Daily Devotion July 2021

7/31/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


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



Complete the Verses & Name the Book

·      I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but . . .


·      So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we began a recap of Eric Channing’s sermon titled “Stir Up” that was based on Hebrews 10:19-25 with a focus on verse 24: And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good worksYesterday he covered the command part of the verse: let us consider, and today he will cover the purpose statement part of the verse that he touched on: how to stir up one another to love and good works.


It’s so easy for us to drift away from the faith, especially when we are not together. Who else is going to call us out in a good way but our brothers and sisters in Christ? The stakes are high! In Hebrews 10:26-27 we read: For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.


As Christians we are called to be agents of positive provoking in one another’s lives. This is our calling from God no matter what our age. One of the best ways we can do this is by way of example—through our words and through our deeds. For example, a family wrote an article about their involvement with “Safe Families” that takes at-risk kids and puts them into safe homes until birth parents are able to get on their feet and provide a healthy environment for their kids. That article stirred up a different family to action who then got involved in the ministry and even ended up adopting a child who stayed with them in their safe home. There has been a ripple effect from that one article whereby numerous families have become involved in the ministry. 


There’s a group of businessmen in Phoenix who donate 100% of their profits to Christian charities. They also recruit other young business leaders to follow their example. They stir them up by showing them how they can use their businesses to give generously and use their profits for the glory of God. This also had a ripple effect.


The stakes are high! Each one of us needs to live worthy of our calling from God, and that means being people of love and good works. Jesus said, “By  this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). 1 John 4:19 says: We love because he first loved us. Romans 5:5b says: God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. The love we are called to give to others is not where we just try really hard to love others and grin and bear it, it is love that has been given to us by the Creator of the universe. It’s his love in us that goes out to others. The strength to love others comes from him, not us. We just need to be obedient. 


We are called to love, but we are also called to good works. Good works often get a bad rap in some Christian circles. People don’t like being labeled a legalist. Ephesians 2:8 says: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. We are saved by God’s work, not our good works. Two verses later Paul says: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Titus 2:11-14 says: For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.


You can only be saved by the grace of God through the atoning work of Jesus on your behalf. You cannot earn your favor before God by anything that you do. Let’s be clear about that. However, once you have been saved, love and good works are a natural outflow of the believer. God produces it naturally. If we aren’t filled with love and good works, we need to ask ourselves, “Do I really know Jesus personally?” 


John Owen, the great Puritan, rightly says that love and good deeds are the fruit of saving faith. In other words, they are a natural outflow of a heart that has been rescued by Jesus. But I realize that there may be some here today who do not know the grace of Jesus. You have not been rescued by Christ. May you hear this message today, not as a way to earn your favor before God because your love and your good words could never earn your favor. Only the precious blood of Jesus, his death and resurrection, can make you holy in God's sight. You are dirty, unclean. We all are apart from the work of Christ, so would you trust in Jesus today and be called into this compelling community of love and good works that looks out for one another and lives out the life of Christ here on Earth? It's an amazing adventure, so would you believe today if you haven't yet? 


For many of us, we have trusted in Christ. So what is the next step for us on how we can provoke one another to love and good works? Here are two ways. First, let your light shine. Ask God what good works he is preparing for you even right now. From the beginning of time, God has prepared, good works for you specifically and us together as a community. What are those things that he is calling you to do? Who are those people he's calling you to influence? It could be a note that he's calling you to write to somebody. It might be a relationship that he wants you to initiate reconciliation with. Go and do it. 


And second, let's look for ways to stir up one another to love and good works. This could mean inviting someone along as you share your faith. Maybe they don't know how to do that, and you can just invite them along. Maybe you could invite a newer believer over to your house. You could write a note to someone who can't get out. There are ways we could be praying for one another and encouraging others as we tell them that we're praying for them. We could stir up love and good works. Again, no matter your age, no matter your stage, you are called to this glorious task. So let's stir one another up to love and good works. 


I became a believer when I was fairly young. When I went to college, I attended a state university far away—a very non-Christian environment. I'd been a believer for a number of years, but I was terrified to share my faith. Fortunately, I got involved with a Christian group that was very zealous about sharing their faith. It was the culture of this group to share their faith. People who had just come to Christ were sharing with everybody how Jesus had rescued them. I was stirred up in a good way. These people showed me how to share my faith, and then they gave me opportunities. I began to fit in with that culture of evangelism. I began to experience the joy of sharing my faith with others. I was stirred up to love and good works by these faithful believers. 


So what's the point? We're all in process. We're all on some continuum of becoming conformed to the likeness of the Lord Jesus. And that's why we need one another. We need to consider one another and stir one another up to love and good works.



Completions to Verses:


·      . . . God made it grow.


·      . . . only God, who makes things grow. 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (NIV)


7/30/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/0AQ3bHr80PM



Complete the Verse & Name the Book”A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things . . . (completion at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. Last month he started a series of sermons titled “Better Together—How Jesus Calls us into Community”. The sixth sermon in this series was given by Eric Channing and is titled “Stir Up”. It is based on Hebrews 10:19-25. Today we will begin a recap of that message with the focus being on verse 24.


Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (ESV)


When was the last time you were provoked in a good way such as a person helping you do something you should have been doing anyway? Many times in life we need to get provoked because we naturally drift towards the path of least resistance—complacency. Over the past year we have been displaced from our regular routine due to COVID, and perhaps you find yourself drifting. Perhaps you have put on the COVID-19 pounds, and your doctor is provoking you to make some changes in your eating habits. Perhaps you have found yourself drifting in your walk with the Lord; you find it difficult to find time to pray and meditate on God’s word. Perhaps you don’t want to be around people, so you aren’t sharing your faith with others. It’s natural for us to drift, and that’s why we need one another. Hopefully, today’s verse will provoke us in a good way so we will encourage one another and stir each other up to love and good works.


And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. This verse commands us to get outside of ourselves—to look outward to those around us. This verse contains a command: let us consider and a purpose statement:  how to stir up one another to love and good works. 


Consider means to contemplate, but in this verse it goes beyond just contemplating; it is asking us to look at, notice, to intentionally fix our eyes upon. If we are to consider one another, we need to see the people around us. We need to notice what’s going on in their lives. We need to intentionally seek them out. Diane Langberg, author and professor, said, “Every time you leave your place of comfort and enter into the suffering of another, you are living and loving as God.” 


We are to consider one another, but so often we get stuck in our own little world. Life gets busy and our needs being met become our top priority. Our comfort rises to the top. That’s natural. But God is not calling us to what is natural; he’s calling us to what is supernatural—to get outside of ourselves and consider others. 


In order to consider others, we need to know others. We must have a willingness to come alongside. Regardless of our temperament or busyness, we are called by God to get outside of ourselves and consider others. This isn’t a box to check; it is a way of life. Where do we get the motivation to live like this? From the one we follow who gave his very own blood that we might have access to God. We get it from the one who considered us above himself. We get our motivation from the great high priest, Jesus, who is interceding for us. We are children of the King, and he has given us his heart. 


What does that look like when we consider one another? You get to know the people around you at church. It’s sad when people enter and leave a church for the first time and nobody approaches them to welcome them. Getting to know someone goes beyond the simple, “Hi. How are you?” It involves asking surface questions but also going deeper and asking, “How can I pray for you?” Considering others entails getting involved in the community by serving in some capacity. People often comment, “I didn’t know anyone at this church until I started serving.” Joining a small group is a great way to consider others. We need to be involved with one another if we are to consider one another. Ask God to show you how he wants you to consider someone else. 


Now we come to the purpose statement of the verse: to stir up one another to love and good works. The word for stir up is a very intense word. The only other place in the New Testament where this word appears is in Acts 15:39: And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. To stir up is to disrupt the status quo—to cause to action. In the case here in Hebrews, it is positive action. We are called to stir up or disrupt the complacency in one another. 


It’s so easy for us to forget our calling—to glorify God in this world. A key way we do that is by showing love and doing good works that he’s called us to do. The author of Hebrews was not writing to a bunch of slackers or weak Christians. Hebrews 6 tells us they were filled with love and good deeds. They also were persecuted for their faith. Hebrews 10:34 says: For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. These were not weak Christians, but they needed a reminder because they were tempted to give up and go back to the old ways. 


Tomorrow we will continue a recap of Eric Channing’s sermon with the second half.



Verse Completion: . . . is an abomination to the LORD your God. Deuteronomy 22:5 (NASB)


7/29/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/FRo7kFl7hBw



Complete the Verse & Name the BookIf you love Me, you will. . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we started a recap of Dr. Josh Moody’s sermon titled “Hold Fast” that was based on Hebrews 10:19-25 with a focus on verse 23: Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. We left off with Pastor Moody saying Charles Simeon decided to stay at Holy Trinity in Cambridge in spite of massive opposition after he read in Matthew that Simon of Cyrene was compelled to carry the cross of Jesus. Charles held fast. He said to the devil, “You shall not pass.”


Your marriage . . . your life . . . hold fast! It takes grit doesn’t it? To have that kind of grit, we also need to have a future orientation. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope. Our hope is not simply present or past focused, but our hope is focused on the future. The reason why the Civil Rights Movement was able to hold fast and be so successful was because they didn’t simply sing “We Shall Not Be Moved,” but they also had a dream that one day their children would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. It’s still a dream, isn’t it? 


We have a dream: The God-centered gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed in us as a church and through us to the world by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. It’s not just a confession of faith; it’s a confession of hope. Our hope is that God would so work in this church and so transform us by his Spirit that we will be a light to our community and the nations. That’s our dream. Our dream is revival. Our dream is that the 30% church attendance in America would get back up to 50% or more. We have a dream that those attending church would have a genuine faith. 


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t say, “I have a moan,” he said, “I have a dream.” Don’t have a moan or complaint; have a dream. Don’t just have a confession of faith; have a confession of hope. The kingdom of God is advancing. Hebrews 11:1 says: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 


Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without waveringOne man who epitomized this was one of the most talented Christian leaders of the 20th century—Albert Schweitzer. Schweitzer was a theologian, medical doctor, organist, musicologist, writer, humanitarian, and philosopher. Albert Schweitzer knew the value of grit. At one point he said, “If you want to do something, you must not naively assume that people will roll stones out of your way. You should assume they will roll stones into your way.” And he said, “Only the force that gets stronger with opposition wins.” Now that's grit!


But there’s a danger. Grit without grace can become intransigent, stubborn, even arrogant. It can become difficult, unloving, incorrigible, uncorrectable. So there's grit, but there's also grace. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering. And now the grace: for he who promised is faithful. 


 You see, my friends, the faithfulness of Christians is not because we are so faithful. The strength of the Christian is not because he or she is so strong. Our faithfulness Is because he who promised is faithful. It's all on him, isn't it? And of course, the challenge at this point is to be too pietistic in how we talk about it. It's so easy in a sanctuary to sound big about being faithful, but in the hospital room or in the bedroom or in the kitchen after bad news has come to you, it's much harder. It's so easy to give pietistic rhetoric that feels good but is not substantial. And I think, frankly, this is a real challenge. I don't think any of us find it easy. 


I think we are similar to the disciples of Jesus when they were in the boat in the storm and woke Jesus up saying, “Don't you care if we drown?” 


Jesus answered, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” It’s likely that we would be akin to those disciples saying, “Don't you care if we drown? Where are you? It's a storm!”


It's so easy as a preacher to give rhetorically, nice sounding words about the faithfulness of God that don't resonate in the reality of the suffering of the human condition. I remember listening to one particular preacher who would tell the story of an elder at his church who they had discovered was committing adultery. This pastor sat down with his elder and told him they found this out. The pastor told him that he was in the wrong and needed to repent. The elder told the pastor, “I know it's wrong, but I don't have the power to stop doing it.” The preacher responded with, “What we need is not theory, but power.” And of course that's true. And yet how do we access that power? It’s one thing to read here he who promised is faithful”and sing about it and talk about, but it is another thing to experience that power, that faithfulness of God. 


As Christians we have the Holy Sprit living within us, and, therefore, our strength comes from the Spirit. He who promised is faithful. Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:28-31). 


We need to wait on God and his power. We need to wait on him who is faithful who came as a baby and fulfilled all the promises of the Bible and died in your place that you might be forgiven and rose again in power to pour out his Spirit on those who hold fast to him.


The picture I have of holding fast is that of holding my small child’s hand as we cross the road. My child is holding on to my hand, but it’s my hand that’s going to protect him. Similarly, you need to hold on, hold fast, but you can only do it because of grace—his almighty hand. 


After Louis Zamperini returned home from the war, he began to experience PTSD after all he had been through. He had trouble sleeping. He had flashbacks. He experienced nightmares. He took to alcohol. His life was falling apart until one day he happened to make contact with a preacher, and he saw Christ. Zamperini held on to Christ and was not only unbroken but made whole. What was offered to Zamperini is offered to you today: Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.



Verse Completion. . . keep My commandments. John 14:15 (NASB)


7/28/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/QZW4_8_zCBE



Complete the Verse & Name the BookBe faithful until death and I will . . . (completion at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. Last month he started a series of sermons titled “Better Together—How Jesus Calls us into Community”. The fifth sermon in this series is titled “Hold Fast” and is based on Hebrews 10:19-25. Today we will begin a recap of that message with the focus being on verse 23.


Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (ESV)


It is 1943. You are on a plane. You're flying across the Pacific. You're on a search and rescue mission. The plane is not the normal plane that's used for that because the rescue plane is in the shop and cannot fly. Instead, you're actually flying on the plane that was used for parts to repair other planes. You're flying across the vast Pacific Ocean—searching and hoping to rescue. 


One of the engines fails. The plane begins to shudder. Before too long it all goes wrong, and the plane crashes Into the ocean. You and a few others survive. All of you clamber aboard a couple of life rafts, and you float on that vast ocean for 47 days. Eventually, you are rescued only to end up going to a prisoner of war camp and experience unspeakable suffering.


On one particularly memorable day when you're floating on that life raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean having fought off sharks that were circling around the life rafts, a plane appears. Unfortunately, it’s not there to rescue you but to attack you. The plane dives and starts firing machinegun fire at the life rafts. There are sharks circling. What do you do? Here's what Louis Zamperini did: he dived into the shark infested water deep enough to get out of the firing line of the plane, and with his bare hands and his feet, he fought off the sharks and survived. A remarkable story!


There’s a book and a movie of this story named Unbroken. The passage we're looking at this morning has some of that same feeling. We're told to hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering or unwaveringly or unbroken. This is the only place this word that means without wavering appears in the entire New Testament. One commentator has translated without wavering to mean the following: the immutability of God and the stability, therefore, of the friends of God. Immutability means the unchangeableness of God. The stability of the friends of God means they are unbroken; they are unwavering. 


This passage is teaching us that when we face frustrations (such as long lines in the grocery store or mental health issues or family stress or frustrations with your area of ministry) we need to be unwavering and unbroken. In order to be unwavering in life’s frustrations, we need both grit and grace. The first part of our verse is grit: Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without waveringThe second part is grace: for he who promised is faithful


To hold fast means to hold on; to grasp hold of; to dig deep. We might put it like this: To hold on for dear life. 


In J.R.R. Tolkien’s book, The Fellowship of the Ring, from the series,  The Lord of the Rings, there’s a part where (quoting from the book) “The Balrog reached the bridge. Gandalf stood in the middle of the span, leaning on the staff in his left hand, but in his other hand Glamdring gleamed, cold and white. His enemy halted again, facing him, and the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings. It raised the whip, and the thongs whined and cracked. Fire came from its nostrils. But Gandalf stood firm.


‘You cannot pass,’ he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. ‘I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.’


That's what it means to hold fast: “You shall not pass.” The application of this for life and ministry is multiple. Charles Simeon was a Cambridge professor and a pastor of a church called Holy Trinity in Cambridge. He stayed there for five decades or so and had a huge influence, but in the first decade or so he experienced massive opposition. You have to understand something of the structure of the Church of England in those days (and still today): Though Simeon was the minister and so legally had control over the worship service, the churchwardens, as the officials are called in the Church of England, had control over the building. Because Simeon had so many enemies and experienced so much opposition, the churchwardens actually, physically, locked the pews in the church. Their pews had little doors on them with keys, and the churchwardens physically locked the doors so that people couldn't get in to hear him preach. Simeon was a creative man and decided that the way around this was to put chairs in the aisles, but the churchwardens came along and took the chairs out. 


One day, Simeon was walking in the streets of Cambridge with his New Testament open, and his eyes happened on this verse: As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross(Matthew 27:32). 


Simeon stayed. He held fast. The impact of that simple decision to hold fast was huge. Simeon was a part of a group called the Clapham Sect (sect not as we use it today, meaning a weird cult, but a group) that included people like John Newton and William Wilberforce, who was the most influential person in the abolition of the slave trade. He was massively influenced by Simeon because Simeon said, “You shall not pass.”


Verse Completion. . . give you the crown of life. Revelation 2:10b (NASB)


7/27/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


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



Complete the Verse & Name the Book”When you approach a city to fight against it, you shall . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we read a sermon based on Dr. Moody’s sermon “For Three and for Four” that used the text Amos 2:4-5. Today we will complete the sermon.


Amos is deliberately boxing the points of the compass. He starts northeast. “It's Boston's fault.” And then he goes southwest. “It's Los Angeles’ fault with all those Hollywood types. That's the problem.” Then he goes northwest. “It's Seattle and Portland with their bright idea to defund the police and allow looting and vandalism to take place while the police stand by and watch. They’re what’s wrong with our country!” And then he goes southeast. “Miami and all the drug trade; that's the problem!” And then in his most appealing rhetorical move yet, his coup de grace he says: This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Judah, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. Because they have rejected the law of the LORD and have not kept his decrees, because they have been led astray by false gods, the gods their ancestors followed, I will send fire upon Judah that will consume the fortresses of Jerusalem” (Amos 2:4). 


Judah was the Southern Kingdom. It was the Bible Belt. That's where the law was; it was the Law Belt. The Northern Kingdom would have been very pleased to hear this preacher go after the Bible Belt. Why? What have they done wrong? They're hypocrites. They have rejected the law of the Lord. They have the Bible, but they don't follow it. They've not kept God’s statutes. Their lives have led them astray. They are hypocrites. They're living a lie. They're not really following what the Bible says. They don't really love their neighbors as themselves. Those Bible Belt people are a bunch of hypocrites. 


The northern followers of God are cheering Amos on: “For three and for four, lock them up!” And then in a moment of great shock for his hearers, Amos says: “This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath (verse 6a). This is right where Amos is preaching. Bethel is the religious center of Israel! 


Amos is saying the problem is us! But how could that be? Amos tells them: They sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals (2:6b). Their justice system is fundamentally corrupted by financial incentives. If you can’t bribe a judge, you can get the kind of justice you want by paying enough fancy lawyers. They trample on the heads of the poor as upon the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed (2:7a). There is so much money, and there is so much poverty. The rich turn a blind eye to the poor. Father and son use the same girl and so profane my holy name (2:7b). Sexual immorality has become so bad that they are no longer content with mere adultery. They have become so depraved it is a scandal. The sexual revolution has become profane. 


What about all the religious services and ceremonies at Bethel and all the religious work that was going on in the Northern Kingdom? Amos said: They lie down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge. In the house of their god they drink wine taken as fines (2:8). The people are enthusiastic about going to religious services, and they are frequent in their sacrifices on the altar. They show up at church, but what they are wearing reveal the injustice to the poor. Impoverished and abused people are gathering the grapes that are being used to make the wine that the rich drink. Well, the audience is not cheering now! 


“For three and for four, go get Boston with all their Harvard intellectuals who compromise the gospel. The truth used to be there, but now they have turned their back on it. You call them out, Preacher! Go get them! And Los Angeles with all the entertainment corruption that spews fifth through the media . . . you go get them! Lock them up! Go get Seattle and Portland with all their anarchy and disregard for authority. Go get Miami with all the drug craziness down there. Stand up to the cartels, Preacher! Go get all those religious hypocrites in the South that were all about slavery and opposing the civil rights movement! But us? We were the Abolitionists! The Underground Railroad came through here! We have the Bible. We preach the Bible. Us? Really? Us?”


Yes, us!


What we need to do is take a long, hard look at our virtuous selves, and start being honest about our own sins. One of the greatest observers of the debauchery of injustice, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, said the following in his book The Gulag Archipelago:  “The line separating good and evil passes not through states (different countries), nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart…even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains…an uprooted small corner of evil.”     Let’s turn to the New Testament and read John 8:2-11: At dawn [Jesus] appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.     But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground and with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.     At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”     “No one, sir,” she said.     “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”     Why did every single teacher of the law and every single Pharisee walk away? Because every single one of them had sin. We’re no better. We are stained by sin just like them. It’s us. We have a sin problem, too. Pointing fingers at others doesn’t fly with God. He looks for the humble heart, not the proud heart.     After Jesus forgave the woman of her sins, he said, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” What sin do you and I need to leave behind? If you’re having trouble identifying that sin, ask God to reveal it to you. If you know exactly what sin you haven’t walked away from, today is the day to leave it behind. 2 Corinthians 6:2b says: Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.      God wants you and I to repent of the sin that so easily entangles us. Hebrews 12:1-2a says: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Let’s not fix our eyes on the sins of others; let’s look at our own sins and fix our eyes on Jesus—the only onewho can save us from our sins. Jesus died for our sins, and just as he told the woman, “Go now and leave your life of sin” he’s telling us to leave our sin behind.     What do we need to learn from all this? Amos tells us: For three and for four . . .  it’s us! It’s not them! It’s us. It’s me. Until we embrace that, we won’t be able to forgive people. We’ll continue to say, “It’s their fault! I haven’t done anything wrong.”      The line separating good and evil goes through every single human heart. That is good news, because on the third day Jesus rose from the grave. That three was followed by a four—the giving of his Spirit and new life and the renewed family of the church which is the great hope for this world. 



Verse Completion:. . . offer it terms of peace.Deuteronomy 20:10 (NASB)


7/26/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/PZZQ3qTaivE



Complete the Verse & Name the BookFor we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to . . . (completion at the end)



Josh Moody is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. Yesterday Ray Copelin gave a sermon based on a sermon given by Dr. Moody titled “For Three and for Four” with a text of Amos 2:4-5:


This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Judah, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. Because they have rejected the law of the LORD and have not kept his decrees, because they have been led astray by false gods, the gods their ancestors followed, I will send fire upon Judah that will consume the fortresses of Jerusalem.


The hit musical, Hamilton, portrays King George as a narcissistic dictator and for good reason. Historians have spent many years trying to figure out what exactly was wrong with George. Clearly he had some mental issues. He went through bouts of serious depression. In the 1960s a book came out, The Madness of King George. It claimed that contemporary medical science concluded King George suffered from a genetic blood disorder known as porphyria. In more recent years other scientists have determined he was bipolar or manic depressive. Because King George’s doctors didn’t know what disorder he had, they treated him with some strange medical techniques that included arsenic. The right diagnosis matters! 


Our society is showing symptoms of a disease—massive divisiveness; injustice. Most people would probably agree that our country is showing symptoms of social disease, but we don’t agree on the cause. We don’t seem to be able to come to an agreement in the diagnosis, and the right diagnosis matters. 


In Amos’s day, there were widely agreed symptoms of social disease as well. It was a time of urbanization, wealth, and prosperity. People were flooding to the cities. What accompanied that wealth and prosperity was a growing gap between the haves and the have-nots—between the wealthy and the poor.  There was widely, common injustice. 


Amos is preaching his sermons in the northern part of the country. He is basing his sermons in a place called Bethel which was the main, northern, religious center. His first sermon is found in the first two chapters of the book. The sermon starts out in verse 2: “The LORD roars from Zion . . . Amos is saying this sermon is going to be a roaring sermon. There are different kinds of sermons. Some sermons are gentle and pastoral. Some are very practical, applicable to daily life. Other sermons are sermons about justice and truth and righteousness. All of Amos’s ministry is about justice, truth, and righteousness. His first sermon is a roaring sermon. He is going to speak truth to power. No doubt the people listening to his sermon in Bethel were very enthusiastic. This was not going to be some boring sermon. This one was going to have some passion behind it. He was going to roar.


Their enthusiasm would have built as he went through his sermon because Amos is picking out all the enemies of the people he is preaching to and he is calling their enemies to account. Those are the kinds of sermons people like to hear. “Those people are wrong! You tell them, Preacher!”


Throughout his sermon, Amos uses a rhetorical technique, something like a poetic refrain. Over and over he repeats “For three sins, even for four . . . for three and for four; for three and for four.” Hebrew poetry had its own rules as our poetry does today. One rule that was very common in Hebrew poetry is what we call parallelism. In other words: three matches three. But here’s a kind of parallelism where he says “for three and for four.” 


This is also seen in the book of Proverbs. For example in Proverbs 6:16-19 we read: There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. It’s as if the author is saying, “For six and for seven.” 


When Amos says, “For three and for four,” what Amos is saying is “Enough is enough! No more! Injustice has to stop!” It’s not for three and for three, it’s for three and for four. “Done! No more injustice!”


One technique parents might use with their children to get them motivated to get to bed at night is they might say, “I’m going to count to three . . . one . . . two . . . three” and when the child still isn’t moving the parent says, “. . . FOUR!” At that point the child jumps into action. When the parent has to say “FOUR,” it’s as if the parent is saying, “Enough is enough! The time for change is NOW!” 


Amos starts with one of their worst enemies, Damascus. In verse three he says: This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Damascus, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. Because she threshed Gilead with sledges having iron teeth.What Amos is pointing out is that when Damascus engaged in warfare, they committed war crimes. At this point the audience would have been saying, “Go get them, Preacher! Lock them up!” 


In verse six Amos goes after Gaza: This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Gaza, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. Because she took captive whole communities and sold them to Edom. Amos is hitting hard the slave trade that is going on in Gaza. The audience is chanting, “For three and for four. Go get those disgusting slave traders, Preacher!”


Tyre is next in verse nine: This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Tyre, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. Because she sold whole communities of captives to Edom, disregarding a treaty of brotherhood. Tyre was involved in the slave trade as well, but what they had done was even worse than Gaza because Tyre had traded into slavery their own family, their own relatives. The audience is getting worked up: “Finally, someone is calling out those horrible people! Finally, someone is speaking truth into power! For three and for four, lock every single one of those scoundrels up!” 


Edom is next in verse 11: This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Edom, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. Because he pursued his brother with a sword, stifling all compassion, because his anger raged continually and his fury flamed unchecked. Edom had acted with animal-like ferocity as it tore perpetually at its prey. Edom was like a particularly violent version of the TV series Game of Thrones. “Go get them, Preacher. That is just wrong!”


Amos goes after the Ammonites next in verse 13: This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Ammon, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. Because he ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to extend his borders. The Ammonites have conducted genocide. If you want to take over a country and make sure the people in that country never have a chance to turn against you in the future (assuming you have no moral boundaries whatsoever), you need to kill the adults in the country and their children. If the children are killed, one never has to worry about them seeking revenge at some point. Killing all the children includes the unborn children. The audience responds with: “Thank goodness someone is calling out genocide! Well done, Preacher! Finally, someone is brave enough to call their sin out!”


In Amos 2:1 Moab is singled out: This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Moab, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. Because he burned, as if to lime, the bones of Edom’s king. In the ancient world, the feeling was that your physical remains after you died needed to be taken care of in the appropriate way because, otherwise, your life after death was in jeopardy. They had a very close connection between the physical bones and what would happen to you after you died. If you wanted to kill your enemy and insure that they would be dead now and dead in the life to come, too, and suffer eternal damnation, then you would burn their bones. The audience chimes: “Finally, we have a preacher who stands against injustice! For three and for four, go get them! Lock them up and throw away the key!” 


Tomorrow the second half of this sermon will be provided. 



Verse Completion. . . fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:30-31 (NASB)


7/24/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/ZNrVed6dP6s



Complete the Verses & Name the Book

·      ”I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man . . .


·      But he who disowns me before men will be . . . (completions at the end)



Yesterday, we did a recap of the first half of a sermon Dr. Josh Moody gave titled “Draw Near” based on Hebrews 10:19-25 with an emphasis on verse 22: let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water


We left off yesterday with Pastor Moody saying: The great Dutch theologian, Geerhardus Vos, said (using two Greek words), “Christianity is not a douleia but a latreia—that is a direct worship of God.” Douleia is the word for service or indeed slavery, so when we come to a worship service, we don’t come as a Christian, we come as a slave with God distant and us as a servant. Christianity is not a douleia, it is a latreia—a  direct worship of God through Jesus Christ. We draw near to God. You don’t need to go through a saint. You don’t need to go through Mary. You don’t need to perform certain ritual washings. You don’t need techniques of mindfulness. You draw near through Christ into the very holy presence of God. 


Today we will complete the recap of Dr. Moody’s sermon.


How do we draw near to God? 


1.   With a true heart


2.   In full assurance of faith


3.   With our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience


4.   Our bodies washed with pure water


With a true heart means our worship of God must be sincere. We must mean what we say and mean what we sing. Our worship must spring forth from a true heart. David said: Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being (Psalm 51:6a). The internal needs to match the external. Jesus said, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him” (John 4:23). 


This is probably the biggest barrier for those who have grown up in the church. It’s so easy to live on Christian ease—to live on the jargon. What can happen is the person is surrounded by Christians at church, at Christian school, and at home, but he/she has no idea what it means to be washed in the blood of the Lamb because they have never experienced it. But how does such a person share that with others? We don’t come with a true heart. We’re not being sincere about what we actually think. Of course, God cannot be mocked. If we don’t mean what we sing, it’s not going to mean much to us, and it’s not going to mean anything to God. 


In full assurance of faith is not saying what at first glance it seems to be saying. Christians often use “assurance of faith” to mean confidence in knowing we are saved. When the author uses this term, he is talking about full satisfaction in Jesus as the only way of drawing near to God. John Owen said, “The full assurance of faith here respects not the assurance that any have of their own salvation, nor any degree of such an assurance. It is only the full satisfaction of our souls and consciences in the reality and efficacy of the priesthood of Christ.” In other words, what he's saying is this: In order to draw near to God, you need to put your faith in Christ and in Christ alone. Hebrews 11:6 says: And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.


There is a door that is open. The name of that door is Christ. In order to go through that door you can’t be trying to go through another door at the same time. You have to enter through the Christ door and the Christ door alone. You cannot worship God and money at the same time. You cannot worship God and fame. You cannot worship God and success. It has to be Christ and Christ alone. The door of your own efforts and ideas, the door of your own techniques of mindfulness, won’t draw you near to God. It’s simply Christ. 


With our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience. Exodus 24:8 says: And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.” The words were the words of the Law, and that’s a shadow of the reality of the blood of Christ. 


The evil conscience is that inner voice that tells us that what we did was wrong—we have erred and strayed like lost sheep. We need the blood of Jesus to cleanse us from our sins. What does it mean to have the blood of Jesus sprinkled on us? It means that when you become a Christian, and each time you come to worship, we apply the blood of Jesus to our conscience. The inner voice tells us we have done wrong and are not worthy. What’s the solution? The world tells us the solution is to believe in ourselves—because I’m worth it. I have value. The problem is if you have value, why did you do that which your conscience is bothering you about? If you are so worthy, why do you do that which is worthless? Why do I feel jealousy? Why do I feel hate? The only solution is to apply the blood of Jesus. 


When we sin, we deserve to die. Think of it this way: If someone finds a scrap of paper in the office that has someone’s best thoughts written down on it, and instead of giving that scrap of paper back to the author, in a peak of jealousy, tears up the piece of paper and throws it in the trash, that’s a bad thing to do, but it probably doesn’t deserve death. Now imagine the same individual goes to the Art Institute of Chicago and sees a famous painting by Vincent van Gogh. He takes the painting off the wall and tears it into shreds. In both instances there’s a ripping and a tearing but the consequences are very different. It makes a big difference as to what is ripped or torn. 


Let’s make it personal. Let’s say a couple of men went to a bar and drank a bit too much. One of the men gets angry at the other and punches him in the face resulting in an assault charge and a trip to jail. Now imagine the man is out of jail and going for a walk in the park. He’s still angry over what happened the night before. He sees a lady pushing her baby in a stroller. He walks over and punches the baby right in the face. It’s the same punch from the night before by the same man, but it’s against someone different. The crime is different and the consequence is different. 


You and I have sinned against the Beauty of beauties, the Holy of holies, the Infinite Majesty of the universe. The only possible consequence for that is death. There must be blood, and there is blood. Your crime was bad, and you deserved death, but there was One who died for you. You apply the blood when you become a Christian, and you apply it each and every time you come to worship. The bane of public worship is that people do not apply the blood of Jesus. It’s no wonder that we do not feel a connection—it’s because our consciences are still evil—still guilty. We must apply the blood of Jesus every time we come to worship. 


Our bodies washed with pure water. Some people say this refers to baptism. However, as the blood was not literal blood, the water here is not literal water. The “water” is the Spirit of God. Ezekiel 36:25 says: I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. Ezekiel is describing that great day when the Spirit of God will come upon God’s people in the New Testament church. The illustration and image he uses is of water. Jesus said, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). To draw near to God we seek the Spirit of God to renew us and empower us. 


Not only do we have our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience, but we have our actions freshly inspired and motivated—the deeds of our body as well as the intentions of our heart washed and renewed. 


Charles Spurgeon came very close to atheism. In his autobiography he said it crossed his mind that there was no God, no Christ, no heaven, and no hell. He said he started to doubt there was a world. Spurgeon says, “I doubted everything, until at last, the devil floated by making me doubt my own existence. The very extravagance of the doubt proved its absurdity. There came a voice which said, ‘And can this doubt be true?’” In other words, Spurgeon doubted his doubts. That’s often the first step in moving out of atheism to real faith. 


Spurgeon goes on in his book to tell of his conversion on one wintry Sunday morning on January the 6th, 1850. The bad weather meant that he attended a church he had not intended to attend—a Primitive Methodist church. Fifteen-year-old Charles sat there with no more than a dozen people. The minister who got up that morning had not intended to preach, as the regular minister had not been able to get to the church with the weather being so bad. Into the pulpit climbed someone who, obviously, had to make it up very fast that morning because of the weather. Spurgeon described the minister as a person of “very modest gifts”. The preacher had a text though, a great text, which was this: Look unto me and be saved all the ends of the earth! (Isaiah 45:22)


Here’s what Spurgeon had to say: The preacher had not much to say, thank God, for that compelled him to keep repeating the text. I remember how he said, “My dear friends, this is a very simple text, indeed. It says, ‘Look.’  Now looking don't take a great deal of pain. It ain't lifting your foot or your finger. It is just, ‘look.’ Well, a man needn’t go to college to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, but you can look. A child can look.”


Apparently the preacher rambled on like this for ten minutes or so, and then lacking any other material, he finally stared out on the congregation and picked out the young Spurgeon and addressed him directly. He said this: “Young man, you look very miserable.” 


Spurgeon described his feelings on being addressed from the pulpit like that. He said this: “Well. I did look miserable, but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made from the pulpit about my personal appearance before. However, it was a good blow--struck right home.” 


The preacher carried on: “And you always will be miserable—miserable in life, and miserable in death if you don't obey my text. But if you obey now, this very moment, you will be saved.” And then the preacher shouted at the top of his voice, as I think only a Primitive Methodist can, “Young man, look to Jesus Christ! Look! Look! Look! You have nothing to do but to look and live.” 


Then Spurgeon says, “I did look. I saw at once the way of salvation. Oh, I could have looked,” he says, “until I could have almost looked my eyes away. Then and there the cloud was gone. The darkness had rolled away, and at that moment I saw the Son, and I could have risen that instant and sung with the most enthusiastic of them of the precious blood of Christ and the simple faith which alone looks to Him.”


That, my friends, is how through Christ we draw near. 



Completions to Verses:


·      . . . will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.


·      . . . disowned before the angels of God. Luke 12:8-9 (NIV)


7/23/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/84YASWe3_2Q



Complete the Verse & Name the Book”When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall . . . (completion at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. Last month he started a series of sermons titled “Better Together—How Jesus Calls us into Community”. The fourth sermon in this series is titled “Draw Near” and is based on Hebrews 10:19-25. Today we will begin a recap of that message with the focus being on verse 22.


Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (ESV)


The author of Hebrews is writing to Jewish Christians who were being tempted to go back to Judaism with all its impressive ceremonies, sacrifices, the temple, all the heritage, history, and tradition. It didn’t help when they faced persecution for saying the name of Christ. The author of Hebrews is encouraging the Jewish Christians to say with Christ because he is better. It’s a comparative message all the way through. Everything written would have been easily understood by the Jewish audience, but there are terms and traditions that might need to be decoded for us. Their religious world is a lot different from our religious world. We are not tempted to return to Judaism; we are tempted to move forward. We still want to “draw near” and encounter God but at the same time we begin to look at new and different ways to go forward that won’t face the same stigma that gathering in a Bible-teaching church does sometimes create today. 


Our society is not so much moving towards a secularization, a non-religious society, as to a different kind of spirituality. God has put eternity into our hearts, and when people stop believing in the God of the Bible, it’s not because they stop desiring some kind of transcendence or spiritual experience, they just go to many different kinds of spiritualities. 


There’s a book, Strange Rites, that describes what’s going on in New York City—the petri dish for new ideas. The author describes how the club scene has changed in Manhattan. Around a decade ago the club scene was rife with immorality of different kinds but deeply secularized. Today the same club scene has various kinds of spiritualities and mysticisms attached to it. Similarly, this book describes how the tech giants of our age (Google, Facebook, and so on) are introducing to their employees techniques of mindfulness with explicit derivation from Buddhist and Hindu practices. What we’re seeing is an ongoing deep desire for connection to draw near but of a new and different kind as people move forward. The pandemic may have sped up this process. 


A new study that has come out from Yale University identifies three shifts that typically take place after pandemics:


1.   The collective threat prompts a growth in State power. 


2.   The overturning of everyday life leads to a search for meaning. There’s a shift towards identity politics on both the right and the left. We want to be associated with someone or something bigger than ourselves. We’re looking for meaning.Roughly one in five people in Italy and the Netherlands said the pandemic made their countries more religious. 


3.   The closeness of death which brings caution while the disease rages, spurs audacity when it has passed. In other words, after a pandemic there’s usually a party. 


How do we draw near to God? In Hebrew there is a single word for “draw near”. That word is the whole performance of all divine, solemn worship and was constantly expressed. For example, Leviticus 21:16-17 says: And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron, saying, None of your offspring through their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God. The word approach used here is the word for “draw near”. There were certain requirements for drawing near. The priest brings near his sacrifice as well as bringing near those who follow him. We are brought near by Jesus as our high priest and forerunner. 


We find the idea of drawing near throughout the book of Hebrews. Hebrews 4:16 says: Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 7:19 says: (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. Hebrews 7:25 says: Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 10:1 says: For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. In the Old Testament, they are attempting to draw near, but it doesn’t work. It’s pointing to a bigger reality—Jesus Christ. 


Old Testament worship is being compared to New Testament worship in Hebrews 12:18 and 22: For you have not come (drawn near) to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest (the experience of the Israelites when they gathered around Mt. Sinai and the law was given). But you have come(drawn near) to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering. The author is not talking about heaven (the place followers of Christ go when they die), he’s talking about the experience of the New Testament worshiper—the city of God, the festal gathering whereby we draw near to the holy—the presence of God himself. 


In many ways this is the most significant aspect of what it really means to worship God and connect with him. The great Dutch theologian, Geerhardus Vos, said, “Christianity is not a douleia (Greek word) but a latreia (Greek word). That is a direct worship of God.” Douleia is the word for service or indeed slavery, so when we come to a worship service, we don’t come as a Christian, we come as a slave with God distant and us as a servant. Christianity is not a douleia, it is a latreia—a  direct worship of God through Jesus Christ. We draw near. You don’t need to go through a saint. You don’t need to go through Mary. You don’t need to perform certain ritual washings. You don’t need techniques of mindfulness. You draw near through Christ into the very holy presence of God. 


Tomorrow we will continue this recap of Dr. Moody’s sermon with the second half.



Verse Completion. . . not be afraid of him. Deuteronomy 18:22 (NASB)


7/22/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/VbqSm-_pDxA



Complete the Verses & Name the Book:

·      For by grace you have been saved through faith; and . . . 


·      not as a result of works, that . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we recapped Pastor Dan Hiben’s message “Since We Have a Great High Priest over the House of God” that was based on Hebrews 10:19-25, with the focus on verse 21. Pastor Panner said the priesthood of Jesus serves as a foundation for our Christian community. The first aspect of his priesthood is that Jesus identifies with us in our weakness.


The second aspect we will consider about Jesus’ priesthood is his holiness. Jesus is holy, and he takes us to God. We see the holiness of Jesus in his living perfection and constant intercession. Hebrews 6:19-20 says: We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. God is a holy God. He is perfect. He is unstained. He lacks nothing. This is a problem for us sinners. We cannot enter into his presence in our sinful state or on our own merit. 


The separation between sinful man and a holy God is represented in the temple. The holy of holies was where the presence of God dwelt. A curtain separated the holy of holies from the rest of the temple. Only the high priest could enter this area and only once a year to make atonement for the sins of the people. There is no wayfor sinful people to enter God’s presence on their own. There’s only one way to enter God’s presence and that is through our great high priest, Jesus. Jesus is our forerunner who draws us into his presence. Jesus said: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:1-3,6). Jesus is our forerunner. He has gone before us. He is our great high priest, and he takes us to God. 


Jesus’s living perfection is continued in Hebrews 7:26-28: For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever. Jesus is able to be our forerunner into God’s presence because he is a high priest who is holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted among the heavens. The one who identifies with us in our weakness is the one who is rightly able to enter into the holy place. He is worthy to go there because he is the very Son of God. 


The priests of the old covenant could help the people approach God by offering animal sacrifices on their behalf. The priests had to offer sacrifices for their own sins and offer more sacrifices for the sins of the people. The priests were sinners themselves, but Jesus, as the better priest, does not need to offer any more sacrifices. He doesn’t have to offer sacrifices for himself because he is sinless. He doesn’t have to offer sacrifices for the people because his sacrifice on Calvary was once for all. The guilty could not die for the guilty. Only a perfect sacrifice can stand in the place of guilty sinners. When Jesus offered up himself, he offered up the perfect sacrifice for us. 


When rock climbing with some friends in northern Minnesota, we started down sheer rock cliffs that were 100-200 feet above the water of Lake Superior. We first had to repel down the cliff before we could climb up the cliff. At the top of the cliff anchor bolts were placed in the rock. The person belaying, clips their harness into the anchor and then you clip into the rope. As you lean out backward over the cliff, you wonder if the anchor is going to hold. Fortunately, the anchor was sure and steadfast, and it held. Jesus as our priest is our sure and steadfast anchor for our soul. He is the perfect sacrifice who can hold us fast even in the midst of the greatest challenges. When you’re leaning back over the side of the cliff, Jesus, your high priest, is a sure and steadfast anchor for your soul. This should be a great encouragement to us to not move on from Jesus and his perfect sacrifice. Jesus is everything we could possibly need. Jesus is the anchor our souls need. The sacrifice of Jesus is sufficient. There’s no need for anything else. We can confidently put our trust in Jesus. 


Jesus is constantly interceding for his people before the Father. Hebrews 7:23-25 says: The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 


Under the old covenant, a high priest held his office for life. When he died a new high priest would have to take his place. Jesus is a better priest since he brings us to God through constant intercession. His priestly ministry does not end, and that’s why he is able to save to the uttermost. His salvation is eternal because Jesus continues forever. The very one who identifies with us in our weakness takes us to God in his holiness. Jesus will always be there to intercede for us on our behalf. 


We may think about what Jesus has done for us in the past (dying for our sins) and what he’s going to do for us in the future (his second coming), but what is he doing for us right now? He is interceding for us; he’s praying for us. Jesus is always bringing his perfect life, his atoning death, and his resurrection from the dead before the Father on behalf of believers. By his praying, Jesus takes us to God in his holiness. What an encouragement this is to us who are sinners. Christ continues to intercede on our behalf in heaven because we continue to fail here on earth. He does not forgive us through his work on the cross and then hope we make it the rest of the way.


Picture a glider pulled up into the sky by an airplane soon to be released to glide back to earth. We are that glider; Christ is the plane.  But Christ never disengages; he never let’s go wishing us well, hoping we can glide the rest of the way into heaven. He carries us all the way. What comfort this is! Take comfort in knowing Jesus is always interceding for you, and he will never let you go. 


Hebrews 3:1-4 says: Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.)


The original readers of Hebrews would have had utmost respect for Moses. He faithfully led the Israelites out of Egypt, delivered the Law to them, and wrote the first five books of the Old Testament. The author of Hebrews says Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses because Moses was part of God’s house, but Jesus built the house. What is the house? Those of us who belong to God. Verses 5-6 say: Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. It’s not a specific place but a people—God’s people are his house. 


Are you part of God’s people? All these benefits and blessings of Jesus as your great high priest are yours if your confidence and your boasting and your hope are in him alone. For those of us who are believers, root your confidence more deeply than ever in Jesus Christ. Boast in what he’s done for you and what he continues to do for you. He is worthy! What a wonderful Savior to celebrate! What a wonderful priest to trust. May our hearts overflow with gratitude and thankfulness that we have such a priest. Let’s remember everything our great priest does for us. We do indeed have a great priest, and his name is Jesus. 



Completions to Verses:


·      . . . that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.


·      . . . no one should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB)


7/21/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/Wo-rGzx2OZk



Complete the Verse & Name the Book: “On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on . . . (completion at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. Last month he started a series of sermons titled “Better Together”. The third sermon in this series is titled “Since We Have a Great High Priest over the House of God” and was based on Hebrews 10:19-25 with the focus on verse 21. The sermon was given by Associate Pastor Dan Hiben. Today we will begin a recap of his message.


     Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (ESV)


How often do we pause and consider Jesus as our priest? To the early readers of the book of Hebrews, it would be obvious and unquestioned that a priest was needed to mediate between them and God. A priest was needed to go to God on their behalf. While an apostle or prophet moved from God toward man, a priest moved from man toward God representing the people before the Lord. Hebrews 5:1 gives us a definition of a priest: For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 


As these people faced trials and persecution for their Christian faith, it seems as if they were considering going back to the old covenant ways which would have included a priest offering regular animal sacrifices on their behalf making intercession before God. Our temptation today is probably not to leave Jesus behind and return to the old covenant ways, our temptation is to move on from having Jesus as our priest. We might feel like we don’t need a priest. Why would we even want a priest? Perhaps having a priest seems outdated or unnecessary. However, Hebrews 3:1-2 tells us: Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house.Jesus is our great high priest. 


The priesthood of Jesus serves as a foundation for our Christian community. The first aspect of his priesthood is that Jesus identifies with us in our weakness. Although he is high and exalted as the Son of God, he identifies with us in our frail humanity. Two ways Jesus identifies with us in our weakness are through embodying humanity and experiencing temptation. 


Jesus took on human flesh. Hebrews 2:14-18 says: Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Jesus embodied humanity. Jesus came to save human beings, so he became human so he could live as a human and die as a human and save humans from their sins. Embodying humanity is core to Jesus’s work as our great priest. 


The priests of the Old Testament would offer sacrifices of bulls and goats but Jesus, as our better priest, offered his very body. Jesus identifies with us in our humanity. He is for us. 


Describing Jesus, John said: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made (John 1:1-3). And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). 


Just think of all Jesus went through to be identified with us. Do you feel rejected? Jesus was rejected even by his own people. Do you feel grief or the pain of loss? Jesus wept at the death of his dear friend. Do you feel lonely or forgotten? Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He was despised and esteemed not. Jesus, our great priest, embodied humanity in order to identify with you in your weakness.


Jesus knows what it’s like to be tempted. Hebrews 4:14-16 says: Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.The sympathy here is not just in feeling the weight of our weaknesses but in sharing in that weakness. Jesus is able to help us in our weakness because he has been tempted as we are. He’s just like us in that he has been tempted, but he’s different from us in that he never sinned while each and every one of us has sinned. Jesus is the only human who lived a perfect life. 


When we are tempted we often release the pressure valve of that temptation by giving in to it. Day by day we fall into sin, but Jesus never sinned. Jesus resisted temptation all the way to his death. When we go to our great high priest seeking grace and mercy that we so desperately need, he compassionately accepts us. When you take your sin to Jesus, he will always respond with grace and mercy. Sometimes we think we need to clean ourselves up before going to Jesus, but we are powerless to cleanse ourselves of any sin. Only Jesus can do that because he paid the penalty of sin by giving his life on the cross. Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32). 


The popular TV show “Undercover Boss” is about bosses or CEOs of companies who disguise themselves and work in their company often doing menial jobs so they can see what really goes on in their company. The “undercover boss” invariably will experience the same trials and difficulties that their employees face. Generally, after having experienced for themselves what their employees experience on a day-to-day basis, the boss’s heart is filled with compassion toward the employees. 


Jesus identifies with us in our weakness, but it’s a bit different than “Undercover Boss” because Jesus never goes in disguise. He has revealed himself to us through his word, and he comes to where we are with arms open wide. He is the Son of God and yet he wants to have a relationship with you. What’s more is he never leaves. He is always interceding for you. He is with you, and he is for you. He knows you and identifies with you in your weakness. He is our great priest. 



Verse Completion. . . the evidence of one witness. Deuteronomy 17:6 (NASB)


7/20/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/EYQ2SH4cqhk



Complete the Verse & Name the Book:  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Influence” that was based on 2 Kings 8:1-6. Today we will complete the recap. We left off with Pastor Michael saying that the Shunammite woman followed God even when the rest of the country wasn’t following God. She revered the words of God as true. 


The woman proceeded to do as the man of God said. She and her family went away and stayed in the land of the Philistines seven years (verse 2). The land of the Philistines was along the Mediterranean Coast where rainfall was more abundant. This is where she chose to live, moving to a land of uncertainty. 


At the end of the seven years she came back from the land of the Philistines and went to the king to beg for her house and land (verse 3). Why did she have to beg for her house and land? Because someone had moved into her house while she was away. How could this happen when she was following the word of God? It seems like her reward for following God was to lose her house and everything she has. She followed God’s instruction to move, she revered His word, she believed God, she put God first, she walked off into uncertainty, and now she has no place to live because someone else has moved into her house. I wonder if she asked herself, “Why am I following God?” 


Have you ever asked yourself that question after you followed God’s direction for your life, and it didn’t work out the way you had anticipated? We have the expectation that if we follow God, God will bless us—things will go smoothly and everything will fall into place for us. Afterall, Romans 8:28 says: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 


The Shunammite woman is now asking, “How is this good? Now I have no place to live. This doesn’t make sense. Does God really love me?” Sometimes the definition of good is not our expectation of good. Sometimes our certainty isn’t God’s certainty. 


The king was talking to Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, and had said, “Tell me about all the great things Elisha has done” (verse 4). We know this story is not in chronological order because this occurred before Gehazi got leprosy. A person with leprosy would never be allowed into the king’s palace. 


Just as Gehazi was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, the woman whose son Elisha had brought back to life came to beg the king for her house and land (verse 5a). Do you think this was a coincidence? Not a chance!


Gehazi said, “This is the woman, my lord the king, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life.” The king asked the woman about it, and she told him (verse 5b-6a). The king is enthralled by her story. Eventually, the king asks the woman, “What brings you here?” After she explained her situation, the king takes action.


Then he assigned an official to her case and said to him, “Give back everything that belonged to her, including all the income from her land from the day she left the country until now” (verse 6b). Not only did the king arrange for the woman to get her house back, but he gave the order to pay the lady what her land would have earned during the seven years that she was away. 


God orders the events and circumstances in this woman’s life. Romans 8:28 has happened. It didn’t happen in the way this Shunammite woman thought it would happen; it happened in a way that was far more advantageous for the woman. She had revered God’s words. She had trusted God as he led her into uncertainty, and God gave her favor she hadn’t imagined. The good that God gives us is far greater than the good that we would give ourselves. 


What happens when we revere the word of God? He pours his favor on us. He doesn’t give us the good that we want; he gives us the good that He wants to give us. Many times it’s difficult following God. Things don’t seem to work out and nothing seems to make sense. Just remember, when we revere God’s words, God favors us. 


To follow God our pattern of life has to change. We have to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (see Romans 12:2). We have a choice: we can hold God’s word in contempt and say, “I’m not going to follow it because I like certainty in life, and I’m going to stick with my certainty,” or we can say, “I’m going to follow God into uncertainty even though I can’t control where things will end up. I will follow God because His uncertainty is much more favorable than my certainty.” 


It’s a spiritual truth: When you revere God’s word, God favors you. Watch and see how God will show up and favor you. 


What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39 



Verse Completion. . . ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 (NIV)


7/19/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/ylcpjRz7HDA?t=11



Complete the Verse & Name the Book:  “You shall not sacrifice to the LORD your God an ox or a sheep which has a blemish or any defect, for . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Influence” was based on 2 Kings 8:1-6. Today we will start a recap of that message.


Often when we read God’s word we are confronted by it, and we realize we have to change. That change might involve habits, relationships, a job, or our location. God’s word always moves us to life change, and that change sometimes involves hardship or difficulty. One thing for sure—it always involves uncertainty. What do we do when we are faced with uncertainty and possible hardship and sacrifice? We can be contemptuous like we saw in last week’s story, or we can hold God’s word in reverence as we’ll see in this week’s story. What happens when we revere the word of God?


Today’s story involves the Shunammite woman we met earlier in Chapter 4. Let’s learn more about her as we begin reading in Chapter 8:


Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Go away with your family and stay for a while wherever you can, because the LORD has decreed a famine in the land that will last seven years (verse 1). 


This story is not in chronological order. The Bible is not solely a history book. The Bible does contain history and what’s written is true, but its main objective is not chronological history. What we read in Scripture is redemptive history. The stories fit together so we are able to see the redemptive work of God in people’s lives throughout history. Redemption is God putting people back in a right relationship with him. Redemptive history is not primarily concerned about putting events in chronological order. The writers of Scripture take stories and put them together in such a way that they clearly show God’s redemptive work in history. 


In the life of Elisha, we have stories that show how God is at work in the life of his people. The story in Chapter 2 that involves the healing of the bad water, demonstrates what happens when we believe God. The next story that took place in Bethel demonstrates what happens to those who don’t believe God. Chapter 3 is about partial obedience to God and partial victory. Chapter 4 is about what happens when the poor widow fully obeys God—her borrowed jars are filled with oil. In the story involving the Shunammite’s son, we see that God has power over life and death. We see in the next story that God changed poisonous stew into edible stew. In the next story we see God’s power over a shortage of food with the feeding of a hundred men. In Chapter 5 God heals Naaman of his leprosy. In Chapter 6 God causes an axhead to float so a prophet attending school would be able to return a borrowed ax complete. 


All these stories are put together so we can see the redemptive power of God. In the next story we see how God encourages the faithful and discourages the unfaithful. Last week we saw what happens when we are contemptuous of God’s word as we read about the famine in besieged Samaria. Today we read about what happens when we revere God’s word. The story is out of place chronologically but in place to show God’s redemptive power. 


Elisha warns the Shunammite woman that a severe famine is coming and it would be best for her to leave where she is living. How would you respond if you were told to move from the place you are living in now? A lot is involved in a move! To top it off, this Shunammite woman doesn’t even have a place to go to. She isn’t mentally prepared, emotionally prepared, or physically prepared to make a move. There are so many uncertainties, but one thing’s for sure—life is going to change. It’s likely that her husband has passed away by this point in her life. She doesn’t know what the future holds but she knows who holds her future. She’s going to be obedient to God now just as she has been obedient to God in the past. That’s not going to change. She knows God’s word is true, and God can be trusted. 


Sometimes we know God is asking us to make changes in our lives, but we also know those changes will be difficult, and they may be costly. They may take us out of our comfort zone. Sometimes we are torn between the certainty of our own kingdom and the uncertainty of God’s kingdom. We have to make the choice of following our own ways or following God’s ways. 


Abraham was called to leave Ur and go to Syria. He didn’t have a place to move into, but by faith he left Ur trusting God to provide for his needs. Later Abraham was called by God to go to the land of Canaan. He had a choice to make—stay in the certainty of his kingdom or follow the uncertainty of God’s kingdom. Abraham followed God because he knew God. He had experienced God, and he trusted God. 


The Shunammite woman followed God even when the rest of the country wasn’t following God. She revered the words of God as true. 


Tomorrow we will recap the second half of Pastor Michael’s sermon.



Verse Completion. . . that is a detestable thing to the LORD your God.Deuteronomy 17:1 (NASB)


7/17/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/N-aBk7TEPLw



Complete the Verse & Name the Book: But I say to you, love your enemies, and. . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we recapped Pastor Ben Panner’s message “Since We Have Confidence” that was based on Hebrews 10:19-25. We left off with Pastor Panner saying we, the church, need a renewed vision. We need renewed vocabulary of the church as a family. We need to think about one another as family. We need to talk to one another as family. We need to treat one another as family. We need to commit to one another as family. We’re better together.


What do we have that will help us to continue on and endure in following Jesus together? We find our answer in Verse 19: we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus. The holy place is not the tabernacle; it’s the heavenly places where God actually dwells. We have access into the heavenly throne room of God. We have confidence to enter God’s presence because the blood of Jesus covers our sins. 


In order to attend an NFL game, you have to have a pass to get in. That pass is restrictive. You are limited to the seats you have been assigned. It’s rare, but an all-access pass, a VIP pass, allows you to go anywhere. However, you are still simply an observer. You are not allowed to play the game. The author of Hebrews is telling us we have been given a VIP pass into the very presence of God AND we are able to participate fully and completely enjoy life with God. God has given us full privileges through His Son. There’s no fear of being turned away or rejected. Adam and Eve went from complete access to God to no access to God. 


Too often we devote ourselves to getting things done for God while neglecting enjoying life with God. 


How do we have this access to God? Our confident access is because of the completed sacrifice of Jesus. We enter God’s presence by the blood of Jesus. Our all-access pass is because of His all-sufficient sacrifice. 


What’s the big deal about blood? Pastor Anthony Carter put it this way: Blood is the life-giving and life-maintaining fluid that circulates through the body. The average person's blood is approximately 8% of their body weight. The average person has four to five liters of blood. One out of every seven people entering a hospital needs blood. One pint of blood can save three lives. Here's an undeniable and important fact: Blood gives and maintains lives. 


He goes on to say that in Genesis 9:4 we're told that life is in the blood. If life is in the blood and the blood represents life, then the loss or shedding of blood represents death. 


So the shedding of animal blood in the Old Testament is a picture here of substitution. The animal was killed, symbolizing the punishment for sins which was death. This was in the place of a sinner who would be spared. These sacrifices were offered year after year after year and ultimately could not take away sins or remove guilt. The sacrifices couldn’t provide access to God. They were only a shadow of what would come. 


Hebrews 10:11-12 says: And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Verse 17 says: “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”The death of Jesus, his shed blood, is for sinners. Jesus was the substitute sacrifice for sinners deserving death. His death gives life. His blood is the only sufficient sacrifice to deal with sin that separates us from God. We no longer have to fear rejection before God but can confidently enter his presence. His resurrection secures this living way into life eternal with the living God. 


Under the old covenant, the curtain that hung in the tabernacle symbolized the separation or inaccessibility to God. When Jesus died on the cross, that curtain was torn in two symbolizing the access we now have into the Holy of Holies—God’s presence. The sacrifice of Jesus leads to our entrance into His presence. 


What are you relying on for your confident access before God? We live in a performance culture. There’s pressure to achieve much. If you look at your life and all you have achieved, earned, and accumulated, you might ask, “Doesn’t that earn me a little something with God?” The Bible is clear; there’s no entitlement with God. We contribute nothing but our sin which separates us from God. The ONLY access we have to God is the blood of Jesus. Our culture is screaming a world of tolerance, inclusivity, and pluralism: “Choose your own way to God.” All other ways fall short. No other way deals with sin. No other way provides entrance before the living God. 




What can wash away my sin? 


Nothing but the blood of Jesus. 


What can make me whole again?


Nothing but the blood of Jesus. 




Oh, precious is the flow 


that makes me white as snow; 


no other fount I know; 


nothing but the blood of Jesus. 




For my pardon this I see; 


nothing but the blood of Jesus.


For my cleansing this my plea;


nothing but the blood of Jesus.




Nothing can for sin atone;


nothing but the blood of Jesus.


Naught of good that I have done;


nothing but the blood of Jesus.




This is all my hope and peace;


nothing but the blood of Jesus.


This is all my righteousness;


nothing but the blood of Jesus.




The only way to have access to the living God is through the blood of Jesus. We have to rely on His work—His sufficient sacrifice. It is enough, and there is no other way. 


Where do we look for assurance with God? Are there days when you sit with guilt because of the presence of sin wondering if you’re truly forgiven and welcomed into the presence of God? Do you wonder if you truly belong there? So often we are tempted to compare ourselves to others. The result can be either a false sense of confidence or a complete lack of confidence. We can also be tempted to look at our checklist of religious activities—all we have done for God which also leads to a false sense of confidence or a complete lack of confidence. We might be tempted to prove ourselves to God by making up for past failures. 


Our text for today completely blows up that way of thinking. What gives us confident access before God? Only the blood of Jesus! What gives us assurance before God? Only the blood of Jesus. By trusting in Jesus, He moves us from guilty to forgiven, from fear before God to freedom with God, from separation to complete access. We are called to utilize this all-access pass where all of our sins are forgiven through the all-sufficient sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ. As we utilize this pass, we get to experience the loving, merciful, gracious, and powerful presence of God where He wants to minister to us and meet us so that we might know Him. He welcomes us through the blood of His Son so we can know full forgiveness and life everlasting. 


Sin separates us from God. God cannot be in the presence of sin, but Jesus offered a sacrifice that deals with sin. Jesus died to provide real forgiveness. He rose again to make a new and living way into the very presence of God. Fear of being separated from God, separated from His presence, can be turned into confident access so God can be enjoyed for all eternity. It’s only the blood of Jesus that allows us to enter His presence. His all-sufficient sacrifice pays for all of our sins and give us an all-access pass into God’s presence when we trust in Jesus by faith. 



Verse Completion. . . pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44 (NASB)


7/16/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/johgSkNj3-A



Complete the Verse & Name the Book: “Every man shall give as he is able, according to  . . . (completion at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. Last month he started a series of sermons titled “Better Together”. The second sermon in this series was titled “Since We Have Confidence” and was based on Hebrews 10:19-25. The sermon was given by Associate Pastor Ben Panner. Today we will begin a recap of his message.


Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (ESV)


There’s a scene from the book Pilgrims Progress that goes like this: 




On his journey to the Celestial City, Christian came to the top of the hill and saw two men running to meet him. The name of one was Timorous and the other Mistrust to whom Christian said, “Sirs, what's the matter? You run the wrong way.”


Timorous answered that they were going to the City of Zion and had got up to that difficult place. He said, “The further we go, the more danger we meet with. Wherefore, we turned and are going back again.”


Then Christian said, “You make me afraid, but where shall I fly to be safe? If I go back to my own country that is prepared for fire and brimstone, I shall certainly perish there. If I can get to the Celestial City, I am sure to be in safety there. I must venture. I will yet go forward.” 


So Mistrust and Timorous ran down the hill and Christian went on his way. 




This dilemma at the top of the hill is right where these original hearers found themselves—continue on or turn back. They were asking the question we ourselves ask from time to time: Is it worth it? Is it better? When faced with persecution, the hearers we read about in Hebrews were tempted to leave Jesus and return to the synagogue because that seemed safer. We today aren’t so much tempted to leave Jesus and go back to something as we are to leave Jesus and go on to something that is new—something in front of us. 


The author of Hebrews is reminding us that Jesus is better so stick with Him. He’s encouraging God’s people to endure to the end. We have confidence in Jesus to continue on for Jesus. Because of who Jesus is and what He has done, we can continue on for Him with joy.


Think about the bookends for the Bible: Genesis 1 and 2, and Revelation 21 and 22. In these bookends we find a consistent picture of God dwelling with His people. God’s intention is to gather a people who will enjoy the blessing of life with Him for all eternity—unhindered access; incomparable joy. This is the goal that God has for us. 


In Genesis 3 we find humanity rebelling against God and sin entering in, resulting in humanity being full of guilt which led to shame and fear before God. Consequently, they were separated from the presence of God. We went from intimate access to God to being cut off from God with no access while sitting under the curse and penalty of sin. 


The bookends show the goal God has, but the beginning of the story shows the problem we have—separation from the presence of God, on our own, because God is perfectly holy, pure, and just and can’t be in the presence of sin. But because of who God is, He initiated a plan to save sinners so they would be able to dwell in His presence. God instructs the building of the tabernacle which is a symbolic house for God. It was a symbol of God’s presence with His people. God wanted to dwell with His people—meet with them and minister to them. In the middle of the tabernacle was the Holy of Holies. It was here that God’s presence with His people was symbolized. 


How can a holy God be in the presence of a sinful people? This is where sacrifices were made for sin. Hebrews 9:6-8 says: These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing. Hebrews 10:1-4 says: For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.


One priest had access into the Holy of Holies once a year. A curtain separated the people from God’s presence. The sacrifices didn’t take away sin. They didn’t provide access to God. The Christians in Hebrews 10 were tempted to turn away from God’s ultimate provision—access into His presence with the forgiveness of sins—and turn back to the shadow which ultimately could not deal with their sin, take away their guilt, or provide forgiveness. The only way God’s people can have true access and confidently draw near to Him is through Jesus. 


Who is the author of Hebrews writing to? We see in Verse 19 that it is to brothers—the church family. Due to the pandemic, this last year has been a year of great isolation that was added to our tendency of radical individualism. But the Bible gives us language we must embrace again—brothers and sisters in Christ. We need a renewed vision. We need renewed vocabulary of the church as a family. We need to think about one another as family. We need to talk to one another as family. We need to treat one another as family. We need to commit to one another as family. We’re here today as brothers and sisters in Christ to hear this word collectively and to respond together. We’re better together. 


Tomorrow we will continue this recap of Pastor Panner’s message with the second half.



Verse Completion. . . the blessings of the LORD your God which He has given you.” Deuteronomy 16:17


7/15/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


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



Complete the Verse & Name the Book:  for all have sinned and. . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we started a recap of Dr. Josh Moody’s sermon “Therefore . . . ” that was based on Hebrews 10:19-25. Pastor Moody said the reason we meet together is Jesus is better. He’s better than the prophets. Jesus is God’s final word. In the past He spoke through the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken through His Son. There is no other word to come. There was no other prophet after Jesus. Now we will continue the recap with the second half.


Secondly, Jesus is better than the angels. Hebrews 1:4 says: having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.What are angels? Verse 14, the last verse in Chapter 1, tells us: Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? Jesus is far superior to the angels. Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? (2:1-3a) In the Jewish tradition, the law somehow related to the ministry of angels. If those who refused to receive the word that came through angels from God, how much more will there be a just retribution to those who refuse to listen to Jesus himself—God’s final word—who is so much superior even to angels?!


I suppose most of us are not tempted to listen to angels, but are we tempted to listen to that mystical experience rather than what the Bible says? Jesus is God’s final word. 


The author of Hebrews, in these first ten chapters, compares Jesus to the old covenant—to Moses—and says that Jesus is better than that. Hebrews 3:3 says: For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself.


Verse 15 says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” When the people refused to listen to what Moses said and didn’t enter into the Promised Land, the consequences were dire. Today, if you hear what God says through Jesus, who is of much greater glory than Moses, don’t harden your heart!


Hebrews 4:8 says: For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. Joshua, who led God’s people into the Promised Land and gave them rest, never completed the rest. There would be another day when there would be rest, and that rest is the rest in the true Joshua, for Joshua is the name Yeshuawhich is the same as the name for Jesus. Yeshua is the real Joshua, and in Him there is rest—salvation and forgiveness of sins. 


Hebrews 9:11a says: But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, . . . Jesus is the Great High Priest. That’s why we can enter with boldness . . . then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption (11b-12). The holy places are the heavens, the presence of God—not a physical temple which was merely a reflection of the real Temple. 


Hebrews 9:15a says: Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant. This new covenant is a new relationship with God that comes through Christ by faith that now goes out to all nations. Our vision statement includes: The God-centered gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed in us and through us to the world by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.


Hebrews 7:27b: Since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. Hebrews 9:12: he entered once for all into the holy places. Hebrews 9:26: He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Hebrews 10:10: And by that will [God’s will] we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:12a: But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins. Hebrews 10:14: For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. 


The sacrifice of Christ on the cross was to take placeone time—never to be repeated. It’s sufficient to cover all our sins. Hebrews 10:17: “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” Therefore we meet together. 


Notice what he does not say. He does not say, “Meet together because your church has better programs. You have exciting programs that are so much better than the synagogue. You have an extraordinary children’s program.” That is not said. Nor does he say: “The people at church are so much nicer than the people at the synagogue. Those Christian people are just lovely. They are so much better. They are so much kinder. They are so much more loving.” You may have heard the joke: “Church would be great if it weren’t for the people.” We tried that this pandemic and found out it wasn’t so great. We’re hungry to be together. We love each other. We want to be together. But the truth is churches are a bit of a mess. They always have been. They always will be this side of glory. 


The author of Hebrews does not say: “People in Christian churches are much better than those who go to the synagogue. Therefore meet together.” He doesn’t say that. Nor does he say: “Oh the buildings! Have you seen all the glass? It’s amazing—so much better than the synagogue!”


It’s better together, because Jesus is better! That’s why we are the body of Christ. When we meet together in confidence and boldness, it’s better because we meet with Him. But there’s the matter of time. A survey was done around 2015 to find out how many hours per day Americans spend on screens. The results showed Americans spend just under eleven hours a day on screens. 


If Jesus is better than the prophets, if Jesus is better than Moses, if he’s better than the angels, surely He’s better than the video game “Candy Crush”. It’s so much better together.



Verse Completion. . . fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 (NASB)


7/14/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/SkP3H-lN30c



Complete the Verse & Name the Book”For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your . . . (completion at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. Last month he started a series of sermons titled “Better Together—How Jesus Calls us into Community”. The first sermon in this series was titled “Therefore . . . ” and was based on Hebrews 10:19-25. Today we will begin a recap of that message.


Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (ESV)


If you play online video games, you know that there are often options regarding which particular team, tribe, group, or clan you will join and be a part of as you compete against other teams. Often the teams or groups will promote themselves as they advertise what their strengths are. You want to join a group or team that’s going to be better than those it’s competing against. The book of Hebrews is calling us to the better Christ. Because Jesus is better, it’s better together. 


There are many other competing opportunities that we have these days: sports teams on Sunday morning, nice coffee shops on Sunday morning, the bed on Sunday morning. There are so many other ways we can spend our time other than being together in community at our church. Why should we choose church over all the other things? 


Today we are concentrating on one word which is the first word of the passage—therefore. Whenever you see the word therefore, you should ask what it’s there for. We will explore what it’s there for—what it’s calling us to do—and why it’s calling us to do that. 


What it’s calling us to do is found in verse 25: not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. The author of Hebrews is writing to a group of Jewish Christians who are being tempted to go back to Judasim and the synagogue because it’s safer—there’s less chance of being persecuted—while we today are being tempted to go forward and away from the church and Christianity. What this is there for is a call to meet together. This isn’t a call to a commitment to an institutional organization. It’s a call to encourage each other. We don’t just sing for our own good, we sing so others can hear us lifting up the name of Jesus. It encourages one another. We meet together to encourage each other. 


Since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus. It’s because of Christ that we have boldness to enter the church. If Jesus accepts you, you’re accepted. You are welcomed. We’re not standoffish, we draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.


We’re given instructions: Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. We hold on to the true doctrine. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. We stir one another up by saying things like, “Let’s share our faith with our neighbors. You can do it. Let’s keep going. I missed seeing you at _______.” Let’s move forward in our faith, not backward. Let’s keep growing in our commitment to Jesus. Let’s stir up one another: “Let’s read the Bible. How’s your prayer life going?” We’re to stir each other up to love. There’s so much harshness today. 


This doesn’t mean an institutional commitment to an organization. It means we’re on mission together, stirring one another up, discovering Jesus, growing in our faith, impacting the world by each one inviting one. Let’s stir each other up. 


Besides what we’re to do, the other half of therefore is why we’re to do it. The first ten or so chapters of Hebrews are building up to this pinnacle moment and is providing the why for the call to meet together. The book of Hebrews twenty-five times says that Jesus is better, greater, superior. There are three main aspects of what Jesus is better than. First of all, he’s better than the prophets. Hebrews 1:1-3a says: Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.


The author of Hebrews is saying Jesus is God’s final word. In the past he spoke through the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken through his Son. If you won’t listen to Jesus, there’s nothing else God has to say. At the end of Hebrews in 13:22 we find this closing: I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. Because Jesus is God’s final word, and because the author of Hebrews is preaching that final word (my word of exhortation), you need to listen to this sermon (Hebrews) as if you are listening to the final word of God. When sermons explain the Bible and lift up Christ as God’s final word, we need to listen for there’s no other word to come! What that means is Islam is wrong. There was no other prophet after Jesus. Jesus is God’s final word. It also means the Mormons are wrong. There’s no other prophet after Jesus. Jesus is God’s final word.   


Tomorrow we will finish this recap of Pastor Moody’s sermon with the second half.



Verse Completion. . . needy and poor in your land.’ “ Deuteronomy 15:11 (NASB)


7/13/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


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



Complete the Verse & Name the Book:  Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Prophecy” that was based on 2 Kings 6:24-7:20. Today we complete the recap. 


Elisha said, “Hear the word of the LORD. This is what the LORD says: About this time tomorrow, a seah of flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria” (7:1). Elisha is saying in 24 hours, things will almost be back to normal. The famine will be over. In one day things will change from severe famine to plenty. This is going to be far greater than any underdog winning a sport’s trophy! This is going to be the greatest turnaround of events that has ever happened. How is it possible for people to be eating donkey heads, bird dung, and even their own babies one day, and the very next day the same people are enjoying an abundance of regular food?


The officer on whose arm the king was leaning said to the man of God, “Look, even if the LORD should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?”(verse 2a) The officer was saying, “I can’t believe anything like this could ever happen! It’s impossible! Even God can’t do something of this magnitude! It’s not going to happen.”


“You will see it with your own eyes,” answered Elisha, “but you will not eat any of it!” (verse 2b)


Elisha was saying, “Sure it will happen! If God says it will happen, it will happen! You just watch! You don’t know God, and that’s why you don’t believe.” 


We need to understand that there is no limit to God’s power. There’s no limit to what God can do and no limit to how he can turn things around. Don’t give up! Trust him to keep his word. 


Here’s how God showed up in our story:


Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die? If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’—the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.”


At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, not a man was there, for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!” So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their houses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives (verses 3-7).


The Arameans had cleared out of their camp in a panic. They had clearly heard the sound of chariots and horses—LOTS of them. They determined the Hittites and Egyptians had teamed up against them, and they fled leaving everything behind. Perhaps what Arameans heard were the chariots and horses of fire from God’s army. Whatever they heard scared them, and they fled in terror not even taking time to gather their food.


The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp and entered one of the tents. They ate and drank, and carried away silver, gold and clothes and went off and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also (verse 8). These four lepers are having the time of their lives. 


Then they said to each other, “We’re not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.”


So they went and called out to the city gatekeepers and told them, “We went into the Aramean camp and not a man was there—not a sound of anyone—only tethered horses and donkeys, and the tents left just as they were.” The gatekeepers shouted the news, and it was reported within the palace.


The king got up in the night and said to his officers, “I will tell you what the Arameans have done to us. They know we are starving; so they have left the camp to hide in the countryside, thinking, ‘They will surely come out, and then we will take them alive and get into the city’ “ (verses 9-12).


The king doesn’t believe what he is hearing. The news is too good to be true. The king believes it’s a strategy of the Arameans to get them out of their walled city. The king is not going to fall for that trickery. 


One of his officers answered, “Have some men take five of the horses that are left in the city. Their plight will be like that of all the Israelites left here—yes, they will only be like all these Israelites who are doomed. So let us send them to find out what happened” (verse 13).


The officers were saying to the king, “What do you have to lose? If the men don’t return, they would have died in the city regardless. Let them go and check it out.”


So they selected two chariots with their horses, and the king sent them after the Aramean army. He commanded the drivers, “Go and find out what has happened.” They followed them as far as the Jordan, and they found the whole road strewn with the clothing and equipment the Arameans had thrown away in their headlong flight. So the messengers returned and reported to the king. Then the people went out and plundered the camp of the Arameans. So a seah of flour sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley sold for a shekel, as the LORD had said (verses 14-16).


The report they had received from the lepers was true. Food was in abundance as were many other things desired by the Israelites. The people of Samaria rushed into the camp of the Arameans to take what was there. 


Now the king had put the officer on whose arm he leaned in charge of the gate, and the people trampled him in the gateway, and he died, just as the man of God had foretold when the king came down to his house. It happened as the man of God had said to the king: “About this time tomorrow, a seah of flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.”


The officer had said to the man of God, “Look, even if the LORD should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?” The man of God had replied, “You will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat any of it!” And that is exactly what happened to him, for the people trampled him in the gateway, and he died (verses 17-20).


The king’s soldier who was contemptuous of God’s word and mocked God’s words saying, “God can’t do that! I don’t believe for a minute God is capable of that!” was placed at the gate to bring order to the chaos of all the people rushing to the camp of the Arameans. He was trampled to death by all the people. He didn’t get to enjoy any of the blessings.


What happens when we don’t believe the word of God? What happens when we are contemptuous of God and his word? We won’t receive any of his blessings. The word of God is always true. Stick with God. He WILL show up! His word is truth. If God says he will turn around your situation, he will. Don’t give up on God. Don’t walk away from God. Don’t be contemptuous of God. Don’t think God can’t do it. Don’t think God’s not strong enough, big enough, not powerful enough, doesn’t have enough in his storehouse. God is there for you. He loves you. He wants to bless you. He wants to give you good gifts. Trust him. Believe him. Embrace who he is for your life. 



Verse Completion. . . can light have with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14 (NIV)


7/12/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


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



Complete the Verse & Name the Book:  “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Prophecy” was based on 2 Kings 6:24-7:20. Today we will start a recap of that message.


You’ve heard people say, “I can’t believe that happened!” Sometimes it is associated with sporting events when the underdog comes from behind and wins the game. In 1980 an ice hockey game was played in Lake Placid, New York, during the Winter Olympics. The United States defeated the Soviet Union in a game that was labeled “Miracle on Ice”. 


Sometimes you might hear people say, “I can’t believe that” when talking about a historical event recorded in the Bible such as: Jonah in a large fish, the great flood that covered the entire world; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being thrown into a fiery furnace and still living, Daniel in the lion’s den, the feeding of the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish, and so on. People question God and his word. 


The story we have today is about unbelief in God and his word. What happens when we don’t believe God and his word? What happens when we look at God as lacking the power to do the supernatural? Let’s find out.


Some time later, Ben-Hadad king of Aram mobilized his entire army and marched up and laid siege to Samaria (verse 24). Right before this we read: So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory. That time of peace was temporary. Ben-Hadad wants to take over all of Israel. Samaria is the capital city of Israel. If Ben-Hadad could take over Samaria, Israel would be his. The plan was to surround the city with soldiers and build ramps that would reach to the top of the walls so the soldiers could use them to climb up and enter the city. Siege ramps took a long time to build as there was always opposition. They would take months, so food, water, and supplies were necessary. 


There was a great famine in the city; the siege lasted so long that a donkey’s head sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a fourth of a cab of seed pods for five shekels (verse 25). The famine has lasted for seven years to this point. The people living inside the walled city of Samaria are basically out of food. A donkey’s head is selling for a bag of silver. A donkey’s head is not something a person would normally eat, but these were desperate times. In addition, people were paying to eat seed pods which amounted to doves’ dung. It seems impossible that people were paying five shekels of silver for birds’ dung, but this isn’t the only time something like this happened. 2 Kings 18:27 says: But the commander replied, “Was it only to your master and you that my master sent me to say these things, and not to the men sitting on the wall—who, like you, will have to eat their own filth and drink their own urine?” The people in Jerusalem were eating their own excrement and drinking their own urine in order to survive. These are serious famines! People would have to be desperate to eat bird dung, their own excrement, and drink urine, but it even gets more extreme.


As the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried to him, “Help me, my lord the king!”


The king replied, “If the LORD does not help you, where can I get help for you? From the threshing floor? From the winepress?” Then he asked her, “What’s the matter?” (verses 26-28a) The king was saying, “Go ahead. Trust in Jehovah. See if he comes to your rescue. If he can’t help you, neither can I.” The king is being disdainful of Jehovah, but after his sarcastic comment he asked her what her problem was.


She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him today, and tomorrow we’ll eat my son.’ So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him,’ but she had hidden him”(verses 28b-29). Notice how she doesn’t complain to the king that she had to eat her baby in order to survive; she complains that this other lady didn’t keep her end of the agreement they had made. She wants the king to force this other lady to cook her baby. Sin will take you farther than you want to go. Sin will keep you longer than you want to stay. Sin will cost you more than you want to pay.


Leviticus 26:27-29 says: “If in spite of this you still do not listen to me but continue to be hostile toward me, then in my anger I will be hostile toward you, and I myself will punish you for your sins seven times over. You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters.” Repeated and unrepentant sins have serious consequences!


When the king heard the woman’s words, he tore his robes. As he went along the wall, the people looked, and there, underneath, he had sackcloth on his body(verse 30). Sackcloth was a sign of mourning and was also seen as a sign of repentance. Notice how the king wears it underneath his clothing rather than wearing sackcloth as his clothing. He’s pretending to repent, but his heart isn’t in it. 


He said, “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if the head of Elisha son of Shaphat remains on his shoulders today!” (verse 31) The king is swearing and taking God’s name in vain. He clearly is not repentant. He tries to pin all the bad things that are taking place on Elisha and God. He says it’s their fault when it’s his fault. It’s his job to serve Jehovah and lead the country to do the same, but instead he serves himself. He blames the God he won’t serve, the God he doesn’t care about, the God he ignores, the God he rejects, the God he disdains, the God he is contemptuous of. Isn’t that the way it is? People refuse to follow God, but as soon as something goes wrong, they blame God. That’s what the king is doing here—blaming God and Elisha for all that has gone wrong. 


Jehoram is doing just what his mother, Jezebel did. 1 Kings 19:1-2 says: Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” It’s always someone else’s fault. 


Now Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him. The king sent a messenger ahead, but before he arrived, Elisha said to the elders, “Don’t you see how this murderer is sending someone to cut off my head? Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door and hold it shut against him. Is not the sound of his master’s footsteps behind him?”


While he was still talking to them, the messenger came down to him (verses 32-33a).


Elisha and the elders are looking to Jehovah for help. God has revealed to Elisha what the plan is just as He revealed to Elisha the plan of the king of Aram when he wanted to ambush the king of Israel. Elisha knows Jehoram is sending someone to kill him, so Elisha tells the elders to keep the door to the house shut. 


The king is right behind the would-be assassin. 


And the king said, “This disaster is from the LORD” (verse 33b). The king was right. The disaster was from the LORD because in the covenant with God, it was clearly laid out what was to be done and what was not to be done. If the covenant wasn’t followed, disaster would strike. 


Then the king said, “Why should I wait for the LORD any longer?” (verse 33b). Evidently, Elisha had been counseling the king—God will show up. Just wait for Him. 


We get to the place the king was in. We wait and wait on God to do something, and nothing happens. We decide it time for us to take control and take matters into our own hands. We’ve given God a chance to show up, and he hasn’t shown up. 


Tomorrow we will continue this recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon with the second half.



Verse Completion. . . remission of debts. Deuteronomy 15:1 (NASB)


7/10/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/4ndMZqT6i4I



Complete the Verse & Name the BookThen another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and . . . (completion at the end)



Kevin Ulmet is the lead pastor of the Nashville First Church of the Nazarene in Nashville, TN. Here is what he had to say in one of his blogs:



A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH…THE TRUTH!



John 7:14-36: 14 About the middle of the festival Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. 15The Jews were astonished at it, saying, ‘How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught?’ 16Then Jesus answered them, ‘My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. 17Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own. 18Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him.


19 ‘Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why are you looking for an opportunity to kill me?’ 20The crowd answered, ‘You have a demon! Who is trying to kill you?’ 21Jesus answered them, ‘I performed one work, and all of you are astonished. 22 Moses gave you circumcision (it is, of course, not from Moses, but from the patriarchs), and you circumcise a man on the sabbath. 23 If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I healed a man’s whole body on the sabbath? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement.’


25 Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, ‘Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? 26 And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah? 27 Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.’ 28 Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, ‘You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. 29 I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.’ 30 Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Yet many in the crowd believed in him and were saying, ‘When the Messiah comes, will he do more signs than this man has done?’


32 The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering such things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent temple police to arrest him. 33 Jesus then said, ‘I will be with you a little while longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. 34 You will search for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.’ 35 The Jews said to one another, ‘Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? 36 What does he mean by saying, “You will search for me and you will not find me” and, “Where I am, you cannot come”?’



I am often asked or hear people talking about accurate sources of “the truth” to discern information in our time.  Many conclude they “just can’t believe what they hear” from any source.  Our cultural flirtation with relativism has now become a full-fledged affair. This has not only created moral and ethical confusion in epic proportions, but also often reduces spiritual truths to mere “opinions” in the eyes of many, including former believers.  Even raw audio and video data of what someone actually said or did is denied by the say-er or doer, expressing umbrage that anyone would dare accuse them of…what they actually said or did!  Our historic overload of information accessibility is a blessing in so many ways, but its over-saturation has led to strange reactions from many to its content.  We are a very confused populace on this planet.



Jesse Middendorf summarizes: When a culture Is divided and conflicted, truth is often a commodity of relativity.  You have ‘your’ truth, and I have ‘mine.’  We see this play out across many aspects of life, including politics, business, and, yes, faith.  



I was reminded again of this scenario as I watched the historic Oprah interview of Prince Harry and Meghan.  These two deeply-conflicted souls tried to “tell the truth” about their own experience, instead of letting the institution of the Monarchy or the British tabloids tell it differently.  Within minutes of the airing, defenses were being prepared and new attacks leveled from multiple sources against them. 



Jesus’ very identity was the issue in John 7.  Just who was this “teacher without training” (verse 14) who seems to know so much?  How could “someone we know who comes from somewhere we know” even be the Messiah?  (Verse 27). 



Jesus’ response to all of the whispering and posturing is to re-assert He IS from God and His message is also!  (Verses 16 and 29).  He also challenges his critics to make up their minds about him, because he “will only be with (you) a little while longer.”  And perhaps the greatest insight from His replies?  Verse 24 (NLT) – “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”  Good advice indeed! 



These are days to remember that if we are in Christ, we “know” THE Truth in personal relationship!  He lives in us and we live in Him!  Our discernment then comes not just from our own capacities, but the illumination of the Holy Spirit.  The revealed Word of God guides us, and is our starting and finishing point of truth. Understanding this then gives us “beneath the surface” insight that guides us in daily decisions and confusing realities. 



This is why I live in confidence, not fear.  I know The Truth, and He sets me free, indeed!  As the old song reminds us, “I know WHO holds tomorrow, and I know WHO holds my hand!”  Amen! 



Verse Completion. . . reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” Revelation 14:15 (NIV)


7/9/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/Zsts7SMag7M



Complete the Verse & Name the Book”You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we started a recap of Dr. Josh Moody’s sermon “Do You Love Me?” that was based on John 21:15-19. Pastor Moody said the church needs to take very seriously its role in taking care of the children. He said the pastoral role includes feeding, teaching, tending the flock, caring for the flock, protecting the flock, and leading the flock. Now we will continue the recap with the second half.


He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” Why was Peter grieved? He finally realizes what Jesus has been doing. For the three times of denial, Jesus is asking three times, “Do you love me more than these other disciples?” Notice that Jesus does not shame Peter. He doesn’t say, “Peter, remember when you denied me three times? We need to have a conversation!” Jesus doesn’t do that, nor does he ignore it. He allows Peter to hear the language of his own heart three times for those three denials. Peter does love Jesus. Three times he tells him so. Peter got to hear himself tell the Lord three times that he loved him. At the same time it’s a grievous thing when you have let Jesus down, when you have sinned and broken covenant with Jesus. To be reminded of it causes one grief, but Jesus is overwriting that three-time denial with now a three-time profession of love that leads to restoration and a new commission. He doesn’t just forgive Peter, nor does he only restore Peter, he commissions him. When Jesus forgives us, he brings us back into the family, and he gives us something important to do. 


Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” The task of a pastor is not only to feed the lambs (the children) and tend the sheep (protect and provide for the flock) but also to feed the sheep. Our ministry as a church is not only to feed the sheep but also to feed the adults. It’s easy in a church to have a dumb-downed ministry where we never address the real issues that adults face—Korea, money, marital issues, complicated intimate issues—but the Bible does address. As we go through the Bible and teach it, we need to speak to adult issues, too, to shape our minds and our hearts as adults. We need to look at end-of-life issues. We need to feed the sheep. 


Now we come to the main point, the real kicker of the passage: Truly, truly, I say to you . . . When Jesus has something he wants to say that he wants to emphasize, his habit was to begin with “Truly, truly” which is “Amen, amen.” What Jesus has to say is really significant: when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” Peter knew exactly what Jesus meant, but John’s readers would not so John explained: (This he said to show by what kind of death [Peter] was to glorify God.) Jesus was saying, “Peter, as a shepherd, you will stretch out your hands, and you will be crucified.” 


What that means is the shape of pastoral ministry is cross shaped. The template for what a shepherd is, is stretching out your hands. The idea in the Bible of a shepherd leader goes back to David. David was the shepherd king. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11) Jesus is telling Peter he will be a shepherd and that means death. Ancient legend has it that Peter was asked to be crucified upside down. Regardless of how, Peter was crucified. The template of what a shepherd is, is the cross. This may be the most important message for the church today. 


If you are looking for shepherding, and many people are, you need to realize it’s the cross. You are looking for a shepherd who not only teaches the Bible faithfully, but who is dying for the sheep. You’re not looking for the hired hand that runs away from danger, nor the wolf that feeds on the sheep, but the shepherd that feeds the sheep and runs to danger to protect the flock. That’s a real shepherd. If you’re looking for shepherding, you’re looking for someone who is giving his life for the sheep. 


If you are sensing a call to be a shepherd (Bible study group leader, full-time pastor, elder, missionary, etc.), what you are being called to do is die for the sheep. This is the passage of Scripture that led me to be a pastor. What it means to be a shepherd is dying for the sheep. 


Not only should we learn from this what kind of shepherd we are to be, but we should also learn from this how we all should think about the church. Do you love Jesus? There are many ways people try to apply their devotion to Jesus. They say, “I love Jesus so I’ll _______.” But what Jesus is saying here is that if you truly love him, then you will die for him. If you love Jesus you will be committed to the church regardless of the people with all their faults, failures, problems, difficulties, and preferences. If you love Jesus you’ll be committed to the church. If you love Jesus you’ll be committed to his sheep. If you love Jesus you’ll look after other people, bearing each other’s burdens.


We need to finish where Jesus finishes: And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” Ultimately, even shepherds (like Peter) are sheep. We’re all following the good shepherd. 


Let’s pray. Thank you, Father, for your word. Jesus, thank you for being the good shepherd who laid down your life for the sheep. We pray that we would follow your example. Help us to bear each other’s burdens, to care for each other, to look after each other, to be committed to one another, to express our love for you by our love for each other. We pray these things in Jesus name, amen. 



Verse Completion. . . cling to Him. Deuteronomy 13:4 (NASB)


7/8/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/ENyVQbRnUQI?t=7



Complete the Verse & Name the BookFor the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to . . . (completion at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. In April he started a series of sermons titled “Believing and Living.” The fourth sermon in this series was titled “Do You Love Me?” and was based on John 21:15-19. Today we will begin a recap of that message.


When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” (ESV)


When you want to have an important conversation with someone, it’s important to set the right tone. Today’s passage starts out: When they had finished breakfast . . . They have had their hash browns, eggs, and second cup of coffee, and are now going for a walk along the beach. What a great setting for an important conversation! Let’s not have important conversations by email or texts; let’s talk face to face or at least talk by phone. 


Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, . . .”  Why does Jesus call Peter Simon? It’s because Peter was the given name from Jesus to Simon to indicate the special confession of faith that Simon had made. Simon had said that Jesus was the Son of the living God, and Jesus had said to him, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). So Peter’s confession of faith is the rock of the church. Any true church is based upon Jesus—particularly the confession that “Jesus is Lord, the Son of the living God.” Every time you hear the name Peter, you are to remember that the confession of faith in Jesus as the living God is at the very foundation of the global, international, true church. Here Peter is not called Peter. He’s not called by his honored title; he’s called Simon. He is not being called Dr. So-and-so or Professor Such and such. It’s a personal conversation so he is called Simon. Jesus was saying, “Simon, let’s talk.”


Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” A comparison is being made. Some people think what Jesus is asking is, “Do you love me more than these fish—more than your career?” That’s possible. Others say Jesus is asking Peter, “Do you love me more than these friends of yours? Am I more important to you than your friendship group?” That’s possible. However, it’s very likely that Jesus is asking Peter, “Do you love me more than these other disciples love me?” Three times Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” These questions are intended to overwrite the three-time denial that Peter had made of Jesus before His death. What had set up that three-time denial was Peter’s very bold claim to be more devoted to Jesus than the other disciples. Now Jesus is asking Peter, “Do you really love me more than these other disciples love me?” It’s a very personal question. 


He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” It’s very important that the church takes seriously our role of taking care of the children. We are a family as a church—a spiritual family. Part of our role as a church is to feed the lambs—the children. Charles Spurgeon used to say, “If you don’t take care of your lambs, where are the sheep going to come from?” The lambs are part of the flock. The children are part of the church. Feeding our children is a direct command from Jesus. 


He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” Here we have a different instruction. Jesus didn’t say feed; he says tend. And he’s not talking about the lambs; he’s talking about the sheep. The word tend has the sense of protect, provide for, look after, and lead. Part of the pastoral role in a church is not only feeding or teaching but also leading. Pastors must not only feed the flock; they must tend the flock, care for the flock, protect the flock, and lead the flock. This is modeled in Psalm 23 where the shepherd leads the sheep to green pastures—places where they can get good food and be protected. Shepherds are to be leaders as well as teachers. They are to tend the sheep—guard them against wolves. 


Tomorrow we will continue this recap of Pastor Moody’s message with the second half.



Verse Completion. . . judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (NASB)


7/7/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/3pn139_tPQw



Complete the Verse & Name the Book: “You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing . . . (completion at the end)



Ben Panner is an associate pastor at College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. Last week we started a recap of his message “It Is the Lord” based on John 21:1-14. Today we will finish the recap of the third sermon in the series “Believing and Living.” We left off last week with Pastor Panner saying a complete reversal of events took place. A miserable night with empty nets was replaced with a miraculous catch. This captured the attention of the disciples.


The power of the resurrected Lord is amazing. He speaks the word of command to the disciples and causes this catch to take place. His authority and power over nature is on display orchestrating every part of this event. Jesus is the Son of God. As the power of the risen Son of God is revealed through this miracle, something clicks for the disciple who Jesus loved. His mind went back to something that happened just a few years earlier. Luke 5 tells about how Jesus called Peter and John to follow him and become his disciples. They had been fishing all night long and had caught nothing. Jesus told them to let down their nets one more time. They do so and those empty nets become full. They came to the shore, and Jesus called them to follow. They left everything and followed him. 


Jesus isn’t simply just revealing his power, but he is acting in power revealing himself in a specific way to reassure his disciples that it is truly the Lord. He is truly their master. He is truly risen. The one they walked off the beach for three years ago is the same Jesus who is calling out to them from the shore. The one whose word had power to fill their empty nets three years ago is the same one who has power standing on the shore. Only now, Jesus is raised from the dead. This stirs up John, and he realizes who it is who is standing there. He turns directly to Simon Peter and says, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. Peter didn’t see Jesus, but he heard that Jesus was there and immediately wanted to be with Jesus. He jumped ship so he could be with Jesus as quickly as he could. 


As John goes before Peter in faith, so Peter afterward excels him in zeal. With total disregard for his personal safety, Peter throws himself into the lake. The act of leaving the ship and going to shore was not the result of folly or rashness; Peter had advanced beyond the others in proportion to his zeal. Peter’s response is one of zeal for Jesus. It’s not just a zeal on behalf of Jesus, but it’s a zeal for the resurrected and risen Lord Jesus himself. Peter and John had been reassured by Jesus that he was truly risen in power, and Peter zealously seeks after him because his belief in the risen Lord was strengthened and confirmed that morning. 


In verses 9-13, our story moves from this miraculous catch to a meal on the beach. We don’t just see the power of Jesus; we see the heart of Jesus. He’s the risen Lord, and he is serving his disciples a meal. The fish are laid out, and Jesus welcomes them to eat. He invites them to bring some of their own catch to contribute and says, “Come and have breakfast.” 


Let’s take in this picture of Jesus. He is full of power—power enough to fill the nets with 153 large fish in an instant. He is the Son of God, and yet he displays humility as a servant, loving and caring for his disciples as he shared a meal with them. He is reassuring them of his welcoming presence. He is reassuring them that he will provide for them and care for them. 


As they were eating the bread and the fish together, their minds went back to the time when they witnessed Jesus feed the five thousand with bread and fish (see John 6), displaying and pointing to this reality that Jesus is the true Bread of Life and that all who come to him will find eternal life to the fullest. 


The same one who fed the five thousand with bread and fish is sitting around this small charcoal fire and is feeding the seven disciples with bread and fish. Only now Jesus is raised from the dead, and he still has power to provide. He still has words of eternal life to give to his disciples and those who would believe in him and follow him. The disciples saw this miraculous catch. They received this gracious invitation to the meal. Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. In verse 4 none of the disciples knew it was the Lord. In verse 7 Peter and John know it’s the Lord. In verse 12 all of them know it’s the Lord. Their faith has been reassured that Jesus truly has risen, and Jesus truly is the Lord. Jesus in turn is reassuring us of the reality of the resurrection and reassuring us that he is Lord. 


This story gives us believers confidence in the eyewitness testimony of the disciples. We can find reassurance in the reality of the resurrection because the disciples’ proclamation is based on personal, eyewitness accounts. John goes at great length to describe the details of this historical moment. The names are listed in detail. John highlights Peter’s response in detail. John notes the exact number of fish. John mentions the nets were not torn. These are not literary devices. This is evidence that Jesus is truly risen. This is a historical encounter with the Lord. 


Not only is Jesus crucified, not only is Jesus raised from the dead, but he appeared alive to many. Acts 1:3 says: He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. I Corinthians 15:3-6 says: For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. The reality of the resurrection and his appearing to many is a matter of first importance. 


John is giving us confidence in the resurrection with the eyewitness testimonies that are given in detail. As their belief in the resurrection was solidified, secured, and strengthened for the disciples, it changed everything for them. As the reality of the risen Lord sank in for them, they gave their entire lives to the proclamation of this truth that Jesus is raised and Jesus is Lord. They did so even unto death. 


We can have confidence in the testimony that we read. They saw his physical body. They ate with him. They spent time with him. They listened to him. 


In this story Jesus reveals himself bodily to these disciples. They saw his power. They experienced his heart around a fire. They were reassured that the Lord Jesus really was risen. What does that mean for us now? Jesus is not going to reveal himself on the beaches of the Hood Canal, but he promises to reveal himself in the pages of Scripture. John wants to reassure us in the reality of the resurrection, not because we have seen him but because we have heard the eyewitness testimony in the Scriptures. The Bible is revealing Jesus—revealing his power for us; revealing his heart for us; revealing he is Lord, and he is risen!


When we experience the lows of life, those struggles you are facing or will face—the missed expectations, what is it that is going to reassure us in the reality of the resurrection? We have this testimony that reveals to us the risen Lord. This resurrection power breaks into the darkness of night and brings a new day. It brings life. It brings light. 


The risen Lord wants to provide for you, care for you, walk with you, and welcome you into relationship and fellowship with himself. As you read the Scriptures and see them bearing witness to Jesus, may we be those who receive it in faith, zealously respond, and desire to be with Jesus just as Peter did. 2 Philippians 2:9-11 says: Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


You might be one who has not yet put your faith in Jesus. After hearing the testimony of Jesus today, I pray you would believe. Jesus died for your sins in accordance with the Scriptures. He was buried. On the third day, he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures. He appeared to many. He even appeared to some disciples on the Sea of Galilee revealing himself as the risen Lord. Turn to Jesus and find life in his name. 


For Christians, this text was written to reassure your heart that Jesus truly has been raised from the grave and he truly is the Lord. Raised in power, his heart for you, in relationship, wanting to provide for you and care for you in the lows of life. May we respond at Peter did with great zeal. 



Verse Completion. . . whatever is right in his own eyes. Deuteronomy 12:8 (NASB)


7/6/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/eSiN9Sf2kS4



Complete the Verses & Name the Book:  

·      “But realize this, that in the last days . . . 


·      For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, . . .


·      unloving, irreconcilable, malicious, gossips, without . . .


·      treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure . . . (completions at the end)



Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Insights” that was based on 2 Kings 6:8-23. Today we will complete the recap with the second half.


Whenever people oppose God, God shows up. He never fails to show up. In this case he showed up with horses and chariots of fire. We don’t always see the presence of God. Our response is often, “Oh, my lord! This is bad! What’s going to happen?” We need to have our spiritual eyes opened because God always shows up.  John 15:18-20a has the following words of Jesus: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” When we are opposed as we stand for Jesus, it’s not us they are opposing; they are opposing Christ in us. If you are following hard after Jesus, there will be people who oppose you. Just remember: Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world. God shows up to encourage the faithful and discourage the unfaithful. 


As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, “Strike these people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked (verse 18). Elisha could have said, “God, kill them all!” Right before this, the servant’s spiritual eyes were opened to see the works of God. Now Ben-Hadad’s army is being struck with blindness. Those who seek salvation have their eyes opened. Those who oppose God have their eyes blinded. 


Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria (verse 19). Samaria is 12-15 miles away. 


After they entered the city, Elisha said, “LORD, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the LORD opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria (verse 20). They are in the capital city of Israel where the soldiers and guards of Israel are located. This is the place where the king of Israel has his palace and his guards. They had been led by Elisha to the very heart of the strength of Israel. When their eyes were opened, they realized they were in serious trouble. Jehovah had showed up, and they know they are in opposition to Jehovah. 


When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?” (verse 21) It almost sounds like Jehoram is anxious to put an end to them. 


“Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill men you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master. So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory” (verses 22-23). The army that went to Dothan went there to destroy Elisha. God intervened and now that army is in the hands of Israel. Give them food and water and let them go? That makes no sense! 


Elisha knows something about God the others don’t. Proverbs 25:21 says: If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. Elisha is following God. Elisha knows how God works. God extends grace. 2 Peter 3:9 says: The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. God encourages the faithful, discourages the unfaithful, but he also extends grace. God wants people to repent and turn from sin. Romans 12:21 says: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


Aren’t you thankful that when we oppose God, he doesn’t destroy us but extends grace to us? What was the result of the grace extended to Ben-Hadad’s army? They stopped raiding Israel’s territory. God showed up and Elisha was saved, Israel was saved, and Aram was saved.


What happens when we oppose God? God shows up and he extends grace to us. We need that grace, and we need to extend that grace to others. May God show up in your life today.



Completions to Verses:


·      . . . difficult times will come.


·      . . . disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,


·      . . . self-control, brutal, haters of good,


·      . . . rather than lovers of God; 2 Timothy 3:1-4 (NASB)


7/5/21


Good morning. We hope you had a great Independence Day. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/s4l2yY2r95g



Complete the Verses & Name the Book:  

·      “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse; the blessing, if you . . . 


·      and the curse, if you . . . (completions at the end)



Yesterday Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Insights” was based on 2 Kings 6:8-23. It involved another amazing story from the life of Elisha. It shouldn’t surprise us since Elisha is the prophet of an amazing God. We have this story recorded so we can understand who God is and how great he is. 


Elisha’s name means Jehovah saves. In all of these stories we learn how Jehovah saves. Jehovah saves:


·      people from poisonous water


·      a nation from being destroyed by the Moabites


·      a widow and two young boys with just a small jar of oil


·      the Shunammite’s son after he died


·      the prophets from poisonous stew


·      the prophets from starvation by providing loaves of barley bread


·      Naaman from leprosy


·      an axhead from staying at the bottom of the Jordan River


Today we will read more about how Jehovah saves. 


Elijah means Jehovah is God. During his lifetime, Elijah showed the nation of Israel who the true and living God is—Jehovah.


Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel (verse 8a). Ben-Hadad is the king of Aram. His leading commander, Naaman, was healed of leprosy, and yet Ben-Hadad is at war with Israel. He still wants to destroy Israel even after all that God has done. He continues to oppose God rather than thank him for healing his lead military commander. We might look at Ben-Hadad and say, “He’s crazy after all God did for him,” and yet we are sometimes just like Ben-Hadad—we forget what God has done for us. Sometimes we oppose God even after all he’s done for us. 


What happens when we oppose God? Let’s read on and find out: After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place” (verse 8b). Ben-Hadad wants to ambush the king of Israel so he makes a plan. 


The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places (verses 9-10). 


Jehoram, king of Israel, was always being alerted of danger ahead by Elisha. Every single attempt to ambush Jehoram was thwarted because of a warning from Elisha. This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Will you not tell me which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?” (verse 11) Ben-Hadad is extremely frustrated. There must be a traitor in their midst who is feeding Israel their military secrets. He’s ready to do something drastic.


“None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “But Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom”(verse 12). Elisha knows the top secret information because God reveals the secrets to him, and he passes the information on to Jehoram. There’s nothing that can be hidden from God. 


“Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him”(verse 13a). Ben-Hadad wants Elisha dead because Elisha is making him look like a fool. Every time Ben-Hadad plans an ambush, they are in the wrong place. The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city (verses 13b-14). Ben-Hadad is not holding anything back. He’s sending the best of his military to capture Elisha. 


When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked (verse 15). This servant is not Gehazi. This is a different servant. Perhaps it’s the Bible school student who lost the borrowed axhead. Notice the similarity in what he said to Elisha in verse 5b: “Oh, my lord,” he cried out, “it was borrowed.”


“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them (verse 16). Elisha knows what happens to those who oppose God. 1 John 4:4b says: “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” Psalm 34:7 says: The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. 


And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (verse 17). Let’s get the whole picture: There is Ben-Hadad’s army surrounding the city of Dothan ready to capture Elisha, and there’s the army of God surrounding Ben-Hadad’s army. God’s army is there with horses and chariots of fire, but they can’t be seen with the naked eye. They can only be seen through spiritual eyes—eyes opened by God. 


Tomorrow we will continue this recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon with the second half.



Verse Completions:


·      . . . listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I am commanding you today;


·      . . . do not listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known. Deuteronomy 11:26-28 (NASB)


7/3/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


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



Complete the Verse & Name the Book: As it is written: “There is no one righteous, . . . (completion at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. In April he started a series of sermons titled “Believing and Living.” The third sermon in this series was titled “It Is the Lord” and was based on John 21:1-14. The sermon was given by Associate Pastor Ben Panner. Today we will begin a recap of his message.


After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.


Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.


When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.


If we look at the two verses just prior to this passage, we find the purpose of John’s gospel: Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:30-31). John wants the reader to believe in Jesus and have life in his name. His aim is stated very clearly. 


The focus of Chapter 20 was all about belief. John and Peter run to the tomb; John believes. Mary hears Jesus’ call; Mary believes. Jesus appears to the disciples in the locked room; they believe. Jesus appears before Thomas and says, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side”; Thomas believes. Chapter 20 is all about believing in the risen Lord. 


It seems like the last verses in Chapter 20 are a fitting conclusion to John’s gospel. John has confronted us with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus so that we would believe in him and find life in him. Why continue on in Chapter 21? John provides this story because he wants to strengthen and solidify this belief into a confident knowledge in the risen Lord. John wants to reassure those who first believed. John wants to reassure us in the reality of the resurrection. 


Last week we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord, but I wonder how quickly was the high of Easter met with the lows of life. The disciples had just experienced feasts in Jerusalem and had these first encounters with Jesus raised from the dead. Just a few days later they are in the dark, on the sea. It’s a miserable night, and they are struggling with no success as they fish. The high of Easter moved into the low, mundane struggles of life. Last week we sang the “Hallelujah Chorus” but I’m wondering what lows of life you faced this week. Perhaps as you went back to work you experienced a sense of purposelessness or a sense of emptiness in your heart. Some of you are carrying the weight of sadness and the weight of loss. All of us are carrying the disorienting effect of COVID and the social tensions that we face daily. It’s only a matter of time before you face the struggles of a difficult season. 


It’s one thing to declare on Easter Sunday that the Lord is risen but what will reassure us of the reality of the resurrection in our moments of emptiness or confusion or purposelessness? How can we more confidently know in the days of struggle that which we first believed? The disciples needed reassurance from Jesus. Jesus revealed himself to strengthen and secure this belief they had initially. 


John’s text is to reassure us that Jesus is still risen. We’ll take a look at the story John tells and its significance. We will see how a miserable night transforms into a miraculous catch and ends with a meal on the beach. At the bookends of this story we see Jesus revealing himself to his disciples. In verse one we read: After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. In verse fourteen we read: This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.


This was Jesus’ initiative. He revealed himself in this way at this time to these specific disciples. The first time was behind the locked room. The second time was to doubting Thomas. This is now the third time Jesus reveals himself.


The purpose of this story is to give us confidence that Jesus really is risen and he is Lord. We’ll be taking a look at the details of this eyewitness testimony. It is intended to stir up our confidence. 


How did Jesus reveal himself? In the first three verses we see it was a miserable night of fishing for seven disciples, and they have nothing to show for all their time and labor. It’s empty nets after empty nets after empty nets. Their night is met with struggle. Their hopes of nets full of fish are replaced with hearts full of frustration because of this miserable night out on the sea. 


Put this scene side-by-side with a scene that happened just days earlier. There’s the high of the empty tomb contrasted with the lows of the empty nets. How often have you been in the same place as these disciples with frustration in life, fruitlessness in your work, struggles in your pursuits, and the grind of life wearing on you? Is your livelihood very low? Are your expectations for life and ministry not being met? How quickly did these realities hit you one week after Easter Sunday? How often are these experiences of the disciples flooding your own mind?


Jesus chooses to reveal himself and meet his disciples in this very miserable, frustrating, and unsettling moment. The Lord Jesus intends to meet us in our miserable, mundane struggles as well. 


Verse four is a depiction of the entire Christian story: Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore. In their moment of nothingness, emptiness, fruitlessness, and darkness, the day begins to break. Jesus is standing on the shore. Everything that follows is a result of the power and presence of the risen Lord. He is raised from the dead, and he is ushering in a new day. He is bringing new light. He’s bringing new life. He was the disciples’ hope that morning. It offers the picture of the hope that Jesus brings and offers to the whole world. 


At first the disciples don’t know it’s Jesus standing on the shore. The reason John is sharing this story is to show how the disciples moved to this real, confident, deep knowledge of the Lord Jesus. Jesus revealed himself this third time to strengthen and to secure that which they first believed so they would know that Jesus really is risen, and he’s the one who brings a new day, brings new life, and brings new light. 


In this moment Jesus’ identity is unknown. He pursues them, and he meets them. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” He knew their needs. He knew their problem—empty nets. The man on the shore tells these professional fishermen to cast their nets on the right side of the boat, and then they will find some fish. 


In a complete reversal of events, their nets are immediately at capacity. A miserable night with empty nets is replaced with a miraculous catch. It captures their attention. 


Next week we will conclude Pastor Ben Panner’s sermon with the second half.



Verse Completion. . . not even one. Romans 3:10 (NIV)


7/2/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/7b7ud7Nuqe4



Complete the Verse & Name the Book“You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. And you shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when . . . (completion at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He recently started a series of sermons titled “Believing and Living.” The second sermon in this series was titled “Why Are You Weeping?” and was based on John 20:11-18. Today we will continue a recap of this message. We left off yesterday with Pastor Moody saying Mary Magdalene didn’t recognize Jesus because of her weeping which blurred her eyes. A resurrected Jesus was the last thing she expected. In addition, though recognizable, the resurrected body of Jesus was somehow different.


Though Mary saw Jesus she didn’t believe her eyes. We often say “seeing is believing.” According to the Bible “hearing is believing” because faith comes from hearing. Jesus said to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Faith comes from hearing. Mary recognized Jesus after he spoke to her. “Why are you weeping? The tomb is empty. I have risen. There’s a whole new day. There’s a new order. All is new. Everything has changed.” We live as people of the resurrection. We have a new hope where there’s going to be a new heaven and new earth: Death is defeated; sin is conquered; the devil is vanquished. “Why are you weeping?”


Then Jesus asked diagnostically, “Whom are you seeking?” So many times there are so many unnecessary sadnesses because we have unfocused ambitions. ”Whom are you seeking?” What relationship are you seeking? What boyfriend are you seeking? What girlfriend are you seeking? What friendship are you seeking? What career are you seeking? What money are you seeking? What status are you seeking? What fame are you seeking? ”Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Jesus to be the gardener, Mary said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Mary is seeking Jesus, but she is seeking the dead body of Jesus. 


Mary Magdalene came from the wrong side of the tracks. She had a history. Jesus had cast out of her seven demons. He had healed her. He had given her a fresh start. In her devotion to Jesus, she wants to find his body and take care of the body. 


Mary didn’t recognize who was speaking to her until Jesus called her by name. Now she sees him alive and calls him “Rabboni” which means Teacher. It’s not the normal word in Aramaic for teacher which is “Rabbi”. Rabboni is the diminutive form or affectionate form or the nickname for teacher. Mary is saying, “My teacher.” It’s the name that she called Jesus. Nowhere in this account does it say she stopped weeping, but now her weeping is different. No longer does Mary have tears of sorrow; she now has tears of joy. 


Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” Why is Jesus pushing Mary away? Because for the Christian who lives in the light of the resurrection before the second coming of Jesus, our primary task is not clinging to Jesus. Our primary task is telling others about Jesus. We will be able to cling to Jesus for all eternity, but right now, after the resurrection and before the second coming, we have a job to do. 


But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, the sins of the whole world are taken away. Now we have access to God as our Father. It’s a message to speak. 


Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!”—and that he had said these things to her. The word announced is a different form of the same word used earlier for angels. The angels are announcers—messengers. Mary messages or announces. If you want an angelic task, if you want to have the very purpose of angels, if you want an angelic role, tell others about Jesus. 


Mary physically saw Jesus, but she didn’t really see Jesus until she heard Jesus call her by name. It’s the effectual call of God. Every single Christian can say in this sense, “I have seen the Lord. I’ve encountered him. I know him.” When God calls us, he calls us by name, and his call is effectual. Mary tells the disciples she has seen the Lord, and she told them the things Jesus had said to her. All witnesses that are effective and faithful not only tell their own personal experience of Jesus, they also point to Jesus’ words. 


What does this story mean to us on this Resurrection Sunday? It means something about how we think, something about how we feel, and something about how we act. Because of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, we no longer think about this world as a place of hopelessness—a place where there is no future for anyone or anything. We’re not people of despair. We are people of hope because we’re people of the resurrection. Our worldview, our mindset, how we think, is all shaped by the light of the empty tomb. We now have a mindset of resurrection and newness: new purpose, new life, new energy, a new message. That’s how we think. 


But it also impacts how we feel. It’s often said that the longest journey that you can ever take in your life is the journey from your head to your heart. When Jesus calls you by name, his effectual calling, then you make that journey from head to heart. You now realize there’s no reason to be anxious so you don’t feel anxiety. You may still be weeping, but you’re not weeping for sorrow; you’re weeping for joy because you have met the risen Lord Jesus. 


That changes the way we act for we have a new purpose, a new message. This angelic new purpose shapes all of our life to live for Jesus who died and rose again and lives forevermore. To put it in one sentence: He is risen!



Verse Completion. . . you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 11:18-19 (NASB)


7/1/21


Good morning. Welcome to July. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/JVfI1b2aK64



Complete the Verses & Name the Book

·      ”Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your . . . 


·      This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: . . . (completion at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. In April he started a series of sermons titled “Believing and Living.” The second sermon in this series was titled “Why Are You Weeping?” and was based on John 20:11-18. The sermon was given on Easter Sunday. Today we will begin a recap of that message.


But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stopped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!”—and that he had said these things to her. (ESV)


Mary Magdalene is the first on the scene. She is probably called by this name because she was from Magdala: Mary of Magdala or Mary Magdalene. Having seen the empty tomb, Mary Magdalene runs to find Simon Peter and John. They run back to the tomb with her. There’s a lot of running going on! John beats Peter to the tomb, and he believes. Peter does not believe. 


The disciples go back to their homes leaving Mary Magdalene all alone at the empty tomb where she stood weeping. As she was weeping she stooped to look into the tomb. Her tears made it difficult for her to see, but she saw two figures dressed in white. The white is to indicate that on Resurrection Sunday, Easter Sunday, there is an opportunity for you to start again. You get a clean sheet. You get to write a new story. They are in white. 


The two figures turn out to be angels. They are sitting to symbolize that the victory has been won. Everything has been accomplished. They are sitting at the place where the body of Jesus had lain—one at the head and one at the feet. This is to symbolize they are the beginning and the end, the head and the feet. They are bookending the whole process to indicate that God is utterly sovereign over this. All is finished and done. Jesus from the start to the finish is Alpha and Omega. It’s all done. Jesus is victorious. 


The angels ask Mary Magdalene, “Why are you weeping?” What a question! Why are you weeping? There’s been a lot of weeping this year over COVID, division in our country, injustice, racism, and so on. Why are you weeping? 


There’s Mary at the empty tomb. Jesus is risen, but she doesn’t believe it, and she is weeping. When she is asked why she is weeping she said: “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Mary is not just crying because she is mourning the death of Jesus, she is crying because now she believes the enemies of Jesus are not merely satisfied with having killed Jesus, they are now going to defame his memory by taking his body, treating it badly, and hiding the body from his followers. It adds insult to injury when she wants to mourn but she cannot because the body isn’t even there. Her loved one is dead. She is weeping anyway, but she can’t even see the body. 


It’s too much to bear and she is weeping bitterly. She hears a noise, turns around, and she sees Jesus but doesn’t immediately recognize him. Why not? Partly because it seemed too good to be true. She knows Jesus is dead. She saw him crucified. Jesus couldn’t be alive. 


This reaction is a massive indicator of the reliability of the witnesses of the resurrection. This wasn’t a psychological wish fulfillment that they had been expecting that Jesus would rise again. The resurrection of Jesus was the very last thing they had expected. She can’t believe her eyes; she does not recognize him. 


Jesus was also partly not recognized because his resurrected body, though recognizable, was somehow different. When we who are Christians are raised from the dead “we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:51b-53). Jesus was changed—recognizable but not immediately. 


Tomorrow we will continue the recap of Dr. Moody’s sermon with the second half. 



Completions to Verses:


·      . . . heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.


·      . . . Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:36-39 (NIV) See also Mark 12:28-31


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