonder how something so unmaterialistic as sitting in a room and talking to someone you cannot physically see can really make any difference? Have we bought into the doctrine of materialism that says if we can’t see it, it doesn’t exist? Is it because we don’t truly believe the promises in the Bible? Is it because we have an imbalanced theology of God’s sovereignty? We wonder if our prayers make any difference because if God is omnipotent, then how can my prayers change anything? 

Philemon 1:22b records the following words of Paul to Philemon: “. . . I am hoping that God will answer your prayers and let me return to you.” Paul is counting on the prayers of Philemon. Through the prayers of others, God can change your circumstances. Paul said to the church in Corinth, “You are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.” (2 Corinthians 1:11) James said, “Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.” (James 4:2b) Our prayers are a necessary ingredient for things to happen. 

You might ask, “How can the prayers for my child, my church, my country, political leaders, salvation for my friends . . . make any difference if God is sovereign?” Read the above listed Scriptures again. God’s sovereignty and human responsibility is a constant balance. God in his sovereignty has set up a system whereby our prayers are the means by which he accomplishes his will so that we are in relationship with him through prayers as he does what it is he desires to do.

God is like a father who wants to give a car to his son, but he doesn’t just want to write a check for it. He wants a relationship; he wants conversation. The point of the car is the time they will spend together working on the car in the garage and fixing it up. 


The church is in earnest prayer for Peter to be released from prison, but when they hear Peter is at the door, they don’t believe it. They say it can’t be Peter; it must be his angel. In other words, they believed Peter to be dead. Isn’t it amazing that God answered their prayers even though they didn’t have enough faith to believe he really would? God is so gracious.

We think great faith concerns the quantity of the faith we have, but the issue with faith is not the quantity but the location of faith. It’s not about how much faith you have but where you put that faith. The faith of a mustard seed can move mountains. It’s not the amount; it’s where that small amount of faith is placed. It needs to be found in God and his promises. 

Imagine a steep ravine with two bridges across it. One is a rickety old bridge that is falling apart, and the other is made out of concrete, in great condition, and very stable. Two people need to get to the other side of the ravine. One person says, “The old bridge is no problem. It’s not that far. I can even run across it and be at the other side in no time at all.” He takes off and part way across steps on a rotted board and falls into the ravine. It wasn’t that he didn’t have faith. He was very confident he could make it to the other side. The problem was he had great faith but it was in the wrong bridge. The other person was a bit leery of crossing the ravine even using the cement bridge because the wind had picked up and it had started to rain. Nevertheless, he stepped out in faith even though he lacked confidence. He made it to the other side of the ravine with no problem. He just had a tiny bit of faith, but it was in the right place.

Those praying for Peter had faith in the right place even though it was weak faith. What did God do? He rescued Peter from prison. There’s something else God did. Verse 24 says, “Meanwhile, the word of God continued to spread, and there were many new believers.” God caused his word to increase and multiply. That is always God’s agenda. 

God did something else: he judged Herod, and Herod died as he was consumed with worms. Herod stands for the arrogant pride that is so prevalent in our day. 

What do you think is the greatest danger facing the church in the world today? Is it the global pandemic? Is it race tensions? Is it the social justice needs? What is the greatest danger facing our families today? Could it be pride? How do we know if we are proud? Proverbs 27:21 says: “Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised.” Herod failed the test of being praised by others. What praises you? Is it money in your bank account? Is it your education? Is it the number of books you have written or had published? Is it what people say about you on social media (the number of likes you receive)? D.L. Moody once said, “No one will be sent away empty by God except those who are filled with themselves.” It’s those who are so confident in their own abilities and their own opinions that they can’t listen to or receive something from God. 

Pride is a great danger. It’s an invisibility cloak for all sorts of other sins such as religious pride. How can we fight pride? Sometimes humor helps. Modesty can be beneficial. Thankfulness can also help. “Thankfulness is a soil in which pride cannot easily grow.” Perhaps most of all Scripture can be helpful. In Deuteronomy 17, God specifically told kings to write down the Scriptures and read over them daily so their hearts wouldn’t be elevated above their brothers and sisters. That’s good advice for us, too. When someone praises you, you can give God the glory.

Let’s pray: “Lord, revive in us earnest prayer. May your word increase and multiply through our church. Keep us centered on you. Keep us from being puffed up and arrogant. May we humbly trust in you. I earnestly pray that you would rescue people from sin and bondage and release them to the freedom, joy, and love of humble Christ-like dependence upon you. Revive us again, Lord. In the name of Jesus. Amen.”


Reminders


·      Sunday services: 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live ; 10:30 am in the Worship Center at NCCU


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live


Verse Completion. . . be my disciple. Luke 14:33 (NIV)


7/11/2020


Good morning, Followers of Jesus.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/hzhKGPireAA


Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to . . . (completion at the end)


When Pastor Michael was teaching the book of Philippians, he pointed out how Jesus was all sufficient for Paul. Paul didn’t need anything else. As long as he had Jesus, Paul was fine. Pastor Michael was saying it should be the same way with us. We shouldn’t be wanting Jesus and something else; we should be wanting Jesus and Jesus only. We need to mature in Christ to the point where he is all we need.

The people living 2500 years ago in Israel faced the same decision: Would they choose God only or choose God and something else? 2 Kings 17:24-41 tells the story:


The king of Assyria transported groups of people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim and resettled them in the towns of Samaria, replacing the people of Israel. They took possession of Samaria and lived in towns. But since these foreign settlers did not worship the LORD when they first arrived, the LORD sent lions among them, which killed some of them.

So a message was sent to the king of Assyria: “The people you have sent to live in the towns of Samaria do not know the religious customs of the God of the land. He has sent lions among them to destroy them because they have not worshiped him correctly.”

The king of Assyria then commanded, “Send one of the exiled priests back to Samaria. Let him live there and teach the new residents the religious customs of the God of the land.” So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria returned to Bethel and taught the new residents how to worship the LORD.

But these various groups of foreigners also continued to worship their own gods. In town after town where they lived, they placed their idols at the pagan shrines that the people of Samaria had built. Those from Babylon worshiped idols of their god Succothbenoth. Those from Cuthah worshiped their god Nergal. And those from Hamath worshiped Ashima. The Avvites worshiped their gods Nibhaz and Tartak. And the people from Sepharvaim even burned their own children as sacrifices to their gods Adrammelech and Anammelech. 

These new residents worshiped the LORD, but they also appointed from among themselves all sorts of people as priests to offer sacrifices at their places of worship. And though they worshiped the LORD, they continued to follow their own gods according to the religious customs of the nations from which they came. And this is still going on today. 

They continue to follow their former practices instead of truly worshiping the LORD and obeying the decrees, regulations, instructions, and commands he gave the descendants of Jacob, whose name he changed to Israel. 

For the LORD had made a covenant with the descendants of Jacob and commanded them: “Do not worship any other gods or bow before them or serve them or offer sacrifices to them. But worship only the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt with great strength and a powerful arm. Bow down to him alone, and offer sacrifices only to him. Be careful at all times to obey the decrees, regulations, instructions, and commands that he wrote for you. You must not worship other gods. Do not forget the covenant I made with you, and do not worship other gods. You must worship only the LORD your God. He is the one who will rescue you from all your enemies.”

But the people would not listen and continued to follow their former practices. So while these new residents worshiped the LORD, they also worshiped their idols. And to this day their descendants do the same. 


These people added God to their list of gods. Imagine how that made God feel. Jehovah/Yahweh is now included on the list of gods who have no power. Isaiah 46:6-7 says: 


Some people pour out their silver and gold and hire a craftsman to make a god from it. Then they bow down and worship it! They carry it around on their shoulders, and when they set it down, it stays there. It can’t even move! And when someone prays to it, there is no answer. It can’t rescue anyone from trouble.


Psalm 115:4-8 says:


Their idols are merely things of silver and gold, shaped by human hands. They have mouths but cannot speak, and eyes but cannot see. They have ears but cannot hear, and noses but cannot smell. They have hands but cannot feel, and feet but cannot walk, and throats but cannot make a sound. And those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them.


Jeremiah 51:17-18 says:


The whole human race is foolish and has no knowledge! The craftsmen are disgraced by the idols they make, for their carefully shaped works are a fraud. These idols have no breath or power. Idols are worthless; they are ridiculous lies! On the day of reckoning they will all be destroyed.


It seems so absurd that people would worship idols made by people. Can you imagine throwing Jehovah/Yahweh, the creator of the entire universe, in with all the other gods? What a slam to God! What a disgrace to God! There is one God. Deuteronomy 6:4-5 says:


“Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”


When we love the LORD our God with all our heart, there is no room for any other gods. We don’t have idols that sit on our shelves that we worship today, but we have other idols. An idol is anything that is shared with God. If we have something we are not willing to give up, it’s an idol. The list of possible idols that we might have in 2020 is endless. Here are a few for starters: job, wife, husband, son, daughter, phone, house, car, boat, books, food, travel . . . anything that gets in the way of God. 

If we have to have God and anything else, the anything else has to go. If we don’t, it’s like saying to God, “You are very important to me. I’m going to include you on my list of valuable things in my life.” On that list are things similar to what was listed above. If we do that, we have just reduced the creator of the universe down to a house or whatever. 

I want to learn to love the LORD my God with my whole heart, soul, and strength. I want Jesus to know all the idols have been cleared out. The competition I’ve allowed is gone. It’s no longer Jesus and . . .; it’s Jesus only.


Reminders


·      Sunday services: 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live ; 10:30 am in the Worship Center at NCCU


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live



Verse Completion. . . a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.Romans 1:28 (NASB)


The Prayes & Suffering of Jesus

7/10/2020


Good morning, Prayer Warriors. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/tg551q9wt1o


Complete the Verse & Name the BookA new commandment I give to you, that . . . (completion at the end)


After reading Exodus 16, 17, and 18 and Matthew 19:16-30, the following prayer was prayed:


Lord, thank you for providing food (manna and quail) and water to the Israelites in the wilderness. Thank you for the food you provide to us each day. We are truly blessed, and we give you the praise. Help us to never grumble and complain about our lot in life. We have much to be thankful for. We know you are our provider.

In the battle with Amalek, the Israelites prevailed because your hand was in the battle. May we remember to give you praise for every victory that comes our way. We know that every good gift and every perfect gift is from you.

Thank you for bringing Jethro into the life of Moses. Moses needed help with managing everyone, and you sent help. Moses was going to burn out if things didn’t change. You helped Moses see the need to find able men who feared you, men of truth who hated dishonest gain, and put them in charge of 1,000, 100, 50, or 10. Only the most difficult disputes came to Moses. You made Moses’s workload manageable. 

Father God, give us good leaders like Moses had. Across the world, give us leaders who are sold out to you. Thank you for opening Moses’s eyes to the wisdom of Jethro. May we not take on too much and burn out. May we not put too much on others so they burn out. Help us to share the load and delegate responsibility when it’s necessary. May each of us do our part in your kingdom.

Jesus, you taught us that Christianity is different from all the other religions. Every other religion requires good deeds. To enter your kingdom, we can never be good enough to enter because we are all sinners. The only way we enter your kingdom is through the blood you shed on Calvary covering our sins for us. Our salvation cost you your life! In gratitude we want to do anything and everything you ask of us. 

Jesus, you want our hearts. You want our being. You want all of us, and that includes all our possessions. Lord, help us to keep our focus on you. May we hold tightly to you and hold loosely to our possessions. Anything of ours is yours to do with as you please. We really don’t own anything; we are simply stewards of our possessions for a short time.

You said it’s hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. If our possessions keep us from you, we want you to take them away from us. We don’t want our possessions to cause us to lose our soul. You said that many who seem to be in first place now will come in last; and the last first. Our desire is to come in first in your kingdom; we do not desire to come in first in the worldly kingdom that surrounds us.

In the name of Jesus, amen.



Ravi Zacharias speaks on the topic of “Why I Believe Jesus.” https://youtu.be/M3kM6Rax1AU


Reminders


·      Sunday services: 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live ; 10:30 am in the Worship Center at NCCU


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live



Verse Completion. . . you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. John 13:34 (NASB)

7/9/2020


Good morning, Grace Receivers. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/DJdd5OXZNZE


Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, . . . (completion at the end)


What did Peter tell the council at Jerusalem about how people are saved? We find the answer in Acts 15:1-11:


While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch of Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers: “Unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them, arguing vehemently. Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, accompanied by some local believers, to talk to the apostles and elders about this question. The church sent the delegates to Jerusalem, and they stopped along the way in Phoenicia and Samaria to visit the believers. They told them—much to everyone’s joy—that the Gentiles, too, were being converted.

When they arrived in Jerusalem, Barnabas and Paul were welcomed by the whole church, including the apostles and elders. They reported everything God had done through them. But then some of the believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and insisted, “The Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses.”

So the apostles and elders met together to resolve this issue. At the meeting, after a long discussion, Peter stood and addressed them as follows: “Brothers, you all know that God chose me from among you some time ago to preach to the Gentiles so that they could hear the Good News and believe. God knows people’s hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith. So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear? We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”


We all have been saved by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus. All of us were sinners condemned to die for our sins, but Jesus said, “Wait! Don’t kill him. Let me die in his place. I’m qualified to save him because I’m sinless. My life sacrifice will set him free. Let him go.” Jesus didn’t set me free because I was innocent and didn’t deserve to die. Jesus didn’t set me free because I had done many good deeds. I had received the guilty verdict justly and been sentenced to die. Jesus set me free because of his love for me and his grace for me.

Water and oil don’t mix. Sin and a holy God do not mix. A person stained by sin cannot enter the presence of God. However, if one can be found that is blameless and has never been stained by sin, that person can enter God’s presence in my place. He can stand in for me. There’s only one qualified to do that—the Lord Jesus. No one else has lived a sinless life. 

There was nothing I could do to earn the undeserved grace of Jesus. Going to church for a certain number of years wouldn’t do it. Feeding the poor wouldn’t do it. Taking care of orphans and widows wouldn’t do it. Giving a lot of money to charities wouldn’t do it. Going on a mission trip wouldn’t do it. No single amazing deed or the compilation of many good deeds done by me could ever purchase my redemption. To think I could work to earn God’s grace simply cheapens God’s grace. That way of thinking states that Jesus’ death on Calvary was not enough. Ephesians 2:8-9 says:


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


Earlier we read: . . . some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers: “Unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.” They were teaching a falsehood. They were teaching “Jesus and ___________” instead of “Jesus only” as Pastor Michael has been teaching us. “Jesus and __________” or simply “___________” is prevalent teaching today. The belief of “Jesus only” is not held by the masses. Jesus said, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) Only by the grace of Jesus do we have salvation.

Have you ever been given grace by a police officer? Perhaps you were stopped for speeding. You were guilty, but for some reason the police officer allowed you to proceed without a ticket. Wasn’t that feeling of undeserved grace extended to you a wonderful feeling—a feeling of gratitude? When you pull back on the road, you are extra careful to stay within the speed limit, because you want to honor the one who extended grace to you. 

When we are recipients of God’s saving grace, we are filled with a feeling of gratitude. Out of a thankful heart that is filled with love toward the one who extended to us undeserved grace, we want to do good deeds. We want to tell others about this Jesus. We want to go to church to learn more about this Jesus. We want to go to church to be around other recipients of this amazing grace. We want to help the poor. We want to help the widows and orphans. 

There’s a big difference between doing something out of a sense of obligation and doing something because we want to demonstrate our gratitude. Motivated by love, not by the law. It makes all the difference in the world.

Let’s go about our day today with a heart filled with gratitude to Jesus for his love and grace. Let’s see how that gratitude plays out in what we do for others.


Reminders


·      Sunday services: 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live ; 10:30 am in the Worship Center at NCCU


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live



Verse Completion. . . it profits me nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:3 (NASB)


Key of Promise

7/8/2020


Good morning, Followers of Jesus.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/biLsQjzRDK0


Complete the Verse & Name the BookBy this is My Father glorified, that you . . .(completion at the end)


Have you ever questioned God’s wisdom? I know I have. I have wondered why God allowed leaders like Adolf Hitler to orchestrate the murder of approximately six million Jews during the Holocaust, or Joseph Stalin who had approximately the same number of people die while he was leader, or Mao Zedong who had 45 million people die under his leadership. Romans 13:1 says:


Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.


Why would God put leaders like Hitler, Stalin, and Mao Zedong in positions of authority? I have no idea. It doesn’t make sense to me. 

Job didn’t understand why God allowed some terrible things to happen to him including losing all his children in a house collapse. Job 30:15b-31 says:


“My honor has blown away in the wind, and my prosperity has vanished like a cloud.

“And now my life seeps away. Depression haunts my days. At night my bones are filled with pain, which gnaws at me relentlessly. With a strong hand, God grabs my shirt. He grips me by the collar of my coat. He has thrown me into the mud. I’m nothing more than dust and ashes.

“I cry to you, O God, but you don’t answer. I stand before you, but you don’t even look. You have become cruel toward me. You use your power to persecute me. You throw me into the whirlwind and destroy me in the storm. And I know you are sending me to my death—the destination of all who live.

“Surely no one would turn against the needy when they cry for help in their trouble? Was I not deeply grieved for the needy? So I looked for good, but evil came instead. I waited for the light, but darkness fell. My heart is troubled and restless. Days of suffering torment me. I walk in gloom, without sunlight. I stand in the public square and cry for help. Instead, I am considered a brother to jackals and a companion to owls. My skin has turned dark, and my bones burn with fever. My harp plays sad music, and my flute accompanies those who weep.”


Job said a lot more to God. He could not understand why God would allow calamity after calamity to happen when Job was doing all he knew to live a life that honored God. God answered Job. Part of His answer is found in Job 38:1-38:


Then the LORD answered Job from the whirlwind:

“Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

“Who kept the sea inside its boundaries as it burst from the womb, and as I clothed it with clouds and wrapped it in thick darkness? For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores. I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!’

“Have you ever commanded the morning to appear and caused the dawn to rise in the east? Have you made daylight spread to the ends of the earth, to bring an end to the night’s wickedness? As the light approaches, the earth takes shape like clay pressed beneath a seal; it is robed in brilliant colors. The light disturbs the wicked and stops the arm that is raised in violence.

“Have you explored the springs from which the seas come? Have you explored their depths? Do you know where the gates of death are located? Have you seen the gates of utter gloom? Do you realize the extent of the earth? Tell me about it if you know!

“Where does light come from, and where does darkness go? Can you take each to its home? Do you know how to get there? But of course you know all this! For you were born before it was all created, and you are so very experienced!

“Have you visited the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of hail? (I have reserved them as weapons for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war.) Where is the path to the source of light? Where is the home of the east wind?

“Who created a channel for the torrents of rain? Who laid out the path for the lightning? Who makes the rain fall on barren land, in a desert where no one lives? Who sends rain to satisfy the parched ground and make the tender grass spring up?

“Does the rain have a father? Who gives birth to the dew? Who is the mother of the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens? For the water turns to ice as hard as rock, and the surface of the water freezes.

“Can you direct the movement of the stars—binding the cluster of the Pleiades or loosening the cords of Orion? Can you direct the constellations through the seasons or guide the Bear with her cubs across the heavens? Do you know the laws of the universe? Can you use them to regulate the earth?

“Can you shout to the clouds and make it rain? Can you make lightning appear and cause it to strike as you direct? Who gives intuition to the heart and instinct to the mind? Who is wise enough to count all the clouds? Who can tilt the water jars of heaven when the parched ground is dry and the soil has hardened into clods?”


That’s just a portion of the answer God gave Job, but Job clearly got the message. Job 42:1-6 says:


Then Job replied to the LORD:

“I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”


Job had his eyes opened to who God was. Isaiah had a similar experience recorded in Isaiah 6:1-5:


It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke. 

Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.”


If I was able to actually be in the presence of God, there would be no way I would ever ask the question, “Why did you allow Hitler, Stalin, and Mao Zedong to kill all the people they killed?” I would feel so inadequate, and it would be like I was challenging the creator of the universe. All I would need to do is remind myself, “Where was I when the foundations of the earth were laid?” and it would remind me of my place in the universe. I have no right to question anything God does or doesn’t do. 

Those in leadership positions know that decisions made by leadership sometimes don’t make sense to those looking from the outside. However, when one is on the inside and has all the information that was used to make that decision, it makes perfect sense. 1 Corinthians 13:11-12 says:


When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.


The next time you are tempted to question God’s wisdom, listen for His voice saying, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?


Reminders


·      Sunday services: 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live ; 10:30 am in the Worship Center at NCCU


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live



Verse Completion. . . bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. John 15:8 (NASB)


The End of Sin Offerings

7/7/2020


Good morning, Believers.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/HIkxVMDY71I


Complete the Verse & Name the BookFor this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be united to his wife, and . . . (completion at the end)


Have you ever wanted to see miraculous signs and wonders that only God could do? I know I have. Wouldn’t it be great to see the Red Sea part and there be dry ground for you to walk on (as happened in Exodus 14)? Wouldn’t you like to see fire from God flash down from heaven and burn up a sacrifice, wood, stones, the dust, and even the water in the trench surrounding the sacrifice that had been covered with water (as happened in 1 Kings 18)? Wouldn’t you have liked to be on the shore when God ordered the fish to spit Jonah onto the beach (as recorded in Jonah 2:10)? Wouldn’t you have liked to see the hailstorm related in Exodus 9:24-26?


Never in all the history of Egypt had there been a storm like that, with such devastating hail and continuous lightning. It left all of Egypt in ruins. The hail struck down everything in the open field—people, animals, and plants alike. Even the trees were destroyed. The only place without hail was the region of Goshen, where the people of Israel lived.


Wouldn’t you have liked to watch a kid with a sling and no armor take on a giant with a sword, shield, and full armor and watch the kid win (as recorded in 1 Samuel 17)? Wouldn’t you like to have eaten some manna (Exodus 16)? Wouldn’t you have liked to watch Moses strike the rock with his staff and watch water gush out from the rock in the desert (Exodus 17)? Wouldn’t you have liked to watch the walls of Jericho fall (Joshua 6)? Wouldn’t it have been amazing to watch Samson kill a lion with his bare hands (Judges 14:5-6)? What about Samson carrying away the city gates to the top of a hill (Judges 16:3Judges 16:3)? Wouldn’t it have been incredible to watch the following:


Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face became distorted with rage. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual. Then he ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So they tied them up and threw them into the furnace, fully dressed in their pants, turbans, robes, and other garments. And because the king, in his anger, had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace, the flames killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in. So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell into the roaring flames.

But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers. “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?”

“Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied.

“Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!”

Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”

So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire. Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke!

Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore, I make this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be turned into heaps of rubble. There is no other god who can rescue like this!”

Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to even higher positions in the province of Babylon. (Daniel 3:19-30)


Which miracle of Jesus would you like to have seen?


·      Water into wine—John 2:1-11


·      Nobleman’s son cured—John 4:46-47


·      So many fish the boats began to sink—Luke 5:1-11


·      Unclean spirit cast out—Mark 1:23-28


·      Peter’s mother-in-law cured of a fever—Mark 1:30-31


·      Leper healed—Mark 1:40-45


·      Centurion’s servant healed—Matthew 8:5-13


·      Widow’s son raised from the dead—Luke 7:11-18


·      The storm stilled—Matthew 8:23-27


·      Two demoniacs cured—Matthew 8:28-34


·      Paralytic cured—Matthew 9:1-8


·      Ruler’s daughter raised from the dead—Matthew 9:18-26


·      Woman cured from bleeding—Luke 8:43-48


·      Two blind men had their eyes opened—Matthew 9:27-31


·      Man who couldn’t speak was able to speak—Matthew 9:32-33


·      Invalid at the pool of Bethesda healed—John 5:1-9


·      Withered hand restored—Matthew 12:10-13


·      Demon-possessed man healed—Matthew 12:22


·      Over 5,000 people fed with five loaves of bread and two fish—Matthew 14:15-21


·      A Canaanite woman’s demon-possessed daughter was healed—Matthew 15:22-28


·      Deaf and mute man healed—Mark 7:32-37


·      Over 4,000 people fed with seven loaves of bread and a few small fish—Matthew 15:32-39


·      Blind man’s eyes opened—Mark 8:22-26


·      Boy plagued by a demon is healed—Matthew 17:14-21


·      Man born blind is healed—John 9:1-38


·      Lady who was bent over and couldn’t straighten was healed—Luke 13:10-17


·      Man with abnormal swelling healed—Luke 14:1-4


·      Ten lepers healed—Luke 17:11-19


·      Lazarus raised from the dead—John 11:1-25 John 11:26-46


·      Two blind men had their eyes opened—Matthew 20:30-34


·      Fig tree withers—Matthew 21:18-22


·      Ear of the high priest’s servant is restored—Luke 22:50-51


·      Peter and Jesus walk on the water—Matthew 14:22-33


·      Jesus Himself rose from the dead—Luke 24:5-6



The Bible contains so many miraculous stories. Every one is true. However, I have not seen a single example that matches any of the above examples in my lifetime. That doesn’t mean I haven’t seen God work in some amazing ways, because I have on numerous occasions. For example, my wife was diagnosed with Stage Four Ovarian Cancer in January of 2007. She was not expected to live. People around the world prayed for her. She’s alive and well in 2020! The servant of the Lord is indestructible until the Lord is through using her. 

My guess is you have seen God at work in your life in some amazing ways. They may not be like the examples above, but you recognize God’s hand working in unusual ways.

Sometimes I think if God would just move today like he did in Bible times, people would come to believe in him. How could they not?! However, I know if miracles like the ones listed above happened today, there would be many if not most who would still not believe. Look at the Pharisees. When Jesus performed miracles only God could do, they didn’t bow down and worship him and acknowledge him as the Messiah; they condemned him for healing on the Sabbath! 

Notice the reaction of the people in Acts 14:1-5:


The same thing happened in Iconium. Paul and Barnabas went to the Jewish synagogue and preached with such power that a great number of both Jews and Greeks became believers. Some of the Jews, however, spurned God’s message and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas. But the apostles stayed there a long time, preaching boldly about the grace of the Lord. And the Lord proved their message was true by giving them power to do miraculous signs and wonders. But the people of the town were divided in their opinion about them. Some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles.

Then a mob of Gentiles and Jews, along with their leaders, decided to attack and stone them. 


Some believed; some did not. Some believed and were willing to die for their belief—they were all in; some did not believe and were willing to kill those performed miraculous signs and wonders—they were strongly against what they heard and saw.

As we share the truth of the gospel, there will be those with soft hearts who are eager to hear truth and respond in repentance. There will also be those with hard hearts who will resist the truth, mock, and persecute. We don’t need miraculous signs and wonders to prove our message is truth. Signs and wonders wouldn’t make any difference with the second group. 

When doubting Thomas was told by Jesus to look at his hands and put his hand into the wound in his side, Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” That’s you and me. We believe without seeing Jesus in person. We don’t need to. We have the Holy Spirit that speaks to us as we read God’s word and pray. We also have evidence of God all around us. Romans 1:18-20:


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


We don’t have to have miraculous signs and wonders. However, it’s comforting and reassuring to know we will be spending eternity with the one who performed all the miraculous signs and wonders mentioned above.


Reminders


·      Sunday services: 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live ; 10:30 am in the Worship Center at NCCU


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live




Verse Completion. . . the two will become one flesh. Ephesians 5:31 (NIV)


The Return of Christ

7/6/2020


Good morning, Jesus Followers.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/6ni5_JGRrgs


Complete the Verse & Name the Bookfor a man is a slave to . . . (completion at the end)


Yesterday Pastor Michael’s sermon was titled “The Lofty and the Lowly” based on Matthew 18:1-14. One of the most difficult things to do in life is change. We all have a worldview of how we imagine things to be. When we change, we have to alter our worldview by adding or deleting information. We now see the world through a different lens. 

As one coaches soccer at the middle school or high school level, he notices that some players come with some bad habits. Some don’t even know how to kick a soccer ball correctly. As they are taught the proper way to kick a ball, some pay attention and change how they kick and make progress; others stay with their old way of kicking and do not progress. 

The disciples are learning from Jesus. Jesus has been trying to change their worldview. They finally learned that salvation is by faith alone through grace and not by works. They learned Jesus is the Messiah, but they had a skewed vision of what that meant. Jesus came to pay the penalty for sin and not be paid a tribute to. Jesus came to serve others, not be served by others. Jesus wanted the disciples to know it’s not about power, influence, or prestige; it’s about humility. It’s not all about us; it’s all about Jesus. Jesus wants them to change the way they think. He was trying to show them how they should act, react, and interact as disciples of Christ. He wanted them to see the kingdom of God is all about relationships. 

The disciples are going to have to change the way they think. They have to learn who the Messiah is, why He came, how His kingdom operates, and how we operate in that kingdom. 


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

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

“And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.(verses 1-5)


The disciples are familiar with how the world operates where intelligence, skills, talents, potential, aggressiveness, who you know, and so on are important for determining who is the greatest—who gets promoted. The disciples are hoping they have what it takes to be the greatest. They want to know how Jesus is ranking them. 

Children in their society had no importance: they didn’t contribute to the family, they didn’t work, they didn’t bring in money. Children were considered the least of all. Jesus held a child He was familiar with and told the disciples if they wanted to be great, they needed to become the least important like the child he held. One enters the kingdom of God through humility, trust, and faith. One becomes the greatest in the kingdom through humility, trust, and faith. One does not become the greatest by works. One does not enter the kingdom of God and work their way up to greater positions in the kingdom. 

The Kingdom of Heaven is all about Jesus: Jesus saving us, Jesus calling us, Jesus using us, Jesus giving us gifts, Jesus giving us His Spirit within us. It’s not about us. Nobody is “special” in the kingdom of God; we all come to salvation in the same way. There’s no favoritism in the kingdom of God. 


“But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.

“What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting. So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, but it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell. (verses 6-9)


There’s a serious judgment for those who lead people away from Christ no matter who that person is. As disciples of Christ, it’s our job to draw people to Jesus by our actions and our words. 

A millstone was a large, round, heavy stone the ox or donkey would pull in a circular path in order to grind the grain to make flour. One person could not lift a millstone. The depths of the sea is a description of hell. 

In the kingdom of God, people care about one another. They want salvation for others. A disciple of Christ would not say to another believer, “You’re good; you accepted Jesus. Do whatever you want. You’re not going to lose your salvation.” Jesus is saying that we need to get serious about our relationship with Him. If there’s anything that would lead us away from Jesus (and take others with us in the process), we are to get rid of it. There must be a radical transformation that takes place in us so we think differently about how we view the world and think about the world. We have to die to sin—cut it out, root it out.

Very few people fall into addiction without the help of somebody else. Someone gave the alcoholic their first drink. Someone gave the drug addict their first drug.

We can think we didn’t lead anyone into alcoholism, drugs, sexual sins, murder . . . so we must be okay. What about gossip, slander, grumbling, or complaining? These can take people away from Jesus, too. Disciples of Christ do not act in this way. It’s not the Spirit of Jesus. 


“Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father. 

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.  (verses 10-14)


God cares about everyone even the least that don’t seem to matter. We are not to look at others in a way that says their interests are less important than ours. Socioeconomic levels, race, prestige, influence, position . . . none of it matters in the kingdom of God. Disciples of Christ never despise others.

God wants everyone to have eternal life. He’s not willing that any should perish. 1 Timothy 2:4 says: This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 2 Peter 3:9 says: The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

Jesus want us to understand how we are to operate in the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s not about being the greatest. It’s about realizing that no one is less than us. It’s about us humbling ourselves before Jesus. It’s about us saying to Jesus, “It’s all about you.” We are not to cause people to look at us; we are to cause people to look at Jesus. The Kingdom of Heaven is about Jesus. 

We need to learn to kick the soccer ball differently. We need a new prescription for our glasses. We need to learn it’s all about Jesus, so let’s make it all about Jesus. 


Reminders


·      Sunday services: 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live ; 10:30 am in the Worship Center at NCCU


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s studies on our Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Prayer Group, Friday, 9:15 am, NCCU tent area


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live



Verse Completion. . . whatever has mastered him. 2 Peter 2:19b (NIV)


Mediator of a New Covenant

7/4/2020


Good morning, God Pleasers. Happy Fourth of July!


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/9lpC8WVUP-s


Complete the Verse & Name the Book: Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and . . . (completion at the end)


Are you a people pleaser or a God pleaser? It’s easy to be people pleasers because people are right in your face and God is not. We get rewarded for being a people pleaser immediately while we usually have to wait for rewards from God. As Americans we like instant gratification, and we are used to receiving it. Businesses that can produce instant gratification seem to do better than those that don’t. A restaurant that provides instant service will likely do better than one where people have to wait a considerable amount of time to be served. 

What happens when a person in leadership is a people pleaser rather than a God pleaser? How does that play out in the courts? King Jehoshaphat had some good advice for the judges who were under his leadership. 2 Chronicles 19:4-7 says:


Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem, but he went out among the people, traveling from Beersheba to the hill country of Ephraim, encouraging the people to return to the LORD, the God of their ancestors. He appointed judges throughout the nation in all the fortified towns, and he said to them, “Always think carefully before pronouncing judgment. Remember that you do not judge to please people but to please the LORD. He will be with you when you render the verdict in each case. Fear the LORD and judge with integrity, for the LORD our God does not tolerate perverted justice, partiality, or the taking of bribes.”


We don’t have to look far to find examples of perverted justice within our own country: people who were guilty of a crime and got off free because of who they knew, their wealth, bribes, race, corruption within the system, false testimony, or some other reason. There are also examples of people who were sent to prison unjustly because of their race, poverty, religious beliefs, or some other reason. When those in authority are more interested in pleasing people over God, the results are going to be bad. I’m just thankful for the many leaders we have who are people of integrity—who do fear God and are interested in finding the truth and acting on it. 

Fortunately, bribes are not a common way of doing business here in America. When I lived in the Philippines, bribes were a common way to operate. For example, it was common knowledge that if an American was stopped by a police officer for a driving violation close to a military base, a pack of American cigarettes to the officer would be all that’s necessary to get back on the road. One time I was stopped on my motorcycle by an officer. When he found out I wasn’t in the military, I was on my way.

When we lived in Manila, my mom saw a truck double parked as he unloaded supplies into a small grocery store. A police officer spoke with the truck driver and before long, the officer was walking down the sidewalk with a bottle of ketchup in his hand.

When entering the Philippines from another country, one has to go through customs where assessments are made on the value of what is being brought into the country followed by taxes on the property. It can take days to get through customs and the taxes can be exorbitant, or one can bribe the person in charge and greatly reduce the time and taxes.

I convinced my mom to take me to DMV a few weeks before my birthday. I wanted to make sure we had everything needed for me to get my first driver’s license. I didn’t want there to be any delays on my actual birthday. My mom explained to a DMV worker why we were there, and a man went to a typewriter away from the counter and started typing. He asked for information so he could fill out the form, and my mother said, “Oh, no. We aren’t here to get a license today. My son doesn’t turn of age for several more weeks.” The DMV employee spoke from his desk, loud enough for everyone in the entire room to hear, “No problem, Mam; I’ll just change his date of birth.” He could not understand why this wasn’t acceptable to my mother (and as a teenager neither could I . . . not really—I knew what was the right thing to do, but I REALLY wanted my driver’s license). He would have given me a license that day even without a bribe.

The apostles were arrested for teaching about Jesus in the Temple. The captain and the Temple guards brought the apostles before the high council, where the high priest confronted them. “We gave you strict orders never again to teach in this man’s name!” he said. “Instead, you have filled all Jerusalem with your teaching about him, and you want to make us responsible for his death!”

But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by hanging him on a cross.” (Acts 5:27-30) The apostles did what God told them to do. The apostles weren’t interested in anarchy. They were not rebel rousers. They believed in doing what the government told them to do except when it was in conflict with what God told them to do. We need to be the same way. 

We can find other examples of people being God pleasers rather than people pleasers in the Bible:


·      Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. Galatians 1:10


·      For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. 1 Thessalonians 2:4


·      Many people did believe in [Jesus as the Messiah], however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. For they loved human praise more than the praise of God. John 12:42-43


·      Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is ChristColossians 3:23-24


·      Then Saul admitted to Samuel, “Yes, I have sinned. I have disobeyed your instructions and the LORD’S command, for I was afraid of the people and did what they demanded. 1 Samuel 15:24


·      But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”Acts 4:19-20



Let’s make sure we are first and foremost God pleasers rather than people pleasers. When there’s a conflict between what God asks of us and what people ask of us, may God’s will be done. May we never be found guilty of perverted justice, partiality, or taking bribes. 



Prayer requests:


·      Denise is looking for low income/affordable housing in Belfair, Shelton, or Union (mother-in-law place, studio, or one-bedroom).


·      Denise’s health is rapidly declining. She is experiencing extraordinary pain in her entire body, and it doesn’t stop. In addition to this, there is permanent damage to her right foot. She has a torn meniscus in her right knee and a possible torn meniscus in her left knee. These are caused by her illness and can’t be repaired. There are no medical treatments, repairs, or cures that can be done. Only a touch by the Great Physician, Jesus, will heal her. Please pray that Denise will experience relief from the pain and experience emotional healing as well.


·      Shawn’s cousin with cancer


·      Colleen is battling two kinds of cancer


·      Lee as he recuperates from surgery


·      Lee's cousin, Pete, has had his cancer return. He’s not doing well. His mother, Arlene, would appreciate prayers for both of them.


·      Pastor Michael as he leads our church.


·      If you have a prayer request you would like to have appear here, please email me. Thanks.



Reminders


·      Sunday services: 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live ; 10:30 am in the Worship Center at NCCU


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s study of Philippians on our Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Friday, Prayer Group, 9:15 am by ZOOM


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live



Verse Completion: . . . whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 2 Corinthians 9:6 (NIV)


Walk by Faith

7/3/2020


Good morning to everyone thankful for the freedoms we enjoy.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/hHtDCrt1oqA


Complete the Verses and Name the Book:


·      Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and . . .


·      fixing our eyes on Jesus; the author and perfecter of faith, who . . . (completion at the end)



You may have seen some of the humorous tombstone epitaphs that have been around for a while:


·      I told you I was sick.


·      He loved bacon. Oh, and his wife and kids too.


·      Merv Griffin: I will not be right back after this message.


·      OHNO


·      Raised four beautiful daughters with only one bathroom and still there was love.


·      Devoted husband, father, and Internet novice: Follow me on Facebook!


·      Died from not forwarding that text message to 10 people.


·      We finally found a place to park in Georgetown.


·      Sucks to be me.


·      She always said her feet were killing her, but no one believed her.



All joking aside, what would you like written on your tombstone? How would your life be summed up in one sentence?


2 Chronicles 21:20 has what might have been on King Jehoram’s tombstone: Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. No one was sorry when he died. They buried him in the City of David, but not in the royal cemetery. Isn’t that a sad summary to a life? 2 Chronicles 21:1-11 gives more information on the life of Jehoram:


When Jehoshaphat died, he was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. Then his son Jehoram became the next king.

Jehoram’s brothers—the other sons of Jehoshaphat—were Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azariahu, Michael, and Shephatiah; all these were the sons of Jehoshaphat king of Judah. Their father had given each of them valuable gifts of silver, gold, and costly items, and also some of Judah’s fortified towns. However, he designated Jehoram as the next king because he was the oldest. But when Jehoram had become solidly established as king, he killed all his brothers and some of the other leaders of Judah.

Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. But Jehoram followed the example of the kings of Israel and was as wicked as King Ahab, for he had married one of Ahab’s daughters. So Jehoram did what was evil in the LORD’S sight. But the LORD did not want to destroy David’s dynasty, for he had made a covenant with David and promised that his descendants would continue to rule, shining like a lamp forever.

During Jehoram’s reign, the Edomites revolted against Judah and crowned their own king. So Jehoram went out with his full army and all his chariots. The Edomites surrounded him and his chariot commanders, but he went out at night and attacked them under cover of darkness. Even so, Edom has been independent from Judah to this day. The town of Libnah also revolted about that same time. All this happened because Jehoram had abandoned the LORD, the God of his ancestors. He had built pagan shrines in the hill country of Judah and had led the people of Jerusalem and Judah to give themselves to pagan gods and to go astray.


King Uzziah is an example of someone who started off right and then got off track. 2 Chronicles 26:3-15 tells of his good years:


Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother was Jecoliah from Jerusalem. He did what was pleasing in the LORD’S sight; just as his father, Amaziah, had done. Uzziah sought God during the days of Zechariah, who taught him to fear God. And as long as the king sought guidance from the LORD, God gave him success.

Uzziah declared war on the Philistines and broke down the walls of Gath, Jabneh, and Ashdod. Then he built new towns in the Ashdod area and in other parts of Philistia. God helped him in his wars against the Philistines, his battles with the Arabs of Gur, and his wars with the Meunites. The Meunites paid annual tribute to him, and his fame spread even to Egypt, for he had become very powerful.

Uzziah built fortified towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate, at the Valley Gate, and at the angle in the wall. He also constructed forts in the wilderness and dug many water cisterns, because he kept great herds of livestock in the foothills of Judah and on the plains. He was also a man who loved the soil. He had many workers who cared for his farms and vineyards, both on the hillsides and in the fertile valleys.

Uzziah had an army of well-trained warriors, ready to march into battle, unit by unit. This army had been mustered and organized by Jeiel, the secretary of the army, and his assistant, Maaseiah. They were under the direction of Hananiah, one of the king’s officials. These regiments of mighty warriors were commanded by 2,600 clan leaders. The army consisted of 307,500 men, all elite troops. They were prepared to assist the king against any enemy.

Uzziah provided the entire army with shields, spears, helmets, coats of mail, bows, and sling stones. And he built structures on the walls of Jerusalem, designed by experts to protect those who shot arrows and hurled large stones from the towers and the corners of the wall. His fame spread far and wide, for the LORD gave him marvelous help, and he became very powerful.


Had King Uzziah died at this point, perhaps what would have been written on his tombstone would be: He feared God, and sought guidance from God who blessed him with many successes. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end here. 


But when he had become powerful, he also became proud, which led to his downfall. He sinned against the LORD his God by entering the sanctuary of the LORD’S Temple and personally burning incense on the incense altar. Azariah the high priest went in after him with eighty other priests of the LORD, all brave men. They confronted King Uzziah and said, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD. That is the work of the priests alone, the descendants of Aaron who are set apart for this work. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have sinned. The LORD God will not honor you for this!”

Uzziah, who was holding an incense burner, became furious. But as he was standing there raging at the priests before the incense altar in the LORD’S Temple, leprosy suddenly broke out on his forehead. When Azariah the high priest and all the other priests saw the leprosy, they rushed him out. And the king himself was eager to get out because the LORD had struck him. So King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in isolation in a separate house, for he was excluded from the Temple of the LORD. His son Jotham was put in charge of the royal palace, and he governed the people of the land. (verses 16-21)


What do you put on Uzziah’s tombstone now? The king God struck with leprosy because he disobeyed God. It’s a sad ending to a life that started out so well.

Back to the original question: What would you like written on your tombstone? It’s a tough question! I’ve given it some thought, and I think I would like a variation of 2 Timothy 4:7: He fought the good fight, he finished the race strong in the Lord, and he remained faithful to the very end.

Now I have to get busy to make sure I am worthy of such an epitaph.


Reminders


·      Sunday services: 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live ; 10:30 am in the Worship Center at NCCU


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s study of Philippians on oue Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Friday, Prayer Group, 9:15 am by ZOOM


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live



Completions to Verses:


·      . . . let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,


·      . . . for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 (NASB)


It Was Good For Me

7/2/2020


Good morning to all God’s children.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/uW6xcmqfiY4


Complete the Verse and Name the Book: Do not become anxious about how or what you should speak in your defense, or what you should say; for . . . (completion at the end)


God loves everyone. He is not partial to any one race. He doesn’t play favorites. This truth came to Peter in Acts 10:1-36, 42-43:


In Caesarea there lived a Roman army officer named Cornelius, who was a captain of the Italian Regiment. He was a devout, God-fearing man, as was everyone in his household. He gave generously to the poor and prayed regularly to God. One afternoon about three o’clock, he had a vision in which he saw an angel of God coming toward him. “Cornelius!” the angel said.

Cornelius stared at him in terror. “What is it, sir?” he asked the angel.

And the angel replied, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have been received by God as an offering! Now send some men to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. He is staying with Simon, a tanner who lives near the seashore.”

As soon as the angel was gone, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier, one of his personal attendants. He told them what had happened and sent them off to Joppa.

The next day as Cornelius’s messengers were nearing the town, Peter went up on the flat roof to pray. It was about noon, and he was hungry. But while a meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.”

“No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean.”

But the voice spoke again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was suddenly pulled up to heaven.

Peter was very perplexed. What could the vision mean? Just then the men sent by Cornelius found Simon’s house. Standing outside the gate, they asked if a man named Simon Peter was staying there.

Meanwhile, as Peter was puzzling over the vision, the Holy Spirit said to him, “Three men have come looking for you. Get up, go downstairs, and go with them without hesitation. Don’t worry, for I have sent them.”

So Peter went down and said, “I’m the man you are looking for. Why have you come?”

They said, “We were sent by Cornelius, a Roman officer. He is a devout and God-fearing man, well respected by all the Jews. A holy angel instructed him to summon you to his house so that he can hear your message.” So Peter invited the men to stay for the night. The next day he went with them, accompanied by some of the brothers from Joppa.

They arrived in Caesarea the following day. Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter entered his home, Cornelius fell at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter pulled him up and said, “Stand up! I’m a human being just like you!” So they talked together and went inside, where many others were assembled.

Peter told them, “You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean. So I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. Now tell me why you sent for me.”

Cornelius replied, “Four days ago I was praying in my house about this same time, three o’clock in the afternoon. Suddenly, a man in dazzling clothes was standing in front of me. He told me, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your gifts to the poor have been noticed by God! Now send messengers to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. He is staying in the home of Simon, a tanner who lives near the seashore. So I sent for you at once, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here, waiting before God to hear the message the Lord has given you.”

Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 

“And he ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all—the living and the dead. He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name.”


We see here that Peter was conflicted about the Jewish beliefs he held concerning food and what God was telling him to do. Traditional beliefs were strong, so strong that when God told Peter to do something, Peter was willing to say no to God. Tradition was placed ahead of God. 

Is there anything we hold on to that is more important to us than God? If God told us to . . . would we do it or would we be like Peter and say, “No, I can’t do that. It’s not proper; it’s not right. That would be wrong for me to do that”? If God tells us to do something, it’s the right thing to do. God speaks to us through His word and tells us what we should and shouldn’t do. His Holy Spirit guides us, too. It’s so important to be in a close relationship with God so His voice is not confused with other voices.

There was a lot of racial prejudice going on during the time when Jesus walked on the earth. Things haven’t changed much in 2000+ years. Peter didn’t want to go against the Jewish law that forbid him from entering the home of a Gentile. God showed him that was stinkin’ thinkin’ (as we used to tell our first grade students). Genesis 1:27 says: 


So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 


All humans are created in God’s image. Jewish laws forbade a man from entering a Gentile home—the place where a Gentile lived—a man created in the image of God. That belief was deeply entrenched inside Peter, but God showed Peter that was a wrong belief. It’s possible that some of the traditions we hold on to strongly are wrong, too. Fortunately, Peter saw that what he believed was wrong—it went against God’s will. God didn’t call Gentiles unclean and neither should Peter. 

It might seem that God had favorites in the Jews since they were His chosen people. Ravi Zacharias said, “Israel was specifically chosen, but the reason they were chosen was not to be favorites but to bring God’s message to the rest of the world. As Abraham was told, ‘through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed’ (Genesis 22:18).”

We believe in an all-powerful, all-loving God who desires for every person to come to know truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-6 says:


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


2 Peter 3:9 says:


The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.


In his book Jesus Among Secular Gods, Ravi Zacharias said:


For all people to have equal value, there has to be something about each human person that is equally true and that cannot change. What is it?

Any naturalistic answer to this question will not do, because our natural endowments are distributed along a spectrum. Some are less intelligent than others, less healthy, less useful for society, less good looking, less wealthy, less capable of passing on their genes, less moral.

Even if currently you measure up well by some of these standards, one day you won’t. We will age, we will weaken, and our financial worth will fluctuate. Morally, we will lack consistency. Physically, every atom in our bodies may be different seven years from now. Who are we if every single thing about us is only temporary and changeable? By any naturalistic standard, human value is fleeting and graduated, with some coming out less valuable than others.

What is it about a human person that is equally true of every other human person and can never be lost, and therefore can justify the equal value of every person and the universality and inalienability of human rights? Only the love of God. God’s love is the one and only thing that will never change and cannot be lost. Here we circle back to the significance of the Christian God being a father—a parent—because a good parent loves his children equally, unwaveringly, and no matter what.

You are not valuable because you can pass on genes; you are valuable because before your genes ever came together you were loved by God and chosen by Him. God does not value only those who survive as the fittest; He gave His life for the unfittest. The measure of human value is not biological, intellectual, financial, moral, or aesthetic; it is personal—measured by the value-conferring love of a personal God.


God loves everyone and so should we. God shows no favoritism and neither should we. 


Reminders


·      Sunday services: 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live ; 10:30 am in the Worship Center at NCCU


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s study of Philippians on our Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Friday, Prayer Group, 9:15 am by ZOOM


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live



Verse Completion. . . the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say. Luke 12:11b-12 (NASB)


Who Am I?

7/1/2020


Good morning Redeemed of the Lord.


Songs for the Day: https://youtu.be/SkLuZxqPPzE (Words by: Samuel Medley, 1775; Music by: John Hatton, 1793; Sung by: Linda Rowberry)


https://youtu.be/TnmPtxsDqnM (from Handel’s “Messiah”)


Complete the Verse and Name the Book: Where your treasure is, . . . (completion at the end)


George Frideric Handel composed the original version of Messiah in 1741 in just 24 days. It contains 259 pages and has roughly a quarter of a million notes. If Handel spent 10-hour days working on it, he would have had to write at the continuous pace of fifteen notes per minute. It’s quite an accomplishment! One of my favorite songs in Messiah is “I Know that My Redeemer Liveth.” All of Handel’s Messiah is based on Scripture. This particular song is from Job 19:25-26 and 1 Corinthians 15:20

The words in Job 19 come directly from Job’s mouth. He had lost all ten of his children, his animals, servants, farmhands, and shepherds in a single day. Later he was covered in boils. His “friends” were no encouragement to him. They told him he must have sinned to have these terrible things happen to him. They told him to repent of his sins. His own wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.” It doesn’t appear she had the gift of encouragement either.

In response to the condemnation he received from his “friends,” Job said the following in Job 19:1-29:


Then Job spoke again: “How long will you torture me? How long will you try to crush me with your words? You have already insulted me ten times. You should be ashamed of treating me so badly. Even if I have sinned, that is my concern, not yours. You think you’re better than I am, using my humiliation as evidence of my sin. But it is God who has wronged me, capturing me in his net. 

“I cry out, ‘Help!’ but no one answers me. I protest, but there is no justice. God has blocked my way so I cannot move. He has plunged my path into darkness. He has stripped me of my honor and removed the crown from my head. He has demolished me on every side, and I am finished. He has uprooted my hope like a fallen tree. His fury burns against me; he counts me as an enemy. His troops advance. They build up roads to attack me. They camp all around my tent.

“My relatives stay far away, and my friends have turned against me. My family is gone, and my close friends have forgotten me. My servants and maids consider me a stranger. I am like a foreigner to them. When I call my servant, he doesn’t come; I have to plead with him! My breath is repulsive to my wife. I am rejected by my own family. Even young children despise me. When I stand to speak, they turn their backs on me. My close friends detest me. Those I loved have turned against me. I have been reduced to skin and bones and have escaped death by the skin of my teeth.

“Have mercy on me, my friends, have mercy, for the hand of God has struck me. Must you also persecute me, like God does? Haven’t you chewed me up enough?

“Oh, that my words could be recorded. Oh, that they could be inscribed on a monument, carved with an iron chisel and filled with lead, engraved forever in the rock.

But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!

“How dare you go on persecuting me, saying, ‘It’s his own fault’? You should fear punishment yourselves, for your attitude deserves punishment. Then you will know that there is indeed a judgment.”


When Job says, “I know that my Redeemer lives,” he is saying, according to the Benson Commentary: I have no knowledge, nor confidence, nor hope of being restored to the prosperities of this life; yet this one thing I know, which is much more comfortable and considerable, and therein I rejoice, though I be now a dying man, and in a desperate condition for this life; I know that I have a living and powerful Redeemer to plead my cause, and vindicate my person from all severe and unjust censures, and to give sentence for me: a Redeemer, whom I call mine, because I have a particular interest in him, and he hath a particular care of me.

Job’s Redeemer is currently living, and Job knows Him because He has revealed Himself to Job. His Redeemer has given Job an understanding to know Him. Who is the Redeemer? It’s Jesus. It’s by His power that Job will be resurrected after he dies. Job has given up hope for the comforts associated with this life, but he has not given up hope beyond death. In Job 13:15 Job said “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” Job is trusting God for comfort and happiness—not in this life, but in the life to come—beyond the grave. Job desired death because he knew it would lead to a life with God. How could he know that prior to the coming of Christ? 1 Peter 1:8-12 says:


You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward. 

They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.


Jesus said in John 8:56:


“Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.”


Jesus was Job’s Redeemer. Benson Commentary says that when Job said, “I know that my Redeemer lives,” he was saying: I am a dying man, and my hopes as to this life are dying, but he lives, and that forever; and, therefore, though I die, yet he both can and will make me to live again in due time, though not in this world, yet in the other, which is much better. And, though I am now highly censured and condemned by my friends as a great dissembler and secret sinner, whom God’s hand hath found out; yet there is a day coming wherein my cause shall be pleaded, and my name and honor vindicated from all these reproaches, and my integrity brought to light.


We can say the same thing Job said: “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God!


We have a hope, and that hope is a person—Jesus. No matter what happens to us while we are on this earth, we have Jesus. Hebrews 13:5b-6 says:


For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”


Do you feel abandoned? God has not abandoned you! God had not abandoned Job even though Job felt like He had. God has given us many promises, but an easy life is not one of them. What He has promised is to never abandon us. 

Job reached a point where he had no hope in this life, but he had a hope in the life to come. We have that hope, too. Jesus resurrected from the dead, and God is extending resurrection power to us so we will be able to live forever with Him in heaven.

Does it feel like your world falling apart? Job felt the same way! You’re not alone. Let’s join Job today in saying: “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God!” and “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”


Reminders


·      Sunday services: 8:30 am @  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live ; 10:30 am in the Worship Center at NCCU


·      Tuesday, Addiction Ministry, 6:00 pm at the Sunday School Building


·      You can watch any of Pastor Michael’s study of Philippians on our Media menu.


·      Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.


·      Join Ron for Transformative Prayer at 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. 


·      Friday, Prayer Group, 9:15 am by ZOOM


·      The Journey happens on Saturday at 10:00 am:  https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live



Verse Completion: . . . there will your heart be also. Luke 12:34 (NASB)

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